Summary: The relationship between Israel and the United States is not one between peers. While the United States is a super-power that protects Israel in many ways, Obama’s use of its dominant position has led to an abusive relationship based on control.
In an ideal relationship, parties treat each other with mutual respect and care. Close and special relationships, such as marriage, are especially intimate due to their exclusive nature. When such a relationship turns, and one party chooses to assert control over the other, that physical or psychological trauma is referred to as “domestic abuse.”
Domestic abuse is a phenomenon that has a long sad history. It typically happens when a husband/boyfriend uses his power (money or physical size) to intimidate and harm his partner. As described in a blog:
“Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.”
The aspect of control through intimidation is a key component of domestic abuse. One party is effectively threatened to comply with the wishes of the dominant party. The independent will is crushed with the threats of or actual violence (active or passive) or from withholding a needed or cherished item. The abused partner has nowhere to turn, as it is reliant on the abuser.
The dynamic can be seen between countries as well. The historic special relationship between the United States and Israel, has devolved into such an abusive relationship.
The bond between the US and Israel is unique in many respects.
- The United States of America was the first country to recognize the state of Israel
- No other country has addressed the Israeli Knesset as many times as US leaders
- No other country has addressed the US joint Congress as often as Israeli leaders
- Israel has more companies listed on US stock exchanges than any other country, except for China (with a population over 160x that of Israel)
- The US-Israel voting record at the United Nations is higher than the US has with any other major country
- Israel is the only full democracy with freedom of religion and press in the Middle East, a key human rights concern of Americans
The relationship is not just one of shared values, but Israel relies on the US in several key areas:
- Trade: The US is Israel’s largest export partner (over 2.5x number two UK)
- Military edge: The US gives Israel $3 billion of military aid each year
- Protection at the UN: The US protects Israel at the United Nations Security Council, often as the sole vote to protect the country from condemnation
The three aspects of Israel’s heavy reliance on the United States have come under pressure over the last few years: the BDS movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions) has attempted to hurt trade; a nuclear Iran would create an imbalance for Israel’s security; and the protective US shield at the United Nations is being threatened.
A natural relationship built on shared values, now more closely resembles an abuser-victim dynamic, as Obama increasingly asserted his powerful influence over Israel:
- In 2010, Obama gave Netanyahu a series of demands to get the Israel-Palestinian talks moving including freezing settlements. Obama walked out of the meeting and left Netanyahu to stew. Israeli newspapers described the shame and weakness of Netanyahu. Netanyahu complied with Obama’s demand.
- In 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Obama had an exchange where they called Netanyahu “a liar” and terrible person with whom to deal.
- In 2012, the Obama administration removed all of the supporting clauses for Israeli positions from the Democratic platform that had been there for years (Hamas is a terrorist state; Palestinian “refugees” would be relocated to Palestine, not Israel; future borders would not follow the 1949 Armistice Lines; Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel).
- In 2013, while Iran threatened to destroy Israel, Obama entered into negotiations with the Iranians, preventing Israel from taking any actions against Iran’s nuclear program.
- In 2013, Obama declined the invitation to address the Israeli Knesset. Instead he addressed a group of students at the same time stating his desire to speak to the Israeli people, as if the democratically elected parliament was not representative of Israelis. Consider the depth of the insult to Israel, as Obama spoke to the Egyptian parliament (in 2009) as representatives of Egypt.
- In 2013 the Obama administration demanded Israel release Palestinian terrorists convicted of murder. Nothing was asked from the Palestinians. Netanyahu complied.
- In 2014, when Israeli three teenagers were killed, Obama asked Israel to act with “restraint.” However, when two American journalists were killed by ISIS, Obama went to war.
- In 2014, members of the Obama administration chose to disparage Netanyahu, calling him a “chickensh*t”
- In 2015, Obama snubbed Netanyahu at his address to a joint session of Congress, and got 58 Democratic members of Congress to walk out as well.
- In 2015, Obama is enabling Iran to become a nuclear state. Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel, and Obama has refused to sell Israel the required defensive weaponry such as bunker busters.
- Most recently, Obama has threatened to withhold his United Nations vote to protect Israel.
The last two actions taken by Obama are particularly frightening to Israel’s Netanyahu.
Nuclear Iran: Enabling Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is a direct existential threat to Israel. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel and has a long history of supporting terrorist groups that attack Israel (Hezbollah and Hamas) with weapons and financing. With the government of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, the country becomes an existential threat, its proxy armies become an enormous threat, and the ability for Israel to attack Iran is significantly weakened.
Further, Iran becoming a nuclear state would create an arms race in the region, as other enemies of Israel like Saudi Arabia will also seek to obtain nuclear weapons.
Withholding UN vote: The United States has used its vote on the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel from a wide range of actions including premature Palestinian statehood and harsh economic sanctions. If Obama follows through with this threat to move away from Israel, Israel would come under tremendous financial and security pressure.
CONGRESS TO ISRAEL’S RESCUE
Congress has taken note of the terrible trend in Obama’s actions and has taken steps to protect Israel.
Senator Lindsay Graham with Israeli PM Netanyahu
In April 2015, the Senate passed a bill making it difficult for any company to do business with a company or country that supported BDS of Israel.
Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress about the Iran nuclear negotiations. That speech launched the momentum for a role for Congress in the Iranian nuclear program negotiations.
It is difficult for Congress to take direct actions against the president’s policies at the United Nations, as he controls the vote. However, Congress controls funding of the United Nations as well as the Palestinian Authority. Senator Lindsay Graham has stated his intention to use the power of the purse to prevent unilateral UN actions against Israel. “Any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this [resolution] to the U.N. Security Council, there will be a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding to the United Nations,” Graham said.
All three issues on which Israel relies on the United States are under threat by Obama, and only the US Congress is attempting to ameliorate the situation.
If Israel’s neighbors did not threaten to destroy the country both directly and indirectly, perhaps Israel would not feel alarmed.
If Israel were not surrounded by an Arab winter inferno, perhaps its fears would not be so immediate.
If Israel had many allies in the world, perhaps the abusive relationship between Obama and Netanyahu would not be as upsetting and painful.
However, the realities are different. As such, Netanyahu has turned to Congress to become Israel’s domestic violence hotline . What a sad state of affairs.
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Israel cannot afford to be smug about its security