Interior Minister Eli Yishai and others have joined the growing chorus of those who say Israel can say ‘no’ to the United States.
Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli Consul-General in the U.S. and an expert on Israeli-U.S. relations, writes this week, “Critical milestones in Israel’s history occurred while constructive disagreements dominated the relations between the Jewish State and its only significant ally, the U.S.A. When a junior partner loses the capability to say ‘No’ to a senior partner, then both lose!”
“Israel should strive for a wider agreement with the U.S., but not at any price,” Ettinger wrote. “Common ground with the U.S. should not be at the expense of Israel's independent national security policy-making. It should not undermine Israel's control of land which is critical to its survival.”
Ben-Gurion Stood Up
Ettinger quoted Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as saying, "Much as Israel desired friendship with the U.S. and full cooperation with it…Israel could not yield at any point which, in its judgment, would threaten its independence or its security."
Disagreements Lead to Opportunities
For example, Ettinger noted, some 20 years ago, “President Bush [senior] and Secretary Baker did not waste an opportunity to condemn Prime Minister Shamir as a supposed obstacle to peace and persona non grata in Washington, D.C. However, regional and global challenges, and Shamir's steadfastness in the face of internal and external pressure, yielded the dramatic enhancement of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation: upgrading Israel to ‘Major Non-NATO Ally,’ inclusion of Israel in the Star Wars program, U.S. funding of most of the anti-ballistic missile Arrow project, expansion of joint military exercises, increasing pre-positioning of U.S. military ammunition and supplies in Israel, upgrading of the port of Haifa for the Sixth Fleet, participation of Israeli defense contractors in Pentagon contracts in Europe, emergency assistance following the 1991 Gulf War, etc.”
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), speaking at a Knesset forum organized by MK Tzipi Hotobeli (Likud) to discuss the “two-state solution” dangers, said, “It may be late, but it’s not too late: We have to say what we believe, we have to present our case… People say that Netanyahu’s visit in Washington was not successful – because we didn’t give in. The fact is that what makes a visit successful is when we stand up for our principles. I’m not making light of our relations with U.S., which are important. Therefore, we have to invite them here and show them the truth.”
Hotobeli herself, a freshman MK, said that the real challenge facing Israel now is “how to change diskettes vis-à-vis the Americans.”
The Women in Green organization is promoting Ettinger’s article: “At a time when all we hear in the media is ‘the need to remove illegal outposts,’ and this in order to please the Obama administration, we must bombard Netanyahu with Ettinger's article reminding him that the sky does not fall when Israel dares to disagree with the U.S. On the contrary, we must make it clear to Netanyahu that the sky does fall if he dares to destroy the homes of Jews in Israel's Biblical Homeland!”