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Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 in International, Middle East | 9 comments

Why America’s support for Israel can waver (Guest Voice)


Why America’s support for Israel can waver
By Steve Kramer

ALFE MENASHE, Israel –Most American supporters of Israel believe that the US government has high regard for Israel and that it considers the Jewish State a valued ally and friend. And why might that be? Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. Israel shares “Judeo-Christian values” with America. Israel is “America’s aircraft carrier” in the region (per the late, influential Senator Jesse Helms). America has many influential Jewish citizens whose votes are important and who value Israel.

But for each of the aforementioned reasons, a counter-argument might be provided: America supports many autocratic governments; Judeo-Christian values may impede pragmatic political solutions; it’s better for America to ally itself with the dominant Muslim population than to support Israel; the Arabs have a lot of oil; America’s Muslim population is growing; American Jewish voters are increasingly ambivalent towards Israel.

Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, (known popularly as Lord Palmerston) was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Lord Palmerston famously said: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, just permanent interests.”

Truer words were never said by a politician and this lesson must be committed to memory by those Americans who support Israel’s continued viability in one of the world’s most troubled areas.

My ever-skeptical and opinionated friend G.K. says, “The US will throw Israel under the wheels of the Islamic hordes in two-seconds if our ruling elites somehow decide its in our national interest. Did FDR lift a finger or drop a bomb to stop the Holocaust? Not one!! George Marshall, the great general who led our war effort [and later became Secretary of State after WWII] … was dead-set against the creation of Israel.”

G.K. doesn’t have much faith in President Obama and declares, “You [Israelis] will get no help from him or the left wing of the Democratic party, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t trust the GOP though, believe me they ONLY like Israel and Jews as far as they can throw us … Being Jewish means trusting nobody.”

That brings us to the administration’s latest attack on Israel, which erupted while Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Washington visiting the White House. A recent kerfuffle over the purchase of homes by Jews and a planned housing project, both in Jerusalem, proves Palmerston’s point: the administration looks at Israel as an “interest” with diminishing value, not as a “friend.”

Silwan, adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City, is the Arab neighborhood located on the site of David’s City, where King David ruled after he conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites about 3,000 years ago. There is a national park (City of David) located there and a community of Jews living among the much larger population of Arabs. The Arabs demand that Silwan be segregated and judenrein and a large Jewish security presence is required because the Arabs are prone to attack Jews if they aren’t protected by guards. The Obama administration is livid that more Jewish families are moving into the neighborhood, into 25 apartments legitimately purchased from the Arab owners (one of whom has already been assassinated for selling land to Jews).

Netanyahu said, “Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city and no one is arguing against it. I have no intention of telling Jews they can’t buy apartments in east Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right. There cannot be discrimination – not against Jews and not against Arabs,” he added. “This goes against values that the United States also believes in.” (Face the Nation, CBS)

For some reason, the last phrase ignited a firestorm in Washington. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “It did seem odd for him [Netanyahu] to try to defend the actions of his government by saying our response did not reflect American values…. The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel. It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways.” If what Earnest says it true, what’s the beef?

Evidently, the recurring anger at Jews building in their ancient capital/land has stopped up the administration’s ears. Obviously, Netanyahu was referring to the cherished American value that abhors racism and segregation, a value that has led to numerous laws and Supreme Court decisions protecting the right to purchase homes in places of one’s choice, without regard to race, color, or creed.

It’s a similar story with the 2,600-unit housing project in Givat Hamatos, which is planned as an extension, not a new community, in what is now an exclusively Jewish neighborhood adjacent to the 1949 Armistice Line. The plan incorporates mostly barren land on which Ethiopian and Russian immigrants were housed temporarily in mobile homes, on which permanent housing for both Jews and Arabs will be built.

Spokesman Josh Earnest stated, “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”

This statement all but invited the international community to pile onto Israel about Jews supposedly spoiling the non-existent “peace process.” And the international community rose to the occasion. Never mind that this same project has been announced several times before in the seemingly never-ending planning process that accompanies all construction in Israel. Peace Now, the far left organization dedicated to forcing Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines (“Auschwitz borders” as described by Abba Eban), is serially responsible for announcing, at the most inopportune time, every step of the planning process for these projects, thereby magnifying the impact for each development.

With all the turmoil and death impacting the Middle East and threatening to spread to Western countries, it’s Jews building homes that galvanizes the Western governments to react vociferously. It’s clear to me that if peace ever comes to Israel, it won’t be from negotiating with Palestinian leaders, whose aim is to usurp Israel, not to build a state of their own.

If the West, especially America, really wants to help bring about peace in this tiny corner of the inflamed Middle East, it should strengthen Israel, not back Arab movements that will eventually coalesce into the nascent jihadist movement. Israel doesn’t need the West’s love, but the West needs to comprehend who its enemies are: jihadists of any stripe.
Kramer is a freelance writer based in Alfe Menashe, Israel. He may be contacted via [email protected] This was originally published in San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association (SDONA).

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  • JSpencer

    Israel is “America’s aircraft carrier” in the region

    First time I’ve read that phrase, but I think it really gets to the heart of it.

    Did FDR lift a finger or drop a bomb to stop the Holocaust? Not one!!

    We started bombing Germany in mid 1943 and FDR was prez until April 1945, so…

  • rudi

    Did FDR lift a finger or drop a bomb to stop the Holocaust? Not one!!
    BS How about over 200K in the European theatre.

    Total U.S. military deaths in battle and from other causes were 407,316. The breakout by service is as follows: Army 318,274,[154] Navy 62,614,[396] Marine Corps 24,511,[154] and the Coast Guard 1,917.[397][398][399][400]
    Deaths in battle were 292,131. The breakout by service is as follows: Army 234,874,[154] Navy 36,950,[154] Marine Corps 19,733,[154] and Coast Guard 574.[316][397] These losses were incurred during the period 12/1/41 until 12/31/46 including an additional 126 men in October 1941 when the USS Kearny and the USS Reuben James were attacked by U-Boats. The United States Army Air Forces losses, which are included in the Army total, were 52,173 deaths due to combat and 35,946 from non-combat causes.[156] U.S. Combat Dead by Theater of war: Europe–Atlantic 183,588 (Army ground forces 141,088, Army Air Forces 36,461, and Navy/Coast Guard 6,039); Asia–Pacific 108,504 (Army ground forces 41,592, Army Air Forces 15,694, Navy/Coast Guard 31,485, Marine Corps 19,733); unidentified theaters 39 (Army).[156][178] Included with combat deaths are 14,059 POWs (1,124 in Europe and 12,935 in Asia).[178] The details of U.S. military casualties are listed online: the U.S. Army,[156] the U.S. Army Air Forces,[401] the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marine Corps.[402]
    American civilian dead were about 12,000. According to the United States Merchant Marine, 9,521 merchant mariners lost their lives in the war (8,421 killed and 1,100 who later died of wounds). In 1950, the United States Coast Guard put Merchant Marine losses at 5,662 (845 due to enemy action, 37 in prison camps, and 4,780 missing). The report excluded U.S. Army transports and foreign flagged ships and did not break out losses between the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.[399][400][403] During World War II the Civil Air Patrol assumed many missions including anti-submarine patrol and warfare, border patrols, and courier services. During World War II CAP’s coastal patrol had flown 24 million miles, found 173 enemy U-boats, attacked 57, hit 10 and sank two, dropping a total of 83 bombs and depth charges throughout the conflict.[404] By the end of the war, 64 CAP members had lost their lives in the line of duty.[405] According to U.S. War Department figures, 18,745 American civilians were interned in the war (13,996 in the Far East and 4,749 in Europe). A total of 2,419 American civilian internees were listed as dead and missing. Under Japanese internment, 992 died and another 544 were listed as “unknown”; under German internment, 168 died and a further 715 were listed as “unknown”.[406][407][408] During World War II, 68 U.S. civilians were killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.[409] The official U.S report listed 1 U.S. civilian killed during the Battle of Guam on December 8–10.[276] However, another source reported 13 “civilians” killed during in the battle[410] and 70 U.S. civilians were killed during the Battle of Wake Island on December 8–23, 1941.[411] 98 U.S. civilian POWs were massacred by the Japanese on Wake Island in October 1943 and 6 U.S. civilians were killed in Oregon in May 1945 by Japanese balloon bombs.[412]

    We need a James Baker or Jimmy Carter…

  • I will point out once again that Israel is not an ally but a client state. It’s policies are all too often contrary to the interests of the United States (see West Bank settlements). It is rapidly becoming an apartheid state rather than a democracy.

  • dduck
  • jdledell

    Mr. Kramer – Having just returned from 3 weeks in Israel visiting my relatives for the Holidays, let me comment on your post. First let me recite my credentials for my commentary. My grandfather was Irgun. I am a Jewish citizen having lived in Israel during the 1980’s and my entire side of my family reside in the settlements.

    The irritation with Israel has been a long time coming and is not directly related to a specific settlement, prime minister or any particular Israeli policy. It is the culmination of decades of mistreatment and discrimination against Palestinians. While Alfe Menashe is off the beaten track and not known for its ideological leanings, my relatives live in Kiryat Arba, Bat Ayin, Itamar etc. These Jewish towns hatred of Palestinians would make the hair on your head stand straight in the air. Their treatment of any Palestinian they happen to meet is obscene. Even at shul on Yom Kippur I heard prayers for the extermination of Palestinians.

    You seem to be generalizing about Palestinians – making them all out to be jihadists. You must know very well the 95% of the West Bank Palestinians just want to live a normal dignified life, have and provide for a family. Yet at every opportunity it tries to make life miserable for the Palestinians. The roadblocks can take hours in the hot sun having to deal with ugly verbal harassment. Palestinian economic activity is restricted, permits difficult to impossible to get. Probably hundreds of times I’ve seen a Palestinian produce truck or cart sitting on the side of a roadblock for days a a time until all the produce is spoiled. I’ve seen Jewish soldiers urinating on a Palestinian man’s shoes while waiting in line egging the man into a fight. One time when the Palestinian was going to take a swing at the soldier for this humiliation, the soldier stepped back and shot the man in the chest. When I complained to his superiors, they told me he would be disciplined – not for the killing – but for the fact that the bullet went though the Palestinian and almost hit another soldier. I could spend hours writing about all the savage killings, beatings, harassment and humiliation Jews have heaped on Palestinians in my 58 years of spending part of every year in Israel.

    The issue about Israel wanting an undivided Jerusalem brings up the question of which Jerusalem. The traditional Jerusalem or the 1980 version where Israel arbitrarily tripled Jerusalem’s borders so now it abuts Ramallah in the north and Bethlehem in the south. It encomasses territory that for millenium has been considered in the West Bank. That also raises the question of why when Israel annexed the West Bank territory to expand Jerusalem, they made Jews in that new territory citizens but not the Palestinians. Any East Jerusalem Palestinian who applies for citizenship will find their application in the garbage outside the Ministry of Interior the next day.

    Israel is already far too strong for any arab people or nation. The in 1967 Israel dispensed with the arab armies in 6 days. Today it would make mince meat of any attack in 6 hours or less. The 67 borders are not overly dangerous to Israel -with Israel’s air superiority tanks and artillery are useless.

    Just try to remember 95% of Palestinians are real and decent humans just like Jews. Maybe you are too young to remember what it was like when Jews had to live with others who considered us vermin.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    For now, just want to say, welcome back, John. We have missed your commentary.

  • Shannon Lee

    Being Jewish means trusting nobody

    what a wonderful view of the world.

  • dduck

    So why don’t more Israeli Jews complain about the inhumane treatment of Palestinians/Gazans. Don’t they remember the silence of many Germans when the Jews were treated in a similar way?

  • JSpencer

    Excellent question dd – and thank-you for the link. Even in our own country a lot of people refrain from criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians simply because they are afraid of being labeled anti semitic. Obviously this is wrong, but it won’t matter to the blindly pro-Israel and it won’t matter to those in the US who do see Israel primarily as an aircraft carrier.

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