Family Feud: Big Brother v. Little Brother
For the past 70 years, the United States has been a big brother to Israel: financially, politically, and as a role model. Without the US support through the years, Israel would have been unlikely to survive. However, over the past decade much has changed internally in each country and in their mutual relationship and I would suggest it is time for the relationship to mature.
Leadership: For much of Israel’s history the US was the world’s superpower while Israel was a developing third world country. In the past decade that leadership has been shown to be demonstrably weakened in Benghazi, Iraq, and Afghanistan, amongst others, and is currently being strongly challenged by Russia, China, North Korea and, maybe worst of all, by Iran. On the other hand, Israel has been able to circumvent the Palestinian leadership’s corruption and obstinacy to make peace with 4 Middle Eastern Arab Moslem states and is working behind the scenes with another to take a true regional leadership role.
Financial: Since Prime Minister Netanyahu took over as finance minister in Israel in the 1990’s Israel’s financial status has continued to steadily improve while the financial status of the US has weakened dramatically. The debt/GDP ratio (an indicator of financial stability) in the US was in the 60% range for almost 2 decades until 2008. Since that time it has continued to increase dramatically so that it is now double that number (124%) and set to rise. On the other hand, the Israeli debt/GDP ratio decreased in 2022 from 68% to 60% as a result of a budget surplus last year. In 2022, inflation in the US was over 7% (conservative estimate) while in Israel it was 5.3%. The US has a continual import/export deficit while Israeli exports exceed their imports (which brings more financial stability to the country). The status of the US dollar as the reserve currency for the world is being threatened by Russia, China, Iran, and India amongst other Asian countries.
Internal Attitudes: For the past decade, American discourse has focused upon who is the bigger victim and how they’ve been wronged. Each “abused” minority demands more and more from the “racist majority” which has led to a polarization of the American public that has not been seen in 50 years. Each of these minorities needs a racist majority scapegoat and as usual the Jew is the easiest candidate.
Why is the Jew (and Israel) the easiest scapegoat? The answer is, as explained in detail by the Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Judaism is a religion of responsibility and not rights. Jews over the millennia have been subjected to as much persecution as any other minority, if not more. Yet, their response is not one of victimhood or a demand for rights. The response is one of responsibility: to pick myself up, to aid my family and neighbor, to strive for greatness and to struggle to improve the situation as much as feasible. How else could Israel which started a mere 75 years ago develop from a backwater third world country without any natural resources, surrounded for decades by enemies on all sides and throughout the world, and develop into a first rate technological powerhouse in multiple spheres of influence!
So now the two brothers appear to be entering a family squabble: The new Israeli government is not “trampling on rights” as the left has bellowed. Rather it is focusing on the government’s responsibilities to its people and the nation as a whole. The two state solution is dead, not because multiple Israeli governments haven’t tried to surrender to it. At times they have offered the Palestinians over 90% of the territory they claimed they deserved. Rather it is because the corrupt and intransigent Palestinian leadership has never been willing to compromise. They have always held out for “From the river to the sea” – total destruction of the only Jewish State, because it is the Jewish state. That was their motivation as early as the 1929 pogroms, almost a hundred years ago, well before the PLO and the PA. And sad to admit, they have been frequently joined by anti-Semitic voices throughout Europe and much of the world.
American society has become more and more polarized and one thing the “victims” of the extreme left and the extreme right can agree on: “It’s the fault of the Jews!” We are seeing the worst antisemitism since the 1950s. Jews are attacked on the streets of every liberal major city with impunity. Palestinians are free to bellow: “Death to the Jews” on college campuses with impunity. (Interestingly, they are only concerned with their brethren in the West Bank, but not about those murdered or abused under the PA rule in the West Bank, or in Gaza by Hamas, or in Lebanon by Hezbollah, or in Iran by the Ayatollah.) Celebrities blame Jews for all that ails them. They are all the victims and the Jew walking the street to the synagogue or innocently going to school on a college campus is the aggressor.
The paradigm, of necessity, is changing! The bipartisan support that Israel enjoyed in Congress is all but gone. Israel is increasingly, of necessity, standing on its own demonstrating true strength and leadership and this will need to continue and grow. It will not be able to rely on American political or financial support. I’m afraid that the family rift between the countries is growing and may be permanent especially as the financial situation in the US inevitably deteriorates.
Recently the left has been screaming about the reforms long overdue for the legal bureaucracy that mires the Israeli justice system. Yet, the Economist (Feb 1, 2023) published a fascinating report called The Democracy Index which rated each country for its level of democracy versus autocracy. For the first time Israel (at #29) came out ahead of the United States (#30). Both were listed as “flawed democracies”. But even more revealing is the trend. The US has trended down for the last 10+ years while Israel has trended up during the same period!
Israel has only one choice. The same choice it has had to make throughout its existence. It must continue to stand on its own two feet and lessen its dependence upon United States support. It should begin to wean itself from the need for US aid and continue to use its brainpower to make itself a necessity for much of the developing world in science, climate, and technology. By doing so, it can exert its influence in those countries it helps, to support it in world bodies, such as the corrupt UN where despots and classical anti-Semites currently rule. Israel has demonstrated repeatedly that nothing is beyond its imagination and reach, even in the political world as demonstrated with the Abraham Accords. And with God’s continuing support, it will survive and flourish.