Blog post by: Alisa Laufer
When considering challenges present in the American political scene—before the economy, the environment, or health care—I worry first about the lack of bipartisanship among our national leaders. Without compromise across the aisle, issues that should be prioritized suffer from excessive debate and stalling. That being said, the struggle for our government to seek bipartisan solutions fails to deter the unwavering support for the US-Israel relationship from Democrats and Republicans alike. As UN Ambassador Samantha Power recently declared, the U.S.-Israel relationship “transcends politics and it always will.” American support for Israel trumps partisan divides.
The recent choice by some Democrats to not attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress has misled some observers to believe that support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is deteriorating among progressives. At first, I too worried about the lack of liberal representation at Netanyahu’s speech. However, I have come to understand the inaction as something that is irrelevant to the fundamentals of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In discussing their choice not to attend Netanyahu’s speech, many Democrats seemed more wary of Boehner and the GOP than they did of Netanyahu himself. Senator Warren, who typically votes in favor of Israel, told the Boston Globe, “It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East.” Her remarks echo spiteful sentiments for the GOP, while still referring to Israel as “our most important ally.” Her interests ultimately lie in the safety and security of Israel and the United States. I have no doubts that Senator Warren will continue to vote in favor of Israel, despite her disappointment in Speaker Boehner.
Additionally, we must remember that although Netanyahu represents the State of Israel, he does not define it. A member’s discordance with Bibi’s policy does not imply his or her overall disapproval of the State of Israel. In fact, Congressional support for the State of Israel remains widespread. Just last year, the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act passed with nearly unanimous support in both the House and the Senate (with the single opposing vote in the House coming from a Republican). Congress recognizes the Iranian nuclear program as a direct threat to Israel and the new Iran legislation that was introduced in the Senate just two weeks ago already claims a diverse conglomerate of co-sponsors: six Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent.
The recent challenges we see between the two nations lie in temporary, personal, and ideological differences between the President and the Prime Minister, but the tangible long-term components of the relationship remain steadfast and supported. Michael Singh of the Washington Institute argues, “Despite these dynamics, the cliché that the relationship is ‘indispensable’ is true. Israel is a rare sort of ally in today’s Middle East: It not only shares U.S. interests but also is willing and able to advance them, easing our burden.” We continue to see cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in the realms of security, energy and the environment, technology, and more.
The U.S.-Israel relationship bears a demonstrated history of bipartisanship and remains a concern for both Democrats and Republicans to this day. Although firm party lines and single-issue voting characterize our domestic politics, the sprawling divide between parties has had little to no impact on the dynamics of the US-Israel relationship.
Blog post by: Jackson Richman
Last week’s circus of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress warning of what a deal with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program would entail is a flashback to 1938. Today’s leaders, President Barack Obama and PM Netanyahu, are carbon copies of the leaders of that time period, British Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill respectively. Today’s circumstance of a nuclear Iran is a repeat of a similar moment before World War II.
Obama is comparable to Chamberlain because of their common feature of leadership: appeasement. If Obama agrees to what has been proposed to Iran, labeled by many critics, “a bad deal,” it would mirror Chamberlain’s agreement with Adolf Hitler conceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany, which annexed the rest of the country and invaded Poland the following year. According to a Huffington Post interview with Ali Vaez of the conflict-prevention NGO International Crisis Group, the current proposed deal consists of Iran reducing its number of centrifuges from 20,000 to a number between 6,000 and 8,000. It also will reduce Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile from about 8,000 to less than 1,000 kg. In return, sanctions that have been imposed on Iran as a result of its nuclear program will be incrementally lifted, allowing economic relief. Finally, Iran must accept rigorous inspections. Reacting to the 2013 Joint Plan of Action, an interim deal with Iran, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News said, “This is a sham from beginning to end. It’s the worst deal since Munich.” This “sham” consists of Iran retaining the right to enrichment along with a relaxation of sanctions. The current proposal to reach a permanent agreement would consist of more appeasement, such as the “Sunset Clause,” where an agreement would expire after a decade. At that moment, it would lift all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and remove all sanctions. This would allow for the Iranian government to be treated “the same as any other non-nuclear-weapon state that is a non-proliferation treaty member in good standing.”
Netanyahu is comparable to Churchill because of their common feature of leadership: courage. Toward the beginning of his Congressional address Netanyahu stated his purpose as “a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.” He even referenced to what consequentially happened after that 1938 pact, saying, “Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world.” Netanyahu’s language mirrored Churchill’s 1940 speech to the UK’s House of Commons, known as “We Shall Fight on the Beaches.” Churchill warns of great military disaster and of a possible Nazi invasion. One month before this speech, Churchill declared the goal of defeating Germany even if the United Kingdom had to fight alone “however long and hard the road may be.” In his speech, though Netanyahu acknowledged that the U.S. stands with Israel, “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
An Iranian nuclear bomb would be the impetus to a Third World War, where the following decision would have to be made: Attempt to negotiate an acceptable deal with Iran or leave Israel no choice but to act on its own and attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran is attempting nuclear world domination and annihilation of Israel. Obama is coddling this threat while Netanyahu is vicariously attempting to rescue humanity. At the end of the day, a final nuclear deal with Iran with the current proposal would be not just the worst since Munich, but in the history of mankind, one which may cause its sunset. History is known to repeat itself. But in this situation, it might be its ending.