In the US military and diplomatic establishments a consensus has long existed that Israel is a strategic liability. Following the wars of ’67 and ’73 corporate elites also came to share this view. Now Mossad chief Meir Dagan is admitting that Israel is becoming a strategic burden for the United States. His honesty is refreshing. One wishes Jewish liberals in the US would be as forthcoming as Jewish rightists in israel. Alas, with some honourable exceptions, this hasn’t happened. The Israel lobby, which has fought a historically uphill battle trying to convince politicians that Israel is a strategic asset, has found an unlikely ally in some figures on the left. The most prominent of course is Noam Chomsky, but there is also a legion of his followers who keep parroting this line. The dangers of this a-historical and contranalytical (not to say counterintuitive) view have been highlighted by Michael Neumann and M. Shahid Alam among others. Following the recent Obama-Netanyahu row, and statements by Gen. Petraeus, one would have thought this issue would be settled. Yet, like a zombie this dead and bogus argument determinedly marches on. In its latest, oddly timed, iteration Mark Levine offers the same stale hand-me-down Chomskyisms to convince readers that Israel is a strategic asset for the United States, because it helped defeat Arab Nationalism in…1967! He seems unaware of the fact that Arab nationalism was hostile to the US because of its support for Israel; and Nasser has been dead for 40 years. What’s the rationale for supporting Israel today? He doesn’t say. While he rightly points out that Israel couldn’t get away with what it does without US support, he tells us nothing as to why the US behaves the way it does. We do not learn anything about the key determinant of the policy — the Israel lobby. Instead we get a view of foreign policy as a subjectless, metaphysical phenomena.
For a useful corrective, check out this report by Al Jazeera’s brilliant Clayton Swisher. Also see this assessment by Col. Pat Lang:’The Turks will not back down and as Erdogan says their hostility is likely to be enduring…Time is starting to run out for an Israel whose policy is based on bullying and domination.’