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Harvard scholar calls for US-Israel treaty to ‘lock in’ special relationship before young Democrats end the romance

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Hillary Clinton keeps saying she wants to take the Israel relationship “to the next level.” What could that mean? Robert Danin, a former peace processor now at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has an article in Foreign Affairs calling for a treaty between the United States and Israel to establish a “formal alliance” that requires the U.S. to defend Israel– and thereby “lock in” the special relationship before Americans get too lukewarm about Israel.

Danin worries that the Democratic Platform fight heralds a new American perception of Israel as a Goliath, and so he urges Israel and the U.S. to formalize the relationship before all the young progressive hordes get out of college and end what he describes as a “romantic” view of Israel. And he says that the special relationship is vital to Israel because “many countries throughout the world perceive the route to Washington as coming through Jerusalem. So this improves Israel’s standing in the world.” I never heard it put so baldly before: Warm up the empire by sucking up to the client state. (No wonder, Scott McConnell in his new book Ex-Neocon, argues that Israel has been a transmission belt for bad policies.)

Danin explained these ideas yesterday on a press-conference call arranged by Foreign Affairs about the Israel-Palestine conflict, which featured, drum-roll please, Zero Palestinians. He rejected the idea put forward by neoconservative Martin Kramer that “the day will come when the Jews will find themselves alone” and “the relationship with the U.S. will wane.” So Israel must go-it-alone.

No no no, Danin said. Speaking as an advocate for Israel, Danin allowed that Kramer’s stance is “deeply rooted in the Zionist ethos,” but “the danger here is to make a virtue out of a necessity, or maybe a necessity out of a virtue.” (The idea of Jewish sovereignty being a virtue.) Danin:

In any case I think it is divorced from the realities of what Israel is today, which is a medium sized power in the region which is very closely aligned with the United States, along with a number of states, and that Israel benefits a tremendous amount, which is well, known from its relationship with the United States both directly and indirectly– directly in terms of all this military hardware, the political cover it gets in international fora, etc etc, and also indirectly, because many countries throughout the world perceive the route to Washington as coming through Jerusalem. And so this also [improves] Israel’s standing in the world. So to me this is a tremendous asset which would be a shame to forfeit.

Note that Danin is serving again as an advocate for Israel’s interests. And while many on the right in Israel say that the country can turn to India, China, or Russia, because they don’t need Europe and the U.S., they’re wrong.

I think this is a misreading of reality. Because at the end of the day, Israel’s legitimacy and whole existence was rooted in the western tradition. It came out of western history, recent and ancient. And to squander something that exists is a shame.

That’s why he recommended “something even much more dramatic” than a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S., but a “formal alliance,” a treaty between the countries. But do it fast, guys!

Because if you look at the trends taking place in Israeli society … and the trends taking place in American society. We see taking place particularly in the Democratic Party in generational changes in the United States– the old romantic attachment that the United States feels or Americans feel towards Israel is shifting, and slowly and imperceptibly as the occupation nears its 50th year, of the West Bank, the perception in the United States has grown from one of seeing Israel as being David against the great… surrounding power to Israel itself being the Goliath. However inaccurate that may be, that is a perception that is taking hold and we are seeing it playing out now in the Democratic Party over the platform fight, for example. So to me now is the opportune moment if I were an Israeli to want to lock in the benefits of the U.S. relationship in a in a formal alliance in a way that many countries in the world have done so.

Danin formerly served in the State Department and as a negotiator with the Quartet. These comments strike me as evidence of how deeply-rooted the Israel lobby is in American public life. Danin is probably Jewish, I don’t even know; that would certainly give the Zionist ideas more oomph; but he sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton here, extolling the special relationship, and it’s a reminder that this is just how the world works now. Israel and the U.S. must be joined at the hip, because that’s the way power has been arranged between Washington and the Gulf of Oman, and to upset that arrangement would be convulsive, and who knows what would follow. It is extremely conservative thinking. Especially because it dismisses the ideas of the young and restless as purely disruptive, rather than a progressive response to 50 years of denying the Palestinian people any rights. The White Citizens Council surely talked like this back in the days of Jim Crow.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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19 Responses

  1. amigo on June 29, 2016, 12:38 pm

    I wonder how many of Danin,s children will shed their “American ” blood if the US guarantees Israel,s security , (no ,matter what it does to invite resistance to it,s crimes ) and sends it,s son and daughters to die on the field of battle .No sir , it will be the children of Dick and Jane who will come home in casks –hidden from the US public by TV blackouts , until the numbers reach intolerable levels as happened in the Iraq war.

    Danin is a traitor and should have his IS citizenship rescinded and shunt him off to Israel and let him demonstrate his Heroics in the land he so loves.

    In any normal democracy , people like Danin would be clapped in irons and tried for treason.

    • Kay24 on June 29, 2016, 1:02 pm

      No Israeli will shed their blood for the US. Last I heard they did not fight shoulder to shoulder with our kids in Afghanistan or Iraq, and had Obama gone along with the war monger Netanyahu’s push to bomb Iran, they would have sat back and enjoyed the firework show there too. They are parasites simply using American money and blood for their own devious agendas.
      As for the war in Syria, Israel can boast it trained the rebels and most probably armed them.
      They are also treating wounded ISIS terrorists, again it must be for devious reasons, because they leave wounded Palestinians on the streets to bleed and die, or as we saw recently they assassinate them too.

      People like Danin, and others who keep doing Israel’s dirty work in the US, should be called
      AINO (American in name only).

    • amigo on June 29, 2016, 3:57 pm

      Meant to write –“have his citizenship rescinded ” I must have IS on the brain.Can,t explain it.I don,t do ziocaine.

    • Cazador on June 30, 2016, 6:11 pm

      You planted the real McCoy question the right way, amigo. It’s bound to produce many US vegetable youth to be conscripted to Middle Earth wars on behalf of the never-selfish-never-fascist-and-land-stealing zionist state of Israel.

      I’m going to repeat myself again: I fear for the pacifist and just Jews caught in the zionist project in Israel, the US, Canada, Britain, France, etc., as they might suffer dire situations as history has seen their parents, grandparents… suffer, whether by automatic association to the zionist project or simply by ignorance of the fact that not all Jews support the State of Israel and its obvious genocidal and apartheid project of stealing all of Palestine from all the Palestinians, using all the tricks in the military, judiciary, and administration to achieve its goal, no matter how much and how long the Palestinians will have suffered and how many thousands, tens of thousands even, will have died or been permanently injured SINCE 1948.

      I can only imagine the huge cry if the situation were reversed and zionists were victims of fascism in Palestine and had their natural resources stolen, their population attacked and killed in cold blood by a very powerful army, their buildings destroyed by the thousands at almost every national election of the Palestinian government, their land taken from them by army-protected settlers from all over the world, their homes destroyed with bulldozers, their water stolen, their agricultural land destroyed or separated from them by huge apartheid walls… Fortunately for the zionists, they have plenty of Jewish friends in the media, in the movie business, in governments, in banking institutions, in finance, in big enterprise that can play all the right cards on behalf of Israel’s and its real project, where Palestinians won’t have their territory given back to them, even if its only 20% or less of what it was back before the European zionist Jews’ Exodus of 1945, a territory where Jews and Palestinians lived mostly in peace and even friendship before 1945.

  2. annie on June 29, 2016, 12:51 pm

    many countries throughout the world perceive the route to Washington as coming through Jerusalem…. So to me this is a tremendous asset which would be a shame to forfeit.

    asset for whom? this is gross. the idea of israel being a gatekeeper for american diplomacy! i can’t think of a worse country to stand between the US and the rest of the world. of course it makes perfect sense for israel to hold the keys to the superpower but offers nothing for us. nothing.

    • Kay24 on June 29, 2016, 1:11 pm

      You are right Annie, it will be embarrassing to be associated with one of the most disliked nations in the world, and our already bad image will go from bad to worse. We might as well
      make that damn nation our 51st state and be done with it, since we already aid, arm, and support it, and allow them to interfere in our political system, the Congress, the WH, our foreign policies, and even in our colleges. There are much better allies we can tie ourselves to.

      • sulai on June 29, 2016, 6:33 pm

        Unfortunately that ship has already sailed, America and Israel are tied at the hip.

  3. oldgeezer on June 29, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Even proponents of Israel being the david admit that the tail is wagging the dog. The route to Washington is thru Jerusalem indeed. He is right in practicality but take that US citizens. Stfu and send us your money peons.

  4. Boomer on June 29, 2016, 1:52 pm

    AIPAC should have no problem getting 2/3 of the Senate to approve any donkey-delighting treaty Israel wants. I infer that the only reason such a treaty does not exist (though plenty of legislation supporting Israel’s special relationship has become law) is that no president has been willing to propose it. Presumably Mrs. Clinton will have no qualms. It is passing strange that the U.S. should enable oppression and defend the oppressor, despite the cost it imposes on the U.S. I refer not to the financial cost, but to our moral status, to our image in the world, to the terrorism it engenders, etc.

  5. John O on June 29, 2016, 2:03 pm

    It would help if Israel defined its borders, so folks could know what they’re supposed to defend in the event of a treaty.

    • amigo on June 29, 2016, 3:07 pm

      “It would help if Israel defined its borders, so folks could know what they’re supposed to defend in the event of a treaty .”John O

      Ask Yahweh.He /She brokered the deal.There must be a map on file somewhere.

      • genesto on June 30, 2016, 4:22 pm

        Right on! Isn’t that the reason why we don’t already have a defense treaty with our ‘special friend’ already in place? Israel, for obvious reasons, won’t commit to any established boundaries. ‘Israel’ covers whatever space it wishes to cover at any particular time.

        To quote one of my all-time special SNL characters, “Now, isn’t that just SPECIAL?”

    • Rusty Pipes on June 29, 2016, 10:34 pm

      Israel defined its borders when it petitioned to become a member of the United Nations. It will not like to be reminded about what a small percentage of historic Palestine that was, nor that the UN has not recognized larger borders (acquired by war) since then.

      Israel also wouldn’t like to be reminded that part of its agreement for being accepted as a member state of the UN was to allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. More than 65 years later, Israel still hasn’t fulfilled that commitment. Maybe it’s time for the UN to review Israel’s qualifications for membership.

      • genesto on June 30, 2016, 4:25 pm

        Not sure that’s true. In any case, the UN Partition Plan was never ratified because, as I understand it, NEITHER side wanted it – Israel, because it would have inhibited its goal to take more territory in the future, and the Palestinians, because it was so patently unjust.

  6. chris o on June 29, 2016, 9:57 pm

    The last paragraph when you mentioned how deeply rooted the Lobby is made me think of Trump and here he is talking about ripping up the trade deals, talking about pulling out of NATO, talking about pulling out of Germany and Japan. But he loves Israel. He will be Israel’s greatest friend etc.

    And on the other side we have the formidable Elizabeth Warren, the scourge of Wall Street speaking truth to power, who happents to be in lock-step with the lobby and its agenda.

    Despite the political and international turmoil, one thing seems to remain constant. (Although, as you often talk about, the grip is slowly loosening and the Iran deal was a big blow to the Lobby. That was really all the work of one man who probably was especially motivated to get back at Netanyahu. Enough Democrats were more loyal to Obama than to Israel so it passed with just over one-third of the votes, which was all it needed.)

  7. Qualtrough on June 29, 2016, 10:44 pm

    The ‘next level’ in the relationship is where you get fucked.

  8. Neil Schipper on June 30, 2016, 3:37 am

    the jim crow analogy would work better if the territory where jim crow was enforced constituted around 2% of a massive region whose peoples had precious little experience with, or knack for developing, institutions for checking elite power, and who were frequently themselves embroiled in inter-clan struggle and often outright warfare, and who did not even have a clear cultural preference to not practice slavery

    the jim crow analogy works if, additionally, in that surrounding 98% by area, 95% by population, the enduring political styles were so overwhelmingly despotic, whether outwardly monarchical, theocratic or secular-dictatorial that the relatively free white people of the enclave would have surely preferred a fight to the death to being subsumed by any of the surrounding powers

    the jim crow analogy suffers insofar as jim-crowness itself was an institution the governing power was committed to maintain in perpetuity, rather than a least-bad transitional arrangement; the jim crow analogy works better if jim-crowness itself had been a preferred means of maintaining an angry, non-productive, religiously incited and thus weaponized populace on the part of the leadership of the struggle against jim crow, for that leadership’s own despotic ends

    if the context of jim crow had been remotely as described above — remotely, it’s worth repeating — the purveyors of jim crow, the american european whites, presuming an inkling to survive, would have had little choice but to unleash great destructive force on the populations of the savagely aggressive surrounding region

    and in so doing they would have had to deafen themselves to the whines and bleats of a tiny contingent of self-described progressives whose hatreds were imagined as nearness to a just god

    • biggerjake on June 30, 2016, 1:45 pm

      I think the analogy is quite apt…. but your screed is difficult to follow….

      In fact, you sound just like some of the quotes from the White Citizens Council.

      2% of a massive region? The Zionists have taken 100% of Palestine.

      “frequently themselves embroiled in inter-clan struggle” Your aren’t really using this to justify the illegal, immoral Israeli occupation of Palestine, are you? As if the Jews have never fought among themselves…

      “free white people of the enclave would have surely preferred a fight to the death to being subsumed by any of the surrounding powers” So you’re saying that the Israelis were willing to fight to the death because they were afraid of being subsumed by Egypt and Jordan? That has got to be an award winning statement in the arena of far-fetched statements on so many levels I don’t even know where to start…

      “least-bad transitional arrangement” a 69 year occupation is a least bad transitional arrangement? Now you’re off the rails on the crazy train…

      “would have had little choice but to unleash great destructive force on the populations of the savagely aggressive surrounding region” The Zionists had every chance to do things differently. They could have peacefully settled in Palestine. They didn’t have to do ethnic cleansing. They didn’t have to kill innocent women and children. Get serious.

      “to deafen themselves to the whines and bleats of a tiny contingent of self-described progressives whose hatreds were imagined as nearness to a just god”
      Well…the Zionists have certainly deafened themselves to the 95% of the world that wants the occupation of Palestine to stop, but unfortunately for them, as this article points out, many Jews including many Israelis are joining the movement to free Palestine. And the younger Jewish generation is not aligned with the Zionist enterprise, and as they take over by attrition the Israeli influence on the US will continue to fade into obscurity….

      • eljay on June 30, 2016, 2:14 pm

        || biggerjake: I think the analogy is quite apt…. but your screed is difficult to follow…. ||

        His screed is based on one of the core tenets of Zio-supremacism: Jews are entitled to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

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