Why does US blindly support Israel?

I have been in Gaza nearly a month now and I’ve been asked this question in one form or another by many, many Palestinians . . . usually from the youth (20-30 year olds) but occasionally older people will broach the topic too.

Why does the U.S.  support Israel?   Why do Americans support Israel’s assault against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank?   Why do American taxpayers send so much money to Israel (to the tune of $3 billion each year)?

As an American, I suspect they really think I might know the answer because these are not rhetorical questions.  The Palestinians I have met sound sincerely puzzled by America’s support of Israel.

I was thankful they were not hostile or angry with me.  Everyone has been able to separate me (an American) from the policies and actions of my government.  Whew!   But I’m a bit flummoxed about how to answer the question.

Here’s why I think the U.S. supports Israel — right or wrong.

1)  Every politician wants to get elected or reelected.  The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is very powerful in American politics.  Politicians are very nervous about crossing AIPAC’s legislative agenda.  If they do, they may find themselves without a job in Washington, DC come the next election.   Some people think AIPAC was responsible for Senator Charles Percy’s defeat in 1984.

AIPAC is the leading player in what is sometimes referred to as “The Israel Lobby” — a coalition that includes major Jewish groups, neoconservative intellectuals and Christian Zionists. With its impressive contacts among Hill staffers, influential grassroots supporters and deep connections to wealthy donors, AIPAC is the lobby’s key emissary to Congress. But in many ways, AIPAC has become greater than just another lobby; its work has made unconditional support for Israel an accepted cost of doing business inside the halls of Congress. AIPAC’s interest, Israel’s interest and America’s interest are today perceived by most elected leaders to be one and the same. Christian conservatives increasingly aligned with AIPAC demand unwavering support for Israel from their Republican leaders.

2)  Israel has a superior public relations operation.  The Israeli information (propaganda) machine is an integral part of its “defense”  and “security” strategy, and there are many, many examples of how the two work hand-in-hand to shape world opinion.   The aftermath of the Mavi Marmara killings is a clear example of how Israel quickly released its version of events, even a YouTube video hoping to recast the passengers as the aggressors, not the victims.

Every country has its own version of Hasbara, but Israel has been more successful than most at turning “black” into “white” and “victim” into “aggressor.”  It’s a science – really – that is reminiscent of  George Orwell’s book “1984”.

3) They look like us!   Their history is ours!   I hate to admit this but I think another reason the U.S. supports Israel is because Israel’s citizens look more like Anglo-Americans.  And Israel’s history of occupation and treatment of Palestinians is strikingly similar to the founding of the United States and our treatment of the Indigenous people.  The U.S. remains a racist nation to this day, and that deeply-ingrained racism accounts for our skewed world-view.

4)  Most Americans are ignorant.   Honestly, the average American doesn’t understand the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict,”  or the atrocities that occur every day in our name.  We pay our taxes, have blind faith in our government, and just want to make sure there is a roof over our heads and our children get an education.  Americans don’t look beyond their own backyards.

I’m sure there are other reasons for America’s blind allegiance to Israel even when it can be argued that it is against our best interest (and Israel’s best interest for that matter).

If more Americans visited Gaza and the West Bank to learn about the “facts on the ground” and the injustices perpetrated by the Occupation, they would not support it and they would not want their government supporting it.    That time will come.

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10 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Media, Occupation, US Policy

10 responses to “Why does US blindly support Israel?

  1. Mark

    I have problem with AIPAK because of few political supporters of Israel 300 million Americans and most of the world population suffering. This is why the European and United nation members says Israel is the thread for world peace. I hope American public realize this fact before it’s too late.

  2. Mark Devandara

    I think you are right. Most Americans knows actors then politicians. It’s sad. But US no longer have the influence even five years ago. Israeli actions have put America
    In miserable position. Unfortunately our politicians just care for their seat in congress then about the US economy. Our roads and bridges are falling apart.Our students have to pay higher college tuition fee. We have hundreds of thousands homeless. We’re falling behind In education, health care. China is working hard to get their money to be reserve currency. Here we inviting Israeli prime minister to congress and giving him a US president status. Ignoring out elected US PRESIDENT.
    This a insult to American people and politics.

  3. alex

    Americans’ ignorance about the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict is indeed a large part of the problem and the media reporting is very one-sided. A sizeable proportion of the Palestine population were Christian, although their numbers have much declined due to conflict.
    Where is the support for them from the Christian zionists? These people lived in Palestine for centuries.
    Justice and fairness seems to have disappeared in relation to this problem.

    • I saw the oppression of Palestinians last March when in Hebron, the Negev, Jericho, Bethlehem, A-Tuwani, Jinba, and in Jerusalem. If any caring Christians want to be involved, I’d recommend that they contact/visit .. Holy Land Trust & the Bethlehem Bible College which are both in Bethlehem, and the Sabeel Ctr in Jerusalem as well as the Tent of Nations where Daoud Nassar does amazing work with international students. Ignorance, greed, power-grabbing, discrimination are but a few answers that I submit to the question which wonderful Lora Lucero has rightfully posed to us and the whole world. May Justice with Peace begin to reign in the “Holy” Land.

  4. Ronnie

    You have made somee fair comments, but no. 3 is so invalid, most Israeli’s do not look like americans they look more american than say a muslim but either way they are more often than not very diffrent. And to say that you have similar history its ludacris, they’ve been oppressed in pretty much every country they have ever tried to immigrate to. America’s history follows the line of the oppressors! Feel free to contest my points, i havent really developed them as i am in a rush, but i will happily justify my points in detail if neccessary

  5. Thank you, Lora Lucero, of New Mexico. I live in NM, too, and am most Thankful for Lora’s presence in Gaza and her blog, plus all the comments from others. I will go to Palestine & Israel in March 2013 with Christian Peacemaker Teams. My friend, Abdur’Rauf Campos-Marquetti, Imam at the TaHa Mosque in Santa Fe, NM, will come to our Presbyterian Community Church in Jemez Springs, NM, in December. I will share with folks then about the Sojourners billboard in Joplin, following the destruction there of a Muslim mosque. It read: “Love Your Muslim Neighbors.” This Love message needs to be uplifted, everywhere, if this angry and broken world of ours is to exist.
    My heartfelt Thanks on this Thanksgiving weekend in the USA to all Peacemakers in Palestine & Israel and throughout the world. May Peace with Justice prevail now and in 2013. Rev. Glen Thamert ..
    glenthamert@yahoo.com – Salaam, Shalom, Paz y Peace to all people!

  6. Michael

    Very perceptive post and comments. I spent two years in Libya while I was in the Army in the ’50s. It was an eye-opener for me and enabled me to see Muslims in a way that others couldn’t when I returned home.

    Several incidents stand out in my memory. One is that the somewhat lighter Libyans in the north looked down on the much darker Muslims from Chad or the Sudan. This was not something that Americans could quite grasp.

    Another incident was a Libyan who worked for us was mad at one of our soldiers and called him a Jew. We told him that the soldier was not a Jew. The Jew was one of the other soldiers. The Libyan worker said that the Jewish soldier was a nice guy, but the other one was not nice so that soldier was the Jew. So it had nothing to do with actual religion.

    I think that one thing that has been overlooked as bringing change is the internet. Blogs such as this one are getting the word out to larger and larger groups of people. Many people are now getting relatively unfiltered report on conditions in Palestine. Prior to this the news was filtered in a very pro-Israel way so it was hard to substantiate any counter information.

    Also, many Jews are seeing the unbalance in the area as out of kilter. It is hard to call them anti-Jewish. Many are expressing their views on the internet so the msm solid wall is being breached.

  7. Hi,

    First, I want to give thumbs-up to Darlene’s comment: spot on.

    Second, I have some notions about my own age group (I’m almost 50) and including people up to about a decade older. These notions are entirely speculative, or at least, based mainly on my life-experience.

    During the 1950s and most of the 1960s, Jewish Americans were not well treated or respected. Amusing or talented individuals might be granted special privilege, but most people encountered constant belittling and constant closing of so-called intangible (hardly!) barriers. The Holocaust – hard to believe – was mainly swept aside as an issue, even among the Jewish community here in the U.S., which is a complex topic including narratives in and about the two Germanys at the time. I remember Jewish kids getting routinely bullied, and if the other kids did not outright call them “kikes,” that and similar words were still part of the mental vocabulary.

    A generational push to overcome and even to overturn these conditions occurred in the 1960s, and it included both a willingness to confront the Holocaust and a commitment to civil rights in general. Jewish activists, reformers, and general citizens en masse distinguished themselves as real champions of justice at that time, earning with others the actual gains but also winning recognition as a genuine component of modern culture, present and engaged, whose kids would have no need to wince and grin in order to have Christian “friends” or to keep one’s job.

    The Six Day War of 1967 may have been embraced by this emerging activism and resulting pride as a further confirmation of Judaism as an active force – and therefore the State of Israel occupied a new place in the language and identity of Jewish American pride. If I understand my friends correctly, they really do identify the actions of the Israeli administration and IDF at that time as … well, as civil rights actions. The secular and socialist elements of Zionism going back to the late 19th century were also attractive to many of the more radical or experimental American activists too.

    These are, I think, the first generation of American kids and young adults who all sent little donations to Israel every so often; physically speaking, the means were a lot like the UNICEF boxes many of us probably remember. They may have heroized Israeli militarism by confounding it with the unquestionably positive and admirable achievements in the U.S., and perhaps (I may be reaching here) have become vulnerable to identifying Arab leaders and nations with the Nazis, the very tactic pushed so hard by Begin and the Likud in general in the 1970s.

    Third, I think Christian guilt matters a lot – and I get really suspicious about transferring all sorts of stereotypes to Muslims, as a way to dodge it rather than to face up to the historical realities. Specifically, the realities of discrimination against Jews both before/during the Holocaust and a good two or three generations after. Marc Ellis’ book Reading the Torah Out Loud addresses this issue in detail.

    Fourth, we hear a lot about “historic ties” between the U.S. and Israel. When I ask friends (Jewish and otherwise) what they are, I get the classic cognitive-dissonant responses: lost tempers, quick changes of subject, and social signals that I’m being rude. Ultimately, the language and implications of the vague answers seem to me to add up into a myth that somehow (i) U.S. entry into WWII was intended to and indeed did save Jews in Europe from the Nazis and (ii) Israel was created as some kind of recompense for the Holocaust victims. Whereas nothing could be further from the truth, in dozens of ways before, during, and after the war. But somehow this idea that Americans leaped into the fray because the Nazis were killing Jews, and stopped them from doing it, and then invented Israel for the Holocaust survivors, is entrenched such that questioning the circumstances of the state’s creation, or even describing the documented events at all, is considered … well, considered to be collaboration with Nazis.

    I think this problem is tied as well into larger myths about WWII, specifically those which ignore the Soviet role in defeating the Reich and which privilege the Normandy invasion as somehow being the one and only thing which mattered in strategic terms.

    Anyway, as I said, all of the above are speculative and should be considered testimonial musings by an individual. I’d like to know others’ thoughts or experiences about them, though.

    Best, Ron

  8. simar singsun

    The media here surgically removes any negative content about Israel, keeping us ignorant. I was basically unaware until I met Lora.

  9. Darlene

    Excellent explanation! The only thing I would add is that the Israel Lobby includes Christian Zionism. People tend to ignore this powerful group of free lobbyists who have been massaged into believing the political state of Zionist Israel is the Israel in the Bible. Their mantra is “Bless Israel and be blessed”, so in reality they are worshiping a political ideology instead of God through Jesus Christ (which is what should make you a Christian). There are millions of Christian Zionists who have been taught that Israel represents all the Jewish people and criticizing Zionist Israel makes you an anti-Semite. I have attended a Christian Zionist event, sponsored by Christians United for Israel, and the message is heavy on guilt because Christians have abused Jews throughout history, that Bible prophesies are about the Jews returning to Palestine, and that Genesis 12:3 literally means to “bless Israel” or be cursed. The program also devotes time to promote an Islamophobic message, implying that Arabs/Muslims have a natural hatred of Jews and want to murder them just for being Jewish. There is no mention of the Nakba, the long occupation, or the siege and bombardment of Gaza. What’s presented is so horribly one sided that I stood up and confronted the speaker — in an audience of 700 people. All of this goes on weekly all over the US, and the odd thing is the executive director is not a Christian. He’s Jewish and a member of AIPAC, and is closely tied to the Likud Party in Israel.

    So, in reality, maybe you did cover this group in your #4 — that Americans are ignorant, but I believe there are forces that work tirelessly to misinform which keeps too many Americans ignorant!

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