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Masada: Tourist Board Image

A number of interesting stories have recently been moved out of the spotlight by lighter fluffier items, like Rick Santorum’s sunburn when he stepped out from under a stone this week.

The first which caught my attention was the meeting in DC of Netanyahu the Prime Minister of Israel with Obama.  What, one wonders, was he doing there and why was he there now?  And what was he hoping to get from the trip?

There is talk that he has secured an order of bunker busting bombs and some planes to re-fuel fighter jets in flight.  Perfect accompaniments for a long range strike into Iranian airspace.  Sounds good eh?  Reassured? It’s only insurance right?  They wouldnt go it alone and bomb Iran would they?

The Israeli and Jewish experience of America is not actually as rosy as America sometimes likes to paint.  It is nowhere near as close as some Americans imagine or her enemies suggest, and it is certainly at best “nuanced”.  Israelis and Jews have a long memory when it comes to how America views their interests.  A substantial number would see this history as below.

America failed the Jews in the 1930’s as they tried to flee Nazi Occupied Europe as refugees, abandoning them and leaving them to die in the camps.

America failed the Jews again in World War II when she failed to bomb the camps at Auschwitz and elsewhere.  It has never been clear how many of the five million holocaust dead might have been saved by intervention.

America failed the Jews in 1948 when she pushed the idea of “trusteeship” rather than promoting statehood.

America failed Israel in 1956 by forcing Ben-Gurion to withdraw from the Sinai.

America failed Israel by being slow in shipping arms during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

America did not support Menchim Begin when he bombed the Iranian reactor in 1981.

And they were not exactly showing much sympathy to Israeli interests either when I hoved up in Israel (or more accurately the West Bank Occupied Territories) during the First Lebanese War in 1982.

I spend an instructive time there, wandering about the joys of Nablus and Ramallah until political focus became (for me at least) clearest when I visted a large mountain sitting in the deep rift valley depression on the edge of the Dead Sea.  Masada was originally a Herodian fortress and palace.  It was here that the last Jewish uprising in AD 69 had been crushed by the might of Rome scattering the Jews to their Diaspora for two thousand years.  It has a place in Israeli hearts.  It is a place of pilgrimage.

The site of this fortress is gained either by a long slog up the side of the hill in the skull splitting heat of late summer, or one could take a cable car ride to the top and see the ruined palaces and the roman camp laid out below like a plate from a Latin school Text book.

Returning back down to the Cable Car station there are stalls where they sell the usual pencils and note-lets sets, mugs, nick-nacks and other guff, and any number of T-Shirts emblazoned “Masada Shall Not Fall Again”.  But tea cloth or baseball hat, it is all themed around the concept that the Jew is alone in the world and can rely only on his own.  Friends are nice, but when push comes to genocide the Jew realises he has to look out for himself and no-one else, not even Americans are going to be there for them.  And this time they absolutely will not go down quietly.

Don’t take my word for it.  Here is Charles Krauthammer speaking this week in Washington Post summing up Obama’s position on Iranian nuclear ambitions.

“Obama garnered much AIPAC applause by saying that his is not a containment policy but a prevention policy. But what has he prevented? Keeping a coalition of six together is not prevention. Holding talks is not prevention. Imposing sanctions is not prevention.”

If you were Netanyahu would you take much comfort politically from this week’s meeting?

Copyright David Macadam 2012