McClatchy reports: For years, American politicians have waxed poetic about the “shared values” of the United States and Israel – ideals that typically aren’t spelled out but usually are taken to mean the basic tenets of Western democracy.
That time-worn phrase came under scrutiny this week in the aftermath of a particularly ugly Israeli election. Some Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, have questioned what the common threads are as Israeli provocations force the Obama administration into the uncomfortable role of having to publicly rebuke an ironclad ally.
In the past several weeks, Americans have seen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undermine their president before Congress over differences on Iran, use anti-Arab language about his own citizens, and jettison the two-state framework that international powers have agreed for years is the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, made headlines this month by saying that any Arab Israeli who isn’t sufficiently loyal to Israel should take an ax to the head.
“Can you imagine a foreign minister anywhere else in the world saying that his citizens should be beheaded? We’ve gotten to this environment of complete impunity,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators. “It’s not just that Netanyahu won – it’s that the entire country has shifted to the right.”
Analysts said that such inflammatory conduct by top Israeli officials runs the risk of fueling what they described as a glacial, grass-roots shift in American public opinion from unconditional support for Israel to greater skepticism about policies such as the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza or settlement construction. And while the United States is no stranger to racial politics, the overt anti-Arab sentiment coming from Israel’s highest offices probably isn’t what American politicians have in mind when they talk of shared values. [Continue reading…]