Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cynical vs. Naive Two-Statism

A two state solution to the conflict between Zionism and Palestinians is structurally impossible to reach. A secure Jewish state requires concessions the Palestinians are not able to make. An independent Palestinian state requires concessions the Israelis are not able to make.

A great Palestinian, a Palestinian Mandela could offer Israel a secure existence in one state, but even a Palestinian Mandela could not offer Israel that the Palestinians would accept being consigned to cantons without connection to the outside world except through Israel and demilitarized except for a small Israel-approved police force. A great Israeli, an Israeli DeKlerk could offer Palestinians equality even in greater numbers than Jews, but could not offer an independent sovereign neighboring state full of people who resent their relatively recent dispossession.

A two-state solution cannot happen. Nobody has yet put together a plan that is acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis because such a plan cannot exist. Israeli security and the independence of the people who were dispossessed by Israel, while continuing that dispossession, are mutually exclusive ideas.

Interestingly, two different currents of two-statism are forming. Naive two-statism, held by Western liberal supporters of Zionism, and cynical two-statism which I learned of recently through Helena Cobban's website and which is implied by Michael Totten through Totten's exposure to, according to Totten, a preponderance of unnamed Israelis.

Naive two-statism is exemplified by the dreams of a two-state solution held by Juan Cole and Helena Cobban. Neither of them can produce, have ever seen or could specifically imagine a plan that they believe would be acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis. Yet they cling to the idea that a little more negotiation will produce such a plan.

Naive two-statism is a failure of imagination more than a moral failure. Naive two-statists have accepted the idea that there, in some cosmic sense, "should" exist a Jewish state - not for reasons that could withstand close scrutiny, not for reasons they'd attempt to put to words, but because that's what the people they've grown around have accepted without question thus far in their intellectual growth.

That there may not be a Jewish state in Palestine is an uncomfortable idea for them. For one thing, they would not want to oppose views held with great emotional intensity by Jewish colleagues that they both respect and want to get along with. The accusation of anti-Semitism is reflexively and sincerely invoked against any idea that makes a Jewish person feel uncomfortable as a Jew, even if the triggering idea does not involve anti-Jewish sentiment. This idea - that Jews could be outvoted by non-Jews in Israel - automatically, reflexively and sincerely, though wrongly, triggers accusations of anti-Semitism from Jewish supporters of Israel.

It is an idea that many liberal Westerners have taught themselves to avoid. Many have even acquired an ability to avoid the idea of a world without a Jewish state without consciously realizing it.

I guess here I can say that Jew and Zionist are not synonymous, but they are not fully independent concepts either. Many, probably most, Jews feel an attachment to Zionism that transcends the rational. This is not meant as an indictment. Many, probably most, African Americans feel an attachment to Black South Africans that is greater than they "should" feel by some race-neutral measure. Many, probably most Arabs and most Muslims feel an attachment to the Palestinians that is greater than they "should" feel.

And to go a little further off course, I may have raised the question of what happens when everybody is biased. Mandela is biased towards Blacks. Botha, Reagan and Thatcher are biased towards Whites. Maybe nobody is right. But no, somebody is right. The side calling for one-person one-vote is right. And if Blacks deny political representation to Whites in South Africa because of race, then the advocates of White people in that case will be right.

Back to naive two-statism. Cobban and Cole are not Jewish though. Their naive two-statism does not spring directly from their emotional attachment to Zionism but from having grown intellectually in an environment that has been disproportionally Jewish. An environment where anti-Zionism automatically triggers accusations of anti-Semitism. Many Jewish liberals, probably most, also engage this naive two statism for their own emotional reasons.

The practical sense of naive two-statism on the part of Westerners, is that it provides moral cover for the continuation of a morally unacceptable situation. The United States is aiding Hosni Mubarak in keeping 80 million Egyptians under an authoritarian dictatorship. This should be violently contrary to US ideals, but if an agreement is right around the corner, this is a short term sacrifice that will lead to everyone in the region accepting Israel, and so is worth it. It is not defensible if it is what it truly is, a situation that must continue indefinitely if the 6 or so million Jews of Israel are to be securely safe from being outvoted by Palestinians. There are many examples where in the Western liberal mind, the costs of Zionism are mitigated by the untrue but naively held idea that peace is a few negotiations away.

But cynical two-statism. This is a concept that is newer for me. In a comment at Cobban's blog, Michael Totten left:
The American Jewish Committee brought me and seven of my colleagues to Israel and set up interviews with Israeli military officers, politicians, academics, and journalists on the far-left, the far-right and at every point in between. One of my colleagues asked the eternal question during one of our meetings. “What is the solution to this problem?” He meant the Arab-Israeli conflict, of course, and the answer from our Israeli host was revealing in more ways than one. “You Americans are always asking us that,” he said and laughed darkly.

Americans aren't the only ones who have a hard time grasping the idea of an intractable problem. “Unfortunately we Westerners are impatient,” said an Israeli politician who preferred not to be named. “We want fast food and peace now. But it won't happen. We need a long strategy.” “Most of Israel's serious problems don't have a solution,” said Dr. Dan Schueftan, Director of National Security Studies at the University of Haifa. “Israelis have only recently understood this, and most foreign analysts still don't understand it.”
From Totten's point of view, moral deficiencies of the Palestinians are the reason a two-state solution is impossible for the forseeable future. Totten has a right to interpret things that way if he chooses. No group of people on Earth in the Palestinian's situation would accept what Israel offers but if it comforts Totten to believe the Palestinians are morally subhuman in some way, who can stop him from believing that?

But regardless of the reasons - I consider them reasonable, Totten considers them immoral - if no two state solution is available, then the remaining alternatives are the status quo or a one-state solution. In this case, opponents of a one-state solution, which Zionists who do not call for mass expulsions or apartheid must be by definition, must either present that the status quo is the best possible arrangement, or cynically allow naive two-statists to continue believing a solution is available while understanding that one is not.

How widely have Israelis come to understand that there are no prospects for a two-state solution - regardless of where they assign the blame?

If Peres has reached the conclusion that two states cannot be reached, or Livni or Olmert, then they are now cynical two-statists. They understand the importance of the ability of naive two-statists to pretend the status quo is temporary and go along with the idea to manipulate those who would not deliberately support the indefinite continuation of the status quo.

I don't know for sure if Peres is a naive or cynical two-statist. Totten is neither a naive or cynical two-statist, he is an advocate of the indefinite continuation of the status quo. Lieberman is an advocate of expulsion. Both are unacceptable to Western sensibilities. I expect that some two-statists, aware that there is no alternative to two-states that is both acceptable to Zionism and to Western sensibilities, have decided to cynically pretend that two states are possible while aware that they are not.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Two-State Mirage

These days I'm finding myself amused at the vehemence with which otherwise liberal westerners hold to the idea that a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict is just around the corner. For several years, the refrain has been "everybody knows what it will look like, they just have to ...".

Now that Netanyahu is poised to take over Israeli politics, the conditions liberal Westerners have claimed would have to be met for a viable two-state solution to appear clearly will not be met. There will not be significant pullback from the settlements, and there will not be a contiguous West Bank, instead the West Bank will be a series of cantons, with not direct access to each other, much less to the outside world.

The Palestinians would not have, without duress, voted for a contiguous West Bank/Gaza state without a right to return that would threaten Israel demographically. The West has always intended for the vote to be under extreme duress - the Palestinians are to be told that the alternative is to starve. A vote under duress will not be accepted as legitimate and the feeling that there is still an injustice to be rectified will continue throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Another issue on the side, is that most Palestinians believe the refugees are part of the Palestinian nation that should be included in the vote. Including them guarantees that any referendum will fail. Westerners have no intention of including them.

A two-state solution is just not practical. The Palestinians are not going to accept what Israel is willing to offer without an amount of compulsion from the West that will render any vote meaningless. It isn't really less practical under Netanyahu than it was under Olmert. It isn't and wasn't going to happen either way.

This is an issue Westerners are able to avoid by through the belief that negotiations are going to, at some point in the future, and by magic, create an arrangement the Palestinians will find acceptable but that does not threaten Israel. I've never seen such an arrangement spelled out in detail, even as a discussion of what would be plausible.

The purpose of the two-state solution, now, seems to me to be a mechanism for indefinitely maintaining the status quo, but reducing the guilt associated with the ongoing dispossession, starvation and violations of the Palestinians.

Advocacy of a two-state solution that will agreed to right around the corner is a relatively guilt free way to advocate the status quo. What we have now is the two state solution we'll have in the future. Egypt's people would not accept what the West would present - meaning a compelled referendum - so Egypt's 80 million people will have to remain under pro-American dictators indefinitely. Same for Jordan and the rest of the region. Palestine's people would have to live under their own pro-Western dictatorship, because free to vote, they'd elect parties opposed to this outcome. There would be resistance on the same fronts that exist now. There is no difference between what the Middle East would look like after the Western vision of a two state solution and what we see today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

US Missile Defense and Russia

There are some statements that I put under the category "weird lies". Things that a party says that clearly are not true even though nobody important believes them. Often it seems to me that the United States foreign policy establishment is advancing weird lies. This may be a result of my having different biases than most members of the US foreign policy establishment.

But there is a weird lie that is often repeated that the US wants to install anti-missile systems and Poland and the Czech Republic as a defense against possible Iranian missiles at some point in the future.

Russia has been clear from the beginning that it perceives a threat not from the small number of interceptors, but from the radar that will be integrated into the US' global missile detection system and thereby provide earlier warning than would otherwise have been available of any Russian launch. Essentially this move is seen as a step to remove the US-Russian mutual first strike capability.

If it is technologically possible for the US to render itself invulnerable to a Russian attack, the US must do so. No US leadership could pass up an opportunity to do so. An equilibrium where the US and Russia both are able to destroy each other but neither does is only a second-best outcome. If the US can remove the threat, it must.

If the US cannot remove the threat, then and only then is it rational for the US and Russia to restrict missile defenses. If there is going to be mutually assured destruction anyway, US leadership is able to compromise with Russian leadership to accomplish that equilibrium less expensively.

It appears that US strategists are reaching the conclusion that the US is now, or will in the plannable future be, able to degrade Russia's first strike potential in a way that Russia will be unable to match. In that case, the US must move in that direction.

So why not say publicly "our assessment of Russia's ability to pace us in an arms race has changed and it is now our responsiblity to go for a unilateral first strike ability"? I'm really not sure what the answer to this is. To say instead, "we're putting missile sensors on the Russian border to defend against Iranian missiles that may someday exist" strikes me as a weird lie. I truly do not understand the motivation.

The current equilibrium in which both the US and Russia have first strike capabilities is the most important foreign policy objective for Russia. There is no single issue that can increase Russian hostility towards US policy than this. On the other hand, if it is possible for US citizens to be impervious to a Russian first strike the US must go in that direction. There really is no choice on either side.

This means that the US will move forward with its missile defense plans, as it must, and Russia will be alarmed and strike back at US interests. It is hard for a bargain to be reached where Russia increases its pressure on Iran in exchange for missile defense because no US administration can credibly commit to forgo missile defense if it is feasible. In exchange for anything.

But if the US is going to attempt to achieve an unmatched first strike capability, Russia does have an interest in the Middle East being as much of a drain on US resources as possible. Israel is a drain on US resources that Russia can make more pronounced by strengthening Iran and Syria. I think we're seeing this trend now and will continue to see it through the end of the Obama administration.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random Paragraphs

I don't have a feel for Barack Obama's Middle East policy yet. Obviously US policy will be mostly similar to US policy under Bush, which was fundamentally similar to US Middle East policy under Clinton and previous US presidents. But, for example, my guess is that Israel would have reentered Gaza if Bush was president or even if McCain had been elected and did not under Obama. The Gaza war, Netanyahu's rise in political power and a more pliant tone from Iran beginning with a new Iranian president may also have some impact in the future.


There also seems to be a softening of tone in Iran with respect to the US that is somewhat recent. Dennis Ross has not been officially announced as the senior Obama administration official regarding Iranian issues. If he is announced in that position, clearly it will be a setback and if not, it will be a reflection of communication that is not occurring between the US and Iran.

The US has unofficially announced that it has covert plans to sabotage Iran's enrichment facilities. The plans are less news than the fact that the plans were disclosed in the New York Times, and not even by Hersh as the New Yorker. My take is that an unofficial disclosure of their existence is a necessary condition for an offer to cease these efforts. They are related to talks in some way, because for there to be bluffing, there has to be communication. This disclosure was either a threat or part of a dance whose goal is a diffusion of tension. From here I can't tell which, but the target of this message cannot have been Israel, which has much more reliable ways to get insights into the US perception of its position with respect to Iran.
This account of the expanded American covert program and the Bush administration’s efforts to dissuade Israel from an aerial attack on Iran emerged in interviews over the past 15 months with current and former American officials, outside experts, international nuclear inspectors and European and Israeli officials.
Khatami's run in Iran, and his expected victory, may be part of an Iranian effort to communicate back with the West. We'll see how the dust settles at some point this year. A US lurch towards Iran, similar to the 2007 NIE, will indicate that an understanding has been reached behind the scenes.


The Democratic Party consensus, at least according to Matthew Yglesias, is that previous US presidents have been too cooperative with Bibi Netanyahu. A rightward swing in Israel's political system will alienate Israel from its supporters. I'm not sure how much and I'm not sure what the final result will be.
My understanding is that the big divide in Democratic circles is between people who don’t really like Bibi, and people who feel that those people were too soft on Bibi last time around.

It is becoming widely accepted that an Israeli two-state solution with Palestinians may not be possible. Netanyahu's rise accelerates that perception in the West. If a two state solution is not feasible, the West markedly prefers a one state post-Zionist arrangement to either the status quo or ethnic cleansing to allow a Jewish one-state solution.

Jews in the West are more generally fervent in their support of a Jewish state for its own sake than non-Jews. Non-Jews in the West support a Jewish state, but more than Jews, they support a two-state solution with a Jewish state out of a conviction that a one-state solution is impractical. As a two-state solution begins to be seen as impractical, I expect greater divides to become apparent between US Jewish and US non-Jewish perceptions of the region.

Non-Jews generally do not perceive a necessity for the world to have a Jewish state as greater than the necessity that the world should have a Roma (gypsy) state or even a sovereign Creek Native American state. Jews, even if they cannot rationalize it, emotionally proscribe a special importance to the existence of a Jewish state.


It seems that anti-Zionists have made relatively better use of the internet than Zionists. My explanation is that while there has always been information to support either position available, anti-Zionists have had a relatively more difficult time interacting and coordinating with each other. While the internet makes interacting and coordinating easier for everyone, for Zionists, the advantage over what was available previously is smaller and relatively is negative. The time when most acknowledged Western Middle East experts are sympathetic to Zionism continues. But it is more possible today to create a convincing argument (meaning convincing to people in the West) that the acknowledged Western Middle East experts are wrong than it was ten years ago. "Wiped off the map" is an example of this.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hamas' Gains in the 2008 War with Israel

Enemies of the United States will never have as generous a gift as George W. Bush again. If it wasn't for the innocent people who would die, I would wish Bush could run again, and I'd campaign for his brother to eventually run, just in hopes that that guy could be as damaging to US interests as Bush II was.

Israel also has surprisingly poor leadership for a country as prominent as it is. One would expect a tiny country, that chooses its leadership from its population of 6 million or so Jews to fail to consistently find and promote leaders of the talent of Putin, Erdogan or Jintao, who were the winners of much larger political competitions, but Israel needs leaders of that caliber, especially if it cannot be carried by the United States.

But this last war was very bad for Israel for two different reasons. 1- Israel's inability to capture and hold contested land has been reaffirmed and 2 - Israel's moral image has tarnished to a degree far greater than Hamas could have hoped for.

First, there can be no argument that Hamas believes it gained more than it lost because it continues to fire rockets into Israel - in effect daring Israel, right now, to do it again. I find this a stunning development. Possibly Israel's leaders have learned that they did not gain from the previous attack - or more interestingly, possibly the Obama administration is refusing to give promise the amount of support Bush offered. One way or another, Israel seems reluctant to begin another 20 day bombing and invasion campaign. These, I believe, are the reasons why:

Israel's Inability to Hold Enemy Land

2006 proved that Israel is not able to hold Hezbollah territory. But Hamas is far more poorly equipped, manned and dug in than Hezbollah. Hamas never attacked IDF forces, but at least could claim that it was waiting to see how far Israel advanced, attacking on the most favorable terms it could get once the full extent of the invasion was in view. Would Hamas have been able to inflict the damage Hezbollah inflicted? A 1 to 1 fatality rate for soldiers? Of course not, but how much worse would it have done? Israel decided that we are never going to find out, and suddenly pulled completely out of Gaza before the Obama inauguration. Some people in Gaza City, Damascus and Tehran had to be asking, "are these guys serious? I thought this was an invasion." If Israel doesn't think it can hold a zone in Gaza at acceptable cost there's nobody to argue that it can. But exposing this inability with respect to Gaza, which has been under siege for two years is a very poor showing.

What this means is that even if Sadat was right that Egypt could not militarily retake the Sinai, it is possible now for Israel's neighbors to hold territory without Israeli or American cooperation. Will Egypt tomorrow go to Iran and ask for help fortifying its border with Israel to make its territory impervious to Israeli invasion? No. But the option is there now, and will be there from now of for future Egyptian leaderships as they decide what stance to take with respect to Israel.

This is similar to the result of the 2006 Lebanon war. Israel intervened in Jordan to protect a friendly government in the 1970s. But was unwilling or unable to do the same to prevent Hezbollah's demonstrations in Beirut which led to Hezbollah's entrance into Lebanon's government. Israel now is shown unable to even intervene militarily to protect a friendly government in Gaza. The strategic calculus of the region will now take this into account. Israel can bomb civilians, at a high moral cost, but other than that does not have a military option any more. This is a major development.

Going off track for a moment, during the Lebanon demonstrations, Nasrallah said of Saniora:
"If we wanted to stage a coup, you would have woken up this morning in prison, or in the middle of the sea."
Saniora, overseas at the time, got the fairly elegantly delivered threat and told his Western handlers while in Qatar that he is not going back to Lebanon unless Hezbollah is satisfied with an agreement. The point is that Israel just had to watch. Its only option would have been to bomb some power plants or nurseries which leads to the second issue.

The Tarnish in the West of Israel's Moral Position

Israel has never come under moral attack in the West as it did earlier this year. During the 2006 war, it was widely accepted as a position in the West that while opposition to specific actions of the Israeli government are acceptable, opposition to the existence of a Jewish state is inherently anti-Semitic and therefore immoral. While not unanimous, this was the consensus view of the United States educated class, among those interested enough to have formed an opinion.

The acceptance of the position that it is anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state was eroding before Israel's bombing began, but it died sometime during the campaign.

On January 8, Time magazine ran a pretty standard article expressing the difficulty of Israel remaining a Jewish state over the long term.

But by January 21, the New York Times ran an article by Muammar Qaddafi advocating a one-state solution where Jews would not have a majority. This has been Qaddafi's preferred solution for a long time, as well as Tehran's, but I had never seen it presented, by an advocate, in a major US media outlet.

Advocates for Zionism routinely describe this goal of most of the supposedly radical parties in the Middle East as the "destruction of Israel." Until this war, advocates of this goal have never been able to present their view to casual US readers.

Then by January 25, CBS News presented a one state non-Jewish situation as Israel's only alternative to ethnic cleansing or apartheid.
Demographers predict that within ten years Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank, or they could give the Palestinians the vote. That would be the democratic option but it would mean the end of the Jewish state. Or they could try apartheid - have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians, but apartheid regimes don't have a very long life.
The United States still supports Israel, though the Democratic party has begun to diverge from the Republican party on this issue. But bombing civilians, which is the last remaining capability of the IDF, is reaching the point where it damages Israel's prospects more than it helps, even looking only at the United States, to say nothing of, for example, Turkey.

Hamas is now acting as if it has nothing to fear from another Israeli bombing campaign. The December 2008 campaign may be the event that made Hamas right.

Turkey and Israel Seriously Parting Ways?

Turkey's rift with Israel seems to be more significant than it first appears.

First, when I'm wrong about the Middle East, it is usually that pro-US dictatorships or actors are more loyal to their patrons and/or more effective than I expected. Sometimes I'm right, for example I was sure Saniora couldn't prevail over Hezbollah in Lebanon. But sometimes I'm wrong. For example, I had no idea Egypt would go along with Western hostility to Hamas to the degree that it has.

Turkey is a democracy with a pro-Western military sector that is to some degree shielded from democratic pressure. If I'm wrong, it will be because this sector asserts itself in Israel's favor in a way that I can't foresee now.

More background, I am a big fan of Erdogan, and have been since I first noticed him on the scene of Turkish politics. His success in Turkish politics against the political forces that have been arrayed before him demonstrate extraordinary political skill. In terms of political skill - by which I mean the ability to use a competitive political system to position oneself to move a country in the direction one favors - I'd guess that Erdogan is one of the five most effective politicians in the world today.

My first impulse regarding the blowup at Davos was that this is just personal theatrics. The type of thing that ebbs and flows in interstate relations, but does not have any long term impact. It was somewhat entertaining. I was personally struck by Erdogan's claim that he complained to Olmert about Israel's imprisonment of Palestinian parliamentarians and Olmert said that to release the elected members of parliament would cause problems for Abbas. I guess everyone knows this, but for Erdogan to say it in public would have been painful for Abbas' supporters. Israel's direct interference in Palestinian politics against the expressed will of Palestinian voters and in support of Abbas is so openly known that it is not even notable that the Prime Minister of Turkey describes an instance of it, confidentially related by Israel's prime minister, at the World Economic Forum.
And I said to Prime Minister Olmert that they held the Ministers and Members of Parliament of Palestine. I suggested also, that there could perhaps be a gesture made, similar to the gesture made to President Abbas before, they could be released perhaps. But Prime Minister Olmert said that this would make things very difficult for President Abbas.
Afterwards, Israel has not been acting like this is an isolated episode of hurt personal feelings on the part of Erdogan, and neither has Turkey. First Turkey claimed that Peres apologized to Erdogan, which Israel denied. So Turkey released what it claims is a transcript of the telephone conversation. (!?)
Peres: Such things happen between friends. I am very sorry for today's incident. Firstly, my respect towards the Turkish republic and you a prime minister has never changed.
In Erdogan's Newsweek interview the next day, the interviewer pressed Erdogan on a sense of disfavor for Turkey that apparently is being felt in the US Jewish community. This recent increase in disfavor had until now been outside of my field of observation.
[Erdogan] There are those who try to claim that my attitude towards Israel's latest attacks on Gaza is because I'm anti-Semitic or against the Jewish people.
[Newsweek] And some American Jews are very upset about it.
[Erdogan] And I'm very upset at them. Beginning with the Jews who live in my country, they are witnesses to my attitude towards Jews. As an individual, I have always declared that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. As a prime minister I have always been against anti-Semitism and my frustration is against the current Israeli government because they did not act fairly towards us.
Then Israel's foreign minister, instead of attempting to move past this incident, ties it to Turkey's willingness to meet with Hamas years ago.
"It must be remembered that after Hamas took power, Turkey was the first country to invite them over, so we find ourselves both in an important relationship but also in a dispute about how to conduct ourselves regionally," Livni told Israel Radio.
Peres and Livni both compare Erdogan unfavorably to Mubarak and Abbas. This is a mind-boggling example of a lack of self-consciousness. Does it even need to be said that unlike Mubarak or Abbas, Erdogan can actually win an election without imprisoning his opponents? Israel has stooges in the region, and manages these stooges sometimes more effectively than I give Israel credit for. But has it reached the point that Israel's leaders no longer even realize that Abbas, Mubarak and the Abdullahs are stooges?

Back to Turkey. My take now is that, in the background, Turkey has been a more insistent advocate for Hamas being allowed to take power than has been widely expressed. It also has not cooperated sufficiently, by Israel's standards, in Israel's project to isolate Iran. I can't see any other fundamental basis for dispute that has existed between Israel and Turkey over the past few years. Turkish Iran and Palestine policy has genuinely been less pro-Israel than at least the Israelis would like and this has reached a point that Israelis are now openly discussing the breach, and beginning to threaten that there can be consequences for the breach.

The difference between Israel and Turkey, in terms of the United States, is that Israel is a strategic liability for the United States that the United States tolerates because of a sentimental feeling of kinship that many Jewish and non-Jewish Americans feel with Israelis. Turkey's relationship is a legitimate strategic asset for the United States. If the two come into direct contradiction, Turkey is essentially guaranteed to win - or if Turkey loses, Russia and anti-US segments of Europe win.

On example of a direct confrontation between Israel's interests and Turkey's is Kurdistan. Israel's advocates have for years advocated the atomization of Arab states, because smaller pieces of disintegrated states are weaker and easier to set against one another than unified states. For the same reason, I always (I cannot think of an exception) oppose separatist movements in the global South.
Furthermore, as far back as 1982 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz's legendary military correspondent Ze'ev Schiff (recently deceased) had written that Israel's "best" interests would be served by "the dissolution of Iraq into a Shi'ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part,"
An atomized Iraq means Kurds are in a better position to pressure Turkey, and if Kurdish dreams come true, even to atomize Turkey itself, creating a Kurdish homeland on soil now under Turkish control.

I worried that the United States was effectively assisting Kurdish moves towards independence. George W. Bush was just stupid enough, just a poor enough politician that it seemed as if the US would, in practical terms if not openly, work in Israel's interests and against Turkey's for a decentralized Iraq. This would, of course, lead to a Turkish anti-US reaction that would only escalate over time.

There never was a big announcement, but somehow the Kirkuk referendum has been forgotten and the US has backtracked on its decentralized Iraq policy. This was pretty close to a direct Turkey vs Israel fight over US policy and while the US legislature spoke as if it favored decentralization, somehow the US professional military and strategic policy class overruled the advocates of decentralization.

Turkey is not like Israel. The US does not support Turkey because it likes Turks. Turkey is essential for US and US-friendly forces, instead of Russian forces, to maintain long-term control over the Mediterranean.

US support for Israel has limits. The US is willing to send guns, bombs and money and willing to be unpopular while vetoing UN resolutions for Israel. But the US is not going to risk Turkey becoming anti-American for Israel. This should have been clear almost from the day of the invasion of Iraq. It is a testament to the incompetence of George W. Bush that a US policy against partition took until late last year to form and be implemented. Obama is not nearly as poor a leader.

Parenthetically, the same military and strategic professionals who eventually vetoed US support for Iraqi partition are also preventing, for US military and strategic reasons, either a US or Israeli direct strike against Iran.

But back to Turkey. Turkey has a pro-Israel military segment that is to some degree protected from the democratic process in the country. Erdogan, it now seems, has been removing this insulation with the end result possibly being a Turkey that looks, to Israel, more like Iran and Syria than Egypt and Jordan. If he is not, Israel at least seems to think he is.

If a hostile Turkey is a smaller threat to Israel than Iran breaking out of its Western isolation, it is only so by a very small amount. A hostile Turkey and a hostile Iran together would probably make the cost of supporting Israel unbearable for the US.

We aren't there yet. Israel's leaders though don't seem to be acting as if Turkey is a very important ally for them that, at least long term, Israel cannot afford to lose. The converse is just not the case. If Israel had a political leader as skilled as Erdogan, that person would realize this immediately.