The Strategic Ally Myth

by , May 27, 2010

It is difficult to understand why anyone would take Mort Zuckerman seriously. He is a New York based but Canadian born Israel firster who made a fortune in real estate before buying The New York Daily News and the US News and World Report. He now fancies himself as a leading journalist and political commentator. Zuckerman is frequently spotted on the television talking head circuit where he dispenses analysis of international events that could have been crafted in Tel Aviv or Herzliya, where the Israeli intelligence service Mossad has its headquarters.

Zuckerman’s latest contribution to international harmony is a lengthy piece in the US News & World Report entitled “Israel Is a Key Ally and Deserves US Support.” It is a propaganda piece that promotes one of the most persistent fictions put out by the mainstream media, that the relationship with Israel somehow benefits the United States. To give the devil his due, it is not often that an article in a national publication includes an out-and-out lie in its first few words, but Zuckerman succeeds in doing just that. As he is a smart man who went to Harvard Law School before becoming a propagandist for Israel, he must know that words have meanings. But the significance of the word “ally” must have somehow eluded his grasp. Israel is not now and never has been an ally of the United States. As Zuckerman is a lawyer he should know that to be an ally requires an agreement in writing that spells out the conditions and reciprocity of the relationship. Israel has never been an ally of any country because it would force it to restrain its aggressive behavior, requiring consultation with its ally before attacking other nations. It is also unable to define its own borders, which have been expanding ever since it was founded in 1948. Without defined borders it is impossible to enter into an alliance because most alliances are established so that one country will come to the aid of another if it is attacked, which normally means having its territorial integrity violated. Since Israel intends to continue expanding its borders it cannot commit to an alliance with anyone and has, in fact, rebuffed several bids by Washington to enter into some kind of formal arrangement.

The article’s spin begins almost immediately thereafter in paragraph one, where the reader is informed that “the Israelis have agreed to [a Palestinian state] in principle.” Zuckerman conveniently overlooks that Tel Aviv has in fact obstructed every move toward creation of a Palestinian state because that would stop its continued colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem. He then proceeds to lay it on really thick in the next two paragraphs, where one learns that the Palestinians need to “do what the Israelis have done for decades, which is to declare…that both sides have genuine claims to this land,” that the “Palestinian leadership has all along made an honorable peace impossible,” and that the Palestinians are not prepared to live with an Israeli state along their borders. The Palestinians also “beat the drums of hate” and only the Israelis guarantee freedom of religion in Jerusalem. Without wishing to be too contentious, it is safe to say that everything Zuckerman writes blaming the Palestinians can easily be disputed and should be challenged.

Zuckerman then launches into one of his major themes, that poor little Israel, always willing to take risks and do what is right in the cause of peace, has been betrayed by Washington. Zuckerman opines that Tel Aviv is right to hold on to the West Bank because if it gives it up Israel will not be “secure and defensible” against Arab terrorism. He also provides a hagiography of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, who apparently is “serious about making peace” and has done lots of good things for the Palestinians that he is not given credit for (except by Zuckerman). Bibi is also reported to be “disturbingly” under-appreciated by the White House.

According to Zuckerman, Netanyahu and Israel are “not to blame for trouble in the Middle East,” and one also learns that “The Islamists are not enemies of America because of Israel. They are fighting America because they see the whole West…as antithetical to their own beliefs.” Yes, this is the new version of they hate us because of our freedom bumper sticker. Israeli bestiality toward the Arab population that it dominates, seen on television nightly all over the world except in the US, has nothing to do with it.

After making sure that everyone knows who is completely to blame for the Middle East imbroglio, Zuckerman arrives at the argument that he knows will crush all opposition. “Israel has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its cost.” Zuckerman asserts that seventy per cent of Washington’s military aid, now exceeding $3 billion per year, is used to buy equipment made in the USA, providing thousands of jobs and making sure that Lockheed and other struggling defense contractors don’t go bust. And the Israelis not only provide “access to the Red Sea,” they also permit US forces to stockpile equipment in Israel for contingencies. Furthermore, Israel has been “working jointly” and “cooperating” with the US to protect America’s troops all over the Middle East. And then there is all that good intelligence that Tel Aviv hands over to Washington on the many bad guys in the Near East region.

Israeli tunnel vision means that most of the actual intelligence that Tel Aviv collects is on organizations that resent being occupied or bombed by Israel, not groups that actually threaten the US, a point ignored by Zuckerman. And to those who argue that using billions of American taxpayers dollars to buy US military equipment for Israel is not necessarily money well spent in the middle of a financial crisis or that Washington’s unlimited support for Tel Aviv is precisely the reason why the United States is in trouble around the world, Zuckerman delivers a final, devastating retort. Israel has an unrivaled location on the Mediterranean. Per Zuckerman “One analyst has described Israel as a ‘strategic aircraft carrier’…”

Well, Mort Zuckerman is certainly entitled to his own opinion and I suppose he can use the magazine he owns to spread Israeli hasbara, but the notion that Israel is some kind of strategic asset for the United States is nonsense, a complete fabrication. Most recently, Chas Freeman has pointed out that Israel is useless for the projection of American power. The US has numerous bases in Arab countries but is not allowed to use any military base in Israel. Washington’s own carrier groups and other forces in place all over the Middle East, including the Red Sea, have capabilities that far exceed those of the Israel Defense Forces. Israel has never been a strategic asset or any asset at all, always a liability. Even the stockpiles of US equipment in Israel are a typical bit of bonus support for Tel Aviv from Congress, placed there for the Israelis to use “in emergencies” while making it appear that they are for American forces. The supplies are, in fact, regularly looted by the Israelis, leaving largely unusable or picked over equipment for US forces if it should ever be needed.

Make no mistake, Tel Aviv is always carefully calculating how it can use Washington to further its own objectives with little regard for possible American interests. In 1967 the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty in international waters with the intention of sinking the ship and killing all the crew. During the first Gulf War Israel had to be defended by the United States. In the Cold War Israel spied aggressively on the US while cutting deals with both the Soviets and Chinese. The intelligence provided by Israel that Zuckerman praises is generally fabricated and completely self serving, intended to shape a narrative about the Middle East that makes the Israelis look good and virtually everyone else look bad – ask any intelligence officer who has seen the stuff. Israel as a key ally and security asset? A “strategic aircraft carrier”? Completely ridiculous.

Read more by Philip Giraldi