Counterproductive Insanity: Israeli Foreign Policy Then and Now

Israel is America’s veritable little brother. For decades, now, Tel Aviv has set the gold standard for nutty foreign policy decisions. Almost nothing they’ve done since the Six day War of 1967 has made a bit of sense. Founded, as they were, in the midst of a multinational Arab invasion, Israel has remained attached – obsessed even – with the long-outdated fear that conventional national armies will be their undoing. Of course, since their near-run victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, that hasn’t been their problem at all. By then, Israel’s technological, professional advantage was obvious to anyone paying cursory attention. Still, well into the 1980s, maybe even up until today, the Jewish Apartheid State seemed to believe their own myth: and behave accordingly.

At the very outset of my budding, aspirational writing career, I was firmly warned that Israel/Palestine issue – particularly sympathy for Palestinian social justice – constituted a bona fide "third rail" issue many centrist-liberal, "respectable" publications choose not to touch. It seems my well-intentioned, caution-counseling confidant was right. Even my status as a then-active, and now retired, veteran combat soldier wouldn’t save me from the pejorative vitriol and character assassination from the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd in the social media Wild West. No matter. Ever the masochist – I still root for West Point football – and lifelong glutton for punishment, I decided immediately upon receipt of the friendly warning, that I would tackle Palestine even more. It hasn’t been an easy road. The potential pitfalls were on full display last Spring in New York’s Greenwich Village, when, despite handily defeating the avidly pro-Israel scholar, Elan Journo, in an Oxford-style debate, members (mostly women, interestingly) of the crowd repeatedly, and viciously, heckled me like some third-rate comic at a local open mic.

I got to thinking about this recently, when President Donald Trump, and his nepotist-in-chief Jared Kushner, unveiled their Israel-Palestine "peace plan" the supposed "Deal of the Century." Sure, the proposal amounted to little more than an ultimatum for Palestinian acquiescence to surrender. Nevertheless, the plan makes perfect sense for an Israeli-American alliance that for half a century has defied world opinion and international law and norms as a matter of course. In their reflexive flouting of widely accepted legal criterion, Israel and their belligerent, bellicose, big brothers, must count as genuine international sociopaths.

Personal experience, mostly within the U.S. Army bureaucratic mega-establishment, has driven my own, (admittedly) non-clinical, analysis that both sociopaths and psychopaths – who are legion within the military leadership – possess a remarkable ability to convince themselves that immense opposition to their plans and ideals only reinforces their "rightness." So, if according to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, corporations are fully persons, then, most certainly countries have long taken on human characteristics, frailties, and mental maladies. Thus, in a world where, especially since Israel launched its full-throated occupation of Palestinian land, the Washington and Tel Aviv elites have stood – almost literally – alone in their positions regarding possession of the Holy Land, these governments must count as somewhat sociopathic. Consider it the old, bumptious sin of American exceptionalism gone wild.

US blind support for Israel is understandable since, America, alone among settler-colonial states hasn’t apologized for its original sin of native genocide. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, heck even South Africa, have officially apologized for, and even sought to financially account for their past crimes. Not so the United States. White America is intransigent about guilt admission. And so is Israel: America’s little brother. For now, the Washington-Tel Aviv nexus is strong; but not forever. The growing generational schism in the evangelical – Christian Zionist – community bodes badly for the Jewish state, and, particularly for the let’s help catalyze a war in the Holy Land to speed-up The Rapture, crowd.

Here’s where it gets crazy: back in the 1980s, Israeli national security elites wrote a memo, arguing that the best way to ensure their security was to encourage inter-Arab warfare and intra-Arab state chaos and insecurity. The idea was that, if the neighboring Arab Muslim states were torn apart, Israel would be safe. This, of course, represented an outdated fear. The least of Israel’s worries, by then, was conventional military invasion. Truth is, by then, and still today, the only real threat to the Jewish state was Islamist terrorism (which Israeli policy fuels, by the way). Which is why, even today, Israeli policymakers have a strange, symbiotic relationship with ISIS. See, these counterproductive lunatics would rather Syria be torn apart, indefinitely, by civil war then see ISIS permanently defeated. Israeli generals and national security official have even claimed that if if the choice is between Iran having influence in Syria, or ISIS having the same, they "choose ISIS."

The Trump "deal," as such, is irrelevant. Partly, of course, because it’s going nowhere: not in the international community (not that the chummy sociopath-states give a damn about that), with the much-maligned, Palestinian leadership (though they’re increasingly invisible to the "deal-makers"), or the less despotic nations of the Arab-Muslim World. The Trump-Kushner plan is showmanship, mainly; but, it shouldn’t be dismissed – the deal may be the "launch point" from the intransigent (but, for now, most formidable) now officially-unified Amero-Israeli side.

The United States, whatever else it is, is no longer (even on the surface), an honest broker in the Holy Land. America is naught but an Israeli proxy…and, for that, we should all be ashamed…I know I am.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and regular contributor to His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet. Check out his professional website for contact info, scheduling speeches, and/or access to the full corpus of his writing and media appearances.

Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen