Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is it time to rethink our relationship with Israel?

Barack Obama today at least teased that he would be taking a different approach to the Middle East than the outgoing Bush administration. And made me wonder if it’s not time for the US to rethink its relationship with Israel (I know this is an emotional topic for many folks, so hear me out).

There’s no denying that the United States and Israel have a special relationship – it was President Harry Truman’s decision back in 1948 to recognize the fledgling state that literally put Israel on the map, without that step, Israel might likely be just a footnote in the long history of the Middle East. Since then, our two countries have tended to view ourselves as ‘best friends’. George Bush’s take on this special relationship has been to fully back whatever Israel has felt it needed to do in the name of national security these past eight years, including the 2006 invasion of Lebanon and ‘09s Gaza operation.

But sometimes it’s your best friend who has to be the one to tell you the harsh truth: “you’ve had too much to drink”, or “s/he is cheating on you.” So maybe it’s time for us to tell Israel that their military can’t solve all of their problems and that it’s time for peace. Sure, Israel can go into Lebanon or Gaza and wreak a horrible (and given your point of view, perhaps righteous) vengeance, but to what end? Their action in Lebanon didn’t destroy Hezbollah, instead they’re now a powerful part of the Lebanese government; even as Israeli tanks roll through Gaza, Hamas rockets continue to fall on Israel. It is likely that in the next few days there will be a cease-fire in Gaza and Hamas will crawl from the rubble to claim victory.

Just last November, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly said that perhaps it was time for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders and end the occupation of Palestine, while Ehud Barak talked about taking a fresh look at a 2002 proposal put forward by the Saudis that offered recognition of the State of Israel from all Arab nations in response for Israel’s withdrawal from Palestine. I don’t think it’s hopelessly na├»ve or optimistic to think if the Palestinians had their own viable, independent homeland that the fuel for Islamic militant groups like Hamas would largely dry up (that is basically the take-away from an LA Times interview with Hamas spokesman Mousa Abu Marzook).

So perhaps then its time for the US, in the role of best friend, to tell Israel that continuing the occupation of Palestine will only bring more insecurity, and the chance for more wars that they can’t win and can only damage their image to the world. And if they’re not willing to change, then maybe we need to. Abu Marzook noted that LA Times piece that “when Palestinians see an F-16 with the Star of David painted on its tail, they see America.” A Rasmussen poll from earlier in the week found that half of the Americans surveyed thought Israel’s Gaza campaign made it more likely there would be a terrorist attack against the United States.

Sometimes best friends do grow apart; perhaps we will find that is the case in the US-Israel relationship. We should advise our friend to take the best action for their future, but if they don’t then we should act in the way that is in the best interest of our own national security.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: