From an Angry Reader:
Dear Mr Hanson:
I would like to comment on your Room for Debate in the Daily Southtown regarding treatment of Israel. Where does the Prime Minister of Israel, with a population of 8 million, get off slamming President Obama of the United States with a population of 325 million, accusing President Obama of a “shameful” ambush at the United Nations over West Bank settlements? Netanyahu’s comments came after the United States allowed the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
As an American taxpayer, I would like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that $3 billion in direct foreign assistance from American taxpayers goes to Israel each year. This is 20% of the United States Foreign Aid Budget to a nation populated with only 8 million people. Mr. Netanyahu and Israel have ridden the American gravy train long enough. Many Americans take umbrage with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s flagrant disrespect of the elected President of 325 million Americans.
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:
Dear Angry Reader Jerry Lawler,
Thank your for your angry reader note, which is civil and serious.
First, the unfortunate Obama-Netanyahu feud was started by the U.S. Obama’s aides were on record (anonymously of course) declaring that the war veteran Netanyahu was a “coward” and a “Chickensh*t.” This was a coordinated effort to hammer Israel early on, from the Gaza/Turkish flotilla incident to the settlements to the outreach to Iran and radicals such as Hamas. Obama in his open mic (a bad habit of his: cf. his Putin reference) comment to President Sarkozy of France trashed Netanyahu and reportedly has walked out of meetings with the Israeli leader and kept him waiting for others.
Obama reversed long-standing bipartisan U.S. policy and decided to, as he phrased it, “put light” between the Jewish State and the U.S., for a variety of reasons too numerous to review other than that they were consistent with Obama’s entire earlier thought and practice.
Israel is about the only recipient of U.S. aid that is democratic and liberal. It has been a strong ally of the West in general and the U.S. in particular. On 9/11 its citizens mourned, unlike the Palestinians (also recipients of generous U.S. aid), who celebrated. Egypt, Jordan, and Hamas have all been far more critical of their American benefactor; are you as aggrieved at them?
Why does size matter in your moral calibrations?
We support the only liberal democracy in the Middle East that is targeted by much of the region for existential destruction; is such support such a bad thing? Over a million Arabs live as free citizens in Israel; when Palestinians get their promised state on the West Bank, why could not Jews live there in peace in the same manner as Arabs in Israel? Yet, should they try, they will be ethnically cleansed in a blink of the eye by the Palestinian nation. Does this administration not see that; if so, does it care about such asymmetry?
According to your logic, why help the tiny Kurds, who are also a small people, or the Baltic States, for whom NATO has pledged to ensure their very survival? The U.S. by nature supports free liberal states, especially those slated for destruction by their menacing and often quite larger enemies.
Your logic reminds me of a different time and of a different place when in 1938 a Western leader said of targeted tiny Czechoslovakia that it was “far away” and a people “of which we know nothing”—all as a reason not to do anything for a country facing impending extinction, which shortly followed from the Munich concessions.
If you are a gay American, a Christian American, or a feminist American what Middle Eastern country would you be welcomed in other than Israel? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Gaza?
I value realpolitik, but there is an ethical element as well in foreign policy. Israel qualified on both counts: it is a moral exemplar and a valuable strategic ally. With the departure of Obama, bipartisan support for Israel will return and the baiting of the Israeli Prime Minister will cease.
Victor Davis Hanson