The best thing about this big piece at Newsweek titled, “How long could Israel survive without America?” is that it notions the end of U.S. aid to Israel– “the largest beneficiary of American aid in the post-Second World War era.” How many Americans even knew that?
Author Charles Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser, says Israel ought to start planning to phase out that aid. That’s because Americans won’t stand for it in the end. Israel is already isolated in the world except for the United States, the U.S. is Israel’s “panacea” for any crisis, and American Jews provide the “irreplaceable bedrock” of the support; but the oh-so special relationship is threatened now by Hispanics and young Americans, including young assimilating Jews, who will be gaining more power in years to come.
“The very fact that the subject of this article needs to be raised at all, however, should give great pause to Israel’s leaders,” writes Freilich, now a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center.
Some of Freilich’s realistic points. Israel is a virtual rogue state, were it not for the “panacea” of U.S. support:
As Israel’s international isolation has grown, its dependence on US diplomatic cover has become almost complete…
For the most part, as a small actor facing numerous and often severe threats, but with limited influence of its own, reliance on the US has become the panacea for virtually all of Israel’s national-security challenges.
Freilich says Israel has lost autonomy because of its dependence on the U.S. But what about the damage to the U.S. from this autonomous behavior:
The only areas in which Israeli governments have truly taken independent positions in recent decades relate to the future of the West Bank, primarily the issues of Jerusalem and the settlements; in the past the Golan Heights; and, under Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran.
Excuse me but that’s why Israel’s becoming a rogue state; because of human rights concerns, and an apartheid policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The piece doesn’t mention the Israel lobby. Though Freilich is frank about why the U.S. supports Israel: “the irreplaceable bedrock of support for Israel in the US” is American Jews. And that is threatened by the rise of other demographic cohorts that don’t cotton to Israel, among them intermarried Jews:
[T]he loss of support on the left, and the identification of Israel as a partisan issue, should be of deep concern.
A decline in support for Israel has also taken place among young Americans, who are significantly less likely to sympathise with Israel today than the American public as a whole, primarily due to the Palestinian issue. The medium- to long-term consequences may be significant, as these young people, already important as voters, gain positions of influence.
A similarly problematic process is under way among young Jewish Americans, whose sense of Jewish identity generally, and identification with Israel, is far weaker than that of their elders.
Low birth rates, intermarriage and assimilation undermine the strength and support of the Jewish community, the irreplaceable bedrock of support for Israel in the US. The Hispanic population, already the largest minority group in the US today, and the religiously unaffiliated, the two groups among whom support for Israel is the lowest, are both growing rapidly.
Freilich is not the only person talking about intermarriage these days. The Israeli writer Daniel Gordis sees it as the chief culprit in the growing “chasm” between U.S. Jews and Israel; young Jews are checking out of communal life.
[T]he skyrocketing rate of intermarriage in America… renders increasingly vexed any notion of Judaism as the faith of a single and singular people.
Journalist Emma Green also uses the chasm-word in a piece at the Atlantic about growing pressure inside the American Conservative rabbinate to perform mixed weddings.
The chasm between liberal American Judaism and Orthodox Judaism in the U.S. and Israel is growing; wider affirmation of intermarriage would expand that chasm even further.
And Israel advocate Yaacov Lozowick leap in to slam intermarriage as a rejection of Israel:
many US Jews are rejecting Judaism as defined by most Israelis
In Newsweek, Freilich correctly dates the romance between the U.S. and Israel to the ’70s and 80s. That was the aftermath of Israel’s “existential” wars; but these were also the years of the rise of the Israel lobby, and of greater and greater inclusion of Jews in public life/
From the vantage point of contemporary readers, it may be surprising to learn that the US–Israeli relationship was actually quite limited and even cool until the late 1960s. It then evolved into a more classic patron-client relationship in the 1970s, and only in the 1980s started to become the institutionalised, strategic relationship that we know today.
The article is shot through with Zionist assertions. Israel is definitely the nation state of the Jewish people, but Palestinian refugees have a “so-called” right of return.
Here is the tab on U.S. aid to Israel:
Total American assistance to Israel, from its establishment in 1949 up to 2016, amounts to approximately $125 billion, a whopping sum, making Israel the largest beneficiary of American aid in the post-Second World War era. By the end of the ten-year military-aid package recently agreed for 2019–28, the total figure will be nearly $170bn.
US aid in recent years has accounted for some 3 percent of Israel’s total national budget, and 1 percent of its GDP.
Termination would thus have a devastating impact on Israel’s defence posture, unless a major reordering of national priorities took place, with profound economic and societal ramifications.
But we’re spending a lot more capital for Israel in diplomatic relations:
On the diplomatic level, too, the US is truly the indispensable nation for Israel, with no alternative for the foreseeable future. The US has used its diplomatic clout in a variety of international forums to protect Israel from an endless array of injurious resolutions regarding the peace process, various Israeli military and diplomatic initiatives and, of particular note, its purported nuclear capabilities.
No other permanent member of the Security Council would repeatedly use its veto, as the United States has done, to shield Israel from such resolutions, including possible sanctions, even over policies with which it has sometimes disagreed.
Between 1954 and 2011, the US vetoed a total of some 40 one-sided or clearly anti-Israeli resolutions.
The fact that Newsweek runs such a long piece about the costs of the Israel relationship is a positive. The fact that so many voices are blaming intermarriage for impending troubles between the two countries is a sign of how illiberal a place Israel is.