The advent of a new Jewish year is always a good opportunity for Israelis, as
individuals and as a people, to take stock of where they stand while looking
ahead responsibly toward the challenges that lie ahead.
In the past
number of months public discourse has focused to a great extent on the Iranian
nuclear program, the prospect of a preemptive Israeli military strike and the
hope that one might be averted by the curtailment of Tehran’s program. Tensions
between the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration, which flared in
previous years over Israeli settlement policy and the stalled negotiations with
the Palestinians, have gradually mounted once again as a result of the
differences of opinion over public American policy vis-à-vis Iran and its
Given the public’s lack of first-hand access to credible
information about either the current state of Iran’s nuclear program or the
offensive and defensive capabilities possessed by Israel and Iran, there is
nothing to be gained by engaging in a debate as to whether a military strike,
either American or Israeli, is a necessary and prudent course of
Only a handful of top Israeli and American officials have any way
of making an educated guess about either the impact that a military strike on
Iran’s nuclear facilities might have or the true extent of the collateral damage
that an ensuing war is liable to inflict on Israel and the region. The rest of
us lack sufficient information to make a credible assessment.
does, however, possess the ability to judge the impact that the increasing
tension in relations between Israel and the United States is liable to have on
Israel in general, and not only insofar as pertains to public American policy
Relations between the Netanyahu government and the Obama
administration in recent months have repeatedly been described by officials on
both sides as suffering from a “crisis of confidence.” The importance of good
relations between Jerusalem and Washington to Israel’s continued well-being
cannot be overstated.
Israel relies heavily on American military and
diplomatic support against a hostile world.
Antagonizing the Americans is
clearly liable to cost Israel dearly on all fronts. As such, it is imperative
that the government do everything in its power to repair those relations with
As in any relationship, personal or national, the easy way
out is to blame the other side. The Netanyahu government has excelled at
The merits of Israel’s complaints about the US administration
notwithstanding, the efficacious response to a crisis in relations is to take
responsibility for one’s own contribution to the tensions and soured atmosphere,
and to take action to resolve differences, so as to restore trust, goodwill and
The perceived slights to Israel by the Obama
administration cannot absolve the Netanyahu government of its own contribution
to the deterioration in relations with Washington.
Even if one truly
believes that the administration was unfair in its treatment of Israel over its
settlement policy, its actions and its positions on negotiations with the
Palestinians and American policy vis-à-vis the Arab world, that does not change
the fact that the Israeli government’s public policy has also damaged to
relations with the US.
Publicly chastising US policy on Iran, leaking
information from classified American intelligence reports and calling into
question the sincerity of the president’s oft-repeated commitment that he will
not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons have all been enormously damaging.
Regardless of the Obama administration’s contribution to tensions and mistrust,
the Netanyahu government must shoulder responsibility for its own contribution
and desist from that destructive behavior immediately.
continue to need staunch American support not only in preventing the Iranian
nuclear program from producing nuclear weapons, but also in halting ongoing
Palestinian and international efforts to undermine its legitimacy and to
ostracize it diplomatically.
Israel has enjoyed a number of years of
relatively little violence from the Palestinians on the West Bank. A firm policy
adopted by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad against violent resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank,
born to some extent as a result of the devastating impact of the Israeli
military suppression of the second intifada, has contributed to
Israel, however, cannot continue to work on the assumption that the
Palestinians – in the absence of a visible political horizon, continued
settlement growth and rampant acts of vigilante Jewish terrorism that have been
given the euphemistic appellation of “price tag” actions – will remain
In the course of the past week large numbers of West Bank
Palestinians took to the streets, roiled by the rising cost of living and the
state of the Palestinian economy. Most of the popular anger was directed at
Fayyad, who responded on Tuesday by lowering VAT and the price of fuel, among
other measures. But Israeli media outlets also reported about mounting concerns
within the security establishment lest the Palestinian disgruntlement come be
directed once again against Israel in the form of a third intifada.
that happens, Israel will need American political support. It is imperative that
the Netanyahu government not make do with merely laying blame for the current
state of affairs on the Palestinians and decrying the international community’s
supposed unfairness, however true that is believed to be.
has to shoulder its responsibility and take real steps to allay the doubts
harbored by the US administration and other members of the international
community about the sincerity of its intentions to bring about the resolution of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Good relations with America are crucial
to Israel’s continued well-being. A failure by the government to do everything
within its power to end the current crisis of confidence with the Americans is
not only foolish, but is the epitome of irresponsibility.
The author is a
veteran Israeli writer and translator.