US support for Israel: An old game

Amid the intensifying Israel-Hamas conflict, this analysis delves into the intricate web of historical, political, and humanitarian factors shaping the crisis. From the longstanding US support for Israel to the divide within American politics, it scrutinises the complex dynamics. As casualties rise and diplomatic efforts falter, the urgency for a resolution that balances security with justice becomes paramount on the global stage

The US’ support for Israel is unequivocal. It has been consistent since the creation of the Jewish State on May 14, 1948. Washington is sticking to its long-established script that provides all the grounds for standing for Israel. From day one of the current attack of the Hamas over Israel, President Joe Biden is repeatedly echoing the line in public that Israel has a “legitimate right to defend itself”.

This unquestionable support for Israel began with former President Harry Truman who became the first world leader to recognise the State of Israel. His decision was driven by two main considerations-first being a personal one i.e. his former business partner Edward Jacobson actually did all the foundational work to make the way for recognising the Jewish State by the UN in 1948. The second being a strategic perspective as Washington wanted to have a trusted ally in West Asia to spread its influence and to gradually counter the growing might of the USSR. Specifically, the US was using all its military, economic and diplomatic maneuvers to have major influence over the Suez Canal, the gateway to control strategic waterways and massive oil reserves in West Asian nations.

In the last more than five decades, America’s unequivocal support to Israel grew with its decisive victory over major Arab nations like Syria, Jordan, Egypt, etc, in 1967 and in 1973. This literally changed the equation in favour of Israel in the US Congress. During the reign of President Barack Obama, the US Government signed an agreement with Israel to send $38 billion military aid over a period of 10 years, including Iron Dome Missile System to the Zionist nation. Besides these tilts towards Israel, another powerful politically sensitive organisation called American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) wields major influence over both the political parties and their top leaders.

But all is not well for Israel in the US. For a long time, progressive Democrats in the US have opposed the Jewish treatment of the Palestinians. Back in July of this year, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution pledging full support for the State of Israel. This resolution explicitly condemned anti-Semitism and declared that the country is neither racist nor an apartheid nation. It is worth noting that all of this occurred just before the President of Israel was scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. This historic resolution once again delivered an implicit rebuke to the progressive Democrats who had been criticizing Israel for its decades-long policies against Palestine.

On the record, Pramila Jayapal, the Democrat from Washington and the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, referred to Israel as a “Racist State”, but later she retracted her comments. Pramila also clarified that she is not contesting the idea of Israel, but rather its present government’s policies. The irony lies in the fact that, despite her frontal attack on the Israeli government and opposition to its policies, most Democrats supported the resolution put forth by the Republican Party.

And in the event of the current dastardly attack unleashed by Hamas over the Israeli state, the tensions between the moderate and progressive Democrats are sharply divided on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank region. The most powerful Republicans, and almost all the ordinary ones, are fully standing in solidarity with Israel at this hour of crisis. President Biden is trying to use this chaos as a re-election strategy for the next year’s election campaign, aiming to impress both the hardliners and many Americans who are completely in favour of crushing Hamas and its dastardly acts against innocent civilians.

Some experts argue that the benefits of the US support for Israel no longer outweigh the costs. It has been a huge burden on the American exchequer. Once, the relationship between the US and Israel was justified both on moral and strategic grounds. The Jewish state readily offered an opportunity to America to influence the West Asian region after the Second World War.

Indeed, the establishment of Israel was projected as a befitting response to widespread anti-Semitism in the West, particularly referring to the Holocaust under the tutelage of Adolf Hitler during the peak of the War. But at the same time, the majority in the West led by the US simply ignored the reality that the Arabs who had lived in Palestine for centuries had finally lost their indigenous land.

What has been failed to project by Washington is Israel’s military prowess and advantage from all fronts over Palestine and its people. It is a war between David and Goliath. And on top of that Israel is fully backed by the military machine of the US, the world’s most powerful nation. So one can easily imagine what will be the fate of the fighting Palestinians and the Hamas fighters.

For the first time, a US President visited Israel during the war. Not only Biden, but also his Secretary of State and Defense, Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin respectively, landed in Israel between October 11-13, when hostilities were at their peak. Once they set the stage, President Biden came to Tel Aviv to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demonstrating total solidarity with Israel.

Interestingly, after Biden’s visit on October 18, Israel was ready to allow humanitarian aid coming to the Gaza Strip.

The saddest part of the current quagmire is that innocent civilians are punished in the name of fighting the Hamas militants. When the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ordered more than a million people to evacuate from North Gaza to shift to South Gaza, all international humanitarian agencies warned of dire consequences.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediately raised an alarm of a humanitarian tragedy if million people have to vacate their homes within 24 hours as the deadline set by Israel. The intention was to launch ground offensive against the Hamas and to rescue more than 200 hostages it has taken from Israel on the day of the attack i.e. Shabbat, the holy day of rest and recuperation. But then, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, clearly said that civilians should not vacate North Gaza. The reason behind this is that this will offer another opportunity to the Zionist state to recapture more Palestinian territories to push forward its ulterior motives.

And for Palestinians it could be the Second Nakba (catastrophe or cataclysm) as many of their older generations already experienced the First Nakba in 1948 during the creation of the Israeli state. The Nakba refers to displacement of thousands of Palestinians from their original homes to make way for the Jewish state. While ordering to evacuate, the Israeli State had stopped all the basic facilities like water, food, electricity, etc, to the Gaza enclave.

When the tragic hospital blast took the lives of more than 500 civilians and the daily death count continues to rise, how can the US and the West remain silent spectators to this horror? It is true that Hamas took the lives of more than 1,300 innocent people on October 7 while the Jewish community was celebrating their festival. This is simply unpardonable.

It is a criminal act on the part of Hamas which they had been planning for months to breach one of the world’s most sophisticated security and intelligence systems. According to records published on the UN website, the number of people killed in Gaza has now exceeded 5000, as reported by the de facto authorities there. 

Humanitarians are repeatedly calling for a ceasefire and for more aid convoys. Meanwhile, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a new appeal for “sustained safe passage” for medical essentials and fuels to keep health facilities open. Sadly, women and children make up more than 62 per cent of the fatalities, while more than 15,000 people have been injured since October 7.

Now the pertinent question here is that is it justified for the US, the world’s oldest democracy and leader of the global liberal order to continue sending arms, ammunitions, man and materials to bolster the Israeli defence forces to pound more and lethal attacks on the Gaza Strip? Are its civilians responsible for what Hamas did on South Israel? After long and sustained appeals from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other human rights and humanitarian aid agencies, why has the Biden Administration either failed or purposefully escalated another war in West Asia?

It is not all justified on the part of the US to back Israel at this hour with its superior military equipment as it could exacerbate the war in an already chaotic West Asia. Nowhere the civilians of Gaza and west Bank are responsible for ghastly act of the Hamas and the current torture on them is absolutely uncalled for. Despite appeals from the UN and other international bodies, the US is spearheading the acts of aggression and providing all that Israel needs to win over the Hamas is nothing but its decade long agenda to stand behind the Jewish State. It does not vary depending on who comes to Washington. Finally Israel wins its favour from its big brother in the US. So the violence and long discrimination against the Palestinian people goes on.

The Israel-Hamas war since October 7 is a grim reminder to the international community that violence only breeds more violence. It is time to halt war in favor of peace. We all need to bear in mind that this planet demands peace simply to serve the uncared for and the most vulnerable people all around.

Maybe, the Palestinian people will not be able to reclaim their homeland but they all have the fundamental right to have peace and claim over whatever territories they have as of today. It is clear that a two-state solution may take longer than ever before looking at the current hostilities in place. Also, we all need to accept the fact that the way Hamas has displayed its might and brutality over innocent Israeli civilians will certainly not pave the way for an independent Palestine sooner or later.

(The writer is currently president of the Global Research Foundation)

Source: The pioneer