Partisan politics infects US-Israel relationship: save Israel by giving Palestinians a home
Failing to cancel a visit to Israel in the wake of controversial statements made against Arab voters by Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as his pledges to prevent the rise of a Palestinian state, in the run-up to Election Day, US House Speaker John Boehner is stoking political strife between the Left and Right of both countries in order to undermine the Obama Administration. This is particularly self-evidence when considering Mr. Boehner must have chose to plan his trip as the Netanyahu controversy was unfolding.
Given the Prime Minister’s political damaging speech to a joint-session of the US Congress in early March and exuberant support for Netanyahu’s reelection on behalf of the GOP, it would appear self-proclaimed “conservatives” of both nations are choosing to overcome opposition from the Center and Left in their respective nations by joining forces as a globalized “Conservative” brand. Unfortunately, this emerging political dynamics undercuts the interests of average Americans and Israelis for the sake of Right-wing gains.
Despite flattering proclamations declaring Israel as America’s greatest ally in order for the political class to avoid being labeled anti-Semitic, Israel is not. Israel may be America’s most favored ally, but it is not America’s greatest ally. Britain, most likely, fits that description. Where Germany and France are America’s second/third most important European allies, Japan holds the title of America’s greater ally in Asia with Australia fighting to strengthen its ties with America.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, albeit unreliable at times, is the most valuable US ally. After all, it has the most influence in the region and shares numerous pro-Western interests. Unfortunately, once-strong allies Turkey and Israel are both waning in their intrinsic value to the US due to top political figures pushing hardliner policies to retain their own power. In fact, Israel has essentially no diplomatic clout in its own region or the International Community, so its intrinsic value has been as a tool for the US to check the military might of unfriendly nations.
Although the US does love Israel as a child, its hardliner stance on nuclear talks with Iran and heavy-handed approach to the Palestinians in a changing world has turned the US-Israeli relationship at the helm of Benjamin Netanyahu into a liability. Despite this blunt assessment, the GOP leadership seems to view the Israeli leadership as their greatest political allies. Unfortunately for Republicans, this perspective reveals the disconnect between political thinking and the reality of Israel’s standing in the world.
Given Netanyahu has encountered strong political backlash for appearing to use American politics to advance his agenda in regards to Iran and suppress political dissent at home, support for Netanyahu’s government is a lose-lose scenario. This is especially true when considering Israel’s heavy-handed policies against the Palestinians are often used to justify and garner support for Israel’s enemies, including Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas. Not only is unquestioned support of Israel and the politics of its government harmful to US interests, it is harmful to the Israeli People and imperils Israel’s future.
Instead of acting as a junior partner in the US-Israel relationship, the United States needs to do more to assert its interests in order to bring Israel’s policies back in sync with US interests and the interests of the Israeli People. While President Obama has offered resistance to Netanyahu’s policies throughout his Presidency, which has created personal turmoil between the two leaders, the Obama Administration must take further constructive steps to overcome the political prejudice that makes it taboo to criticize Israel when it is in the wrong.
The most likely first-step in the process to address Israel’s increasingly antagonistic role in the Middle East is to stop enabling Israel’s destructive, counter-productive behavior. This can only be done in a peaceful, responsible manner by the US refusing to shield Israel from the diplomatic consequences of its harmful behavior. One means of doing that is for the US to ease resistance to reasonable diplomatic initiatives, such those helping the Palestinian People form a stable, independent state and government of their own.
Thanks largely to Israeli influence, the major power brokers of the world do not even recognize the Palestinian People have a country of their own. Certainly, there are historic reasons for this, but it also means the Palestinian People cannot come together under a single national identity or properly voice the grievances they have as a People against nations like Israel. It is important to recognize the Peoples of the world engage in civilized activities like politics and diplomacy in order to avoid the use of violence in addressing grievances, thus a Palestinian state is needed.
Support for non-state actors like terrorist groups exists, because political and diplomatic entities have failed to serve the interests of People and failed to address their grievances. Without a nation of their own, the Palestinians can never feel as though their interests are being addressed or the world is listening to their plight, thus supporting violence over diplomacy have become the only viable means of ensuring Palestinian interests are addressed to some degree.
As such, support for Hamas and other anti-Israel groups can only be undermined if the Palestinian People are given the right to represent themselves. What the Palestinians need is support in terms of building their society and resolving daily grievances against Israel instead of the big picture items international peace talks tend to focus on. This means affording the Palestinian People enough leverage to address their grievances with Israel on near-equal footing, instead of Westerners forcing Israel to half-heartily listen to Palestinians grievances when the Palestinians are at a complete disadvantage.
If this does not happen, the Palestinian People will continue to suffer while Israel will continue to be under siege by intensifying security threats and become an even greater destabilizing force in a globalizing Muslim world. Moreover, there is a need for political bravery in order to overcome the political agendas that are paralyzing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. That bravery must come from the Obama Administration in the simple act of allowing the Palestinians to build a home of their own.
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