Is Israel a 'Liability'?

The debate goes mainstream

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In Washington policy circles, the United States' close relationship with Israel is coming under increasing scrutiny, observed The New York Times on Friday. Triggered in part by Israel's deadly showdown with an aid flotilla set for Gaza, centrist policy experts are beginning to question whether Israel is a liability. Since the article's publication, discussions about America's ties to Israel have entered the mainstream, showing up on Sunday talk shows and prominent op-ed pages.

  • Yes, Israel Is Pushing Its Luck, writes Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews... The United States does not need unnecessary problems in one of the most troubled parts of the world, particularly when Israeli actions take a form that does not serve Israel’s own strategic interests. This Israeli government in particular needs to realize that as strong as U.S.-Israel ties may be, it is time to return to the kind of strategic realism exemplified by leaders like Yitzhak Rabin."
  • No, Israel Is Acting Appropriately, says Sen. John Kerry, as reported by ABC's Jake Tapper: "Senator John Kerry told me on This Week that he doesn't believe Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States... Senator Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me 'there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies' but that 'Israel 'has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza.'"
  • Israel Is Burning Bridges, writes Namik Tan, Turkey's ambassador to the U.S. in the Washington Post: "It will be up to Israel to decide how it reconstitutes its standing as a good bilateral partner and responsible member of the international community. Israel can start by bringing an end to its blockade on Gaza; by ending its inappropriate and disproportionate police actions toward the Palestinian civilians of that land; and by allowing a prompt, independent, impartial, credible and transparent international investigation into the incident. Moreover, Israel owes an apology to the Turkish nation."

  • The U.S. Must Stand with Israel, says Liz Cheney on ABC's This Week: "This isn't complicated. Israel is under attack by Hamas which uses Gaza as a platform from which to launch attacks against Israel. They want to destroy the state of Israel and they are supported in that by the countries Iran, Syria and now it looks like Turkey as well... The United States has to stand with Israel. If the United States, in a choice between Israel and Hamas, tries to stand above it, which is what this president likes to do on every issue—sort of be detached... that kind of moral equivalence, not only is it wrong, not only is it shameful but it is dangerous for the United States of America not to be standing with Israel."
  • Our Interests Are Similar But Israel Isn't Helping, says Arianna Huffington on This Week: "The long-term security interests of Israel [and] the long-term security interests of the United States depend on marginalizing more of the extremists and bringing more of the moderates on our side and what Israel is doing now is completely counter-productive in terms of this very simple goal because if we fail to bring more moderates in the Middle East to see the world way we're seeing the world—and we push them more and more in to the arms of extremists—we're never going to have peace or security." Speaking to the New York Times, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg adds, “I don’t necessarily believe you solve all of America’s problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen by freezing settlement growth. On the other hand, there’s no particular reason for Israel to make itself a pain in the tush either.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.