Friday, September 05, 2014

Debates About Israel

Jonah Shepp gives the standard boilerplate defense of Zionism at Andrew Sullivan's place. He claims to be "seeing both sides now" but the other side, whatever it may be, is hidden behind his paywall. I don't want to get into any of that on either side, but I would note that debates about Israel in the US are really about what the US should or should not be doing.

Israel lives in a tough neighborhood, and tough measures are sometimes needed in such places, but should their problems really be our problems?

Israel is a US client state, depending heavily on the US for money and weaponry, not to mention vital political support in the form of UN Security Council vetoes. Jon Stewart noted the irony that when Israel called a ceasefire in its latest Gaza war, apparently because it had run out of (American) ammo, the US, which had loudly proclaimed its desire for just such a ceasefire, was quick to promise that a few hundred million bucks worth of ammo was on the way.

The problem is that as a client, Israel basically sucks. It's leaders routinely undermine US attempts to broker peace settlements, insult our leaders and diplomats, and take actions like settlement expansion and siezure of Palestinian land.

So are the insults and disses just harmless political fun? Not to the thousands of American soldiers and civilians who have died, and the tens of thousands maimed by the enmity these things provoke among Muslims. If Israel can disrespect America and its President, then obviously the US is an tool of Israel, and deserves the violence and terrorism wielded against it.

Unfortunately, from my point of view, no American President can afford to treat Israel like just another country, like say, Turkey, or Thailand, worthy of US help to the extent that they serve our national interests. Instead, they are more like the obnoxious little brother who is always getting in bar fights and then running to us for help. And he's really not even a cousin - more like a friend of a friend.