The US and Israel: A Codependent, Dysfunctional Relationship – Adam Silverman

The US
and Israel: A Codependent, Dysfunctional Relationship

Adam L.
Silverman PhD[1][1]

Habakkuk finished his contribution to the SST debate over the US/Israeli
relationship by asking “In my view, the 'liberal Zionist' position — very common among
British Jews — depended upon belief that the two-state solution was possible.
As I suspect Lerman's remarks indicate, people of intelligence and good faith
are still clinging to what like you I believe to be illusion. But what I also
believe is that in the U.K. at least, when they finally face the choice very
many will chose liberalism over Zionism. Whether the situation is fundamentally
different in the U.S. I cannot judge?" 
What is interesting in his question is that there both is and is not a
fundamental difference in the US.  What
is even more interesting is that Mr. Habakkuk’s question frames the issue on
the day that it is reported that the head of the Anti-Defamation League, an
organization that exists to track, document, and oppose discrimination against
both Jews and non-Jews, has picked a fight that he cannot win.  Rabbi
Foxman, the ADL Director, has indirectly challenged
Petraeus over the assertion that Israeli actions are putting US soldiers at
greater risk in the CENTCOM AOR
, as well as the direct
remarks made by VP Biden last week in Israel

A great deal of
the discussion here at SST has revolved around questions pertaining to Zionism,
Christian Zionism, Zionist or Israeli or AIPAC capture of US political and
media elites, but what we have not done is actually shed any light what
Americans and American Jews really think about support for Israel, possible
solutions to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, and what the US role should
be.  As I wrote in the comments to the
post about Reverend Hagee three very good resources for information are Glenn
Greenwald’s writings on these topics
, Professor Wald’s
scholarly work
and J Street – a relatively new American
Jewish PAC that is dedicated to bringing much needed balance to the debate over
the US roles regarding Israel, the Palestinians, and the Middle East.  It is, however, necessary to now move this
discussion forward by directly taking up Mr. Habakkuk’s final question.  American attitudes towards Israel, among both
Jews and non-Jews, are not as clear cut as Rabbi Foxman, the AIPAC crowd, and
the most members of the US political and media elites would have you
believe.  Among American Jews, as
Mr. Greenwald so ably chronicled at the time
, the 2007 American Jewish
Committee’s Annual Survey of American Jewish attitudes
showed that a small margin favored the establishment of a Palestinian State 46%
to 43% with 12% unsure.  Moreover, 57%
opposed the US using force to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  What is even more interesting are the follow
on results from 2008
and 2009.  There is no two state solution
question in the 2008 survey, but respondents still opposed US military
deterrence of Iran by a 47% to 42% margin and the numbers on whether Israel
would be able to make peace with her neighbors, while pessimistic, is largely
unchanged from 2007.  The
2009 survey
is even more revealing about American Jewish attitudes towards
how the US interacts with Israel.  54% of
respondents approve of the Obama Administration’s relationship with Israel (and
interestingly 59% approve of Netanyahu’s relationship with the US…), but the
number of American Jews that now support the establishment of a Palestinian
State has increased to 49% and 41% approve of the US call to new Israeli
settlement construction, with 52% indicating that Israel should be willing to
dismantle some of its settlements (8% said all) and the percentage that are
optimistic about Israel peacefully resolving the disputes with its Arab
neighbors have increased by 5%.  The
overall two most important issues in the 2007 and 2008 surveys for American
Jews were actually domestic issues: the need to fix the economy and health

Americans in
general are also less supportive of Israel than an observer of our politicians
and media would think.  And
here too Mr. Greenwald had his reporting fingers on the attitudinal pulse that
we are trying to count
: 71%
of Americans favor taking neither side in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute!
  Moreover, specific polling dealing with the
issue of the 2006 Israeli operations in Lebanon clearly
indicated that a majority (65%) of Americans believed that the US should not
take a side
and that
a significant amount of Americans (48%) blamed both Israel and Hezbullah
.  Even in Israel the
attitudes are much more diverse than we generally think we are.  As Gideon Levy, in
his many columns for Haaretz has made clear
, the US is actually
enabling Israel’s bad behavior.
 Moreover, he takes the US, and
specifically the Obama Administration to task for failing to be tough enough on
, which in turn allows Israel to continue doing things that are not
good for it or the Palestinians, as well as push the envelope on what is
permissible.  But what about Israelis
themselves – what are their actual attitudes? 
to 2008 polling done by Market Watch 74% of Israelis themselves favor a two
state solution.

If Americans,
American Jews, and Israelis (presumably the Jewish ones) are not in lock step
with the “US must support Israel at all costs” concept that has been loudly,
proudly, and profusely scattered throughout the US media for the past week,
what exactly is going on?  There are
three actual dynamics at play here in two different countries.  In the US a great deal of what passes for the
debate is being (loudly) carried on by supporters of Israel; both Jewish and
non-Jewish.  The truth, as
Professor Cole wrote this morning
, is that the majority of the voices in
this debate, as well as the larger one about the US’s role in the Middle East
and Central Asia, have very little expertise in any of the areas that they are
commenting on.  What they lack in
knowledge or accuracy, they make up for in volume!  As a result those subject matter specialists
that might be called on to comment, advise, or both get shouted down,
threatened, or simply decide its not worth it. 
Consequently the debate is often one before it can be begun, which
brings us back to Rabbi Foxman’s, and other’s, charges of criticisms of Israel
being anti-Semitic.  This is the big
rhetorical gun, along with its relations of being soft on terrorism, an
appeaser, and not supporting the troops, that is wielded by those who know they
cannot win on the facts, but can win the war of the sound bite.  Unfortunately it means that the whole
understanding of anti-Semitism goes right out the window and it also means that
the capture of our media and politicians by the most extreme supporters of the
worst of Israel’s behavior will continue. 
It is also very bad for Israel. 
As many have noted on SST, and as Professor Cole has noted at his own
blog, time and demographics are now against the Israelis.  Unless Israel dismantles the vast majority of
its settlements, stops turning Palestinian land into Jewish heritage sites
(even the one’s that have significance for Jews – negotiating access and
preservation can be part of the resolution), there is NOT going to be enough
Palestinian land left to make into a viable state.  As such Israel will be left with two very bad
options: 1) to stop being either a Jewish State or a State for the Jews because
Palestinians will outnumber Israelis and will have to be accommodated or 2)
maintain Israel as Jewish State/State for Jews by forever occupying the West
Bank and Gaza and denying full rights to the Palestinians.  As an undergraduate I heard Dr. Aaron David
Miller, then a high-ranking State Department official dealing with the Middle
East, make what I thought was one of the most insightful, and unfortunately
unworkable, assessments of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  To paraphrase what he said: “a resolution
will be eventually worked out as Israel cannot afford to be an indefinite
occupier of the Palestinians and because the Palestinians cannot afford to be
occupied indefinitely.”  Unfortunately, he has
more recently indicated that in all his years of working this problem set for
the US he never once heard US officials have a serious discussion with an
Israeli prime minister about the damage that Israel’s settlement activities
have on the peace process.
  What we
now also know is that it is having negative second, third, and fourth order
effects for our personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Obama Administration’s new found resolve
is admirable, but they need to get a lot tougher.  If our dysfunctional, codependent relationship
with Israel is not changed Israel’s survival is placed at greater risk and
Americans and American interests are as well. 
As long as Israel thinks it has carte blanche to do whatever it wants,
because its primary sponsor – the US – will enable it to do so, the more likely
it is to do something stupid.

[1][1] Adam L. Silverman, PhD was the Field
Social Scientist and Team Leader for Human Terrain Team Iraq 6 (HTT IZ6)
assigned to the 2BCT/1AD from OCT 2007 to OCT 2008.  Upon his redeployment
to the US he served as the US Army Human Terrain System Strategic Advisor
through June 2009.  The views expressed here are his own and do not
necessarily reflect those of the 2BCT/1AD, the US Army Human Terrain System, or
the US Army.

[2][2] Full Disclosure (again): Professor Wald
supervised the political science side of my doctoral training, he and I have
co-authored two scholarly works, and I consider him a valuable mentor,
colleague, and friend.

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36 Responses to The US and Israel: A Codependent, Dysfunctional Relationship – Adam Silverman

  1. In deference to an excellent post by Dr. Silverman it seems to capture the problem nicely. My concern is that it is not the US and its polity that is the key dynamic but the belief of Isralies as to US sentiments and motivation that is off base. Personally, I have emotionally followed this issue since throughout living in Arlington County Va for over 55 years (no longer live there) I had relatively close friends choose to emigrate to Israel on a permanent basis. My question to them is and was always WHY? Clearly it was part of their persona and religion to go to their perceived homeland. Hey there are many professional IRISH living in the US and other nationalities and religions. But my sense is that Americans really don’t focus on Israel all that much unless they are Jewish or have Jewish friends (of which I have many)! Americans tend to adopt a policy of live and let live and let other nations take care of their own and own problems. What is becoming evident to the American polity that despite their desire to prevent another holocaust of the Jews or others, there may be increasing dangers from ignorance and diplomatic reinforcement of the Israel. This then raises the question is this perception accurate? But I think the more important question is what do Israeli’s think? Almost no polling data on Israeli beliefs and societies makes it into the MSM in the US? Why? Perhaps I am fundamentally incorrect and ignornant in my understanding but I tend to view Israel as a religious Sparta. What I do NOT want is the US to be a religious Sparta!

  2. toto says:

    Let me take the bullet and ask the dumb question: without American military involvement, what would be the prospects of a joint Arab war against Israel with “limited goals” (i.e. free the Palestinian territories, perhaps extend them or otherwise redraw the map, but without trying to destroy Israel itself).
    The reason I’m asking this is a personal fantasy that, should such a situation occur, the current American adminstration might actually see the light and tell the Arabs, “If you threaten Israel’s existence and/or commit mass atrocities, we’ll bomb you all the way back to Damascus. However, if you restrict yourself to liberating and re-arranging Palestinian territories, we’ll just grumble a bit and look the other way.”

  3. Green Zone Cafe says:

    GEN Petraeus’s foray into the issue is welcome. It’s time to start talking about final boundaries and stop the rope-a-dope with settlements.
    As an aside, has anybody written as much trying to save America from despotism as Glenn Greenwald has in recent years?

  4. 1. Do your statistics, or others, indicate that the majority of American Jews would support a one-state solution?
    2. AIPAC, the Council of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, B’nai Brith, Anti-Defamation League are the four most prominent “Jewish” lobby organizations.
    Why do these organizations not represent the political consensus of the American Jewish Community?
    3. Isn’t J-Street an impotent fig leaf politically? Just window dressing?
    Are there any statistics to indicate just what actual political impact it has in terms of votes in Congress, for example?
    And does J-Street insist on the Jewish State and “two-state solution” or would it agree to a “one-state” solution?
    3. It appears from your presentation that the underlying concept is the “Jewish State” continued with a “two-state solution”? Perhaps I missed something.

  5. J says:

    One of the brick walls that U.S. policy (spelled White House) is running into regarding Israeli settlements, is the attitude of Israeli apartheid as evidence by Israeli Housing Minister Atias. Atias openly pushes for turning Israel into an apartheid state through active segregation in Israel.
    Israel’s Interior Minister who embarrassed Joe the Gardner and the Obama administration is Eli Yishai who is the chairman of the Shas Party. Shas has a powerful power base in NYC’s Orthodox communities.
    Atias and his element seeks to create apartheid not only between Arabs and Jews, but between secular and Orthodox Jews. Atias and his element’s views is that separation between the secular and Orthodox is needed in order to prevent ‘unnecessary friction’.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    I think Israel would defeat any combination of Arab armed forces in any conventional war that involved an invasion of Israel or the occupied territories. On the other hand a guerrilla war waged the way the Arabs fought back in the ’30s could be lethal for Israel if the Arabs stuck with it for a few years. It would get to be extremely ugly. pl

  7. N. M. Salamon says:

    From the news about President Obama and Israel.\, one can conclude that the famous CAIRO SPEECH is dead for all intents and purposes. SAD! There was hope – though the IRanians did make the right observation: not words but acts count. Toaday we can clearly state that both the words and the acts are null!
    Thank you Dr. Solverman for the far ranging analysis!

  8. Lb says:

    Anyone who looks at the maps of Israel/Palestine on Juan Cole’s blog, Informed Comment (scroll way down) can see for themselves the reality of the situation: there is no possibility of a two-state solution physically. The Israelis would have to pull back to the 1967 lines. Which they aren’t willing to do. So one state it is. Now how do we prevent a Palestinian holocaust?

  9. Lb,
    One concept might be that the United States take a Roman Imperial perspective and dictate the one state solution in cooperation with Europe, Russia, China, the UN and etc.
    Diplomatic recognition of “Israel” would be withdrawn by all members of the UN, as Israel has not complied with international law nor have the original UN actions toward Palestine (partition and two states) been fully implemented.
    Thus we push the “restart button” and return to historic Palestine post Mandate and prior to Partition and begin again with the “Jewish Problem” as a global issue.
    Would a regional war against Israel involve just Arab states?
    Thinking out of the box, could/might an Islamic Turkey and an Islamic Iran join in to create a “united front” perhaps?

  10. David Habakkuk says:

    Dr Silverman, mo,

    Thanks for Dr Silverman’s very helpful post. I am familiar with the writings of Glenn Greenwald, and greatly admire his courage, good sense and lucidity.

    I was going to post some responses to the comments by mo on the previous thread, but as the caravan is moving on it seems sensible to put them on this thread, hoping that he will be following it.

    My strong suspicion is that you may, ironically, be echoing a highly dangerous misjudgement by the likes of Netanyahu and his fellow travellers in the U.S. — also Britain — about the possibility of maintaining the support of Jews outside Israel for the course of action they have chosen.

    Certainly the notion that a single-state solution would facilitate the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, because it would ‘silence dissent from “Liberal” Zionists’, would not apply in Britain. (And in the light of the figures quoted by Dr Silverman, I doubt it would in the United States.)

    This is partly because very many such people — like Richard Goldstone — are men and women of honour and integrity. But it is also relevant that a key traditional alliance in British society, going back to the Thirties, is between liberal Jews and people like myself — that is, non-Jews who saw National Socialism as an awful warning about the need to be cautious about yielding to the temptations of tribalism.

    A classic statement of this view comes in the writings of Sir Karl Popper, a refugee from that once great centre of Jewish culture, Vienna. Although I have more doubts about some of Popper’s ideas than I had as a young man, the warnings about the dangers of succumbing to the temptations of Blut und Boden have not lost cogency.

    The definition of Jewishness which Netanyahu offers is essentially as a tribe that people want to kill. For liberal Jews to buy into that position risks calling into question the sincerity of their own commitment to try to transcend tribalism — suggesting as it were that the gentiles must give up the delights of Blut und Boden, but the Holocaust gives Jews a special and continuing entitlement to these.

    Moreover, that definition of Jewishness implies that the kind of genocidal anti-Semitism practiced in National Socialist Germany is a real and continuing danger in countries like Britain or the United States. And indeed, without this suggestion, a natural conclusion to draw from Netanyahu’s apocalyptic vision of the perils facing Israel from its Muslim neighbours would that every Jew who can should emigrate to safer places.

    The suggestion is in fact false. Moreover, given the success and influence of Jews in Britain and the United States, to embrace it risks giving credibility to the notions of a ‘hostile elite’ elaborated by that unpleasant but not unintelligent figure Kevin MacDonald.


    A curious aspect of the utterances of some of more fervent supporters of Israel in the United States, incidentally, is how close they sound to traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes. I was really taken aback the suggestion by Vice President Biden, at his address at the Yad Vashem memorial, that ‘for world Jewry, Israel is the heart. For world Jewry, Israel is the light. For world Jewry, Israel is the hope.’

    With very little modification, the notion of some kind of coherent ‘world Jewry’, seeing Israel as ‘the heart’, ‘the hope’, and ‘the light’, because they live in continual fear that their gentile neighbours may turn on them, could feature in the writings of MacDonald. It is also, I think, bunkum.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    Joe Klein has a piece in Time in which he says that AIPAC made a serious error in siding with Israel against the US in this crisis. I just watche Rep. Wiener of New York do the same thing on MSNBC. That’s a shame. Wiener is usually a sensible man. pl

  12. Adam L Silverman says:

    I’m going to try to take this in order of appearance:
    Mr. Cummings: I think there are three things here. The first is that for most American Jews Israel, for all its warts, holds a special emotional and/or intellectual place. A good chunk of that is acculturation and the rest is good PR. I know a number of American Jews who talk about Israel as home, but if you scratch the surface its really and idealized type of concept and they really don’t want to move. I also agree that barring a major incident Americans generally tune out Israel (not to mention Iraq, Afghanistan, and just about everywhere else). This has to do with a number of things, not the least of which is how bad our media is and how incurious we’ve become as a society. The Sparta reference is not wrong, but the better one is Masada. I highly recommend Ben Yehuda’s “The Masada Myth”, but in a nutshell Masada is Israel’s “Remember the Alamo” mythos. The image of the plateau with the legend “Masada Shall Never Fall Again” has appeared on a number of images such as stamps and posters over the years and I think has been hyper internalized by the Likud to the right crowd in Israel and their allies in the US. One final point: because of the nature of Israeli parliamentary politics you get a lot of the dysfunction that we see in the US Senate – where a small handful can pretty much move the decision making and kill proposals. Since neither Likud or Labor, not to mention the newer fusion Kadima is able to get a governing majority everyone is left with essentially two options. Governments of national unity that basically straddle the Israeli center or plurality led Likud, Labor, or Kadima governments where small, much more extreme parties become kingmakers and spoilers – thereby pulling Israeli governance to the extremes. By including folks like Lieberman or parties like Shas Netanyahu, already far to the right even for Likud, gets pulled even farther in that direction.
    Green Zone Cafe: I am in 100% agreement: Mr. Greenwald takes on all comers and is owed a huge debt by all Americans!
    Professor Kiracofe: I’ve seen no data on a one state solution. I think the reason for this is pretty obvious: No one has seriously proposed it as a policy option. The entire framework, every international agreement, even the UN Resolutions themselves, all point towards a two state process. As such no one polls on the one state concept. As for the list of organizations you refer to: some were set up as special interests, others like the ADL was set up as an anti-extremism watchdog and clearing house and by and large still does a lot of that, B’nai B’rith was, and is, a fraternal organization whose membership has seriously dwindled over the years. AIPAC was, is, and I expect always will be a special interest political outfit intended to move policy in their preferred direction. What has happened with all of these is that the leadership has been captured or intimidated into toeing what AIPAC and some others would like everyone to believe is the official “American Jewish” position. Because most people are too busy, and don’t have access to getting in front of news cameras or on the NYT or WaPo editorial pages, this becomes the perceived default position. From what I can tell from the polling and from my friends – most Catholics don’t agree with Bill Donohue, but he gets on tv and they don’t, so he wins the PR war by default. As for J Street I think its too soon to tell. Its only a couple of years old, has to start from scratch, and has the much harder task of trying to organize the large number of American Jews who just sort of ignore all the noise and heat in order to get its point across. AIPAC didn’t become a powerhouse overnight, I don’t expect J Street to either. As for a one or two state solution: I tried to stick as close as I could with the data available. Professor Cole’s arguments about the non-viability of a two state solution are, I think, spot on, however, all the proposed solutions are two state. That leaves three possibilities: give up completely and just let things get worse, pressure the Israelis into pulling back and dismantling the settlements so that a viable two state solution could be done, or develop a coherent and palatable one state proposal and start pushing policy that way.
    J: I think I got to part of your comments in my reply to Mr. Cummings, but you are absolutely correct about the dispute between the ultra devout/observant, the observant, and non-observant. While this has been flaring up more and more it is still partially subsumed under the Israeli/Palestinian issue. Interestingly the same issues exists among Muslim Palestinians and between Muslim and Christian Palestinians too. If the Israelis and the Palestinians ever get their issues resolved, the fights will just turn internal and those are going to be really ugly. This is also a largely undiscussed, and therefore unplanned for, problem set to resolving the Israeli/Palestinian dispute!
    LB/Professor Kiracofe: There won’t be a reset/restart. Either Israel realizes its settlements are unsustainable and pulls back (most likely under external pressure) or the one state option becomes inevitable by default. As for an ethnic cleansing: the Israelis actually wrote up the CONOP for what happens if the Palestinians unilaterally declare a State. This was when Barak was head of the IDF not Labor, and was called Operation Crown of Thorns (sometimes I saw it as Bloody Thorns). Basically it called for forcibly marching all Palestinians across the borders into Jordan or Syria or Egypt or Lebanon, called for exceedingly high casualties for the Israelis and even higher ones for the Palestinians. I always believed that it was because he was the IDF Commanding General when this was produced, that Barak knew how bad no resolution was and why he went as far as he did in the negotiations in the mid to late 1990s.
    Mr. Habakkuk: I think you are 100% correct. I can not tell you how many times I have heard the reference that “if things were to go bad here in the US for Jews, Israel would be a safe haven”. As an adult I always thought that was kind of strange, given that if things get that bad in the US for a largely assimilated religious minority, then I don’t think anywhere is going to be safe! I think a great deal of this is generational in the US and is dying out. A lot of older Jews remember that while the Greatest Generation may have gone to Europe to fight the NAZIS, in the 1930s they were also overwhelmingly voting for candidates who were running on openly anti-Semitic and often pro-NAZI platforms for local, state, and Federal office. If I recall correctly over 2/3s of all those elected to positions in the mid 1930s were running on those types of platforms. This attitude is also regional, so in places that still have highly concentrated visible Jewish communities, such as parts of NY, this may linger longer, but my guess is that if the US becomes inhospitable to its Jewish citizens, then things are likely so bad that no where would be safe.

  13. curious says:

    Did Obama just cancel his indonesia-oz trip? I was going to use that trip to test and adjust my prediction. uhm…hello? state dept? This is kinda lame? Somewhere in beijing a lowly score keeper diplomat is chuckling and moving one of his chess piece forward on the map.

    about all the opinion poll & statistic above. I think they are not very relevant to predicting how israel-palestine conflict vs. US politics will unfold. Israel is a highly militarized society, press and public opinion are controled. And they have fairly mature propaganda dept. (Habara anybody?)
    US public opinion? This is so obvious it’s not even worth discussing. Israel intel agency has a fairly deep understanding how US public psychy operate. A spielberg holocaust movie, a couple NYTimes column/fake articles, manufactured controversy, flood of foxnews/am radio, email campaign and lobbyists can pretty much give Israel whatever they want. My wild guess, probably take about 20-50 officers to start the entire mighty wurlitzer in motion.
    Only taliban is better in term of practical propaganda/understanding the psychy of target than Israel.
    I for one think by now, the general structure of players, organizations and what variables that goes into US-Isrel foreign game can be sketched. It is much more productive tracking several dozen key people , speech, meeting, announcement, travel interaction, money than reading polls. The most visible part of public opinion shaping machine is fairly constant.
    Incidentally, where is bill Kristol? He is missing. He suppose to mouth off supporting israel last week. (or at least some behind close door speech somewhere.)
    ps. I hope somebody will post complete audio/vido recording of next aipac meeting online. That’ll be a big chuckle and do more to middle east peace process than twenty kabuki peace initiative BS.
    A curious aspect of the utterances of some of more fervent supporters of Israel in the United States, incidentally, is how close they sound to traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes.
    Posted by: David Habakkuk | 18 March 2010 at 11:34 AM
    Because that trick is universal. All you need to do is change the wording and the delivery.
    The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
    (guess who said that. nooo googling pleasee….)

  14. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    When it comes to US foreign policy in the Middle East, all the analytical assumptions one needs to know come from the work of Rabbi J. Teitelbaum. Progressives, particularly progressive American Jews, may have a hard time giving the man credit because he is Orthodox.
    Who cares…it is the proper analytical assumptions that matter, not the source, right? Accuracy is what counts.
    So each to his or her own, but I’d dump the assumption that Israel is a “liberal democracy” unless you want to redefine a liberal democracy as including apartheid, ethnic cleansing and a complete rejection of the Baker v. Carr principle of one man, one vote. To even hang onto the idea of Israel as a liberal democracy in not only laughable but also raises the presumptions that certain ideological goals are paramount, not accurate analytical analysis.
    And, at least from my perspective, strategic intel analysis for the Middle East for too long has relied on misassumptions, if not misrepresentations. Such a flaw is inherent in the analysis available in the public domain. Patently obvious.
    One prime exhibit is Dennis Blairs’ recent work. Like Aipac, Blair has sided against the American people. At best, he is unconscious of the flaws underlying his work. At worst…well…he has sold out.
    If one so wanted, one could rip to shreds Blair’s work to prove that he has bought into a false set of assumptions and ignored reality. And one could rely on the work of Sherman Kent to do so.
    And a very real danger does exist that Blair’s work and those from his school of thought will increase the odds of a rupture between the USM and the American people.
    What will happen if the American people decide that the USM no longer represents them but instead represents special interests?
    I saw echoes of such in the 1970’s when working class Scot-Irish and blacks believed, either rightly or wrongly, that the USM did not represent them. It was horrible. And I am not talking about the Jane Fonda crowd, in the least. Trust me on that one.
    Leaders of the US Army, at least from what I can tell, did a brilliant job restoring the “tradition” and repairing the breach. Hate to see such great work go the way because of inherently corrupted analysis that leads to placing US soldiers at a needless risk. And there is no doubt that the Leo Strauss crowd sees the American people as cannon fodder and wants to shape foreign policy to promote their interests at the expense of the American people. That is one assumption you can rely upon. Tried, tested, and true.
    Petraeus may see the light as he recently created the all important linkage. From what I can tell, he inferred that Israeli actions endanger US soldiers lives. Glad to see Petraeus take that stand. Hope others in the US military will do the same.

  15. J says:

    Something else that AIPAC, Shas, the Likud led Israeli government will run from is the ‘growing’ segment within Judaism that are agreeing with the Neturei Karta parameters that the ‘Zionist’ State Of Israel as it exists is presumptuous before Heaven, and that would be better served dismantling the Zionist created State Of Israel in favor of one that is supposed to be created by the Divine Hand. Whether Zionists both Jews and Christians like it or not, Neturei Karta & True Torah Jews ranks are on the upswing both domestically U.S., and internationally.


  16. D. Gordon says:

    As usual Colonel, yours is the best discussion on the web.
    I write to add a small point to the thoughtful commentary:
    It is generally forgotten that as late as the early or even mid 1950s, adherence to “zionism” was grounds for rejection of membership in many reform synagogues in the U.S. The history of suspicion and outright hostility to zionism among elite American Jews (particularly reform and assimilated Jews) is largely forgotten today. It certainly had been eclipsed by the early 1970s, when I attended summer camp and swam in a lake dug in the shape of Israel.
    Things change. But that is the point. Things change, and if the Israeli government makes the contradiction between zionism and liberalism undeniable, unavoidable and ever starker, the American Jewish community will choose liberalism en masse and will abandon the committment to Israel and Zionism that is taken for granted at this point. In this regard, the Goldstone report might be the beginning of the end.
    Whether one agrees philosophically or not with Zionism, versions more liberal, humane, and responsible than that practiced today by the government of Israel could (or could have) existed. They have dug their own grave (figuratively, we should all hope) by their violence and expansionism and are creating conditions where a democratic one person one vote one state solution will be the only thing left to do. As reported in England, the possibility of a 2-state solution provides a real rationale for liberal Zionism. If that is impossible, and its one-state or “transfer” I think that the choice for Americans, of all backgrounds, will be clear.

  17. Dr. Silverman,
    I agree that the default position seems to go to AIPAC. And as I have indicated before, this has something to do with the inertia from the Biltmore Conference of 1942 and its consensus Biltmore Program, IMO.
    From the standpoint of practical politics today in the US, what I am not able to see yet is how we get from the AIPAC controlled default position to a position which would reflect the probably overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community.
    It is the AIPAC position to which Congress and the White House responds and supports despite whatever may be the general position of the US Jewish community which is traditionally liberal and progressive.
    All that said, there still remains the problem of what policy the United States should pursue. What is our national
    objective with respect to a solution? What is the solution which best suits our long range national interests?
    I fully agree with David Habakkuk that the two-state solution is dead and beyond recovery. On the other hand, both sides do benefit from it: Israel can play it to stall for time while more land is being confiscated and the Palestinians can play it to stall so that more Palestinian babies can be born.
    So in one sense, the charade and faux diplomacy of the two-state solution suits both the Israelis and the Palestinians (paradoxically).
    Thus there would seem to be three plausible scenarios:
    1. Continuation of the charade of the two-state solution for reasons mentioned above.
    2. Serious planning for a one-state solution defined as a democratic state and a binational state. Logically, Palestinians would have a right of return. Just as logically, the geographic space of present day Israel, Gaza, West Bank would become Arab majority. I do not see massive numbers of Jews from around the world knocking on Israel’s doors today. In fact, I think Germany is the favored destination these days (ironically perhaps).
    3. A violent “transfer” or expulsion of Palestinian Christians and Arabs from Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank to neighboring countries. This could be undertaken within the context of some form of a Middle East War, for example, as cover.
    From a realistic point of view, I should think that scenario 1 will be what we see for the near term at least. It would take some time for the attitudes of the gentile majority in the US to harden sufficiently to deal with the abovementioned political and structural problem in our Republic.

  18. Thanks Dr. Silverman. I also forgot to mention that many of the Arlington departees to residence in Israel ended up being LIKUD followers. Arlington political history is complex but the redbaiting in the 50’s led to creation of the ABC nonpartisan group. Also to modification nationwide of Hatch Act to allow civil servants to participate in nonpartisan elections.
    The scars of the McCarthy Era ran deep in Arlington and its almost total collection of families of civil servants and military (no longer the case)! I always wonder if some of the Jewish departees had been impacted by that viciousness. And I guess I would like to know is the LIKUD in Israel driven by the same poision as McCarthy?

  19. BillWade, NH says:

    A lot of people have come to the United States from countries/regions during and after wars and the like. Once here, I think it’s generally accepted thinking that you are supposed to let go emotionally, politically, and militarily of the old country and move on with your life in your new country, the USA. If you are a General Vang Pao, former Royal Lao Army, and try to organize in the United States arms, money, and personnel for defeating the current communist goverment of Laos, you will be shut down immediately and hard, same goes for Irish gangsters in Boston and NYC trying to get arms to the IRA with donations from Irish-American dumbasses (I’m of Irish descent, just for the record). I know it’s hard for people to just let go, but for the sake of the United States and yourself for that matter, you have to let go.

  20. Stanley Henning says:

    The U.S.-Israel relationship is clearly an emotional, not really rational, “fatal attraction”. It needs to be completely revamped based on reason or this will
    play out tragically for us.

  21. optimax says:

    curious, Goebbels?

  22. Green Zone Cafe says:

    I had the privilege of meeting Glenn Greenwald. I took the opportunity to tell him he was a great American and a true patriot.

  23. mo says:

    David H,
    Maybe I didn’t put my thoughts across well enough in the previous post but I did not mean that the ethnic cleansing would come as a result of the silencing of the Jewish dissenters in the UK or US. Nor was I suggesting that the Jews of the US and UK would tolerate or condone such a thing (and I have been on a fair few marches with many Jews to understand this).
    I meant the one state solution would be seen to have given the Arabs some sort of justice and that, combined with the ultra-slick Israeli PR machine would be enough to cause pro-Zionists at least to get onside. It would also give opponents of what the Israelis love to call “self-hating Jews” a lot of ammo.
    However, since you and I and the whole world knows that a one state solution would lead to the Jews in Israel to become a minority, I am willing to bet the house that Israel would not agree to such a solution if it did not have a plan to take care of it. And certainly such a plan would not be obvious and brutal but would be done on a slow drip so that the world never has cause to complain. It may be economic, it may be legalistic and most likely it would be both and it certainly would not need to be militarised.

  24. curious says:

    curious, Goebbels?
    Posted by: optimax | 18 March 2010 at 05:57 PM
    Was from wiki. Mein kampf. I then read a copy online. I have to say it made me flip out. hoooleeee historical rerun batman (complete in his ranting term like “internal colonization”, national insult, economy went down and German finance under attack.) … it is insane. I really have to shut up about all this, the conclusion is too crazy. No wonder Merkel is acting weird.
    “The devastating influence of this parliamentary institution might not
    easily be recognized by those who read the Jewish Press, unless the
    reader has learned how to think independently and examine the facts for
    himself. This institution is primarily responsible for the crowded
    inrush of mediocre people into the field of politics. Confronted with
    such a phenomenon, a man who is endowed with real qualities of
    leadership will be tempted to refrain from taking part in political
    life; because under these circumstances the situation does not call for
    a man who has a capacity for constructive statesmanship but rather for a
    man who is capable of bargaining for the favour of the majority. Thus
    the situation will appeal to small minds and will attract them

  25. Charles I says:

    Wow, what, some serious work going on here today, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.
    Going to see Mustafa Barghouti Saturday night in Toronto, very timely discussion for me.

  26. jr786 says:

    Unless, if or when the United States places any sort of check on Israeli behavior there is no reason the Israelis will not continue to do exactly as they wish. And if anyone actually thinks that an American government littered with pro-Zionists is going to complain about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians they have not been paying attention for the past 30 years.
    In a few days, all this will be forgotten and the annual Aipac lovefest will remind everyone that the Israelis are the man and the US is the donkey, as they are fond of saying in these parts.
    Things to do? Gee, how about running the Israeli blockade and getting supplies to Gaza? Or how about opening up a consulate in Tehran?

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    As I told a network journalist friend yesterday, I am a Zionist if that means an Israel limited to the coastal plain, Haifa, Tel Aviv, west Jerusalem and the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the old city, plus whatever else might be fairly negotiated. pl

  28. Trent says:

    Pat, that’s fair. Can we designate the American Colony Hotel, the Austrian Hospice, and the Armenian bars just inside Jaffa Gate as international zones? Would be nice to know you can always get a beer no matter how pushy Zahal gets in the Old City. If so than I’m a Zionist too. Oh, and they can keep Beersheva.

  29. 1. Mearshimer’s take:
    “This concerted effort to rewrite history and generate lots of happy talk about the special relationship will surely help ameliorate the present crisis, but that will only be a temporary fix. There will be more crises ahead, because a two-state solution is probably impossible at this point and ‘greater Israel’ is going to end up an apartheid state.”
    2. On the possibility of transformation of an apartheid state, John Whitbeck had this to offer last fall:
    “It may already be too late to achieve a decent two-state solution (as opposed to an indecent, less-than-a-Bantustan one), but a decent two-state solution would never have a better chance of being achieved. If it is, indeed, too late, then Israelis, Palestinians and the world will know and can thereafter focus their minds and efforts constructively on the only other decent alternative.
    It is even possible that, if forced to focus during the coming year on the prospect of living in a democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens — which, after all, is what the United States and the European Union hold up, in all other instances, as the ideal form of political life — many Israelis might come to view this “threat” as less nightmarish than they traditionally have.
    In this context, Israelis might wish to talk with some white South Africans. The transformation of South Africa’s racial-supremicist ideology and political system into a fully democratic one has transformed them, personally, from pariahs into people welcomed throughout their region and the world. It has also ensured the permanence of a strong and vital white presence in southern Africa in a way that prolonging the flagrant injustice of a racial-supremicist ideology and political system and imposing fragmented and dependent “independent states” on the natives could never have achieved.
    This is not a precedent to dismiss. It could and should inspire.”
    3. My late friend, Issah Nakhleh, an Orthodox Christian Palestinian attorney, compiled an encyclopedia on Palestine. It is online these days.
    Issa endorsed the concept of a bi-national “Holy Land State” not much different really from Rabbi Judah Magnes’ vision.

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    I am unfamiliar with the Austrian Hostel. The Armenian bars are in the Christian Quarter? Yes? pl

  31. R Whitman says:

    The choice of abandoning the two-state solution is exclusively up to the Palestinians, namely Abbas’ sucessor. The Palestinian establishment is presently circulating a position paper on this subject.
    Once that idea is officially adopted probably with a lot of international support, it will take on a life of its own thru the Quartet, UN , etc
    The important thing for the Israeli Jews is how the USA will react. Will we go for the democratic ideal-one person-one vote or will we go with the AIPAC-Likud vision of some sort of separation. My guess is that we will try to duck the decision for a generation and hope others sort it out.

  32. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Sure, I am all for an Israel within or close to the 67 borders. But as Avraham Burg made clear in his courageous work, post 1967 Zionists are not for an Israel along those borders. So I guess I am no longer a card carrying Zionists, and, God knows, I was was raised to be such, coming from the Leon Uris school of thought.
    So it is what it is and many Zionists who are claiming they want a two state solution — Jeffrey Goldberg for one — are relying upon analytical assumptions that are antithetical to the welfare of the American people and endangering US Soldiers. So my belief, for what is worth, is that US should withhold support until Israel agrees to a return to the 67 borders or something very close.
    It ain’t happening. Israel is not going to give up Jerusalem or the Temple Mount. And the reasons for why it is not happening can be found in the analytical assumptions given to us by Rabbi J. Teitelbaum. He all but said that Zionism has stolen religious symbols to intensify the worship of the State. And no doubt about it, ethnic nationalism using OT symbols is a powerful experience.
    Imo, it is seems highly relevant that Zionism started basically with the act of killing a culture’s own spiritual fathers, as they rejected Judaism and Europe’s rabbi’s. Not a healthy sign. As Jacobtinsky said, the only thing that matters is the “land”.
    Bibi is proving Teitelbaum right. And it is not the source of the information but the information (analytical assumptions) that matters, at least as I understand it. I mean, it s not like I am going to hang out with any Satmar rabbis anytime soon, but credit where credit is due.

  33. curious says:

    I think, ultimately this will be a question of military effort. What exactly can IDF sustain. Can they maintain the occupation and defending Israel without turning Israel into an economic basket case.
    2006 lebanon offensive proves that Israel does not have the capability to attack and hold lebanon without loosing capability to conduct tank battle somewhere else. (Had Egypt or jordan punching a hole while they tried to hold Lebanon, it’s over for them. They would have lost all their industrial base) They lost some 40 heavy tanks, btw. That is significant.
    I would argue that once fatah collapse, Israel will have a hard time defending west bank settlements. The whole thing will quickly devolve into long term war where Syria/iran backed hamas in west bank, Gaza in the south, and Hezbollah will start nipping from the north.
    2-3 years war at 1 to 5 kill ratio will force Israel to withdraw.
    If Israel lost Golan height, thus Hamas obtaining wide open supply route. Israel will lost their tanks and will have to fight sustained conventional infantry battle coming in from 4 sides. Make it 5 if current Egypt gov. collapse. I would say they won’t be able to hold west bank longer than 3 years if the war happens before US economic recovery.
    Then it’s a question who is crazy enough invading Israel proper. I think the idea, albeit remote at this moment, is possible. Israel settlement distribution is very hard to protect. There is a way Israel can lost war inside their own territory. But for now Hezbollah and Hamaz don’t have the mobility to do it.
    But if they do, the question of Pentagon sending troops to defend Israel proper is real.

  34. Some data on extremist politicians in Israel as context for the present attack on President Obama:
    “Last July, Atias told a conference of the Israel Bar Association that Israel’s Arab population must be prevented from buying homes in many parts of Israel.
    “I see [it] as a national duty to prevent the spread of a population that, to say the least, does not love the state of Israel,” Atias declared. “If we go on like we have until now, we will lose the Galilee. Populations that should not mix are spreading there. I don’t think that it is appropriate [for them] to live together.”….
    “Commenting on Atias’s statements, some leftist members of the Knesset have deplored the racism implicit in his policies.
    “Racism is spreading throughout the government, and Minister Atias is the latest to express it,” said Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh. “The government and everyone in it must realize that Arabs are living in their homeland and they have no other. If there is any foreign element in the Galilee, it is not the Arabs.” [For details, see, and, July 2, 2009″
    For background on extremist groups in Israel see a concise book by the late Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, a friend of mine, entitled Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (London: Pluto, 2004, new ed.).
    US Christian Zionists, such as Hagee etal., coordinate with the Jewish Fundamentalists analyzed in this book, etc. Some may wonder whether Hagee and company are in violation of the Logan Act among other US laws…

  35. curious,
    what is your sense on the question of whether Egypt will shift away from the US and realign?
    Egypt does not “need” US money nor does it “need” US weapons. For example, weapons can be sourced elsewhere: Eastern Europe, Russia, China etc.
    Might Egyptian elites conclude that a policy shift say toward China externally and a shift to more moderation with respect to Islamist trends internally might be appropriate under present conditions?
    Should such a shift occur, one might assess that Egypt could choose to drop the (“outdated”?) treaties and arrangements with Israel.

  36. curious says:

    Egypt is one of those tragic case. They honestly try to improve themselves, but history only gives them very little room to maneuver. Something stupid always happens every time they almost fix their big problem, then another big problem fall on them.
    – Egypt deficit is around 7%, was 11% a decade before. So they are not in position to change their major weapon system en masse. (F-16, M1) They already make light attack and training jet on their own. JF-17 for light supersonic attack is an obvious next move.
    I seriously doubt Russia will give them a freebie/discount top of the line fighter jet. Not sure how far their talk to buy Mig-29 get. (see wiki) They desperately need to start having replacement program for F-16 A/B/C/D.
    For land system, they make their own licensed M1, but that tank is getting long in the tooth and egyptian doesn’t have next generation tank design. This is pretty critical in the coming decade for them. (Sinai is the only place on the planet where interesting WWII style tank battle is going to ever occur, so egypt have to keep up). They make their own scud/nodong short range missile. Don’t know what they do for air to air and air to ground.
    Overall Egypt is trapped in ’60’s style land battle plus US main equipments.
    China has no use for Egypt, except keeping the Suez open. They definitely doesn’t want to get tangled in Israel conflict silliness. China also has been very selective with selling top of the line weapon. (observe C-802 sale.) Egypt is not on China list.
    Their big problem, at least the way I see it, who is going to replace Mubarak? He is dying. A lot of unhappy political opposition in egypt ready to stick it to the man. (not to mention history of military strongmen wrestling each other.) .. so, anybody know the scene?
    treaty arrangement with Israel? Except for barely exist diplomatic relationship and near zero trade relationship, that treaty existence only supported by military power balance (equipment supplied by US) plus foreign aid. That’s the real reason there is no war, not the treaty/willingness to keep peace among the two.

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