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How is this not a violation of the first amendment? They aren't US government buildings (which still exist on the map, just some things are occasionally blurred). Why as an American company can't I take pictures of anything I want from the sky and post them online?

Furthermore, its just silly in an international market. Thinking that this will make images of Israel go away to protect them is just silly. Useless legislation is useless and a waste of taxpayer time and money.

We don't do this for any other country/ally. As a non-religious American, I quite honestly don't understand why we have such a relationship with Israel as it yields us zero benefit and many losses.




The US treats Israel like an intelligence/military base in the Middle East. Why wouldn't you support your soldiers?

A bonus is that Israel is still a sovereign nation and if it for example bombs Syrian nuclear reactors, the United States has zero responsibility. Which can leave the US to pursue détente with any country it likes, regardless the Israel protest.

A nations power is measured not only in its military capabilities but in its allies. The US has many, many allies but not that many loyal ones especially in the Middle East.

The benefits are way too many, but very few of them are international-PR-related. Except of course domestically, which is much, much more important to any politician.


In theory, you are correct about the US having "zero responsibility" for actions of Israel. In reality, however, the US gets a ton of flak for supporting Israel, despite some of their questionable practices. Most of Israel's antagonists effectively equate Israel to the US. Is such a sentiment unfounded? Not entirely, considering that our politicians bend over backwards for Israel.

I respect Israel, and I see the value in a healthy relationship with it. However, the US should be looking out for the best interests of Israel, which are _not_ the continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Many Israelis understand that a two-state solution is the only sustainable solution...unfortunately, Netanyahu does not realize that. The US needs to push Israel in the right direction, for the sake of our shared relationship (and Israel itself).


Well, zero was perhaps a hyperbole.

Does the US have close economic/military relationships with Israel-bashing Arab countries? It does. Although they are not the best possible alliances (not ideological similarity), they are convenient. So theory holds out in practice, doesn't it? ;)

There was a time in the 70s when Arab governments did the whole embargo thing, but they quickly realized that its not in their best interest. And the US-Israel relationship has only improved, hasn't it? I don't think back then there was a deep military relationship between the countries.

As for the push in the right direction - I think there are some limits to what you can practically do in this relationship as in any. You don't want to risk the favorable strategic terms of the status quo in any way and you want some changes. It gets tougher when your job as a politician is to win votes. Maybe this special relationship is the barrier to solution and not an endless limbo. This is a question too deep of foreign policy, too many books on the subject. I like those from Fareed Zakaria, because he deals in much more broader terms than local issues.

Remember that with constant escalation coming from the Balkans, the world entered World War I. Just the same, is the question of who is right and wrong and what is doing locally that important in the much larger , global scope? And then again, what credibility does a 'global concert' have if it cannot resolve a given issue for 60 years?


Many Israelis understand that a two-state solution is the only sustainable solution

Links please.

What is the right direction? Please elaborate.


Exactly what is stopping the Palestinians from having a functional state? They have been left to their own devices for quite a while now ... and what have they come up with? A militant party sworn to the destruction of their neighbor and another party so weak, it has no choice but to support the militant one. Yup! There's a recipe for peace!

There is nothing Israel/US/UN/Europe/etc. can do to make the Palestinians create a decent government. Only the Palestinians can do that.


While I won't bother bringing this topic onto the forum, you should be intelligent enough to know that this is an exaggeration and slanted view of the more complex reality.


I'm intelligent enough to know that if it there was a "more complex reality", you would have astutely pointed it out. The truth is that the situation is very simple and that those who try to veil reality in complex sophistry are simply parasites who wish to benefit through the misery of others. Shame on you!


HN is no place to discuss emotionally charged questions of nationality and history. Your reply illustrates the reason why.

Keeping aside the possibility that you are a troll, it simply makes no sense to bring up issues related to the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. This is not a thread about it, and I have no time to go into detail about historical grievances of either party in the conflict.

It is easy and pat to make simple, childish judgments based on one's race, religion or prejudices. If you want to stick to that level, it is your loss. The idea that the conflict is one side of monsters and one side of tragic heroes is comedic, regardless of which 'side' one chooses.


> HN is no place to discuss emotionally charged questions of nationality and history. Your reply illustrates the reason why.

Uhhmmm no, the original post to which I was replying illustrates why. You did read it, right?

> The idea that the conflict is one side of monsters and one side of tragic heroes is comedic, regardless of which 'side' one chooses.

Thanks for the moral relativism drivel. When you find the time to "go into detail about historical grievances of either party in the conflict" instead of wasting time writing gibberish, feel free to reply.

Nobody else is reading this thread anymore. It'll just be the two of us.


But that's exactly what the parent was asking — how are you defining "loyal?"

His question was, what are we getting out of it that would cost us more if we didn't do it ourselves.


Well, does it have unwavering strategic, political, cultural, ideological interest to continue the relationship, whatever the government?

In contrast the surrounding allies always warn that the relationship or balance of power may change if the current government goes out of power. The state department may lose some hours of sleep when there is a change in power in Egypt or in Yemen, but does it have to when the same happens in Israel?


Honestly? I think so.

Look at how much tension there is between Obama and Bibi. Bibi point-blank says he couldn't give a damn less what Obama's ideas are for peace, there will be no halt of construction in occupied lands and there will be no negotiation for Jerusalem.

That's quite a stretch from what his predecessors once said.


"As a non-religious American, I quite honestly don't understand why..."

As a non-religious American, I quite honestly don't understand why so many non-religious Americans try to paint this partnership in grandiose, apocalyptic religious way (heh, ironically just like many religious people). Just as the arab-israeli conflict is not inherently a religious conflict, the US partnership with israel is not a "religious" bond - it's a political partnership like all others.


It may not be inherently religious but there are religious factors that strengthen this partnership far beyond what it would be on a purely strategic basis, namely political pressure from religious jews and evangelical christians.


Secular jews too.

Maybe all the 'non-religous' need to effectively lobby their congresscritters?


For example, Israel was more closely tied to Russia than to the US until around 1967-1973.


Why do you say that?


while not exactly true, it is true that the American-Israeli bond only took its more familiar form after 1967. Up to that time the closest Israeli ally were the French [1]: "France was Israel's main weapons supplier until its withdrawal from Algeria in 1966 removed most common interest from the relationship, and France became increasingly critical of Israel".

Regarding American-Israeli relations[2]: "During Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, U.S. policy shifted to a whole-hearted, but not unquestioning, support for Israel. Prior to the Six-Day War of 1967, U.S. administrations had taken considerable care to avoid giving the appearance of favoritism."

Regarding Russia, at the very beginning they were pro-zionists, wanting to undermine the British influence in the Middle East. But quickly the USSR became a menace, whether threatening directly or by proxies[3]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France%E2%80%93Israel_relations

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_%E2%80%93_United_States_...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel%E2%80%93Russia_relations


Interestingly, Russia tried to start a Jewish state in the far East in '34:

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Jewish_Autono...


Because the First Amendment protects a class of political speech that has been defined by statute and judicial opinion. It does not give everyone the right to broadcast and discover whatever information they want. This is a common misconception about the First Amendment.


It is certainly true that the First Amendment is not as broad as popularly conceived. Be that as it may, I don't think it would take a great stretch to characterize high resolution images of Israel as political speech.

I'm not a First Amendment lawyer, but this strikes me as unconstitutional. I'm sure there are other lawyers on here with a better recollection of Con Law I. Thoughts?

I suspect the reason it hasn't been challenged is that Google doesn't want the fight and others would have standing issues.

Just for the record, the First Amendment covers more than simply political speech. See long line of cases distinguishing pornography from obscenity.


The Supreme Court has the power to rule on matters pertaining to pornography and obscenity because that's not protected speech either. Their resolution to the obscenity cases was to implement a non-ban ban on such material, relegating decisions pertaining to what's obscene to "community standards".

Characterizing satellite photography as protected political speech sounds like a stretch to me. I'd be surprised if it passed judicial muster. If it's political speech, what's the political position? That Israel or the Palestinians are bad? That their borders as drawn are right or wrong?


It may be that you have your starting point wrong. As I understand it, all speech is protected, except for "certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech." Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. Obscenity is one such class; speech creating a clear and present danger is another.

The point is, speech is presumed protected. By what virtue would high resolution pictures of Israel not be protected free speech? It's not libelous, obscene, seditious, or any other exception I can think of.


Political speech?

A company pays to have a satellite built and then put into orbit, and then sells licenses of the images the satellite takes.

That is commerce, not political speech.

If you started a non-profit that built and placed into orbit satellites, and then freely distributed those images, I would agree with your argument.


Assisting in protecting the Jewish people from annihilation is not a religiously based relationship, it might be based on guilt at worse. Helping the defenseless Jews in WW2 was much more costly than helping israel now.


There are about as many Jews in the US as there are in Israel.


And?


Israel is not "the Jewish people."


That's correct, although it does possess the only armed force in the world interested in protecting the Jewish people.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Entebbe for why this is important.


According to the Wikipedia page, they were separate by nationality - which happened to separate them by Jews and non-Jews. So I think that's an instance of Israel protecting their own citizens. For the record, I am Jewish by heritage, and I have zero expectation of being protected by Israel - there's even a good chance I would not be officially recognized as Jewish.


> they were separate by nationality - which happened to separate them by Jews and non-Jews

I'm not sure where you see this. There were French and American Jews who were among the hostages. In fact, the Israeli forces accidentally killed a French Jew.

> there's even a good chance I would not be officially recognized as Jewish.

If one of your grandparents is Jewish, by Israeli law, you are entitled to citizenship as a Jew.


From the article, "The hijackers deliberately sorted the hostages into two groups—Israeli nationals and others, or Jews and Gentiles." The Frenchman you mentioned lied to the hijackers, again, according to Wikipedia: "A 19-year-old Frenchman named Jean-Jacques Maimoni—who chose to identify himself as an Israeli Jew to the hijackers even though he had a French passport."

My mother converted to Judaism before I was born. I do not know if the Israeli courts would recognize that conversion. My case is weaker than some of the people profiled in this NY Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02jewishness-t.ht...


Ah didn't see that about the French guy. The article isn't very explicit about this point, though if you look at the totals by nationality, there are 105 hostages (all Jews) and of them 92 are Israeli.

Also, if your mother converted to Judaism before you were born, you're 100% Jewish. The only potential sticking point would be if she was converted under Orthodox law. I am not familiar with the Rabbinate's position on that, but 99% of the Jewish world recognizes you as a Jew. Your case is quite strong as a matter of fact.


Yes, for most reasonable Jews. My point there was that the process is not reasonable, as evidenced by the people who get caught up in it.


Yes I agree completely. The Rabbinate should not have as much power as it does.


Depends on which side, from the mother side by law you'll receive nationality on the spot, from the father's side you'll only experience the brutal pain of the politics in Israel.


> How is this not a violation of the first amendment?

Google is a private company.

> I quite honestly don't understand why we have such a relationship with Israel as it yields us zero benefit and many losses.

If you don't understand something, a good bet is that your premises are wrong.


Google being a private company is immaterial - they are not self-censoring, but complying with US law. First amendment concerns lose out to national security concerns most of the time. I think it's valid to question if this should be one of those times.


Ah I see your point.

But an ally asked for something that's rather trivial (for us)... I don't see why we shouldn't comply.


But an ally asked for something that's rather trivial (for us)... I don't see why we shouldn't comply.

Because it violates US citizens' first amendment rights?


I have no problem with low-res only views of sensitive areas. I don't tend to be staunchly idealistic at the expense of security.

So not having high-res satellite imagery of sites in Israel is an affront to your rights, but these aren't?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_map_images_with_missi...


No, those are an affront to my rights as well. Who suggested they weren't?


Well as long as you're consistent I don't mind. I imagine it's easy to be self-righteous when it's not your safety on the line. I don't pretend to understand the security concerns of those countries with regards to their facilities.


> If you don't understand something, a good bet is that your premises are wrong.

But another bet is that "that something" doesn't actually make sense.


Yes but in this case America does benefit from a healthy relationship with Israel and, more importantly, from Israel's existence.


  > America does benefit from a healthy relationship
  > with Israel and, more importantly, from Israel's
  > existence
How?

Edit: I am really curious. I don't know much about this topic.


They buy more US military hardware than any other nation out there. More than a billion dollars a year on average since 1987(or so says Wikipedia.)


Numerous innovations (like the bandage that saved Gabriel Giffords' life), numerous American companies doing R&D in Israel (Intel is fabricating their upcoming Sandy Bridge line in Israel), and of course, military relations (weapons/defense technology, American weapons caches in Israel, intelligence cooperation, stuxnet).


So they have some R&D there. Lots of countries do that, and our relationship with them isn't quite the same. Lots of tech in Ireland for example, but we weren't getting in their mini-religious war quite so much in the 90's and protecting one side like that.


The Irish were fighting against one of our closest allies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Relationship


> So they have some R&D there.

As I outlined above and which you are purposely and blatantly ignoring, our relationship is more than economic.

Ireland doesn't face an existential threat from anti-Western regimes, nor does it have the same military relationship that we do with Israel. The situations could not be more different.


Are people forgetting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East? The US enjoys a very healthy military relationship with Israel because of its advanced technology and its strategic location....all religion aside.


> "...the only democracy in the Middle East? ...all religion aside."

One problem is that it's difficult to consider the question of Israel being a "democracy" while setting aside "all religion". (Short version: there are a lot of people in occupied territories that don't have a vote.)

Another is that there is a very good question of just how much can you let a country get away with just because they are or claim to be a democracy? That amount is surely limited (right?), but the question is, how much?


there are a lot of people in occupied territories that don't have a vote

By your logic, the United States is not a democracy because illegal aliens cannot vote in US elections.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship


> there are a lot of people in occupied territories that don't have a vote.

Yes they do. In their own government(s). What are you talking about?

Edit: Oh gosh... downvoted? I feel as though I am on reddit.

Edit 2: They voted for Fatah and Hamas. They do get to vote - in their own elections. (Though not for a few years because Hamas and Fatah have postponed elections multiple times)


While Israel does have strategic importance to the US, I think that's Israel's status in US foreign policy is disproportionate to that strategic need. I don't think it's controversial to say that many people - and politicians - feel a moral imperative to help Israel. I think it's inaccurate to characterize the relationship between the two countries without considering that perceived imperative.


> Are people forgetting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East?

What happened to Turkey?


Seeing as Turkey is vying for a position in the EU and it's part of numerous European councils, Turkey isn't generally considered a Middle Eastern country.


I thought we brought democracy to Iraq (or I hope that's what we got out of that), and Egypt is holding their first election in forever in November. The area's getting better overall in terms of democracy it would seem, with or without our protection of them.


It strikes me that one reason surrounding regimes are/were so hostile towards Israel is because they don't want their own people 'getting ideas.'


You're being downmodded, but it is a fairly documented point[1] and a very valid one in "Middle Eastern studies" academic circles[2].

[1] quick googling turned for example http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/01/full-comment-...

[2] due to time constraints I can't find recitations now, so take it at face value. Sorry.

EDIT: eh, life just gave a brilliant new example: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100092061/bre...


OK then what happened to Lebanon ;-)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

According to that Israel is a 'Flawed democracy' and Lebanon is a 'Hybrid regime'. I cannot say I'm familiar with the political system in Lebanon, but I do know they've been having some major issues with their government lately. IIRC they haven't had a functioning executive branch since they agreed to comply with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Hezbollah (effectively the military of Lebanon and a very strong political power) is extremely unhappy with this because the allegation is that they assassinated him.


Iraq? Egypt (election this fall)?


Are you sure about that? You think it is an obvious fact that doesn't need to be supported or argued about it is just common sense and I think many would disagree with that.


> You think it is an obvious fact that doesn't need to be supported or argued about it is just common sense and I think many would disagree with that.

I don't think it's an obvious fact which is why 7 minutes before you wrote this, I responded to a similar question.

Edit: Here it is

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2649279


Sorry, you did, and I wasn't paying attention.


He who pays the piper calls the tune. Who has the money to pay the piper in the USA?




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