To Understand Israel’s Foreign-Policy Challenges, We Must Understand Israel’s Relationship with the U.S.

In recent years, the Jewish state’s relations with China and Russia have generated tensions with the its most important ally, the U.S. These tensions have been made more acute, notes Douglas Feith, by Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. As Feith observes, “America’s substantial support over many years elicits unease as well as gratitude,” because it creates a dependency that might not serve Israel well in the long run. Feith sketches the complex and shifting history of U.S.-Israel relations and proposes a path forward for the latter, based on what he calls the “Herzl paradox.”

When [Theodor] Herzl organized Zionism into a political movement, his goal was Jewish self-reliance. At the same time, he sought foreign support. This is the paradox.

In Herzl’s day, Jewish life, liberty, and property depended everywhere on the goodwill or toleration of non-Jews. Nowhere were Jews a majority, and hostility to them was pandemic. . . . The Zionist message was that Jews should cease living as history’s objects. They could take their future into their own hands by creating a Jewish-majority state in their ancient homeland. For some, a Jewish state would be home. For those in the Diaspora, it could be a refuge.

Zionists have always understood that Israel may one day have to stand alone. But prudent Israeli officials will do what they can to put off that day—and not hasten it by courting anti-Western powers in ways that antagonize America. Israel’s interest is in encouraging America to strengthen its military and revive its leadership of the democratic world.

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Read more at Sapir

More about: Israel diplomacy, Theodor Herzl, US-Israel relations, War in Ukraine

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion