American-Israeli relations: US still Israel's best friend but no longer country's only friend
By Zev Chafets Published April 16, 2014 FoxNews.com
Zev, from Detroit, was Menachem Begin's press secretary.
Late last month the United States introduced a U.N. resolution condemning Russia’s de facto seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. As expected, the resolution passed the General Assembly easily. Unexpected, though, was the decision by Israel, long America’s most reliable U.N. vote (and vice versa), to absent itself from the ballot.
This shook up the Obama administration. National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and demanded an explanation. Lieberman blandly blamed it on a strike at the foreign ministry. What was he supposed to do, ask Israeli diplomats to cross a picket line?
At home he was more candid. “We have good, trusting relations with the Americans and the Russians,” he told a TV interviewer. “I don’t see why she needs to get caught up in this.” General Amos Gilad, a senior figure in the Ministry of Defense, seconded this new, even-handed approach. “Our security interests should not be defined as identical to that of anyone else, even the United States,” he said.
Ha’aretz, a left-wing Israeli newspaper, reported that White House officials “nearly went crazy” with shock and anger when they heard such ungrateful sentiments.
If so, Rice and her colleagues haven’t been paying close attention. Israel is no longer an impoverished, embattled, emotionally needy client state. It is an emerging international power with options it never had before. Locked doors are now wide open. Old enemies want to be given another chance. America is still Israel’s best friend, but it is no longer its only friend.
This year Israel’s sunny new place in the world has been increasingly evident. In February, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to Jerusalem and delivered an almost embarrassingly pro-Israel speech.
A month later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought virtually her entire government to Israel in what was an astonishing show of solidarity by Europe’s most powerful government.
Merkel and other world leaders still have talking-point problems with Israeli policies in the West Bank, but in the real world, these are not leading to the kind of international isolation that the Obama administration has been darkly forecasting.