It has been essentially unacceptable in Washington to acknowledge that the United States may at times have different priorities than Israel. Remember, for instance, the October presidential debate, when Mitt Romney criticized President Obama by saying, “The president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel.”
But when even Jon Stewart joked this month about the absurdity of the no-daylight requirement, it’s clear that Americans – or at least the younger generation – are getting tired of such an unquestioning close relationship.
Other well-known figures from Thomas Friedman to Colin Powell came to Hagel’s defense, groups like mine mustered grassroots support, and the president stood his ground. When Sen. Charles Schumer – the Democrat from New York who is widely seen as a decisive vote in the confirmation hearings – declared his support for Hagel, it became clear his appointment would go forward.
Since Mr. Obama announced his decision, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, has studiously avoided publicly opposing Hagel. Its choice to stay out of a fight it couldn’t win indicates a recognition that political realities are shifting.
Could it be that holding Israel accountable for its illegal settlements, its demolition of homes, its killing of nonviolent activists – another Palestinian, a young woman, was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers this week in the occupied West Bank – and its repression of the Palestinian people will be next?