Avoiding an American ambush - Caroline Glick
Our World: Avoiding an American ambush
July 7, 2009
Caroline Glick, THE JERUSALEM POST
Rather than making wrongheaded concessions to Obama on Jewish population growth in the vain hope of mollifying him, Israel should go on the offensive on issues where it has something to gain from a confrontation. Two specific issues - aside from Iran's nuclear program - should be raised in this regard.
FIRST, IN recent months the Obama administration has applied massive pressure on Israel to remove its military forces from Judea and Samaria, curtail its counterterror operations and allow US-trained, anti-Israel Palestinian military forces to deploy in the towns and cities. Rather than openly oppose these demands, in the interests of cultivating good relations, the Netanyahu government has gone along with the program. This it has done in spite of the fact that the Palestinian forces now deploying throughout the areas have a history of participating in and supporting terror attacks against Israel as well as terrorizing their own people.
Last week the government quietly announced that the IDF is pulling out of most Palestinian population centers and turning the keys over to these hostile US-trained forces. This was a mistake.
In the weeks to come, the government should bluntly and publicly discuss and protest Fatah political and military leaders' continued support for terrorists and terrorist attacks against Israel. Netanyahu and his government should also detail human-rights abuses Fatah personnel routinely carry out against Palestinian journalists, businessmen and other civilians. The administration should be forced to defend its decision to empower these corrupt, terror-supporting brutes at the expense of Israel's security, and to force US taxpayers to foot the bill for its cockamamie priorities.
THE SECOND ISSUE is US military aid. For years Israel's detractors have pointed to this aid as "proof" that it is a strategic burden for America. But in recent years, and particularly since the Obama administration took office, it is becoming increasingly clear that US military assistance may be a greater burden for Israel than for the US.
On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that the Pentagon has forced Israel Aerospace Industries to back out of a joint partnership with a Swedish aerospace company to compete in a multibillion dollar tender to sell new multirole fighters to the Indian air force. And as the Post reported, this is the second major deal the Pentagon has forced Israel to withdraw from in the past year. Last summer it was forced to bow out of a $500 million tender to supply the Turkish army with a new main battle tank. In both cases, US firms were competing in the tenders and the Pentagon threatened that Israeli participation would risk continued US-Israeli cooperation.
Today Israel faces the prospect of not having a new-generation fighter. The Pentagon has placed so many draconian restrictions on its purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and raised the price so high, that it makes little strategic or economic sense to purchase it. So too, last week the navy announced it has decided to explore the option of building its own warships rather than buy one of two competing US naval platforms as planned because the US contractors' costs have gone up so high. The navy is also taking into consideration the fact that by building domestic platforms, it will provide needed employment to shipyard workers.
All in all, both in terms of pure economics and in terms of the massive and constantly escalating restrictions the Obama administration is now placing on Israeli use of US technologies and munitions, maintaining US military assistance makes less and less sense with each passing day.
Were Israel to initiate a conversation about cutting back on this assistance, it would be able to ensure that the talks take place on its terms. Moreover, given the fact that Israel may indeed be best served by simply ending its military assistance package, the risk involved in such discussions would not be particularly earth shattering. Finally, by making clear that it is not dependent on Obama's kindness, it would be expanding its maneuvering room on other issues as well.
What Obama's radicalism tells us is that he is not a man who is moved by rational discourse. He is not a man who is willing to be convinced that he is mistaken. But even in these dire circumstances, Israel is not without good options for securing its interests vis-à-vis Washington.
To do so, Jerusalem must first understand that it gains nothing from making concessions to a president bent on picking a fight with it. Then it must recognize that there are issues where a confrontation with Obama can serve its interests. Finally it must pursue those issues with energy and passion.