The Bush Administration staunchly supported Israel during the Gaza operation, but the help cannot be open-ended. If Israel does nothing for two weeks and cannot decide whether to invade, while Palestinian civil losses mount and the outcry against the unbearable situation in Gaza spreads all over the world, the US Administration cannot hold on forever. In other words, America cannot do Israel’s job.

It doesn’t matter now that the job is really American because it was the Bush Administration which, prompted by the Saudis, pushed for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and other concessions, which only emboldened Palestinians to carry on the fight. When silly Israelis increased their electoral support for Barak during the Gaza operation despite the unbelievable strategic ineptitude with which the campaign was conducted, we cannot expect the Americans to be any more sensible. It is enough that they wish Israel well. The trouble is, their well-wishing is misplaced: they expect that the Jews argue for policies most beneficial to Israel, and so American officials more or less accept the suggestions, discount them a bit to be fair, and implement them. Little do they know that the defeatist policies advocated by the American Jewish establishment are as anti-Israeli as the PLO charter.

It is oddly possible that various US administrations proved woefully incompetent about the Middle East—which, as Rabbi Kahane used to say, is not the Middle West. They have all the electronic intelligence in the world at their fingertips, but not a clue how to interpret it. For decades the CIA has concentrated on objective ways of evaluating intelligence; as a huge bureaucratic organization, it has to rely on objective criteria for job assessment. Accordingly, the CIA lacks real analysts—those who feel the situation behind signal intelligence and make their predictions based on intuition rather than manuals. NSA staffing is still worse: its personnel are mostly unprofessional both in objective intelligence and subjective analysis. The NSA is increasingly staffed with people of liberal education bent on leftist policies and willing to twist intelligence accordingly. Presidential advisors since Kissinger have not been professional in any sense; Baker was an able negotiator at best.

American Jewish organizations have no say in US policy, and for good reason: imagine the harm those ultra-left assimilationist groups could inflict on Israel. They have more clout in Congress because it’s a win-win game: congressmen gain Jewish donors and media coverage while their voters don’t really care about their pro-Israeli pronouncements. The Administration understands the game and pays no attention to the congressional resolutions; the long-standing debate on moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is but one example.

Presidential opinion on Israeli-Arab matters is shaped predominantly by two people: The Saudi and Israeli PMs. There are some variations to this scheme: Carter was especially close to Sadat, rather than the Saudis, and Clinton, enchanted by Rabin, initially hated Netanyahu. Fundamentally, American presidents don’t care about Israel or the peace process because the US public opinion doesn’t care. They act when pushed by the Arabs. The reason why Arab leaders care about the problem is clear in the current Gaza debacle: they fear too much domestic activism. Arab leaders are all usurpers, illegitimate by Muslim or democratic standards. They tend to collaborate with the West because of snobbishness and for economic reasons, but they don’t want to be seen as collaborators. So they want to keep the Muslim world’s troubles with the West from inflaming.

The Israeli PM is the single influential Jewish lobbyist for a simple reason: he is the only Israeli (and generally the only not-entirely-assimilated Jew) with access to US president. Add the fact that Israeli PMs are generally tough, with vast experience in combat or security matters, and ostensibly have the world’s Jewish power concentrated in their hands. No wonder American presidents generally fall in love with Israeli PMs; even Carter eventually grew close to Begin, and Clinton changed his opinion of Netanyahu.

Here lies the problem: the Jew most influential with the American president is still a Jew. He’s insecure and longs for recognition. That was especially clear with Begin, but it is also true of other PMs. Instead of forcefully defending Jewish interests to the president, Israeli prime ministers try to be nice and accommodate American wishes. But the only wishes the president has which need Israeli accommodation are those of the Saudis or Egyptians. In their desire to please an American president, the Israeli PMs succumb to the Arab enemy’s demands.

Carter was the only US president who pushed Israel to accept defeat; even he acted on the advice of Moshe Dayan and other leftists. (Dayan always pushed for abandoning Jewish control over significant places, whether Sinai, Hebron, or the Temple Mount.) Clinton listened to Rabin as to his own father. Later, Barak pushed Clinton for Middle East conferences and the meeting with Arafat. Giving Jerusalem away was Barak’s idea rather than Clinton’s demand. The Americans always asked for Israeli red lines, which they learned from leftists; worse, Israeli negotiators never had any red lines, but remained flexible with respect to Jewish land. Worse, Jews cannot afford the red lines: after Egypt started and lost four wars with Israel and got 100 percent of its former territory back, neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians can accept less than a 100 percent + solution if they want to remain welcome on the Arab street.

Considering the level of presidential-PM rapport, Israel should be able to get almost any policy approved. Someone with as much presidential clout as Barak could convince the American leader to accept any Israeli solution, including the transfer of her Arabs to any place closer than hell.