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When it comes to Israel, Trump is no norm breaker - The Washington Post.pdf

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Providing historical context to the unquestioning support in US mainstream political establishment for Israeli policies, and its detrimental effects on the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
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  !"#$%#%$!&' !)*!$+,-. /0 123-4 02 5467-8' 96:3; /4 .2 .263 <6-7=-6 > 9,- +74,/.?02. @240@7?- ! 2A B,00;4C##DDDED74,/.?02.;240E123#2:0822=#%$!F#!!#!&#D,-.>/0>123-4G>06:3;>/4>.2>.263><6-7=-6#H.26-I/6-10J2.K:03L0-63JE<"-"I<M$&!%& The Washington Post Made by History   Perspective  When it comes to Israel, Trump is no norm breaker For a half-century, American politicians— left and right — have stood with Israelno matter what it does to thePalestinians By Shaul Mitelpunkt Public figures in Israel and the United States often say that therelationship between the two countries is grounded in a jointappreciation of democratic values. Yet Israel has become asymbolic port of call for aspiring authoritarians. Nationalistdemagogues from  Viktor Or ban of Hungary to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to, yes, America’s own President Trump, are heartily  welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Netanyahu shares with this group a penchant for racistscaremongering. Following the deadly attack on a Pittsburghsynagogue by a white supremacist, an attack inspired in part by Trump’s lies about a migrant caravan approaching from Central America, Netanyahu blamed “radical Islam.” Trump, for his part,canceled the Iran nuclear deal at Netanyahu’s urging, and hasrewarded Israeli expansionism by moving the U.S. Embassy toJerusalem, cutting aid to Palestinians and quietly endorsing aconstruction surge in Israel’s illegal settlements. Trump findsinspiration in Israel’s legalized ethnocracy, its boastfulmarginalization of minorities and the  big wall it has built. Does this mean the political right has hijacked the relationship between Israel and the United States?  !"#$%#%$!&' !)*!$+,-. /0 123-4 02 5467-8' 96:3; /4 .2 .263 <6-7=-6 > 9,- +74,/.?02. @240@7?- % 2A B,00;4C##DDDED74,/.?02.;240E123#2:0822=#%$!F#!!#!&#D,-.>/0>123-4G>06:3;>/4>.2>.263><6-7=-6#H.26-I/6-10J2.K:03L0-63JE<"-"I<M$&!%& No.In truth, the current state of U.S.-Israeli relations is a clearcontinuation of a long-established practice, supported by liberalsand conservatives alike. Long before authoritarian leaders beganqueuing up to move their embassies to Jerusalem — and even before the triumvirate of AIPAC, neoconservatives and Christianevangelicals lionized Israel’s garrison state — both liberals andconservatives embraced Israeli militarism. Together they turnedIsrael into the single largest annual recipient of American foreignassistance in the late 20th century. Trump’s willingness tosupport Israel regardless of its treatment of the Palestinians hassimply remained true to this bipartisan pattern cemented overdecades.Israel has long held a singular position in the American politicalimagination, particularly when it comes to questions of war andsociety. That fascination stemmed from Israel’s triumph over itsneighbors in the June 1967 war, a victory that quadrupled theterritory under its control. Americans frustrated with thefractures the Vietnam War wrought in their own society believedthis victory affirmed Israel’s approach to warfare and what they perceived as a rare citizen-soldier utopia.These American champions of Israeli exceptionalism spannedthe political spectrum from Richard M. Nixon and GeorgeMcGovern. They idealized Israel as a country that successfully combined regimentation and freedom, striking an impeccable balance between state authority and individual liberty. They admired Israel’s combination of a sophisticated military leadership and refined martial masculinities with freedom of expression during wartime.But this vision was a fiction, one both Americans and Israelis  !"#$%#%$!&' !)*!$+,-. /0 123-4 02 5467-8' 96:3; /4 .2 .263 <6-7=-6 > 9,- +74,/.?02. @240@7?- ) 2A B,00;4C##DDDED74,/.?02.;240E123#2:0822=#%$!F#!!#!&#D,-.>/0>123-4G06:3;>/4>.2>.263><6-7=-6#H.26-I/6-10J2.K:03L0-63JE<"-"I<M$&!%& constructed and upheld.Journalist Alfred Friendly, a former managing editor of The Washington Post who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting fromthe 1967 war, played a key role in spreading that message.Friendly told his readers how the American observer, “shattered” by the strife at home, could see in Israel a society that was“whole.” Sentimental admiration of the camaraderie anddiversity of bearded Israeli troops marked his reporting. He basked with Israeli officers in a West Bank spring “in sheer bliss”and admired them as “a heterogeneous fighting collective.” To anIsraeli press officer Friendly confided his happiness that hisPulitzer came for a story where the “white hats licked the black ones, as should be the case in every proper Western.”In the New Republic, cartoonist Bill Mauldin drew a cartoon of relaxed Israeli soldiers riding a half-truck. The caption read, “It isdefinitely a citizens’ army.” Mauldin, who won a Pulitzer Prize forhis World War II comic strip “Willie and Joe,” took hisromanticized vision of the democratic, laid-back instincts of the American citizen-soldier and superimposed that image on 1960sIsrael. Other American publications told of Israeli soldiersstudying, dating, cooking and singing between battle tours andmilitary training. Picturing the Israeli citizen-soldier as acombination of West Point graduate and flower child, mostoutlets gave little attention to attitudes of the newly occupiedPalestinians.Israeli progressives helped spread this message to Americanreaders. Amnon Rubinstein, dean of law at Tel Aviv University, boasted in his New York Times column that Israelis effortlessly umped from tank maneuvers to family holidays. Amos Elon, oneof Israel’s most prominent journalists, cockily told Americanreaders that Israel, unlike America, “mates solidarity with robust  !"#$%#%$!&' !)*!$+,-. /0 123-4 02 5467-8' 96:3; /4 .2 .263 <6-7=-6 > 9,- +74,/.?02. @240@7?- " 2A B,00;4C##DDDED74,/.?02.;240E123#2:0822=#%$!F#!!#!&#D,-.>/0>123-4G06:3;>/4>.2>.263><6-7=-6#H.26-I/6-10J2.K:03L0-63JE<"-"I<M$&!%& individualism.” To combat any negative claims about the Israelioccupation of Palestinian territory, Israel sent Palestinian-Israelis on American speaking tours to claim that the occupation was benevolent, economically beneficial and apolitical.In the American polity, only a few activist groups such as theBlack Panthers challenged this story. Even anti-Vietnam Wardoves like McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidentialcandidate, spoke with great reverence about Israel’s ability toremain “united” through a trying conflict. Forty-six years beforeTrump moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, McGovernrecommended it during his campaign.Conservatives and hawks tried to claim they were Israel’s only defenders. Nixon resented Israel’s strong ties with liberals, warning Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1970 that Barry Goldwaterand William F. Buckley, Jr. were Israel’s true friends and that“when the chips are down” liberals “will cut and run.” Nixon was wrong: although from the mid-1970s onward liberals talked moreabout a diplomatic compromise and expressed less excitementabout Israeli militarism, they provided the country withunparalleled support without pressing Israel to curtail itsexpansionist policies.The October 1973 War shattered the image of Israeli citizen-soldier utopia. While Israel rebuffed the coordinated Egyptian-Syrian surprise offensive, the shock of the attack took the glossoff Israel as a fighting society. The conflict stirred upunprecedented dissent in Israeli society. Meir resigned.Mainstream outlets in the United States still portrayed Israelsympathetically, but they cast it as a war-weary society, in needof American guidance.That view of Israel prescribed the need for American diplomatic  !"#$%#%$!&' !)*!$+,-. /0 123-4 02 5467-8' 96:3; /4 .2 .263 <6-7=-6 > 9,- +74,/.?02. @240@7?- N 2A B,00;4C##DDDED74,/.?02.;240E123#2:0822=#%$!F#!!#!&#D,-.>/0>123-4G06:3;>/4>.2>.263><6-7=-6#H.26-I/6-10J2.K:03L0-63JE<"-"I<M$&!%& leadership. It also represented an American effort to reinventtheir country’s mission in the post-Vietnam War world in lesscombative tones. Liberals initially hoped to promote acomprehensive deal that would solve the Palestinian crisis. Thisspirit defined Jimmy Carter’s initial attitude to the Camp Davidpeace process from 1977 through 1979, but it was quickly abandoned in the face of Israeli defiance and Egyptianacquiescence.In subsequent decades, liberals and conservatives havesometimes differed in their rhetoric about Israel, but not in theirpolicy. Through decades of meandering peace processes, WhiteHouse photo-ops, milestones and road maps, Americans remainunwilling to compel Israel to pay the territorial price required toachieve a meaningful agreement. While the right branded liberals as unfaithful to Israel, and by extension, weak on security matters, in reality there was littledifference between liberals and conservatives on Israel. With few exceptions, Democrats and Republicans alike proved reluctant tocondition American support to Israel on a settlement freeze or withdrawal, and refused to consistently back a plan that wouldallow viable Palestinian statehood. Unconditional bipartisansupport has allowed Israeli policymakers to increase the numberof Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank to over 400,000. Ithas played into the hands of the Israeli right as it demonstratedIsrael could effectively defy international law with impunity. While he has shattered norms elsewhere, Trump’s Israel policy isnothing more than a clearer manifestation of long-standingpolicy.The sharpening of political differences during the Trump eraprovides an opportunity to break away from failed practice.
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