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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-Israel relationship’

On Eve of Obama’s Visit, the Right is Silent

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents, is again asked why Obama is coming to Israel.

He laughs.

“Why is he coming? First they asked why he didn’t come. Now that he’s coming, they ask why he’s coming.”

Hoenlein’s view is that Obama is coming to Israel simply because of the constant attacks on him for not coming.

Still, I ask him, do you believe there is a danger that we will pay a political price for the visit—retreating from territory, freezing construction in Judea and Samaria, releasing terrorists from prison?

Hoenlein allows that the possibility exists. “But principally, as the White House said, the visit is meant to show the continuing friendship between the two countries.”

Hoenlein has been in the business for 35 years. When he warns of a danger, it’s not just because a Jew always has to worry. It’s a concrete warning—not least when we both know that there are Jews who will see to it that we have good reason to worry.

You can be quite sure that parallel to the official Israeli emissaries making their way to Washington at this time, there are a number of Israelis who make a living off the Palestinian issue going as emissaries of themselves.

Who is sponsoring these peace-mongering harbingers of terrorist attacks?

There are for-profit corporations, among them Israeli companies, that make their money from political consulting and brokering services. Their patrons include governments, government foundations, and intelligence bodies.

This is nothing new, though. In every generation there are people who work in the service of the enemy. Otherwise why would the prayer against informers be an integral part of the Amida prayer?

Judging by past experience, these brokers will offer their good offices—or have already offered them—to the State Department and the foreign media, both journalists writing background articles prior to Obama’s visit and those who will tag along during the trip. The brokers are already preparing beautifully produced folders with diagrams and flowcharts detailing the steps toward peace with the Palestinians and the prices to be paid: freezing Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, giving away more of Area B, releasing terrorists from jail … forgetting only the additional price to be paid in blood.

These proposals have been floated previously, including several that were published in The New York Times. They are a cause for concern for the people of the State of Israel, who at the moment are living relatively peacefully.

Transferring parts of Areas B and C to the Palestinians would diminish the ability of the IDF to move around those areas. Enough blood has already been spilled for it to be crystal clear that Palestinian police officers simply don’t deliver the goods when it comes to providing security. Only the IDF does that. Moshe does the job. Moussa does not.

Benny Begin was among the first to see the problem with outsourcing Israeli security to the P.A. He was warning already in 1993 about people who during the day are P.A. policemen, but at night are terrorists. I spoke with him this week, and he discussed at length why he hasn’t changed his mind.

The release of terrorists, which is liable to accompany the surrender of territory, is a catalyst for terrorist attacks. It funnels high-quality manpower to the terrorist organizations and reduces Israel’s capacity to punish and deter the terrorists.

Ostensibly, the rationale for “gestures” such as these is that the world will see that the Palestinians fail to reciprocate and then stand at our side.

The problem is that it never worked. And it still doesn’t.

Every gesture or concession simply sets the stage for the next set of Israeli concessions. Menachem Begin thought that the evacuation of Sinai would save Judea and Samaria. Then came the pressure on Shamir to participate in the Madrid Conference. Then the retreat from Gush Katif was supposed to save Judea and Samaria. No sooner was the retreat from Gaza completed than the world renewed its pressure on Israel to withdraw from from Judea and Samaria.

Isn’t it time to switch approaches and change direction, to bring something truly new to the political arena, to put up an iron wall that will stand up against these pressures? To signal that the era of limited political endurance and insufficient national stamina is finally over?

Atlanta is a Hard Place for Orthodox Jews to Leave

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Atlanta, GA, is a hard place for Orthodox Jews to leave: That was the message I got from my Shabbat hosts in Atlanta.  That is even though they are dreaming of making Aliyah to Israel and even own homes/apartments there.  Everything they need for a full, fulfilling, rewarding Torah Jewish life can be conveniently found in their Atlanta neighborhood.

From their stories, even the local Christians are friendly an supportive.  This pocket of America is very anti-Obama.  They told me that Obama is costing them money in added taxes. That is as employees and business owners.  I met a number of their friends and that was the message.Jews and Christians from what I understand are to the right of the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu.  They insist that your ordinary American does not see why Israel should cede any land to the Arabs.  It makes no sense to them at all.This jives 100% with the Christians I’ve met over the thirty plus years I’ve lived in Shiloh and hosted and led groups of religious Christians who have toured Shiloh’s holy spots.

If the State of Israel, Prime Minister on down would just announce, inflexibly that we declare sovereignty over all of Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley, Golan etc, no negotiations, they would back us.  Your ordinary person in the States, according to them, accepts the 1967 Six Day War victory as the legal defeat of the Arab armies, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, which had tried to destroy the State of Israel.  We never fought a country called “Palestine,” since there never was one in the entire history of the world.  The so-called “Palestinian People” is a fiction invented/created to undermine and destroy the Jewish State of Israel.

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Standing in Israel’s Shoes

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

What if Americans woke up to hear on the morning news that Canada had tens of thousands of missiles, many with chemical warheads, aimed at them? And that the Canadian government — a vicious enemy of the U.S. itself — was losing control of these weapons, which were in danger of falling into the hands of terrorist groups that were sworn to destroy the U.S.?

And what if, at the same time, it was reported that Mexico — whose president had recently called Americans “bloodsuckers, warmongers … descendents of apes and pigs,” and said that Mexicans should “nurse their children on hatred” for the U.S. — was descending into chaos, unable to feed itself but still, above all, obsessed with hatred for its neighbor.

If that wasn’t enough, suppose the newscaster reported that terrorists who had taken over a coastal strip of California from the Mexican border to Monterey — who had pelted the rest of the country as far as Washington D.C. and New York City with deadly missiles a few months ago — had instituted military training in high schools to produce the “next generation of resistance fighters” who would “liberate the land” occupied by those pesky Americans.

Finally, what if, say, Venezuela was developing nuclear weapons and every other day one of their officials promised to root out the ‘cancer’ that was the U.S.?

Boker tov, people, welcome to Israel.

I didn’t mention that the U.N. is planning yet another resolution condemning Israel, or that Jew- and Israel-hatred is reaching new heights worldwide, especially in Europe and of course the U.K. Or that the president of the U.S., Israel’s main ally, has nominated three more or less anti-Israel candidates for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and CIA director.

But despite all this, Israel just completed a free and fair election — not so usual in the Middle East — in which the major issues were social and economic. Surveys (like this one last year) show Israelis to be happy overall. Israel’s economy is doing well, although there are concerns about rising inequality and a housing shortage (but there is also a recognition that these problems can and should be solved). There is a broad consensus in Israel on questions of national security, including the need to attack Iran if it is about to obtain nuclear weapons, and on the unlikelihood of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Here in the U.S., the nation is bitterly divided on left-right lines. There is no consensus on how to deal with either security or economic issues. The Congress is suffering from permanent gridlock. The economy is slowly improving, but employment is not — and that appears to represent a structural change in the kind and number of jobs available. Many states and municipalities are close to bankrupt (California and Fresno come to mind). Infrastructure is decaying and we don’t seem to have the will to fix it. The middle class is becoming harder to get into from below, and harder to stay in. Americans don’t (yet) have to worry about missile attacks from Mexico, but its prestige and ability to protect its interests abroad have fallen sharply.

Despite the existential threats, Israel is in some important ways doing better than we are. And if it succeeds in weathering its primarily external threats, it will be around for a long time. The U.S., on the other hand, while still enormously powerful, seems to have lost its way.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Obama’s Anti-Zionism

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Were Barack Obama re-elected, I predicted two months before the Nov. 2012 presidential vote, “the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow.” Well, election’s over and that cold treatment is firmly in place. Obama has signaled in the past two months what lies ahead by:

* Choosing three senior figures – John Kerry for State, John Brennan for the CIA, and Chuck Hagelfor Defense – who range from clueless to hostile about Israel.

* Approving a huge gift of advanced weapons – 20 F-16 fighter jets and 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks – to the Islamist government in Egypt despite the fact that its president, Mohamed Morsi, has becoming increasingly despotic and calls Jews “blood-suckers, … warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Reiterating the patronizing 35-year old tactic relied upon by anti-Israel types to condemn Israeli policies while pretending to be concerned for the country’s welfare: “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”

* Ignoring evidence of Cairo importing Scud missile parts from North Korea.

* Rebuffing the 239 House members who called for closing the PLO office in Washington in response to the PLO’s drive for state-observer status at the United Nations.

Asked about Obama’s nomination of Hagel, Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor who, despite his astringent criticism of Obama nonetheless endorsed him for re-election, offered an astonishing response: “I thought that there would come a time when [Obama] would renege on … his support of Israel [but this] comes a little earlier than I thought.” Even Obama’s pro-Israel supporters expected him to turn against the Jewish state!

These anti-Israel steps raise worries because they jibe with Obama’s early anti-Zionist views. We lack specifics, but we know that he studied with, befriended, socialized, and encouraged Palestinian extremists.

For example, a picture from 1998 shows Obama listening reverentially to anti-Israel theorist Edward Said. Mr. Obama sat idly by as speakers at an event in 2003 celebrating Rashid Khalidi, a former Palestinian Liberation Organization public relations operative, accused Israel of waging a terrorist campaign against Palestinians and compared “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden.

Ali Abunimah, an anti-Israel agitator, commended Mr. Obama in 2004 for “his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” code words for distancing the U.S. government from Israel. In turn, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Abunimah for his obsessively anti-Israel articles in the Chicago Tribune, urging him to “keep up the good work.”

Abunimah also reveals that, starting in 2002, Obama toned down his anti-Israel rhetoric “as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene” and Obama made this explicit two years later, apologizing to Abunimah: “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.”

And Obama dutifully made the requisite policy changes, if in a cramped and reluctant manner (“I have to deal with him every day” he whined about Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu). He supported Israel in its 2008-09 and 2012 wars with Hamas. His administration called the Goldstone Report “deeply flawed” and backed Israel at the United Nations with lobbying efforts, votes, and vetoes. Armaments flowed. The Israeli exception to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remained in place. When Ankara canceled Israeli participation in the 2009 “Anatolian Eagle” air force exercise, the U.S. government pulled out in solidarity. If Obama created crises over Israeli housing starts, he eventually allowed these to simmer down.

Recalling what Obama said privately in March 2012 to the then-Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev (“This is my last election and after my election, I have more flexibility”), there is every reason to think that, having won that re-election, things have now “calmed down” and, after a decade of caution, he can “be more up front” to advance the Palestinian cause against Israel. Returning to the present: Netanyahu’s likely re-election as Israeli prime minister this week will mean continuity of leadership in both countries. But that does not imply continuity in U.S.-Israel relations; Obama, freed from re-election constraints, can finally express his early anti-Zionist views after a decade of political positioning. Watch for a markedly worse tone from the second Obama administration toward the third Netanyahu government.

Weinberger Gave Judge Wrong Information Resulting in Pollard’s Life Sentence

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I previously wrote about new documents declassified in the Jonathan Pollard case, which might help us understand his disproportionate life sentence and why he is still imprisoned after 27 years.

Pollard’s lawyers negotiated a plea agreement with the government: he agreed to plead guilty and gave up his right to a jury trial; in return, the prosecution agreed not to seek a life sentence. By the precedents set by other cases of espionage on behalf of allies, Pollard expected a much lighter sentence.

Instead, the Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, presented a memo to the court at the last minute accusing Pollard of doing massive damage to the U.S. The prosecution then reneged on its agreement and the judge sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. Pollard’s lawyers were able to see the document for a few minutes, but were not given the opportunity to respond. The document has been released in a highly redacted form, so it is still not possible to know precisely what was in it.

Part of the content was probably assertions that information from Pollard found its way to the Soviet Union, exposing several American agents who were then murdered by the KGB. As I explained Friday, it appears that the agents were actually betrayed either by double agent Aldrich Ames or another ‘mole’ in the CIA who was being protected by Ames. Hershel Shanks explains,

In 1983 Ames was made chief of the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence branch in the Soviet-East European Division. Ames was recruited by the Russians in 1984. Ames would, of course, have every reason to deflect suspicion from himself and blame someone else for what was happening in the Moscow bureau – and Ames was in a position to do so.

The information Pollard passed to Israel about Russian weaponry in Arab states was obtained, at least in part, from American agents in Russia.

In the intelligence community it was well known that in the past KGB moles had penetrated Israeli intelligence. Perhaps a still-undiscovered Soviet mole inside Israeli intelligence passed the secrets to the Soviets that Pollard had passed to Israel.

Pollard was not sentenced until March 1987. Ames was still in charge of Soviet counter-intelligence within the CIA. Based on what Ames told him, Weinberger drafted his affidavit to the court [my emphasis].

But the government apparently provided additional “facts” to the judge. When Pollard attempted (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty plea in 1990, attorney Alan Dershowitz presented the following affidavit to the court:

  1. My name is ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ. I am a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. I serve as one of the lawyers for Jonathan J. Pollard. During the 1963 – 1964 Supreme Court term, I was a law clerk to Mr. Justice Arthur Goldberg. Between that time and his death, I remained a close friend and associate of Mr. Justice Goldberg. We worked together on many projects, spoke and met frequently, and jointly authored articles and proposals.
  2. Following the publication of the a letter to the Jerusalem Post, on September 12, 1989, I spoke to Justice Goldberg on the telephone about the sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard. I promised to send him some comparative sentencing data. Justice Goldberg promised to make some inquiries on his own regarding the sentence.
  3. Subsequent to this conversation, Justice Goldberg called me to tell me that he had personally met with Judge Aubrey Robinson and discussed the Pollard sentence with him. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that he (Judge Robinson) had been provided by the government with evidence that Jonathan Pollard had given Israel American satellite photographs proving that Israel had tested Jericho missiles in South Africa and had provided South Africa with missile and nuclear technology. Justice Goldberg told me further that Judge Robinson was particularly outraged by the Israel-South Africa connection and Pollard’s role in providing Israel with evidence that the United States had satellite evidence of it. Justice Goldberg told me that he understood why Judge Robinson, as a Black man, would be particularly sensitive to this evidence. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that Pollard-South African connection had weighed heavily in his (Judge Robinson’s) decision to impose a life sentence. I told Justice Goldberg that I did not believe that Jonathan Pollard had provided Israel with any such satellite information, but that I would check.
  4. I immediately called Hamilton Fox and Nathan Dershowitz [Pollard's lawyers] and told them of my conversation with Justice Goldberg. Fox said he would check with Jonathan Pollard and his earlier attorney, Richard A. Hibey concerning the truth or falsity of the evidence provided to Judge Robinson.
  5. After being assured by Fox that there was no truth whatsoever in the claim that Jonathan Pollard had provided satellite photographs or information to Israel about South Africa, Jericho missiles or nuclear technology, I wrote Justice Goldberg the attached letter (Attachment A).
  6. On January 15, 1990 I spoke with Justice Goldberg on the phone. He was quite upset at the content of my letter and promised to get to the bottom of it. He told me that he would phone Attorney General Thornburgh for a meeting to discuss this issue and the sentence. He told me that if my facts were correct, then the Justice Department had improperly “pandered” (that was his precise word) to Judge Robinson’s racial sensitivities as a Black judge by providing him with false, inflammatory, ex parte information.
  7. On Friday morning January 19, 1990, I learned from Robert Goldberg that his father, Justice Arthur Goldberg, had died in his sleep during the night.

Was there a “South African connection?” It seems unlikely, considering the kind of information Israel sought from Pollard – information about its Arab enemies and their Soviet supporters.

But more important, even if there were such a connection, Judge Robinson’s outrage that Israel may have aided the hated South African regime is hardly a legitimate reason to doom Pollard to life in prison! After all, even if true, this wasn’t Pollard’s doing.

If indeed a combination of false accusations and an inappropriate emotional reaction by the judge resulted in Pollard’s life sentence, then a miscarriage of justice occurred.

The administration should either release Pollard or explain convincingly why he should remain in prison.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

What Does Israel Do If Obama Is Reelected?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

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“Don’t Panic”

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I’m going to try to analyze what Israeli strategy might look like if Obama were to be reelected. I don’t want to write a partisan piece — predicting every type of the most horrible disaster and open hatred from the White House — but a serious analytic effort. This involves speculation, but policymakers have to develop the most likely scenarios in order to plan ahead.

Let me start, though, with a joke. An asteroid hits the ocean, producing a giant tidal wave so powerful that within an hour all land will be covered by water. Television networks put on a variety of politicians, alleged wise people, and religious figures to speak with the doomed population. The rabbi among them explains: “All I can say is that you have one hour to learn to breathe underwater.”

That is Israel’s mission. To survive a second Obama term brought on it by the American — including a large majority of American Jewish — voters.

The first thing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does is send a warm message of congratulations to the reelected president. He is going to be president for four years, like it or not, and Israeli leaders will work hard to minimize any antagonism. At least with Netanyahu strongly entrenched, Obama will understand that he cannot subvert the Israeli government to get some other prime minister more to his liking (i.e., someone ready to make unilateral concessions in exchange for getting nothing in return).

So with that basis established, here’s Israel’s Obama problem divided into four issues:

1. Maintaining bilateral relations

Israel’s government needs to ensure the continuation of U.S. aid, including assistance for anti-missile systems, intelligence sharing and other forms of cooperation. Unless Obama decides to go all-out on an anti-Israel vendetta, he is likely to see this issue as a low-priority one. All he has to do is nothing.
Here, Israel’s contacts with Congress and the Defense Department will be critical. The Democrats in Congress will have to show whether they still do actually support Israel — and a majority of them do — by joining with the Republicans in backing continued aid and cooperation. The Defense Department has generally good relations with Israel and also benefits from Israel’s technological advances.

There are real prospects for maintaining bilateral relations on their current level. Obama can be expected to mistreat Netanyahu and to say things that totally misunderstand Israel and insult its interests, but when you are a country of 7.5 million allied with a superpower, your leaders have to take such behavior, as long as it remains verbal.

2. Keep Obama from damaging Israel’s situation in regard to the Palestinians

Obama will have to decide whether to put an emphasis on the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” meaning pressure on Israel to make concessions while the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) doesn’t keep its commitments and makes no compromises. He might decide to do so based on his ideological predispositions.

Yet there is some evidence that Obama won’t behave this way. His failure on peacemaking is the only such defeat he has ever acknowledged. He knows it is hard and the administration almost certainly knows — though it will never admit it publicly — that what Mitt Romney said was right. The P.A. doesn’t want to make a peace deal with Israel.

Moreover, there have been interesting developments regarding the main strategic motive for the idea that a peace deal is necessary as soon as possible and requires pressure on Israel. This factor is called “linkage” — the concept that bashing Israel and getting the Palestinians a state as soon as possible will solve all of America’s other problems in the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, Muslims and Arabs will love the United States and — more importantly in one man’s mind — Obama.

What’s important here is not just that linkage doesn’t work, but that this reality has never before been so obvious. With anti-Americanism and crisis coming from all directions — Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and so on — will Obama see bashing Israel as a panacea?

There’s no question that during his first term, especially the first two years or so, Obama really believed this and tried very ineptly to institute such a strategy. Yet he knows it didn’t work. At any rate, if faced with such a situation, the Israeli government is quite capable of offering cooperation, giving in on relatively unimportant issues, stalling for time and essentially calling the P.A.’s bluff. In the end, nothing will happen.

The dangers of an Obama second term certainly exist regarding the first two points, but it is the second pair of issues that are really and truly dangerous.

3. How would Obama handle the regional Arab situation and threats from revolutionary Islamist forces that he has helped to unleash and even to put into power?

In my view, the number one danger Israel faces is not Iran, but Egypt.

A radical regime now exists in Cairo that wants to wipe Israel off the map, is willing to help Hamas — which rules the Gaza Strip — on that project, and might get directly involved itself.

During Obama’s second term, Israel is likely to face sporadic attacks from the Gaza Strip that periodically it will have to retaliate against. Obama will remain aloof on this problem, which isn’t good but is manageable. The real difficulty is whether Hamas launches an all-out attack as it did in late 2008.

But this time it would have some level of Egyptian support. Such help could take many forms: Hamas headquarters, weapons storehouses and other facilities being moved onto Egyptian territory so that Israel cannot touch them; a massive flow of arms, weapons, and money across the border financed in part by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood; an influx of Egyptian volunteers to fight alongside Hamas, whose death would lead to howls of revenge in Egypt; and other such measures.

Beyond this, Egypt could escalate into allowing — even if denying responsibility — cross-border terrorist attacks on Israel. Attempted cross-border attacks are already routine and the Egyptian government does nothing to suppress the groups involved. It is not inconceivable that from the mass demands of Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood forces, by the revolutionary enthusiasm of the regime and by ideological hysteria, Egypt could end up in a war with Israel. That might happen if it proved necessary to send Israeli military forces into the Gaza Strip, as happened in 2009.

The Egyptian military is no longer a bulwark against this because its leadership has been dismantled, a collapse partly due to Obama’s policy.

Israel cannot depend on the United States to press sufficiently hard for enforcement of the treaty or to deter Egypt. As a result, Israel will have to be ready to fight such a smaller or bigger war by itself. If a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime were to be in power in Syria, it would join in. The only bright spot is that other Arab countries would stand aside. Perhaps even Hezbollah might content itself with the firing of some symbolic rockets rather than have Lebanon flattened in a “Sunni war.”

In fact, for the first time in almost forty years, under Obama Israel could not depend on U.S. support or protection against any Arab threat or aggression. Israel would just have to take care of itself. But the key issue: would Obama send arms — perhaps pressed by Congress and public opinion even if he didn’t face election — or would he play neutral and just do nothing while he pursued useless diplomatic efforts?

4. Iran

Briefly, there is no way that Obama would attack Iran or support an Israeli attack no matter what Tehran does. American sanction efforts would continue hand in hand with Iran going full speed ahead on obtaining nuclear weapons. Israel would still attack Iranian facilities if this were deemed necessary for national survival, but the bar on what constituted acceptable reasons for attacking would be raised.

Israel could also not depend on U.S. support in the aftermath. On the contrary, Obama could be outraged and blame Israel for terror attacks on Americans, the spiraling cost of oil, and other resulting problems. After all, he doesn’t face reelection — he can tame the pro-Israel Democrats with a few crumbs, and he wouldn’t care what the public opinion polls said.

If necessary, Israel would have to take that risk. But how does one define “necessary”?

So Obama’s reelection would be a serious problem for Israel, not a catastrophe or an end to the state. But for the first time in four decades, every Israeli leader would understand that the country could not depend on the United States as a protector. In fact, the Obama administration could be counted on to make things worse.

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US Must Drop Obsession with Peace Accords or Drop Israel

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The “Special Relationship” between America and Israel that trips so easily off the tongues of politicians addressing Jewish groups, in between mentions of their affection for Jewish deli food and Fiddler on the Roof, may be coming to an end. The relationship has gone through an extremely rough patch over the last few years, but even before that it had foundered on one impossible problem. The problem of peace.

Arab kings and dictators have used the existence of Israel as an excuse for everything from terrorism to totalitarianism and attributed it all to the regional instability caused by the Jewish State. An American diplomat, politician or general who visits with Saudi, Qatari or Kuwaiti leaders is told repeatedly that most of the problems in the region revolve around the Jewish State and the Occupation. Even pro-Israel Senators and Congressmen can’t help walking away from meetings like these feeling that Israel is the key to solving all the problems in the Middle East.

The United States expects Israel to make peace, not just with the groups of terrorists squatting in the West Bank and Gaza, but throughout the region, to avoid alienating Washington’s Muslim allies. Those same allies turned Israel’s existence into a problem for the United States and the United States turned it into a problem for Israel. Israel has tried to solve the problem of Muslim enmity with negotiated peace accords and territorial concessions, without ever achieving anything more than glorified truces.

The Israeli problem has become more urgent for the United States after September 11 when winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim world became a diplomatic and military obsession. But for Israel, the American problem is that the “Special Relationship” has shifted from a strategic alliance based on mutual interests to a single issue. The only thing that Washington wants to hear about from Jerusalem is progress in the peace process.

Israel has signed treaties, parceled out crucial strategic territories, evicted its own citizens from their homes and polished a battalion of chairs around negotiating tables. The undoing of the Camp David Accords and two decades of terror stemming from the Oslo Accords have destroyed the credibility of the peace solution. And Israel no longer has the breathing room for strategically risky peace experiments.

Only the fading threat of regional war made it possible for Israel to risk turning strategic border zones into an autonomous territory run by the terrorist clients of its enemies. With the Muslim Brotherhood at the helm in Egypt, the old specter of regional war is back and that transforms Gaza and the West Bank from domestic terrorist threats into weak points in Israel’s defense lines against an external invasion.

Under the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian tanks in the Sinai are likely to eventually show up in Gaza and they may not stop there. And that prospect may achieve what two decades of bus bombings could not. If Egypt shifts into the enemy camp, then an autonomous Gaza run by the Muslim Brotherhood’s local arm may be a political luxury that Israel can no longer afford. And what is true for Gaza will eventually be true for the West Bank as well.

The time may be approaching when the United States will be forced to decide whether it is willing to accept a relationship with an Israel that is no longer committed to a peace process with its enemies. Ever since Oslo, the American relationship with Israel has revolved around the pursuit of a Two State Solution, and few in Washington seem to realize that the process expired a while ago and has been running on fumes, facts on the ground and foreign aid.

No country and no people have been more hopeful that a new era of peace had come than the Israelis. The sheer number of peace songs that thrived in Israel during the 90s would embarrass a Woodstock reunion. But Israelis have been forced to accept that just because you want something, does not mean that you can have it. And the United States will have to either accept that as well or end its relationship with Israel.

Israel’s relations with the United States have declined notably each time a peace accord was signed. After the brief euphoria of handshakes and congratulatory press releases, frustration sets in on the Potomac that the latest accords have not noticeably changed the situation in the region. Israel’s attempts to make peace have only raised expectations that are doomed to end in disappointment.

Each president has come into office wanting to stand where Carter and Clinton stood in those famous photos. They will now have to decide whether they want to stand with Israel or whether without the illusion of peace, the special relationship between America and Israel will turn out to have only been a brief affair.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/us-must-drop-obsession-with-peace-accords-or-drop-israel/2012/09/12/

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