Why the Hell Are We Allied with Israel? The Sequel
Back in January 2009, during Israel’s bombing of Gaza, I wrote an article asking why the United States was allied with Israel. After all, countries act on their instinct to survive and not for any higher moral purposes. Thus, if Israel possessed a vital natural resource essential to America’s well-being the current relationship between the two countries would be justified. If Israel’s geographic location was critical to the security of a trade route or a convenient military outpost I would have no problem with the relationship as it currently exists. But Israel possesses neither of the aforementioned benefits for the United States. No, according to official Washington our support of Israel is a moral obligation because it is one of only two democracies (the other being Iraq) in the region and democracies must stick together.
Of course, this is a crock. What good is sticking together when it makes your citizens vulnerable to terrorist attacks? 911 was blowback for American bombing of Muslim land in Iraq in the 1990s and our unconditional support of Israel in general. The real reasons our elected officials in Washington sell us out on a continuous basis by supporting Israel no matter what are because they don’t want to be labeled anti-Semitic and they receive huge support from the American Jewish lobby and Evangelical Christian groups at election time.
Don’t believe me? The recent abrupt firing of media legend Helen Thomas is a testament to the power of the pro-Israeli forces in American politics. After 57 years in journalism her, “tell them to get the hell out of Palestine” comment was considered unacceptable and led to her professional demise. Was it reasonable that this one remark should end a career that included coverage of every president since Kennedy, various awards, and 30 honorary degrees? Even her previous comments made during the Bush years where she stated, “I’m covering the worst president in American history” and “The day Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I’ll kill myself. All we need is another liar… I think he’d like to run, but it would be a sad day for the country if he does”, didn’t get her in nearly as much trouble.
Helen Thomas is just one example of what happens when the wrath of pro-Israel forces are riled. Even though he stated time and again his support for Israel and before he made his comments on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul drew opposition in his primary battle against Trey Grayson from the Republican Jewish Coalition. Seems they didn’t like his non-interventionist foreign policy views and how they would affect Israel.
Examples of pro-Israel wrath aside, recent events are indicative of America’s absolute, yet nonsensical support of Israel. In January of 2009, Israeli bombers blew up an American International School in Gaza as part of Israel’s siege on that occupied territory. Not only was there no condemnation from Washington, there was no coverage by the mainstream media in the U.S.!
Then there was Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel when Netanyahu’s government announced new settlements would be built in East Jerusalem. A real slap in the face to the visiting American delegation since East Jerusalem is an important component to Middle East peace. Washington did voice outrage at Israel but little else happened and Israel still maintains it right to build settlements in the disputed area.
Lastly, of course, there was Israel’s military raid on the aid vessel headed for Gaza. The attack on the Turkish vessel in international waters, where nine Turkish humanitarian workers were killed, was a violation of international law and nothing short of an act of piracy. Israel claims it was done in self-defense to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza. But no weapons were found and let’s not forget the crux of the matter: Israel continues to imprison Palestinians in Gaza – an area of land too small to support the population and prone to being sealed off from the rest of the world by Israel at any time. Now, if we support Israel because it is a democracy, how democratic are its actions with regards to Gaza? At the end of the day, instead of outrage from Washington over Israel’s warlike act, Republican Senator John Cornyn introduced a resolution supporting Israel’s military action as an act of self-defense. Just another example of America’s unconditional support for Israel no matter what the Jewish state does.
Unbelievably, given these recent actions of Israel, Congress this summer will debate President Obama’s proposal to increase U.S. aid to Israel. A 2007 agreement between the two countries grants Israel $30 billion in military aid over a ten year period. After all of the actions of Israel mentioned above, the president wants to increase aid to her? What has to happen for Washington to consider cutting all aid to Israel?
And that is what should happen – a complete end to all American aid to Israel. We don’t have the money anyway. But it is just as wrong for the United States to support Israel’s apartheid as it was when we supported South Africa’s. Most of all, aid should be abolished because it puts America at risk of future terrorist attacks. Voting to end aid to Israel would certainly cost many members of Congress their jobs, but it would ultimately save American lives. Isn’t that more important to members of Congress?
Article first published as Why the Hell Are We Allied with Israel? The Sequel on Blogcritics.
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina