A bit belated with this post, but I feel it is an important one. Netanyahu seems bent on burning as many bridges as possible before Trump takes office. Yes, the US threw him under the bus at the UN, regardless of whether we actually orchestrated as he said. But after much misbehavior on Bibi’s part, including dressing down the president in front of his own congress, I’m not sure what he thought was going to happen.
Netanyahu is apparently trying to protect his right flank. The liberal side of Israel is apparently so disorganized that he thinks the only way he loses power is the Israeli equivalent of getting “primaried”, or taken out by a challenger more extreme than you are. So from a domestic politics point of view, his settlement policy makes total sense.
Except that he’s playing the short game with the long-term security of his country. Putting his chips so publicly in Trump’s basket while practically jeering Obama out the door jeopardizes the idea that Israeli friendship is bipartisan. That notion was already under strain, but now I’m curious how he heals it.
Sidling up to the deeply unpopular Trump will have the same effect on democrats as shouting “Obamacare” in a darkened theater in Alabama. They’ll run the other direction. The GOP has taken the politically expedient (aka obvious) position that Israel is our one true friend and you never leave a friend alone in a bar fight. No matter how many times they pick one. But the subtle (end sarcasm) way that the GOP takes up positions these days will mean the support for Israel will be in the same boat as being the only true patriots and the sole owners of good old American values. In other words, it will just piss off the left even more.
Bibi is counting on the fact that much of the fundraising for the democratic party comes from Jews. So that’s a pretty strong insurance policy. But it’s still predicated on the base not caring about this stuff. If liberals get pissed off enough, even free flowing money won’t be enough to hold the dam.
And this is where it gets tricky. Because after all, WHY are we such good friends with Israel?
All the accusations of antisemitism can be forwarded to email@example.com. But in the meantime, I really want to know. My own limited research brings up our military ties. True, Israel is a valuable partner in the middle east, especially in the last few wars. They have substantial intelligence capabilities, which are more important now than ever.
But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a significant driver of hatred towards America. Not the only one by a long shot, but from a propaganda standpoint, priceless to extremists and enemies. And make no mistake, guns are not going to bring peace to the Middle East. If it ever comes, it will be with words. How many ISIS and Al Qaeda soldiers have we killed? How many leaders have they replaced? Propaganda matters.
And when the US protects actions which almost every other country condemns, including international law experts, it undermines our own authority around the world. We may not have much left when Trump is done, but I still consider it important.
That all said, I would like Israel to be our ally. But it’s not a blank check. To go back to the bar fight comparison, there’s only so many times I’m going to get arrested before I say “you all go out without me tonight.”
I believe peace is more important than the boundaries of Jerusalem. Or the re-election of a politician. Bibi needs to go. Israel needs to show that it cares about maintaining a serious and lasting peace with the Palestinians. And if it can’t do that, then I say dems need to take the fundraising hit. It won’t take a lot of squeezing. We don’t have to become enemies or anything. But this can’t continue. Not with my support anyway.