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chicklit's avatar

What is the basis for the U.S alliance with Israel?

Asked by chicklit (215 points ) March 2nd, 2012

Why are the US and Israel allies? Does it have anything to do with Israel being in the Middle East? I can’t seem to accept that, though, because Israel is not recognized by other Middle Eastern states as a state itself.

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24 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Of course part of the reason is because it is in the Middle East. Geopolitically they are an asset for the US. Israel also is the only democracy over there, so we share ideologies about government, and generally have the same enemies too. Generally America and Americans believe Israel has the right to exist, and so we also support their efforts to protect their borders as we would with other countries, but certainly what is always present in the background is how Israel benefits us, it is not just some altruistic desire to protect Israel.

I don’t see what countries in the middle east not accepting Israel has anything to do with anything? Maybe you can explain further what you mean.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie At the same time, there is a hefty amount of public support for the Jews in general. This has benefits for politicians, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo I am sure that plays into it with some politcians, but I think most really do support Israel whether they are running for election or not. There are some Christians of late who are over the top supportive of Israel and Jews, not that I am complaining, for religious reasons. I think there are many people who support Israel and don’t even know why. They kind of blindly follow their “leaders.”

I firmly support Israel’s right to exist. I believe the land was given to them legitamately. Not to mention many Jews were living there already and had been buying back priperty in the region even before the UN decision. At the same time I think when Israel was created, I think a bunch of Europeans were probably happy to create a place “their” Jews would go to. I don’t believ it is al done in the name of altruism for a second. I believe all too strongly in antisemitism in the world then and even now. Even America put limits on how many Jews could coe into the country, we did not give everyone safe haven, and the numbers were not that large. After the holocaust there were only about 12 million Jews in the world! Some were already here in America, so take them out, some were still in Russia and other countries, and not all wanted to leave Europe. We still didn’t welcome all who wanted to come.

chicklit's avatar

@JLeslie What I was thinking was that perhaps the US found its alliance with Israel beneficial because it could perhaps have an influence on other states in the region. But because the other states don’t recognize it, I thought that that didn’t make much sense.

JLeslie's avatar

@chicklit I’ll send the question to an Israeli jelly who can answer better.

I don’t think it is about Influence, as the other countries are not very friendly with Israel, more like strategic. Israel means we have an ally in the middle east. We can land planes and fly over. We can trade intelligence. We have their military support and they have ours. Again, I think there are many reasons.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie By one definition, altruism as a concept doesn’t exist, since we are rewarded with bonhomies and bragging rights.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo Sure, but you know what I mean.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s the only democracy in the middle east.

zigmund's avatar

I would think the US would take a harsher stance against Israel, when it makes treaties about territory, and then doesn’t abide by them.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t know that we care a whole lot about what those other Middle Eastern countries are thinking. We seem to be more about bombing them and quietly ignoring their human rights violations when they give us oil and airspace and airports than about making nice-nice with them. We see them as our enemy, so there’s a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Religiously, standing with Israel is a way for politicians to get their anti-anti-Semitic cred. And a lot of evangelical/fundamentalist Christians want to ally with the Holy Land for when end times come, so they have access to that land. Course, usually, in this end times, Jews either convert to Christianity or die with the rest of people who aren’t saved, so Judaism gets wiped off the face of the Earth… it’s not really a compliment towards the Jews…

zenvelo's avatar

The US has supported Israel since it’s founding, acknowledging the need for a homeland after the holocaust. It strengthened during the cold war when the Soviet Union supported the Arab League as client states.

And, when Israel was attacked in 67 and 73, the US supported Israel’s right to exist. Conversely, Israel has always had close ties to the US.

@Rarebear Some would call Israel a theocracy, not a democracy, especially since the hard core ultra orthodox parties control the ability to form a government.

whitecarnations's avatar

After World War 2, Israel became the place to send the Jews. It was totally a strategic plan to have western presence in the Middle East. For what? For oil. Israel is acts like an American territory/satellite nation.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@whitecarnations I don’t know that it was just for oil. There was a religious reason for justifying why Jews should have Jerusalem, and not, say, Tibet or Moscow or some Pacific Island…

Rarebear's avatar

@zenvelo Iran is a theocracy, not Israel. Yes, there are wingnuts, but a theocracy Israel is not. The conservative Orthodoxy of whom you speak can be voted out of office in a free and fair election.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am surprised that nobody mentioned that Christian fundamentalists believe that the existence of Israel is a necessary precursor to the second coming. The next step would be the conversion of all Israeli Jews to Christianity. How serious they are about all of this is hard to tell, but I would not underestimate it.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise I touched on it and @Aethelflaed even went further with that line of thought.

@zenvelo Theocracies tend to have people in charge who expect the citizenry to comply with religious law. Israel does not do that at all. The reoresentatives in governemnt, are just that, representatives, voted in by election. There are Palestinians in the government, not just Jews. Married women are not required to cover their hair, no one is going to jail if they have a business open on Saturday, the country is not governed by religious law. True it is. Jewish state, homeland, I guess maybe it is not a secular government in the way America is supposed to be (although plenty of people argue differently about America) but in no way does Israel try to dictate the religious practice or behavior of the citizens. Around 40% of israeli Jews define themselves as secular.

@Aethelflaed I think for Jews there was a religous reason, but for heads of state it was probably more of a strategic reason. I have said it before, there are parts of me that sometimes wish the US had just given the Jews Wyoming (a state I pick at random) where they would be safe. But, I also like the idea of Jewish people having a home in a place they feel is “holy.” I put holy in quotes, because I am not a religious person, but it matters to me the lands have a long Jewish history, and I care about protecting the history and monuments regarding the religion and history, as I would for other religions also.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

As Secretary of State, Marshall strongly opposed recognizing the state of Israel. Marshall felt that if the state of Israel was declared that a war would break out in the Middle East (which it did in 1948 one day after Israel declared independence). Marshall saw recognizing the Jewish state as a political move to gain Jewish support in the upcoming election, in which Truman was expected to lose to Dewey. He told President Truman in May 1948, “If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you.”[31][32][33]

from Wikipedia’s article on George Catlett Marshall

Truman made the decision to recognize the establishment of the State of Israel over the objections of Secretary of State George Marshall, who feared it would hurt relations with the Arab states.[105] At a meeting in the White House on November 10, 1945, he told envoys to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt: “I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”[106]

from Wikipedia’s article on Harry S. Truman

So the very root of it would appear to be internal American political considerations more than external ones.

flutherother's avatar

It has a lot to do with the Jewish influence in American politics which shouldn’t be underestimated. It can be political suicide for US politicians to voice anything other than complete support for Israel and its policies. It is not a healthy relationship. America is not Israel’s only ally, the community of nations through the UN accept Israel and recognise its borders. The difference is that the UN is willing to criticise Israel.

JLeslie's avatar

@flutherother Honestly, I think the Evangelical Christians are more the worry than the Jewish support politically. Jews are 2.5% of the US population, practically nothing. The only reason they have some influence is they live in the swingstate of FL, and I guess they are a large part of the liberal vote in NY and California, but I think California would easily go liberal without the Jewish vote. If the electoral college went away the Jewish vote would probably be much weaker. But, that is moot since it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. Anyway, Evangelicals are religious about their support for Israel.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie Imma dangerous evangelical! Imma eat your children! Imma… love my neighbor as myself? Pray for people’s salvation? Witness? Wait a second, who wrote this tripe? Makes me out to be a monster. I’ll have none of it.~

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo I am not making the Evangelicals to be monsters at all. I know you added a tilde, but I don’t see what you are getting at? Are you arguing the evangelical vote isn’t gung ho on the Israel issue? On my facebook a couple of months ago someone wrote, “why do Jews support Democrats when the Republicans are the ones who support Israel.” Something like that. That bullshit has to be out of some Evangelical, listen to right wing radio, not around many Jews, idiot. I am not saying all Evangelicals are idiots, that is far from what I believe, but Israel certainly is up there in their roster of what are talking points and what are important issues to them, and what make them supposedly different than liberals and democrats. Israel, pro-life, don’t let the country become socialist, etc. The Evangelicals are probably 25–30% of the country’s population from what I can figure. Not sure how accurate that number is. Jews 2%. Evangelicals 25%. Not to mention Christians in general 75%.

mattbrowne's avatar

In a way, the Truman doctrine, which states that the US supports free people around the world. For a very long time Israel has been the only democracy in the Middle East surrounded by countries run by dictators.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie I think the Evangelical Christians are more the worry. Like we were going to enslave you, or something.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo No! Oh, now I see the miscommunication. I mean the politicians worry more about the Evangelical vote than the Jewish vote, because the Evangelical numbers are so much bigger. Talking about protecting and siding with Israel speaks to the Evangelicals. Hell, this is a great time to be a Jewish person in America, the Christians really like us right now. The last thing I am worrying about is Evangelical Christians turnng on the Jews any time soon. Sure there are some lunatics out there, but that is some fringe lunatic like in any religion or group.

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