Those who urge the American government to diplomatically isolate Israel, hoping this will cause Israel to make peace concessions to her Arab neighbors, lack a fundamental understanding of the millennia of persecution that is ingrained in the Jewish people and the Israeli psyche. Jews have been a stateless people for 1878 years (that is, the time between when the Jews were expelled from Israel by the Romans in 70 A.D. to Israel’s creation in 1948), as well as a people who have survived several inquisitions and a genocide that claimed the lives of 6 million Jewish people. This history can cause one to seriously doubt the intentions of the international community. Diplomatic isolation, especially from traditional allies such as the United States, cause many Israelis to believe that the Jewish people stand alone, that peace concessions are futile and will jeopardize security, resulting in more support for right-of-center political parties.
On the other hand, security assurances allow the Israeli people to abide by their noblest intentions, which includes generous land-for-peace deals. This is precisely how and why Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979 under the Camp David Accords. The only reason the Camp David talks succeeded, and the only reason why Israel made such generous peace concessions (including giving away the entire Sinai Peninsula), was because Egypt offered Israel all possible security assurances, guarantees for peace, and good neighborly-relations in the presence and with the assistance of U.S. representatives. Another element that had a huge role in securing the agreement was that President Sadat made an historic trip to Israel two years prior (1977), gave a speech to the Knesset that Egypt would no longer declare war on Israel, and sought to make peace with the Jewish State. It is through a combination of these factors that Israel was able to make a lasting and durable peace with a previously hostile neighbor. This peace is durable today, and even survived the years of Islamist government rule under President Mohammed Morsi.
That is not to say that friends cannot criticize each other. A wise friend of mine recently pointed out to me that the peace agreement reached at Camp David was because of massive pressure that President Carter placed on Begin (as well as a fair amount of pressure placed on Sadat as well). The difference here, though, is that the criticism was during private talks—behind closed doors — much like disagreements you might find in a marriage with feuding spouses who love each other — and not in the public domain. Contrast this with the Obama Administration, who has very much made the disagreements with Israel’s elected government publicly known.
If Israel is truly to live in peace among her neighbors, it will take tough decisions — an evacuation of settlements, the redrawing of borders, and territorial concessions. The barrel of a gun has not and will not make this decision any easier for Israel to make. If President Obama truly supports two states for two peoples living side-by-side, he should be standing by our closest ally and reaffirming the strength and vitality of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Any diplomatic isolation contrary to this — including withholding the U.S. veto at the UN — will simply play into the hands of reactionary elements of Israeli society that seek to claim that peace is an unachievable goal because the Jewish people will always dwell alone.