Are America and Israel Drifting Apart?

(Washington Post) Elliott Abrams: Poll data show that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans. Strategically we face the same enemies - such as terrorism and the Iranian regime - a fact that is not lost on Americans who know we have one single reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East. On settlements, the Obama administration demanded a 100% construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, something never required before even by the Palestinians as a precondition for negotiations. This stance cornered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who could demand no less, and led the U.S. administration last week to "condemn" the announcement of plans for Israeli construction that is years away. The verb "condemn" is customarily reserved by U.S. officials for acts of murder and terrorism - not acts of housing. Danielle Pletka: It might have been hoped that after Sept. 11, 2001, and the revelation that Israel is of little interest to Islamist extremists, the U.S. foreign policy establishment would understand that the bankruptcy of leadership in the Arab world is a more pressing problem for America than the transgressions of a few million Jews, but it has always been easier to blame Israel than to sell reform to tyrants. Ultimately, the more serious problem for the United States is not a distancing between us and Israel but a failure to grasp that the shared threats to both nations - the Islamist totalitarianism that has flourished in the oxygen-free environment of the Arab world and the rise of the Revolutionary Guard class in Iran - will not be mitigated with the resolution of the Palestinians' fate. Hussein Agha and Robert Malley: The ties between the two countries have been too strong for too long for there to be lasting strategic repercussions. The most telling aspect of the announcement was that it represented the Israeli government's stance on East Jerusalem in all its clarity. If the United States intends to bring about an agreement between the two sides, far better that it be aware of their actual positions rather than proceed on the basis of imaginary ones.

2010-03-15 09:53:13

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