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November 12, 2014 1:29 am

Turning the Page on the Special U.S.-Israel Relationship

avatar by Danny Danon / JNS.org

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Netanyahu, Obama meeting, Sept. 2014. Photo: GPO

Netanyahu, Obama meeting, Sept. 2014. Photo: GPO

JNS.orgThe Nov. 4 midterm election results have obvious implications for American domestic policy. For us in Israel, however, the new Congress and the last two years of President Barack Obama’s administration present a unique opportunity.

Now is the perfect time to turn the page on U.S.-Israel relations. Our two governments should use this time to work together as a united front against the challenges facing the free world.  While there will of course continue to be areas of disagreement between our governments, we both have much to gain by putting these differences aside and placing the issues that unite us as our top priorities for the remaining years of the Obama presidency.

There is no denying that during the past few months we have witnessed some low points in U.S.-Israel relations, especially in terms of rhetoric used. Like most Israelis of all political persuasions, I was deeply disappointed—and even offended—by the crass words used by senior Obama administration officials to describe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That type of language should never be used in diplomatic parlance, let alone to describe the democratically elected leader of an American ally.

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While these anonymous quotes ridiculing Prime Minister Netanyahu were troubling, it is the actions of the Obama administration in recent months that have close observers of this special relationship more concerned than ever. Continued U.S. economic and military support for Qatar is one such example. As Qatar has openly increased its financial and logistical support for the murderous terrorists of Hamas, we did not see our American friends distance themselves from their Gulf ally. Instead, there have been too many instances of declared friendship between the world’s greatest democracy and the Middle Eastern monarchy that supported the terrorists who bombarded our cities in Israel this past summer.

Another example has been the official American reaction to Israel’s construction policy in our capital. I have lost count of the number of times the Obama administration has criticized our government’s decision to plan new housing in Jerusalem, even when these plans benefit both the city’s Jewish and Arab populations. When you compare the official statements coming from the Obama administration with the muted reaction to official Palestinian incitement against Israel and the Jewish people, the situation becomes even more troubling.

Just recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas sent a condolence letter praising a terrorist killed after he opened fire on the police officers attempting to arrest him for critically injuring an Israeli in Jerusalem the night before. It is puzzling how senior Obama administration officials view the building of homes in Jerusalem neighborhoods that everyone agrees will remain under Israeli sovereignty in peace agreements as more of a threat to peace than the culture of violence fostered by the PA.

With the forthcoming swearing-in of the new Congress, both of our governments should seize the opportunity to refocus our relationship. It goes without saying that name-calling and public spats in the media should be pushed aside. More importantly, however, our two countries should immediately begin to prioritize our joint efforts in facing the two main threats to peace and security in the Middle East, if not the entire world.

Though Islamic State is still small in numbers, it is quickly growing and capitalizing on the weakness of the Arab states in the region that have been crumbling before our eyes over the past few years. Here in Israel we do not see Islamic State as an existential threat, especially in comparison to other regional terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Islamic State is a serious danger to the Middle East’s moderate regimes, and to our most important ally—the U.S. This is why we should redouble our efforts to destroy this despicable organization.

Even more importantly, now is the time for Israel and the U.S.—together with the international community—to work hand in hand to end the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Through joint cooperation between our governments, we can work to improve the current agreement under negotiation. I know that many in Congress share Israel’s conviction that a bad deal, which removes sanctions and leaves Iran with the capability to arm themselves with nuclear weapons with relative ease, is worse than no deal at all. A comprehensive agreement can only be reached if the Iranians understand that the U.S. and the international community will not only leave the sanctions in place until this is achieved, but are willing to use any and all options available to us to prevent the ayatollahs from threatening world peace.

The key strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship has always been its bipartisan nature. Despite periodic disagreements, our alliance has flourished over the past six decades—whether either a Democratic or Republican president is in the White House and whether either the Likud or Labor governs Israel. This call to refocus our ties on the important interests that bind us does not result from the change to a Republican majority in the Senate, but from the fact that midterm elections have historically been a time for an American administration to take stock of its policies and plan appropriately for the remainder of its term. It is my hope that both sides will heed this call. There are too many important issues at stake and too many interests to safeguard for us not to do so.

Member of Knesset Danny Danon is the chair of the Likud Central Committee and Israel’s former Deputy Minister of Defense.

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  • Julian Clovelley

    Definitely long past time for a very great deal of back-pedaling, but I don’t think you can do it without detaching from extreme Right Wing Zionist pressure

    I came across a couple of quotes from Lao Tzu you might take on board:

    “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

    “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

    The persona that Israel is projecting is one that if you intellectually imagine looking from outside in – as the world does, including American Administrations – is actually quite rejecting, arrogant, and repellant. It is the wrong face to show the world

    Intransigence over a Settlement and Occupation policy that desperately needs to be abandoned, a de facto imperialist expansionist policy that contradicts the original UN Partition structure and boundaries, a clinging to myth in an attempt to make it a usable history for excusing behaviour and land claims, an apparent refusal to realistically negotiate, a drift towards apartheid conditions for Arab populations – especially in the west bank region – Not a Good Look

    All these and the deliberate antagonism towards the UN, Obama Administration, and Human Rights groups such as Amnesty, and defiance of International Law, combined with bad relationships with respected charities – and you expect to be popular. Here is a suggestion – stop labelling it all “antisemitism” for a start – that will get you nowhere because it isn’t. Try and get it back to the level where Israel always had support and sympathy – the level of safety, security and human happiness

    You don’t need a better relationship as you are, in this persona – You need the better “You” Israel once had. the rest will follow.

  • Zeke

    MK Dannon underestimates the arrogance and obstinacy of the Obama administration.

    A normal politician would have read the election results as a stinging rebuke of his policies, but Obama reads them as further evidence of just how much the stupid people of America need him to continue on his “enlightened” path. He cares little for the actual results of his policies; his only real consideration is that they are his policies.

    It is far more likely that Obama will take the Democratic defeat (he doesn’t regard at as his defeat) as reason to ignore the Democrats as much as he has ignored the Republicans since 2009.

    For America, this means greater conflict between the president and Congress with the Obama ignoring the Constitution when he sees that as convenient. There will be much reliance on executive orders in place of the legislation he cannot get, and these are likely to end up in the courts.

    For Israel, that means an ever more rocky relationship and greater dangers. Obama may well seek to vindicate his attitude toward Israel by seeking a shooting war between US forces and the IDF. I wish it weren’t so, but I believe that is the case.

  • As long as the Jews in the US support Obama, no matter what he or his allies say and do Israel, be will not even mask his hatred of Israel. The American Jews are so terrified of being “unAmerican” somehow if they speak against the Democrats who are silent about his action nothing willl change. ? This fear is laughable when you hear them boasting to Jews from other countries that they are better off and freer in the US than elsewhere. The Hispanic population and other minorities have no qualms about being extremely vocal in their displeasure about Obama. Jews in the US are cowards and their leaders are even worse, when you see them fawning over Obama even as he is spitting in their faces.bGerman Jews, reincarnated.

    • Sadly your words ring true Sir. Actually German Jews fought with the Kyzer proudly during World War One and very possibly would have done the same for Hitler had he not used them as a scapgoat to seize power of his Government. What you fail to realize is that God Almighty sit on His thrown. He is hardening the Heart of the World toward Israel for one purpose. To Show Israel that He Jesus Christ is there Saviour and He is Their God. Its Right their in the Old Testament http://www.arewelivinginthelastdays.com/article/gogmagog/gogmagog.htm

      • The time of the Gentiles is in decline, so that the Jew may Increase. That Scripture may be fulfilled and Jesus Christ be Glorified Thru His Living Word. Praise be to God our Father!!!

  • howiej

    The author fails to realize that there are apparently two Americas concerning Israel. One is the America of Obama, his administration and the State Department. The other is the America of Congress and the vast majority of the people. In the first, Israel and it’s leaders can do no wrong as long as they follow the lead of Obama. The problems occur when Netanyahu and the State of Israel act and follow the path for their own survival and interests. I believe the most dangerous time for Israel is between now and the installation of the new Congress.
    Israel must keep hammering at the policies of the Obama administration that serve neither world peace, the American people or the State of Israel.

  • Obama’s relations with Israel and other Nations
    Obama has no respect from many of the International community. Obama has no credibility, he has the least experience in real politics, he is the worst president the U.S. has ever had. Obama has alienated many nations and has caused foreign policy damage that is costing the American taxpayer trillions. Obama has abused his executive powers and should be prosecuted for his violations. Obama is ignoring the true sovereignty of the Jewish people in Israel and the various treaties and international agreements entered into after WWI. Obama’s blatant disrespect of Netanyahu and Israel’s International legitimate rights shows his naivety in International matters and foreign policy. Obama’s lack of etiquette is an outright embarrassment to the United States.
    Natanyahu is trying his best, but he will not compromise the security of Israel and that is the way a leader should perform. It is interesting to note, that Jordan is a country that never existed in history before WWI and nobody is contesting its legitimacy or territorial sovereignty and control. The same powers that established 21 Arab States after WWI, Established the State of Israel based on the Balfur Declaration. On the other hand, Israel and its Jewish people have over 3500 year history. Many Nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people from their countries, confiscated their homes and assets to the tune of over 500 billion dollars and over 600,00 of these Jewish people were resettled in Greater Israel.
    If this is not discrimination against Israel, I do not know what is.
    It seems like nobody cares about land violations in other countries in the world, but when it comes to Israel, everyone has a say. Israel’s rights in the treaty of San Remo of 1920 are in affect in perpetuity, clearly states that the Jewish people are the only ones with political rights in the British Mandate of Palestine and that the Jewish people can live anywhere in the British Mandate.
    If the U.S., Europe and other countries will stop meddling, and stop its criticism and involvement in the politics of Israel and the Arabs, their current intervention is only adding fuel to the conflict if they stop and mind their own business, than there will be a chance for peace.
    We know the great powers are only interested in the OIL and nothing else, that is the bottom line.
    http://www.cbn.com/…/20…/july/san-remo-resolution-revisited/

  • Wener Strasser

    With an irrational US President the assumption or hope that “midterm elections have historically been a time for an American administration to take stock of its policies and plan appropriately for the remainder of its term” is merely wishful thinking.

    History no longer can serve as a base line. Never before was the USA administration run by a devout nihilist who will stay on course with his ideology and policies. With his reign about to end and nothing to loose brace yourselves for the worst. Two years of intensified pain and scorched earth policy is in store for every one of us!

    • I agree, and want to add that Republicans are not not better in their “love” to Israel, that Democrats. And, more important, the Israelis in their action in Jerusalem and elsewhere shouldn’t pleased both Jews and Arab, but only Jews, as an every normal nation does with its enemies.

  • As long the President of the United States reveres a mass murderer of Jews, there can be no turning the page…Obama reveres the sociopath Muhammad who personally decapitated 600 – 900 unarmed Jews…His antisemitism is therefore at the forefront of every decision he makes…In this case Damon is naive.

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