How the New York Times Mythologizes US-‘Israeli’ Relations


Photograph Source: Office of the President of the United States – Public Domain

The New York Times has finally come to grips with the danger of another government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, which it describes as a “significant threat to the future of Israel—its direction, its security and even the idea of a Jewish homeland.”  Netanyahu’s policies and politics over the past two decades have made it militarily and politically impossible to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.  U.S. administrations have largely ignored these developments, while they ostensibly cling to support for a two-state solution.  Over the past week, however, the Times’ editorial board as well as its most influential columnist, Thomas Friedman, have essentially conceded that the “Israel we knew is gone.”

Unfortunately, the Times continues to mythologize the nature of U.S.-Israeli relations, ignoring the anti-Americanism of Netanyahu as well as the various Israeli attacks on U.S. interests and even forces over the past six decades.  In the 1950s, in order to prevent the United States from improving relations with Egypt, Israeli agents bombed a United States Information Agency library in Egypt and tried to make it appear to be an Egyptian act of violence.  This false-flag operation was conducted by Egyptian Jews who were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside American-owned assets.  Typically for the Israelis, after five decades of denying involvement in the attack, the Israeli president awarded certificates of appreciation to the surviving agents.

In the 1960s, the Israelis told the United States at the highest levels that it would not conduct a pre-emptive attack against the Arab states; that is exactly what they did in starting the Six-Day War.  In the war’s opening days, Israeli fighter planes bombed the USS Liberty, leading to the deaths of 34 American sailors.  The Israelis claimed it was an accident.  At the time, I was a CIA analyst working on the Middle East, and the intelligence indicated that this was an extremely well-planned “accident.”  The Israelis still claim that they thought the attack was against an Egyptian ship, and the National Security Agency refuses to declassify documents that would detail Israeli culpability.

In the October War in 1973, the Israelis did their best to compromise a cease-fire that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had orchestrated with the Soviet Union.  Israeli violations of the cease-fire led to Kissinger’s threat to intervene in the conflict if Israeli forces didn’t cease their military operations.  Kissinger even told Defense Minister Moshe Dayan that the United States would intervene if the Israelis continued to encircle Egyptian forces, which caused much heartburn in the Pentagon.

In 1982, Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and war crimes against the Palestinians led to the intervention of U.S. Marines to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire, with terrible losses for U.S. Marines and diplomats in Beirut.  Israeli war crimes in the Gaza over the years have added to the problem of pursuing a peace process in the Middle East.  On too many occasions, the United States has used its veto power in the United Nations to block international condemnation of Israel.

The Israeli effort to block the signing of the Iranian nuclear accord, which had the support of key European states as well as China and Russia, included the unprecedented appearance of Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress.  He sought to undermine efforts of the Obama administration, which had engineered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Netanyahu’s acceptance of the congressional invitation marked an unacceptable interference in U.S. domestic affairs and it should have been challenged.  These Israeli efforts continue to this day as they seek to ensure that the Biden administration does not return to the JCPOA that Donald Trump abandoned as part of his pro-Israeli policies.

Over the years, the Israelis have been particularly critical of the two U.S. presidents who have done more for Israeli national security than other presidential administrations.  President Jimmy Carter was responsible for shepherding the Israeli-Egyptian exchange of diplomatic relations, which assured that there could not be another comprehensive Arab attack against the Israelis.  As Kissinger once opined, “without Egypt, there can be no Arab war with Israel.”  And President Barack Obama was responsible for the largest military aid agreement with Israel, which amounted to $40 billion in sophisticated military assistance at no cost to Israel over a ten-year period.

Netanyahu has gone out of his way to embarrass virtually every U.S. official, including Obama, Biden, and Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.  As vice president, Biden was on an official trip to Israel, when the Israelis announced an expansion of illegal settlements on the West Bank.  The only way to lend some credibility to our concerns and the concerns of moderate Israelis is to adopt a tougher stance on key issues involving the occupied territories and Israeli occupation forces.  It’s time for the New York Times and the mainstream media in general to stop peddling the boilerplate message of U.S.-Israeli congruity.  We have major differences with the Israelis on national security, and they must be made to understand that the United States, the only ally that Israel has in the global community, will not tolerate its anti-American actions.

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