FBI, Pennsylvania Ave
FBI, Pennsylvania AveiStock
There is something deeply unsettling about the recent trend of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to be interposing itself in cases of violence involving dual citizens here with American citizenship.

Most notable was the recent decision of the Biden Administration to have the FBI take it upon itself to investigate the shooting death of Palestinian journalist Abu Akleh, caught in the crossfire between Palestinian Arab terrorist gunmen and IDF soldiers in Jenin.

Despite an extensive and ultimately inconclusive investigation by the IDF, the Americans thought it was important, necessary and somehow salutary to, in effect, have the last word by unleashing the FBI to find out what “really” happened.

And now, we learn that the FBI has decided that it needs to be involved in investigating the bombing incident in Jerusalem in which dual Israeli/American citizen Naomi Pilichowski was injured. Again, there have been extensive investigations by Israeli law enforcement professionals, leading to the inevitable question of what added value the American investigation would provide.

The attitude to these investigations was succinctly summed up by Naomi’s father, the highly impactful educator Uri Pilichowski: “It’s a huge mistake for the FBI to get involved…We’re a sovereign country.”

This self-evident statement says it all. We are a sovereign country; these incidents took place here where we are in the position to exercise discretion and competence as to their investigation.

Our previous government leaders bent over backwards to be accommodating and deferential to American interests.
They thereby made two mistakes.

There are several implications of the American intrusiveness - none of them good. On its face, there is a certain skepticism being conveyed as to the professionalism or the objectivity of any Israeli investigations.

It would be one thing to harbor those sentiments with an adversary or about a repressively closed society, but with a supremely open, meticulous and friendly country such as Israel, the concern seems completely misplaced.

More likely, however, there are more subtle and ultimately more troubling reasons for the overtures. One is to reflect a Biden Administration concession to the Progressive Democrats who now dominate the Democratic Party.

And that is to acknowledge that Israel cannot really be trusted.

Another is to build on the modus operandus that our previous government adopted vis a vis the Americans: deference bordering on cravenness.

Perhaps, the Americans have been hoping that they can continue the full court press that resulted in the Lebanon Maritime Agreement, with Israeli leaders willing to defer to American policies and sensibilities.

In their overwhelming desire to show the world that they were the anti-Netanyahus, and would thereby restore bi-partisan American support for Israel, our previous government leaders bent over backwards to be accommodating and deferential to American interests.

They thereby made two mistakes.

One was enabling Americans to assume that they could impose their interests and run roughshod over ours.

And the more fundamental mistake was to think that they could restore the good feeling and benevolence that they assumed Bibi had destroyed.

This latter mistake was both great hubris and mind boggling naïvete: our leaders completely misunderstood that Bibi was a convenient target, but that the real target was Israel itself.

In other words, no amount of self-abasement by the likes of Bennett and Lapid was going to make Progressives like Israel.

The more one considers the events and the larger environment, the more these concerns seem viable. After all, there have been attacks on American Israelis for years, particularly in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. Where was the FBI then?

Did the FBI investigate the infamous bombing of the Café Hillel on Emek Refaiim Street in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada?

Is the overture to investigate the bombing that injured Naomi Pilichowski somehow intended to dilute and deflect the concerns over the interest in investigating the shooting of Abu Akleh?

Ultimately, Naomi’s father has it right: we are a sovereign country.

Our new government (representing, ironically, the return of the Netanyahu bogeyman) needs to make clear to the Americans that while we value our friendship and our alliance, and while we welcome American concerns as to our own policies and what happens here, we alone will will determine what has happened here and why.

This is what sovereign countries do. They remind other countries that they are not vassals of anyone.

Bennett and Lapid were right about one thing: our relationship with the United States needed repair. But the repair is the exact opposite of what they thought was needed.

Israel needs to look America in the eye and say: sure, we are smaller than you, but you need us as much as we need you. And on that basis, let’s work together as mutually respectful equals.

Douglas Altabef is the Chairman of the Board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization, and a Director of B’yadenu and the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at [email protected].