Charles Levinson reports in the Wall Street Journal that, despite tensions between the U.S. and Israel over settlements and the peace process, “military commanders from the two countries have dramatically stepped up cooperation”:
U.S. military aid to Israel has increased markedly this year. Top-ranking U.S. and Israeli soldiers have shuttled between Tel Aviv and Washington with unusual frequency in recent months. A series of joint military exercises in Israel over the past months has included a record number of American troops. […]
The military cooperation began to intensify even as diplomatic relations between Washington and Israel frayed. The effort stems from policy directives the White House gave the Pentagon early in Mr. Obama’s presidency to “deepen and expand the quantity and intensity of cooperation to the fullest extent,” according to a senior administration official.
Asked for comment via email, American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spokesman Josh Block said “Clearly the Obama administration remains deeply committed to the U.S.-Israel alliance, and supporting aid to Israel and deepening our military cooperation is just one aspect of that.”
All of this tracks with what I heard when I visited Israel in June. As I wrote with David Halperin in Foreign Policy shortly after, “Notwithstanding the incessant neoconservative drumbeat that Obama is ‘selling Israel out,’ there was consensus among the Israeli officials with whom we spoke that military cooperation and intelligence sharing between the US and Israel is robust.” We found this to be especially true in regard to intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue, which one official acknowledged is “even better than under President Bush.”
What, then, to make of claims from some on the right like Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who recently told The Hill “I believe the Obama administration is the most anti-Israel administration in the modern history of the state of Israel.” Or from the Emergency Committee for Israel, whose director Noah Pollak bemoaned “the hostility of the Obama administration to the traditional closeness of the two nations”? Are they simply arguing in bad faith, and trying to raise money off the false perception that President Obama is abandoning Israel?
Or is it just that, for the extreme right, in the words of Elliott Abrams, the considerable support that the Obama administration continues to extend to Israel is just “not good enough” — the only acceptable “pro-Israel” position is to march lockstep with what Bibi Netanyahu wants, even when it undermines U.S. credibility and hampers U.S.’s ability to achieve its goals in the region?