Why does America Support Israel?
Why does America Support Israel?
Table of Contents

Many people in the US and around the world are wondering why, despite some mild rebukes, Washington has kept up its extensive military, financial, and diplomatic support for the Israeli occupation in the face of Israel's occupation forces' unprecedented violations of human rights and international law.

Palestinian prisoners in Gaza appear numb with resignation as Israel once more uses brutal military force against a captive population. Palestinians are reportedly preparing for the worst and rushing to gather their families so they can all pass away at the same time, according to tweets from the ground. They read more like farewells than pleas for assistance.

Even though it may be difficult to tell from the United States, Israeli occupation and apartheid are deeply despised around the world. That has been the case ever since Israel was founded in 1948.

However, thanks in large part to American maneuvers, Israel has diplomatic ties with the majority of the world today. Israel's inclusion in the global economy and normalization were top priorities for Washington. According to the US State Department, the US and the state of Israel have a "special relationship"

The United States and Israel are excellent partners, and the United States is Israel's best friend. Our shared commitment to democracy, economic growth, and regional security binds Americans and Israelis together. There has never been a stronger time for the unbreakable bond between our two nations.

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US and Israel Relationship History

In 1948, the United States was the first nation to recognize Israel as a state, and in 2017, it was the first to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The United States and Israel are excellent partners, and the United States is Israel's best friend. Our shared commitment to democracy, economic growth, and regional security binds Americans and Israelis together. There has never been a stronger time for the unbreakable bond between our two nations.

Promoting a comprehensive and long-lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a top priority for the United States. The Abraham Accords and the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan serve as examples of the United States' commitment to promoting increased cooperation and the normalization of ties between Israel and Arab and Muslim majority states.

When did the US start supporting Israel?

right from the start. When Israel was established in 1948, former US President Harry Truman was the first world leader to do so.

What Were the Strategic Stakes at the Time?

At the time, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union was just emerging from World War II.

With its oil reserves and important waterways (like the Suez Canal), the Middle East served as a key theater of conflict for superpower hegemonic influence. As the main western power broker in the Middle East, the US was replacing the severely depleted European powers.

Even so, there were some who did not wholeheartedly support Israel.

So when did it become unequivocal?

That has its roots in the 1967 war's aftermath, when Israel overcame the weak armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and occupied most of historic Palestine as well as some territory from Egypt and Syria.

Since then, the US has taken unequivocal action to support Israel's military dominance in the region and to stop Arab nations from acting hostilely toward it.

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What role has public opinion played?

Because Israel had a better PR machine than the Palestinians, American public opinion has long been skewed in Israel's favor and against the Palestinians. However, controversial, violent acts by pro-Palestinian groups, such as the Munich Massacre of 1972, which resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes, also stoked support for Israel.

Why is Israel so popular among Americans in the first place?

Photo: washingtoninstitute
Photo: washingtoninstitute

A strong motivator is what is thought to be a sense of "shared values." The moral image of Israel held by Americans, such as the fact that it is "the only democracy in the Middle East," is, in Barnett's words, the "foundation of US-Israeli relations." Naturally, as Barnett hastens to point out, this leaves Israel exposed if Americans start to think that Israel has deviated from those shared values (more on that in the final section).

Religious organizations and other factors are also very important. Evangelical Christians and American Jews are two of the most politically active groups in the country. They are important voting blocs for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. And the majority of both are pro-Israel.

There are nuances in this; for instance, evangelical support for Israel is frequently less nuanced than Jewish support. For instance, 65 percent of American Jews who identify as reform or secular oppose Israel's expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Jews under 35 are also the least likely to identify as Zionists, despite the fact that the majority do. On the other hand, the older and more conservative Jews have a lot of influence with national politicians, despite not being entirely representative of the more liberal body of Jewish-American public opinion toward Israel. They are concentrated in Florida and Pennsylvania, two key swing states in presidential elections, and they express a strong desire to vote based on the Israel issue.

The US supports Israel in the right amount, according to 54% of American Jews, while 31% believe it doesn't go far enough. While 46% of white evangelicals want the US to support Israel more, only 31% believe that the level of support is appropriate.

Republicans and Democrats both consistently support Israel when evangelicals, Jews, and the general public are included.

The United States - Israeli Partnership is Rock Solid

Israel and the United States are close friends and allies. Our shared commitment to democracy, economic growth, and regional security binds Americans and Israelis together.Never before has our relationship been better.

The United States is steadfast in its commitment to regional stability and Israel's security. In accordance with the Administration's request, an additional $1 billion is included in the FY 2022 appropriations act for Israel's Iron Dome defense system. The Abraham Accords' expansion and strengthening of ties between Israel and Arab and Muslim nations has the strong backing of the United States.

We have a solid bilateral relationship that is long-lasting and close, and we support Israel's efforts to improve friendly ties with its neighbors. We think both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in safety and security and to experience an equal amount of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.

The security of Israel is a priority for the United States. This includes addressing Iran's regional instability and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Strategic Reasons for Continuing U.S. Support

Policymakers across the political spectrum agree that Israel has advanced US interests in the Middle East and beyond:

Israel has successfully stopped radical nationalist movements from gaining ground in Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.

Syria, a long-time ally of the Soviet Union, has been kept in check by Israel.

The region is dominated by Israel's air force.

American weapons have been put to the test on the battlefield by Israel's frequent wars, frequently against Soviet weapons.

It has acted as a conduit for U.S. arms to regimes and movements that are too unpopular in the country for openly receiving direct military assistance, such as the military junta in Guatemala, the Nicaraguan Contras, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and apartheid South Africa. Israeli military advisors have supported foreign occupation forces in Namibia and Western Sahara, the Salvadoran junta, and the Contras.

The Israeli intelligence agency has helped the United States with covert operations and intelligence gathering.

Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons in its arsenal, missiles that can reach as far as the former Soviet Union, and it has worked with the American military-industrial complex to develop new jet fighters and anti-missile defense systems.

Could US support for Israel change?

It can be difficult to distinguish between one aspect of American policy toward Israel and another. As an illustration, early on in his presidency, President Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop settlement expansion in the West Bank; Netanyahu resisted this, in part, by rallying his congressional allies. Obama was under pressure to abandon his anti-settlement campaign by Netanyahu's allies in both parties, who are always eager to appear pro-Israel. Obama complied.

The issue at hand is whether US domestic politics or foreign policy interests ultimately had more of an impact on the US-Israel relationship in this instance and others. If Netanyahu had not been able to mobilize such a large number of congressional allies, for instance, would Obama have pushed harder against settlements? Were those members of Congress primarily motivated by domestic politics alone, which do favor pro-Israel policies, by a sincere worry that Obama's strategy was detrimental to Israelis, or by a conviction that Obama was undermining US foreign policy interests?

Examining the potential causes of these general factors changing is much more beneficial when considering the future of US - Israeli relations. Is there a scenario where Israel and the US drift apart, to put it another way?

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