In his address to Congress on May 24, 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, “America has no better friend than Israel.”
A friend is someone whom you have a strong bond with, supports you, doesn’t take advantage of you, and isn’t shy to tell you when they think you are going astray.
By that measure, is Israel truly America’s best friend?
The United States has a “special relationship” with the UK, and has the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world with its neighbour, Canada, and shares the common law and the English language with both.
Israel ranks nowhere close in trade numbers to Canada or the UK, and the significant population difference isn’t an excuse, since size matters in terms of the ability of a country’s friendliness to be meaningful relative to other countries. Increased trade interdependence was seen as a way of preventing future wars in Europe, which was one of the justifications for European economic and political integration, and trade with Canada and the UK have brought them very close to the U.S.
While Israel sat on the sidelines in the Iraq War for obvious political reasons, despite being in the best position to reap the benefits of the ouster of Saddam Hussein, it was the UK that sent the second-largest contingent of coalition troops.
While Canada didn’t send troops into the Iraq War without a UN Resolution, as then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made clear to the Bush administration would be required, it dissented in a respectful manner, advising of the dangers of going to war without a broad coalition under the banner of the UN, as was successfully conducted in the Gulf War. Canada was subsequently proven right on that as the death, mayhem and instability showed.
Despite the immediate upset of the Bush administration over Canada’s refusal to join the Iraq War, there were no long-lasting consequences, and Canada and the U.S. continue to cooperate closely with NAFTA, NORAD, NATO, and border security.
While the U.S. has the largest bilateral trading relationship with Canada, Israel, on the other hand, is the second-largest recipient of publicly-funded U.S. welfare, second only to Afghanistan, with $3 billion a year in military assistance.
While Canada effectively relies on the U.S. for its defense against most countries if they were to invade, that would be extremely unlikely, and is balanced out by Canada having to take the hit of any nuclear ballistic missiles shot down if they are fired over the north pole toward the U.S.
With the May 2, 2011 re-election of the Conservative Party with a majority government, the planned $30 billion U.S. fighter jet proposal is set to go through, demonstrating Canada’s commitment to its share in defense, and from its own pocket.
Despite Netanyahu’s claim of Israel being “a bright star of freedom,” that doesn’t include the same level of religious freedom found in the U.S., as preaching the gospel to individuals in public in Israel is illegal, and will land you in jail.
He also praised Israel’s “open economy,” yet, in 2011, the conservative Heritage Foundation ranked Israel as having only the 43rd most free economy, with Arab neighbour Jordan coming out ahead in 38th place, while Canada was in 6th place, close to the U.S. in 8th place, making Canada more similar to the U.S., economically.
Being without a veto in the UN Security Council, Israel has to rely on the U.S. to get itself out of hot water, including ignoring past resolutions that Israel is violation of, despite former President George W. Bush citing Saddam’s repeated violations of UN resolutions as partial justification for his overthrow.
Unlike Israel, Canada doesn’t have a convicted spy sitting in U.S. prison for espionage against the U.S., as Israel’s spy Jonathan Pollard currently is.
Despite Canada occasionally being falsely smeared with the claim that some of the 19 alleged 9/11 hijackers came in through Canada, the U.S. had detained some Israeli citizens on 9/11, as announced by former Foreign Secretary Colin Powell, which scarcely received mention in the mass media to the extent that the false information about Canada continues to whenever a major U.S. political figure repeats it.
Benjamin Netanyahu wants you to believe Israel is America’s best friend. The question is — will you believe him?