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 2008 protest by ver.di Jugend in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Wikipedia commons.
A German youth organization affiliated with the country’s second largest trade union has disavowed the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as well as an anti-Zionist group that endorses a “one state” solution.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, ver.di Jugend announced that it passed a motion at its annual conference to reject BDS and FOR-Palestine, a group that advocates for a Palestinian-majority state in lieu of Israel and strongly opposes Zionism — the movement that supports the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3 (The Israel Bible™)
One year following the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, leaders from the White House Faith Initiative, along with Evangelical and Latin American leaders, gathered in Israel’s Knesset to promote dialogue and foster relations between Christians and Jews, as well as the United States, Latin America and Israel.
“I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3 (The Israel Bible™)
An ICEJ delegation visited Israeli communities along the Gaza border and viewed a new specially designed ATV security vehicle donated through the ICEJ to a local moshav. Credit: ICEJ.
After Israel absorbed as many as 700 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) sent a delegation to the western Negev region on Monday to assess the updated security needs of local Israeli communities and how best to help them prepare for any future escalations.
A replica of the golden menorah in front of Titus’ Arch in Rome. (Courtesy)
“He said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a menorah all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes;” Zechariah 4:2 (The Israel Bible™)
A small group of Christians’ remarkable act of faith has ambitious aspirations: to fix the theft of the golden menorah from the Temple by Titus in 70 CE. In addition, they are seeking to return some of the Divine love that has sustained Germany despite the horrific crimes perpetrated on the Jews in the Holocaust.
U.S. Jews are more likely than Christians to say that U.S. President Donald Trump favors Israelis more than the Palestinians, according to a Pew Research poll released on Monday.
Some 42 percent of American Jews say Trump is favoring Israelis more than the Palestinians, while 47 percent of them say he has been striking the right balance between the two.
Apr 30, 2019 0Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was accused of launching a long-range rocket from northern Gaza at Israel on Monday evening, in an attempt at provoking a heavy response from the Israel Defense...
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.