Bibi’s Win Threat to U.S.-Israel Shared Values?
In the hours leading up to his landslide win in last week’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made comments which some interpreted as a repudiation of the “two-state” solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Netanyahu rejected this characterization of his remarks. Netanyahu pointed out that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refuses to recognize the Jewish state and that Abbas is allied with Hamas, which calls for Israel’s annihilation. Under these conditions a peaceful two state solution simply is not possible. Nevertheless, the controversy led to a discussion of whether Israel and the United States still have “shared values”:
WASHINGTON — For years, American politicians have waxed poetic about the “shared values” of the United States and Israel – ideals that typically aren’t spelled out but usually are taken to mean the basic tenets of Western democracy.
That time-worn phrase came under scrutiny this week in the aftermath of a particularly ugly Israeli election.
At Thursday’s White House briefing, spokesman Josh Earnest brought up the values issue “to make note of it,” even though he hadn’t been questioned on the topic. He launched into a mini-soliloquy, beginning by describing Israel as a vibrant democracy that’s tethered to the United States by “shared values and a commitment to a set of values that are deeply integrated into our country, our government and our citizens.”
Earnest continued by saying that Netanyahu’s “cynical, divisive election day tactics” only serve to “erode at the values that are critical to the bond between our two countries.”
The U.S. editor of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, tweeted the day Netanyahu made his anti-Arab remarks that no matter who won the election, “in terms of Israel’s so-called moral superiority and ‘shared values’ with US, this day will live in infamy.”
Other Twitter users drew comparisons between the anti-Arab rhetoric and the ugly racial history of Selma, Ala., invoking the hashtag #SharedValues with bitter sarcasm.
Public opinion polls continue to reflect strong U.S. support for Israel, though some demographic segments – young people, women, Democrats – have shown pockets of concern about Israel’s human rights record and settlement building, analysts said.
U.S. officials dodged questions about how the Obama administration might make clear its disapproval of Israel’s hard-right shift to principles that are hard to swallow even for some conservative Americans.