Unwavering Support of Israel Harms U.S. Interests, Encourages Extremism
This article originally appeared in the New York Times' Room for Debate on 6 August 2014.
The blatant partiality of the United States in favor of Israel has already turned the words “peace process” into a bitter joke. Over many decades, American indulgence of Israel has blighted prospects of any resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. Consequently, occupation has been entrenched and Israeli colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has metastasized, going from under 200,000 illegal settlers in 1991 to over 600,000 today.
U.S. backing of Israeli human rights violations emboldens right-wing militarism, inflaming reprehensible jihadism, anti-Semitism and terror.
This partiality only increases when Israel goes to war. By guaranteeing Israel impunity in its military actions, the United States has contributed massively to the bloodshed in Gaza in recent years and in Lebanon in 2006. With $3.1 billion in military aid annually, Israel already has overwhelming superiority in firepower, thanks to top-of-the-line U.S. weapons, such as F-16 fighter-bombers, Apache helicopters and Patriot missiles. Beyond this, it enjoys U.S. intelligence support, as is shown by the latest revelation in the Edward Snowden documents of high-level cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies against “Palestinian terrorism,” U.S. arms resupply during battle (spare parts for missiles and 120-millimeter mortar rounds and 40-millimeter grenades were delivered immediately last week) and wall-to-wall diplomatic backing, such that the Security Council has been virtually immobilized for weeks.
The United States is so closely aligned with Israel as to be effectively a co-belligerent. It is thus not fit to serve as a peacemaker. One is sorely needed to end the human tragedy for the 1.8 million Palestinians of Gaza, who have been besieged and blockaded for nearly eight years, and many of whom have seen their homes destroyed three times since 2008 by massive Israeli firepower. This firepower is either used indiscriminately, or to purposely inflict suffering on civilian populations and infrastructure, along the lines of the “Dahiya doctrine” enunciated by Gen. Gadi Eiszenkot (currently Israeli deputy chief of staff) after Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon.
The United States has shown time and again that it does not care about Palestinian rights. But if the United States cares about Israel, it should realize that supporting its subjugation of the Palestinians will be disastrous not only for the victims of this oppression, the rule of law and for vital U.S. interests, but also for the Israeli people.
Continued U.S. encouragement of Israeli violations of international humanitarian law will further embolden the brazen currents of far-right ethnocentric racism permeating Israeli society, and encourage more brutal military actions like those just inflicted on Gaza. This in turn can only inflame extreme and reprehensible reactions, whether in the form of international jihadi militancy, crude anti-Semitism or blind terrorism against civilians.
This is why the United States must decide if it wants to be on the right side of history on one of the 21st century’s most important moral and legal issues.