Netanyahu’s victory needs U.S. support

By Ben

Last week marked another advance in the democratic bond between the United States and Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu presented his government to parliament. Contrary to the concerns some people have expressed about the victory of Netanyahu, we believe that the foundation of values that are shared between our two countries remain strong. We also believe that aspirations for peace and security will continue to be advanced and that the American and Israeli people should continue to uphold their relationship.
This advance will achieve even more than has been achieved so far. At its root, through a vibrant and celebrated democratic process, Netanyahu has been given the support of the Israeli people to lead his country. Although the voting margin of his majority victory was small, we should not forget that our current president, and many others before, did not even receive a majority. In fact, given the high voter turnout and impressive character of both candidates, Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, perhaps more Americans should feel a large amount of admiration for Israel’s recent election.
It is especially important for the American people to give Netanyahu’s government the proper respect accorded for a democratic government. Certainly, it would not be acceptable for our country to be scorned by, for example, Britain or Japan if Bob Dole were to win in November. As a people, we have a right to elect who we want and to have that choice honored. In electing their choice for prime minister, the Israeli people deserve no less.
The United States is the world’s leading economic and military power. This places an extremely high burden on us to speak out against injustice in the world. Unfortunately, this is not helped by the fact that in many places of the world such as Burma, Cuba or Nigeria, justice is nearly absent. Thus we must remember that not only is Israel a vibrant democracy, but it is also a country seeking peace and security in a historically troubled part of the world. In this, America should never shy from friendship with Israel just as Israel should never apologize for its friendship with America.
Beginning with the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, major sacrifices have been made by the Israeli people in the search for peace. This is especially significant because more than most other threatened countries in the world, Israel is heavily outnumbered. When fighting has ensued in its past, a ratio of 50 enemies against each Israeli has been witnessed. This comes within two generations of the Nazi Holocaust, which witnessed the most barbarous acts of inhumanity against Jews imaginable thus leaving a real sense of vulnerability on the Israeli consciousness.
It is important for us to recognize that Israel’s search for peace has come with some negative occurrences. In particular, militant Islamic fundamentalist terrorists have viciously killed innocent people within Israel’s borders. In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces have escalated their attacks. Syria has continued to amass a sophisticated array of missiles, while all over the Arab and North African regions Iranian-sponsored terror, in our opinion, is on the increase. Thus, there does appear to be some serious reasons to support a period of advancing security measures before a collapse into violence destroys everything.
After the major historical transitions that have occurred in the last few years, the potential for everything to fall apart still exists if the new security situation is neglected. The people of Israel must feel that their homes and lives are safer as a result of the peace process. This requires the consolidation of changes made under an umbrella of effective security measures. Otherwise, the search for peace will become more dangerous. If peace means that Israel’s defensive posture is weakened while potential enemies in Syria, Iran and elsewhere are strengthened, or if peace means more terrorism inside Israel, then peace will become such a dangerous and destructive process that no one will be able to continue in the future.
The Israeli people must feel that there are real benefits in seeking peace. In this regard, Netanyahu’s emphasis on consolidating peace by enforcing security concerns will benefit long-term hopes. A weak peace that increasingly leaves Israel vulnerable will only encourage radicals to destroy what has been achieved. Further gains will be impossible. It is our hope that with an effective and successful leadership by Netanyahu, peace in the Middle East will survive the current threats and eventually move on to greater prospects.
For the United States, nothing could be more desirable than the success of Netanyahu’s government. As the leader of the free world against the frequent threats of tyranny, one of the most important things learned by the American people is that when our allies are strong and secure, America is also safer. This is why today we must welcome any Israeli leader’s desire to make Israel strong and secure.
The Israeli people have often greatly trusted the American people. Throughout the Cold War, Israel was our most solid ally in the United Nations. At President Bush’s request during the Gulf War, the Israeli people showed unbelievable faith in American resolve by refraining from retaliating against Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks. And in the last few years, the Israeli people have remained committed to a close friendship with us. Therefore, as the Israeli people now have made their democratic choice for leader, we have an obligation to respect that choice and to work with the new leader.
The future of relations between our two countries stands at an immensely hopeful time. Yes, there will be challenges. But with a mature and positive understanding of what unites America and Israel, these challenges will provide further opportunities for progress. There are few other relationships in the world as close and solid as is this one. We hope this will remain true in the future and that both of our countries will continue to benefit from this unity as they always have.
Ben Fiman is a former CLA student and is the University’s liaison for the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. Maksim Tsvetovatyy is a University alumnus and a co-chairman of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. Joe Roche is a former columnist for the Daily and a senior majoring in history.