Is the Special Relationship Unraveling?

Biden_in_israelI just finished reading Richard Beeston's take on the US-Israeli tensions over Ramat Shlomo.

According to Beeston, there are "other voices" in Washington "openly questioning Israel's value as a strategic ally." General David Petraeus is the only name dropped.

The Pentagon may be coming to the conclusion that the failure to achieve an Arab-Israeli peace deal is the best recruiting sergeant for militant Islam. Live footage of Palestinians being beaten or shot by Israeli troops are beamed around the region on satellite news channels. They can whip up public fury and angry sermons from Cairo to Kabul. America may not be directly involved in these incidents but it is blamed for arming and funding Israel and providing the Jewish state with diplomatic cover at the United Nations. If America’s unwavering support for Israel is endangering the lives of US troops in Kandahar or Baghdad, then the Jewish state has a problem.

That goes way beyond a spat with one US administration.

The underlining principles behind American support for Israel go much deeper: democracy, Judeo-Christian values, individual rights such as the freedom to speak, protest, and pray, and a sense of idealism. They're the reason a very recent Gallup Poll found American public support for Israel at a near all-time high of 63 percent.

Announcing the development of 1,600 homes during a Vice Presidential visit was careless and somewhat insulting.  But at least the Wall St. Journal kept some perspective:

Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it's difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally.

For further food for thought, this Haaretz commentary lists a few reasons why the US response to Ramat Shlomo is excessive. Among them:

  • The majority of Israelis support Jewish development in eastern Jerusalem.
  • Netanyahu really wasn't aware of the bureaucratic approval granted.
  • The White House underestimated Netanyahu's public approval thanks to the strident headlines generated by an Israeli newspaper war.
  • "Afghans don't care about Ramat Shlomo, or about the Palestinians and Netanyahu . . . the seven-year presence of American forces on Iraqi soil is a good enough excuse to attack Americans."
  • The heavy-handed response emboldens Palestinian intransigence.

What do you think?