For years we’ve been reporting how President Obama has been trying to insert as much daylight as possible between the United States and Israel.

But the reality is that the American-Israeli “special relationship” will weather the storm of this “needlessly combative” administration.

Israel is wildly popular among the American public. Americans recognize the shared values and common interests that bind the two countries together.

A congressional majority understands the threats Israel faces from the region’s oppressive dictatorships which routinely call for Israel’s destruction, and from political and religious leaders who incite their people to murder Jews.

A bill to ‘fix’ the disastrous Iran deal and shore up Israel’s security is now being considered even by those who supported the agreement. And according to media reports, momentum is building for a new congressional resolution that will condition U.S. tax-payer aid to the Palestinian Authority on its recognition of Israel’s right to exist and its efforts to curb incitement to violence.

America’s defense establishment also recognizes that Israel is obligated to defend its citizens, and appreciates its efforts to minimize the harm to civilians in combat zones.

Indicative of today’s close U.S.-Israeli defense relationship, U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford chose Israel for his first official overseas visit in his new role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Dunford took on the job on October 1. Last night he landed in Israel and was welcomed with an honor guard at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Arrival Ceremony for Gen. Joseph Dunford

Arrival Ceremony for Gen. Joseph Dunford

During the long-planned visit, Gen. Dunford will meet with his Israeli counterparts in order to “reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel and the strong ties between our militaries and our two countries,” according to Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, the chairman’s special assistant for public affairs.

Today Gen. Dunford met with IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and with Israel’s Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon.

In his excellent book, The Future of the Jews: How Global Forces are Impacting the Jewish People, Israel, and Its Relationship with the United States (2012), former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Stuart E. Eizenstat, who has held senior US government positions in three presidential administrations, describes the concrete security benefits that Israel provides to the United States:

“During the Cold War, Israel was the most reliable ally in a region where many of the Arab states were aligned with the Soviet Union, and it helped retard the spread of Soviet power…During the first Gulf War, with Scud missiles landing from Iraq, Israel refrained from retaliating at the request of President George H. W. Bush in order to avoid splintering America’s Arab alliance against Saddam Hussein. Israel continues to share real-time intelligence on terrorism aimed at the U.S. and the West and not just terrorism directed at Israel. General George F. Keegan, the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, said he could not have obtained the same intelligence he received from Israel even from ‘five CIAs.’…Israeli arms purchases from Boeing and General Dynamics support U.S. jobs—some estimate as many as 50,000—since the great majority of Israel’s U.S. military aid must be spent in America…Israel also shares cutting-edge defense technology, such as Israeli-made armor and medical battlefield expertise that has saved the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan…Israel developed and provides unmanned aerial drones to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the Mexican border…and to track down terrorists in Afghanistan and special armored vehicles that help protect American troops from roadside bombs…”

Eizenstat’s list goes on and on.

So, the American-Israeli relationship is today rock solid, despite Obama.

Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


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