General Question

Rsam's avatar

Do you believe the US should continue to support Israel to the near unconditional magnitdue which currently does?

Asked by Rsam (586 points ) July 13th, 2009

I’ve been reading The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt and it provides a strong case against such by systematically debunking many of the myths about Israel and our support for it, and then describing the nature of the “lobby” which promotes those myths to secure continued massive economic and military support for the Jewish State.

Without regurgitating the entire book i’ll bring up a few major points from the first half which i found most startling.

1. Israel is not only the largest recipient of US economic aid (at about $500 per Israeli) but is also the only recipient who does not have to account for how the money is spent and is the only nation to receive its entire aid—mostly in loans whose repayment is perennially waived—in one lump sum.

2. Israel’s possesion of a nuclear arsenal was largely against US interests; Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation treaty; refuses to admit they own a nuclear arsenal (despite it being well known by the 70s); and had its Nuclear inspections be as fraught with fraud and graft as any that was attempted in Iraq; by being the first nuclear power in the region, signifigantly accelerated other states like iran want to own nukes.

3. Despite claims about “hating our (US and Israel’s) values”, there is massive evidence that a chief cause of Islamic terrorism against the US is rooted in Israel’s continued brutality in the Occupied Territory, and our tacit support of it (via massive aid). To quote the 9/11 commission’s findings on Khalid Sheik Muhammed, “his animus toward the US stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather his violent disagreement with US foreign policy favoring Israel”. Which is to suggest that unconditionally supporting Israel has often been the cause of US terrorism, not a way to stop it.

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

based on what you have said, no they should not.

Deepness's avatar

No! Key people running the media, politics and making laws in this country are Jewish. That said, they do have a shared interest in seeing Israel as the dominating power in the mid east and they’re using our tax dollars to accomplish it.

Just because I said this does not make me an anti-semite.

christine215's avatar

#1 Israel is not the largest receipient of foreign aid, Iraq is.
#2. Israel mainains their nuclear weapons for self defense, they are a small “island” surrounded by nations who seek to elimiate their existence and the existence of their people
# 3 Israel is out ally in the middle east, we cannot afford to lose them by pulling our support (financial or otherwise)… they are also strategically located, militarily speaking. Also, think of the number of people in Israel who hold dual citizenship here in the US as well as in European countries

You also fail to mention the amount of money that we send to Egypt (which when you’re speaking of the millions of dollars, come close to the number which we send to Israel)

Rsam's avatar

@Deepness
what you’re espousing is a very different, conspiracy-laden agenda than the one i’m speaking of. here, i speak largely about foreign policy.

Deepness's avatar

@Rsam Read my answer again. I answered your question. My answer was definitely on-topic. No, it wasn’t “conspiracy-laden” but people do conspire you know.

christine215's avatar

@Deepness, while I don’t agree (completey) with what you said, I believe that you did answer the question… (and it doesn’t make you an anti-semite..)

Jack79's avatar

no I don’t.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

Of course we should. It will help bring the USA empire to an end faster.

Rsam's avatar

@christine215

1.) This is only true in terms of Economic assistance. and considering that we are occupying and rebuilding this nation, it seems only fair that this is so. However if you add the Economic and Military assistance together Iraq receives a mere 40,656.7 million in USAID vs Israel’s massive 166,291.5 million. .—-considering that Israel is already a modernized highly efficient and hugely powerful army, this seems just a tad lopsided.

2.) the ‘underdog’ argument is difficult because not since 1948 has Israel been anything but the largest,winningest military force in the area. Gaining nuclear ability before anyone else only exacerbates those enemy’s to want to gain their own nuclear capability. and again, most arab nations concern’s had been with the Occupied Territories and Israel’s brutality therein. the “throw Israel into the sea” rhetoric was marginal when Israel gained nuclear capability, and has only increased as the nation has increased its military might, and continued to ignore, if not worsen Palestinian issues.

3.) The idea that Israel is “strategically located” in the middle east has been systematically debunked -largely by israeli scholars and defense experts themselves. To quote one pentagon official, “When we were drafting contingency plans for the middle east [...] we found that the israelis were of little value to us in 95 percent of the time”.

and as for egypt, it is right behind Israel, with 102,157.6 million in FAA, but still signifigantly smaller.

shilolo's avatar

@Rsam In the interest of fairness, you should check out Alan Dershowitz’s excellent rebuttal to the Meirsheimer-Walt working paper. In a nutshell, he criticizes them for faulty scholarship (like hand-picking quotes and placing them out of context) as well as major logical errors. I would also say that the existence of a specific lobby doesn’t mean that policy is set by that lobby. There are lobbies for pretty much everything, and proof that a specific policy is directed by that lobby is hard to come by. To address your points:
1. Many countries receive significant aid, including several not-so-friendly countries, like Pakistan (unregulated nuclear arsenal with technology sold on the black market), Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq.
2. The nuclear arsenal of Israel is meant as a deterrent to the annhilistic goals of Israel’s neighbors. For example, if Saddam Hussein did have chemical-biologic weapons in 1991 (which is likely given their use against the Kurds and Iranians), he probably thought twice before loading Scuds with those weapons when he thought Israel might retaliate in force.
3. The use of Israel as a scapegoat is common. Al Qaeda is as much against the Saudi royal family and it’s allowance of US bases on holy soil as anything else. All of the arab-persian countries are ruled by totalitarian regimes of one form or another, and they all have an easy scapegoat in Israel. If Israel didn’t exist, their people might revolt against the oppression and lack of liberty. As it stands, Israel is an easy distraction whenever something happens.

Rsam's avatar

@shilolo

i do plan to read Dershowitz piece once i finish the book. i have also noted some of the faulty scholarsism you mention—-there is a painful reliance on secondary sources—and try to keep ahold of that which i can check with more authority.

shilolo's avatar

@Rsam If you are going to make an economic argument about current aid, then you need to state your numbers accurately. What you listed was aid since 1962 (i.e. total from 1962–2007), not 2007 dollars. If you just look at 2007, it is 2,507.7 million for Israel, 8,192.8 million for Iraq, 1,972.1 million for Egypt, 5,815.8 for Afghanistan and 956.9 million for Pakistan. That places Israel third behind Afghanistan and Iraq, just ahead of Egypt and about 1.5 billion more than Pakistan. Though, much of the Pakistan money has “disappeared”, and their nuclear situation is far more tenuous than Israel’s.

Rsam's avatar

indeed. my fault for missing the right data number, but the point still stands as assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan is arguably in terms of our occupation in those countries, versus that of an ally.

kevbo's avatar

I’m no expert, but it might be useful to to the discussion to distinguish “Zionists” from “Jews/Isrealis.” Zionism is the ideology/agenda of belief in a Jewish state (and the defense/dominance of that state). Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Jews understand the full implications of Zionism although they may chant the slogans. However, Joe Biden, a Catholic, and many others in US politics are professed Zionists.

shilolo's avatar

@kevbo Perhaps you would care to share what you think are “the full implications of Zionism”? In my experience, people that argue that they are anti-Zionists are frequently anti-Semitic, and vise versa.

kevbo's avatar

For starters, I’d say belief in Israel’s right to commit genocide in Palestine.

Rsam's avatar

slippery slope…...slippery (dumb) slope.

well done folks.

shilolo's avatar

@Rsam By the way, Iran wants nukes as much to establish themselves as a regional superpower and control the oil supply as anything else. Many other regional countries (other than Israel) are deeply afraid of a nuclear Iran (like Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf States). I would bet my life that they would secretly cheer an Israeli or American attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity while condemning it in public.
@kevbo Oh, that old canard. Genocide? Really? Where are the death camps? Why is the population growing dramatically? If you are going to throw around that libel, I want proof (from a reputable source, not your conspiracy theory “lobby”).

kevbo's avatar

As I said before, I’m not an expert.

Furthermore, I’m fucking tired of arguing with you. It’s obvious we aren’t going to see eye to eye, so whatev, doctor.

I’m making an effort to keep the discussion from becoming anti-Semitic and maybe introduce a useful distinction and you want to argue about that? Hey YOU WIN. This isn’t worth my time.

shilolo's avatar

@kevbo It isn’t arguing when you throw around terms so loosely. It was you who tried to establish a “definition” of Zionism. For one so interested in semantics, you take someone else holding you to the same standard so personally. Boo hoo.

skfinkel's avatar

@Deepness: you said: “Key people running the media, politics and making laws in this country are Jewish. That said, they do have a shared interest in seeing Israel as the dominating power in the mid east and they’re using our tax dollars to accomplish it.”

Why do you think this doesn’t sound anti-Semitic? What do you think anti-Semitic is? If I were looking for an example of an anti-Semitic statement, this would be a classic.

shilolo's avatar

@Rsam Getting back to your argument here, I think point #2 is completely wrong. The Arab countries’ concerns were never about the occupied territories. In fact, Gaza and the West Bank were occupied by Egypt and Jordan respectively from 1948 to 1967 (why weren’t they “returned to Palestine” before 1967?). Moreover, the Arab countries cared little about the plight of the Palestinians, and only with the advent of the PLO and international terrorism did their situation become “important”.

As another example of the desire for Israel to have nukes, take the Yom Kippur war in 1973. A surprise attack by Syria and Egypt during the Jewish Day of Atonement (the holiest day in Judaism) led to serious concerns within the first few days that Israel might be overrun. The tide turned in Israel’s favor, but the wound to the Israeli psyche was deep.

People in Israel are rightfully concerned about the existential threat of annihilation. Given the past history of other people’s desires to eliminate the Jews (read, Germany in during the Holocaust, Spain during the Inquisition, and so on), it shouldn’t come as a surprise when people desire the means to protect themselves. Only people who have lived that cultural history and under the constant threat of destruction can truly understand the visceral nature of the desire for a protected country to call their own.

shilolo's avatar

@kevbo Thanks for the definition. I don’t see anywhere where it says Zionism: A desire to annihilate the Palestinian population via genocide. Mostly, it is a desire for a protected homeland, away from other genocidal events targeting Jews (Russian-Polish pogroms, the Holocaust, Middle Eastern pogroms, etc.)

casheroo's avatar

I have no problem with our country supporting Israel.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@shilolo Considering we have spent hundreds of billions on Iraq and Afghanistan why do the numbers have to be accurate at all. They just are obviously much greater that you are stating. What we spend associated with a given country is what matters to us. That is much bigger than what you state. Since funds given in aid are for the most part with strings requiring the country aided to buy from our people at much higher prices that they could purchase them on the open market then the value of the aid to the other country is much lower that the value given. So those numbers do not reflect what is actually given.
So as well as accurate numbers you also need an accurate inventory of value received. 500$ toilet seats come to mind.

mattbrowne's avatar

The US and Europe should support both Israel and Palestine fostering long-term strategies that can eventually make a difference. Obama’s Cairo speech was a good fresh start.

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