Jun 19th 2015

The US Must Stop Enabling Israel

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

No one can deny the close, abiding, and unparalleled friendship between the United States and Israel. This tight bond has served both countries well, especially Israel, which has benefitted politically, economically, and militarily from the US’s unwavering support, helping Israel to become a powerhouse second to none in the Middle East. It appears, though, that this unequivocal American support and friendship enabled Israel to become more entrenched in the West Bank by building and expanding the settlements and expropriating Palestinian land, thereby making the prospect of achieving peace ever more remote.

Regardless of the wars and violent conflicts sweeping the region since Israel’s inception, the US maintained a steady hand in its support of Israel, even at the expense of its own strategic interests in the area.

Friendship, after all, whether between countries or individuals, carries with it a moral responsibility and obligation to lend aid, advice, resources, and protection as the case may warrant. An ethical difficulty arises, however, when one realizes that instead of helping a friend, one is in fact allowing, or enabling, that friend to harm himself.

To use a simple analogy, if my friend is addicted to drugs, there quickly comes a point where readily giving him money (in the Israeli-US situation, providing Israel with military aid, economic assistance, and especially political cover) is directly contributing to the continuation of this devastating habit.

It is precisely in the name of friendship that I must refuse to give that which my friend so ardently desires. Such a policy of ‘tough love’ is never easy or pleasant, and certainly unpopular – as Nietzsche put it, “This is the hardest of all: to close the open hand out of love…”

US-Israel relations are presently at a historic low because Obama was willing to show a little tough love by exerting limited pressure on Israel to suspend settlement activity. The irony here is that while the US believes that Israeli-Arab peace will provide Israel with ultimate long-term security, it did not exert sufficient pressure on Israel to pursue peace, which of necessity requires significant concessions.

Every day that the US allows the continuation of the occupation, it is inadvertently compromising Israel’s national security, even though the US is committed to safeguard that very thing. Israel is digging itself deeper while the US remains its protector and the prospect for a two-state solution becomes dimmer, threatening Israel’s very existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

The US must no longer give Israel a blank check, hoping that it will use it wisely. Israel has failed that test and the US is becoming as a result complicit in Israel’s self-destructive policy. Given that the US has a moral and material stake in Israel’s wellbeing and is committed to its preservation, it must be in a position to shape and influence Israel’s conduct, particularly in relation to its conflict with the Palestinians.

There are those who argue that Israel is a sovereign state and no other country, including the US, can dictate what Israel can or cannot do. The problem is that Israel depends on the US politically, and to safeguard its national security, and cannot at the same time defy the US and continue to expect this unconditional support.

Other than the damage the US’s current policy has caused to Israel’s national security interests, the US has lost much of its credibility in the region. The Arab states accuse the US of lacking impartiality in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they go as far as suggesting that America is in Israel’s pocket.

As it is, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely difficult to resolve and is further burdened by differing historical and religious accounts and claims, and every day that passes without a solution makes the conflict ever more intractable.

Prime Minister Netanyahu believes he can defy the US with impunity; one can count on him (contrary to his public protestations) to make every effort to stymie the creation of a Palestinian state.

Only when the US changes its policy and is prepared to exert, in the main, political pressure on Israel, will the US be able to save Israel from its destructive path.

The US must now work closely with its European and Arab allies to come up with a binding UNSC resolution that will compel both Israelis and Palestinians to sit down and negotiate a peace agreement. If Israel refuses to abide by the resolution or negotiate in good faith, the US should withdraw its political cover, thereby exposing Israel to international censure.

Netanyahu, like most Israelis, simply takes American political support for granted. When he realizes he can no longer do so, he will have to heed the US’s advice and together develop new plans that will advance the peace process, or resign.

That said, the current extreme right-wing coalition government led by Netanyahu will under no circumstances accede to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and it will unravel under international, especially American, pressure.

Needless to say, this in no way exempts the Palestinians from fulfilling their own responsibility in negotiating in earnest and making the required concessions, however painful, with the objective of reaching an agreement.

Like all of his predecessors, having judiciously watched Israel’s back, Obama has the obligation and moral responsibility to demand that Israel resume the negotiations in earnest. Although Israel has enjoyed tremendous political support from both Congress and the American people, there is a definite shift among the public and leading politicians toward putting the onus on Israel.

This seven decades-old debilitating conflict that has destabilized the Middle East and continues to feed into the region’s sweeping violent frenzy must come to an end.

The US ought to be clear by explaining to the Israeli public in particular that time is running out. If Israel continues to build new and expand existing settlements, it will seriously and rapidly erode the prospect of a two-state solution.

Israel must choose now between a) remaining a Jewish and democratic state by ending the occupation and creating two states, b) becoming a one-state democracy (in which case the Palestinians will be the governing majority), or c) end up being an apartheid state subject to international condemnation, sanctions, and isolation.

A change in American policy toward Israel in no way suggests that the US is less committed to Israel’s national security. On the contrary, because of the US’s unwavering commitment, it becomes incumbent upon it morally and materially to end its enablement of Israel’s addiction to building more settlements, expropriating more land, and maintaining the occupation, which will destroy Israel as we know it.

By demonstrating tough love, the US can fulfill its moral obligation to best serve Israel’s national security and preserve it as an independent Jewish and democratic state, which for nearly all Israelis is their most cherished dream.




To follow what's new on Facts & Arts,
 please click here.

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jun 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "Xi Jinping’s call for friendship gives us an opportunity to examine Chinese politics on both the domestic and international stage. On the face of it, it suggests the possibility of rapprochement between the rich liberal democracies represented by the G7 and the authoritarian Chinese state. However, despite appearances of a call for a closer relationship, there is more than one way of being friends – and Xi’s idea might be somewhat different to what many in countries attending the G7 might expect."
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "China’s recently published census, showing that its population has almost stopped growing, brought warnings of severe problems for the country. “Such numbers make grim reading for the party,” reported The Economist. This “could have a disastrous impact on the country,” wrote Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, in the Financial Times. But a comment posted on China’s Weibo was more insightful. “The declining fertility rate actually reflects the progress in the thinking of Chinese people – women are no longer a fertility tool.” "
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: " I remember recounting fellow leaders of the story of a Rwanda schoolboy caught up in the genocide of the 1990s and now immortalized in the Kigali Genocide Memorial museum, where, in a section devoted to children, one can find his photograph and a plaque that reads: ----- David, age 11 ...... Ambition: to be a doctor ...... Favorite sport: football ...... Favorite hobby: making people laugh ...... Death: by mutilation ...... Last words: the UN are coming to save us ----- In his idealism and innocence, David believed the international community would save him and his mother. We didn’t. "
Jun 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " While many conservative Republicans opposed Trump and saw that he posed a danger to their party and democracy itself, they were hesitant to buck the mass movement they had created, fearing that it would turn against them. Some of these same conservatives assumed that with Trump's defeat, the horror of January 6th, and the former president's banishment from social media, the time had come to restore sanity to their party. But the GOP leadership’s continued cowering in the face of what they now call "Trump's base" has caused them to circle the wagons and purge their ranks of those who call for sanity. "
May 26th 2021
Editor's Note: This article is about the Federal Reserve, inflation in the 1970's, and possible similarities to today.
May 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Netanyahu claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people. He certainly is not. Many Jews around the world, including me, despise Netanyahu’s racist politics. As an American, I am also deeply troubled by the US government’s knee-jerk support of Israel. Fortunately, I am not alone in this view. A growing number of Democratic Congressmen, Jews and non-Jews alike, have called on the United States to stop supporting Israel’s lawlessness. The truth is that the US government’s uncritical support for Israel has come to depend more on evangelical Christians, such as former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, than on American Jews, who are deeply divided by Netanyahu’s actions. And the evangelicals’ real interest in Zionism is not Jews’ security, but Armageddon, the end of the world, which they believe will come only when all Jews are in Israel."
May 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "This period in US history could go down as the moment when America’s democratic system for electing a president – the most consequential duty of US citizens – was broken, perhaps for good."
May 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "While reading Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) monumental report “A Threshold Crossed,” I felt a range of emotions. It also left me with one big question. I was deeply impressed by the report’s rigorous scholarship. At the same time, it brought to the surface feelings of anger and profound sadness. It’s an extraordinarily complete study detailing not only the many ways Israel has violated a broad range of Palestinian human rights, but the ideology of racial superiority and entitlement that Israel has used to justify its repression." ..... "My advice to both Israel’s defenders and weak-kneed liberals is​, “Read the damn report.” "
May 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: .... "He transformed a transitioning market economy into a stable statist project that rests on an alliance of his inner circle," ..... "He transformed Russia from a respected member of the international community into a rogue state" .... ". He energized NATO by providing it with the adversary it lacked after the end of the cold war," ..... "He befriended hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional, and unstable dictatorships..." ..... "He forged a quasi-alliance with China, thereby enhancing Russia’s dependence on the one country that might have reason to appropriate those Russian territories inhabited by Chinese."
May 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "On the face of it, the latest escalation of violence is following the template of all inter-ethnic wars. Muslims observing Ramadan shouted nationalist slogans and clashed with Israeli right-wing groups chanting “Death to the Arabs.” The Israelis haughtily marched with their national flag on Jerusalem Day, marking Israel’s capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Second Temple, and of Al-Aqsa, completed in the year 705. Battles in and around the Al-Aqsa compound erupted, with worshipers inside throwing stones at the Israeli police, who responded by firing rubber-tipped bullets and other projectiles, wounding hundreds."
May 13th 2021
"Regardless of how the current and future violent conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem will end, there will be no Israeli-Palestinian peace unless East Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state while the city remains united."
May 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " Would the United States be prepared to risk a catastrophic war with the People’s Republic of China to protect the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan? "
May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "
May 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "The best way to defend liberal democracy is to practice it at home and abroad with the “courage and self-confidence” that Kennan touted at the dawn of the Cold War. This is also the best way to ensure the survival of our own conception of human freedom. And survive it will."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building. Before the US is blindsided again, its leaders must act resolutely to root out extremism in the military."
Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "When we examined the development of nations worldwide since 1820, we found that among rich Western countries like the United States, the Netherlands and France, improvements in income, education, safety and health tracked or even outpaced rising gross domestic product for over a century. But in the 1950s, even as economic growth accelerated after World War II, well-being in these countries lagged.
Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."