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The End of U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation?


Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu meets with  Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in Jerusalem, January 20, 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu meets with Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in Jerusalem, January 20, 2012.
Photo Credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90

President Obama’s Cairo Speech showed only a superficial understanding of the Jewish relationship with the Land of Israel. He called Israel’s independence a response to the Holocaust and not the establishment of the third Jewish Commonwealth after a 1,900-year interregnum. So doing, he fed into the Arab complaint that Israel was foisted on the region by guilty Europeans rather than as a legitimate and permanent part of the region.

He dispatched NASA administrator (and retired Marine LTG) Charles Bolden to find space exploration partners in the Muslim world (visual evidence of his discomfort can be seen here). The administration accepted the 2010 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review that singled out Israel for condemnation – despite public statements that it would never do that. The U.S. rejoined the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN Alliance of Civilizations, an openly anti-Israel body that claimed in 2006 that global tensions were driven primarily by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and referred to the September 11th attacks as resulting from “a perception among Muslim societies of unjust aggression stemming from the West.”

The U.S. declined to support Canada’s traditional, once-a-decade bid for a Security Council seat. Canada, an outspoken supporter of Israel, lost to Portugal, a stalwart representative of E.U. ambivalence. The U.S. voted against the infamous “Goldstone Report,” but declined to use its influence to encourage others to do the same. Israel’s housing policy was debated by some of Israel’s fiercest critics in the Security Council before the U.S. exercised its veto, and the U.S. drove a Security Council “compromise” that allowed Israel to be criticized along with Syria. The administration heaped emergency aid on Gaza – an allocation of $27 million in its earliest days in office and another $400 million in 2010 – aside from the $100 million+ given to the Palestinian Authority, including $115 million this year over the protestations of Congress.

Despite the demand for a “total settlement freeze” that forced the Palestinian Authority to harden its negotiating position, a vision for a “two-state solution” beginning with the 1967 lines and working backward, and a nasty comment about Prime Minister Netanyahu that was supposed to be off-camera, the Obama administration continues to proclaim itself Israel’s friend and ally – citing increases in military assistance;[2] the X-Band Radar;[3]Israel’s “qualitative military edge”;[4] and missile defense.[5]

Mark 2012, however, as the year the Obama administration took its most overt steps yet to tell the Arab and Muslim world that the U.S. was severable from Israel. The NATO-related air rescue operation Anatolian Eagle was canceled because Turkey would not let Israel participate. The administration then touted the bilateral missile defense exercise Austere Challenge as bigger and better — and more meaningful – until they canceled it in April, with more than a suggestion that it might give Iran the idea that the U.S. and Israel could use it as cover for an attack (an early sign of the “complicity” argument to follow).

In May, the Administration went ahead with Eager Lion 2012, a Special Operations exercise with 19 Arab and Muslim countries, including Egypt, Lebanon and Pakistan. The tactics and training of Special Operations is an important component of Israel’s “qualitative military edge.” How much of what the U.S. and Israel developed over the years was shared with countries overtly hostile to Israel?

Israel was not invited to the May NATO confab, although 13 NATO “partner nations” were invited to discuss terrorism. Two other US-organized and led multilateral counterterrorism confabs excluded Israel as well. When Turkey objected to the sharing of intelligence information with Israel, Secretary of Defense Panetta said no NATO radar intelligence would be shared “outside of NATO.” NATO Secretary General Rasmussen rushed to assure the Turks of the same thing.

Finally, the administration announced that Austere Challenge would be reconstituted as the biggest and best missile defense exercise yet. Until this week, when it announced that the exercise would be scaled back – way, way back – so Iran would not think it was cover for a U.S.-Israel attack.

This is where General Dempsey comes in – he is the President’s emissary to reassure the Iranians that the U.S. will have nothing to do with an attack on them; that they are safe from us. And he is the President’s emissary to tell the Arab and Muslim world that the relationship with Israel is expendable. Too bad he doesn’t understand that we are not safe from the Iranians and that dumping Israel will not make Islamist and Islamist-leaning countries — from Turkey to Egypt to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan — our friends.

About the Author: Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director of JINSA and author of JINSA Reports form 1995-2011.


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3 Responses to “The End of U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation?”

  1. Mark L. Shane says:

    we keep our oil and gas. we retake gaza, east jerusalem, judea, samaria, sinai , medina and mecca too then we will see who is apartheid.

  2. John T. Webb says:

    I see the end getting closer and closer.

  3. Zev Guber says:

    Dear Shoshana, I follow your logic and conclusions, yet your focus implies that the US can walk away from Israel. This just is not the case and the facts do not bear it out. The US and Israel are linked via governments, science, finance, technology, and military/ anti-terrorism. The separations between them are actually heathy for both sides.

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