Burning the Bridge: the Alarming Deterioration of the US-Israel Relationship
Over the past several weeks, the Obama administration has found a way to turn the American alliance with the state of Israel into a political issue. His differences of opinion and strategy with Prime Minister Netanyahu have turned an excellent relationship into an unprecedented divide.
During his reelection campaign, Netanyahu made several remarks with regards to the prospects of a Palestinian state. His comments, which were widely regarded as inflammatory and negative, were later recanted. He expressed his regrets, apologized to the world, and reiterated his commitment for peace.
White House officials have responded to these few comments with a slew of destructive criticism and disdain for the State of Israel. They have accused Israel of spying on the Iranian nuclear deal, and have even threatened to withdraw UN support for the allied nation.
President Obama needs to stop his personal vendetta against Netanyahu, and start considering the long-term effects of his actions.
When Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi after overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, President Obama was eager to congratulate the member of the Muslim Brotherhood—a man who has expressed his doubts that 9/11 was conducted by Islamic terrorists. Obama welcomed in a new era of partnership with the state of Egypt, and its new president. Compare that to the reelection of Netanyahu. President Obama was quick to express his disgust for the man who had been elected to run an allied nation.
The Wall Street Journal appropriately describes President Obama’s reaction as an “Israel Tantrum.” The WSJ also brings up an important point. After his election, Netanyahu apologized for his comments, and noted that he must govern for the entire state of Israel. As he began to deescalate the situation and de-radicalize the rhetoric, the White House turned it up, calling the Prime Minister a “coward,” and attacking his character.
But perhaps the most disturbing question one must ask is: why? What does the President get out of this? Israel always has been a loyal and trusted ally of the United States. It is one of the only stable democracies in the Middle East, and it is a hub of technological, military, and cultural engagement and advancement. Americans have supported the fruitful US-Israel relationship for generations, and now Obama is willing to throw it all away over a petty distaste for the Prime Minister?
This childish attitude will only lead to negative results, and the Obama administration should look to follow Netanyahu’s lead and recant their inflammatory remarks before saying or doing something that cannot be undone. In their own words (those of White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough): “We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made.”
Israel cannot simply pretend that the United States isn’t destroying their relationship, and will certainly not soon forget it. At a time when international support for the United States is ever more rare, President Obama cannot afford to burn another bridge.