Imagine a dark future where vicious drug gangs have completed their destruction of the Mexican state and have reduced Mexico to a extreme anarchic condition akin to Somalia. Now add to that dystopic vision the rise of a warlord in Tijuana, intractably anti-American and dedicated to the idea that Mexicans should regain control over the southwestern United States. In pursuit of that vision, the warlord declares war on Americans, adopting the al-Qaeda argument that there is no legitimate distinction between military and civilians and that both are “occupiers” alike. He makes grandiose public statements calling for the “extermination” of non-Hispanic Americans. Forces under the command of the warlord begin to launch frequent — often daily — missile strikes into the neighborhoods of San Diego.
Do you think any American President could survive politically if he refused to respond?
Yet this is exactly the demand that many critics of Israel perpetually place on the Israeli government. In the name of sustaining the so-called “peace process”, they demand that Israel ignore the openly genocidal goals of Hezbollah and the perpetual continuation of missile attacks and terrorist efforts against Israelis. Recently, these critics have gained a powerful new ally — the Obama White House. While the United States is supposedly Israel’s “best friend”, a New York Times op-ed asserts that Israel’s “best friend” is “angry” and demands that Israel’s government face down demands from its “right wing” to actually respond to intractable enmity with something other than a perpetual succession of white flags:
The shift in America’s Middle East interests means that Netanyahu must make a choice: take on the president of the United States, or take on his right wing. If he continues to defer to those ministers in his cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.
If this is an accurate characterization of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy towards Israel, it is thoroughly unreasonable. No nation can be expected to sit idly buy and “make peace” with an adversary that remains dedicated to its genocidal destruction and in active pursuit of the means to fulfill that stated goal. Suicide is simply not a reasonable demand to make, especially not towards one you expect to identify as a “friend”.
Furthermore, the Obama Administration’s argument that greater Israeli passivity might make it easier to compile a coalition against Iranian nuclear ambitions is idealistic to the point of unreality. If Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, it is far more likely in pursuit of the goal of wiping out Israel (or at least checkmating Israel’s ability to defend itself) than in the goal of fostering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Indeed, absolutely nothing Iranian leaders have said or done indicates that they really seek Israeli-Palestinian peace. They are perfectly happy to let both Palestinians and Israelis suffer, as that suffering is continually useful for Iranian posturing. And Iran’s cynicism in this area is in accord with a long tradition in the region — Arab governments have shared it for decades.
The turn towards hostility towards Israel is thus inexplicable as foreign policy strategy for the United States. It is much more explicable as a domestic political move — a carrot towards anti-war groups that formed the base of President Obama’s election and have since been frustrated by the Administration’s reaffirmation of military policies in Iraq and doubling down in Afghanistan. Especially on the college campuses that are their richest recruiting grounds, these anti-war groups have been closely affiliated with pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel groups (distinctions blur, and outright antisemitism is unfortunately commonplace). Throwing such punches at Israel and justifying it by saying that they are only objecting to Prime Minister Netanyahu and his “right wing” is thus a nice political dance to mollify the protesters.