Netanyahu’s speech: Israel is not a good friend to the US

The US has many better friends than Israel

Among the many troubling statements in Netanyahu’s speech before the US congress yesterday, it was something that he said at the very outset, which really stood out:

Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel.

The first sentence is true. Indeed, it is probably an understatement. The US extends to Israel support and assistance which it provides to no other country in the world (perhaps not even to some parts of the US itself).

The second sentence is false. The US has plenty of better friends than Israel. There are countries in the world that have put their soldiers in harm’s way when the US was attacked on September 11th. Others have changed policies or offered diplomatic support despite the internal and external price they had to pay.

Certainly, they have done so for their own interests, or because the US had done the same for them. But both considerations apply to Israel as well. And yet, this country refuses to show any consideration for US interests, even when the price to pay is tiny.

The settlement freeze debacle and the ugly, and pointless, confrontation between Netanyahu and Obama over 1967 borders are just the most recent examples. Israel has repeatedly embarrassed the US, and undermined its initiatives and policies, for the last few decades, on issues ranging from human rights to nuclear disarmament. It backed down from selling US technologies to China only under monumental pressure, recruited spies in the US to get information the Americans would not share, and many other acts of ingratitude.

It is a well-known psychological phenomenon, that a person is often more bound to another by extending help rather than receiving it. The more you assist someone else, the more you feel committed to her, rather than the other way around. The US-Israel relationship is a perfect example of that.