No, Israel and America Aren't Breaking Up

(Ha'aretz) Aaron David Miller - In comparison with the behavior of its neighbors, Israel still looks pretty good. Between Syria's Assad, Lebanon's Hizbullah, the mullahcracy in Iran, Hamas in Gaza, and even aspects of Abbas' Palestinian Authority, particularly its pay-for-slay and the martyrs' fund, there aren't a lot of democrats or human rights champions. Getting points for not being Assad isn't such a compliment. But let's be clear. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the rise of Islamic State, the Syrian civil war and Assad's use of chemical weapons, the gap between Israeli behavior and that of key actors in the Arab world on the violence/terror scale is only growing. From the standpoint of the vast majority of U.S. politicians and officials, the case for a strong relationship with Israel is still pretty easy to make. With all its imperfections, Israel remains the only country in a violent and dysfunctional region where there is any evidence of a shared alignment of both values and interests with the U.S. I can't tell you how many memos I wrote in the 1980s arguing that the Palestinian issue was central to regional stability and the protection of U.S. interests. But today, a rising Iran, the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the emergence of the jihadis, the melting down of at least three Arab states (Yemen, Libya, Syria), and internal challenges to others have not only pushed the Palestinians off center stage, but created increasing exhaustion and frustration with the Palestinians themselves. The factors supporting a continued U.S.-Israeli relationship are strong: the influence of traditionally pro-Israel organizations; support for Israel among large numbers of Evangelical Christians; the enduring power, still, of a Democratic party that sees little profit in blasting Israel; the reality that the vast majority of elected representatives in the House and Senate aren't sent to Washington to deal with the Israel issue; and there's still a political price to be paid for criticizing Israel. Until I see a genuine debate in the House and Senate on Israel with large numbers of members taking positions that would have been unthinkable in previous eras, count me as yet to be persuaded. The writer, vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, served as an advisor to Secretaries of State on U.S. Middle East policy.

2019-01-29 00:00:00

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