Sure, if Israel is mortally imperiled we’d do something, but otherwise we turn ourselves into honest brokers. We no longer supply Israel with direct financial, military, or intelligence support—or we make such support contingent on specific measures and thresholds. This ought to be the same support available to every nation in the region, contingent on the same measures and thresholds.
Cutting off Israel is probably more politically doable now than at any time in the last 50 or 60 years. There is the progressive muddying of Israeli virtue, the aging out of Israel’s support base in the US, and the growing political consensus that Israel has become one hell of an intractable geo-political pain in the ass.
And it is as logical: how else do you bend some of the most unbendable people this side of the Arab world?
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave one of those interviews
yesterday that most characterizes the historic Israeli position: whatever aggressive acts Israel commits, it is forced into. The activists onboard the Mavi Marmara wanted to die, according to Netanyahu, equating the Turkish protesters with Islamic terrorists and suicide bombers. The logical fallacy in which the world has, practically speaking, caught Israel is that, even if this desire for martyrdom were true, why would you oblige them? For their sake, as well as your own, why wouldn’t you instead use your vastly greater resources and strength to keep them alive and to render them harmless?
You wouldn’t, if, like Israel (and for that matter, so many of the Arabs, too), you are addicted to conflict.
Our leverage in the region is with Israel. Our vast and continued support means we are in a position to influence to a greater and lesser degree Israeli behavior—that’s been the basis of our diplomatic position, to relax and tighten the screws. Except that, arguably, we’ve been outwitted by Israel. We haven’t been able to meaningfully move them away from their strategic reliance on conflict. Hence, our support of Israel ends up supporting a key element of the interminable and intractable conflict in the region.
Arguably, the undoing of our support for Israel has already begun (the Obama administration's frustration and disapproval has been obvious) and Israel’s overreaction in the case of the flotilla is as much a threatening gesture toward us as it is toward the world’s blockade breakers.
It’s been a new subtext, but soon it may be a new chapter. Our next move—in a sense the only one we’ve got—is the obvious one, the one that dare not say its name, until now: Cut ’em loose.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
Seriously, what if we changed our policy to being no more pro-Israel than we are pro…Norway?