David E. Weisberg

Israel must be prepared for breach with US

The future relationship with the US is uncertain, but Israel must be prepared to withstand a total breach.

The US has been a crucial ally of Israel during the war on Hamas in Gaza, providing both diplomatic support and military hardware. In the last days and weeks, however, it has become clear that that alliance might not continue into the future. Therefore, Israel must take all necessary steps to ensure that it can defend itself whether or not the current US administration, or any future US administration, is supportive.

President Joe Biden visited Israel days after the attack on Oct. 7 and said: “I come to Israel with a single message: You’re not alone. As long as the United States stands – and we will stand forever – we will not let you ever be alone.”

But more recently, the president has said that Israel is conducting “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza, and that Israel’s response to the Hamas attack is “over the top.” And just this past Monday, the US abstained from vetoing a UN Security Council resolution that demanded a ceasefire until the end of Ramadan, without conditioning that ceasefire on the release of all hostages abducted from Israel and held by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that the abstention was a “retreat” from the previous US position. There can be no doubt that, despite Pres. Biden’s previous assurances, many Israelis believe that he has indeed let them “be alone.”

While the Biden administration has been shifting ground, Democratic members of the US Congress have moved in the same direction. I could cite a dozen such instances, but I will cite only one: the astonishing speech delivered on the floor of the Senate by Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader and the self-styled “guardian” of Israel. Sen. Schumer made the draw-dropping claim that PM Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition government are equally responsible for the absence of peace in Gaza and the West Bank as are Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas terrorist organization. Pres. Biden said that Schumer had made a “good speech” with which many Americans agreed.

Why are the Biden administration and prominent Democrats in Congress drifting away from support for Israel? The change might be attributable to more than one reason: unhappiness with the suffering of civilians in Gaza (which anyone could appreciate); a “woke” culture and educational system that has produced a generation of younger voters who are an important element in the Democratic voting coalition and whose “thinking” is limited to looking at pictures, including pictures of destruction in Gaza, on their smartphones; and also a calculation that the votes of Muslim voters in Michigan and Minnesota could be crucial to the success of Biden’s bid for reelection in November.

No one can say if, when, or where the drift that is glaringly obvious in the Biden administration and in the Democratic political establishment will stop. And, in truth, although the Republican party seems currently to be strongly in support of Israel, at some time in the future, for reasons we perhaps could not even imagine today, Republicans too could become much less supportive of Israel. Even if Republicans continue staunchly to support Israel, the US government, since the Eisenhower election in 1952, has been roughly divided between Republican and Democratic administrations, so Democrats are likely to be in control for approximately half the time into the foreseeable future.

Regardless of the reasons for the obvious shift in Democratic sentiment, any realistic, fair-minded person would realize that that shift has important implications for Israel. One implication is that the diplomatic support – specifically, the vetoes that the US would formerly cast to staunch the seemingly unending flow of unfair, one-sided proposed resolutions against Israel in the UN Security Council – might end. If diplomatic support vanishes, there is nothing Israel can do about that, except perhaps hope that a new, different US administration will reinstate a more Israel-friendly diplomatic policy.

But to the extent Israel relies on the US for military hardware and supplies, there are steps Israel can and should take to insulate itself from a possible US boycott in the future. In the midst of the current conflict, Israel of course has no choice but to continue to rely on the US for the war material that only the latter can deliver. Once the conflict has subsided, however, I would submit that the only reasonable course Israel can take would be to develop its own internal sources for that material.

In light of the profound uncertainties regarding future relations between Israel and the US, the only prudent, wise course for Israel is to prepare for the worst case. That means producing in-house all the essential war material Israel needs to protect itself. This will no doubt require a major shift in Israel’s manufacturing infrastructure, but that shift is necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself. And, in this imperfect and violent world of ours, there is a market for the kinds of high-quality weapons that Israeli manufacturers would be sure to produce.

As an American Jew who wants to see Israel thrive, it gives me no pleasure to urge that Israelis think about the possible abandonment of Israel by the US government.  Nevertheless, that possibility cannot be dismissed; in fact, the possibility seems to be ever more realistic with each passing day. I hope Israel will react appropriately to the changes that should be obvious to all.

About the Author
David E. Weisberg is a semi-retired attorney and a member of the N.Y. Bar; he also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Michigan (1971). He now lives in Cary, NC. His scholarly papers on U.S. constitutional law can be read on the Social Science Research Network at:
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