Adapt or die
In several recent posts (here, here, here) I’ve argued that US policy has taken a serious turn against Israel with the Obama Administration.
Now the question becomes “how can Israel act to protect herself?”
There are two important aspects of the situation: the administration’s objectives, and what kind of pressure it is prepared and able to apply in order to attain them. I’ve argued these propositions in detail before, and I am just going to summarize them now:
1. The administration seems to have decided that the cost of keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons is too great, and therefore that its interests are best served by a rapprochement with the regime. This places it in direct conflict with Israel, which is committed to stopping Iran by force if necessary.
2. The administration is ideologically pro-Palestinian. It also believes that it can score a propaganda coup by being responsible for the creation of a Palestinian state. Finally, a major US diplomatic priority since the 1973 Arab oil boycott has been to fulfill its promise to the Arabs to reverse the outcome of the Six Days War. Since the PLO is uninterested in peace and will use Israeli concessions to facilitate terrorism, and since it is likely to be replaced by Hamas in any case, this is another area of conflict with the US.
The significant difference between the Obama Administration and its predecessors is its acceptance of anti-Israel narratives and ideology, and an unconcern for Israel’s security. Both a nuclear Iran and a Palestinian state as the US envisages it will be disastrous for security.
The US can apply pressure in many ways, but in general they seem to be these:
On the Iranian issue, the policy seems to be to promise that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon while at the same time acting to restrain Israel from taking action. This restraint can go from simple jawboning to threats to reveal Israel’s plans to Iran in advance, something which could increase Israel’s losses tragically.
Regarding the Palestinians, the threats seem to be that economic pressure will be applied by its European trading partners, boycotts will be encouraged, etc. And there is also the ultimate threat that if Israel doesn’t voluntarily make a deal with the PLO, one will be imposed, with an American proposal that will be passed by the Security Council and can be enforced by economic sanctions.
So what can Israel do?
First, Israel should reduce the ability of the US to gather intelligence on its activities. Recent revelations of the NSA’s worldwide spying abilities are indeed disquieting, and the fact that Israel is listed by the CIA as a “key target” for surveillance along with China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Cuba is shocking. The American-operated X-band radar located in the Negev, ostensibly to provide early warning of Iranian rockets, is said to be able to detect anything taking off from anywhere in Israel, even a small drone. Even the kiriya, Israel’s ‘Pentagon’ in Tel Aviv, is suspected of having been penetrated and bugged.
Israel’s counterintelligence apparatus should be mobilized to root out spies and harden communications facilities. It’s not possible to stop the flow of data, but it can be reduced. The radar should be removed — Israel can use its own capabilities to detect Iranian rocket launches, and aggressive steps should be taken to reduce intelligence gathering. Resources should be dedicated not only to planning how best to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, but how to do it so that the US will not know about it until it is too late.
Second, Israel should take its case against a deal with the PLO to the American people and Congress, who remain pro-Israel. Israel today does almost nothing in the area called ‘public diplomacy’, telling its story and combating the daily assaults of delegitimization and demonization coming from its enemies (and ‘friends’, like the Obama Administration, J Street, etc.)
Where are the pro-Israel NGOs? Where are the million-dollar grants to universities to set up departments of Israel and Jewish studies? Where are the Zionist films, the speakers crisscrossing the continent? Where is the TV network to compete with al Jazeera, now deploying in the US? Where is the counterforce to the NIF? It’s embarrassing to compare the millions spent by the Europeans to subsidize anti-state organizations inside Israel and the pittance spent by Israel to influence the American people, who are the only force that can restrain Obama at this point.
Third, Israel should reduce its economic dependence on the US and Europe. It should develop markets in the Far East and India, which are not in the grip of anti-Israel ideology or Holocaust guilt. It should not be afraid of angering Europe, because only national suicide would be enough to appease it in any case. The best thing Israel can do in Europe is to encourage its remaining Jews to make aliyah.
Fourth, Israel needs to end its own uncertainty about its legitimacy. The government needs to unequivocally assert its right under international law to settle Jews in the territories, and to keep Jerusalem united under Jewish control. Although it is possible for Israel to voluntarily cede some disputed territory to the Palestinians in return for a real peace, it’s absurd to begin negotiations by granting Arab claims. Land swaps, therefore, which are based on the assumption that the Arabs have a right to all the disputed territory and should be compensated if they give any of it up, should be off the table.
The world is a different place, now that America is withdrawing from leadership, embracing its enemies and hurting its friends. Israel must adapt to survive.