Judging by the headlines, rarely has there been more friction between the United States and Israel than there is now.
A leaked transcript of a supposedly snarling conversation between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Derisive public condemnation of Secretary of State John Kerry for his handling of cease-fire talks. Accusations that the FAA ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel was politically motivated.
Apparently, the fog of war in the Middle East reaches all the way to Foggy Bottom.
In his efforts to reach a cease-fire, Kerry seemed to dismiss an Egyptian proposal that had proven acceptable to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Instead he got chummy with Qatar and Turkey, two nations that embrace Hamas, and sent Israel a proposal that ignored Israel’s demand that Gaza be disarmed, while giving Hamas what it wanted: an end to Israel’s blockade, the opening of border crossings and back pay for terrorists.
The initial outcry from Israel was understandable but too harsh. Kerry’s long history of support for Israel would suggest that this was a blunder, at the very worst.
In the days since, Israeli and American officials have corrected course on those missteps. Both governments vehemently deny the authenticity of the purported Obama-Netanyahu conversation, and the White House says Kerry’s proposal wasn’t a final version.
Let us remember that war creates turbulence felt far from the battlefield. Bottom line, the United States and Israel want the same thing: a safe and secure Israel that lives without the threat of rockets and terror tunnels.
Congress certainly has shown unwavering support for Israel. In addition to resolutions condemning Hamas and supporting Israel’s goals in the conflict, the Senate reintroduced the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, already passed in the House, which would strongly enhance ties. With 79 co-sponsors, it should pass easily.
In her statement reintroducing the bill, our own Sen. Barbara Boxer said on July 28, “This legislation sends a clear message that America’s bond with Israel remains unbreakable, and I am proud that it has the support of more than three-quarters of the Senate.”
Despite occasional tensions, both nations are on the same page. It’s just that sometimes the winds of war blow the pages apart.