Netanyahu is closing Israel's door to Washington
In 2006, Iran indirectly approached Israel via intermediaries with an unusual request: help us defuse the tension and establish contact with the US administration. Most likely this incident, published here for the first time, would have never borne any serious results. However, it reveals the image Israel enjoys, even among its most bitter enemies: The image of a country, that out of the 200 some-odd countries on earth, is perceived as having the most influence on America.
That image is now on the verge of being shattered, and not because of an orchestrated campaign by the numerous Israel bashers. That damage is entirely self-inflicted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many commentators have already criticized Netanyahu for heedlessly bashing the interim agreement regarding Iran's nuclear program, reached last month by the P5+1 and Iran. By doing so, the Israeli prime minister is undermining the strategic alliance between Washington and Jerusalem. A senior US official recently said that relations between the two allies have reached their lowest point in years.
But beyond the damage to bilateral relations with the US, there is another no less worrying bit of fallout from Netanyahu's assault on the agreement and the Obama administration. It may affect Israel's trade relations, arms and security exports and diplomatic encounters with many countries in the world.
By building and consolidating its special relationship with the US over several decades - an unprecedented relationship between a superpower and a tiny country - Israel has elevated itself to the imaginary status of "door-opener" to Washington.
No doubt, such an image is rooted in a biased perception, if not full-fledged anti-Semitism; the notion that "Jews control America". However, there is a grain of truth in it. AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, the solidarity of the Jewish-American community, the access to Congress, the dominance of American Jews in the media, contribution of wealthy Jewish businessmen to the political parties – all help to create the impression that Israel can perform miracles in the USA.
Despite the subtle anti-Semitic innuendo, Israel never rushed to deny or quash this assumption. On the contrary, it worked to inflate it to a disproportional dimension.
Countries, leaders and private businessmen have rushed over the years to the Mossad, to the ministry of foreign affairs, to Israeli businessmen with requests of help using their levers of influence in America.
There are many examples. When relations were good, Turkey asked Israel to use AIPAC to repel Congressional efforts to pass bills to honor the Armenian genocide. Egypt, under President Hosni Mubarak, asked Israel to assist in its campaigns in America to combat human rights organizations.
Brutal dictators like Joseph Kabila of the Congo or Sapamurat Niyazov, the late leader of Turkmenistan, were assisted by Israeli businessmen who hired American lobbyists and PR people to change their tarnished image.
In return for its assistance, Israel reaped dividends by rallying diplomatic support and the votes from grateful nations in the UN and other international organizations. Israel clinched arms deals worth of billions and improved trade relations with many countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
The bitter clash between the Prime Minister and the Obama administration can turn this tide; it can weaken the omnipotent Israeli image. States may say that if Israel failed to persuade the US to change the agreement with Iran in its favor, it shows that its influence in Washington is diminishing. If this is the case why do we need you?
The sooner Netanyahu stops his inflammatory and vociferous opposition, the better it will be for Israel's vital interests around the world.
Yossi Melman is an Israeli intelligence and security commentator and co-author of “Spies Against Armageddon, inside Israel’s secret wars."
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