(October 17, 2021 / JNS) US President Joe Biden recently remarked that he did not want daylight between the United States and Israel. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he hoped to return to a “no surprises, no daylight” relationship with the United States.
Israel has often suffered from episodes of national insecurity – appeasement of the predominant world power. For 3,000 years, Israel’s rulers have tried to curry favor with one world power or another, hoping to be saved and ultimately loved. The results have been disastrous.
If there is one lesson to be learned, it is the benefit that Israel reaps when it acts in its own best interests and that of its Torah-rooted values, regardless of the opinion of the world power of the day. . Examples in distant and recent history abound.
At the end of the First Temple period, Zedekiah (Tzidkiyahu in Hebrew) was the king of Israel who believed the Egyptians would come to his aid. It didn’t happen. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed what was left of Israel.
At the end of the Hasmonean dynasty at the time of the Second Temple, it was Antigone who thought that the Persians (Parthians) would save Israel. Again, this did not happen.
In 1973, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir waited for the green light from the United States to preemptively strike Israel’s neighbors, which were about to invade. This does not happen.
In contrast, in 1967, when the Arab armies were about to launch a joint attack, Israel pre-empted Operation Moked, without the green light from Washington. To the surprise of the United States, Israel destroyed the airfields of its neighbors. The result, in terms of saving Jewish lives, was legendary. If Prime Minister Levi Eshkol had waited for US approval, the outcome would have been horrific.
Today Iran is the concern. To be fair, Bennett said Israel was not going to outsource its security. In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have agreed that the time for diplomacy is running out.
But words are words. How will the Israeli government ultimately act if Iran is not a priority for the United States? Will Israel depend on the full support of the United States before taking military action, should it be necessary?
If Israel is to act preemptively against Iran, daylighting with the United States can save Israeli lives. Such daylight is important in other areas as well, including movements that impact Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority.
The United States continues to urge Israel to make peace with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, “payer” for the Munich massacre in 1972. Is it in Israel’s interest? Doesn’t the Biden administration understand that even Palestinians do not support Abbas, as a recent poll showed 80% of them want him replaced?
Israel’s national insecurity seems to characterize all of its governments. During the Trump administration, for example, which coincided with the tenure of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel would not take any action regarding the Palestinians without the approval of the United States. During negotiations on Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, an American collaborator told me that some in the administration wondered why Israel had not started to take steps to strengthen civilian administrative authority. in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, with or without peace. plan in place. He didn’t understand why Israel thought it needed Washington’s green light.
There are those who believe that Israel cannot afford the light of day, as it is beholden to the United States for financial reasons, especially because of annual military aid of $ 3.8 billion. To be clear, the assistance program is important, but it also requires Israel to spend funding with U.S. military industries on items specified by the United States or on mutually beneficial research and development.
This sum is substantial, as it represents about 20% of Israel’s current defense budget, which stands at $ 18 billion. Its gross national income is approaching $ 400 billion.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Israel is buying more than $ 30 billion in foreign currency this year, in a bid to help Israeli manufacturers cope with a rising shekel. Obviously, then, Israel is very grateful for the aid package.
Yet is worrying about the potential impact on the package worth a âno daylight and no surprisesâ policy?
There are many areas where more daylight can be beneficial. Take education, for example. Schools in the United States focus on issues of race and gender. American NGOs and exchange programs will also try to influence Israeli study programs.
Does Israel really want to follow the American example when it comes to culture? Does Israel really want its schools to teach fourth graders about the merits of gender fluidity? Are these current American values ââthe ones that Israel wants to convey? What do traditional Muslim and Christian Israelis think about the potential spread of these values ââin their schools?
Health is another area where more daylight can help. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the Israeli Ministry of Health has frequently sought guidance and policies from the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. If it is important to seek the best advice, can’t Israel chart the best course for itself?
Israel has some of the best scientists in the world and was at the forefront of vaccine supply. Yet what if Israel hadn’t put all its eggs in the vaccine basket and, in addition to the vaccines, also focused on early onset and other treatment options?
Israel has a lot to learn from the United States and good reasons to carefully consider its demands and advice. (Conversely, the United States also has a lot to learn from Israel.)
Nevertheless, Israel should not strive to be the 51st state. If the story is something to follow, it won’t turn out well. A little more daylight will ensure a better result.
Gary Schiff is a Jerusalem-based resource consultant connecting Israel and the United States.