It may come as a shock to discover how much the US has distanced itself from the country of Israel. An Israeli activist commented that when she grew up in Chicago, a naturally liberal city, the people still supported the only democratic ally in the Middle East. Yet, we now live in a nation that attacks Israel from both sides of the aisle. Protesters at the Democratic National Convention burned American and Israeli flags alike, and the KKK’s prominent leader stated that “Jews are the real problem.” Unfortunately, the terror for our Jewish friends doesn’t end there. Increasing reports of anti-Semitic activity are now commonplace news on college campuses. UC Davis, located less than 20 miles from the California State Capitol, reported swastikas painted on the Jewish fraternity just last year. As one can imagine, even more go unreported due to the unreliability of campuses to quickly and efficiently deter anti-Semitic events. Many universities are now openly supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions) movement, which seems to rally support for Palestinian students over Israeli students.
The waning societal support for Jews and Israel seems to be a direct result from interactions between the US and Israel. While previously liberal policy seemed to highly support pro-Israel policies, the Obama Administration deviated from this long standing tradition. And it’s no surprise that the liberals have more boldly backed off in their support for Israel. Nothing in their goals or values agree with the Israeli policies on similar subjects. Where Israel is firm, the Obama Administration is lenient. Where Obama negotiates, Israel attacks real threats. Perhaps living with a backdoor to ISIS territory gives them wisdom beyond the understanding of our “safe” country.
The increasing distance of Israelis as U.S. allies is no better demonstrated than by the Obama administration’s reception of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2009, when Obama was first elected, Netanyahu expressed concern over the United States’ increased overtures to a potentially nuclear Iran. Fast forward six years later, in 2015, when Obama not only dismissed Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, but also used funds to attempt to oust Benjamin Netanyahu, an attempt that was eventually unsuccessful. Obama was successful in negotiating what some critics regard as the worst deal ever, the Iran nuclear deal. Israel condemned the nuclear deal stating that Iran’s statements of intent to destroy Israel during negotiations did not even merit a response.
If the story above sounds vaguely familiar, you may try to remember the Clinton administration's goal for peace in the Middle East. Clinton attempted to broker a deal between the long-time adversaries Israel and Palestine. Netanyahu had been through the history and refused to open negotiations. Clinton used his power to create division within the Netanyahu campaign, resulting in the election of Ehud Barak. Ehud Barak gave up southern Lebanon, and entered into negotiations with Palestine through the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) and the 2000 Camp David Summit. Both failed to establish long lasting peace.
Fast forward to today’s U.S.–Israel ties, and history seems doomed to repeat itself in the US, but Israel refuses to follow suit, continuing to re-elect Netanyahu. After completing his current term, he will be the longest-serving prime minister of Israel. Israelis know what they need to keep their country in order, and it’s not Ehud Barak, it is Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu continually refuses to give up land in order to make “peace treaties” that don’t last. In other words, Israelis trust him because he won’t give them and the land they stand upon to their enemies. So, Israelis keep electing him, and advocates for “peace in the Middle East” are required to find a way for Israel’s enemies to keep their promises.
A few days ago, Ehud Barak, the former prime minister of Israel, claimed Netanyahu risked Israeli security because of his lack of relations with President Obama. Recall from the Clinton era, this same man replaced Netanyahu, assisted by Clinton, and this error of judgement directly resulted in the death of Israeli soldiers in a Hezbollah attack, to say nothing about the land given up and lack of peace established. Yet somehow he seems to think that Netanyahu is to fault on “rocky relations” with the United States. However much I disagree with Ehud Barak, he’s right in that falling US-Israel ties damaged Israeli security. We now have an international community that doubts that the US will help their long-time ally. However, it is not the fault of Netanyahu -- it is the fault of Americans who stepped away from Israel.
There remain a few prominent Americans who still want to support Israel, but are our presidential candidates in the select few? Ted Cruz, a former Republican presidential candidate, agreed with Netanyahu on a refusal to give up Golan Heights, land annexed by Israel early in its existence. However, Republican nominee Donald Trump has a somewhat shifting policy on Israel, backing their decisions in some cases, perhaps behind them 100%, but maybe neutral. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is unlikely to deviate from either Obama or her husband’s Israel related policies and actions. It would seem that the United States will soon abandon its wholehearted support for Israel, instead replacing it with superficial pledges and speeches.
Wishy-washy Israeli support not only fails to convince our citizens that the United States will fall behind Israel, it also fails to convince the international community that Israel is an important ally. More importantly, falling U.S.-Israel ties detrimentally affects other nations’ treatment of Israel. Israeli human rights violations now seem to be a prime focus of the United Nations Human Rights bodies, and blatant support for the Iran deal is a clear slap in the face by the UN. Once Israel has no support, it will stand alone as the only democratic nation in the Middle East, vulnerable to attack from any nation desiring sacred land. Persecution of students in Jewish fraternities will no longer be unusual, both in the United States and other nations. This is the final outcome of Obama’s Six-Year War on Israel.
Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer