Feudalism is Alive and Kicking

Feudalism is a thing of the past, a system that’s been defunct for hundreds of years? Maybe not.

New documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the US spied on Israel. The NSA (a.k.a. “No Such Agency”) monitored emails from the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Defence, and rented an apartment in Tel Aviv from which they could look into and listen to former Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s residence.

I can’t say I fell off my chair reading these “news”. Countries, even allies, have been spying on each other for centuries. What is interesting here is Israel’s response to these revelations.

When Snowden’s documents revealed that the US was listening in on German Chancellor Angele Merkel’s mobile phone, President Obama received a very angry phone call from the Chancellor, who berated him at length. I’m sure Ms. Merkel was equally not surprised, but protocol demanded she make a point to protest the spying.

What was Israel’s reaction? Here’s a quote from Reuters: “Israeli officials said on Saturday they were not surprised by allegations the United States and Britain had spied on the country’s leaders and played down the importance of any information its allies may have gleaned. [Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval] Steinitz emphasized the close intelligence ties between Israel and the two countries”.

Given that an American who spied on behalf of Israel has been languishing in a US jail since 1987, despite repeated demands (mostly covert) by Israel to grant him pardon, Israel’s reaction to similar actions performed by the US seems strangely out of place. At the very least one would expect some kind formal protest? Maybe not a 15-minute angry phone call, but perhaps a feeble statement to the press?

But when one thinks about the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s reaction is not strange at all. Feudalism is indeed alive and kicking. The Vassal dares not speak up against his Lord.


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