Israel and the U.S. – The Special Relationship

It is clear the U.S. and Israel have a special relationship. Every U.S. official has to make this absolutely clear whether they sit in Congress or in the Oval Office. During the latest war Israel inflicted on Gaza, while nearly one third of all Americans polled believed that the violence was unacceptable, every singe member of the Senate and all but eight members of the House voted to increase military aid to Israel. This isn’t the only example. For the last 50 years, the U.S. has vetoed United Nations resolutions which condemned Israel’s violence 42 times. Clearly there is a relationship of support, but why? The answer was given by Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird : Israel is the U.S.’s “cop on the beat” in the Middle East.

During the 1930s the U.S. began its involvement in the Middle East. In exchange for oil, the U.S. helped maintain oppressive regimes. But in the 1950s and 1960s there was a wave of revolutions which threatened to overthrow these regimes and throw the U.S. out of the Middle East. At the center of the revolutionary wave stood Egypt and President Nasser, a military officer who overthrew the Egyptian monarchy. Nasser’s government took Egypt’s natural resources, especially the Suez canal, back from British and French companies. Nasser also called for all Arab countries to unite in the fight against imperialism.

The regimes which the U.S. had supported toppled one by one as revolutions and military coups followed the example of Egypt. But one state remained untouched because it was never part of the Arab World: Israel. Established in 1948, Israel was primarily a country of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Israel had been established by a mass expulsion of the Arab inhabitants, resulting in 700,000 refugees pushed into the surrounding countries.

Rather than finding a way to integrate into the region, the state of Israel has maintained a constant war ever since. In 1956, 1967, and finally in 1972, Israel launched massive wars to crush Egypt and the Arab revolutionary wave. The success of these wars led the United States to begin pouring military aid into Israel. In every war Israel seized territory, extending its borders into territory held by Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. In 1967 Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, putting the Palestinian people under a military occupation that continues to this day.

The story of Jewish oppression in Europe and the terrible history of Jewish genocide at the hands of the Nazis was used as an official justification for Israel’s actions. The resentment of the Arabs, and especially the Palestinians, towards Israel was framed by Israeli and U.S. politicians as simply an expression of anti-semitism.

Israel’s special relationship with the U.S. continues to this day. The U.S. relies on Israel to be its “cop on the beat” in each conflict that the U.S. feels its interests in the region are threatened. In exchange, the U.S. supports and facilitates Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people. This state of constant war is a nightmare for the Palestinians and a tragedy for ordinary Israelis caught in the crossfire.