Israel’s war in Lebanon and America’s exposure to Arab terorism in Lebanon have had decisive influences on America’s Middle East policy and are part of recent developments which have “fundamentally altered” Israel’s international position, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said here.
Two other recent developments which have affected Israel’s international position are the decline of Arab oil power, matched by a parallel decline in Arab financial power, and the decline of the PLO which, after the war in Lebanon, now “leads a fragmented and divisive existence,” Netanyahu said.
Focusing on America’s present perception of the Middle East in general and of Israel in particular, he told the more than 2,000 delegates attending the 53rd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, that the terrorist attacks against U.S. military installations and armed forces personnel in Beirut “was the first time that America as a country was so tragically exposed to Arab terrorism.”
This experience, Netanyahu pointed out, had “a profound effect on the public at large and on policymakers in Washington. Leading American statesmen have come to recognize what Israel knew and argued all along: that terrorism is a new form of warfare aimed at all the democracies … and that it must be vigorously resisted, if necessary with military means.”
This new American recognition, “so new that some in Washington still have difficulty in grasping it, has profound implications for Israel’s continuing war against terror, as it does for the rest of the world,” Netanyahu declared.
U.S. HAS MORE SOBER GRASP OF THE MIDEAST
But Lebanon contributed in another way to a change of American perception, he said. “All the facile remarks about the ‘centrality of the Palestinian problem to the Middle East conflict’ were shown up as hollow before a splintered Arab world, the murderous infighting within the PLO and the ceaseless strife of faction against faction, tribe against tribe, in Lebanon.”
Continuing his analysis, Netanyahu said that in “this more sober grasp of the Middle East, America learned that it had overestimated the mettle of the non-radical regimes and underestimated the blind fanaticism of both the Soviet-backed radicals and the Moslem fundamentalists. In these shifting sands, America found its alliance with Israel the only point of real stability and strength. That alliance is now being further enhanced through strategic cooperation between the two countries.”
ISRAEL, U.S. IN ‘REINVIGORATED PARTNERSHIP’
Israel’s “reinvigorated partnership” with America has profound implications beyond the two countries, Netanyahu observed. It shores up the position of the non-radical Arab states that are too weak or too frightened to fend for themselves and also creates opportunities to solve Israel’s difficult economic problems.
The principal cause of the economic problems, he said, “is our crushing expenditure on unavoidable defense outlays. For we cannot be expected to be the only country aligned with the West, and at the center of conflict at that, to carry such a financial burden. South Korea does not. NATO does not. Even Japan, rich as it is, does not. Yet from Europe to Japan, America will nto find another ally more willing and competent to defend itself and in so doing to defend Western interests.”
Netanyahu pointed out that the U.S. and Israel continue to differ on the issues of the West Bank settlements and arms sales to Arab regimes, but that the two countries differ “as respectful allies, committed to defending our common interests in the region.”
The Israeli diplomat stated that for Israel, “this is a time of great opportunities. More than at any moment in its history, the international situation, at times so bleak, offers tremendous possibilities for us.”
TWO NOTIONS MUST BE RE-EXAMINED
Given the new situation, he siad that two notions “which have been etched into our political thinking during our long history as a stateless people” must be re-examined.The first, Netanyahu said.”is the belief that the whole world is againsturs.It is not. Of the world’s many nations, some are against us, some are not, and some are decidedly for us.”
The second notion, he continued, is “that our diplomacy can produce a messianic era of peace, an end-of-days in which we would finally relax our vigil. This will not happen …. In world affairs there are no Hollywood endings nor Jewish Disney worlds. The only sustainable peace is the one that can be constantly, tirelessly defended. Both the history of this century, and the nature of the regimes that now confront us, show that this sober assessment is more relevant than ever.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.