Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Obama and Netanyahu. 'The apocalyptic approach towards relationship between countries is baseless'
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Ben-Dror Yemini

In its relationship with US, Israel must start behaving like an adult

Op-ed: Even Israel's friends in America, and there are quite a few of them, are finding it difficult to fathom its insistence on continuing settlement enterprise.

Several days ago, in New York, the members of a certain research institute gathered to discuss Middle Eastern affairs. I listened, and couldn't believe my ears.



The things said against the US administration in general, and against President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular, were unprecedented. It was so bad that there are some Knesset members from the Likud party who would have felt the need to stand up and defend the two.


I have attended such events in the past, but I have never heard such blatant comments, and the world "blatant" is an understatement.


It's possible that a five-minute walk or drive away, in a different conference, blatant and scathing comments were made against the Republicans and against Israel. One does not have to move from one gathering to another in order to know that there are far more conferences, mainly academic ones, in which a lot more is said against Israel than in favor.


The "chickenshit" dispute, therefore, is mostly an internal American affair. It's not that there is no credibility crisis between the current American and Israeli administrations, on the contrary. The point is that this is, perhaps primarily, a dispute between different approaches in the United States.


Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who exposed the "chickenshit" slur in The Atlantic a week ago, wrote a follow-up article stating that even Israel's friends believe the country is out of touch with reality. Goldberg himself, who is considered to be very close to the administration and to the White House, is not anti-Israel.


Only two days passed before he received a blatant response from Jonathan Tobin in Commentary magazine. It's the American administration which is out of touch, Tobin argued, not Israel.


And it goes on. The radicalizing anti-Israel stance of the New York Times, which last week published a slanderous article filled with lies against Israel, is countered not only by the conservative Wall Street Journal, but also by the Washington Post. An editorial published over the weekend pointed a more accusing finger at the American administration than at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Settlement construction. 'The administration isn't hostile, it just fears another flare-up' (Photo: AP)
Settlement construction. 'The administration isn't hostile, it just fears another flare-up' (Photo: AP)


The timing of the crisis' current outburst is not incidental, because Tuesday is election day in the US. Nothing has been finalized yet, but the Republicans are hoping for a dramatic change.


The House of Representatives, which represents the states relative to their size, is already in their hands. In the Senate, which has two senators representing each state, they are still a minority. And that's where they are hoping for a change. A majority in the Congress (which includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives) could aggravate the Obama administration's grim condition.


But there is no cause for celebration. A Republican majority and an unpopular president will not cause the administration to adopt a more pro-Israel policy. And with all due respect to parts of the public opinion and to newspapers sympathizing with Israel, the decisions are made by the administration.


The administration will decide whether to veto, or abstain from a veto, in case of a Palestinian appeal to the United Nations Security Council, and the administration will decide whether to supply vital ammunition, or halt the supply, in Israel's next conflict with Hamas or Hezbollah.


It's definitely encouraging that there are centers of support for Israel; in the American public opinion. But it's hard to ignore one fact: Even Israel's friends, and there are quite a few of them, are finding it difficult to understand the policy of insisting to continue the settlement enterprise.


They are finding it difficult to understand because we must not forget that despite all the disagreements, the current administration not only continued its policy of cooperation and security aid – it even did much more.


The Middle East is brimming with centers of tension and bloodshed. The attacks on Israel are exaggerated, but not because the administration is hostile - because it fears another flare-up. At the least, it wants a state of calm. So every declaration of settlement construction appears inflammatory.


Therefore, the apocalyptic approach towards the relationship between the countries is baseless. But under these days' circumstances, Israel – yes, Israel – can and should start acting like the responsible adult. Not because it's the American interest, but simply because it's in Israel's interest.


פרסום ראשון: 11.04.14, 10:18
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