Friday, May 27, 2011

With Friends like Israel,...

The suggestion by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israel's friends inside the US, that Israel is our greatest friend in the world is completely absurd. A much more accurate description would be to say that Israel is our greatest liability in the world (See, for example Gen. Petraeus's concerns).

Israel, the largest recipient in the world of American foreign aid, never has, and never will act against its own interests to further any interest of the US. This is not to say that the US doesn't have an interest in Israel's survival as a state, but our support has to be limited by our own interests and the interests of peace in the Middle East.

Matt Yglesias takes on the issue of our relationship with Israel in his American Progress column:Friends Without Benefits.
According to Netanyahu, it's in the vital interest of Israel to annex 100 percent of Jerusalem to the Jewish state, including neighborhoods that are inhabited nearly exclusively by Palestinians. Netanyahu also thinks it's vital for Israel to prevent any hypothetical future Republic of Palestine to have a military. But that's not to say he thinks there should be no military on Palestinian soil; he just wants to make sure it's an Israeli military stationed in the Jordan River Valley. For good measure, he added that "in Judea and Samaria [that is, the West Bank], the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers."

This is not an agenda that takes the interests of the region's Arab population seriously. Which makes sense, in a way. Israel is a democracy, as Netanyahu was at pains to note, and its prime minister is accountable to an Israeli electorate. The current Israeli priority is to enforce the interests of Israelis rather than promote fairness for Arabs. But when America positions itself as Israel's best friend, this signals to Palestinians and hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world that we, too, don't take the interests of the Palestinian people seriously. One can debate how big an impact this has on our policies throughout the greater Middle East, but it clearly doesn't help.
You can read the whole column here.

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