The conference was organized by B’Sheva newspaper and is on its final day. Dr. Fishbein’s comments were made during a panel discussion on Israel’s relations with the United States.
“American policy in the Middle East today is driven by …flawed notions,” said Fishbein who went on to give several examples of such faulty assumptions. “That democratization and political reform are possible in the Arab world in our lifetimes, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be contained and Arab sensibilities appeased by continual Israeli concessions, and that threats to Israel’s security are manageable and do not constitute existential dangers.”
The ex-congressional staffer outlined what he saw as “disturbing signs of trouble in the U.S. – Israel relationship,” warning that Israel must not be na?ve regarding America’s stated commitment to the Jewish state’s security. “There is the discriminatory way in which export licenses often are denied Israeli companies while approvals are granted almost effortlessly by Washington to companies operating in non-democratic countries like China and Saudi Arabia,” said Fishbein. “There are regular denunciations of Israel by the State Department for its use of pre-emption to stop imminent attacks on its population, yet the doctrine of pre-emption is what now guides the U.S. military in the war on terrorism.”
Dr. Fishbein also mentioned that Israel was the only one of America’s allies in the war with Iraq explicitly barred from bidding on prime contracts – despite the fact that “Israel contributed mightily to the U.S. victory in Iraq by providing extensive intelligence and logistical support to American forces.”
Even more sinister, according to Fishbein, is the fact that there has been an “exponential rise in the quality and quantity of high-tech weapons provided to Arab countries.” Fishbein chose Egypt as an example delineating the, “extraordinary array of state-of-the-art offensive weaponry” approved by the U.S. for sale to Cairo. The long lists includes over 200 M1 Abrams tanks, extended-range missile launch systems, Harpoon anti-ship missiles (which can also be used as cruise missiles), 24 F16 aircraft, Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, Stinger missile launchers and missile boats.
Fishbein also pointed out the discrepancy in American policy regarding loan guarantee’s given to Israel versus other nations, such as Egypt. America docked $289.5 million from Israel’s loan guarantee package on account of policies that the U.S. administration objected to. Egypt on the other hand continues to receive its entire $2.3 billion in U.S. foreign assistance, despite Egypt’s opposition to Saddam Hussein’s removal. The U.S. administration has also turned a blind eye as Egypt, “aids and abets the smuggling of weapons from the Sinai to terrorist groups in Gaza…, acquired 24 No-Dong missiles from North Korea capable of striking Israel anywhere within its borders with weapons of mass destruction, as well as resuming defense ties with Iran after a nearly 25-year hiatus.”
However Fishbein did not lay the blame with America but rather called upon Israel’s leaders to take responsibility for their “plans of retreat”. Fishbein also made clear that Israeli leaders have hid from criticism from the Israeli public by insinuating that America is dictating such policies as “unilateral withdrawal”. Fishbein dismissed the assumption that Israel’s withdrawal from parts of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) would lead to increased support by the Bush administration – calling it “rubbish”.
“The planned Gaza retreat has undercut Israel’s strongest supporters in the Congress who believe that any retreat in the face of terrorism only encourages more terrorism,” lamented Fishbein. “I would remind Israel’s leaders that they have no greater friend than the U.S. Congress.”
“Israel must continue to stand tall and resolute – commanding the respect of the world through its tenacious defiance of its enemies,” concluded Fishbein. “This must be the guiding precept for Israel and America as they chart their future together – for nothing less than their mutual survival is at stake.”