Secretary of State Blinken pressures Israel
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – the chief architect of President Biden’s foreign and national security policy – is pressuring Israel to embrace his (classic State Department) policy on the rogue regime of Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Palestinian issue.
*Irrespective of the systematic track record of Iran’s Ayatollahs – since their 1978/79 ascension to power with the active support of the State Department and the CIA – Secretary Blinken is leaning on Israel to accept the mindset that the Ayatollahs are amenable to peaceful-coexistence with the neighboring Sunni Arab regimes; ready to abandon their core, fanatic, imperialistic vision; and refrain from regional and global terrorism and wars, in exchange for generous financial and diplomatic benefits. Blinken considers Iran’s Ayatollahs to be constructive partners for negotiation, worthy of waiving the US military option, which Blinken believes should be superseded by diplomacy.
*Irrespective of the systematic Palestinian track record and the Arab walk (not talk!) on the Palestinian issue, Secretary Blinken genuinely believes that the Palestinian issue is a core cause of Middle East turbulence, a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Therefore, he considers the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) a prerequisite to peace, in addition to the redivision of Jerusalem (hence his determination to reestablish in Jerusalem a de-facto US embassy/consulate for the Palestinian Authority) and freezing construction in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria and in East Jerusalem (while encouraging construction in Arab communities). Blinken is urging Israel to retreat to the 1949 ceasefire lines, which were labeled as “Auschwitz Lines” by Abba Eban, who was Israel’s very dovish Foreign Minister.
According to Blinken’s roadmap – which ignores the impact of the proposed Palestinian state on US interests – Israel should revert back to an 8-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, in the stormy, unpredictable, violent, intolerant Middle East, which has yet to experience democracy and intra-Arab and intra-Muslim peaceful-coexistence.
*Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes lightly the frustrating well-documented past track record of Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Palestinians, while highlighting a palatable, speculative future track record. He ignores that fact that the land-for-peace theory has yielded a land-for-terror reality, as evidenced by the outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accord and the 2005 Gaza Disengagement. The Palestinian land-for-terror reality also plagued Jordan from 1968-1970, Lebanon from 1970-1983 and Kuwait in 1990.
US pressure on Israel – track record
Is US pressure of Israel consistent with Middle East reality?
Does US pressure of Israel advanced US interests and the pursuit of peace?
Can Israel afford to defy US presidential pressure to refrain from critical, independent national security actions (e.g., in the face of the Iranian clear and present threat), and to withdraw from land, which is historically and militarily critical to the survival of the Jewish State?
A well-documented 1948-2016 track record of US presidential pressure of Israel demonstrates that US pressure was driven by the worldview of the State Department, which has systematically misread the Middle East (e.g., the stabbing in the back of the Shah of Iran, “The US’ Policeman of the Gulf,” while embracing Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein and Arafat). The US pressure on Israel forced the Arabs/Palestinians to outflank the US from the radical side, intensified Palestinian terrorism, undermined US interests, and failed to advance the cause of peace.
*In 1948, the State Department – along with the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times and the Washington Post – led the diplomatic, military (embargo) and economic pressure on David Ben Gurion (Israel’s Founding Father) to refrain from a declaration of independence and accept a UN Trusteeship. The State Department and the CIA contended that Israel would be an ally of the Soviet Bloc, would be slaughtered by the Arabs (“a second Holocaust in less than ten years”), and would undermine US-Arab relations, risking the US access to Persian Gulf oil. During and following Israel’s 1948/49 War of Independence, the US pressured Ben Gurion to retreat from “occupied land” in the Galilee, Negev, the coastal plain and West Jerusalem, accept the internationalization of Jerusalem and absorb 75,000 Palestinian refugees (who partook in the Arab war on Israel).
It was Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s defiance of US pressure which laid the foundations for the transformation of Israel from a burden on – to a unique strategic ally of – the US. In 1950, General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, recommended that Israel should be considered as a major strategic ally due to its military performance. The recommendation was dismissed outright by the State Department and the White House.
*In 1967, on the eve of the Six Days War, when a concerted military force of Egypt-Syria-Jordan was about to invade Israel, President Johnson warned Prime Minister Eshkol against a preemptive strike: “If you act alone, you shall remain alone…”
However, Eshkol repulsed that US pressure, preempted the Soviet-backed Egypt-Syria-Jordan military assault, which aimed to annihilate Israel and facilitate a pro-Soviet Egyptian hegemony of the Arab World, and topple the pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes, at a time when the US was heavily dependent upon the importation of Persian Gulf oil. Israel’s defiance of US pressure resulted in the devastation of Egypt’s military, and spared the US a horrifying national security and economic setback. It bolstered the stability of the highly-vulnerable pro-US Arab regimes, and denied the USSR a dramatic regional and global bonanza.
It was Prime Minister Eshkol’s defiance of US pressure – to refrain from a preemptive strike, reuniting Jerusalem and establishing Jewish communities in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – which transformed Israel from a supplicant to a unique force-multiplier for the US, fulfilling the role of the largest US aircraft carrier, without a single US soldier on board, deployed in a critical region of the world. This has spared the US the mega-billion-dollar necessity of manufacturing, deploying and maintaining a few more real aircraft carriers and a few ground divisions in the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean.
*In 1981, the US brutally pressured Prime Minister Begin against bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Had Begin surrendered to US pressure, he would have aborted the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, which spared the US a traumatic 1990-91 confrontation with a nuclear Saddam Hussein. The Begin Preemptive Doctrine was adopted in 2007 by Prime Minister Olmert, who ordered the bombing of Syria’s nuclear reactor – with the acquiescence of the US – which spared the world the plague of a nuclearized civil war in Syria.
*In 1981, Prime Minister Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights – located on the trilateral border of Israel, Syria and Jordan – irrespective of brutal US pressure, which led to the suspension of a vital US-Israel defense cooperation agreement. However, Israel’s control of the Golan Heights has benefitted the US, by playing a key role in constraining the maneuverability of Iran, Russia, Syria and Islamic terrorists, and buttresses the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan.
*In 1989-1992, Prime Minister Shamir was targeted by a campaign of slanderous pressure by the State Department and the White House, aimed at pushing Israel back to the pre-1967 lines. Had Shamir acceded to US pressure, retreating from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, he would have downgraded Israel from a national security producer for US, into a national security consumer, and a burden upon the US. Israel would have been demoted from a credible “life insurance agent” for the pro-US Arab regimes, into a “life-support” case, fully dependent upon the US military. It would have demolished Israel’s posture of deterrence, which has been a critical line of defense for Jordan’s Hashemite regime. It has prevented an anti-US avalanche from consuming the pro-US Arab regimes, and a dramatic tailwind for regional and global Islamic terrorism, which would have benefitted Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, as well as Turkey, Russia and China, at the expense of dire US economic and military interests.
The bottom line
*US pressure has been a leadership-litmus test for Israeli prime ministers, whose challenge has been to overcome – not to avoid – pressure, while adhering to core ideology and strategic goals, refraining from the sacrifice of deeply-rooted ideology and long-term national security on the altar of short-term, tenuous convenience. Genuine leaders are ready to forgo frivolous popularity, while enhancing durable respect.
*On a rainy day, the US prefers a defiant, rather than a vacillating, Israel on its side. At the end of a 1991 meeting between Prime Minister Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senators George Mitchell and Bob Dole – which I attended – the latter (who was, generally, critical of Israel) said: “Mr. Prime Minister, do you know why the Majority Leader and I absolutely disagree with you, but immensely respect you? Because you’re tough!”
* Simultaneously with the systematic 1948-2016 presidential pressure, and occasional suspension of the delivery of vital military systems, the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation has expanded in a staggering manner. It expanded due to the systematic support of the Jewish State by most Americans and their representatives in the House and Senate, as well as Israel’s exceptional reliability and unique technological and military effectiveness, along with the growing realization that Israeli contributions to the US outweigh foreign aid to Israel.
*Will President Biden learn from past mistakes, by avoiding self-defeating pressure on his most reliable, effective, democratic and unconditional ally, the Jewish State?
*Will Prime Minister Bennett follow in the footsteps of Prime Ministers Ben Gurion, Eshkol, Golda Meir, Begin and Shamir, who did not seek popularity and convenience, and defied US pressure, and therefore earned a long term geo-strategic esteem, and catapulted Israel’s national security and the mutually-beneficial US-Israel cooperation to unprecedented heights?
This column was originally published at The Ettinger Report
The views expressed in guest columns are not necessarily the views or positions of the CCNS or its members.