Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Is Israeli Policy Endangering the United States?

An article in the British publication The Guardian quotes Middle East expert Anthony Cordesman’s assessment of the American relationship with Israel. It is somewhat shocking. Shocking in how uniformed he seems to be. And he is is not alone. In what seems to be an astounding about face he and others are beginning to question the level of support that the United States gives to its Israeli ally.

They blame Israel’s settlement policies and her dealings with Gaza. While conceding that the United States will never abandon its moral commitment to Israel – Cordesman says it will no longer be in the form of an automatic blank check. The big question seems to be ‘Is Israel or, at the very least, its current government endangering US security and American troops?’

This question was first articulated by General David Petraeus, the recently appointed commander of troops in Afghanistan, and then later Vice President Joe Biden. Once you start blaming someone for your wars and the deaths of American troops - that changes everything!

The funny thing is - they may have a point. The fact is that Israel may very well be the main source of anger in those war zones. The United States is after all fighting Muslim fundamentalists. Guess how they feel about the State of Israel?

Should Americans be risking their lives in light of Islamic fundamentalist hatred of Israel? The quick answer might be no. Why should anyone give up their lives for a foreign country? Let Israel fight her own battles!

True - it was the United States that was attacked on 9/11. But one can say that the Muslim world was just as angry then at the US as they are now. Remember the question asked by that noted Israel basher - the late Peter Jennings: ‘Why do they hate us?’ That was a rhetorical question for him. His obvious answer was that they hate us because of our foreign policy. Translation: support for Israel. The implication: Had we not been so supportive of the Jewish State - 9/11 would not have happened.

That definitely has a ring of truth to it. But should the United States abandon Israel just because the Arabs desire it? Thank God the American answer to that question has consistently been no. Support for the Jewish State is seen as a moral imperative. America has not been swayed by Islamist fundamentalist furor over US foreign policy.

But the current administration has taken a step away from that position. They still feel the moral obligation to support Israel - but Israel is nevertheless also seen as liability because of its settlement policies. Furthermore because of this policy American lives are in danger.

The current administration also believes that there are rational Palestinians who want to make peace. The truth is that there are. But they are weak and not the ones in control. The ones in control are those who will accept nothing less than Israel’s destruction. They control Gaza and Lebanon and are backed by Iran who arms them.

On the other hand the US while retaining the moral imperative to support Israel sees her as uncooperative and thereby fueling Islamic hatred for both Israel and her patron saint – America. That - endangers the troops.

But is that the reality? I don’t think so. Israel has no choice but to see a Muslim religious fanatic behind every tree and under every rock - ready to blow him or herself up. They cannot afford to simply ignore the fanatics and talk peace with Palestinians who are tired of the hostilities and would agree – like it or not - to live in peace. Any treaty that resulted from that would bring nothing but more bloodshed.

All this talk about settlements and the treatment of Gaza as obstacles to peace which endangers American lives is completely meaningless. You would think someone like Tony Cordesman would know that. Certainly the Vice President of the United States should. Stopping the settlements will contribute absolutely nothing towards peace nor will it save one American life.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that even if Israel stops all settlement activity in every square inch of the State, it would change nothing. How can it when an Iran supported Hamas and Hezbollah are calling all the shots? To them the entire State of Israel is an illegal settlement!

As long as America supports Israel in any way the Islamists will be killing American soldiers wherever they can. Unless America completely abandons Israel. - nothing will change.

The naiveté of the current administration on these very issues is therefore quite astounding. They actually believe that if only Israel changes its settlements policies and is more humanitarian towards Hamas led Gaza everything will be just fine.

How naïve are they?!

Tony Cordesman:

The Netanyahu government has maintained a "pattern of conduct" that has pushed the balance toward Israel being more of a liability than an asset.

"This Israeli government pushed the margin too far," he said. "Gaza was one case in point, the issue of construction in Jerusalem, the lack of willingness to react in ways that serve Israel's interests as well as ours in moving forward to at least pursue a peace process more actively."

Joe Biden:

Biden angrily accused Israel's prime minister of jeopardising US soldiers by continuing to tighten the Jewish state's grip on Jerusalem.

"This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace," Biden told Netanyahu.

They are either completely stupid or so blinded by policy that they refuse to acknowledge the obvious. I don't think they are stupid.

Thank God that congress has shown a high level of support for Israel. As has the religious right and the American people – as a recent poll has indicated.

I am not a big supporter of settlements. I believe that Israel ought to do whatever it can short of endangering its security to accommodate the American position. But please let us not get confused about the facts on the ground. Nothing short of dismantling the state will satisfy those Islamists who are in control.

Someone ought to point this out to the President – and his men.