Does Israel Actually Control Its Own Fate?


Goldblog reader Stuart Abrams writes, in reference to the Daniel Gordis piece in Commentary that also caught the attention of Jim Fallows:

Gordis' piece is seriously flawed and it reflects a misconception, perhaps even a delusion, that underlies the belief that Israel's survival currently rests entirely within its own control.
Israel enjoys massive military superiority in the Middle East because the United States finds it in its interest to guarantee such superiority to Israel.  Assume that a Pat Buchanan-type became President of the United States (ed. note -- do I have to?), an assumption that may not be so far-fetched since I strongly suspect that many of the Tea Partiers are closeted, or perhaps not so closeted, conservative antisemites out of the old Liberty League/John Birch Society/Joseph Sobran mold.  Such a President could well decide to make massive cut-backs in US military aid to Israel.  Further assume a radical takeover of Egypt - again hardly a far-fetched assumption - which results in the rejection of the Camp David accords.  Israel is now back in the position it was in prior to '67, but without any major outside supporter such as the United States has been, Israel would be forced to rely only upon its nuclear arsenal for its survival.  Is that realistic?  Does Israel really control its survival?
Israel's survival ultimately depends upon its ability to deal with the world as it really is, not as Israelis wish it to be.  This requires not only military strength, but diplomatic creativity and flexibility and most important of all, the opening up of economic relationships with the rest of the Middle East.  Israel has demonstrated little propensity for the latter strategies.  It may well be the case that a nuclear Iran may be the only thing that will force Israel to live in the real world, which, as James Fallows cogently argues, is the world in which the rest of us have been living for many decades.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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