The American-Israeli alliance relies not only on the realist viewpoint of common interests but more so on a shared set of beliefs and values. This kind of alliance is much stronger and beneficial than a pure patron-client relationship that the Obama administration seems to be seeking.
Keeping the status-quo of American hegemony remains the cornerstone of any Israeli regional policy, even without American pressure. This is not true in regards to other players in the Middle East. Keeping "moderate" Arab states in line with American interests requires constant monitoring and "hard currency" in the form of direct American military involvement in the defense of these states.
Another means of securing their support is by paying them in Israeli currency; Using American influence over Israel to make concessions.
This kind of "payment" was used throughout Israel's history. In the 1950s America launched Operation Alpha in an attempt to stop Egypt from joining the Soviet camp. Israel was supposed to make territorial compromises in the Negev desert in return for peace with Egypt. This plan did not materialize, partly because of Israel's refusal but also because Egypt signed a Czech arms deal which showed clearly whom it sided with.
A quarter of a century later a similar plan was executed successfully when the Camp David accords were signed; Egypt joined the Western camp in a step that helped establish American hegemony in the region. Here again Israel had to pay the price: the Sinai Peninsula was handed over to Egypt in return for a peace agreement.
These two examples demonstrate a pattern in the American-Israeli relationship: American pressure on Israel to make concessions in order to secure American interests. Sometimes these concessions are aligned with Israeli national interests but in other cases they clash with them.
These two cases show also a fundamental difference between Israel and its Arab neighbors: while Israel is consistently aligned with the West, the Arab states have a more flexible foreign policy and bandwagon with whatever side is more beneficial to them at the moment. This point is true today more than ever; America attempts to maintain the status-quo in the region against Iran's policy of gaining regional influence and eventually hegemony.
The payment to Arab states is by American military involvement and pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians; the same Palestinians who sided with the Soviets during the Cold War, with Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War and maintain a close relationship with Iran (especially Hamas, but not exclusively).
Before applying public pressure on Israel, Obama's administration should remember that the Jewish State is America's most reliable ally in the region. Israel is more valuable as a state with a strong leadership and an independent national security policy rather then a client state that capitulates to every American demand.
If Israel hadn't destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981, an act that was met with strong American criticism, who knows what the outcome of the First Gulf War would have been.
Obama's forceful policy towards Israel suffers from a combination of short sightedness along with a basic misunderstanding of the region. Publically criticizing Israel and supporting Palestinian demands is counter productive because it only causes the Palestinians to become more entrenched in their positions. This policy also disregards the fact that despite substantial compromises made by Israel, the Palestinian stance hasn't changed at all.
The Palestinians continue to reject the concept of a Jewish nation and its connection to the Land of Israel. Moreover, in respect to the Iran question, it's still unclear which side they’re on.
The writer is a member of the Institute for Zionist Strategies Young Leadership Forum and a student of International Relations at the Haifa University