“Progressive influence has taught Israel that it needs more independence”

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NEW YORK – The lesson Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has learned from Progressive Democrats’ attempt to block US funding for Iron Dome missile defense batteries is that Israel must ensure it is not dependent on others, said a diplomatic source to reporters traveling with Bennett to New York. York Monday.

“We need to further improve our economic capacities so that we are never dependent,” the source said. “But America was and remains our greatest partner.”

The comments came after Democratic leaders bowed to demands by the progressive House of Representatives ‘squad’ that billion dollar funding for Iron Dome be withdrawn from a bill intended to prevent the shutdown of the US government because otherwise the bill would have been defeated. Two days later, a bill intended solely to finance the Iron Dome was passed with 420 votes in favor, nine against and two in attendance.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the UN Gilad Erdan said that “the team’s behavior proves … that they are either ignorant or anti-Semitic.”

“Iron Dome saves Israeli and Palestinian lives,” Erdan said at an event with Bennett and leaders of Jewish organizations. “If Israel did not have the Iron Dome… we might have had to respond with a ground operation, which could have ended with many more lives lost. “

“It is one thing to criticize Israel – it is legitimate – and it is a completely different thing to oppose the protection of Israel from thousands of rockets fired by a terrorist organization. It borders on anti-Semitism, ”he said.

PREMIER Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden chat in the Oval Office last week. (credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

Bennett said at the North American Jewish Federations event that he was “happy with the great outcome” of the vote in Congress, but said the message shouldn’t just be that Iron Dome is a defensive system.

“It’s wider than that … it’s like [US President Joe] Biden says over and over again: If there was no Israel, we would have to invent one. It’s fair, ”he said. “There are nine million of us on the ground fighting day in and day out, making contact with these terrorists and obtaining intelligence. Were fighting [terrorists] without asking the Americans to send even one troop, and we never will.

“We are not the problem: we are the solution, in the midst of the most difficult region in the world,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere; we are here to stay. That’s why it’s not just about Iron Dome. The very essence of us here means terror is at bay. “

Unlike Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Bennett does not blame former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the situation, although “Netanyahu’s partisan approach has not been helpful,” the source said.

Bennett realizes that there are ongoing trends on the American left that are problematic for Israel, and has even read the recent Economist cover story on “The Threat of the Illiberal Left”.

“If you’re in college and hate Israel, you feel like you’re awake and being cool – and that’s pathetic,” the source said. “[Bennett] spoke out against it, because it is the easiest thing to do to try to cleanse your conscience by attacking Israel.

although they are a small group, the source said, comparing them to the influence of former MP Moshe Feiglin on Likud.

“Bennett’s approach is bipartisan: strengthening ties with Republicans, where they are already strong, but also with Democrats. In Zoom meetings for now – and when the crown calms down, in person too, ”the source said.

The idea that Israel should strive for greater economic independence is that of Netanyahu, whose first term included the end of US economic aid to Israel, although military aid continued. More recently, Israel under Netanyahu and the United States under former President Barack Obama signed a 10-year, $ 38 billion contract. MOU on such aid in 2016.

But against the backdrop of the growing progressive influence in America, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren recently wrote an article for Tablet claiming that “the Israeli military is addicted to credit for new weapons. brilliant Americans. But the strategic price may be too high.

“Why should Israel, still a vulnerable country in the harshest part of the world, be seen as open to a progressive twist of the arms?” asked Oren.


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