After hearing an excellent presentation last night from Khalid Abu Toameh, it was quite stunning to hear a very different but equally powerful presentation from Yoram Ettinger at the AGM of the NSW State Zionist Council earlier tonight.
The topic was U.S.-Israel relations, and these were the main points I came away with:
There is a very powerful, deep and long lasting bond between Israel and the U.S. The bond goes back to the early pilgrims and the sense of the U.S. as the new Canaan, an upholder of Judeo-Christian tradition, as seen by the large number of American towns with bibilical names e.g. Salem, Massachusetts, the statues of Moses in the Congress and Supreme Courts. Going beyond structure and time, the bond is manifest in the ongoing support of the Congress – Democrat and Republican – and the Gallop polls of the U.S. people, complete with rebuke of the President for his recent rudeness to Israel.
Conflicts between Israel and the U.S. have traditionally been a V shape with rapid conflict and rapid resolution. The sense in the U.S. of Israel as a strong ally has been paradoxically strengthened over the years by the ability of Israeli leaders to say NO to the U.S. if Israeli sovereign interests were being threatened by U.S. demands: Ben Gurion said no, and in their turn so did Eshkol, Golda Meir and Shamir. When Ben Gurion was asked why he defied his U.S. critics, he replied – “When I defy my critics, I strengthen my supporters”.
Previous U.S. leaders before Pres Obama had always had a Judeo-Christian upbringing and heritage. Pres Obama is the first president for who this heritage does not have the same resonance: his adolescent change of name from Barry to Barak Hussein is one manifestation of this. He can also be assessed by those he holds close to himself – Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Jim Jones – none of whom have a sympathy to Israel.
In contrast to the current coterie, Alexander Haig likened Israel to a huge aircraft carrier in the Middle East defending U.S. interests, without the need for U.S. soldiers. A $3 billion investment in Israel trumps the $30 billion dollars plus U.S aircraft carriers that would be otherwise needed to safeguard U.S. interests in the area.
Yoram Ettinger ended with a large unanswered question mark. What will PM Netanyahu do? Will he stand up for Israel’s interests like his predecessors?
Yoram Ettinger is speaking in Mebourne and then again in Sydney over Shavuot. Compelling, forthright, disturbing .. all of these and more.. he is well worth hearing.
… and a brief word to acknowledge that the evening also commemorated Yom Yerushalayim – a Massada school choir beautifully sang songs of Jerusalem and recited words of praise for Jerusalem.
As part of the AGM, the many successful activities of the State Zionist Council over the past year were reviewed, in particular the active Zionist youth groups, and the functions including Yom Haatzmaut.