One of the main topics discussed in The Jerusalem Post's opinion section this week was the nature of the US-Israel relationship in light of the Iranian nuclear threat.
Reports in the media have ranged from the view that, despite reported tension, the relationship is as good as ever, to claims that there are deep strains and heated exchanges, for instance between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro.
In light of the flummoxed attempts to re-insert ‘God’ and ‘Jerusalem’ into the Democratic party’s platform at the Democratic National Convention, it is worthwhile examining the relationship. In her column this week, Caroline Glick described the Democrats’ internal debate on this issue as revealing how parts of the party don’t understand America. She noted “how out of step a large and significant constituency in the Democratic party is with the basic character of the country.” This is an important observation, but it leaves one to wonder, is there a tipping point at which mainstream democrats will become less pro-Israel, for cultural or other reasons?
But if it seemed that the Democrats couldn’t get their house in order, Israelis can be said to be equally split on the US-Israel relationship. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon noted that the US truly understands the Iranian threat and that “cooperation on this issue is more intimate than ever.”
Labor MK Isaac Herzog, however, claimed that “the ongoing rebukes from Jerusalem…[are] a grave mistake.”
At the same time, former foreign minister and now a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, Tzipi Livni, argued for a change in the discourse. These three points of view all illustrate the importance of the US-Israel relationship in terms of confronting Iran.
It could be summed up as follows: We all agree the US is important, we just think that the other political parties are not maintaining the relationship in the best possible way. In some way, therefore, it seems like a fight over who can please the Americans the most.
Is there no voice that thinks the Americans are not a key ally or that the US needs to be more forthright in her dealings when the issue is Iran?
It is clear that many outside the government view the tensions between Israel and the US, and particularly the discourse and media reports of heated exchanges, as a problem that could harm strategic cooperation. What has not changed is that many opinion contributors in the Post view the Iran threat as, in the words of Daniel Tauber, an “existential threat.”
All in all the Post's ability to put together a wide range of first class politicians' voices on the issue was a major coup this week and one that should help inform readers as to the great issue of the day.
Inside Israel writers also see important issues that need to be communicated to the public. Ari Briggs of Regavim, wrote an important article about the current battle for the Negev between the Beduin - who have erected several dozen illegal villages - and the state. Moshe Dann looks for a deeper right of the state to the land, by reiterating that the “essence of Jewish sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael belongs to God.”
In the wake of Hanan Ashrawi’s comments that there are no Jewish refugees from Arab countries there were a flood of submissions. Each contributor wanted to point out how Jews were victimized in Arab lands in the period leading up to 1948 and how many were forced to flee by discriminatory laws. Stanley Urman’s article points out how extreme some of these laws became. In Libya after 1962 a person could lose his citizenship for merely having contact with “Zionism.” Ayman Jawad al-Tamimi reminds us that if Libya was bad then, today it is descending into chaos with the rise of Islamism.
With the two US political conventions finally over and “God and Jerusalem” back in the democratic platform, it seems the US election will finally heat up.
As Douglas Bloomfield wondered in his weekly column, will there be an October surprise regarding the Iranian issue, and what form will it come in? The column was reminiscent of the Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times."