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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

The ties that bind

Q: President Obama took great pains to highlight the "unbreakable bonds" between Israel and the US and downplayed tension with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on Wednesday. When is it helpful for leaders to paper over differences in public?

To believe that allies, even those as close as Israel and the U.S. will never disagree is folly. In fact, the truest test of a diplomatic relationship is the ability of both parties to see beyond the squabbles that inevitably arise and focus on the big-picture goals at the root of their alliance. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama have had their differences in recent months, but both men understand the historic significance of their strategic partnership and more important, both men understand the intrinsic value of showing a united front to the rest of the world.

As such, President Obama's softer words on Wednesday don't represent retreat or compromise. Rather, they serve as a reminder that what unites Israel and the U.S. is stronger that what may occasionally divide the two nations. That's an important message to send at this crucial juncture in Israel's history, and it's one that put recent fights between Netanyahu and Obama in the proper context for those around the world that may have recently doubted the strength of those "unbreakable bonds."

With all of the vitriol and infighting that have come to define American political theater, it would be a welcome reprieve if such civility weren't exclusively reserved for the international stage. Just like Israel and the U.S., Republicans and Democrats may disagree on a number of issues, but their goals for American prosperity and security are often one and the same. This message is too often lost in our political discourse, and that's a shame, because we do need to hear it from time to time.

Of course, with the midterm elections around the corner, to expect such a display anytime soon is likely folly as well.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  July 9, 2010; 12:37 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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We've been an ally to Israel but I'm not sure that Israel has ever been much of an ally to us. It's a very one sided relationship, aided and abetted by treasonous behavior by many in the American Congress and their staffs. If Israel were really an American ally, they would have stopped building these settlements long ago, and even have dismantled some of them by now.

An ally is someone who does something that is not even in their own national interest; just because we ask them to. By that measure, Saudi Arabia is an ally, because they have lowered oil prices or increased oil production a number of times at the request of the American government. When has Israel's government ever done anything comparable to help us out? All their governments ever do is take, and when someone like Obama complains, they turn the screws against him in the media and the Congress.

Posted by: stillaliberal | July 11, 2010 10:32 PM
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Israel is most certainly a democracy, and Israel isn't the problem, it's the solution.

If the Palestinians would quit all the jihad crap, we could see a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian nation. But that will never happen because that's not what they want. They want jihad.

Posted by: Robert2008 | July 11, 2010 8:43 PM
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Rule #1 - When they don't mention MONEY, you know it's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. That's our tie with Israel: MONEY.

All Americans have overseas ties of some sort, but there is no comparison as to wealth. If American Jews had the economic status of American Blacks, we'd have as much interaction with Israel as we do with Nigeria.

There is nothing unusual about this except not admitting it, this is how we prioritize many things. And of course politicians and media are especially concerned with income. The former to be reelected, the latter to stay on the air with viewers and stuff into bank accounts. Both are very competitive arenas.

Values and ideals are marginally involved in our relationship with Israel, as with other countries. But if you wonder why we so blindly tolerate a hyper-violent, religious-nutcase nation like Israel, you need other answers. Think MONEY.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | July 11, 2010 10:51 AM
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This was a vapid analysis. Mr. Goodwin asserts that "what unites Israel and the U.S. is stronger that what may occasionally divide the two nations," but he fails to actually mention what those ties are. Why are we allies with Israel? We can't call Israel a "democracy" when it refuses to enfranchise the Palestinian people who live there. We can't say we share "values" with Israel as it brazenly forges ahead with illegal settlements and other human rights abuses. Many experts - including Gen. David Petreus - are finally acknowledging that our "unbreakable alliance" with Israel is undermining our national security. It's time our President got the memo.

Posted by: StephenD11 | July 11, 2010 2:25 AM
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Amerika is the pitt bull of the world, and this fact is as well known to Israelis as to any other nation. Unlike other nations, however, Israel has made it illegal for its citizens to demonstrate against the US.

The pronouncement of Biden that peace was not a primary goal of the "Peace" Process, followed by the his and Hilary's tirades did a great deal to enfranchise those Israeli's who deeply wish a separation of their nation from this one. I don't think the subsequent photo schmoozing did any harm to their cause. Unfortunately, Bibib's smiling with Barry did not make the Mizrahi or the Israeli Ismaili Shiite Muslims happy. These two groups are Israel's most patriotic/nationalistic.

NB, Bibi. Your most loyal constituents are not happy.

Posted by: farnaz_mansouri2 | July 11, 2010 12:26 AM
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Goodwin must have his hand deep in the military complex cookie jar. Banal, evil is the only way to describe this mans point of view.

Posted by: googleer | July 10, 2010 4:12 PM
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You'd like to think so? Is a PARASITE

the Israeli firsters who call themsevles Americans

and spend all their time money grubbing and
planning war for American money and help ties all right.

Ties, like being tied up, you mean?

Posted by: whistling | July 10, 2010 3:28 PM
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