[Marxism] The great US-Israel rift that isn't

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Wed Jan 1 06:19:28 MST 2014

The great US-Israel rift that isn't
Commentators point to discord on the Iran deal, but the two nations have 
an identical goal.
By Haim Saban

December 24, 2013

In recent weeks, the media have had a field day reporting on a so-called 
rift in the U.S.-Israel relationship over the nuclear negotiations with 
Iran. The story makes for great headlines, but it's poor analysis. 
Despite the heated rhetoric, the pillars that have anchored America's 
most important alliance in the Middle East for more than six decades are 
just as firmly rooted today as they have ever been.

Just hours after Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced the interim 
deal to halt Iran's nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 
Netanyahu appeared on American television and called the agreement "a 
historic mistake." Israeli media reported that there were major concerns 
in Jerusalem about back-channel U.S.-Iran talks, although it since has 
become clear that the Israeli government knew of these meetings in 

As a result, some commentators suggest that America's partnership with 
Israel - and with other U.S. allies in the Middle East - might fracture, 
eroding regional security and setting back U.S. interests in the area 
for years. The naysayers are using this one issue to suggest a 
fundamental divergence between the United States and Israel.

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These fears come from a focus on form over substance. In statement after 
statement, President Obama and Netanyahu continue to articulate an 
identical goal: Iran must not have nuclear weapons.

Observers may bemoan the lack of personal chemistry between Obama and 
Netanyahu, but international relationships needn't be love affairs 
between leaders. They rest on common interests, common values and 
reciprocity. This foundation is what has sustained an exceptional 
U.S.-Israel partnership through 65 years, 12 U.S. administrations and 
plenty of rocky news cycles.

The heated words of the last few weeks should be seen for what they are: 
a gap in how Jerusalem and Washington view the costs and benefits of the 
interim nuclear deal. But have they opened a rift, with significant 
implications for the future of the relationship? No. Far from it.

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For example, Israel recently hosted U.S. forces for "Blue Flag," a major 
joint military exercise involving dozens of fighter jets. This is a 
perfect example of how Israel and the United States can put aside their 
differences on one issue and continue to work closely together to 
advance their shared interests: fighting terrorism, ending the war in 
Syria, promoting global development and stabilizing the Middle East.

Senior national security officials of both countries say that the U.S. 
and Israel have never enjoyed closer military and intelligence 
cooperation, with both countries, and countless others, safer as a 
result. With U.S. support, Israel has developed a cutting-edge missile 
defense system that one day may be used to guard America, just as 
Israeli technology protects the vehicles that U.S. soldiers drive in 

Along the same lines, the two countries' intelligence collaboration has 
been crucial in combating global terrorist networks and keeping close 
tabs on Iran's nuclear program.

In fact, close U.S.-Israeli cooperation is what opened the window for 
recent negotiations with Iran. After defying the will of the 
international community for years, Iran finally changed its tune when 
Washington and Jerusalem stood shoulder to shoulder - not just on tough 
international sanctions but on their clear readiness to use force if 
necessary - to prevent Tehran from getting the bomb. In the face of 
growing international isolation and a plummeting economy, the Iranian 
people demanded that their leadership bring them relief, and Tehran was 
finally forced to the negotiating table.

The U.S.-Israel relationship is also cemented by the common values of 
democracy and human rights, and a shared vision for the global order. 
Both countries thrive in a world filled with open markets and open 
societies, and seek to advance those principles on the international 
stage, which is reflected in their nearly identical voting records at 
the United Nations.

In the coming months, close coordination and consultation between the 
U.S. and Israel will be crucial for reaching a positive outcome in the 
nuclear talks for a comprehensive deal with Iran. And so camera-ready 
rhetoric must give way to quiet conversation. The actions of Netanyahu 
and Obama tell far more about the continuing alignment of our two 
countries than any sensational headline.

And what those actions reflect is the strength of the relationship 
between our nations and the broader benefits that have resulted from it.

Haim Saban is a private equity investor, the chairman of the 
Spanish-language media company Univision and founder of the Saban Center 
for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution


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