At some point, this nexus may backfire here at home as well. The more people realize that this mutual enabling is harming U.S. security, support for Israel may dwindle very rapidly.
Some evidence suggests this is already beginning to happen. In a Rasmussen poll taken last August, 70 percent of American respondents viewed Israel as an ally. In a new survey by the polling firm out today, this figure has declined to just 58 percent. The situation isn't dire: Only 2 percent see Israel as an enemy; but a surprisingly large 32 percent see it as something in between.
If Israeli leaders don't care about American polls, they should maybe listen to one of their leading supporters, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In a March 16 statement, Berman noted that the two countries are still strong allies and that they shouldn't let the current dispute obscure that fact. However, he also said:
The administration had real justification for being upset with the timing of the settlements announcement. A process was supposed to be in place to keep the United States from being blindsided by just such a development, and yet once again we were blindsided. The Israeli leadership needs to get this right and put a system in place so it won't happen again.
If more of Israel's so-called friends gave an Amen to those words, then maybe it won't. Otherwise, it almost certainly will.
* Update March 30, 2010: This statement was part of Gen. Petraeus' written testimony, but it reflected his views and was vetted by his military superiors.