Two pictures tell a big story.
Two pictures that in one still, or
streaming, moment illuminated why Barack Obama won reelection.
be analysis ad nauseam of permanent or shifting coalitions, ultra-modern
campaign technology and ingenuity, historical and political research, poll
dissection and “insider story” exposes. But the two pictures, one from Chicago
and the other from Boston, decoded everything.
If you look at the picture
beamed from Chicago, of Obama’s cheering supporters, you see a snapshot of
America 2012. Diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural,
multieverything. The new America.
If you look at the picture from
Boston, where Mitt Romney’s dejected supporters gathered, you see a relic. A picture of America, circa 1955. White,
older, angry, one-dimensional.
You may like the first or you may cherish
the second, but one thing is clear: This is America 2012. The Republican Party
is at odds with it. It is living in dangerous denial, impairing its ability to
ever win over durable majorities as long as it no longer has a strong moderate
wing and is held hostage to extremists of various types.
relations with the US are not merely an important part of our foreign policy.
They are a pillar of Israel’s national security and constitute a deterrent and a
force-multiplier. The US provides Israel not only with military platforms,
intelligence sharing and access to state-of-the-art technology, but the informal
alliance also guarantees a diplomatic safety net and partial protection from
isolation and ostracism.
Essentially, Jerusalem’s relations with
Washington are the greatest diplomatic-political-military-strategic achievement
in Israel’s 64-year history, second only to the country’s ability to maintain
its physical existence.
Therefore, the worst thing that could happen to
this alliance is for Israel to disconnect itself from those in the picture from
Chicago, and assume that the basic tenets of the relationship will be sustained
by those in the picture from Boston. Nothing is further from the
In fact, Israel’s source of power in the US has always been a
vibrant and involved Jewish community, bipartisan commitment and support and a
commonality of strategic interests – whether they are Soviet influence in the
Middle East, Islamic jihadist terrorism, regional instability or the
nuclearization of Iran.
More than any other asset, relations have been
predicated on an ever-cultivated dialogue based on trust, credibility and
Which is why, when the prime minister is perceived to interfere
in US elections, he is risking not only Israel’s credibility and his future
relations with the president he had presumably hoped would be defeated, but also
risking alienation from those in the Chicago picture.
They are the
The Soviet Union no longer exists. The traditional
justifications for the alliance subdued in the wake of two Gulf wars, the
conflict in Afghanistan and the absence of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian
New justifications have been expounded, but newer and
different rationales need to be crafted. For that to happen, Israel cannot lose
touch with America 2012.
Israel has never been the “strategic asset” it
convinced itself of being, nor the liability its detractors try to characterize
it as being. It has been and continues to be, a dependable ally.
remains consistent and permanent is the simple fact that relations with the US
are Israel’s strategic asset. One that should be dealt with prudently, and
preferably not by ministers who in their infinite stupidity say – off the record
obviously – that “the election result is not what we had hoped
for. Netanyahu is in trouble.” Really smart.
The writer is a
former Israeli consul-general in New York and a fellow at the Israel Policy