Saturday, June 4, 2011

Do the American people support the 'special relationship?'

By Stephen M. Walt

"....The next day, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who rejected several of Obama's assertions and lectured him about what "Israel expects" from its great power patron. Then Obama felt it was smart politics to go to AIPAC and clarify his remarks. It was a pretty good speech, but Obama didn't offer any ideas for how his vision of Middle East peace might be realized and he certainly never suggested that -- horrors! -- the United States might use its considerable leverage to push both sides to an agreement. And then Netanyahu received a hero's welcome up on Capitol Hill, getting twenty-nine standing ovations for a defiant speech that made it clear that the only "two-state" solution he's willing to contemplate is one where the Palestinians live in disconnected Bantustans under near-total Israeli control.....

But what of his more basic claim that the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel is really a reflection of "the public's overwhelming sympathy?" There are at least three big problems with this assertion.....

When you combine these facts with the sometimes thuggish tactics used against people who don't subscribe to the party line on this issue, you have a situation where politicians and appointed officials will bend over backwards to support the special relationship (or just remain silent), even when they know it's not good for the United States or Israel and when most Americans (including plenty of American Jews) would support a more normal relationship. In short, a relationship that would be healthier for the United States and Israel alike...."

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