The sudden cooling in relations between the White House and the Netanyahu government over the last two weeks is not just another diplomatic tiff in a long history of spats between allies, Tom Friedman writes in his column today. It reflects a dramatic shift in thinking about the importance of Israeli-Arab peace. To the Israelis, it's much less important than it was, say, 10 years ago; to the Americans it's much more important.
That's because the Israelis, having walled off the West Bank, haven't seen a successful suicide bombing attack against their citizens since 2006, and the rise of their high tech industry has spurred astonishing prosperity. "The rise of the wall, combined with the rise of the Web, has made peacemaking with Palestinians much less of a necessity for Israel." Meanwhile, America is engaged in two wars in the Middle East and is a target for Muslim extremists everywhere incited by US support for Israel. It's US soldiers who are walking the Arab street—"and, therefore, more in need than ever of Muslim good will to protect themselves and defeat Muslim extremists." What should unite them, and should have prompted Netanyahu to make a move towards peace in his Washington visit, Friedman writes, is the need for a broad coalition against a nuclear Iran.