Why the US needs to move on from Israel, according to this ex-White House official

Why the US needs to move on from Israel, according to this ex-White House official

Our 2021-23 CIS Wilhelm Fellow Steven Simon offers his views on US-Israel relations to Haaretz. An excerpt is featured below. 

August 3, 2023 | Haaretz | Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
August 3, 2023

Steven Simon, the former US National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa under the Obama administration, recently released the book “Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East.” In it, he skews the decades of US policy in the Middle East that has largely remained unchanged through successive administrations.

Simon’s arguments are all the more relevant with Israel finding itself at a dramatic inflection point – with its own democracy, relations with the Palestinians and a potential normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, all against the backdrop of US involvement (or lack thereof) in those matters.

“It’s empty-nest syndrome,” says Simon of US reluctance to press the reset button. “The chicks fly the coop, they hang out with the wrong people. ‘Why don’t they come home for dinner anymore and ask for advice’ – if you’re a parent, that’s really vexing and it’s hard to learn to let go. The United States should feel good about Israel’s powerful position in the region: not just the survival of the Jewish state, but the tremendous prosperity and power of the state,” he observes.

Simon, however, does not believe the United States is to blame for any of Israel’s current problems. “Everybody’s so interested in this current crisis precisely because it seems to be like a tipping point,” he says of the fierce pro-democracy protests against the Netanyahu government’s efforts to weaken the judiciary. “The message of the book, to the extent that it’s relevant to the crisis that’s going on now back there, is simply that it’s not our problem,” he adds.

Read the full article here.