Israel needs to change course, or she will lose the War of Independence she has been fighting since 1948.
It’s not possible for Israel to endure as a satellite of a country whose regime opposes our survival as a Jewish state. The Biden Administration’s policies are no different than those we struggled against during the Obama presidency. There is a de facto freeze on construction east of the Green Line, for Jews. For Arabs, the sky is the limit, all paid for by the Europeans. We are losing Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, which – whatever you think about their spiritual and psychological importance for the Jewish people – are strategically essential for the defense of our country.
The Palestinian Arabs smell blood in the water and believe there is a possibility to realize their dream of finally kicking the Jews out of our tiny slice of the world between the river and the sea. The Biden Administration has restored funds that Trump cut, both to the Palestinian Authority and to UNWRA, which maintains and grows the army of more than 5 million Arabs with their unique hereditary refugee status (like no other refugees in history). In the last two weeks, 14 Israelis have been murdered in a terror campaign. Just like last year at this time, it appears that both the PA and Hamas are interested in provoking an uprising among Israel’s Arab citizens.
Iran is galloping toward nuclear weapons, with the assistance of the Biden Administration, which is positively lusting to sign a deal that will a) legitimize Iran’s violation of the non-proliferation treaty it signed, b) criminalize any Israeli military action against Iran, and c) provide billions of dollars to finance strengthening Iran’s encirclement of Israel with heavily armed proxy armies.
There are plenty of problems in the country that are the fault of our various governments, both the current one led by Naftali Bennett, and the previous ones of Binyamin Netanyahu. But the greatest threats – the existential threats – are war with Iran and her proxies, and large-scale insurrection by the Arabs living between the river and the sea (which would probably occur concurrently). Both of these possibilities have been facilitated by the West, and in particular by the last two Democratic administrations in the US.
The Trump Administration broke with the US policy since the 1970s, which had been to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war. Trump understood and acted on the truths that a Palestinian state whose western boundary approximated the 1949 armistice line would become a threat to Israel’s heartland, that the Jordan valley and the Golan Heights are essential to make the state defensible, and that Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel. He put the brakes on the unlimited expansion of a “refugee” population that would accept no solution other than “returning” en masse to Israel, and converting it into an Arab-majority state. He made the Palestinian Authority accountable for its policy of paying the terrorists that murder Israelis. And finally, he exited Obama’s nuclear deal and initiated a “maximum pressure” campaign that – had it not been cut short by his removal from power – was the only policy short of war that could have stopped Iran.
Although Biden’s administration may have some of its teeth pulled by the upcoming midterm elections, we need to recognize that the US Democratic Party as a whole has become far more anti-Israel than it was even during the Obama period, and this is even more pronounced for its younger members. It’s impossible to predict the outcome of the next presidential election (2024) and even if a Republican wins, it’s not clear that his or her policies will be pro-Israel. Anti-Israel attitudes in general are increasing in the US, and it is unlikely that we will see an administration as friendly as Trump’s in the future.
Like methamphetamine users who steal from their families or sell their bodies in order to obtain drugs, Israel has bartered her future in order to support her addiction to American military aid. I’ve argued that it’s unnecessary, that it skews our military procurement toward “free” systems rather than what fits our needs best, that it cripples our own defense industry, that it corrupts our military establishment, and – most important – that it gives the US far too much leverage over our political and military decisions.
So we agree to stop construction in communities in Judea, Samaria, or eastern Jerusalem. We don’t enforce our laws and court decisions concerning illegal Arab building. We accept limitations on our trade with China. We are pressured not to sabotage Iranian facilities or assassinate their personnel, and even not to comment on Iran so as to protect the nuclear negotiations. During the Obama period, deliveries of critical weapons were held up, and the FAA declared our international airport off limits in order to pressure us to agree to a cease-fire with Hamas.
Our defense officials tend to follow Washington’s lead, because US aid is something like a quarter of Israel’s military budget. It is very hard to say no in such circumstances. In 2012, Netanyahu and Ehud Barak came close to bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities; opposition from the US and from our own military and security officials torpedoed the plan.
This problem has been with us for decades, since Jimmy Carter sweetened the Camp David deal between Israel, the US, and Egypt, with big chunks of military aid for the former antagonists. Today our dependence on the US, which may have once been a minor concern, has grown into a major one. As Iran comes closer and closer to its nuclear weapon and as we are on the verge of losing control of much of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, we are feeling the pressure of the American “golden handcuffs.”
As a tiny nation in a world of competing imperial powers, our survival depends on our being able to maintain a degree of distance from all of them. While we have to be careful not to make enemies of any of them, it is also a mistake to put all of our eggs in one basket, to the point that our fealty is taken for granted – especially when the empire in question has interests that more and more diverge from ours.
I would like to see our government begin a gradual phase-out of American military aid, along with a study of what kind of systems we need the most to maintain our deterrence. Maybe instead of buying astronomically expensive F-35s with American money, we should be building more drones and missiles ourselves? This is a decision that should be made here – and not in Washington.
Although we are a small country, we have technological know-how that could be leveraged by cooperation with other unaligned countries, like India for example. There is already some progress in this direction.
It also wouldn’t hurt to improve our relations with China; a repressive, nasty regime, but one that unfortunately may become the dominant one on the planet in a decade or two.
Under Balfour, England was a great supporter of Israel. But then England lost its strength and direction, and turned against Israel in many ways. The same thing has happened to the United States under Obama and now under Biden. The U.S. is no longer a supporter of Israel. Israel must again rely on itself and the support of the world-wide Jewish community.
Agree strongly with every word Vic. I as well have for decades been advocating less reliance on America military aid. I understand it’s not black and white but we made a huge mistake when we dropped the Lavie project. American is not our friend, and the sooner we come to grips with that the better, before it’s too late. What is happening in the Negev and in the “Triangle” is an existential issue and it’s simply UNBELIEVABLE that we have allowed it to come this far, and we still are doing literally nothing even now to stem the tide.
“What is happening in the Negev and in the “Triangle” is an existential issue and it’s simply UNBELIEVABLE that we have allowed it to come this far, and we still are doing literally nothing even now to stem the tide.”
I have asked myself the exact same question.
WHY IS NOTHING BEING DONE?
Per Vic, from the above column:
“Like methamphetamine users who steal from their families or sell their bodies in order to obtain drugs, Israel has bartered her future in order to support her addiction to American military aid.”
THAT makes more sense than anything I’ve heard or read!!
There is no question that Israel needs to become unaligned. However, I cannot see it happening, because:
1. the top brass of Zahal are too attached to the American teat and no politician from left or right will go against them.
2. the Israeli “elite” have never shaken off a galut mentality in which one cowers before whoever is in power and they haven’t digested the fact that America is abandoning its erstwhile allies in the region.
3. Even though the majority of Jews in the country (except the haredim, who march to a different drummer) are right wing, it is the left wing minority who control the power centers such as the “supreme” court, the judiciary, media, academia, etc. and Zionism is a dead letter with these people.
I couldn’t agree more! If we’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t rely on anyone except for Him. If you look at the current geopolitical situation, the US is no more our friend than Russia or China. Israel has an obligation to look after her own people, period. They should play the same game that the US plays with Israel. Appease the US with words and do what’s best for Israel even if that means trade with China, Russia, who ever….
I too have reached the conclusion that Israel would be much better off were she to put the kibosh on the relationship with a sinking America that abuses her.
Being a realist, who deals in facts, America is sinking. Personal freedom, economic prosperity, and influence over international outcomes are all on the wane in this runaway liberal progressive train wreck. China, at least, grounds her policies in realpolitik and maximizing the growth of prosperity for its citizens. America, in its current iteration emphasizes destruction of the middle class and ending meritocracy in the belief that social justice will be served thereby.
I will always disagree with those calling for a deeper relationship with China. The CCP is evil pure and simple, and I’ve been extremely disappointed with the inroads we’ve allowed them into our country. Realpolitik is one thing, dancing with the devil is something altogether different. I will never be convinced otherwise. Somewhere, somehow, we have to find the way to look after our own interests first and foremost without giving up our soul.
I agree with Vic, and I agree with sabashimon, who cautions about the real evils of China. It seems Israel, and Jews around the world, always play it so naive, believing the great powers will act out of a sense of what is right and not out of their own selfish calculations. Until recently, US calculations valued what Israel brought to the table; but, not anymore. The curbing of US power has been part of far-left calculations since the 1960s. Harming Israel is part of the strategy to diminish US power. I don’t have a problem with reigning in US abuses of power, but the strategy playing out in the Middle East, where the US empowers a revolutionary regime of religious zealots to dominate the region and eliminate Israel is stupid, as well as deadly, for Israel and everyone else who understands what is in store if Iran is allowed to rise.
Ideally we should be completely independent and self-sufficient. But in reality we cannot be. We need the US diplomatically also to prevent the world as a whole ganging up on us. The US may be a poor friend in many ways and it might be wise to diminish relations in certain areas but there is no one who is going to replace it. We don’t have an easy answer and we don’t have a way to a guaranteed safe future. I don’t think we get a fair deal in all this but believe we have to work to get the most we can out of it.
I do not want to believe that this is the last blog of Abu Yehuda. Despite the need to confront many issues again and again I believe you will always be able to bring new insights to our changing situation.
I also believe your voice and ideas might move to changes in policy for the good.
I would also add that despite my many years here and my keeping up with the situation I have continually learned and gotten new understanding from your writing.
Perhaps you could write less frequently but still keep the blog going.