Most observers, right or left, pro-Israel or anti-Israel, would agree that Israeli-American relations are the worst they have been in memory. Among the many indications is that only 9 percent of Jewish Israelis think President Barack Obama’s administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, according to a Smith Research poll taken during the last week of March on behalf of The Jerusalem Post. Given how much Israelis love and admire (and emigrate to) America, this level of mistrust is all the more remarkable.
Commentators on the left, of course, blame Israel. For them, this is a no-brainer; blaming Israel is as natural as breathing. One just does it. Furthermore, Israel is headed by a conservative prime minister, and America is presided over by the most pro-left president in its history.
Meanwhile, commentators on the right are virtually unanimous in supporting Israel. This is not simply an anti-Obama, pro-conservative-Netanyahu reflex, however. It stems from a variety of reasons:
First, Israel is our staunchest ally. Among other things, Israel votes with us in the United Nations more often than any other country, and it provides us with uniquely important technological know-how and intelligence.
Second, conservatives’ values are closer to Israel’s values than perhaps those of any other nation. As President Harry Truman said, “Israel is the embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”
Third, while a rift with Israel hurts Israel, it hurts America at least as much (as we shall see) and does not make Palestinians any more likely to make peace with the Jewish state. Recall, the Palestinians unleashed mass terror against Israel after a left-leaning Israeli prime minister agreed to give the Palestinians 97 percent of the territory conquered in 1967 and 3 percent more from Israel itself. Why, then, would the Palestinians make peace with Israel now, when half of the Palestinians are governed by Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction? Because Obama humiliated the Israeli prime minister during the latter’s visit to Washington — over Israeli plans to build 1,600 apartments in Jerusalem?
Fourth, the greatest international threat today emanates from Iran, a threat that will be exponentially increased if Iran is not prevented from developing nuclear weapons. A weakened Israel means an emboldened Iran. And this frightens conservatives more than it does the world’s left and Obama.
Finally, there is a fifth reason tens of millions of Americans, many conservative commentators, support Israel and worry about America if American support for Israel wanes.
To the left in America and around the world, this reason is dangerous nonsense. But for a vast number of America’s Christians, many Jews and even many non-religious conservatives, it is deeper than any military or political reason. The reason is based on a verse in Genesis in which God, referring to the Jewish people, says to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”
One need not be a Jew or Christian or even believe in God to appreciate that this verse is as accurate a prediction of the future as humanity has ever been given by the ancient world. The Jewish people have suffered longer and more horribly than any other living people. But they are still around. Their historic enemies are all gone. Those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.
And those who blessed the Jews were indeed blessed. The most blessed country for more than 200 years has been the United States. It has also been the most blessed place Jews have ever lived in. Is this a coincidence? Many of us think not.
Those who curse the Jews today seem to be cursed. The most benighted civilization today is the Arab world. One could make a plausible case that the Arab world’s preoccupation with Jew-hatred and destroying Israel is decisive in keeping the Arab world from progressing. The day the Arab world makes peace with the existence of the tiny Jewish state in its midst, the Arab world will begin its ascent.
The converse is what worries tens of millions of Americans: The day America begins to abandon Israel, America will begin its descent.
Israel shares America’s values, such as liberty, an independent judiciary, a free press, freedom of religion, free speech and women’s equality. The Arab and Muslim worlds have none of these. Those facts — and America’s Judeo-Christian roots — make support of Israel, no matter what the Arab and Muslim “street” feels about America, a moral lynchpin of American foreign policy.
This administration’s desire to have America liked in the Arab and Muslim worlds therefore has to mean altering that lynchpin. You cannot protect Israel and strive to be liked in the Arab and Muslim worlds at the same time. And you cannot weaken that protection without weakening America’s moral values, which form the basis of America’s greatness.
Even aside from compromising America’s moral essence, weakening American support of Israel will only strengthen the America-hating Islamists. The notion that the primitive monsters of the Taliban, Hamas, al-Qaida and the like will become pro-American — or just stop attacking America — if America weakens its support of Israel betrays an ignorance of evil that is frightening.
So there is nothing to gain — and America’s soul to lose — by weakening, or by even seeming to weaken, American support for Israel.
In 1968, Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman turned philosopher and author of the classic work “The True Believer,” wrote in The Los Angeles Times:
“The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us.”
Hoffer concluded: “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”
Genesis was right.