Does Israel’s Response to the Iran Deal Show Ingratitude to the U.S.?

That is the thesis of Susan Milligan’s U.S. News July 17 column “Biting the Hand that Feeds You.” Given that Israel receives more than $3 billion a year in military aid from the U.S., Milligan argues Prime Minister Netanyahu should tone down his criticism. After all, the U.S. wouldn’t give Israel all that money year after year if it was unconcerned with Israel’s safety.

Let’s examine Milligan’s argument.

Israel shouldn’t criticize the Iran deal because we give Israel $3 billion a year in military aid. There are several problems with that argument, including the fact that the aid is not given to Israel to keep its mouth shut. The crucial problem with the argument is the assumption the Iran deal is not a 180-degree change in direction of U.S. Middle East policy. That’s why so many Americans are critical of the deal and why leaders of both the conservative and liberal parties in Israel oppose it.

What is the purpose of the U.S. military aid? Presumably the U.S. sees that aid accomplishing something worth every dollar. The key reason is that it enables Israel to protect itself from enemies who have been at war with it since 1948. But it accomplishes other things for us as well, not to mention the fact that ¾ of the aid money must be spent in the U.S.

What has Israel done for the U.S.? It has defended Western values in a region teetering on the edge of Islamic totalitarianism, but it aided the U.S. in other ways. In 1967, Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, a defeat that was directly responsible for Egypt’s turning away from the Soviet Union, which had sought to bring the Arab League into its sphere of influence.

Another way Israel repaid the U.S. was by taking out the nuclear reactors that Iraq and Syria were illegally attempting to build, and when Iraq fired Scud missiles into Tel Aviv, Israel sat on its hands at U.S. request.

Milligan’s final argument is that the only alternative to this deal is war. One “gets the impression [Netanyahu] would only be satisfied if the United States bombed Iran back to the Stone Age.”

Instead of relying on impressions, however, let’s consider Netanyahu’s actual answer to that question. He has never been opposed to a deal with Iran. His criticisms is based on the fact that the deal doesn’t do what the U.S. and its allies set as their goal when negotiations started, which was dismantle Iran’s nuclear energy program in return for lifting sanctions.

Milligan has bought the administration’s argument that it is this deal or no deal, but that is absurd. A better deal was available had Obama/Kerry shown some backbone.

Instead of criticizing Netanyahu for biting the hand that feeds Israel, the American people ought to be thankful that he is pointing out the deal’s flaws because if he’s right, this deal is very likely to come back to haunt the American people in lives lost down the road.

The Israeli Solution: A Review (Part Two)

The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East by Caroline Glick (Crown Forum, 2014)

In Part One of my review of Caroline Glick’s The Israeli Solution, I describe her rationale for rejecting the two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that has been a leading policy objective of presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

Glick argues that advocates of that “solution” incorrectly claim that giving the Palestinians their own state will reduce violence in the region. Events, including the escalating Sunni-Shi’a conflict, the rise of ISIS, the dissolution of Syria, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, should put that thesis to bed.

Under Barack Obama, the U.S. has increased pressure on Israel to accept a two-state solution. In his “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in June 2009, Obama described the lack of a Palestinian state as ‘intolerable,’ and equated the Palestinian’s aspirations for statehood with those of the Jewish people.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Palestinians as a distinct national group is a recent construct, the main reason the two-state solution won’t succeed Glick argues is that it has never been the goal of the PLO or its successors to live side by side a Jewish state.

Evidence that their demanding a state of their own has functioned mainly as a component of their strategy to attack Israel in the international arena is the fact that they have walked away from the table each time Israel has accepted terms that would have led to a Palestinian state. Their true objective from the beginning to today has been the destruction of the Jewish state as the so-called moderate Mahmoud Abbas made clear as recently as the 2013 anniversary of the founding of the PLO.

The One-State Alternative

Caroline Glick’s alternative solution is to incorporate Samaria, Judea, and Arab Jerusalem into the state of Israel. Israel’s legal claim to those territories stems from a 1922 resolution the League of Nations that defined the British Mandate as extending to the Jordan River. That boundary remains in force Glick argues based on United Nations Resolution 242 that stipulates all states have the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.”

Recognizing that her solution will face fierce opposition, Glick examines each of the potential opponents and finds them wanting in terms of their ability to prevent Israel from formally declaring those regions part of the state of Israel. None of the Arab League nations are likely to go to war over the issue, Europe is already engaged in supporting the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in myriad ways, but Israel could tolerate more boycotts and other likely interference. The key to the one-state solution is the United States must support it.

Glick makes a case that Israel’s staking its claim to the disputed territories would be in the best strategic interest of the United States. For one, Israel represents a counter-balance to Iranian and Russian ambitions in the region. In addition, Israel represents the only country in the region whose society is also modeled on the rule of law and democratic rights. The connection is one of people-to-people, while the U.S. relationship to other countries is largely regime-to-regime.

The Price for U.S. Backing

The price the U.S. would pay for backing a one-state solution would be more noise than substance. If U.S. stopped giving Palestinian and Arab leaders hope that it would appease them on the Palestine issue, we could deal with them more honestly on the conflicts I cited above. In terms of aid, it would eliminate the millions of U.S. tax dollars being used to prop up the Palestinian Authority.

Questions have been raised as to whether Israel would want to add the approximately 1.6 million Arabs currently living in the disputed territories to its population. Glick answers these concerns to my satisfaction, including the claim that the Arab population would eventually outnumber the Jewish population and win the war by having more babies than the Jews. She disputes Arab census and birthrate data and while she doesn’t discount the likelihood that there would be considerable problems, she argues the alternatives––continuation of the status quo, or giving Israel’s enemies a free hand to attack at will––are worse.

There is a model for what would happen were Israel to shut down the Palestinian Authority and declare the disputed territories formally part of Israel. That model is the Golan Heights where many Druze who once vowed to resist Israeli rule today apply for Israeli citizenship.

Over time the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria would see improvements in their living standards and economic well-being. They would learn to appreciate, as Arab Israelis have come to appreciate, the benefits of living in a society based on equal treatment under the rule of law––as opposed to arbitrary treatment where laws are made up on the fly––and where one can accomplish legitimate goals without resorting to arms.

Those Arabs who would not want to live in Israel would be able to move to Gaza, which would not become part of Israel, or elsewhere. Then, freed from having to focus on creating a Palestinian state in Israel, the U.S. could pressure Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the other Arab states to offer the Palestinians citizenship so they could move out of the refugee camps. The world also needs to free the Palestinian people from the autocratic rule of Hamas, the PLO, and other terrorist groups. Palestinian nationalism should not be ignored, but it needs to find a home of its own and not look to what belongs by history and by international law to Israel and the Jewish people.