Most American supporters of Israel consider that the US government has high regard for Israel and that it considers the Jewish State a valued ally and friend. And why might that be? Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. Israel shares “Judeo-Christian values” with America. Israel is “America’s aircraft carrier” in the region (per the late, influential Senator Jesse Helms). America has many influential Jewish citizens who votes are important and who value Israel.
But for each of the aforementioned reasons, the Obama administration can provide a counter-argument: America supports many autocratic governments; Judeo-Christian values may impede pragmatic political solutions; it’s better for America to ally itself with the dominant Muslim population than to support Israel; the Arabs have a lot of oil; America’s Muslim population is growing; American Jewish voters are increasingly ambivalent towards Israel.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, (known popularly as Lord Palmerston) was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Lord Palmerston famously said: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, just permanent interests.”
Truer words were never said by a politician and this lesson must be committed to memory by those Americans who support Israel’s continued viability in one of the world’s most troubled areas.
My ever-skeptical and opinionated friend G.K. says, “The US will throw Israel under the wheels of the Islamic hordes in two-seconds if our ruling elites somehow decide its in our national interest. Did FDR lift a finger or drop a bomb to stop the Holocaust? Not one!! George Marshall, the great general who led our war effort [and later became Secretary of State after WWII] … was dead-set against the creation of Israel.”
G.K. doesn’t have much faith in President Obama and declares, “You [Israelis] will get no help from him or the left wing of the Democratic party, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t trust the GOP though, believe me they ONLY like Israel and Jews as far as they can throw us … Being Jewish means trusting nobody.”
That brings us to the administration’s latest attack on Israel, which erupted while Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Washington visiting the White House. A recent kerfuffle over the purchase of homes by Jews and a planned housing project, both in Jerusalem, proves Palmerston’s point: the administration looks at Israel as an “interest” with diminishing value, not as a “friend.”
Silwan, adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City, is the Arab neighborhood located on the site of David’s City, where King David ruled after he conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites about 3,000 years ago. There is a national park (City of David) located there and a community of Jews living among the much larger population of Arabs. The Arabs demand that Silwan be segregated and judenrein and a large Jewish security presence is required because the Arabs are prone to attack Jews if they aren’t protected by guards. The Obama administration is livid that more Jewish families are moving into the neighborhood, into 25 apartments legitimately purchased from the Arab owners (one of whom has already been assassinated for selling land to Jews).
Netanyahu said, “Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city and no one is arguing against it. I have no intention of telling Jews they can’t buy apartments in east Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right. There cannot be discrimination – not against Jews and not against Arabs,” he added. “This goes against values that the United States also believes in.” (Face the Nation, CBS)
For some reason, the last phrase ignited a firestorm in Washington. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “It did seem odd for him [Netanyahu] to try to defend the actions of his government by saying our response did not reflect American values…. The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel. It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways.” If what Earnest says it true, what’s the beef?
Evidently, the recurring anger at Jews building in their ancient capital/land has stopped up the administration’s ears. Obviously,Netanyahu was referring to the cherished American value that abhors racism and segregation, a value that has led to numerous laws and Supreme Court decisions protecting the right to purchase homes in places of one’s choice, without regard to race, color, or creed.
It’s a similar story with the 2,600-unit housing project in Givat Hamatos, which is planned as an extension, not a new community, in what is now an exclusively Jewish neighborhood adjacent to the 1949 Armistice Line. The plan incorporates mostly barren land on which Ethiopian and Russian immigrants were housed temporarily in mobile homes, on which permanent housing for both Jews and Arabs will be built.
Spokesman Josh Earnest stated, “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”
This statement all but invited the international community to pile onto Israel about Jews supposedly spoiling the non-existent “peace process.” And the international community rose to the occasion. Never mind that this same project has been announced several times before in the seemingly never-ending planning process that accompanies all construction in Israel. Peace Now, the far left organization dedicated to forcing Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines (“Auschwitz borders” as described by Abba Eban), is serially responsible for announcing, at the most inopportune time, every step of the planning process for these projects, thereby magnifying the impact for each development.
With all the turmoil and death impacting the Middle East and threatening to spread to Western countries, it’s Jews building homes that galvanizes the Western governments to react vociferously. It’s clear to me that if peace ever comes to Israel, it won’t be from negotiating with Palestinian leaders, whose aim is to usurp Israel, not to build a state of their own.
If the West, especially America, really wants to help bring about peace in this tiny corner of the enflamed Middle East, it should strengthen Israel, not back Arab movements that will eventually coalesce into the nascent jihadist movement. Israel doesn’t need the West’s love, but the West needs to comprehend who its enemies are: jihadists of any stripe.