What does it say of the U.S.-Israel relationship that one side cannot endure even the slightest of criticism from its most precious and "special" ally?
Because of what is unfolding, there will be significant injury to our relationship with Israel. But it is also doing considerable damage to Americaâ??s moral standing. At its best, America stands for the right things and stands beside the right friends. In distancing us from Israel, Obama is distancing America from a nation that has sacrificed more for peace, and suffered more for their sacrifices, than any other. It is a deeply discouraging thing to see. And it is dangerous, too. Hatred for Israel is a deep and burning fire throughout the world. We should not be adding kindling wood to that fire.
I'm not entirely indifferent to this argument, and a similar point was made in one of our comment threads. Perhaps it is true that critics of America's relationship with Israel have glossed over the benefits - both tangible and not so tangible - in the relationship, while at the same time placing too much emphasis on the military aid provided. Let's, for the sake of argument, grant that.
The problem however with this argument is that the United States has had diplomatic brouhahas with allies that predate the Israeli relationship; allies with which we also share democratic ideals, not to mention the sharing of intelligence and other more tangible items. We had one of these blowups with Britain just recently. But the U.S.-U.K. relationship will endure - despite any harsh words and tough rhetoric exchanged - because the inherent value and history in the relationship is stronger than any contemporary flare-ups.
What then does it say of the U.S.-Israel relationship that one side cannot endure even the slightest of criticism from its most precious and "special" ally? Why do analysts like Peter Whener consider a passing kerfuffle to be a crisis if our ideals are so in sync?
Critics talk as though Obama is the first president to tie aid and support to policy, which he most certainly isn't. And were Washington's relationship with Israel a normal, healthy one, this wouldn't be such a problem. The idea that friends and allies can critique each other isn't, as Larison notes, a new one. And it makes sense that countries will apply conditions to foreign aid that are consistent with that country's interests and ideals. America does this with its other allies, as does China. But our special relationship with Israel is different and is, as a result, far more "special" - and peculiar.
So allow me to make my own prediction: the United States will continue to provide a large and unique sum of military aid to Israel, the two countries will continue to operate in conjunction on specific threats, such as Iran, and - sadly, by my view - the status quo will remain the status quo for the indefinite future. Israel will be no more "isolated" than it already is, and Jerusalem will continue to be indifferent to this isolation so long as the United States continues to hand it unqualified military support on an annual basis.