Some foreign policy experts say the new willingness to suggest that the Israeli government’s actions may become an American national security liability marks a backlash against the Bush-era neoconservative agenda, which posited that America and Israel were fighting together to promote democracy in an unstable region.
One Jewish adviser to the administration invoked concerns that ordinary Americans might get so frustrated with Israeli government actions that they will begin to question America’s support for that government. He asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivities surrounding the issue.
More recently, Daniel Levy, director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and a member of J Street, said in an interview: “America has three choices. Either say, it’s politically too hot a potato to touch, and just pay the consequences in the rest of the world. Or try to force through a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, so that the Palestinian grievance issue is no longer a driving force or problem.” The third choice, he said, “is for America to say, we can’t solve it, but we can’t pay the consequences, so we will distance ourselves from Israel. That way America would no longer be seen, as it has been this week, as the enabler of excesses of Israeli misbehavior.”
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Levy advocates the second choice. But he warns that the third may become more palatable to Americans if Mr. Netanyahu’s government stays on its present course.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, author of one of the most well-read blogs in the American Jewish community, put it this way: “I don’t necessarily believe you solve all of America’s problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen by freezing settlement growth. On the other hand, there’s no particular reason for Israel to make itself a pain in the tush either.”