November 21, 2010
Since Israel declared independence in May 1948 as a democratic, Jewish nation, the United States has been her most loyal friend on earth. As other nations have vacillated in their support, ours has never faltered.
Since World War II, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in the world. The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in grants to Israel.
U.S. bilateral military aid provides Israel with privileges unequalled by any other recipient country. She can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the U.S. and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers. In addition, all U.S. foreign assistance earmarked for Israel is delivered in the first thirty days of the fiscal year. Most other recipients normally receive aid in installments. Congress also appropriates funds for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs.
In August 2007, the Bush Administration announced that it would increase U.S. military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the next decade. The agreement called for incremental annual increases in Foreign Military Financing to Israel, reaching $3 billion a year by 2012. The Obama Administration requested $2.775 billion in Foreign Military Financing to Israel For 2010.
Although we have provided assistance with nuclear delivery systems, France, not the U.S., was most heavily involved in supporting Israel’s development of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, we have had a consistent policy for Israeli nuclear activities of “looking the other way”. That policy, and the concessions we have made to Israel to persuade her not use nuclear weapons over the years have validated their nuclear arsenal’s existence.
In the international political arena, the U.S. has been unstinting in its support of Israel. In 1972, the soon-to-be president George H.W. Bush cast the first U.S. veto in the UN Security Council. Between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. cast 48 vetoes and negative votes on every issue that was in any way critical of Israel.
We have vetoed resolutions proposed by our allies, Spain and France and by our then enemy, the USSR, as well as multi-powered resolutions ranging from three to twenty signatory nations.
Where it is true that there are a number of American organizations that represent an “Israel right or wrong” point of view, there are millions of Jewish and non-Jewish Americans, particularly those who were alive and aware of the Holocaust, who have always genuinely supported the existence of a democratic, Jewish Israel and continue to do so.
The situation has become complicated in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, largely as a result of Israel’s West Bank and East Jerusalem settlement policies and the political emergence in Israel of the Jewish emigration from the USSR, a country that, along with its citizens, never really understood much about democracy.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids resettlement by an occupying power of its own civilians on territory under its military control.
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that, "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [... and] have been established in breach of international law."
By acceding to Israel’s every wish, The U.S. has enabled an Israel that believes it can act with complete impunity, without making any adjustment to the international, regional and national realities that face her. Her own imperatives far outweigh those of her neighbors and her people. This situation encourages aggressive behavior, as in the Gaza War and it’s aftermath, the ongoing settlement program, and a knee-jerk military reaction to perceived threats.
But demographic realities show clearly that Jews in Israel will soon be outnumbered by Arabs, forcing this Zionist state to choose between democracy and Jewishness. That gets worse as the settlements absorb the West Bank. In the longer run, it is doubtful that Americans will support an expansionist, apartheid, and/or non-democratic Israel.
Our ongoing uncritical backing has enabled Israel to behave in a self-absorbed and counterproductive way. Israel lives in a “safe” world constructed with U.S. economic bricks and mortar, surrounded by a U.S. political moat and protected by US military hardware. This uncritical support has permitted Israel to behave in ways that have weakened her morally in the eyes of the world, left her in a perpetual state of war with her neighbors and with a highly questionable Zionist future.
This is hardly what sensitive and thoughtful Americans would have done for Israel if we truly had cared about her future as Zionist state. In terms of Israel’s future viability, we have not behaved like her true friend.
Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in East and West Europe and the Middle East and as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff.