The recent comments made by U.S. Government officials have aroused anger and suspicion in Israel. During the last week, three high ranking members of the Obama Administration have given speeches that have made many Israelis wonder if the United States has any respect for the fact that Israel is a sovereign nation. The speeches by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman have caused concerns in Israel that the United States is trying to force the Israeli Government to enact policies that would benefit the United States while doing serious harm to the security of Israel. Once again, the issue of whether the fact that the United States gives aid and support to Israel allows the United States to directly influence the leadership and politics of Israel, has been raised front and center.
The uproar began on December 1, 2011 when U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, outraged his audience when he said, “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Gutman, a former high dollar fundraiser for the Obama campaign, went on to say that if Israel were to make peace with the Palestinians, the Muslim sentiments against Jews would be “significantly diminished.” Gutman’s remarks were made at a Jewish conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union. Israeli news service, YNet, said “legal experts in the audience were “visibly stunned” by Gutman’s comments, and the next speaker gave a “scathing rebuttal” to his remarks.”
On December 2, 2011 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, added fuel to the fire during a speech at the Sabin Forum, an annual gathering of American and Israeli policymakers. Panetta said, “that Israel needs to “get to the damn table” to negotiate with the Palestinians and “mend fences” with its neighbors.” The Anti-Defamation League expressed “surprise and dismay” at a speech that it said “disproportionately put the onus on Israel to overcome its isolation.” The reaction in Israel was even stronger with many posters to mainstream newspapers expressing deep anger and mistrust towards the Obama Administration’s continuous policy of blaming Israel for the lack of a peace deal while putting no pressure on the Palestinians to compromise or negotiate. The majority of Israelis feel strongly that it takes two to tango and that only Israel has pulled a chair up to the peace table.
The next day the pressure on Israel from the Obama Administration went on unabated, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued the orgy of Israel bashing at a closed session of the Saban Conference. In typical fashion, the “most transparent administration in U.S. history” once again refused to release a transcript of Clinton’s statements but “a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Clinton’s remarks were considered off the record, confirmed that she expressed concerns about developments in Israel, including the NGO law and recent comments from ultraconservative politicians.” Clinton also commented on internal Israeli issues such as the attempts by the ultra Orthodox to segregate women on certain Israeli bus lines.
The reaction to Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks elicited a flurry of rebuttals by Israeli Officials. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Clinton’s remarks were “absolutely exaggerated. Israeli democracy is alive, breathing, kicking and liberal.” Many in Israel think that the U.S. officials should be focusing on the fact that for several years now the Palestinians have constantly refused to sit down with Israel for face to face negotiations on the peace process. There is particular concern in Israel that even when Israel took the unprecedented step of a 10 month building freeze in the Settlements, the Palestinians refused to negotiate.
Israel has stated many times that it is willing to sit down and negotiate face to face with the Palestinians. Israel has expressed the principals of its parameters for peace. These principals state that Israel is the nation of the Jewish people with its historical, eternal capital in an undivided Jerusalem. Israel has also clearly said that the refugees are the responsibility of the Arab states and it will not allow 5 million Arab refugees to flood into Israel and change Israel from the Jewish state to another Islamic state. There are already 56 Islamic nations and Israel demands the right to be the one national homeland of the Jewish people.
How do you feel? Is it fair for Israel to be the nation of the Jewish people; especially considering that there are already 56 Islamic nations in the U.N.? Do you think Israel should be accepted as the one nation of the Jewish people?