Israel must restore bipartisanship in the US political system

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For Israel, maintaining bipartisan support has traditionally been a central pillar of its relationship with the United States. Sadly, this essential component of the Jewish state’s most crucial alliance has come under attack. When Israel is seen to be aligned with one or the other American political party, regardless of the short-term gain sought, it will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on Israel’s long-term interests.

President Donald Trump’s unambiguous and overt support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and vice versa, has solidified a dangerous public image in recent years that Israel favors the Republican Party. It’s an unfortunate change, and even with Trump now removed from office, the forces he unleashed are still trying to push this dangerous dynamic forward. No question today better illustrates the partisanship that Israel now evokes than the battles of confirmation in Congress.

In recent weeks, partisan supporters wielding the mantle of being ‘pro-Israel’ have sought to hijack Dr Colin Kahl’s confirmation as US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the third office of the Department of Defense. . Using the map of Israel in an attempt to discredit Kahl, these fierce partisan critics cited the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, though it is hardly used as a litmus test for other people. named.

The irony in Kahl’s case is that his record on Israel is impeccable, including a strong commitment to the two countries’ security alliance. Between 2009 and 2011, Kahl served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East: the Pentagon’s key man for policy in the region, including the security alliance with Israel.

He has visited the country more than a dozen times and held dozens of meetings with Israeli security officials. Kahl not only contributed to close security coordination, he was a key player in one of the most effective products of the Israeli-American alliance: the development and deployment of the anti-missile rescue system. Iron Dome.

The facts should matter, and the fact is that Kahl was instrumental in driving the process at the Pentagon to approve the funding and development of a large number of batteries of this revolutionary technology. It is no coincidence that three retired Israeli generals – Amos Yadlin, Amos Gilead and Gadi Shamni – recently endorsed Kahl.

But what about Kahl’s support for the Obama-Biden Iran deal? In 2015, Kahl was National Security Advisor to then Vice President Joe Biden with a global portfolio. It is absurd to selectively blame individual advisers for being “anti-Israel”.

Indeed, many members of the Israeli security establishment now admit that the deal was preferable to the no-deal situation we find ourselves in now, following Trump’s withdrawal in 2018. Even the Israelis who stood by Opponents of the deal – like the Three Generals – recognize that Kahl was attentive to Israel’s needs and was an effective “bridge” between Israel and the United States on this tense issue.

Those in America who use the map of Israel in partisan battles, like the appointment of Kahl, may think they are serving Israel’s interests. They are not. Indeed, their use of Israel as a partisan wedge issue weakens Israel, which cannot afford to be drawn into US domestic politics.

Israel’s alliance with America, one of its most formidable strategic assets, will not survive in the long run if partisan actors continue to undermine the two-party system that has long supported this unique relationship. Israel also has a disproportionate interest in maintaining American strength and ensuring that the defense establishment is led by committed, intelligent and resilient officials such as Dr. Colin Kahl.

The writer is an Israeli security expert. He is the former academic director of the Israel National Defense College (on behalf of the University of Haifa), a former deputy foreign policy adviser to the Israeli prime minister and a member of the board of directors of Mitvim, a group of Israeli thinking.


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