None of the Israel-U.S. Scare Scenarios Envisioned by Netanyahu’s Opponents Have Come to Pass

By Moshe Arens


September 25, 2016


The claim that he is ruining Israel’s relations with the United States has for some time been the favorite poisoned arrow of those aiming to shoot down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All Israelis know that Israel’s relationship with the United States is one of Israel’s most important strategic assets, and possibly the most important. If the public can be convinced that he is ruining this relationship, that might be a good reason for it to turn its back on him.

Netanyahu’s valiant efforts to keep U.S. President Barack Obama from concluding the nuclear limitation agreement with Iran played right into their hands. Although most in Israel agreed that the agreement with the ayatollah’s regime in Iran was flawed and inimical to Israel’s interests, Netanyahu’s opponents emphasized that his adamant opposition, and especially his speech before both houses of Congress, was going to enrage the American president and most of the Democratic party to the point of destroying the Israeli-American alliance that had been built over the past few decades. For this damage to Israel’s most vital interests, they insisted, he should not be forgiven.

But it did not happen. The United States is selling Israel its most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-35, intelligence and technological cooperation is continuing, U.S. military aid will go on. In their eagerness to claim that Netanyahu is doing untold damage to the relationship between the two countries, they ignored the basis of the U.S.-Israeli relationship: that it is fundamental and unbreakable, based on common ideals, common values and common interests. And they sold short the U.S. president, expecting that in a fit of anger Obama would act in a manner contrary to the interests of the United States.

So when a $38-billion U.S. military aid package for the next 10 years was signed in Washington, what was left to be said? That somebody — other than Netanyahu, presumably — could have gotten more! In other words, that we deserved more and that the Americans would have given us more had it not been for Netanyahu’s “antics.”Now that is a little far-fetched and gratuitous. Since the days, over 30 years ago, when Israel began receiving about $3 billion dollars in U.S. military aid annually, Israel has prospered, its economy growing more rapidly than the U.S. economy. U.S. military aid now represents little more than 1% of Israel’s gross domestic product. And we should have insisted on more? And somebody else would have gotten us more? This argument is both ridiculous and shameful.

When it was announced that Obama and Netanyahu were going to meet at the United Nations last week, the specter was raised by Netanyahu’s opponents that Obama was now going to read Netanyahu the riot act in front of the cameras. Of course that did not happen. That meeting was one of Obama’s many farewell meetings with leaders of the world, and he was not about to turn a meeting with the leader of one of America’s most important allies into a scandal. Anybody who knows anything about American political culture would have known that.

Still hoping for the worst, now grasping at straws, speculation is now ripe that Obama will use the intervening two months between the election of his successor and the successor’s inauguration to strike a dramatic blow against Israel at the UN. To my knowledge, never in the history of the United States has an outgoing president taken a major action that was not coordinated with his elected successor during the two-month interim period. It is most unlikely that Obama would set such a precedent. The prophets of doom better go back to studying U.S. history.