An Editorial from the May 1999 issue of THE MACCABEAN
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY AND ISRAEL
A Maccabean Perspective
By Bernard J. Shapiro
This article is quite critical of American Foreign Policy, therefore, I would like to say a few positive things up front. The American people when properly polled come out consistently in support of Israel. There are at least 50 million Evangelical Christians who are friends and dedicated supporters of Israel. Many of America's presidents have bucked the US State Department to help Israel with arms and money. The US Congress and Senate have consistently been friends of Israel. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his love of Israel many times. My own grandfather, for whom the Freeman Center was named, expressed his love of America upon his arrival on our shores:
"But what a change in life upon arriving in America - Free America. Here I suddenly found myself unbridled., the air free, no stifling, atmosphere - I could give free expression to the cravings of my soul! Life began to have a different meaning. What a blessing to have free assemblage, free speech free press! Can an American who has always enjoyed these blessings appreciate what it means to one who was deprived of them until manhood.?"
Unfortunately there are institutions in America that don't love Israel as much as most of us do. Israel's relations with America go back even before statehood in 1948. During the critical years of WWII, the Zionist community of both America and Israel appealed to President Franklin Roosevelt to take action to stop the Holocaust. They were rebuffed at every turn. It was apparent that neither America nor any of its allies were very interested in saving Jewish lives. England was the most persuasive when arguing that the Jews saved would want to go to Palestine. This would anger the Arabs and should be avoided at all cost. It is true that European Jewry would have been a vast reservoir of new citizens for the emerging State of Israel. Their sheer numbers would have eliminated the Arab demographic problem in the new State. American policy came down solidly on the side of dead Jews as opposed to live Jews.
When Israel declared its independence in 1948, we were all pleased that the American president, Harry S. Truman, made America the first nation in the world to recognize the Jewish State. Yet even here there was a dark side to American Foreign Policy. The State Department had argued in vain against the recognition of Israel. When they didn't succeed at that they successfully placed an embargo of arms to Middle Eastern States. Seemingly neutral it only affected Israel since the British and French were arming the Arabs. So we have the spectacle of American recognition of Israel's independence while at the same time refusing the arms it needed to survive, to defend their lives.
Following Israel's Sinai Campaign in 1956, Eisenhower and Dulles forced Israel to withdraw with little political gain. Two "benefits" appeared to be: a UN Force in Sinai to guarantee free passage for Israel in the Gulf of Eilat; and an American promise to guarantee such free passage. In 1967 the UN Force disappeared as did the American promise, which the State Department claimed they could not verify.
In the period since 1967, the US State Department has devoted an excessive amount of time developing and promoting plans to force Israeli withdrawal to the suicide' borders of pre-1967. With amazing regularity, the State Department has failed to be honest about violations of the agreements it has negotiated between the Arabs and Israelis. The US has been blind to Arab violations from the failure to see missile movements in Egypt (1970-76) to the failure to see Palestinian violations of the Oslo and Wye Agreements. This US blindness has always been one way. The Israelis are subjected to constant misinterpretations of agreements. For example, never having agreed to a freeze in Jewish building, US spy satellites are active daily counting houses in YESHA. And then publicly rebuking Israel for a normal activity of a sovereign country.
In order to pressure Israel, stories appear on a regular basis claiming that Israel is transferring American technology to third parties. In every case they are proven false, but the constant repetition is meant to weaken Israel diplomatically. The State Department has orchestrated a media campaign to damage Israel's reputation in general and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. A few examples:
1. Netanyahu is the "hardline" PM of Israel while other world leaders are Statesman. Arafat is a leader'
2. Ethnic cleansing is bad in Kosovo but the ethnic cleansing of Jews from YESHA is good
3. All disputed land in YESHA belongs' to Arabs even when Israel has clear title
4. All foreign capitals are recognized except Jerusalem'
5. Israeli soldiers defending themselves from attack have been treated by the media as the bad guy'
6. Rock throwers who can crush you skull have been treated as demonstrators or protesters' by the media
7. Jewish villages are settlements' and illegitimate' while Arab villages are all considered legitimate
The list could on but now we must say something that should have been said years ago. It is very important for Israel to disengage from its close embrace with American diplomacy. It should be obvious to all that American and Israeli interests differ markedly in relation to the negotiations with the Palestinians. America has by its own admission ceased to be either pro-Israel or a neutral mediator (the Americans claim to be even-handed'). American policy in the final analysis will leave Israel with indefensible borders and an irredentist Palestinian neighbor yearning for all the land "from the river to the sea.." Then, of course, they will also want Jordan.
Much more can be gained for Israel by negotiating directly with the Arabs. This used to be Israeli policy. In reality, Arafat has ceased negotiating with Israel and now is negotiating only with Washington.. It may be necessary to give up American aid dollars and possibly weapons to break out of the current US embrace. It will certainly be difficult, but in the end, there will exist a truly free and sovereign Israel. The alternative is to learn nothing from history: placing Israel's destiny in America's hands as was done during WWII. America won the war, but 90% of Europe's Jews were already dead. I would prefer Israel to survive.