by Gad Nahshon
"Israel must finally realize that it must be more self-reliant, that it cannot depend on any major power partner for help or guidance. That kind of help seems almost always to come with strings attached and conditions..." concluded Prof. Herbert Druks, an expert on American diplomacy and the historical Israeli-American relationship which some experts define as a unique bond, a honeymoon or kinship. But Prof. Druks is aware of the fact that this relationship is between a super-power in the age of Pax Americana and a small State in the Near East. As a frequent visitor to Israel, a scholar who is well connected to the Israeli political elite, Prof. Druks is aware of the recent intensive process of domestic Americanization of the Israeli society.
As a scholar of international relations he is also aware of the process to isolate Israel from the international community, to turn her into a pariah. But Prof. Druks still believes that Israel cannot take American support for granted, the honeymoon can turn into a terrible disappointment or even divorce. He pointed out as to Israel's future: "It must not rely on the smile, the handshake, or the pat on the back of a president, a secretary of state or even brethren overseas." Prof. Druks does not like Israeli-American permanent alliances. Even George Washington did not like them! "Such friendships and alliances are uncertain," he wrote. Therefore, Prof. Druks, a critical scholar of Israel U.S.A. relations entitled his new research on this topic as The Uncertain Alliance The U.S. and Israel From Kennedy to the Peace Process (Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 2001).
Prof. Druks published two more books: Harry S. Truman and the Russian (New York, 1981) and The Failure to Rescue (NY, 1977). He is a professor of history and politics in the department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College. He published many articles and taught in a few universities such as Yale University and Haifa University as well. The Uncertain Alliance is a contribution to the understanding of the Israeli-American complex. It is an analytical illuminating survey of the period from 1960 to 2000 (from the Kennedy presidency to the Clinton one).
Prof. Druks did not discuss domestic issues such as the pro-Israeli lobby. And perhaps he is pessimistic as to the devotion of American Jewry to Israel! It should be noted that Prof. Druks discussed the issue of John F. Kennedy and Israel, which merits a book. Prof. Druks based his research on primary sources and oral history. He interviewed Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Simcha Dinitz, Mordecai Gazit, Bibi Netanyahu, Ezer Weizman, Eytan Ben-Zur, Moshe Arens and others. Prof. Druks used office documents and even published Menachem Begin's famous speech in the Knesset (Nov. 13, 1973) as a response to the tragedy of the Yom Kippur War. The following are Prof. Druks comments, remarks and insights as to the various U.S.A.'s administrations. This is Druks' historical analytical background which produced, in his scholarly mind, the notion of The Uncertain Alliance.
Kennedy changed the U.S.A.'s policy and established a special relationship with Israel. He was the first president who sold arms to Israel and guaranteed its security. But he refused the Israeli pressure (Ben Gurion) to sign an alliance with Israel. His "court Jew" was Myer Feldman. President Johnson and President Nixon just supported Israel because it helped to reinforce American self-interest. And the State Department essentially did define them. It is a fact that America hesitated in the Yom Kippur to support Israel. Only Nixon warned his team: "The Israelis must not be allowed to lose." He personally pushed the military supplies to Israel's war machine. Nixon, Prof. Druks wrote, was afraid that the Soviets will be the true winners of this war.
Truman recognized Israel in 1948 but "...upheld the U.N. arms embargo. Eisenhower was friendly to Israel but suggested a transfer of part of the Negev to Egypt, a country with which he sided in 1956-1957. And Nixon followed the same pattern: The super-power looks only for its interests. Nixon, Prof. Druks argued, did not care that Israel was a democracy and tended not to send weapons to Israel after the Yom Kippur War but supported economic aid to Israel.
The American policy as to the war on Lebanon in 1982 which became controversial was packed with contradiction. Reagan defined himself as a true friend of Israel. And introduced his peace plan. It did not work out. The lesson of the 1982 war was that Israel cannot rely on allies. And "Israel had not found a way to extricate itself from U.S. dependence. Some could say that Israel's political leaders had failed to learn from the past," remarked Prof. Druks.
The Lavi Project: Israel developed Lavi, a jet fighter-bomber. This project (1982) was Israel's new secret weapon, the future air force which would have been the King of the Near East's sky! Reagan supported this project but later was pressured by American corporations and his country pressured Israel to abort this genius project. Shamir and Arens refused to give in but in 1987, Reagan pressed again. The Lavi was killed by America. As to George Bush's (father) administration, the issue was the 1991 Dessert Storm war with Iraq (the Persian Gulf War). Prof. Druks concluded as to the Iraqi scud missile attacks on Israel: "Prime Minister Shamir and his entourage had surrendered Israel's independence and its right of self-defense to the fickle and uncertain whim of Washington and the American military industrial complex."
He saw a dangerous pattern of behavior. Golda Meir should not have surrendered in 1973 to the American pressures! And Shamir should not have followed her, argued Druks. Furthermore, said Druks, "But this was only the beginning of the pressure Bush and his successor William Clinton would exercise on Israel in order to achieve their formula of "peace for land." Druks argued that the peace process or the Oslo Agreements or Accords just demonstrates the pattern of American behavior toward Israel. It is the Pax Americana century. And he is critical as to the Israeli policy which is still, according to him, trying to achieve an alliance with this super power which has behaved only according to its interests.
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