Andrew Sullivan believes America receives nothing in return for its lavish support of Israel. Actually, in his latest piece in New York Magazine, he claims it’s “worse than nothing,” because “the U.S. suffers internationally from this alliance.”
What’s behind this purported imbalance? Why, the formidable Israel lobby in D.C., of course.
“The basic facts are not really in dispute,” he writes. “A very powerful lobby deploys the money and passions of its members to ensure that a foreign country gets very, very special treatment from the U.S.”
Sullivan is sensitive to anti-Semitic tropes. He acknowledges that when referring to Israel lobbying, phrases such as “all about the Benjamins” and “allegiance to a foreign country” are anti-Semitic. So, his aim is to “write honestly about the Israel lobby’s power in D.C. without using any anti-Semitic ‘tropes’ at all.”
How does he hope to pull that off? By doing what looks like a plain accounting of the U.S.—Israel relationship, which, in his view, boils down to this: “America gives, Israel takes.”
But by being so dismissive of Israel’s value to America, Sullivan ends up grossly distorting a special relationship.
A more balanced accounting would have recognized the depth, strength and unique quality of the U.S.–Israel relationship, as laid out by historian and former Israel Ambassador Michael Oren in a 2011 Foreign Policy essay.
“What is the definition of an American ally?” Oren asked.
“On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision.
“From its location at one strategic crossroads, an ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its democratic government. An ally helps secure America’s borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation.
“Few countries fit this description, but Israel is certainly one of them. As U.S. President Barack Obama told a White House gathering, ‘The United States has no better friend in the world than Israel,’ a statement reflecting the positions of Democrats and Republicans alike. The importance of the U.S.-Israel alliance has been upheld by successive American administrations and consistently endorsed by lawmakers and military leaders. It should be unimpeachable.”
Sullivan includes none of those benefits to the U.S. in his “honest” discussion, presumably because it would undermine his one-sided take of “a very powerful lobby” that ensures “that a foreign country gets very, very special treatment from the U.S.”
In fact, had he done his homework about Israel’s main lobby group in D.C., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he would have learned that its mission is hardly one-way: “To strengthen, protect, and promote the U.S.—Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.”
In return for its aid to Israel, Oren writes, “The United States receives not only an armed but an innovative ally, enhancing America’s military edge. That contribution is real and requires no lobbyists to fabricate it. While organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) press Israel’s case in government and in popular forums, they represent American citizens who view the alliance with Israel as a national American interest.”
“Israel’s fundamental interests, like its values, are America’s,” he writes. “For the price of annual military aid equaling roughly half the cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer, the United States helps maintain the military might of one of the few nations actively contributing to America’s defense.”
As Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock wrote in 2012 for the Washington Institute,“The benefits to the United States of its relationship with Israel belie the argument that the alliance is based solely on the two countries’ shared democratic values, on the popularity of Israel in American politics, or on the elusive pursuit of progress in the peace process. It is a relationship based on tangible interests — and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”
Oren quotes former Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, who once observed: ‘Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.”
The benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Oren concludes, “are of incalculable value to the United States, far outweighing any price.”
When you read Oren’s essay, which delves into the many layers of a deep and historical relationship, even if you may not agree with all of it, it makes Sullivan’s polemic look hollow. It’s as if Sullivan set a personal challenge for himself: Let’s see if I can go over-the-top on the “Israel lobby power” in D.C. without being accused of anti-Semitic tropes.
What he failed to realize is that for a journalist, being accused of sloppy and unbalanced journalism can be just as bad.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Sep 30, 2019 0Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign secretary, has recently commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians, most acutely occurring in the Muslim World, and especially in the Arab/Muslim...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.