Sunday, April 25, 2010

Israel vs. the U.S.

By fighting the U.S., Israel undermines not only the U.S., but also itself.

The United States is not a neutral mediator that supplies the parties with its good services, a table to negotiate on, some snacks and muzak. The United States is an interested party, a superpower whose position in the Middle East and around the globe is based on its economic and military strength. It's also based on the Americans' ability to leverage those advantages for political action, to set the world's agenda and win legitimacy for waging wars and making peace….

On the face of it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a strategic threat. More Israelis or Palestinians dying, or more Qasams in the south or Katyushas in the north won't bring down any state - most certainly not the United States. Solving the conflict won't stop the Iranian nuclear race and won't persuade India or Pakistan to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Syria won't cut ties with Tehran even if Israel recognizes Hamas.

But the conflict becomes a strategic threat when it endangers
America's stature on the global stage….

Israel is challenging the United States' strategic status. This provocation goes beyond the question of Israeli sovereignty versus American might. Idiotically, Israel is competing against itself because U.S. status is a fundamental part of Israel's strength. And when Israel is ready to demolish this foundation for the benefit of the bullies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank outposts, Israel puts its own citizens at risk. [Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz 4/25/10]

I certainly appreciate hearing this argument, with its balanced concern for both Israeli and American security, from an Israeli, and I suspect that it would be food for thought to most Americans, but unfortunately it is highly unlikely that more than a handful of Americans will ever know that any Israelis think like this.

If this argument represents the views of a significant body of Israeli public opinion, then that group needs to do much more to communicate its message to Americans. Despite the month-long debate in the U.S. questioning at long last the impact of the U.S.-Israeli alliance on U.S. national security, the debate remains superficial, members of Congress almost to a person appear to have cotton in their ears, and most Americans seem still to be under the delusion that protecting Israel means bowing down to the Israeli right wing’s imperial pretensions. As for those few American who have started to question that mantra, can they be criticized for believing that most Israelis have absolutely no interest in the U.S. except as a tool to further Israeli appetites to cleanse Palestine of the Palestinians and be the Mideast hegemon?

If Israeli militarism undermines U.S. national security, the other side of the coin is that an American perception of Israel as dangerous to U.S. national security would undermine Israeli security.

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