Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, has been forced to apologize to the U.S. for the second time this year. His crime: telling the truth–again. Earlier this week, he said that Israel would have to face Iran alone because of Obama’s weakness on Iran, Syria, and the Ukraine. In January, he accused Secretary of State John Kerry of “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor” in his pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
The State Department blasted Ya’alon on both occasions. In January, it called his comments “offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.” Today, a U.S. official has said: “given the unprecedented commitment that this administration has made to Israel’s security, we are mystified why the defense minister seems intent on undermining the relationship.”
In both cases, the Obama administration has reacted to Ya’alon’s criticism by hinting darkly that U.S. support for Israel is conditional, fragile, and contingent on complete subservience by the Israeli government. It is worth noting that the State Department’s reaction to Ya’alon’s remarks–which, in January at least, were made in private–is completely disproportionate to its reaction when other countries, including allies, criticize the U.S.
It is also quite rich to hear Kerry berate Israel after publicly reneging on a promise to support its demand that Palestinians recognize its right to exist as a Jewish state–and stating that such a demand would be a “mistake,” as if he and President Barack Obama never committed to that goal themselves. Nothing speaks more to the weakness of the Obama administration than its repeated capitulation to extremist Palestinian demands.
Ya’alon’s truth-telling is refreshing and long overdue. He has only made one mistake: he trusts that the U.S. will continue to support Israel, in spite of his criticism, because it is in America’s interest to do so. However, the Obama administration cannot be trusted to do what is in America’s interests. In fact, it can often be relied upon to do the opposite. It would ruin U.S.-Israel relations to protect Obama’s ideological tastes and political vanity.