The best question ever asked! Did Helen Thomas already answer the question?
Anthony Cordesman, a foreign policy dignitary in this town’s [Washington] think tank circuit, dropped an article on Wednesday headlined “Israel as a Strategic Liability,”
He laid out a dispassionate argument that has gained increased traction in Washington — both inside the Obama administration (including the Pentagon, White House and State Department) and outside, during forums, policy breakfasts, even a seder in Bethesda. Recent Israeli governments, particularly the one led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Cordesman argued, have ignored the national security concerns of its biggest benefactor, the United States, and instead have taken steps that damage American interests abroad.
“The depth of America’s moral commitment does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily make Israel a strategic liability when it should remain an asset,” Mr. Cordesman wrote, in commentary for the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he is the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in strategy.
“It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it tests the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews.”
“The prior administration’s worldview lined up more with the Israeli government,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder of J Street, a liberal Jewish lobbying group. “Now we’re seeing a reflection of a different worldview, that gives you a completely different set of policies and priorities.”
The list of recent moves by the Netanyahu government that potentially threaten American interests has grown steadily, many foreign policy experts argue.
The violence that broke out when Israeli commandos stormed aboard a Gaza flotilla last week chilled American relations with a key Muslim ally, Turkey. The Gaza fight also makes it more difficult for America to rally a coalition that includes Arab and Muslim states against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Mr. Netanyahu’s refusal to stop Jewish housing construction in Arab East Jerusalem also strains American ties with Arab allies. It also makes reaching an eventual peace deal, which many administration officials believe is critical to America’s broader interests in the Muslim world, even more difficult.
Mr. Ben-Ami, founder of J Street, a liberal Jewish lobbying group, says he represents Jews who support Israel, but not all of its policies. Some of them are raising the issue of Israeli government actions as a strategic liability for the United States, and that question animated a seder held in April by influential officials and advisers in Bethesda, Md. A debate broke out there over where to draw the line when considering American support for Israel’s government.
Within the Obama administration, there are gradations of how to even talk about that issue. At the seder, one Jewish adviser to the administration invoked concerns that ordinary Americans might get so frustrated with Israeli government actions that they will begin to question America’s support for that government. He asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivities surrounding the issue.
More recently, Daniel Levy, director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and a member of J Street, said in an interview: “America has three choices. Either say, it’s politically too hot a potato to touch, and just pay the consequences in the rest of the world. Or try to force through a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, so that the Palestinian grievance issue is no longer a driving force or problem.”
The third choice, he said, “is for America to say, we can’t solve it, but we can’t pay the consequences, so we will distance ourselves from Israel. That way America would no longer be seen, as it has been this week, as the enabler of excesses of Israeli misbehavior.”
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Levy advocates the second choice. But he warns that the third may become more palatable to Americans if Mr. Netanyahu’s government stays on its present course.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, author of one of the most well-read blogs in the American Jewish community, put it this way: “I don’t necessarily believe you solve all of America’s problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen by freezing settlement growth. On the other hand, there’s no particular reason for Israel to make itself a pain in the tush either.”
Cost of Israel to U.S.
The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion
An estimate of the total cost to the U.S. alone of instability and conflict in the region – which emanates from the core, Israeli-Palestinian conflict – amounts to close to $3 trillion, measured in 2002 dollars. This is an amount almost four times greater than the cost of the Vietnam war, also reckoned in 2002 dollars.
By Thomas R. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
The U.S. is providing Israel with at least $7.0 million each day*
The source for US military aid to Israel during Fiscal Year 2009 is the Congressional Research Service’s “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” written by Jeremy M. Sharp, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, updated February 3, 2009. According to this report, by early February 2009, the US had already given Israel at least $2.55 billion ($2,500,000,000) in military aid for Fiscal Year 2009.
America is Waking Up to Israel’s so-called democracy:
America has nothing in common with Israel’s so-called-democracy. Israel’s “democracy” is one based on Apartheid, discrimination and eviction of non-Jews from their homes so that extremist Jewish settlers may move in.
The Permanent Resident Law
- A “permanent resident” status is a measure necessary only for Palestinian Jerusalemites and not for Israeli citizens
- As a “permanent resident”, Palestinians:
- Must obtain an Israeli re-entry visa when they travel abroad or lose their right of return.
- Lose their residency right in Jerusalem, if they hold or apply for residency/citizenship elsewhere.
- Must prove that their “center of life” is within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Persons living abroad for more than 7 years automatically lose their residency rights
- Can only register their children as Jerusalem residents if the father holds a valid Jerusalem ID card; and/or
- Must apply for family reunification if they marry spouses from the West Bank, Gaza Strip or abroad to live legally with their spouses in Jerusalem.
- Most such applications are turned down.
- Since 1967 war, Israel has implemented a matrix of policies designed to drive the Palestinian population from the city and create a Jewish majority, thereby establishing irreversible facts in the city and allowing Israel to ensure and maintain exclusive control.
- In 1980, the Israeli government officially “annexed” East Jerusalem by amending the “Basic Law” to extend Israeli jurisdiction to the occupied area of the city.
- 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem, complete and united is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the seat of Presidency, the Knesset, The Gov. and Supreme Court. (Law does not define the borders. No words of annexation or sovereignty. Law does not require a Knesset majority to alter the law)
- “The 75 km Wall being built in East Jerusalem is an instrument of social engineering designed to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem by reducing the number of Palestinians in the city.” Professor John Dugard, UN Special Rapporteur
In the first three years of occupation, Israel confiscated 18270 dunums (18,27 sq kms) of Palestinian land.
By 1991 that number had reached 23378 dunums (23,4 sq kms).
By 2007, the Wall resulted in the confiscation of land belonging to 19.2% of Palestinian families in Jerusalem.
From 1967 until the end of 2006, Israel had revoked the residency rights of around 8,269 Palestinian Jerusalemites
For most of its history Jerusalem has been a city with a mixed population. Since 1967, however, the policy of every Israeli government towards Jerusalem through demographic and planning discrimination has been to limit and reduce the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem in order to maintain a Jewish demographic majority in all of Jerusalem.
The construction of Jewish Settlements is altering the geography and demographics of Jerusalem. It is acknowledged by some Israeli officials and deduced from government policies that settlements serve three purposes:
- to preserve a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem at a ratio of approximately 7:3.
- to solidify Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem by creating rings of Jewish population around the city, isolating Palestinian East Jerusalem from its natural hinterland in the West Bank.
- to create a “fortress” around the city to protect Jewish Jerusalem from an eastern invasion.
1967– Magharib quarter is demolished by Israel to create a large plaza in front of the Western Wall. 135 Palestinian houses are demolished; 650 Palestinians are evicted.
1968– Jewish quarter is expanded by Israel. 5500 Palestinians are evicted and 116 dunums are expropriated.
Out of 700 stone buildings, only 105 were owned by Jews before 1948. Palestinian property seized included 1048 apartments and 437 workshops.
1990– Jewish settlers occupy St. John’s Hospice in the Christian quarter. It is later discovered that settler groups received Israeli government support.
Today– Jewish groups continue to settle in the heart of the Muslim and Christian quarters.
Politics of Planning: A walk through the Old City easily reveals the discrimination in planning between the Jewish and Palestinian quarters:
- The Jewish quarter is modern and fully serviced.
- Palestinian quarters have few services and amenities.
- Building permits are difficult to acquire and so many areas are overcrowded (41 persons/1000 sq. m), dilapidated and unsafe, forcing families to move outside of the Old City for adequate living space.
- Jewish settlers often offer large sums of money to purchase such property.