The Illusion of a Rift in the Obama-Netanyahu Relationship

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and US President, Barack Obama. (Photo: White House, file)

By Dr. Fayez Rasheed 

Some of our Palestinian and Arab politicians and writers are counting on a desert mirage. They think it is water, but when they approach it, they find that it is something else.

This mirage is the rift in the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama. Their evidence of this is weak, i.e. Netanyahu’s statements against Obama, especially after the signing of the Iranian nuclear agreement and what seemed to be Obama’s anger with Netanyahu after his speech in Congress, etc.

In the past, these same individuals imagined that the failure of Obama, Kerry, and his national security advisor to meet with Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon during his most recent visit to Washington was proof of the crisis between America and Israel. This is despite the fact that the American officials explained, through their spokespeople, the reasons they were unable to meet Ya’alon, and it was because they had a prior engagement. It is worth noting that during the same visit, Ya’alon signed a deal with Chuck Hagel, US secretary of defence, under which Israel bought a new batch of American aircrafts that is only exported to NATO countries (25 F-35 planes). According to military experts, these planes ensure Israel’s aerial superiority in the region for many years to come. Israel had previously purchased some before this deal.

The point is that the relationship between America’s presidents and any of Israel’s prime ministers is governed by the following rule: the US officials must comply with Israel’s interests, even if Israel’s leaders attack the leaders of their top strategic ally. In order to please their consciences, the American presidents will say some words about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after their presidential term is up or is on the verge of finishing.

For example, after President Jimmy Carter finished his presidential term, after failing to get elected for another term, losing to President Ronald Reagan in 1980, he published his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. In his book, he tries to very cautiously link the discrimination of Israel to the discrimination of South Africa (despite his denial of this later on). Despite the fact that the book has fallacies and mistakes in terms of distorting facts and reversing them, it is worth being read by interested Arabs. Perhaps one of the most prominent books that completely explains Carter’s book is Drawing Fire: Investigating the Accusations of Apartheid in Israel by South African author Benjamin Pogrund. The book was released in New York about a year ago.

Putting aside the issue of apartheid and the content of the book, we must discuss the matter at hand. If the US did not support Israel since its establishment on the ruins of our people and our land, and continue to do so until today, Israel would not have survived. Obama, who is now nearing the end of his term, is repeating the same scene, albeit more cautiously than Carter. In a recent statement, he said that he could not recall any other foreign head of government interfering in American affairs as much as Netanyahu. Perhaps the US president will also admit other issues regarding his relationship with Israel, especially since he is nearing the end of his second term. Obama is not out of the running to win the title of “president most supportive of and loyal to Israel” regardless of the Israeli leaders’ extremism, never-ending rudeness, and the fact that they always bite the hand that feeds them and the hand stays open to them. This is because American is keen on keeping Israel as its “guard dog” for American interests in the region, and it has made Israel superior to all of the Arab countries combined on a military level. America has been and still is concerned with taking care of Israel’s interests in various fields, especially stopping it from being condemned on an international level.

In every Israeli attack on the Palestinians and Arabs, the US and its leaders, including Obama, justify Israel’s fascist crimes and wars. Until this moment, the US is covering up Israel’s nuclear arsenal and, instead of punishing its strategic ally, it is probably rewarding it. When two university professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, write their book on the domination of the Jewish lobby in America (AIPAC) over the American political decisions, they were fiercely attacked by the US administration and fired from their jobs; this was during Obama’s term.

Currently, there are many in the Arab circles talking about a rift in relations between Netanyahu and Obama. Rift means crisis, but history tells us that US-Israeli relations have never suffered a crisis period and never will. This is one of the main pillars in the strategic alliance between the two sides. The American strategic assurances made to Israel in 2004 confirm this, as well as the history of the relationship between the two parties. In addition to this, the current phase is witnessing the intensification of the confrontation between President Obama and the Republicans and some of the Democratic Party’s congressmen for approving the Iranian nuclear agreement. Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby are openly inciting American congressmen to reject the agreement.

Moreover, Netanyahu had addressed the House of Representatives and the Senate despite the fact that Netanyahu’s speech angered the American administration and Obama specifically since the White House had not been consulted as it customary when a foreign state leader wants to address Congress.

This makes it seem as though the relationship between the two sides has reached the point of crisis or a rift, but this is purely an illusion. This is not just something I am saying; it is supported by facts. An example of this is Obama’s famous speech at Cairo University, where he addressed the Muslims and Arabs, and although many Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims had counted on Obama to take a new position towards Israel, he broke all of his promises (like Clinton and Bush Jr) and instead reiterated the Israeli solution and settlement. I have no doubt that Obama will swallow all of Netanyahu’s insults and his rudeness, just as he has done in the past, even in the heart of Washington. This is what we have become accustomed to in the relationship between the global super power and Israel: everything is permissible for Israel and its leaders.

It is important to note that the American-Israeli relations are a strategic alliance and therefore they cannot reach the level of a rift/crisis that will actually affect the relationship between the two sides. It is also outside the context of the actual interference of any American administration in a manner than can cause factors of a rift. The marks left on the relationship by one US president or another may vary, but its main alliance pillars are unconditional support without any restrictions or conditions imposed by any American administration or president on its strategic Israeli ally. Some disagreements may sometimes occur over the occasional position or policy, but they are secondary disputes that do not affect the strategic alliance between the two sides.

In addition to this, the marks on the relationship may change and vary depending on the nature of the ruling party or coalition in Israel. For example, the current Israeli coalition government does not mind politically embarrassing the US with its Arab or international ties; it proposes the Israeli policies as they are, without even the simplest cover-up or beautification.

The proof of the validity and truth of what I said is the fact that any American presidential candidate and any president who wins the American presidential elections always puts the development of relations with Israel at the top of their agenda and ensures that they supply Israel with all sorts of military, economic, financial, diplomatic and political aid as well as any other aid Israel may need. This reaches the extent of American presidential candidates or elections winners competing to serve Israel and please its leaders as well as the leaders of the Zionist lobby in the United States. It is also cited by the fact that since the formation of Israel in 1948 and until today, 2015, there has not been any American president that even coincidentally or accidentally, stood in the face of Israel’s stubbornness and inflexibility; everyone seeks to and aspires to please Israel and receive its blessings. This is a fact proven by numbers and the history of these relations, but this article is not long enough to list all of them back to the foundation of Israel. I say to those who imagine this rift/crisis in the relations: it seems that you do not know the truth behind the American-Israeli relationship.

(Translated by Middle East Monitor from Al-Quds Al-Arabi on August 19, 2015.)

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