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Posted by on Dec 26, 2006 in At TMV | 21 comments

America-Israel

I’m well aware that quite some people have had enough of Jimmy Carter and his new book, but for those who are still interested in this, here is quite a good read about the role religion plays in historical American support for Israel, perhaps on the one hand, and Jimmy Carter’s views on the other.

The question I pose to you today is: do you believe that the U.S. should be more critical of Israel, or do you believe that the U.S. is critical enough and that Israel deserves c.q. needs, America’s support?

H/t Holly

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Pyst

    I just wish Israel wasn’t mentioned for a week here at TMV. It would set a record.

  • Lynx

    I certainly think the US should be more critical of Israel. There needs to be an understanding that just because you criticize Israel doesn’t mean your a-anti-semitic or b- saying that Palestinians are all innocent victims.

    It’s a tough situation, and there is virtually no way of solving it, at least in the short-term. But if Israel wants to come to the table as a full fledged member of the civilized world then it needs to stop doing some of the things it does to the Palestinian population. Part of the reason it does these things is because it has Papa USA to step in any time someone threatens them. I understand Papa USA is needed for Israel to last a week in a land of people who would gladly kill them all, but, as hard as it is, Israel must hold itself to a higher standard and the US, as the only country Israel can’t snub it’s nose at, must be more vocal asking them to.

    Otherwise, while I don’t totally echo Pyst’s sentiment, as this is a blog and bloggers can and should write what they damn well please, I am kind of weary of the attention Israel gets. It’s a tiny country but get more coverage than say, all of Africa, that is in a MUCH more dramatic situation. It seems a little disproportionate to me.

  • Kim Ritter

    Well said, Lynx. We shouldn’t treat the Arab-Israeli conflict as a black-white issue, any more than we would the fight between the Sunnis and Shiites. There have been many wrongs done on both sides, so we should admit that. If patriotic Americans can feel free to point out the failings of our government, we shouldn’t feel that Israel’s decisions are totally untouchable. Previous administrations have struck a better balance between Israel and the Arab world, which seems more rational than firing up Islamic extremists by our policies.

  • Paul in Austin

    Constructive criticism is healthy in the context of helping the region find peaceful coexistence. But Israeli’s are outnumbered 100 to 1 in the near and mid east.

    But in my opinion Israel wants peace more than its adversaries do and it is willing to compromise the most.

    I hope that all Western Democracies continue do what ever is necessary to ensure Israel’s survival as well as the democracy in adjacent Lebanon

  • Matt Pearl

    We definitely need to be more critical of Israel… their “heckuvajob” against terrorists in Lebanon illustrated that perfectly. You can question an entity’s motives and methods and still support them.

  • America is in a long war against Islamist fundamentalists. In this war, Israel is a strong ally of the US and provides important and vital intelligence to the latter that is crucial to the defeat of the global terrorists.

    Certainly, the US must be critical of some policies of Israel, that happens with all allies, but in doing so, it must ensure that by “rocking the boat” it does not sink it.

  • CaseyL

    Israel as a whole should get the benefit of the doubt, not for moral or sentimental reasons, but for realistic ones: it is a tiny country surrounded by countries who at best get along with it grudgingly.

    Many Americans went completely off the rails after 9/11, and conflated one day of attacks by a small group of rogues into a worldwide-based threat to the actual physical survival of our nation.

    Israel, OTOH, has been attacked 4 times in 50 years by alliances of its neighbors intent on destroying it. That’s not hyperbole; that’s fact – and it doesn’t even take into account the steady stream of terrorist attacks. It’s not at all surprising that Israel has developed a bunker mentality, and an itchy trigger finger. I leave to your imagination what the US would be like if comparable things had happened to us.

    However, individual Israeli politicians, and specific Israeli issues, are and should be open to criticism. Again, though, the criticism should be on a normative basis: what are the goals of a given Israeli policy, and will the policy achieve those goals, or (anent the war against Lebanon) make the situation worse?

    Criticism that starts with the premise that Israel is an illegitimate state, and therefore anything Israel does to defend itself is also illegitimate, isn’t normative.

  • Edo

    You can question an entity’s motives and methods and still support them.

    Agreed.

    Michael van der Galien, you provide a false choice that boils down to:

    a) U.S. should be more critical of Israel

    b) Israel needs America’s support

    why can’t it be both?

  • Paul in Austin

    Israel to Build New Settlement in Occupied West Bank

    JERUSALEM, Dec. 26 — For the first time in 10 years, Israel said Tuesday it will build a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, prompting Palestinian anger and American concern.

    This kind of crap makes it hard for me to keep defending Israel. How is this good for public relations?

  • Well said CaseyL. And your “normative criticissm” is spot on.

  • In this war, Israel is a strong ally of the US and provides important and vital intelligence to the latter that is crucial to the defeat of the global terrorists.

    Kotzabasis,
    Israel is also the stoking the fire of anti-Americanism and middle-east terrorism. Their overreaction in Lebanon and horrible conditions in the occupied territories are driving more and more moderate Arabs and Muslims to violence.

    Our blind support of Israel is a grave danger to our own national security for those very reasons.

  • Criticism that starts with the premise that Israel is an illegitimate state, and therefore anything Israel does to defend itself is also illegitimate, isn’t normative.

    And yet when you follow supposedly fair discussions of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the United States, they always start with the premise that Israel is legitimate and that Palestine can only exist if the Palestinians meet some set of criteria. How is that a balanced?

    The same goes for discussions of defense. Israel’s military operates inside the occupied territories and Lebanon with impunity. Are the Lebanese and Palestinians not offered the right to defend their territory?

  • I am kind of weary of the attention Israel gets. It’s a tiny country but get more coverage than say, all of Africa, that is in a MUCH more dramatic situation.

    The situation in the occupied territories should get a lot of attention in the United States for two very practical reasons.

    1) We support Israel with money and military technology
    2) Israel’s actions have helped create the terrorist threat innocent Americans now fear

    Because of reason number one, we have a lot of influence over the actions of the Israeli government and we should use that influence to broker a fair settlement between the two parties.

    The United States should pick a map that fairly divides Israeli and Palestinian territory (like the pre-1967 borders or the 1947 partition plan) and tell Israel to make it happen or else they are cut off.

  • Laura

    Of course America should strongly support Israel, it is the morally right thing to do. Israel’s enemies are our enemies, and in fact Israel’s enemies are also the enemies of the entire free world and of civilization in general.

  • Laura

    “Israel is also the stoking the fire of anti-Americanism and middle-east terrorism.”
    …………..
    Is that so? One might be forgiven for making such an ignorant statement if Israel were the only country in conflict with muslims. But considering the myriad of conflicts involving muslims around the world,logic and common sense should enable one to conclude that in fact muslims are the cause of worldwide terrorism. Is Israel responsible for the centuries old conflict between sunnis and shiites? Is Israel responsible for muslim violence and wars throughout the world such as Sudan, Somalia, the Philipines, Thailand, Kashmir, Chechnya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, riots in Europe, beheading of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia et al?

  • Laura

    Chris, if we pressure Israel, who is going to pressure the palestinians to stop terrorism? Israel relinquised Gaza and in return it has received missiles. Concessions don’t passify muslim terrorists, if anything it makes them more emboldened, because they interpret concessions as a sign of weakness. Western liberals just don’t get it.

    BTW, we support Egypt with money and military technology, which despite that country’s persecution of Copt Christians, doesn’t seem to bother those who complain of our relationship with Israel.

  • anna

    Our alliance with Israel is certainly a mixed blessing.

    Someone commented on it’s help in the war on terror. Yes, Israeli connected individuals were crucial in the drum beat for war on Iraq. This was designed to change certain balances which may have had some connection to terrorism, but were not central to it.

    These individuals also were tied into a 2 country advocacy that justified the recent war against Lebanon, not Hezbullah which was too difficult to confront mulitarily, but the country as a whole including Hezbukkah’s enemies, saying they would be shut down if they didn’t stop Hezbullah.

    A very likely outcome ofv this event is Hezbullah domination, civil war, chaos and the reseeding of terrorist bases.

    Israeli interests or more accurately the interests of some powerful Israelis are not necessarily ours or Israelis. Sharons visit to the Temple was an act of provocation, there have been many and through the seventies and eighties much of Israeli policy was directed towarsds limiting the power of Palestinian moderates who could govern effectively. We were left with the “revolutionaries.”

    For over 30 years we asked Israel not to build in the occupied territories, they ignored us. So what does this do?

    “Friends of Israel” always make it either/or, but moderate people take in a whole set of often contradictory activities. The occupation may or may not justify terrorism (Begin didn’t mind blowing up things or killing civilians back in the thirties and fortiesso to some Israelis it would,) but the building of those settlements does sully Israel a bit, to moderates it does weigh against it on the balance sheet.

    I for one have less and less interest in making commitments to either of 2 sides, both of which seem on a course of radicalization. So support slackens.

    Support of Israeli has cost us huge amounts in the aid we’ve given, in 1973 it helped trigger the economic malaise of the 1970’s, it complicates things.

    And while crusaders will run around and say we must take all kinds of costs to defend this or that thing or stop something else, the world is filled with all kinds of tragedies and the appeals to morality are often selective and self serving.

    Neither the heavily Democratic advocates of intervention in Kosovo or heavily Republican supporters of Iraq spent much of their tears on the millions dead in the Congo or elsewhere. It was a matter of percieved interests cloaked in guilt inducing appeals to humanity at those who hesitated.

    And I am getting tired of this in regards to poor little Israel which is supposedly faced with major “existential” threats from it’s enemies. It is in fact currently the power and it’s survival is not currently, seriously threatened by external forces.

    Perhaps more by internal. And the obvious truth that many of it’s enemies are nastier than it does not change this. Liberman is proposing pograns similar to those the Jews suffered. At what point does a state true to the “Jewish values” many admire cease to exist?

    We seem to be seeing an Israel that increasingly holds to the values of Robertson and Limbaugh. So then it comes down purely to pragmatics and it’s unclear that Israeli interests are ours.

  • Laura,

    Haven’t Christians persecuted and killed for the past…oh, I don’t know…two millenia though? Evert

  • Laura,

    Haven’t Christians persecuted and killed for the past…oh, I don’t know…two millenia though? Every religion has done it, does it now, and will do it in the future.

  • Kim Ritter

    The Arab-Israeli conflict is intractable and complex. Our country appears to have given up its role as peace broker and instead acted as Israel’s ally. The Israeli lobby is strong, and there is much support for Israel in Congress and among both Jewish and evangelical Christian voters. That position is making the terrorists even angrier.

    I don’t think we should have given up on the peace talks, even if we didn’t think they were working. Clinton came very close to making peace with Arafat and Israel, but at the last second Arafat backed out-even though all of Palestines conditions had been met. If you go back to Carter- he made history with a lasting peace accord at Camp David, but then complained bitterly later, that Israel had not kept their word on part of the agreement. That may have pushed him further to the Palestinian side.

    There have been broken promises on all sides, so restoring the credibility of the talks is key, as well as harsh consequences if the terms are later violated.

  • jdledell

    I noticed that when the subject of Israel building a brand new settlement in the middle of the Jordan Valley smack in the middle of the the proposed Palestinian state – no one commented. This is an example of the free pass Israel gets even when it does outrageous things like the new settlement.

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