Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
[See B. J. Shapiro article below:]
“There exists … among many Americans, a conviction of Israeli dependence. What is worse, many Israelis have asense of dependence; worst of all, it is a sense that exists also among Israeli leaders.” (Shmuel Katz, “Surrender to Washington," The Jerusalem Post, May 20, 1983).
One such Israeli leader who suffers from this in spades is its current president, Shimon Peres. Speaking before aconference in Jerusalem last week, Peres said that Israel depends on the U.S. "for our existence" and that "we cannot give back to the United States what the U.S. is giving us, but in our own small way we can be of help."
That "small way," according to Peres, is "if we stop the secondary conflict between us and the Palestinians." Then, said Peres, the U.S. would be free to focus on Iran.
It’s not surprising that Peres should disseminate this craven view of Israeli dependency and the nonsense that turning Judea and Samaria over to Fatah is the key to ending the Iranian threat. It’s what one would expect from the chief architect of the calamitous Oslo Accords and a man who has made so many ridiculous statements over the years that he actually inspired a “best-of” collection of the most fantastically stupid ones (“Shimon Says”).
Unfortunately, Peres isn’t alone in his belief that Israel can’t make it without America. It’s a feeling shared by many, both in the U.S. and Israel. Treated as an article of faith, the notion that Israel is propped up by American largesse is one of those “truths” about Israel that is universally acknowledged, but little examined.
This writer recalls stopping at a Delek station for a fill-up some years ago when the attendant, grinning from ear-to-ear and with a thumb's up, informed him that "Without America, Israel is finished."
Shmuel regarded the belief in Israel's dependence, specifically among its own leaders, as a chief reason for Israel's string of diplomatic defeats. In “Purse-String Tangles” (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 1982), Shmuel wrote:
The sense of “dependence” on the United States has time and again sapped the will of Israeli leaders and dictated to them a retreat from positions long and sincerely held, an abandonment of tested national, and rational, axioms basic to Israel’s security. Why did the Golda Meir government on October 22, 1973, accept a cease-fire which prevented the achievement, after so much suffering and loss, of total victory over the Egyptian and Syrian aggressors? Only two days earlier, Foreign Minister Abba Eban had unequivocally rejected the idea of a cease-fire – only victory would serve.In "Surrender to Washington", Shmuel emphasized the mutuality of interests – and benefits – of the relationship.
It is not true that Israel is “dependent” on the U.S. There exists, in fact, a state of mutuality – but Israel’s benefits are immediate and visible, while its contributions are long-term and less tangible.In a 1988 Global Affairs article, “Interdependence in U.S.-Israeli Relations” he wrote:
A friendly Israel is essential to America's global security not only because of geopolitical facts, but because Israel has developed a capability of actively serving American interests, particularly in the Middle East. A threat by any enemy of the United States to the eastern Mediterranean and its shores would be met, certainly in the first phase of a conflict, by Israeli forces. It is the one area of vital American interest where no U.S. forces are stationed.Twenty-two years later, that is still essentially true. The “first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil” was established only this September. It’s an X-band radar installation needed for coordinating defense against an Iranian attack. Total personnel: 120. Hardly, the “more than 100 thousand military and civilian personnel operations” the U.S. European Command boasts that it conducts across Europe.
Israel, a feisty little country, prides itself on fighting its own battles. If Israel is to be considered dependent why then aren't the European nations? These mostly wealthy countries have shifted their defense budgets onto the shoulders of U.S. taxpayers. Yet, not Germany, England, nor Italy, which have 1,000s of US troops stationed within their borders, suffer from a perceived dependence syndrome.
In the Global Affairs article, Shmuel writes:
[B]etween the United States and Israel there subsists a condition of interdependence manifest no less – and in some senses more – than in the relationship between the United States and Western Europe.…
Evidence of Israel’s contribution to American security is readily evident from a simple Google search. According to a USA Today news item in the lead-up to the Second Gulf War, “After decades of U.S. military aid and defense cooperation, the U.S. military is permeated by technology developed in Israel — from the Army's Hunter drones to the targeting systems on the U.S.
Marines' Harrier jets to the fuel tanks on its F-15 fighters.”
Even the openly hostile Obama administration recognizes that U.S.-Israeli relations are a two-way street. In July, Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, speaking at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, admitted:
“Israeli-origin equipment deployed on Iraqi and Afghan battlefields are protecting American troops every day. This includes armor plating technology for U.S. military vehicles and unique medical solutions such as the "Israeli bandage".… It also includes sensors, surveillance equipment, unmanned aerial vehicle technology, and detection devices to seek out IED's. Many such partnerships and investments between our two governments and U.S. and Israeli defense firms have yielded important groundbreaking innovations that ultimately make us all safer.”
A smaller admission was made by Joseph Sisco, a former assistant secretary of state, to Shmuel Katz during a symposium of the International Security Council in 1989. He said to Shmuel, "I want to assure you, Mr. Katz, that if we were not getting full value for our money, you would not get a cent from us."
Remarking on Sisco’s comments, Shmuel wrote:
This statement, coming from an American policy-shaper, makes political sense. It also makes sense to say that it is probably a considerable understatement. It is not easy to put price labels on Israel's contributions to American security, but whatever research has been done has confirmed that Israel has given more than "full value" for every cent received from the US. ("The Big Lie On US Aid," The Jerusalem Post, March 20, 1992.)
It's an open question whether the First Gulf War would have even been possible without the destruction of the Osirak reactor. Would America have dared confront militarily a nuclear Iraq?
With Iran rapidly approaching nuclear capability and its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, poised to wreak terror in the region and on the West, a strong ally on America’s side, one which has proven its reliability time and again, will continue to make valuable contributions to US security.
If Israel is to make those contributions, it must remain a formidable ally. It is profoundly against US interests to weaken Israel to the point where it is impossible for it to defend itself. At the same time, it behooves Israel to recognize the benefits it offers the United States, and from that recognition gain the dignity and the strength of will to resist US bullying to adopt policies that undercut its strength.
An alliance based on interdependence, mutuality, and shared strategic interests -- this is the foundation upon which the U.S.-Israel relationship is based. It's a fact both countries seem easily to forget. But maintaining a clear-eyed understanding of their relationship is important for each in order to form a stronger bond and work more closely to repel their common enemies.
An Editorial from the May 1999 issue of The Maccabean Online
American Foreign Policy and Israel: A Maccabean Perspective
by Bernard J. Shapiro
This article is quite critical of American Foreign Policy, therefore, I would like to say a few positive things up front. The American people when properly polled come out consistently in support of Israel. There are at least 50 million Evangelical Christians who are friends and dedicated supporters of Israel. Many of America's presidents have bucked the US State Department to help Israel with arms and money. The US Congress and Senate have consistently been friends of Israel. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his love of Israel many times. My own grandfather, for whom the Freeman Center was named, expressed his love of America upon his arrival on our shores:
"But what a change in life upon arriving in America - Free America. Here I suddenly found myself unbridled, the air free, no stifling, atmosphere - I could give free expression to the cravings of my soul! Life began to have a different meaning. What a blessing to have free assemblage, free speech free press! Can an American who has always enjoyed these blessings appreciate what it means to one who was deprived of them until manhood?"
Unfortunately there are institutions in America that don't love Israel as much as most of us do. Israel's relations with America go back even before statehood in 1948. During the critical years of WWII, the Zionist community of both America and Israel appealed to President Franklin Roosevelt to take action to stop the Holocaust. They were rebuffed at every turn. It was apparent that neither America nor any of its allies were very interested in saving Jewish lives. England was the most persuasive when arguing that the Jews saved would want to go to Palestine. This would anger the Arabs and should be avoided at all cost. It is true that European Jewry would have been a vast reservoir of new citizens for the emerging State of Israel. Their sheer numbers would have eliminated the Arab demographic problem in the new State. American policy came down solidly on the side of dead Jews as opposed to live Jews.
When Israel declared its independence in 1948, we were all pleased that the American president, Harry S. Truman, made America the first nation in the world to recognize the Jewish State. Yet even here there was a dark side to American Foreign Policy. The State Department had argued in vain against the recognition of Israel. When they didn't succeed at that they successfully placed an embargo of arms to Middle Eastern States. Seemingly neutral it only affected Israel since the British and French were arming the Arabs. So we have the spectacle of American recognition of Israel's independence while at the same time refusing the arms it needed to survive, to defend their lives.
Following Israel's Sinai Campaign in 1956, Eisenhower and Dulles forced Israel to withdraw with little political gain. Two "benefits" appeared to be: a UN Force in Sinai to guarantee free passage for Israel in the Gulf of Eilat; and an American promise to guarantee such free passage. In 1967 the UN Force disappeared, as did the American promise, which the State Department claimed they could not verify.
In the period since 1967, the US State Department has devoted an excessive amount of time developing and promoting plans to force Israeli withdrawal to the 'suicide' borders of pre-1967. With amazing regularity, the State Department has failed to be honest about violations of the agreements it has negotiated between the Arabs and Israelis.
The US has been blind to Arab violations from the failure to see missile movements in Egypt (1970-76) to the failure to see Palestinian violations of the Oslo and Wye Agreements. This US blindness has always been one way. The Israelis are subjected to constant misinterpretations of agreements. For example, never having agreed to a freeze in Jewish building, US spy satellites are active daily counting houses in YESHA. And then publicly rebuking Israel for a normal activity of a sovereign country.
In order to pressure Israel, stories appear on a regular basis claiming that Israel is transferring American technology to third parties. In every case they are proven false, but the constant repetition is meant to weaken Israel diplomatically. The State Department has orchestrated a media campaign to damage Israel's reputation in general and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. A few examples:
1. Netanyahu is the "hardline" PM of Israel while other world leaders are Statesman. Arafat is a 'leader'
2. Ethnic cleansing is bad in Kosovo but the ethnic cleansing of Jews from YESHA is good
3. All disputed land in YESHA 'belongs' to Arabs even when Israel has clear title
4. All foreign capitals are recognized 'except Jerusalem'
5. Israeli soldiers defending themselves from attack have been treated by the media as the 'bad guy'
6. Rock throwers who can crush you skull have been treated as 'demonstrators or protesters' by the media
7. Jewish villages are 'settlements' and 'illegitimate' while Arab villages are all considered legitimate
The list could on but now we must say something that should have been said years ago. It is very important for Israel to disengage from its close embrace with American diplomacy. It should be obvious to all that American and Israeli interests differ markedly in relation to the negotiations with the Palestinians. America has by its own admission ceased to be either pro-Israel or a neutral mediator (the Americans claim to be 'even-handed'). American policy in the final analysis will leave Israel with indefensible borders and an irredentist Palestinian neighbor yearning for all the land "from the river to the sea." Then, of course, they will also want Jordan.
Much more can be gained for Israel by negotiating directly with the Arabs. This used to be Israeli policy. In reality, Arafat has ceased negotiating with Israel and now is negotiating only with Washington.. It may be necessary to give up American aid dollars and possibly weapons to break out of the current US embrace. It will certainly be difficult, but in the end, there will exist a truly free and sovereign Israel. The alternative is to learn nothing from history: placing Israel's destiny in America's hands as was done during WWII. America won the war, but 90% of Europe's Jews were already dead. I would prefer Israel to survive.
Bernard J. Shapiro, Chairman of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies <www.freeman.org> and Editor of its publications.