"Eager to keep its ties with the Arabs, the US would like to see an Israel the Arab regimes can
live with. This entails at the very least an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines on all
fronts, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with half of Jerusalem as its capital../...the US
clearly does not believe it can foster its relations with the Arab regimes unless it keeps prodding
Israel to withdraw."
Wow! David-Bar-Illan, who now serves as a senior advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, sure didn't pull his punches in his editorials in The Jerusalem Post.
Dore Gold, another Netanyahu advisor, was a bit more diplomatic in his writings: "given the still
substantial differences between the US and Israel on final-status territorial issues, the new
interventionism of the Christopher team may not always serve Israel's interest as the negotiations
move into the sensitive area of Israeli withdrawal."
In the last week U.S. intervention reached such heights that one might be prompted to call
American Ambassador Martin Indyk the first Jewish High Commissioner since Herbert Samuel.
Yes, the U.S. vetoed the Security Council resolution, but Israel has yet to be presented the bill.
And when Israel tried to practice a form of "imposed reciprocity" by closing some illegal offices in
Jerusalem - one of the items on Dennis Ross's "do list" for the Palestinians to deal with
"immediately" - American officials criticized the move.
Is this something new? Hardly. Once you penetrate the veneer of happy faces it turns out that
American-Israeli relations always faced this tension. And, as former ambassador to Israel, Samuel
Lewis noted, "Only the peace process eases the contradictory pulls between the US relationship
with Israel and US ties with the Arabs."
These competing interests lead to some very clear American axioms:
American weapons in Arab hands can't significantly hurt Israel: Sure, America carefully weighs
the impact of each sale, but, as Henry Kissinger wrote, these studies "remarkably paralleled the
policy preferences of the heads of the agencies." Kissinger ominously pointed out that the Yom
Kippur War of 1973 "demonstrated that even after the fairly substantial military deliveries of
1970-1973 the military balance in the Middle East had became more precarious than any of our
analysts had predicted." ("White House Years")
Arab violations are to be ignored: As Kissinger told President Richard Nixon, "Violations force
us to choose between doing something about them and thus risk the blowup of our initiative; or
doing nothing and thus renege on our promises to Israel, posing the threat of her taking military
action. Accordingly, we tend to lean over backwards to avoid the conclusion that the Arabs are
violating../...unless the evidence is unambiguous."
So should Israel "go with the flow" in the hopes that Uncle Sam will stand by the Jewish state in
appreciation of the dangerous concessions it made in the pursuit of peace? Not according to the
Netanyahu who ran for elections.
"I firmly believe that at the point of testing, a weak Israel would elicit a great deal of American
sympathy but not much else. This is not mere theory. It was tested before the Six Day War in the
life-threatening siege imposed by Nasser's coalition, when a highly sympathetic U.S.
administration stood on the sidelines../..../..If you lack the power to protect yourself, it is unlikely that
in the absence of a compelling interest anyone else will be willing to do it for you." ("A Place
Among the Nations")
Is all lost? Hardly. For as Netanyahu wrote, "[There is an] appreciation in Washington, as in
many places, of a sound argument cogently made and powerfully backed by resolute will. The
weak and timid may do well for a while, but not for very long. In international politics, in fact in
domestic politics too, strength attracts and weakness ultimately repels."
Are you out there listening Mr. Prime Minister? It's all in your book. Well, almost.
As anyone who has tried to keep a diet knows, it's always best to keep a distance from
temptation. And there is no better barrier against hasty concessions than a properly reinforced
Today America can't sign a postal treaty with Timbuktu without a 2/3 majority vote of the Senate
while Israel can withdraw to Tel Aviv with a simple majority in the cabinet. If Israel adopts the
same 2/3 parliamentary approval requirement, America would be hard pressed to oppose the
It won't be easy, but with the Arab world pressing America to put Israel in its place and "peace
partner" Yasser Arafat's cynical warning that the world do something before his people start
shooting, there is no viable alternative for the Jewish state than "sound arguments" AND
Dr. Aaron Lerner is Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(POB 982, Kfar Sava)
[March 12, 1997]