There is a belief in America widely practiced that it is wrong to criticize the state of Israel, that criticism comes from without — the enemy — and not from within — the ally.
However, if you were to see a friend, a compatriot or a loved one making decisions that could lead to likely harm, would it not be right to vocalize your worry for his or her welfare? It would be all the more right, all the more appropriate for you to vocalize your worry and concern if the decisions of this loved one could potentially come around and hurt you as well.
American news agencies of both the political left and the political right condemn President Obama for not being in agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies, in particular his policies regarding the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But neither the political left nor the political right will show similar condemnation towards the Prime Minister of Israel and other Israeli politicians who show dislike, impatience and even abhorrence of the President of the United States and other representatives of the country.
Recently, Facebook comments and portions of past columns by Israel’s head of public diplomacy and media, Ran Baratz, have surfaced. One statement read: “[Secretary of State John] Kerry’s mental age doesn’t exceed age 12.” Other statements implied — and others outright stated — that President Obama is an anti-Semite. Imagine how television pundits on Fox News and editorials in the New York Times would admonish and reprove President Obama if his head of publicity and media were to refer to Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, as having the mental development of a 12-year-old or of accusing PM Netanyahu of being racist towards blacks. There would be understandable outrage.
The U.S. is Israel’s greatest benefactor. No country in history has received more money in military aid than has Israel from the American taxpayer. Each year since the seventies, Israel has received $2 billion dollars—some years the largess reaches $4 and even $5 billion dollars — a royal gift and no mistake. And since such large amounts of money — money from U.S. citizens — goes to Israel’s military pocket, it follows that American citizens, whether they are aware of it or not, are entwined in the decisions of what Israel’s leaders choose to do with the money given them.
Long-loyal friends such as the United States and Israel need to look out for each other. Part of looking out for each other is criticizing each other, disagreeing and even condemning the policies and actions, past and present, of either country. So, if leader A says leader B is a fool, then fine, so long as both leaders and both countries are allowed and even encouraged to disagree and to critique. Otherwise, it is clear hypocrisy.
Especially since such large gifts of money are granted to Israel, Americans should be critical and involved and educated in the moves the state of Israel makes, and Americans should be equally ready for the consequences of poorly placed ones.