A US Official’s ‘Blistering’—but Anonymous—Response to Israeli Insults

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused the US of “feebleness” in a speech at Tel Aviv University on March 17–prompting a tame, timid (and rather feeble) response from US officials–including one who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By Richard Edmondson

The US-Israel “special relationship” is unprecedented in world history. And not only that, it violates the laws of nature.

Never before in recorded history has a large, powerful nation come to be dominated by a small country with substantially lesser military capabilities. It has never happened. Yet such a conquest has fallen upon America.

Recent insults—and a perhaps not-so-subtle threat—by an Israeli official have angered the Obama White House, but the administration has found itself powerless to respond in any kind of meaningful fashion, and as such, the case provides us with a glaring illustration of the disproportionality of the power dynamics between the two countries.

On March 17, in comments delivered at Tel Aviv University, Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon criticized the US for projecting an image of “feebleness” around the world, specifically singling out what he regards as weak US policies toward Russia, China, and Iran.

“I heard voices of disappointment in the region. I was in Singapore and heard disappointment about China getting stronger and the US getting weaker,” Ya’alon said. “Look what’s happening in Ukraine, where the United States is demonstrating weakness, unfortunately.”

Ya’alon also apparently believes the US should step up front and center and go to war right away with Iran.

“At some stage the United States entered into negotiations with [the Iranians], and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better,” he said.

Voicing criticism of “comfortable Westerners” who “prefer to put off confrontation,” Ya’alon suggested that with regard to Iran, the Jewish state may simply have to “behave as though we have nobody to look out for us, but ourselves,” hinting at the possibility of an Israeli attack.

Finally, the official issued what some could easily construe as an indirect threat to America, given Israel’s almost certain involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

“If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again,” he said. “Even if you hunker down, it will come. This is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer.”

For every American who knows of the five dancing Israelis, the collapse of Building 7, the luck of Larry Silverstein, and other 9/11 details too numerous to go into here, the specter of an Israeli official warning that “terrorism will come again” should set off alarm bells.

Ya’alon’s comments received scant attention from mainstream media in the US, but were widely reported in Israeli media and in Jewish publications, as well as by Russian broadcaster RT. And they also drew a carefully measured response from State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has said that the breadth of our security cooperation is unprecedented,” Psaki said. “So, it is certainly confusing to us why Defense Minister Ya’alon would continue his pattern of making comments that don’t accurately represent the scope of our close partnership on a range of security issues and on the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel.”

The “continued pattern” mentioned by Psaki refers to comments Ya’alon made back in January. At that time, the Israeli official created a stir when he called John Kerry “obsessive and messianic,” suggesting the US Secretary of State’s real objective was obtaining a “Nobel Prize”—a remark he followed up a few days later with a wistful complaint that the US and Europe simply “are mistaken and don’t understand the Middle East.”

Psaki’s public response to his latest affront was issued on Wednesday of last week, but at around the same time another US official, speaking anonymously and off the record, voiced a somewhat stronger objection—a statement that again got picked up mostly by Israeli and Jewish media, and which Haaretz described as “blistering.”

“We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States,” the unnamed official said. “Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the defense minister disparages the U.S. administration, and insults its most senior officials. 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.”

You could hardly call the above “blistering.” But of course given the fact that Washington rarely voices anything other than unequivocal support for Israel, it’s quite fathomable that Israeli media would use the term.

There is also somewhat of a comical element here: it almost makes one chortle to think that whoever the official was—maybe it was Kerry, or Obama himself—was so terrified of the Israeli lobby that they refused to allow the reporter to quote them by name. No doubt the Israelis are chortling over it, at any rate.

Following the “blistering” US response, Ya’alon held a phone conversation with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in which he reportedly insisted his comments “were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States”—a remark which some Israeli media interpreted as an “apology” on Ya’alon’s part.

This, however, is not how it was taken by the Obama administration. Responding the next day, Psaki said the US is “disappointed with the lack of an apology” by Ya’alon, and that such a measure of contrition would be a “natural next step.”

But the “natural next step” was never made. In fact, on Sunday Benjamin Netanyahu did a guest appearance on an Israeli comedy show during which he was asked about the flap over Ya’alon’s comments. The prime minister joked in reply that certain people should go on a “speaking diet,” though without specifying who. Maybe he meant Psaki, not Ya’alon.

In a guest appearance on an Israeli comedy show, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joked that certain people should go on a “speaking diet.”

Certainly America’s leaders merit insults—I’d be the last to suggest otherwise—but not for their failure (so far) to launch missiles into Iran or start a world war with Russia or China. No. What makes the Obama administration, the Congress, the two main political parties and virtually the entire political system in America worthy of insults—heaps and piles of them from every single American, man, woman, and child—is the sickening, macabre level of pandering and kowtowing to the Israeli lobby. Ya’alon is right: the US projects feebleness and decrepitude—but because of its craven servility to Jewish power. People all over the world understand that. And they do disrespect America for it, including—and perhaps especially—the Israelis themselves.

After the defense minister’s first round of insults back in January, I posted an article entitled Israeli Minister Insults Kerry; America P.O.’ed to the Hilt, in which I commented that “an interplanetary traveler arriving on earth for the first time would certainly be forgiven for thinking that it must be Israel who is giving the US $3 billion a year—rather than the other way around.” I also noted that human patience has a limit.

“One of these days,” I said, “US officials, fed up with being kicked around, humiliated, and insulted by their putative Israeli ‘allies,’ are going to lash out in an explosion of genuine anger.”

Something is seriously amiss in the so-called “special relationship.” Many Americans have already figured this out, and many more increasingly are becoming aware of it with each passing day. A large nation of 300 million people being dominated by a tiny country of just 8 million is, as I said above, historically unprecedented. Americans might just as well pay their taxes directly to Israel.

Taxation without representation is something we supposedly fought a revolution over more than two centuries ago, but now we are paying billions each year to Israel with nothing to show for it but an astronomical debt, a media that feeds us lies, and leaders too weak and frightened even to respond to the smaller-but-primary government’s insults. Americans were never allowed to vote on the role of “global policeman,” and moreover the badge upon the policeman’s shirt is the star of David, not the American flag, something growing legions of people around the world, certainly in the pulverized countries being “policed,” are well aware of.

And as I say, it not only is historically unprecedented, it also violates the laws of nature as they apply to relationships between the weak and the powerful. One of these days, nature will move to correct this imbalance; one of these days that “explosion of genuine anger” will occur. The American people will find leaders with the courage to throw off the chains.

My hope is that Israelis like Ya’alon will go on imperiously hurling their insults, for it hastens that day’s arrival. And when it finally does come, the outlook for the Jewish state will be anything but pretty.