US Ambassador John Gunther Dean on Israel
The Palestinian issue is the most overwhelming, complex and dangerous issue facing American foreign policy for several reasons. It is also the most difficult problem to resolve because it is profoundly enmeshed with culpability, emotion and trepidation to the point of detachment from all rational thought. Americans, whether government officials or plain citizens, feel free to criticize the United States, Great Britain or France without fear of being accused of bias against to the people of those countries. But non-Jews are afraid of accusations of anti-Semitism, even if they limit their criticism of Israel to the intransigent policies of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The US attitude is not only damaging to us Americans but it fails to serve Israel or Jews in general. Israel is not nor has it ever been a charity case for the international community. It is a rich and powerful nation. (…)
Like any other states, Israel and America have national interests which do not always coincide. So that citizens of both nations may get together and evaluate this bilateral relationship, their interests must be defined in a rational manner so that they may decide on what they are prepared to do to defend them. This is assuredly how the Israelis view their relationship with the United States. When Israel sees a conflict between its objectives and ours, it naturally opts for its own. But America has rarely acted in this way.
At the governmental level, kid gloves are used on issues which have severely altered US interests. For example, the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon profoundly damaged relations between the United States and the rest of the Middle East; Israeli policies toward the Palestinians have frozen the peace process and assuredly fed terrorism directed against the United States.
We have closed our eyes to events which would have provoked military action if they had been perpetrated by other persons in other places. The two most salient illustrations are the 1954 burning of a library in Alexandria belonging to the US government by Israeli agents in an attempt to alter US-Egyptian relations; the second is the 1967 attempt by the Israeli Navy and Air Force to sink a US vessel. This attack cost the lives of 37 US sailors and wounded another 75. If any other nation had launched such an attack, there would have been immediate military retaliation.
Despite its fiscal problems, the United States has become a horn of plenty to Israel. It has granted aid or loans, with no expectation of repayment, to Israel for a total of $100 billion. We have established privileged trading agreements with Israel. We have subsidized the Israeli defense industry even while Israel evaded US policy by selling arms where Washington wished to put an end such trade, such as China. Conscious of the risk of being labeled anti-Semites, US experts on the Middle East do not dare to make the results of their studies public.
The Israelis act in a manner that is far more egotistical and security-obsessed than the Americans. While the Americans shyed away criticizing the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the well-known Israeli academic, Avi Shlaim, painted a stark portrait of Israeli occupation prior to the unilateral pullout (…).
Aware that they possess a blank check from the Americans, Israel pays little attention to the attempts by Washington to create conditions favorable to its policies in the Middle East.
But this does not mean that the Israelis are to blame. It is the Americans who are at fault. Israelis merely act rationally to defend their interests. It is the Americans who act irrationally. A certain number of Israelis share this opinion and believe that US weakness benefits above all Isreal's extreme Right. And in the end, it will be Israeli interests and Israeli democracy which will bear the consequences.