For years, Israel nurtured its relationship with the United States. The connection to its biggest and most loyal ally was a key and crucial consideration in decisions related to defense and foreign affairs. But recently it seems that the Israeli government is starting to stray from this line.
Israel has different considerations in the Ukrainian crisis affair. It fears, and rightfully so, for the fate of the large Jewish community left in that country, and it does not want any act or failure on its part to affect the attitude towards this community on the part of the Ukrainian government in Kiev as well as Russia – a world power which Israel is very careful not to offend.
Israel is so careful, that it did not vote on the Ukrainian issue together with the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), a regional bloc which it was admitted into as a "temporary full" member in 2005. A years-long struggle to be accepted by that group was deemed successful at the time, and Israel's ambassador to the United Nations got to add to his title the position of vice president of the General Assembly.
Israel enjoyed its membership in the group and its support for years. Yet on the one time that Israel was asked to vote together with the bloc's member countries alongside the US, we were not there for the world power which has vetoed countless Security Council votes in favor of Israel.
The Israeli government did not see it fit to provide the public with some kind of explanation about its policy which required such conduct. Anonymous sources said that it had to be done for national security considerations. Considerations which should be kept secret, apparently.
What threats would we be facing had we voted at the UN as required from our membership in the Western European and Others Group? What punishment would Russia have imposed on Israel had it explained to Moscow that it is committed to the vote because of its membership in the bloc? What does Israel gain from its ongoing silence over Russia's growing military aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, some of which is making its way to Hezbollah?
If it were not for Russia's growing activity in Syria, I doubt Iran would have succeeded in significantly improving its foothold in an enemy country bordering Israel to the chance of securing permanent presence there. And Jerusalem is keeping mum.
While the Israeli government is showing respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ministers, the waves of ridicule and scorn towards the US are increasing. The "weak," "fatigued" US, whose president is so out of touch and unsuccessful that we are hoping – and some say working – for his failure. Senior ministers and commentators are constantly mocking the "Americans" as if they were the outstanding good-for-nothing of our time.
What is the US for Israel in 2014? The country which hands us more than $2 billion a year in military aid; the country which has signed numerous decisions to supply us with arms that guarantee our qualitative superiority over any other weapons system in the region – including those Moscow is transferring to our enemies; the country which takes part, among other things, in funding the production of Iron Dome missiles which defend our communities; the country which has a tight relationship with us in the intelligence field; the country which has provided us countless times and is still providing us with a reliable and stable diplomatic umbrella.
In spite of all the crises the US has gone through, it is still the only super power in the world, with the strongest army in the world, with the most advanced equipment in the world. Some 35,000 American soldiers are deployed in the Persian Gulf area – aerial, naval and ground forces – and they are capable of destroying the Iranian nuclear ability at any given moment if the president orders them to.
Israel must show the US the same respect it shows Russia and China for reasons of "national security." If Jerusalem treats American President Barack Obama with the same respect reserved today for the presidents of Russia and China, and if the Israeli government ministers limit their visits to Washington to only a double of their visits to Moscow, we will have the best of both worlds, instead of bowing down to our rivals and degrading our friends.
Efraim Halevy is a former head of the Mossad.