update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Walter Russell Mead writes in ‘Wall Street Journal’: Israel ‘threatened but strong’

He argues that neither anti-Israel BDS activists calling for Washington to boycott Jerusalem nor the pro-Israel lobby will drive change.

Images of Israeli and American flags projected onto the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Images of Israeli and American flags projected onto the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The future U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the most pressing issues facing Israelis. That’s according to a new op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Walter Russell Mead, a distinguished fellow in strategy and statesmanship at the Hudson Institute who has written the “global view” column at the Journal since 2018.

“There is nothing written in the stars that guarantees its permanence,” he wrote of the relationship between Israel and the United States.

To Mead, neither anti-Israel BDS activists calling for Washington to boycott Jerusalem nor the pro-Israel lobby will drive change. “Those forces provide the mood music for the relationship, and at the margin and on certain very specific issues have an effect. But the real forces lie elsewhere,” he wrote.

“American policy toward Israel depends less on poll numbers than on how a given U.S. president sees American interests world-wide and where Israel and the Middle East fit into the administration’s global foreign policy,” he wrote.

Where U.S. leaders previously prioritized Middle East oil, many on the left now focus on climate change and many on the right are isolationist, according to Mead.

“How much does the Middle East matter if the world is moving away from fossil fuel?” he wrote. “Similarly, if isolationist perspectives among Democratic progressives or Republican populists dominate the agenda, U.S.-Israel relations likely will cool.”

Should Washington back away from Israel, it wouldn’t be wholesale and wouldn’t be disastrous for the Jewish state, stated Mead.

“Narendra Modi’s India would eagerly embrace a closer technological and military relationship with the Jewish state. China, Russia and even Turkey would see serious benefits in a strategic relationship with Jerusalem,” he wrote. “History offers no guarantees and problems remain, but the citizens of this extraordinary state have every reason to look forward with hope.”

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