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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 05, 2002

United States: Friend or Foe of Israel

Usually this question is asked of Saudi Arabia towards the US. So why ask it in this case. Isn’t it the case that the US is the only friend Israel has? But for the US, Israel could not survive. All true. All true. So what is this question all about?

When you look back over the last half-century you will note that the US, while supporting Israel, also restrained it.

Starting in the Sinai Campaign when Israel, France and Great Britain, invaded the Sinai after Nasser took over the Suez Canal, it was President Eisenhower who forced Israel to retreat.

The ’67 war (Six Day War) was made necessary because the US and other guarantors of Israel’s access to international waterways was not acted upon when Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran. When Israel attacked in self-defence, President Johnson sent the spy ship, USS Liberty, up the coast of Israel to spy on it and to supply intelligence to Nasser. In response, Israel sunk the ship.

In the ’73 war (Yom Kippur War), in which Israel was caught napping and almost overcome, the US withheld supplies from Israel so that Israel would learn how dependant they were on the US. When supplies started to flow at the last minute, Ariel Sharon in a brilliant move surrounded the Egyptian Third Army and had a clear road to Cairo, the US insisted that Israel desist and that they release said army. A ceasefire was worked out.

When Israel wanted to destroy the PLO in Lebanon in the eighties, it was America that saved Arafat’s skin and arranged for him and his cohorts to be exiled to Tunisia.

In the early nineties President Bush Sr. declared the settlements to be illegal when they are clearly not and withheld financial guarantees from Israel when they sorely needed them to resettle the Russian Jews in order to make further concessions to the Arabs.

Even President George W Bush, who clearly has affinity with Israel, is constantly criticizing and hectoring Israel about withdrawal from the territories and about the need to show restraint. Lip service only is paid to defending their citizens. Israeli practices such as pre-emptive strikes and targeted assassination while condemned by the US are precisely the practices the US is adopting in their war on terror. God forbid, and the US too, that Israel should bomb the Palestinians as opposed to using hand to hand combat in the streets. But it is okay for the US to bomb cities in Afghanistan to avoid military casualties.

The State Department is the leading apologist for Arafat and the PA. They refuse to acknowledge what they know to be true. The same goes for their attitude to Saudi Arabia. While the Arab institutions are calling for blood, literally, of both Israelis and Americans and supporting terror, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism all over the world, Bush is embracing them and calling Islam a religion of peace and Powell is calling for more Muslim immigrants. The enemy of Israel and the US is clearly these Islamic power brokers who have declared war on them in word and in deed. But the US is unwilling to acknowledge that they are the enemy and prefers to identify the enemy as a tactic namely “terror” rather then a people defined by their religion and in whose name the war is declared.

And now Israel must contend with the “Road Map” and having a second Palestinian State rammed down their throat. Rather than protecting Israel, the US is endangering their existence. No one can assure Israel that such a state will live in peace with Israel or that the Arab countries will live in peace with Israel but that doesn’t stop the US from pursuing this option.

A true friend would not be a power broker or care about being even handed. This only emboldens the Arabs to go for broke. A true friend would stand squarely and unabashedly behind Israel in word and in deed thereby making it clear that the Arabs cannot shake their alliance or their resolve to stand firm.

Ted Belman/tedbel@rogers.com