By Stan Goodenough - Jerusalem Newswire - November 4, 2005
Part 2 - Part II – Do you betray me with a kiss?
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. … But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)
“America still remains a blessing to Israel as her closest and most well-meaning ally, her biggest military supplier and a storehouse for preserving her future.” – International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, October 2005.
“America is the nation today most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel.” – Jerusalem Newswire, October 2005.
For many American Christians, even some who support a strong alliance with Israel, criticism leveled against their government for dealing unfairly or unjustly with the Jewish nation is hard to stomach. Over the years, this writer (a South African) has had to field more than one angry response after suggesting that a particular US administration’s treatment of Israel has been prejudicial towards the overall security of the Jewish state.
The most common protests assert that the US is Israel’s best friend, giving her billions of dollars in aid every year and doing more than any other nation to support and strengthen her in an unfriendly world.
It is certainly true that of all the nations on the planet, the United States of America is Israel’s closest ally. The US does give Israel between two and three billion dollars annually (the bulk of it in military grants that Israel has to plow back into the US weapons industry). Israel is also given access to some of America’s most advanced weaponry.
Furthermore, America has without question stood like a bulwark against the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiment in the United Nations. But for Washington’s use of its veto and influence, Israel may have already been done away with through a mixture of universal political de-legitimization and military force.
America’s friendship with Israel has endured numerous diplomatic storms, and remains in place.
It is a closeness that goes back all the way to pre-state days, to the November 1947 UN resolution agreeing to the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab homelands. There, against the wishes of the State Department, President Harry Truman instructed his delegation to support the vote. A few months later, again in opposition to his secretary of state, Truman’s nation led the world in recognizing the newly reborn State of Israel.
In the first three years of statehood, the US gave Israel a massive amount in foreign aid to help stabilize the infant economy. During Israel’s wars, America was often there, in 1949, 1967 and 1973 working side-by-side with Israel’s foreign ministry to ensure that Israel secured ceasefire agreements that would not favor the Arab aggressors. America airlifted a large amount of weaponry to Israel to help turn the tide during the Yom Kippur War, down the years kept Israel supplied with arms that would secure the Jews a qualitative edge over the Arab states, and during the first and second Gulf Wars, stationed Patriot anti-missile batteries in Israel as a line of defense against Iraqi SCUDS.
Most of these and many other positive American contributions to Israel’s growth and security are well known.
One man who as much as any other helped lay the foundations for the Israel-US relationship was Abba Eban – Israel’s first ambassador to America and to the United Nations and then his country’s foreign minister under Labor Party prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir.
In his autobiography, Eban described this friendship that had been forged between the two countries as “the strong chain which, at the middle of the 20th century, drew the strongest and smallest democracies together with imperishable links.”
Years later, recalling those heady early days during which Israel was finding its feet in the world of international diplomacy, and shortly after his country lost favor with the USSR, Eban noted how vital it was for Israel to remain close and cuddly with America.
“No country except the United States has been and still is able to redress the adverse balance [vis-à-vis Israel] arising from the geopolitical predominance of the Arabs and their alliance with the Soviet power.”
This reality “was and is a central truth of Israel’s foreign policy.” From Eban’s point of view as a secular humanist, Israel had no choice but to be dependent on the United States. In fact, he saw cultivating America’s friendship as a priority – its achievement as a gift to Israel. It is likely that most Israeli Jews back in the first years of statehood probably recognized this as such.
While Eban does not harp on America’s Judeo-Christian basis as one of the reasons for the close affinity, he does acknowledge that it was due to their exposure to the Bible that various presidents and secretaries of state were inclined to be more positive in their attitude toward Israel.
Today, although the Soviet Union is no more, and despite a number of rocky periods down the decades, those ties – and that dependency – are as strong as ever.
From America’s side, the ties remain strongly influenced by acquaintance with – if not always belief in – the Bible.
Nonetheless, as Eban recounts the ebb and flow of this relationship, it is clear that things were anything but rosy between the two peoples at some of Israel’s most critical moments.
Thus we read how:
After voting for Palestine’s partition in 1947, the Truman administration led a headlong retreat away from that resolution and, in early 1948, tried to prevent the creation of an independent Jewish homeland.
At the end of his term, Truman began the implementation of a “new look” which amounted to a determined effort to strengthen America’s influence in the Arab world while playing down US intimacy with Israel. It was then that the US began a policy of selling arms to Arab states, including an increasingly belligerent Egypt.
In 1953 the US began to oppose Israel’s retaliations against terrorist-sponsoring states without suggesting alternative ways to defend Jewish lives. Increasingly from this time on, said Eban, “the idea that Arabs could kill Israelis without any subsequent Israeli reaction was close to becoming an international doctrine.”
As the USSR increased its support of the Arab states, instead of strengthening Israel the US lessened the amount of encouragement it gave to Israel and on numerous occasions, instead of strongly backing the Jewish state, sided with the Arabs.
In 1954, the US signed regional defense treaties with the Arab world, including Baghdad, but would sign no such agreement with Israel.
The mid-fifties, said Eban, was a period “during which America could be justly accused of having left Israel alone to the winds and storms.”
Our list of betrayals is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few more examples:
In October 1956, the US condemned Israel for striking at Egyptian leader Gamal Nasser in an effort to end his strangulation on Israeli shipping through the Red Sea and to put a stop to the terrorist atrocities against Israelis carried out from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. The Eisenhower administration actually threatened to side with the Arabs unless Israel ended this “aggression.”
In 1967, in the run-up to the Six Day War, US relations with Israel cooled off. After Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping in what was almost universally recognized as a cassus belli, America went back on its “solemn pact” made with Israel 10 years earlier to intervene and bring an end to any such blockade. President Lyndon Johnson warned Israel not to act in any way without consulting him first, pressuring Israel to delay its strike on Egypt while Nasser’s forces continued to pour into the Sinai. In the end, the United States left Israel to fight the battle alone.
For six crucial days during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reportedly delayed a much-needed airlift of weapons to Israel, even as Israelis were dying in their hundreds repelling the surprise attacks from Egypt and Syria. Sources other than Eban say that it was only when a desperate Israel showed a readiness to deploy nuclear weapons against its enemies that the airlift was allowed to go ahead. An unnamed source “close to former US Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger” confirmed an Israeli suspicion that the arms had been withheld to ensure Israel would be more pliable in America’s hands after the war. Kissinger's strategy was to "let Israel come out ahead, but bleed," the source said.
The catalogue goes on. President Gerald Ford tried to blackmail Israel into withdrawing to the 1967 borders, “reassessing” US-Israel relations and denying delivery of the F-15 fighter plane to Israel when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin played hardball. President Jimmy Carter declared a “new Middle East policy” and ignored Egyptian violations of its peace treaty with Israel. After the first Gulf War, during which Israel agreed to American requests that it stay out of the conflict and not retaliate against Saddam’s SCUDs, President George Bush Sr. and Secretary of State James Baker again used blackmail, threatening to withhold $10 billion in loan guarantees unless Israel agreed to stop settlement construction. This at a time when hundreds of thousands of Jews were flooding in from the collapsed Soviet Union and Israel needed the guarantees to help absorb them.
Then came Oslo which, while apparently an Israeli initiative, earned the full approval of President Bill Clinton, who put his good offices to work to recast PLO arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat as a statesman. As Israelis began to die in the streets – killed by the bombs made possible by the very accords the US said would bring peace – Clinton strove to keep Oslo on track.
Both Clinton and Vice President Al Gore visited Israel, ignoring the cries and pleas of those Israelis who believed the land-for-peace process was endangering Israel, and urging the war-weary nation to “keep going.”
As Clinton stood teary eyed in a Tel Aviv auditorium and told the Israelis how much he felt their pain, they ate out of his hand, inviting him to run for the post of Israeli prime minister when he completed his second term.
In 1998, at a celebration commemorating the State of Israel’s 50th anniversary, Gore moved an auditorium of thousands of Israelis to tears when he read from Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones and told his audience he believed reconstituted Israel was the fulfillment of that vision. He then proceeded to explain to the listening Israelis why they should go ahead and give away half of the little land they had been restored to for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had welcomed Gore to Jerusalem as “one of the great friends that Israel has in the world.”
This brings us to the present administration, and President George W. Bush’s “personal commitment” to a two-state “solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Bush is a self-professing Born Again Christian. He has made war on terrorism his legacy, taking the battle to the Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, turning up the heat on Syria, and drawing red lines in the sand, declaring a clear division between those states that oppose terrorism and those that support it.
On October 28 Bush told his troops that if the US caved on the war against terrorism, Israel could be destroyed. The American leader has repeatedly assured Israel of his commitment to the right of the Jewish state to exist in secure and recognized borders.
The historical record speaks for itself. But for the United States, Israel may never have been reborn as a Jewish homeland. But for the United States, Israel may not have survived through what, this year, was its 57th anniversary.
And but for the United States, Israel would not have compromised its security to the extent that it has, allowing the establishment of a Palestinian Authority in Israel’s heartland, handing over historical Jewish lands to the Arabs, agreeing to the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, sowing deep division among its own people and, last month, expelling thousands of Jews from their homes in order to surrender parts of Israel’s patrimony to its Muslim foes.
It is precisely the high premium Israel places on its friendship with America that has made all this possible. The USA is Israel’s friend, yes. But as everyone knows, friends can be far more influential than enemies.
Given this shameful litany, one could perhaps be forgiven for concluding that, with a possible exception or two, America’s friendship has been carefully extended only to that point where the US will not prejudice its own “greater” interests.
There have been in the past instances where American presidents have been prepared to let Israel bleed, and even to abandon her, for the sake of personal political and financial benefit. There is no reason to believe that there will not be more such instances in the future
Is this the friend and ally God intended America to be to Israel?
By using the leverage of its “friendship” to push Israel into compromising its security in the face of the ever-growing threat to Israel’s existence that is proliferating throughout the Middle East, the world’s leading Christian nation is dangerously close to betraying its Jewish “older brother” ... with a kiss.
Coming next: Part III – Chastisement before judgment - Will America fulfill its destiny?
Part I - Founded for this purpose