I always thought they were in the connotative sense of the word but that belief was challenged while listening to an interview Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio had with Gareth Porter. (You can find the audio file for that interview here.) In it Porter made it a point to say that Israel is not an ally but a client state of the US. I found a Charles Freeman lecture given at The Nixon Center (you remember Charles Freeman don’t you? An appointee who was hounded out of the National Intelligence Council by Israel’s supporters in American policy circles as well as in government who ostensibly knew he would be fairer than most in assessing matters of national security.) where he clearly defined what an ally is and what the expectations are from an ally.
It’s useful to recall what we generally expect allies and strategic partners to do for us. In Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in the Middle East, they provide bases and support the projection of American power beyond their borders. They join us on the battlefield in places like Kuwait and Afghanistan or underwrite the costs of our military operations. They help recruit others to our coalitions. They coordinate their foreign aid with ours. Many defray the costs of our use of their facilities with “host nation support” that reduces the costs of our military operations from and through their territory. They store weapons for our troops’, rather than their own troops’ use. They pay cash for the weapons we transfer to them……
Israel does none of these things and shows no interest in doing them. Perhaps it can’t. It is so estranged from everyone else in the Middle East that no neighboring country will accept flight plans that originate in or transit it. Israel is therefore useless in terms of support for American power projection. It has no allies other than us. It has developed no friends. Israeli participation in our military operations would preclude the cooperation of many others. Meanwhile, Israel has become accustomed to living on the American military dole. The notion that Israeli taxpayers might help defray the expense of U.S. military or foreign assistance operations, even those undertaken at Israel’s behest, would be greeted with astonishment in Israel and incredulity on Capitol Hill.
This is a rather clearly defined list of what an ally does and how Israel meets those goals and objectives or not.
On another point, Freeman was recognized for not bending to the Israeli will if it conflicted, as it often does, with American interests and he certainly wasn’t cowed by dual loyalists in American government. The position which he was forced to give up, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, is responsible for issuing the National Intelligence Estimate, a document which in 2007 asserted that Iran had not re-started a weapons component of the nuclear program, much to the chagrin of the Israelis. Looking to the next estimate, Israel would like to see indication that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a claim Israelis have been making or hinting at for sometime, in order to justify a military response against Iran. It seems however, no such claim would be made if the next Estimate were to be produced.
…information from Amiri’s debriefings was only a minor contribution to the intelligence community’s reaffirmation in the latest assessment of Iran’s nuclear program of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)’s finding that work on a nuclear weapon has not been resumed after being halted in 2003….
which means for now the threat of war with Iran is somewhat diminished, until of course the next false flag operation, and diplomacy should be the order of the day. The point being Freeman’s detractors who thought he would not be pro-Israel enough have had all their efforts to remove him wasted because it has not yet produced the intelligence assessment they wanted, that Iran was a nuclear threat to the region.