9 Reasons Why America Supports Israel
Over at the WAPO, Glenn Frankel is the latest person to speculate about the, “oooh, so scary,” pro-Israel lobby. Here’s a sample to give you the flavor of his long article about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee:
“It’s not that Olmert is a more commanding figure than Ben-Gurion. Far from it. No, it’s about power. And not just Israeli power. It’s really about the perceived power of the Israel lobby, a collection of American Jewish organizations, campaign contributors and think tanks — aided by Christian conservatives and other non-Jewish supporters — that arose over the second half of the 20th century and that sees as a principle goal the support and promotion of the interests of the state of Israel.
Thanks to the work of the lobby and its allies, Israel gets more direct foreign aid — about $3 billion a year — than any other nation. There’s a file cabinet somewhere in the State Department full of memoranda of understanding on military, diplomatic and economic affairs. Israel gets treated like a NATO member when it comes to military matters and like Canada or Mexico when it comes to free trade. There’s an annual calendar full of meetings of joint strategic task forces and other collaborative sessions. And there’s a presidential pledge, re-avowed by Bush in the East Room, that the United States will come to Israel’s aid in the event of attack.
On Capitol Hill the Israel lobby commands large majorities in both the House and Senate. Polls show strong public support for Israel — a connection that has grown even deeper after the September 11 attacks. The popular equation goes like this: Israelis equal good guys, Arabs equal terrorists. Working the Hill these days, says Josh Block, spokesman for the premier Israeli lobbying group known as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “is like pushing at an open door.”
While AIPAC does a great job of lobbying for Israel’s interests, in many respects, they have a very easy job because there are a myriad of different reasons why the United States strongly supports Israel.
Just to name a few, there’s…
— After most of Europe aided the Nazis in an attempt to exterminate the Jews, we made a commitment to prevent it from ever happening again. To turn our back and allow Israel’s neighbors in the Middle-East to finish the job the Nazis started would be unjust.
— The United States has often stuck by allies out of a sense of obligation, even when it hasn’t always been convenient for us. Look to Taiwan, South Korea, and Kuwait for 3 relevant examples.
— Jews vote Democratic about 2 to 1 and contribute a disproportionate amount of funds to Democratic Party causes. Because of this, the Democratic Party tends to be pro-Israel.
— Evangelical voters tend to be pro-Israel for religious reasons and conservatives in general tend to have a much more favorable view of Israel than their genocidal, anti-American neighbors in the Middle-East.
— The terrorist attacks of Israel’s neighbors rub Americans the wrong way, particularly after 9/11. That’s why, as Gallup reported in February, “68 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Israel with 23 percent unfavorable, and that Americans support Israelis over Palestinians by 59 percent to 15 percent.”
— Muslims tend to be extremely hostile to Israel and because of their numbers in European nations, they tend to have a much bigger impact on policy. For example, it’s not surprising that France, where Muslims make up somewhere between 7%-10% of the population, has a more hostile policy towards Israel than the US, where most credible estimates put the Muslim population at somewhere around .50% to 1.0% of the population.
— You’ve probably heard people talk about the “flypaper theory,” that posits that terrorists who would otherwise come to America are going to Iraq to fight instead. Well, Israel is the original “flypaper.” Countless terrorists who might very well be targeting American interests have focused on Israel instead and that’s to the advantage of the United States.
— The idea that if the Muslim world would love America if not for our support of Israel has often been discussed, but it doesn’t bear up under scrutiny. For example, if you look back to the 1967 war in the Middle-East, a war that we were neutral in and that took place before we became Israel’s primary benefactor, Arabs who believed they were about to eradicate Israel proclaimed to the world that, “Millions of Arabs are preparing to blow up all of America’s interests, all of America’s installations, and your entire existence, America.”
Since then, there have been no shortage of grievances between Arabs and/or Muslims and the US. Of late, there have been complaints about the Gulf War, the Gulf War 2, the invasion of Afghanistan, our threats against Iran’s nuclear program, our former military bases in Saudi Arabia, and countless other issues. The reality is that as long as America is a powerful, democracy- supporting, Christian republic, we will never lack for enemies among the proponents of radical Islam.
— Other than Britain, Israel is probably America’s most useful ally. In the eighties they destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program and they may end up at least delaying the Iranian program. They have much better human intelligence in the Middle-East than the United States and undoubtedly share it with us behind the scenes. They’ve also killed countless terrorists and are currently taking apart Hizbollah and Hamas, terrorist groups with international reach that have American blood on their hands.
So, is there an Israeli lobby and do they do a good job of getting their message out? Sure. But, even if they ceased to exist, for all the reasons mentioned above, you probably wouldn’t see a big change in our policy towards Israel.