"There is logic in Jewish history, there is beauty in Jewish destiny."
- Elie Wiesel, Sages and Dreamers
Israel's successful future depends upon uncoupling from America. It must be done tactfully but firmly, so as not to alienate the Jewish state's leading ally while nonetheless enacting a concrete measure in the national interest.
For many Jews and Americans, this may well seem counterintuitive. Be that as it may, a sovereign nation must be able to chart its own course and act autonomously in its own interests regardless of whether such actions meet with the approval of the international community, where political correctness and appearing über-liberal is ever fashionable, no matter how lethal.
From the nascent years of the Puritans and Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, America was conceived as an allotrope of Israel, a New World Promised Land, and so should rightly revere and defer to the original version instead of hamstringing it in the modern era.
Why would it do otherwise? Because no matter how much America was premised upon Israel, no matter how much it shares Israel's Jewish values, America has its own global agenda as the dominant superpower and for that reason its aims are sometimes divergent, even conflicting, with those of Israel.
This does not mean, however, that Israel needs to make itself subservient to American interests or dictates. The State of Israel is not the 51st American state, and that should be made crystal clear to every American president and administration, no matter how friendly to or aligned with Israel it seems. An Israel servile to America may be tactically wise in the short term, but it is strategically unwise in the long term.
The fact that Israel's leaders kowtow to American pressure and obsequiously seek American approval for basic domestic activities is the sad result of anaclisis, a psychological and emotional dependence on others. In Israel's case it is only natural to be in thrall to a nation larger, richer, and stronger. In the geopolitical sphere, size matters.
Whenever a new American leader is inaugurated and installed in the White House, Israel's leader joins the groveling claque flocking to kiss the hem of his garment. Here Jewish history is particularly insightful and instructive: when an Israeli prime minister hurries into the queue to ingratiate himself or herself in the Oval Office—whose current occupant appears only marginally more stable or predictable than Caesars Nero or Caligula—is it substantively different from King Menahem of Israel's or King Ahaz of Judah's bribery of Assyrian Emperor Tiglat-Pileser III for protection, or King Hoshea of Israel's thralldom to Tiglat-Pileser III then to Pharaoh Osorkon IV of Egypt, or King Menasheh of Judah's vassalage to Assyrian rulers Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, or King Jehoiakim of Judah's dependence on Pharaoh Neco II, or King Zedekiah of Judah (mis)placing his trust in Pharaoh Hophra (Apries), or King Herod the Great rushing to genuflect before the newly-minted Roman emperor Octavian?
Moreover, Israel's scientific, technological, and medical advances are indeed marvelous, and Israel's leadership is right to vaunt and tout these in domestic and foreign fora. But these also effectively amount to a smoke screen, to what we might refer to as "challah and purimshpiels", the Jewish equivalent of what classical Romans called panem et circenses (bread and circuses). They are handy morsels that placate and distract, but which ultimately cannot mask the realm's glaring and ongoing political flaws, its foundational lacunae, foremost of which in Israel's case is the lack of progress towards true national sovereignty, namely the ability to act decisively in the nation's interest without being constrained by the suzerainty of Big Brother yonder.
How to attain actual sovereignty? Develop military self-sufficiency by manufacturing Israeli-made armaments and munitions. Expand bilateral trade agreements to engage commercial counterparts and cultivate new investors with a stake in Israel's survival and safety. Conclude strategic security pacts with regional entities. Diversify international partnerships to avoid a disproportionate and perilous reliance upon any single ally, whose allegiance may waver at any point in time according to its current leader's whim. Most importantly, act with determination, decision, and finality in matters of national import, without begging permission, without proffering apologies.
Political Zionism was always about two things above all: historical justice and self-respect. When the State of Israel cannot exercise sovereignty over the heartland of the homeland (Judah/Benjamin/Ephraim/west Menasheh, a.k.a. Judea & Samaria), when it must free bloodstained prisoners as "goodwill gestures" to its mortal enemy so that they can terrorize anew, when it must humiliatingly apologize for defending itself to those who attack it, when it must tolerate foreign embassies outside of its national capital, and when it must refrain from building communities in disputed areas for fear of offending the delicate sensibilities of allies and foes alike, then political Zionism remains a qualified success and the State of Israel an immature polity.
Israel's leaders today can learn from King Menasheh of Judah, the longest-serving monarch in Jewish history. After being deposed and carried away as a prisoner to Babylon by Assyrian officers, he humbled himself, repented, and prayed for his restoration to the throne, which later ensued. He reversed his idolatrous practices, erected an outer wall for Jerusalem by the Gihon spring, raised the Ophel bulwark, and placed captains in Judah’s forts. In other words, he exercised sovereignty and recommitted himself to the national interest.
At the national level, courting allies means seeking alliances, not rendering subservience. Alliances prove beneficial when based on mutual interests, not when fiats or vetoes are issued by the dominant against the submissive. Being hindered from acting in one's basic self-interest means being in a toxic relationship, and Israel, soon to be a 70-year-old state, should not countenance it.
Divorce is never a comfortable subject, and sometimes truth hurts. But done properly, disengagement can garner a begrudging respect from the disengaged and need not preclude continuous partnership toward common purpose.
The State of Israel is neither an American vassal, nor a client kingdom, nor a subjugated tributary. The way forward, the future of our modern Jewish state, depends on independence.