Israel and the U.S. and Russia

Israel and the U.S. and Russia

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Recent events suggest some fascinating, yet less obvious aspects of Israel’s relationship with the U.S. and with Russia. The interception of the Iranian ship in the Red Sea was indeed aided and abetted—at a minimum—by U.S. intelligence. The ship apparently loaded with highly sophisticated weapons was headed to supply radical Palestinian forces in Gaza with missiles capable of reaching all of Israel’s major population centers. How much Israel needed the intel is not clear, but the fact that the U.S.—not the Israelis—released the story of their cooperation is significant. Not only did the U.S. clearly and publically want to disclose the extent to which it is working with and supporting Israel, but it also wanted to use this interdiction to make clear how the U.S.-Israel relationship is understood both in Teheran as well as in Ramallah.

On the other hand, there was an interesting note to the U.S.-Israel relationship this time with respect to Russia.  It was more subtle but hardly less important. For the first week or so after the crisis erupted, Israel intentionally had not launched any verbal attacks on or made broad statements concerning Russia’s behavior in the Ukraine. In fact it was only prior to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s planned meeting with Secretary Kerry in Rome that Israel raised its concern about humanitarian considerations between Ukraine and Russia.

For Israel the 194,000 Jews—at least—in Russia and the 70,000 Jews reportedly in the Ukraine are a genuine concern. Protecting them from being singled out, as they have been throughout history presumably was something which Obama certainly understood. While the geopolitical considerations of the U.S. were undoubtedly  clear to Bibi, He knew that Israel’s priority must be focused on protecting the Jews and preventing giving both the Russians or Ukrainians –with their horrible history of anti-Semitism, opting to use this moment to unleash an attack against the indigenous Jewish population remaining in their countries, scapegoating them once again as responsible for the crisis.

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