by Dr. Irving Moskowitz
by Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato
The friendship between the United States and Israel has been anchored in shared values, common strategic interests, and respect for each other’s independence. Israelis have always insisted on fighting their own battles, a position that the U.S., with its own battles to fight elsewhere around the globe has deeply appreciated.
Would it be wise to depart from the traditional parameters of the American-Israeli relationship? That is the question explored in this monograph, in response to recent suggestions that U.S. troops should be stationed in territories to be surrendered by Israel to its Arab neighbors, or that other U.S. “security guarantees” should be provided as a hedge against future Arab aggression against the Jewish State.
The premises underlying such proposals are troubling. They presume, first of all, that Israeli retention of a few tiny slivers of land is the obstacle to Arab-Israeli peace, when the historical record shows that the Arab world’s refusal to accept a Jewish state of any size has always been the true obstacle. Furthermore, the suggestion that American soldiers are needed to protect Israel from future Arab attack raises serious questions about the trustworthiness of the Arab regimes upon whose good faith Israel is supposed to rely. In other words, if the Arabs really want peace, why does Israel need “protection” against them? And it it is not absolutely certain that the Arabs will live in peace with Israel, how can anybody ask the Israelis to vacate strategically vital territories?
These issues raise a related question: should Israel and the U.S> commit themselves to treaties that depend on the signatures of Arab dictators who could change their minds — or be overthrown — at any moment? America has had plenty of bitter experience with tyrants in that part of the world — from the anti-American shift by Iran after the overthrow of the Shah, to Iraq’s abrogation of its 1963 recognition of Kuwait, leading to the Gulf War. Should American lives depend on the whims of some trigger-happy Arab despot?
Another critical issue explored in this monograph is the impact of domestic developments on America’s foreign policy commitments. American voters have every right to reassess the national agenda, to elect a president or congressmen who would reverse the policies of their predecessors. At the same time, however, a country such as Israel therefore has no choice but to consider the likelihood of future changes in the American mood before it surrenders territories that would leave it vulnerable in the event such as reordering of U.S. national priorities took place. If some future president should one day decide that keeping American troops in the Middle East is too expensive, or too dangerous, where will that leave our Israeli friends?
These are issues that require a thorough public debate today, before the signing of any treaties that, despite all good intentions, could ultimately prove detrimental to Israeli and American interests.