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Whither Israel?

I listen to a bit of talk radio, and I've acknowledged before that I'm a bit of a Zionist (as much of one as an agnostic WASP can be) as well. So every now and then some goober will call in to a talk show discussing the Middle East will toss out "the reason they hate us is our support of Israel, and we really ought to look at that."

After being run through my BS filter, it usually comes out to "if it wasn't for those goddamned Jews, everything would be fine."

So let's play my favorite game, "give the morons what they ask for."

So let's pretend the United States does decide to cut its support for Israel. What comes next?

First, there will be a great hue and cry from the Democratic Party, possibly even resulting in a schism. The Jews have traditionally been great supporters of the Democratic Party, but that has seen an erosion in recent years as more and more prominent Democrats move away from Israel and closer to groups that are less Jewish-friendly. Meanwhile, the Republicans have been more and more staunch supporters of Israel. And the political clout -- the fundraising and organizational ability of these Jewish activists is remarkable -- vastly outweighs their raw numbers. I've been waiting for years for a significant number of Jews to realize that their best interests lie not with the Democrats, but the Republicans, and such a move might just trigger it.

(That is presuming, of course, that Bush isn't directly credited with the change. I fully expect the Democrats -- as led and emblemized by Howard Dean -- to rush right in and take full credit for this move.)

Secondly, it very well could cause a major schism in the Republicans, as well. The Neocons are very pro-Israel, while the Old Guard (as represented by Pat Buchanan) are not -- in many cases, bordering on anti-Semitism. The fight could get bloody there, too.

Next, we could see another case of politics making odd bedfellows. One of the hallmarks of the Cold War was that the US allied itself with some truly despicable regimes that often had as their sole redeeming feature a staunch anti-Communist stance. Liberals decried such moves, while conservatives declared that "he may be an SOB, but he's OUR SOB." The neocons will find themselves echoing those long-discredited liberals as they denounce the sacrifice of idealism for realpolitik.

OK, that's enough about domestic politics. Let's look at the people who will have to deal with the consequences of that decision up close and personally.

Israel, of course, will find itself as even more of a pariah than at any other time in its history -- more so than even in the 70's and 80's, when it collaborated with South Africa on weapons development. It will start casting around for allies wherever it can, and meanwhile go from being a technical non-nuclear power (rumor has it it has parts for about 100 nuclear weapons just one step away from final assembly, so it can say honestly that it has "no nuclear weapons") to a full-blown member of the Nuke Club.

Meanwhile, the Arab nations surrounding Israel will start girding up for yet another war. This time, though, they know that Israel will truly be on her own. That's not to denigrate the Israeli Defense Forces -- some of the finest and best-equipped in the world -- but they will be woefully outnumbered and will have no "backup" this time. It will boil down to a fight between quantity versus quality, and has been noted, some times quantity has a quality all its own. That war will come soon, and it won't be a pretty one.

But now that we're no longer backing Israel, the Muslim world will love us, right?

I think not. There's an old joke about Irish or Italian Alzheimer's -- you forget everything but the grudge. But they're pikers compared to the Muslims. Osama Bin Laden cited among his grievances the driving out of the Moors from Spain in 1492 and the Crusades. Our support of Israel covers its entire modern existence, and it has been essential to Israel's survival. We have a LONG time to wait for them to "get over" that -- if ever.

So, what exactly, will we have achieved? We would have sacrificed Israel for no benefit whatsoever.

And let's look at exactly what we would have sacrificed. There's a lot of criticism of Israel -- it discriminates woefully against its Arab citizens, it oppresses the Palestinians, it's not always been the best ally, it's a drain on our resources, and so on.

I think it's time to fall back on another of my favorite techniques -- quote Winston Churchill. But where he said "Democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the others," I'll paraphrase it into "Israel is the worst government in the Middle East -- except for all the others."

Israel is a democracy, an island in an ocean of tyrannies and dictatorships under a variety of different names. And while the Arab minority isn't treated exceptionally well, they're not exactly "voting with their feet" to get the hell out of Dodge. There are Arab members of the Knesset, and the Muslim population makes up about 14.6%. Further, they're the fastest-growing segment of their population -- a fact that gives great consternation to several groups within Israel.

It's also true that Israel gets a great deal of foreign aid from us, but we also get a hell of a lot back. A lot of US high-tech companies have subsidiaries in Israel, and they do a hell of a lot of work. I believe that most of the instant-messaging programs got their start in Israel, and Microsoft gets a lot out of its development centers there. I think Intel and, possibly, AMD have facilities there, too.

That aid comes back to us in some other ways, too. Israel has been the front lines in the war on terror for almost her entire life, and a LOT of terrorist tactics were tried out and perfected there. For example, Hamas invented the bus bombing technique. (That, strangely, didn't come up when Reuters asked a Hamas representative for a comment on the London bombings, and Hamas "condemned" them.) And when 9/11 happened, Israel immediately offered to send rescue teams to New York to assist in rescuing victims -- teams that have all too much sad experience at such tasks.

In contrast, the Palestinians were dancing and cheering in the streets.

Yes, there have been a few bumps in the road on our relationship. Israel's critics often bring up the USS Liberty, a Navy Intelligence ship attacked, mauled, and nearly sunk by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War. 34 sailors were killed, and 173 were wounded. Israel immediately apologized and paid restitution, and the United States formally accepted both.

(I'm not interested in re-arguing the merits of the various explanations. Officially, both governments consider the matter closed, and that's good enough for the purpose of this discussion.)

And there is the Jonathan Pollard case. Pollard is an American who, while serving in the Navy as an intelligence officer, was caught passing classified information to Israel. He was arrested and convicted of espionage. Pollard is currently serving a life sentence for his offense. His supporters point out that the median sentence for the particular charge for which he was convicted ("passing non-injurious classified information to an ally") is 2-4 years, while life is usually reserved for traitors like Aldrich Ames and John Walker, who delivered highly-classified information to the Soviet Union and, in Ames' case, indisputably led to the deaths of several US agents.

Israel has also been a great source of intelligence in the War On Terror. And that's only to be expected, considering how long they've been fighting it, and how the stakes for them are ultimately high.

And what the hell does the Arab world have to offer us? Beyond raw numbers of people, a single resource. And I would gladly recycle a bunch of current anti-war signs in case we do dump Israel. With just a few strokes of a paint brush, they can easily read "No Israeli Blood For Oil" -- and that would have a hell of a lot more justification than their current use has.

Yeah, Israel has a few warts. Yeah, they haven't always been the best of allies. Yeah, the price of supporting them is kind of high.

But the cost of letting them fall would be higher still. Financially, politically, and morally, it would cost us most dearly.


Comments (16)

"But the cost of letting th... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"But the cost of letting them fall would be higher still. Financially, politically, and morally, it would cost us most dearly."

And how. Plus, I don't think they would actually 'fall'. If they are about to be annihilated, what's to stop Israel from launching those nukes?

Would the smoldering ashes of Damascus, Cairo, Riyahd, Mecca, etc.. really make the 'anti-Israel' crowd happy?

Does anyone really believe ... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Does anyone really believe that if Israel had never existed at all there would be no terrorism against the US? Those animals in groups like al Qaeda aren't against Jews, Christians, or anyone else in particular, they hate infidels and it makes no difference where the infidels are or what they are doing, Islamoterrorsists are going to convert them, kill them or die trying. If they ever achieve either the first or second goal they'll turn on their fellow Muslims that beong to different sects and start all over again. They use the Jews as an excuse, someone small and close to practice on, and if it wasn't for Israel they'd just travel a little further to get their training in. Africa.

"And while the Arab minorit... (Below threshold)

"And while the Arab minority isn't treated exceptionally well...."

It's disturbing to see that blatant falsehood casually repeated by Israel's supporters.

So you think the Ara... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


So you think the Arab minority is treated exceptionally well?


Because personally, considering that as a culture they have been sworn to the total annihilation of Israel since before its inception, I think they are treated exceptionally well.

Peace -- in the form of def... (Below threshold)

Peace -- in the form of defined borders and mutual security -- between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel would be a great thing in and of itself, but it will have essentially no consequences for the broader war on terror.

<a href="http://www.danielp... (Below threshold)

Daniel Pipes has a column this week about how Israeli Palestinians preferred to stay living in Israel rather than living under the Palestinian Authority.

Why would Palestinians engaged in destroying the state of Israel feel punished by losing the right to live in Israel? One would expect that anti-Israel terrorists would prefer to live in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

One would be wrong. Palestinian Arabs - even terrorists - generally prefer life in what they call the "Zionist entity." On two occasions, this pattern became especially clear: when eastern Jerusalem in 2000 and part of the Galilee Triangle in 2004 were slated for transfer to PA control. In both cases, the Palestinians involved clung to Israel.

When Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's diplomacy raised the prospect, in mid-2000, of some Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem being transferred to the PA, a Palestinian Arab social worker found that "an overwhelming majority" of Jerusalem's 200,000 Arabs chose to remain under Israeli control. A member of the Palestinian National Council, Fadal Tahabub, specified that 70% preferred Israeli sovereignty. Another politician, Husam Watad, described people as "in a panic" at the prospect of finding themselves under PA rule.

Israel's Interior Ministry duly reported a large increase in applications for citizenship and one city councilor, Roni Aloni, reported what he was hearing from Jerusalem Arabs: "we are not like Gaza or the West Bank. We hold Israeli IDs. We are used to a higher standard of living. Even if Israeli rule is not so good, it is still better than that of the PA." A doctor applying for Israeli papers explained, "we want to stay in Israel. At least here I can speak my mind freely without being dumped in prison, as well as having a chance to earn an honest day's wage."

Somehow these points never much surface in discussions of the evils of living in Israel.

The solution to the terror ... (Below threshold)
bill:

The solution to the terror problem will never be found until we recognize what the terrorists really want is to rule the world and have everyone submit to Islam. Only after you face that reality are you prepeared to face the enemy.

Islamo-Fascists are who we are fighting, get over it, deal with it.

And we owe them too. 6 Mill... (Below threshold)
Fred Z:

And we owe them too. 6 Million dead front line troops in mankind's war with totalitarianism.

Hmmm.The issue is ... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

The issue is a fairly simple one. American jews give much greater support to Democrats, who are turning away from supporting Israel. What American jews are not doing is supporting Republicans who are supporting Israel. This means that supporting Israel simply isn't a major issue for American jews.

Which also means that Republican support for Israel comes with no political positives and instead comes with excessive cost. Frankly I support Israel, to do otherwise is to consign millions of people to a certain death.

But we shouldn't sugar-coat this situation in any way. Republican support for Israel comes with a cost, and no benefit. At some point the GOP will either start getting more support from American jews, and thus shift the calculation from a negative towards a positive, or Republican support for Israel will eventually end.

There's a brutal simplicity to this.

<a href="http://americanthi... (Below threshold)
c:

http://americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=2627 The latest survey shows that the Arabs, like the President, blame their lot on their own governments, not Israel,

If we were to quit on Israe... (Below threshold)
JF:

If we were to quit on Israel today, they would grow stronger than ever. They are a high tech nation with nukes. The perfect ally for China. China would not bat an eye if Israelis committed atrocities to the PA; they would help for a price: technology. Since China does not have a free press and since human rights always take a distant second to national strenghth, this would be their foothold in the middle east. This is why it would never happen (Republicans or Democrats would never let this occur)!

Ed, you are oversimplifying... (Below threshold)
Jack Rudd:

Ed, you are oversimplifying.

Unlike in past years, an actual majority of Orthodox Jews now vote Republican. These are the American Jews who care most about Israel. They do know politically which way is up.

Dennis Prager has explained at length why most other (nonOrthodox) Jews still vote Democrat. He himself didn't switch until about 10 years ago. He says it was almost like "Democrat" was printed on his birth certificate. These folks have a great (and justifiable) historical distrust of European Christians, and this automatically (but unjustly) transfers to the Christian Right in America. It takes a great deal to persuade them that conservative American Christians are Israel's truest friends in the world. This is almost unbelievable to them.

So for these folks, a great deal of error has to be unlearned to make the switch. It is happening more slowly than we would like, but it is happening.


Is a single american life w... (Below threshold)
rob hackney:

Is a single american life worth spilling for that of a zionist Israeli? Damn straight it aint!

We supported South Africa during Aparthied, so I guess it's no surprise we support the new South Africa, with their 'black' Palestinians. At least MY PRESIDENT has the balls to be the first to want to give them their own state.

All these fundamentalists need to be put in an arena where they can fight it out amongst themselves like the animals they are. Islamists, Zionists, and yeah, the Christian nutjobs too.

Hmmmm.1. "If we we... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

1. "If we were to quit on Israel today, they would grow stronger than ever."

Wrong. The vast majority of Israel's civilian weapons R&D and manufacturing is oriented around supporting America's military. This is because that's where all the money is coming from. Without American support it would be difficult for IMI to remain solvent.

2. "Ed, you are oversimplifying."

My family still votes Democrat on a reflexive basis as well. My family has been Democrat since there was a Democratic Party, I think I'm the very first Republican ever. But that doesn't excuse the majority of American jews, and it doesn't over the political deficit.

The brutal fact is that the number of orthodox jews is decreasing relative to the number of anti-Israel muslims in politics. It is a fact that the Republican party has lost many votes due to this support of Israel, with no countervening support that would offset this loss.

Without significantly increased support from American jews, the calculus becomes very simple.

3. "All these fundamentalists need to be put in an arena where they can fight it out amongst themselves like the animals they are. Islamists, Zionists, and yeah, the Christian nutjobs too."

You forgot to take your lithium today.

Hmmm.As for Israel... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

As for Israel + China, that's just a fantasy. The only reason China deals with Israel at all is to gain access to American military technology. If America ended support for Israel, this would dry up within 1-2 years. Once China had sucked Israel's technology dry, they'd simply discard the remains and throw them to the Arabs.

Make no mistake about this, it is America that keeps Israel alive and nobody else. Without America it is very likely that Israel wouldn't survive more than a couple years, at most.

>>>We supported South Afric... (Below threshold)
Owen Tree:

>>>We supported South Africa during Aparthied, so I guess it's no surprise we support the new South Africa, with their 'black' Palestinians. At least MY PRESIDENT has the balls to be the first to want to give them their own state.

The first President to give his approval was Harry Truman, when he approved of the UN division of the former British ruled Palestine Mandate.




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