The Crimson Staff claimed in “Trouble for Israel” that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric about Arabs and the political climate serves as a springboard to reassess U.S.-Israel relations. This type of argument is ironic when American popular support for Israel is the highest it has been since 1991, and dangerous given the security threats faced by the U.S. and Israel.
The fact that Arab voter turnout was significantly high in Israel this past election demonstrates the strength of Israeli democracy. Consider the dangerous wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, the rise of neo-fascist groups in Greece and Hungary, and the far-right National Front party becoming the first-place French party in 2014 European elections and second-place in recent local elections. Where is the concern about racism in European society or a reassessment of U.S.-Europe relations? It is wrong to apply double standards by singling out Israeli internal issues.
Obama should be familiar with inflammatory election remarks (recall “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…”), and he too has backtracked on important foreign policy positions such as Syria’s chemical weapons use as a “red line” and underestimating the threat of ISIS and changing strategies. So the administration’s obsession with Netanyahu, especially after he made amends and clarifications, is baffling. The Crimson Staff cited other examples such as his “controversial address to Congress.” Never mind that he was invited by Speaker Boehner to address a co-equal branch of government on one of the most important foreign policy issues of the twenty-first century. Obama had the British Prime Minister lobby members of Congress to not pass new sanctions on Iran, so his real issue with Netanyahu’s speech was its content and not “protocol.” Even Senator McCain quoted an Arab leader as saying, “We believe it is more dangerous to be a friend of America’s than an enemy.” Obama’s intense rhetoric against a democratically elected leader of an ally is unbefitting and unworthy of the President of the United States.
Unfair public pressure seems to be placed on Israel regarding the peace process. The Palestinian Authority routinely glorifies terrorists, recently lost a major U.S. court case for supporting terrorism, and formed a unity government with the terrorist organization Hamas. Demanding nothing of the Palestinians and suggesting the U.S. should reconsider its Israel policy at the United Nations to apparently spite Netanyahu is morally and politically wrong. The Palestinians use the UN to get what they want and avoid making the compromises needed to realize a two-state solution through direct negotiations – compromises including accepting Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, something Palestinian President Abbas still refuses to articulate.
Let’s not magnify every Israeli issue to create an unnecessary crisis while ignoring worse realities in other countries. Let’s not create wedge issues with America’s best ally, especially when both nations are confronted by the same threats of terrorism and a nuclear-armed Iran.
Joseph Mandelbaum ’11
Trouble in IsraelMoving forward, the United States needs to make good on the President’s recent signals and reassess the nature of its relationship with Israel, especially with Mr. Netanyahu in power.
Professors Support Resolution To Boycott Israeli InstitutionsTwenty-one Harvard faculty and graduate students have voted or signed a petition to place a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions on the American Anthropological Association’s spring ballot.
Spring Break in the Holy Land
Radical IgnoranceThe only thing of which I am sure on this issue is that so many on the left drastically oversimplify the conflict by lionizing the Palestinians and demonizing Israel.
Toward a Better Israel-Palestine ConversationThe current conversation regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both within Harvard’s Jewish and Arab communities and on campus as a whole, lacks nuance.