For decades, the U.S. government has sided with Israel over the Palestinians. The U.S. has given Israel over $140 billion in money and weapons (which Israel has used against Palestinians and other Muslims). The U.S. has provided public and diplomatic support for Israel’s military actions (against Palestinians and other Muslims), prevented Security Council criticism of Israel, prevented international scrutiny of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and blamed the Palestinians for provoking all conflict with Israel. Furthermore, the U.S. has tried to pressure the Palestinians to accept Israeli demands on Jerusalem, borders between Palestine and Israel, settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees; and the U.S. has blamed Palestinians for the failure of the parties to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution. American leaders have said that America’s “special relationship” with Israel makes America safer.
As a result of American support, Israel has become the regional superpower, and the Palestinians are weak in comparison. But desperate and angry Palestinians continue to resist, Israel has not been able to beat the Palestinians into submission, and the region remains tense. Every few years, a major battle breaks out, followed by a ceasefire. After decades of American support for Israel, neither Israelis nor Palestinians have peace or security.
Is it in America’s best interests to continue to throw America’s full support behind Israel?
Or is it in America’s best interests for America to take an even-handed approach between the Israelis and Palestinians? For example, should America equally fund the Israelis and Palestinians? Should America criticize and withhold aid from whichever side is at fault when there is violence? Should America offer independent proposals, and use American aid as an incentive, to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable compromise in their difficult disputes?
Arguments By Those Who Believe Always Siding With Israel Will Make America Safer
1. Siding with Israel doesn’t seriously hurt America in the Muslim world. Many Muslims do get angry at America when there’s a surge in Israeli military activity, but their anger at America dissipates when there’s a new ceasefire. Overall, Muslims in the Muslim world continue to admire America, and they seek to move to America for freedom and economic opportunity. Furthermore, if America became neutral towards Israelis and Palestinians, that would not eliminate anti-American anger in the Muslim world. America’s support for Israel is only one reason for anti-American anger in the Muslim world. Some Muslims are also angry about America’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and America’s support for dictatorships in the Muslim world. So Al Qaeda will continue to find some support in the Muslim world for attacks on America, regardless of American policy towards Israel. Al Qaeda and its supporters will not be satisfied by anything less than total American disengagement from the Muslim world, and the elimination of Israel.
2. American neutrality would alienate Israel and damage America’s important military relationship with Israel. America needs a reliable ally in the region, and that’s Israel, the strongest military power in the region. Although there are no American military bases in Israel, Israel allows the U.S. to maintain American military equipment on its territory, provides facilities for American fleets, provides medical facilities for American troops, provides intelligence to America, and tests American weapons (against the Palestinians and other Muslims) in battlefield conditions, which helps the U.S. improve its weapons. Israel has been an American ally since the Cold War, and Israel will continue to provide these services to America, as long as America maintains its special relationship with Israel.
3. America must maintain its special relationship with Israel, because America doesn’t have other good allies in the Middle East. America’s Arab allies are not reliable. For example, America saved Saudi Arabia from a potential Iraqi invasion in 1991, but Saudi Arabia asked American troops to leave Saudi Arabia in 2003, because of pressure from Al Qaeda. America liberated Iraq from Saddam’s regime in 2003, but Iraq wants American troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. (American troops may also be asked to leave Afghanistan once the Taliban and Al Qaeda are defeated.) Other Arab states may also ask American troops to leave if their populations become angrier about America’s foreign policy.
4. America must maintain its special relationship with Israel, because Israel is an important American ally in the “War on Terror.” Israel has prevented Al Qaeda from taking root in Palestine. Furthermore, Israel is on the frontlines against Hezbollah and Hamas, which have relationships with Al Qaeda.
5. America must maintain its special relationship with Israel, because Israel is America’s first line of defense against Iran’s nuclear program. A potential Iranian nuclear weapon could threaten America. America needs Israeli help to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. If America stops working closely with Israel, that would increase the likelihood that Iran could successfully develop nuclear weapons.
Arguments By Those Who Believe Being Neutral Between Palestinians & Israelis Will Make America Safer
1. If America is perceived as treating Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews equally, that would greatly reduce anti-American anger in the Muslim world. The Muslim world is angered by American preference for Jewish Israelis over Muslim Palestinians. Al Qaeda taps into this anger to raise funds and recruit supporters for attacks against American targets. Even though American neutrality towards Palestinians would not eliminate all anti-American anger in the Muslim world, it would greatly reduce the percentage of Muslims willing to support Al Qaeda, because the long-standing Palestine issue is at the core of Muslim grievances against America.
2. Israel has not been a useful ally for America in America’s recent wars; when America went to war against Iraq in 1991, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003, America relied on its Arab allies (and European allies), not on Israel. Although Israel was prepared to help, it was too politically risky for America to ask for Israel’s help in fighting against Muslim countries. Any military services provided by Israel to America can be provided to America by other nations in the region. In addition, Israel has not been a good ally, because it gave American military technology to China, against America’s wishes.
3. America doesn’t need Israel; in fact, America doesn’t even have a military base in Israel. America has several reliable Arab allies in the Middle East. America has military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Other Arab states, like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia don’t host American military bases, but they have close military ties with America. If America becomes neutral towards the Palestinians, and if anti-American anger therefore declines in the Muslim world, all these Arab countries will be able to strengthen their military relations with America.
4. America’s Muslim allies – like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq – are more important allies than Israel in America’s “War on Terror;” after all, those Muslim nations are on the frontlines of the war against Al Qaeda. Israel is not relevant when it comes to fighting Al Qaeda, because there is no Al Qaeda presence near Israel. (Hamas has refused to work with Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda has criticized Hamas; Hezbollah (Shia) and Al Qaeda (Sunni) are hostile to each other.) Furthermore, Israel’s battles against Hezbollah and Hamas don’t make America safer. Hezbollah and Hamas pose a threat to Israel, not to America. Hezbollah and Hamas want to establish separate, local Islamic states, but they don’t share Al Qaeda’s goal of driving America out of the Muslim world and establishing an Islamic state in all lands that were ever under Muslim rule. In addition, the civilian casualties caused by Israel’s battles (using American weapons) against Hezbollah and Hamas make America less safe, because America gets blamed for the Muslim casualties.
5. A potential Iranian nuclear weapon would pose a threat to nearby Israel, not to America. Iran is too far away from America to launch an attack on America. And Iran (Shia) is too hostile to Al Qaeda (Sunni), and too scared of American retaliation, to give a nuclear weapon to Al Qaeda. Furthermore, if America ever needs to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, it won’t need Israel’s help; America can attack Iran by itself, or with the help of Sunni Arab states which are hostile to Iran. Finally, American support for Israel causes tension between America and Iran; American neutrality towards Palestinians and Israelis would improve American relations with Iran.