Now that Israel has alienated its last Muslim ally in the Middle East by stopping and boarding Turkish ships with supplies for the people of Gaza through its blockade, sometimes violently, it must know that one more such incident and the European Union, one of Israel’s biggest trading partners, will probably ban such trade in the future (and probably kick them out of UEFA soccer competition as well). In this regard Israel is doubling down its bet on future U.S. support for its strategic objectives.
As of right now it’s not a bad bet to make. Members of Congress are falling all over each other in announcing their support for Israel. The vice president thinks the whole incident is much ado about nothing. If there are trade sanctions forthcoming, no doubt Israel’s supporters in the U.S. government will make sure Israeli exports find a new home with new free trade agreements. And so long as the Obama Administration is filled with Clinton supporters in key positions, its impotence in the face of Israel’s actions will only remain.
However, future demographic realities mean that for Israel to continue as a Jewish state, it would have to engage in the same practices that made the former white South African government so distasteful to the West, particularly the United States which did much to engineer the end of apartheid.
Of course one can argue the Boers did not have the same kind of domestic, grasssroots political clout the Israeli lobby has. No doubt that popular protests against apartheid plus the decline of Cold War tensions in the late 1980s made the South African government’s position untenable and reduced the number of allies it had in the U.S. government. The Israelis are betting that so long as Iran tries to develop nuclear weapons, so long as the so-called “War on Terror” continues on and on, and so long as the Obama administration wishes to avoid a massive political fight that would tear the Democratic Party apart, it will have no choice but to acquiesce to Israel’s demands and actions even though the U.S. continues to support Israel with billions in economic and military aid. Never has a client been in such control over its benefactor.
But if Israel does become a full apartheid state, it cannot do so without pricking the conscience of those who remember the U.S.’s reaction to the last such state in existence. And it may causes forces powerful enough to change the current dynamic. The U.S. military, whose job it now is to tamp down on Islamic extremism, may find it impossible to do so if it is seen as enabling Israel to attack other Muslims. Americans troops may wish to have it explained to them why the “special relationship” is so important given how detrimental it is to their jobs. It may very well be the only institution in government that could demand a change in U.S. foreign policy for the sake of the war effort and get away with it. And if NATO allies (like, say, Turkey, for example, although according to increasingly silly Liz Cheney they are now part of the “Iran-Syria-Turkey axis” and an enemy of the U.S.) may, for a change, put pressure on the U.S. to do something to rein in the Israelis for their own security interests. If the U.S. values harmony and unity within the alliance (and we know it does) this may well be a “game-changer”.
Actually, the U.S.’s response should be rather simple. It should tell the Israelis that if they wish to board ships in international waters they can do so. If they wish to maintain themselves with walls and checkpoints they can do so as well. If they wish to bomb Iran, they can do that too. But they cannot do so with U.S. support nor a dime more of U.S. taxpayer money. Perhaps without the “blank check” the Israelis may be a little wiser before engaging in Rambo-style shows of force.