Mondoweiss / June 24, 2020
Annexation will cost Israel dearly in the Democratic Party and on the American left, two security experts warned yesterday during an Israel lobby group webinar aimed at stopping annexation.
Racial-justice demonstrators in the U.S. will turn their anger on Israel if it annexes portions of the West Bank, and the next generation of Congress people will follow suit, warned John Allen, a former Marine general who heads the Brookings Institution.
While Michele Flournoy, often touted as Joe Biden’s Defense Secretary (and Clinton’s four years ago), said that annexation could lead to some in Congress trying to “hold hostage” U.S. aid to Israel. Flournoy said such politicization of Israel support was “absolutely disastrous” because it goes against U.S. interests.
The two spoke on an Israel Policy Forum webinar, aimed as a “wakeup call” to Israeli leaders against annexation, per Susie Gelman of the IPF.
Flournoy, an Obama-ite and long-time member of the foreign policy Blob, said annexation could fracture U.S. political support for Israel, and that’s the really “terrible” outcome because — well, I’m not sure why, let her say it:
I do worry that if Israel pursues this unilateral course of annexation, you could actually see a fracturing, particularly in Congress, a fracturing of bipartisan support for really critical pillars of our relationship like the implementation of that defense MOU [memorandum of understanding for $3.8 billion a year]. I would hate to see some in Congress decided they are going to hold hostage our security assistance to Israel as a way of protesting their policies in the West Bank.
That may not be the most likely outcome but it’s not unlikely either, and I think that what really worries me, is that it could start to fray and tear at the really fundamental security relationship that has been in the interests of both sides since Israel’s founding and across multiple administrations, Republican and Democrat. That’s what worries me. I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu and those around him appreciate the extent to which they are playing with fire, not only in terms of fracturing the region and their relationships with Israel, also fracturing American political support, which would be terrible, absolutely disastrous, an outcome that no one should want to see.
John Allen, former Marine general and president of the Brookings Institution, said the American street will turn on Israel over annexation and so will the next generation of American politicians.
It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the American streets are aflame right now. As are the streets of many cities and countries around the world. And they’re marching and they’re angry about human rights issues and social justice and equality….
To annex unilaterally a part of the West Bank right now… condemning what might be a Palestinian state to some awful form on the ground surrounded by annexed ground by the Israelis, that’s going to resonate so poorly with the American street and the streets around the world that I think it’s going to have a very negative effect on American politics over the long term.
And assumptions about American support for Israel in Israel have got to be very carefully examined. Because the diversity of American politics today that is beginning to appear in our Congress is a very different group of people than those of us who sat on the edges of our chair and watched Israel fight for its life in gallant struggles in ’67 and ’73. These are very young politicians who have a very different experience in America than we did and assumptions that that kind of support in Israel will continue unabated or unchanged I think need to be re-examined.
Look at the American streets right now. Because the Americans are marching on these issues, and these are the exactly same issues that they will champion with respect to the Palestinians if we see a unilateral annexation of a large part of the West Bank.
Allen seemed to reflect the new mood in repeatedly advocating for the human rights of Palestinians “occupied since 1967.”
Let’s get realistic here. We should never give up our inherent American obligations to human rights and the rights of universal suffrage and to have an independent state.
I have to believe that Flournoy’s “absolute” disaster is what abandoning Israel would mean for the Democratic Party establishment; and her crocodile tears over American divisions over Israel is her pandering to the Israel lobby in advance of a potential White House appointment. She said barely a word about Palestinian human rights. Never forget that Obama’s selection of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state involved the instrumental role of a leader of the Israel lobby as an intermediary.