Israel: The Short Version

Modern Israel is weird because the settlers of modern Israel were weird. Holocaust survivors with PTSD and a thirst for revenge, or extremely current skills at fighting for the Resistance, or for various militaries, were blended with people who were basically farmers or tradesmen or merchants who had never fought anybody. People of every political stripe not just from one country, but from all over the world. And weirdest of all, the Jewish kibbutz folks who wanted to be Jewish Communists who spoke Hebrew but didn’t know bupkis about the Bible, and who actively prevented smart kids from pursuing higher education. (But couldn’t stop them from joining Israel’s army.)

Modern Israel is weird because a lot of the “Palestinian Arabs” were actually resettled there by the Ottoman Empire, somewhere around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Often by pushing indigenous Arab/Israeli Christians or Muslims off their land, or out of their houses. People don’t talk about this. (And actually, a lot of Middle East problems come from this forced resettlement stuff happening everywhere on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire. In Armenia, as we know, it ended in genocide.)

Modern Israel is weird because it’s a small enough country that a lot of people know each other. People can be at each other’s throats in their parliament, but also be relatives or college friends or army buddies.

Another reason that modern Israel is weird is that they tend to have an “ourselves alone” attitude, just like modern Ireland used to have. It’s not that they’re not good allies, because they can be. It’s that they’re going to consider their own self-interest first, mostly because they know that historically they’ve been messed with, and that people continue to mess with them today. But honestly, that’s how the US does things also.

The US did some amazingly nasty or unhelpful things to Israel, early on and at random times down the years, and Israel has occasionally done nasty or unhelpful things in return, or at random times. That doesn’t make them not our ally; it makes them slightly more our ally than France. šŸ™‚

If we have a State Department or intelligence analyst paying attention, we should be able to keep Israel on our side without putting ourselves into bad positions. When Israel has weird political parties in power (okay, that’s all the time!), we should be able to figure out their goals and be ready for what they might want to do. But it’s okay to have allies that are not clones of the US.

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