Though the two nations have similar values, Zakheim says they exist in very different geopolitical contexts.
Dov Zakheim: Well I think that there are common values. I think there’s a sense of liberty. There’s a sense of democracy. Israel has become much more of a free enterprise country now. So there’s a commonality there. There’s a sense of shared western history and values, so there’s that. Do they come apart? Of course they do. They have to. And the reason they have to is very simple. We’re a global power. We have global interests. Our context is the world. Israel’s context is the Middle East. They’re a regional power. So it’s very, very different. Our existence isn’t threatened. They believe their existence is threatened. They’re gonna do things in the short run that we may not agree with. In fact, it’s likely we won’t always agree with them. I think in the long run, there’s enough commonality with them, and frankly with our European allies and places like Canada and Australia that keeps us in the same camp. But in the short run look how we disagree with the French. And no one would say that our values are really all that different. In Israel and here, you have freedom of speech. You have freedom of religion. Again, as somebody who came from families that were persecuted, freedom of religion is important. In fact, in the Middle East I would argue far more than democracy, freedom of religion is probably the most important thing, whether you’re a Sunni, a Shia, a Christian, a Jew, whatever. You have that in Israel. You have economic opportunity, although I think for Israeli Arabs and somewhat for Palestinians it’s not good enough. But at least they’re committed to the principle of that. You have freedom of assembly, and obviously freedom of speech. Well those are not . . . those are not axiomatic. There are lots of places in the world where those freedoms don’t exist.
Recorded on: 7/2/07