Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Two important articles from Commentary

From Evelyn Gordon:

In an interview in today’s Wall Street Journal, Ehud Barak announced that Israel might ask Washington for another $20 billion in aid due to the unrest now sweeping the region. As an Israeli, I’m cringing in shame.
The U.S. currently faces a massive deficit that threatens the country’s very future, and Congress is slashing ruthlessly in an effort to curb it. Almost nothing has been spared the ax — with one glaring exception: a sweeping majority of Congress still opposes any cut to the annual $3 billion in American aid to Israel, because at a time when Israel is facing an unprecedented international delegitimization campaign, Congress doesn’t want to do anything that might imply faltering support for America’s longtime ally.
It’s an extraordinarily generous gesture, and as I’ve written elsewhere, the only proper response would be for Netanyahu to do what he did during his first term as prime minister 15 years ago: announce a phased, multi-year cutback in aid at a joint session of Congress. Precisely because it is such a tangible expression of American support, American aid sends an important message to Israel’s enemies; thus, eliminating it altogether might be unwise. But Israel’s economy is certainly strong enough to cope with a cutback, and if it were an Israeli initiative, it wouldn’t imply faltering American support. On the contrary, it would strengthen the relationship by showing that it’s not a one-way street, that Israel is also sensitive to America’s needs.
Instead, as if he were blind, deaf, and dumb to everything that’s happened in America over the past few years, Barak declared that he wants to seek an increase in aid. As if America were nothing but a cash cow, with no urgent monetary needs of its own. This is a public-relations disaster, one guaranteed to alienate even Israel’s strongest supporters in Congress unless Netanyahu makes it immediately and unequivocally clear that his defense minister’s proposal is unacceptable.
But it’s also a strategic disaster.

And from Rich Richman:
[I]n July 1977, when Zbigniew Brzezinski presented Begin with a draft statement regarding the just-concluded U.S.-Israel meeting[,] Begin told Brzezinski that the draft was acceptable — “except for two sentences.” Brzezinski asked what they were:

“Please delete ‘The United States affirms Israel’s inherent right to exist.’”

“Why so?”

“Because the United States’ affirmation of Israel’s right to exist is not a favor, nor is it a negotiable concession. I shall not negotiate my existence with anybody, and I need nobody’s affirmation of it.”

Brzezinski’s expression was one of surprise. “But to the best of my knowledge every Israeli prime minister has asked for such a pledge.”

“I sincerely appreciate the president’s sentiment,” said Begin, “but our Hebrew Bible made that pledge and established our right over our land millennia ago. Never, throughout the centuries, did we ever abandon or forfeit that right. Therefore, it would be incompatible with my responsibilities as prime minister of Israel were I not to ask you to erase this sentence.” And then, without pause, “Please delete, too, the language regarding the commitment to Israel’s survival.”

“And in what sense do you find that objectionable?”

“In the sense that we, the Jewish people alone, are responsible for our country’s survival, no one else.”
Read them both, now.