A Danger Named Ya’alon

In continuing his unbridled attacks on the United States, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is endangering Israel’s security.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is continuing his unbridled attacks on the United States. After rudely insulting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last month (“He’s messianic, obsessed, should just take his Nobel Prize and go away”), for which he had to apologize, he did it again on Monday, referring to the U.S. administration as “comfortable Westerners” who “prefer to put off confrontation” with Iran.

But Ya’alon did not make do with just the Iranian issue; according to him, the U.S. administration is demonstrating weakness all over the world. In his address at Tel Aviv University, he argued that America’s aid to Israel, “has to be seen in proportion. It isn’t an American favor, it’s in their interest … they get quality intelligence and technology. We invented the Iron Dome. We invented the wings of the F-35 stealth fighter. We invented the Arrow.”

These hollow words of bravado and disdain for the American government and its aid to Israel were actually uttered by the defense minister, the one who is meant to know just how important the strategic relations with the U.S. are to the system for which he is responsible. He knows the true significance of this military, economic and political assistance, and is meant to understand that without this help, Israel could end up in real danger.

Ya’alon, however, prefers to act like the last of the right wing’s resistance fighters. If some Knesset backbencher would express himself that way, one could perhaps let it go by, but when the defense minister says such things he is endangering Israel’s security and its most important diplomatic asset.

It’s hard to know what is happening to Ya’alon. One can assume that he’s trying to position himself as an opposition leader, to the right of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. From the Haaretz report on Tuesday on his address at TAU, it seems that the defense minister has changed his stance and is now inclined to support a military operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities even without American involvement, saying Israel must act on this issue as if it has only itself to rely on.

But Israel has no option of operating in a vacuum in contravention of the explicit position of the U.S. – not on the Iranian issue and not on other issues. At a time when international criticism of Israel is growing, and only the U.S. continues to stubbornly support Israel, the defense minister is sabotaging even that.