Israel Must Become an Unaligned Nation
Victor Rosenthal writes in Abu Yehuda:
Israel needs to change course, or she will lose the War of Independence she has been fighting since 1948.
It’s not possible for Israel to endure as a satellite of a country whose regime opposes our survival as a Jewish state. The Biden Administration’s policies are no different than those we struggled against during the Obama presidency. There is a de facto freeze on construction east of the Green Line, for Jews. For Arabs, the sky is the limit, all paid for by the Europeans. We are losing Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, which – whatever you think about their spiritual and psychological importance for the Jewish people – are strategically essential for the defense of our country.
The Palestinian Arabs smell blood in the water and believe there is a possibility to realize their dream of finally kicking the Jews out of our tiny slice of the world between the river and the sea. The Biden Administration has restored funds that Trump cut, both to the Palestinian Authority and to UNWRA, which maintains and grows the army of more than 5 million Arabs with their unique hereditary refugee status (like no other refugees in history). In the last two weeks, 14 Israelis have been murdered in a terror campaign. Just like last year at this time, it appears that both the PA and Hamas are interested in provoking an uprising among Israel’s Arab citizens.
Iran is galloping toward nuclear weapons, with the assistance of the Biden Administration, which is positively lusting to sign a deal that will a) legitimize Iran’s violation of the non-proliferation treaty it signed, b) criminalize any Israeli military action against Iran, and c) provide billions of dollars to finance strengthening Iran’s encirclement of Israel with heavily armed proxy armies.
There are plenty of problems in the country that are the fault of our various governments, both the current one led by Naftali Bennett, and the previous ones of Binyamin Netanyahu. But the greatest threats – the existential threats – are war with Iran and her proxies, and large-scale insurrection by the Arabs living between the river and the sea (which would probably occur concurrently). Both of these possibilities have been facilitated by the West, and in particular by the last two Democratic administrations in the US.
The Trump Administration broke with the US policy since the 1970s, which had been to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war. Trump understood and acted on the truths that a Palestinian state whose western boundary approximated the 1949 armistice line would become a threat to Israel’s heartland, that the Jordan valley and the Golan Heights are essential to make the state defensible, and that Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel. He put the brakes on the unlimited expansion of a “refugee” population that would accept no solution other than “returning” en masse to Israel, and converting it into an Arab-majority state. He made the Palestinian Authority accountable for its policy of paying the terrorists that murder Israelis. And finally, he exited Obama’s nuclear deal and initiated a “maximum pressure” campaign that – had it not been cut short by his removal from power – was the only policy short of war that could have stopped Iran.
Although Biden’s administration may have some of its teeth pulled by the upcoming midterm elections, we need to recognize that the US Democratic Party as a whole has become far more anti-Israel than it was even during the Obama period, and this is even more pronounced for its younger members. It’s impossible to predict the outcome of the next presidential election (2024) and even if a Republican wins, it’s not clear that his or her policies will be pro-Israel. Anti-Israel attitudes in general are increasing in the US, and it is unlikely that we will see an administration as friendly as Trump’s in the future.
Like methamphetamine users who steal from their families or sell their bodies in order to obtain drugs, Israel has bartered her future in order to support her addiction to American military aid. I’ve argued that it’s unnecessary, that it skews our military procurement toward “free” systems rather than what fits our needs best, that it cripples our own defense industry, that it corrupts our military establishment, and – most important – that it gives the US far too much leverage over our political and military decisions.
So we agree to stop construction in communities in Judea, Samaria, or eastern Jerusalem. We don’t enforce our laws and court decisions concerning illegal Arab building. We accept limitations on our trade with China. We are pressured not to sabotage Iranian facilities or assassinate their personnel, and even not to comment on Iran so as to protect the nuclear negotiations. During the Obama period, deliveries of critical weapons were held up, and the FAA declared our international airport off limits in order to pressure us to agree to a cease-fire with Hamas.
Our defense officials tend to follow Washington’s lead, because US aid is something like a quarter of Israel’s military budget. It is very hard to say no in such circumstances. In 2012, Netanyahu and Ehud Barak came close to bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities; opposition from the US and from our own military and security officials torpedoed the plan.
This problem has been with us for decades, since Jimmy Carter sweetened the Camp David deal between Israel, the US, and Egypt, with big chunks of military aid for the former antagonists. Today our dependence on the US, which may have once been a minor concern, has grown into a major one. As Iran comes closer and closer to its nuclear weapon and as we are on the verge of losing control of much of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, we are feeling the pressure of the American “golden handcuffs.”
As a tiny nation in a world of competing imperial powers, our survival depends on our being able to maintain a degree of distance from all of them. While we have to be careful not to make enemies of any of them, it is also a mistake to put all of our eggs in one basket, to the point that our fealty is taken for granted – especially when the empire in question has interests that more and more diverge from ours.
I would like to see our government begin a gradual phase-out of American military aid, along with a study of what kind of systems we need the most to maintain our deterrence. Maybe instead of buying astronomically expensive F-35s with American money, we should be building more drones and missiles ourselves? This is a decision that should be made here – and not in Washington.
Although we are a small country, we have technological know-how that could be leveraged by cooperation with other unaligned countries, like India for example. There is already some progress in this direction.
It also wouldn’t hurt to improve our relations with China; a repressive, nasty regime, but one that unfortunately may become the dominant one on the planet in a decade or two.