Who’s Insulting Whom?

The America-Israel alliance has never looked so shaky. 

A historic alliance is taking some severe punishment. The relationship between America and Israel was rocked by diplomatic crisis in March, and by all indications will never be the same.

It was triggered by an ill-advised announcement about a new housing complex in Jerusalem. In early March, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden landed in Israel supposedly to reignite peace talks between Palestinians and Jews. As it turned out, the Obama administration used Biden’s visit to trigger a diplomatic assault against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

During the visit, Israel’s interior minister announced that plans had been approved for 1,600 housing units to be built in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. Netanyahu immediately apologized to Biden for the awkward timing of the announcement and Biden graciously accepted the apology. He left Israel on March 11 calling his trip a success.

The next day, however, the White House went ballistic. An enraged President Barack Obama ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to upbraid Netanyahu, which she promptly did during a much-publicized, 43-minute phone call. Later, a Clinton spokesman publicly questioned Israel’s seriousness with respect to the peace process. On March 14, senior White House adviser David Axelrod decried the housing announcement as “an affront” and “an insult” aimed at the United States.

The incident illustrated a significant trend we began to forecast in our March/April 2004 issue: America’s eventual abandonment of Israel. “For many Arabs, the number-one reason to hate America is its support for Israel,” we wrote. “As the U.S. war against terrorism continues to yield high bills, a steady body count and a booming crop of anti-Americanism worldwide, is it possible that Americans will begin to think, Why are we making ourselves such a target over that little country? Prophecy suggests such an eventuality.”

No Pictures, Please

After the vicious White House response, Netanyahu apologized again—profusely. He said he knew nothing about the announcement and ordered an investigation into the matter.

The context of the announcement, however, is significant. Even if Israel wanted to embarrass Vice President Biden, perhaps because of America’s failure to confront Iran, the housing plan in no way represented a policy change. In all probability, if the construction announcement hadn’t come during Biden’s visit, it wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. Why? Simply because Israel has never stopped building in Jerusalem. As Netanyahu noted on March 15, “No government of Israel for the last 40 years has agreed to place restrictions on building in Jerusalem.” In November, Netanyahu’s administration ordered a freeze on construction plans in the West Bank. But that 10-month moratorium specifically excluded Jerusalem. Why, then, would Washington shriek as if Israel is grabbing more territory?

Netanyahu visited the U.S. later in the month to try to mend the diplomatic breach between the two countries. The trip, however, only further highlighted just how strained relations between the U.S. and Israel have become. The Israeli prime minister maintained his stance on the issue of “settlements,” getting a cold reception from Washington that included no photograph opportunities and no official statements.

The snub was even worse than the one we reported last November: Then, when Netanyahu visited the White House, he was brought in under cover of night in an unmarked van, forced to leave through a side exit alone and ordered to keep quiet about what was discussed.

Ramat Shlomo, the northern Jerusalem neighborhood at the center of the recent diplomatic storm, is populated by religious Jews. It’s adjacent to other Jewish neighborhoods. But because it happens to be on the wrong side of the 1967 Green Line, barely, the Obama administration speaks of this 15-year-old neighborhood as a “settlement” and is treating it as the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Never mind the fact that by demanding a freeze on construction in Jewish neighborhoods east of the Green Line, the White House is simultaneously maintaining that for a Palestinian state to ever work, the territory in question must first be ethnically cleansed of Jews.

It’s not unlike the vision Palestinian leaders have for a future Palestinian state, except that theirs includes a Jew-free Israel as well.

Actual Provocations

Meanwhile, even as Washington condemned Israel’s ill-timed announcement as being injurious to the peace process, it seemed utterly unconcerned about the Palestinians dedicating a town square to a terrorist who killed more than 30 Israelis—a move that happened right after Biden left the region.

Dalal Mughrabi, a Fatah woman, spearheaded a massacre in 1978 in which 37 Israeli civilians and an American were killed and 71 wounded in a bus hijacking on Israel’s Coastal Road. At that time, the attack was carried out for the very purpose of shutting down peace talks between Israel and Egypt.

On March 11, a square in el-Bireh was named in honor of Mughrabi, who is responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history. While the Palestinian Authority said the inauguration of the square had been postponed, presumably to avoid offending Vice President Biden, Fatah (the Palestinian faction that the U.S. and Israel actually recognize) went ahead with an official naming ceremony the day of Biden’s departure.

Not to stop there, on March 14 the Palestinian Authority launched a four-day seminar named after the notorious terrorist—the “Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Camp”—purportedly to discuss PA legislative and local elections. Being held as it was on the 32nd anniversary of the 1978 terrorist attack, the Jerusalem Post said it was “seen more as a rally in honor of Mughrabi than as an academic seminar” (March 15).

If the timing of these undeniably provocative acts by the Palestinian Authority was an “affront” to the peace process, you’d never know it from the angry remarks made by the White House. Those were reserved for America’s closest, most dependable ally in the Middle East.

A Prophecy Being Fulfilled

America’s treatment of Israel given the circumstances is truly extraordinary.

Israel has been looking for peace, “literally dying for peace,” as columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, since 1947 (March 19). Back then, like today, the Palestinians rejected a two-state solution and opted for war. They rejected Israel’s offer for peace in 1967—and again in 1978. They rejected Ehud Barak’s Palestinian statehood proposal in 2000—then Ehud Olmert’s in 2008.

Last year, Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to create an independent Palestinian state. Then, in November, he became the first Israeli prime minister to temporarily freeze construction in the West Bank.

The Palestinians, who have made no concessions, have flatly rejected Netanyahu’s gestures and have refused to join Israel at the negotiating table. Yet, in the minds of White House officials, it’s Israel that’s holding up the peace process.

What an insult to Israel.

And what a fulfillment of Bible prophecy!

“Manasseh shall devour Ephraim,” the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “and Ephraim Manasseh; Together [the United States and Britain] they shall be against Judah [Israel]” (Isaiah 9:21, New King James Version). The band that once joined these three brothers together has been shredded.

As we wrote in March/April 2004, “In Zechariah 11:14 is a prophecy that God would ‘break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.’ This may well refer to a future rift between America (biblical Israel) and the Jewish state (Judah). If America turned its back on the Jews, it would leave little Israel isolated and vulnerable.”

Carefully watch as America’s relationship with Israel continues to deteriorate—and take note of who Israel turns to for help. That, too, is prophesied.