In Episode 16 of the Israel Defense and Diplomacy Forum (IDDF) Podcast, Prof. Chuck Freilich, former Israeli Deputy National Security Advisor, and Danny Ayalon, former Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Washington discuss the emerging crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations, even before the new government has taken office. Prominent American Jews have already stated that their previously unconditional support for Israel is no longer such. Others have at least indirectly lent their support to the growing calls to condition U.S. military aid to Israel, heretofore the sacrosanct bedrock of the bilateral relationship, on changes in its policies towards the Palestinians. Still others bemoan the loss of the Israel “we once knew.”
Chuck is more understanding of the sentiment behind these statements and Danny, as is his wont, takes it in greater stride, but both deeply deplore them. They agree that the importance of the Palestinian issue, notwithstanding, Israel is far more than a one-issue country and the relationship with the United States is a critically important pillar of its national security. Israel still faces an existential threat from Iran, unprecedented destruction to its home front in the event of a further round with Hezbollah, and an increasingly significant threat from Hamas.
They then turn to political developments and to the dismantlement of critical parts of Israel’s defense establishment and educational system, as political expedients, for purposes of coalition formation. On this issue, Danny is at least as concerned as Chuck. They then discuss a leak of the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff’s (CoS) strong opposition to the impending changes, bordering on an unprecedented refusal to accept civilian oversight of the military. Danny tries to downplay the leak, while Chuck, who fully sympathizes with the CoS’ dilemma, is more troubled by the ramifications for Israel’s democracy. Both agree that the political meddling in critical governmental systems is unacceptable.
The podcast concludes on a positive note, with a discussion of new developments in Israel’s laser air-defense capabilities and US-Israeli cooperation in this critical area.
Join us as they agree and disagree, in detail and in-depth, always respectfully, on the critical issues Israel faces.
Chuck Freilich is a former deputy national security adviser in Israel. He is a senior fellow at The Miryam Institute and the author of “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” and the forthcoming “Israel and the Cyber Threat: How the Startup Nation Became a Global Superpower.” Twitter: @chuck_freilich
Danny Ayalon is a publishing expert with The MirYam Institute. He served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States from July 2002 to November 2006, during which time, relations between the two countries reached an all-time high.