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America and Israel - a match made in heaven?

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Ragusa, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    The recent weeks have been quite interesting in regard to the US and Israel, and the relationship between the two countries. What characterises the 'special relationship' between Israel and the US. Is it prophetical divine destiny? Is Israel a client state to America? Are Israel's and America's interests identical?

    It has been fascinating to watch what has happened between Israel and the US the last two weeks. As it has been largely overshadowed in the US by the Health Care issue, I'll sum up the most important bits in this thread. Because it has to cover a lot of ground this is going to be a long post. Loosely structured thematically for easier reading, I hope to provide some information and food for thought:

    +++ Backgrounder on international law and occupation +++

    To properly understand the issue of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, I feel it is necessary to refresh on international law a bit. After World War II - which was fought by Japan and Germany for territorial expansion - the world had decided that war for territory is reprehensible, and that an occupying power must not settle in occupied territory. To provide an example - the US had no right to settle citizens in the beautiful Rhine valley after they had defeated and occupied Germany after World War II, and indeed, they did not. The view that war for territory is reprehensible has informed international law ever since.

    Israel conquered East Jerusalem (and Gaza and the West Bank in 1967), and occupied it since. As an occupying power it has no right to settle there. The legal situation is very clear. That is also the reason why the US never recognised Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem. Now Israel is settling in east Jerusalem and the West Bank anyway, illegally. I am not delving into aspects of legality here. What's important enough is the reality that this is causing trouble.

    +++ Pentagon suggests American and Israeli interests not identical +++

    The Pentagon view reflects that assessment in a report issued by General Petraeus:
    In essence the message was that Israel's intransigence could cost American lives. That prompted the ADL to attack Petraeus, stopping short of calling him an anti-semite.

    +++ Biden's trip to Israel +++

    When Joe Biden went on his recent visit to call for a stop of settlements and to push Israel to continue peace talks, he was greeted with the Israeli announcement that they will expand settlements. That translates, despite Netanyahu's lukewarm assertions to the contrary, as a clear and unambiguous 'F*** you!' to the Obama administration. Reportedly Biden was livid, and he showed it.

    +++ Unhappy with the administration Netanyahu turns to his DC lobby +++

    Unhappy about the lack of US deference, Netanyahu then attended a CUFI conference of John Hagee's Armageddonites, symbolically in Jerusalem, who make a point of sending their minions to swarm Capitol Hill to demand unconditional support for Israel whenever they hold their conference in DC. Pointedly, they consider Jerusalem the undivided capitol of Israel, and adamantly oppose any land or peace deals (because The Lord has given all the land to King David).

    Netanyahu recently visited the US, and didn't find it necessary to meet Obama (it is not as if they have anything to talk about after what has happened *irony alert*). Instead he chose to attend the AIPAC conference.

    The message to Obama is clear - we don't need you, as we have our own supporters on Capitol Hill, and if you don't give us what we want, we will circumvent the democratically elected US government by going through congress. Now that's an interesting point of view for a recipient of US aid.

    +++ Netanyahu calls Axelrod and Emmanuel 'self hating Jews' for not agreeing with him +++

    For insufficient devotion to his government, i.e. Likud, Netanyahu called the two most prominent Jews in Obama's administration, David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel, the latter an IDF veteran, self-hating Jews.

    +++ Obama administration pissed at Israel; Israel apologists blame America first +++

    Glenn Greenwald says it very well:
    IMO Greenwald is abusing the term neo-conservatives when he uses it to include the Christian right - but that's details - his point is good enough.

    +++ Netanyahu pisses off ... about everyone +++

    Netanyahu's attitude these days appears to be 'Who needs friends anyway?'

    First there was the surreal episode with Israeli government officials boasting how they deliberately insulted the Turkish ambassador. Then there was the Dubai hit. With overwhelming probability an Israeli operation, the assassins used the passports of real citizens of allied countries, exposing them to possible retaliation. For that Britain kicked out the Mossad's London station chief, after Israel didn't find it necessary to cooperate with Britain on the matter. The British government has also taken the unusual step of warning British passport holders not to hand over their passports to Israeli officials unless “absolutely necessary". Dubai, with which Israel has, well, has had, rather friendly relations, was so pissed about the murder that they publicly exposed and burned the entire hit team, which is now wanted by Interpol (i.e. they cannot travel safely for the rest of their lives).

    There is continuity in Israeli conduct: When German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked confidentially with Netanyahu on the phone about building in East Jerusalem, Netanyahu's team naturally talked about the conversation to the press, prompting a senior German source to say:
    +++ Israel asks for $ 3 billion annually, and F-35 fighters +++

    Never mind the current tension, AIPAC, planning to storm congress, is pushing legislation to once again pass the $3 billion in U.S. aid provided annually to Israel. Also, the Israeli government has announced plans to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with new, American-made F-35 fighters, under the US foreign military sales program. In 2008, Israel received $2.4 billion under foreign military sales financing, about half of all money spent in that program (i.e. the other half goes to the other 71 receiving countries).

    Who's paying? The American taxpayer. The same American taxpayer who is now being told that they have to suffer cuts in Medicare and Social Security because of budgetary constraints.

    ~ * ~​

    I share Petraeus' view on the situation in the Middle East, and thus approve of Obama's decision to confront Israel over Israeli settlements in occupied territory. I don't think that giving a blanc check to Israel is a good idea. Call it what you want, the unconditional US-Israeli friendship - or 'Nibelungentreue' (i.e. Germany's unconditional support for Hungary-Austria), pan-Slavism (i.e. Russia's unconditional support for Serbia) - such an approach has produced disastrous results in the past, the most prominent of which was WW-I (unconditional Russian support made Serbia take risks that for Serbia resulted in 53% of its male population being killed in the war). I think that giving the Israeli government, and with that, people like Netanyahu or Liebermann, a blanc cheque, is guaranteed to produce bad outcomes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
    Chandos the Red likes this.
  2. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I'm not sure what's really new here Ragusa. It's been no secret that unconditional US support for Israel has always been much more on the Republican side of the aisle, although no Democrat has actually opposed Israeli interests.

    That said, I've been following this in the news, and Biden and Clinton both sounded pretty pissed off with Israel. My prinicple concern in this is we already have US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention conducting operations in Pakistan, causing no small amount of strife to the Pakistani government. We are trying to draw down our forces in Iraq over the next year, and hopefully in Afghanistan not long after that. The last thing we need is for Israel to keep popping off and dragging us into another war in that region (read: Iran).

    And that's the thing. While recent events have cooled the relationship between the US and Israel, I don't believe for a second that if Israel got involved in a war in that region that the US wouldn't send help. I'm not talking about the Israli-Palestinian conflict - that's not a real war in any way unless you also consider a hammer to be at war with a nail. I'm talking about an actual war where both sides have a military presence.
     
  3. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Oh, make no mistake, unconditional support for Israel is a bipartisan issue, even though it is more present in the Republican party these days, in particular when one takes into account the Hagee-ites. The classical neo-cons started out in the Democratic party. Über-pro-Israel hawk Richard Perle is still a registered Democrat. That is not an R's vs. D's thing.

    What I found so striking was that the AIPAC conference showed AIPAC delegates wildly applauding Netanyahu's defiance of the the president of the United States. Now that was enlightening. Netanyahu must have flown home with the feeling that he owns DC.

    Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu won't back down. The problem between the US and Israel has not been solved, it has only been deferred.

    If the US want to have a meaningful influence on the Arab world, where they after all currently fight their wars, they must find an answer to the question what their promises are worth regarding regional peace when they can't even reign in their nominal ally Israel.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  4. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I think it was at an extreme during the previous administration though, as the current rift shows. Bush considered the Israelies to be God's chosen people. His support for Israel was far beyond political and military.
     
  5. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Oh, of course. No argument there. But that doesn't mean that Bush didn't enjoy some support on the matter 'from the other side of the aisle', starting with then still Democrat Joe Liebermann or liberals like Alan Dershowitz ...
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  6. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    That was a kick butt post, Ragusa -- I do not have the grasp of the situation that you do, but I'll put in my 2 cents anyhow:

    Netanyahu is posturing -- like just about every other country that receives American aid or is friendly with the US, he wants to assure people that he is NOT a puppet of the US. Now facts are facts, and I concede you have forgotten more about this issue than I will ever know, but nonetheless I don't see this as being about facts -- it's about optics. My guess is that he fears people perceive him (and Israel in general) as being overly inflouenced / controlled by the US. That kind of image cannot be tolerated, especially if he wants his enemies in the area to take him seriously.

    Now, does that make his current activities excusable? Not a chance. But I think it explains his probable motivations.
     
  7. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I would agree with you had Israel ceded anything to US demands over the last, say, fifteen years. But they haven't.

    Israel had thanks to Bush's blanc cheque a free hand for eight years. They have not been forced by the US to do anything, and even during Clinton's peace talks, Israel had Dennis Ross running the show - as one of or the top US negotiator. He had previously led the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, a semi-governmental Israeli organisation. He referred to the Israelis as 'his people' and reportedly vetted US positions in advance with the Israelis. Not exactly a neutral 'honest broker'. That wasn't lost on the Palestinians, and unsurprisingly, they voiced doubts about his neutrality.

    Ross is now serving in the Obama administration, first in the State Department, now on the National Security Council as special assistant to the President for the Middle East or some such. Considering his views he doesn't quite fit in the picture of the current crisis. I am curious about his role in the recent spat. It appears as if he was overridden? I don't know more yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  8. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Everything Netanyahu says is not forgotten by his enemies in the Middle East. If there will ever be peace, it will not come when he is in office. The next Israeli leader will have a huge hole to dig out of if they really want peace in the region. Netanyahu is digging deeper and deeper every year. Israeli-Arab war is inevitable in the coming years. I hope we don't get dragged into it as well, though I think it is far too late for that not to happen. Basically, if Netanyahu keeps pushing like this, were not removing our military presence from the Middle East for years to come. It will drain our financials and put massive strains on the American people. Time for the rest of the world to Man-up and take a Military role as well. IMO of course.;)
     
  9. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    Or just cut off Israel, they have had 50 years to settle in their new neighbourhood. Maybe one of the reasons for them barely paying lip service to trying to create some kind of peace is that they know that if the poop hits the fan it won't blow into their faces thanks to the US and some extent Europe.

    Israel's attitude seems so self-defeating, without the US and the rest of the world to keep their backs they would have been pushed out to sea ages ago. They are completely dependent on the public support in the US and Europe and they have been losing support quickly in Europe for years and if they continue to blatantly defy the US their support will erode quickly there as well, Where are they then? They could probably make a war extremely costly for the Arabs but numbers must tell sooner or later. The policy of Israel is the single greatest fuel for muslim extremism, without aggressive Israeli politics islamic extremism would lose a huge chunk of their recruits. Much easier to create fanatics if there is a just grievence to start with.
     
  10. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I wouldn't hold your breath. There are very few European countries that have enough love for Israel to send troops. And I do not think there's any chance that the US would let Israel "go it alone".
     
  11. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I would hope there are more countries than you think that would support Israel. If they like their oil that is. Obviously were are one that cares for our own selfish reasons, which puts us in a very tight spot, as we don't want to use our own oil, we prefer to soak up the Mid-East supply. We definitely don't need another war going right now, we are still trying to clean up financially at home, more Military spending could and probably would put a huge damper on getting us back on track economically any time soon. At the moment, we need a political muzzle for Israel.
     
  12. dmc

    dmc Speak softly and carry a big briefcase Staff Member Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Not sure how supporting Israel translates to oil, as they don't have any worth speaking about.
     
  13. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    If the Israeli's were pushed out of the Mid-East, the whole political picture would change drastically around the world when concerning the Mid-East. Many things would change, including the economics of the oil industry. Once they feel more secure in their power, do you really think trading with Christians will continue from those nations as it does today? I'm not sure, but I'm sure that no one wants to find out. It's much simplier for the rest of the world if there is war in the Mid-East, as it keeps radical Arab nations at bay and in need of trade partners that wouldn't exist if they were more secure nations.
     
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    So basically Israel is being used as a thorn in the side of the Arab states? That sounds about right, though I'm sure if you put it that way to them they wouldn't like it.

    Trouble is, as I have said before and I believe that history bears out, even if Israel make huge concessions to the Arabs and in particular the Palestinians, their show of decency would be seen as an act of weakness and the Arab aggression would escalate. It looks like the idea is "the best defense is a good offense!" is what's driving some of these Israeli policy makers.
     
  15. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    How American Jews continue to support the Democratic party never ceases to amaze me.

    I'm curious if Israel ever signed the treaty that Ragusa quoted about occupation. My understanding is that there is no such thing as "international law". There are treaties that various countries have signed and agreed to follow, but if a nation isn't a party to the treaty, they can't be held responsible for it.

    As to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict it is pure stupidity. It doesn't matter what government is ruling Israel. It can be a "hawk" or a "dove" and the violence continues.

    I proudly support Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, even though I do not expect it to end well. I figure it is only a matter of time before a WMD is set off in Israel and then Israel responds 100 fold.
     
  16. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Snook,
    Israel 'did sign that treaty' when they joined the United Nations. Except for that, that is only declaratory, as the rule through universal acceptance probably is ius cogens, binding on all nations as customary law.

    So there's no way out for Israel, if you try to suggest that they then could just quit the treaty to get rid of that obnoxious limitation and be able to conduct policies of the free hand and settle the West bank at their heart's content.

    Disturbing for Israelis ought to be that Israel isn't just violating international law. Israel also, for years, has been violating their own laws in the context of settlements.

    If anything, the Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Liebermann government proves that being a Jew doesn't protect one from becoming a chauvinistic ethnic nationalist. That manifests itself domestically as well if things like this or that are any indication. What I do give Israel is that, overall, they have a pretty decent legal system, except when it is about settlements that is, then things get hazy.

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 25 minutes and 33 seconds later... ----------

    PS: BoV, I don't at all think that the support for Israel has anything to do with oil. It is an emotional affair, and a religious one for some.

    Not sure if I understood you right, but here it is: I certainly disagree with the idea that the oil prices today are they way they are because Israel is scaring the Arabs into keeping them low. Israel as the US' attack dog in the Middle East? Hardly. That wasn't even so when Bush Jr. gave them a free hand. All the time the Israelis were doing their thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  17. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    Just as a question:
    Isn't Congress part of the democratically elected US government? Just a detail that bugged me.

    More to the point, though, I think Israel's presence in the Middle East may actually be a stabilizing force. It gives the Muslims a common enemy. Without Israel, they may well turn to the old division of Sunni and Shi-ite, and start killing each other over that. Remove the Western interest in their oil and they'd have little else to do, I think.

    Beyond that, though, I wonder at the whole establishment of the nation of Israel in international law. How, exactly, did Europe claim Arab land in the Middle East? The result of that UN action was a war between the Jews and the Arabs (before Israel was even a nation, much less a member of the UN). The Jews won, claimed land, and formed a nation, occupying the territory they claimed (legally?). Immediately after, they were attacked by 5 nations. Again, they won, and the cease-fire drew new boundaries. Israel then joined the UN. Further military conflicts gave them their disputed territory now. It seems that it is primarily their actions after joining the UN that are debated, not things prior to it, even though it was all set up by the UN in the first place.
     
  18. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    You remember 'separation of powers'? The executive branch executes policy, and is what deals with other states and determines foreign policy. Congress is part of the legislative branch, and it's role in foreign policy is very limited. It is questionable whether congressmen who undermine the executive branches position vis a vis foreign countries are doing their job right.

    Also, you forget that Israel is a foreign country. It is ok for the constituents who elect them to go through the congressmen. Israel is a foreign country. When Russia influenced left congressmen during the cold war, that was not considered to be fair game. Why is it in the case of Israel?
    Uh, do you really think that the entire Muslim world would start to engage in a huge inter Muslim civil war, and that they only forget to do that because Israel makes them so mad? (as in: Aargh! When I got up this morning, I wanted to kill those apostate Shia, God curse them, but then I had to make hummus, and I watched the news and got so mad at Israel that I forgot to do it! I didn't even finish making my hummus!) Do you think Arabs are stupid and only have a one track mind? And when did they last start such a thing? Just asking.

    To add two more straw men scenarios I have heared in American dispute on why Israel presence as the object of Arab hate might be just great, just because it is so nice to burn them: (a) If the Arabs hadn't Israel to hate and focus on then ... they would never attack Israel and we would have to wait for Armageddon forever. (b) That without Israel to focus on the Islamofascist hordes would go and start conquering the west? The world? Er, what happened to the Iraqi army when they last met a western force?

    My answer to all three scenarios is that neither is going to happen.

    Israel may well become a stabilising force, if its politicos decide to not be aggressive towards their neighbours any more. What's keeping them from returning the Golan or the Sheeba Farms? That they don't want to return either, and that is because of deeply entrenched domestic Israeli interests and not so much about security.

    You appear to forget that Israel hasn't fought a really defensive war since 1973, or if one is to be generous, since 1982 (which from a pre-emptive or retaliatory raid then turned into an occupation because Israel decided to stay in Lebanon). The 'little Israel is going to be pushed into the sea' rhetoric stirs up emotions, but is far away from reality. Also, the US is not, not ever, going to allow for that. Look what they did in the 1973 war - they delivered arms to Israel en masse. 'Little Israel' enjoys total military and technological superiority as far as conventional (and nuclear) war goes. The only things they suck at is infantry combat, occupation and humility.

    Living together peacefully requires clearly defined borders (wherein clearly defined requires consensus among the neighbours). It's not just that settlements and settlers piss off and dispossess the neighbours - from outright driving people off their land, not allowing farmers to tend their crops for 'security reasons' (real or imagined) to walling off entire villages - settlers are notorious as neighbours. The Israelis themselves are afraid to reign them in.

    Maybe one should familiarise oneself with the idea that there are rabid ultra-nationalist Jewish supremacists that populate Israel's settler movement, who have little to do with the gentle image generated by pastoral and fatherly types like Joe Liebermann. Settlers are not necessarily nice people who have nothing but peace on their mind, but are forced by circumstance (oh those vile, irreconcilable Palestinians!) to live by the sword instead of the plow. They don't need to live in settlements. They choose to.

    Settlements in the West Bank (or on the Golan for that) blur the borders and make it difficult to define them in talks. Legally that doesn't matter because the borders of 1967 are clear. Practically it does because Israel has come to like what they conquered and they apparently doesn't want to give it back. To not have any meaningful talks is a nice way to have it both ways, maaintaiming the status quo, while still being able to blame the Arabs for being generally irreconcilable.

    And then, there is the matter of Jerusalem, a holy site for three world religions and their sects, and Israel's latent claim to it. That is a ticking time bomb.

    I'll answer to the unquoted later, if someone else doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  19. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    When you put it in such glowing terms, how could they say no? Everyone loves draining their coffers and putting their soldiers at risk for... the possibility of not having oil prices increase as much?

    Besides, the biggest oil crisis yet happened exactly due to the West's policy on the conflict, not despite it. So I'm not very sure I'd agree with your argument.
     
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    you proudly support a goverment that practise apartheid and genocide? Thats like supporting south africa in the 60's and call it democratic... Isreal is a nation which realitively soon have to make the choice between being a jewish state or a democratic state, bacuase the palestines outnumbers the jews.
     
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