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Tags: united states | israel | relationship | crumbling

Crumbling Façade of US-Israel Relationship Reveals Tensions

flags of united states and israel painted on cracked wall

Micah Halpern By Wednesday, 04 January 2023 09:23 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The United States and Israel have always had what is diplomatically termed a "special relationship." But the times, they are a' changing.

Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, often kept under wraps and behind closed doors, are visibly emerging. Given the new, Netanyahu-led, Israeli government, this is a development that should have been expected.

The façade is crumbling.

On the leadership level — quite literally between Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu — we are witnessing serious frustration. Certainly, there was tension between Barack Obama and Netanyahu and between Bill Clinton and Netanyahu, but this time it's different.

Tensions arose before the Israeli prime minister was even sworn in. And this time there is no attempt to keep it a private matter between leaders.

On the diplomatic level there will be even more friction than on the executive level. And it will play out on multiple levels.

Expect tension between representatives, ambassadors, foreign ministers and from the State Department. The people who work in the background and beyond the view of the cameras will have much to deal with under the new Israeli administration.

On the Jewish level, prepare for almost unprecedented vitriol between certain segments of the Jewish community living in the United States and Israel.

Prepare yourselves for a roller coaster of ups and downs.

It's an arrogance that pervades all that these leaders and their top-level underlings do.

Both Netanyahu and Biden, and their teams, are convinced that they have the moral high ground. That means that both sides will work to make the other look weak. They will point fingers indicating that the other side is wrong.

The previous Israeli government, the government under Naftali Bennett that ended under Yair Lapid, tried, from the outset, to sidestep tension with the United States. They established a principle with the United States that they would not engage in public criticism.

There would be no running to the press. They would create a united public front. All disagreements would be handled behind closed doors.

For the most part, their system worked. There were some problems mostly surrounding the Iranian issue.

Heralding the new year 2023, we have a return of Netanyahu and the new/old Israeli government he has cobbled together. This new/old Netanyahu government will mirror its leader: proudly right of center and unapologetic in defending Israel.

Unbending to the will of the president of the United States — a very liberal, albeit pro-Israel Biden — the two governments will run into direct conflict. The difference between the two leaders is more than style, it is about substance.

Officially, U.S. President Joe Biden has said all the right things. The president heaped blessings on the incoming prime minister. While congratulating Netanyahu, in classic Biden form, he also heaped moral condescension.

He said: "I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran."

And then, the jab. Sending moral instruction to Israel, the president added: "The United States will continue to support the two state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values."

And then, even more: "The United States is working to promote a region that's increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure, with benefits for all of its people.

"From the start of my administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians. We aim to continue this important work with Israel's new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu's leadership."

Biden's moralizing found a welcoming audience in many left-leaning Jewish groups who followed suit and offered their support. Sadly, some added their own caveats.

JFNA, the Jewish Federations of North America, which represents Jewish communities through the U.S., congratulated incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu this way: "We have had a long and fruitful relationship with the incoming Prime Minister and we look forward to continuing to work with him ...

"Jewish Federations' commitment to strengthening the ties between Israel and North American Jewry is an eternal one, and the bonds that unite our two communities are unbreakable. Our love and commitment to the Jewish State transcends any one government, any one point in time, and any particular policy or statement."

Now for the punch. This is the JFNA caveat:

"With this principle in mind, it is important to express our significant concerns over statements and positions held by some members of the incoming coalition, which have serious implications for our Jewish communities.

"We will continue to make clear the North American Jewish community's perspective on relevant government proposals and to advocate for policies and initiatives that help build a welcoming, inclusive and pluralistic society."

I fear for the future of the relationship between the United States and Israel. My fear is that once that strong bond is broken, it may never be repaired.

And I fear for the future of American Jewry and Israel. My hope for the new year is that my fears will prove to be unfounded.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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The United States and Israel have always had what is diplomatically termed a "special relationship." But the times, they are a' changing.
united states, israel, relationship, crumbling
Wednesday, 04 January 2023 09:23 AM
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