What kind of expression is this – “punishing Israel”? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of fourteen who, if they don’t behave properly, are slapped across the fingers? — Menachem Begin, 1981, after the US ‘punished’ Israel for bombing Saddam’s nuclear reactor
Yesterday, I wrote about Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s remarks about John Kerry’s “inexplicable,” “obsessive,” and “messianic” drive to get Israel to agree to a dangerous plan that would “ensure that Ben Gurion Airport and Netanya become a missile target.”
The US State Department exploded, saying Ya’alon’s statement was “offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.” Netanyahu gave him talking to, and he apologized.
We know, of course, that every word that he uttered, and more, was true. Ya’alon is a soldier and a soldier has to act on the basis of reality on the ground — otherwise, people get killed. So he forgot that politics and diplomacy are different.
The part about “all the US is doing…” was a nice touch. I presume that was intended as a reference to US military aid to Israel.
US military aid is provided in order to advance the interests of the US, as defined by the administration. Often it also serves the interests of the country receiving it — or, in most cases, the ruling regime — but that is only accidental. There may be real costs to the recipient as well as benefits.
I am starting to believe that in Israel’s case, the costs have begun to exceed the benefits.
The most obvious direct cost is the constant pressure to make a deal, any deal, to get Israel out of the territories and allow the creation of a PLO state there. For simple, obvious reasons that I am tired of repeating, such a state is incompatible with Israel’s security. If the IDF gets out of the territories, as Ya’alon noted, Israelis will die from rockets, from terrorism and perhaps from a new regional war.
Kerry’s pretense that there is a technological solution is simply a smokescreen to obtain an Israeli withdrawal. It sounds ugly, but one could correctly say that the objective is a Jew-free Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Can anyone deny this?
There is also the restraint that the US has forced on Israel regarding Iran. Israel has taken the Iranian regime at its word and views its nuclear program as an existential threat. But US policy now appears to be to achieve a rapprochement with the regime, and it has been following a path that it appears will result in a nuclear-capable Iran. The US has pulled out all the stops in its efforts to prevent Israel from taking action against Iran.
The US now treats Israel as a “key target” for counterintelligence (along with Pakistan, China, Iran, North Korea, etc.). It has presented Israel with the ‘gift’ of a super-high-resolution radar system which can detect Iranian missile launches almost as they occur, but can also observe all Israeli air activity, including takeoff of small drones. It is staffed and guarded by by Americans, and its data is filtered in California before it is given to Israel.
It was reported that an Israeli official called the radar station “golden handcuffs.” But perhaps this applies to the entire enterprise of US aid to Israel. It might be a better long-run deal for Israel to pay for its own weapons and develop its own radar systems — and take off the golden handcuffs.