After winning the US midterm elections, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hardly needs to worry about holding his own coalition government together. The fact that he so transparently now has Washington in his pocket should duly impress anyone who might have doubted America’s willingness to tolerate its increasingly servile relationship with Israel.
Even so, after the announcement that 1,345 new housing units will be built for Jewish occupants in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, President Obama’s reaction — to suggest that this move is “unhelpful” during peace negotiations — set off alarm bells. The White House was swift to assure those concerned, that the administration is not stepping out of line.
On a conference call with American Jewish leaders today, a White House official said the administration hadn’t sought a confrontation with the Israelis over a new construction announcement.
President Barack Obama answered a question at a press conference on the subject straightforwardly but hadn’t specifically planned to make a statement criticizing new Israeli building, National Security Council official Dan Shapiro said on the call, according to a participant.
Perhaps the press can avoid causing Obama any further embarrassment by henceforth not asking questions on such sensitive topics.
Still, this administration remains an object of mistrust and so when Netanyahu met his leading representative in Washington a few days ago, Eric Cantor, the congressman and likely GOP majority leader assured his prime minister that the Republican party will now be able impose the required discipline.
Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.
Unfortunately, a few Americans might be perplexed by this claim that the security of the United States is dependent on the security of Israel. Cantor believes “most Americans understand that Israel’s security is synonymous with America’s security.”
Mutual dependence and the security of these two nations being synonymous are not quite the same thing.
It’s easy to see that Israel is capable of having such a disruptive impact on the Middle East that this will damage US interests and in that sense that the US depends on Israel not to undermine its national security even more than it already does.
But to say that Israel’s security is synonymous with America’s security suggests another possibility. If our interests do indeed so perfectly overlap, then we really don’t need to think about Israel’s security. If America focuses on its own interests, Israel’s — in as much as their interests are identical — will be taken care of. In as much as our interests differ — well that’s Israel’s problem, not ours.