There’s a crisis brewing in US-Israel relations, and it’s about time.
For four years, President Obama has put up with the shenanigans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Among Netanyahu’s offenses: openly defying Obama in 2009, when the president called for Israel to halt its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and overt supporting Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. But, in issuing a stream of political invective aimed at capsizing the emerging deal with Iran, Netanyahu is making a catastrophic miscalculation that could isolate Israel and weaken its support among the American public.
Fact is, Netanyahu can’t stop the coming deal with Iran. And despite his bluster, he can’t bomb Iran, either. Furthermore, Israel—which vastly depends on American good will, American aid and American arms—doesn’t have many friends outside the United States. Despite Netanyahu’s warm embrace of visiting French President FrançHollande this week, and despite Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Moscow to talk turkey with Vladimir Putin, really and truly Israel has nowhere else to go except Washington.
All the vaunted power of the Israel lobby, which Netanyahu has tried to mobilize against Obama this month, won’t save Israel if the United States abandons it. Not that the United States is abandoning Israel anytime soon, of course, but even a sharp look of disapproval from Washington can cause serious problems in Israel, and in Israeli politics. So Netanyahu had better be careful.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the pro-Israel think tank allied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), issued a dire warning about the developing rupture in US-Israeli relations this week. Wrote Rob Satloff, WINEP’s executive director, in Politico, in regard to the potential US-Iran entente:
Not since Menachem Begin trashed Ronald Reagan’s 1982 peace plan has Israel so publicly criticized a major U.S. diplomatic initiative. In a rousing speech in Jerusalem on Nov. 10, Netanyahu even called on leaders of American Jewry to use their influence to stop what he called a “bad” Iran deal.