"Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel." -Benjamin Netanyahu
In a speech before a joint session of Congress this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed what so many of us know to be true: Israel is the only true friend America has in the Middle East, and we should not take this friendship for granted. Yet this is exactly what it appears President Obama may be doing. After suggesting that renewed peace talks should begin with a return to the 1967 borders, Obama has spent the week attempting to clarify his words and mollify America's Jewish population.
Caveats about "land swaps" notwithstanding, it's unclear why the President would issue a statement so certain to rouse unease among our Jewish allies. If it was an ill-considered attempt at Arab appeasement, the President needs to get real. Aside from denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state and joining the Palestinians in their efforts to push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea, there can be no compromise with anti-Jewish forces in the Middle East. They are not interested in peace, and will never accept a two-state solution. This has been their position for more than sixty years.
Since President Truman became the first Head of State to recognize the Israel, America has been bound by a moral, ideological, and some might say theological commitment to the Jewish people. After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust – the ghastly climax of centuries of unrelenting discrimination, persecution and ostracism in Europe and elsewhere – the United States came to recognize that the survivors of Hitler's unspeakable terror should be allowed to reclaim a place for themselves in their ancestral homeland.
Our support has been critical through the years, for without it, Israel truly stands alone and vulnerable, surrounded by antagonistic entities hell bent on her destruction. But America's reasons for supporting Israel are not merely sentimental. For those that question the strategic wisdom of the United States continuing its support for Israel in these precarious diplomatic times, it should be acknowledged that no other nation in the region exemplifies western liberal ideals better than Israel. President Obama, like his predecessors before him, often speaks of the flame of freedom that burns within the heart of each person, and the universal right of mankind to exercise this freedom in societies governed by the rule of law. Where can you find such freedom in the Middle East but in Israel? Netanyahu made this point forcefully in his speech to Congress: