Israel Plays Nice with Despots, Ignores (or worse) its Friends

Israel Russia friends

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow on January 29, 2018. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Stuart Lyle

Although the US has offered unwavering support for Israel, there is a pattern to Israel’s external economic and political relations that is clearly not in the interests of the US.  A recent article in the Intercept details Israel’s complex relationship with Putin’s Russia, including supplying drone technology used to help in Russia’s drive to save the Assad regime in Syria, which the US has spent heavily on trying to destabilize.

How Israeli-designed drones ended up supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a case study in the complicated relationship between Israel and Russia. Though Russia has been instrumental in protecting the Assad government, which appeared to be on the brink of collapse four years ago, it has also carefully cultivated a military relationship with Israel over the past decade.

Israel has started to play an outsized role in the proliferation of military-grade intelligence capabilities to nasty regimes worldwide.  The surveillance drones provided to Syria via Russia is just one example.  More insidious is the invasive cyber technology that Israeli technology companies have come to specialize in.  The notorious NSO Group has been linked to a hack of the popular instant messaging system, Whatsapp, with over a billion worldwide users, and specifically with the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Khasogghi.

Meanwhile, Israel has worked hard to suppress any criticism of its occupation of Palestinian lands and treatment of the citizens of Palestine.  There has been a relentless attack on the UK Labour Party for “anti-Semitism” in an obvious conflation of that prejudice with legitimate criticism of Israel as a state actor.  The real goal appears to be less to expose/eliminate anti-Semitism than to torpedo Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Party itself, since Corbyn is an unapologetic supporter for Palistinian rights.  There are still a few in Britain, however, that are willing to defend Corbyn.

In the US, the only groups considered by Israel as friendly are ones that are willing to blindly support Israeli policy, however damaging it is to the long-term peace in the region.  Ilhan Omar’s tame criticism of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestine and Palestinians brought a deluge of vitriol onto her, accusing her of being a committed anti-Semite.  Few in the US political elite are willing to make the inconvenient distinction between her legitimate criticism of the actions of a foreign power and real anti-Semitism.

Israel may currently have a friend in the White House, but its policies of cozying up to strategic rivals to the United States are not in the interests of the US, calling into question the motivation behind the ongoing, blind support it receives.

One thought on “Israel Plays Nice with Despots, Ignores (or worse) its Friends

  1. But wait! It gets worse!! According to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), of which I am a member, the US House of Representatives, in a rare display of bipartisanship, just voted overwhelmingly to make it a Federal crime to promote boycott of, divestment from or sanctions against the Zionist regime of Israel. Our beloved (ahem!) Congress, therefore, has sacrificed the notion of FREE SPEECH for US citizens in order to further display its support for Israeli seizure of Palestinian land and all the ugly human rights violations that come as baggage with those policies. In my humble opinion, this is AN UTTER DISGRACE. “My” Congressman, a Democrat, not surprisingly voted with the herd, and he has lost my vote for next year. Forever, in fact. The racist thugs in Tel Aviv not only have a friend in the White House now, they had one under Obama, George Walker Bush before him, William Jefferson Clinton before that…you get the picture. This all has zero to do with combatting real anti-Semitism and everything to do with defending what are perceived as US “national interests.” Politicians come and go, but strategic interests linger on and on.

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