Fact: In 1950, the US Administration pressured Israel to refrain from Jewish construction in Jerusalem and from declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel – Prime Minister Ben Gurion built, relocated government agencies and thousands of immigrants to Jerusalem and declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State. In 1967, the US Administration pressured against annexation of East Jerusalem – Prime Minister Eshkol annexed, reunited Jerusalem, and built the formidable Ramat Eshkol neighborhood. In 1970, the US Administration pressured Israel to relinquish control over parts of Jerusalem – Prime Minister Golda Meir constructed the neighborhoods of Gilo, Ramot and Neveh Yaakov (current population over 100,000!). The US Administration pressured, Israel constructed, Jerusalem expanded and the Jewish State earned strategic respect.
Fact: In 1948, the US Department of State, Pentagon and CIA pressured Ben Gurion to avoid a declaration of independence. In 1961, President Kennedy pressured to stop the construction of Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona. In 1967, President Johnson pressured against pre-empting the Egypt-Syria-Jordan military offensive. In 1977, President Carter pressured Prime Minister Begin to abstain from direct negotiation with President Sadat and participate – instead – in an international conference, focusing on the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem. In 1981, President Reagan pressured Prime Minister Begin against bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Defiance of pressure entails short-term cost but enhances long-term national security. Submission to pressure exacerbates pressure. Fending off pressure is required, in order to attain strategic goals. Avoiding pressure – through concessions – leads to departure from strategic goals.
Fact: US public and Congressional support of Israel is robust. “The Rasmussen Report” documents a 70% support (Aug. 10, 2009) and “Gallup” ranks Israel as the fourth-favored ally (March 3, 2009). 71 Senators signed an August 10, 2009 letter calling upon President Obama to shift pressure from Israel to Arab countries. The Democratic Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Howard Berman, called upon Obama to end his preoccupation with settlements. The Democratic Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, resents Obama’s opposition to Jewish construction in East Jerusalem. The strongest (Democratic) Senator, Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is the most effective supporter of the US-Israel connection since 1948. Obama cannot get his legislative agenda without Inouye’s support. While Congress has reservations about Israel’s settlements policy, Congress opposes sanctions against Israel.
Fact: Following the 1991 Gulf War, Israel asked for emergency assistance, which Bush/Baker rejected, Congress supported and Israel received $650MN in cash and $700MN in military systems. In 1990, Bush/Baker attempted to cut 5% of the foreign aid to Israel because of Israel’s settlement activities. Congress opposed the cut and the initiative was rescinded. The Legislature and the Executive are equal-in-power and fully independent of each other. The US Congress has been a systematic bastion of support of the Jewish State since before 1948.
Fact: President Obama has been transformed from a coattail President to an anchor-chained President, taking a dive from a 65% approval rating in January to less than 50% in September, the sharpest decline in recent decades, other than President Ford’s (due to his pardon of Nixon). Thus, Democratic House candidates/members are experiencing the lowest ebb in two years, while Republicans enjoy a systematic edge. Obama is confronted by an effective Blue Dog Democratic opposition.
Fact: President Obama exercises psychological pressure against Israel. He cannot exert an effective tangible pressure. He was not elected to uproot Jewish settlements and prevent Jewish construction in Jerusalem. His political future – and that of Democratic legislators – does not depend on these issues. The Arab-Israeli conflict is not among Obama’s top priorities, and his position on Israel is not compatible with most Democrats. Obama needs the support of Israel’s friends on Capitol Hill, in order to advance his primary domestic and national security/international agendas.