There have been many articles and news accounts in recent days regarding the 60th anniversary of Israel as a nation and it is a good time to take a hard look at the relationship of the US with Israel. It is self evident that the US has been the staunchest ally of Israel since its founding in 1948. The fact that there was an immediate conflict with neighboring Arabs and indigenous ones came as no surprise to anyone at the time because that simmering pot of contention had been brewing already for decades. As far back as WWI there were many divergent opinions about granting an independent state to Israel at the expense of the Arabs. Winston Churchill was one of the chief proponents of taking such a course of action right after the war. Since 1948 there have been many periods of truce but no real peace in the area.
The US like all nation states has its strategic interests and its self interests to protect and there is nothing evil or wrong with that. Has our historic support of Israel strengthened or damaged those self interests and strategic goals? It is in our interest for there to be stability and peace in that region of the world as it is for most areas of the world but not all areas quite candidly. For example does it really harm out interests if Bolivia and Paraguay went to war with each other? Or say Chad and Mali? Have we obtained the peace and stability in the mid east with the creation and continued existence of Israel? Just because there has been no stability in the area doesn’t mean it is the fault of Israel but lack of fault is not much solace compared to the agony of dealing with the constant turmoil in the area that far pre -dates our current conflict in Iraq.
Have we made money from our dealings with Israel? That is an easy one. They have received more aid than anyone else from us for decades and we also have made aid payments to neighboring states not because it benefited our economic interest but because it was used to make us appear more even handed in the area, i.e. Egypt. Add to the direct aid the cost of our military to protect them (and make no mistake that part of the Fifth Fleet’s job in the Mediterranean is to protect Israel) and the money transferred to Jewish charities from the US and the lost interest on such monies and what we have spent in Iraq pales. It has been a very expensive proposition to support Israel. We need a return on our money it seems to me and a return on our loyalty and supportive actions. Both parties for obvious political reasons have for decades refused to touch the relationship with Israel, it is another of those famous “third rails” of American politics like social security. Israel you will recall has on more than one occasion repaid us by using their spies to obtain our military secrets for their own use.
The Palestinian – Israeli conflict is the festering wound in the side of the middle east. The brunt of Iranian complaints against the US relates to our support for Israel. Some recent comments of famous politicians about using nukes on Iran were in response to what the US should do if Israel, not the US, was attacked by Iran. This is NOT an anti-semitic essay, far from it. I have no love lost for Arab terrorists or their ilk. But I believe it is finally time to think really anew about our relationship with Israel and be very forceful in pushing for a long term and binding resolution in that area. It will never be easy to do and wont get any easier with the status quo. We have done our share and then some to protect Israel. They want the continued funding and even demand it but there should be an explicit price for it in the future–peace with the Palestinians on whatever terms they want to work out. Yes, Israel has a right to exist but like all nations that existence has it costs. We need to look to our own interests unabashedly. It is time.
Give this some thought yourself. You may disagree with some of my vagaries of the mind but hopefully you will agree a different tack is due for all our sakes. As an encouragement I would point out that even the Hundred Years War did come to an end.