Bibi, the Americanologist

Netanyahu had better watch his step in his relations with the U.S.

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit: Reuters
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands America. After all, he’s a renowned Americanologist.

He knows exactly whom we’re dealing with: those innocents who don’t understand anything. He’ll set them straight about terror and Hamas and show them why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the bad guy in the story. He’ll explain to U.S. President Barack Obama what America’s real interests are and how to manipulate Congress. And if the president annoys him too much, Netanyahu plans — and this is a big secret — to stop transferring the annual grant. Obama will have to manage on his own. It’s about time.

Netanyahu understands America so well that he bet on the wrong horse when he supported Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the last U.S. presidential election. Then he appointed Ron Dermer, a former Republican activist, as ambassador to the U.S., and Dermer quickly became persona non grata in the corridors of the administration.

And then, instead of trying to improve relations, Netanyahu promised to work toward advancing a two-state solution — and proceeded to do exactly the opposite by expanding settlement construction and scuttling the talks with Abbas.

Not long ago Netanyahu asked the U.S. for additional funds for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and he sought to use America’s emergency weapons stores in the Negev, even as he was working Capitol Hill against Obama’s Democratic Party to help defeat it in the midterm congressional elections in November.

Out of vanity and arrogance based on nothing, Netanyahu scorned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and didn’t listen to Obama’s warnings, until the White House delayed shipments of Apache helicopter missiles during Operation Protective Edge. From the administration’s perspective, Netanyahu is an enemy.

It’s clear to everyone (except to Knesset members Miri Regev and Naftali Bennett) that Netanyahu is putting Israel at risk. The public understands that the Israel Defense Forces’ strength and qualitative advantage depend on America’s goodwill. It’s not just the $3 billion in annual military aid, which is used to acquire the most modern aircraft, to pay for Iron Dome, and to buy engines for Merkava tanks. It’s also the intelligence secrets, scientific cooperation and the economic situation.

All the international credit-rating firms repeatedly note that the reason for Israel’s reasonable ratings is the support it gets from the U.S. If Obama so much as thinks out loud about reconsidering America’s automatic support for Israel, the credit-rating firms will downgrade Israel and banks worldwide will cut off Israel’s credit. The dollar will shoot up, inflation will rise, foreign investors will flee, the balance-of-payments surplus will become a deficit and our mild economic slowdown will become a deep recession. Each of us will feel it immediately, especially those who will lose their jobs. In one fell swoop, Israel will return to its natural -— minuscule and fragile — dimensions.

The citizens of Israel (other than Netanyahu, Regev and Bennett) understand this very well. They know that without the American veto the United Nations Security Council would long ago have imposed severe economic sanctions on Israel, as it did on South Africa. The public is also aware of a growing European boycott of goods made by the settlements and of the consumer boycotts of Israeli products all over the world. Netanyahu, Regev and Bennett are the only ones who don’t seem worried.

Throughout Israel’s existence, the U.S. has rescued us from economic crises time after time. In its 66 years of “independence,” Israel has gotten more economic aid from the U.S. than any other country in the world — some $100 billion in civilian and military aid from the American taxpayer.

But instead of showing appreciation, Netanyahu is biting the hand that feeds us. Let’s just hope he doesn’t carry out his veiled threat to cut the assistance he gives to the U.S. It’s liable to collapse without Israel’s help.

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