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Congress, Israel, and a Short Course on American Support for Israel

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A story in Haaretz reports that Israel won’t ask for financial help from the Congress despite enormous need.  One of the reasons given:

Israel does not want to be seen as begging for a handout.

There are other reasons listed, including worry over next year’s aid package if Israel gets a specuial appropriation this year.

What Congress should do is act unilaterally to offer financial aid to our strongest ally in the global war on terror. The GOP leadership should not make the Israelis tin cup the Hill, but should caucus before the August recess and gurantee an aid package will pass before September’s close. I think the GOP base will be very unhappy with the electeds if their support for Israel is expressed in words alone, though the words last week were a very good start.

If you agree, visit the font page of and use the activism tool to contact your Congressman or Senator to urge support fo Israel.

Yesterday I got an angry call from Phoenix demanding to know why I supported Israel.  There are five reasons:

1. It is a fully-functioning democracy with a representative government and a nearly 60 year unbroken commitment to free and fair elections.  When such states come under attack anywhere in the world, the US should support them.

2.  Along with Great Britain and Australia, Israel is the most dependable ally the United States has in the world on a host of issues, but most especially the global war on terror. We need always to vigorously defend our allies and supply aid and arms as needed.

3. Since its origins in the Balfour Declaration and then the League of Nations, followed of course by its establishment via the United Nations, Israel represents the best promise of success for the structure of international laws and institutions that help keep the world civilized.  Supporters of the UN must realize that if Israel is not defended, the UN cannot be defended.  Defenders of the importance of international law and custom must grasp the same point.

4. Israel does deserve the long memory of the world since the world turned its back on the Jews during the early years of the Holocaust. The Jewish people of Europe are not the only people to have suffered genocide, but they are the only people to have suffered genocide in the heart of western civilization.

5. Anti-Semitism is an old and virulent disease.  It is long associated with the worst impulses of civilized society.  The forces that nurture and feed off of hatred of Jews and their state are never defeated, only contained. Their anti-semitic fevers are also always accompanied by other hatreds.  Keeping Israel strong is a sort of booster shot to the world’s immunization system.

My caller from Phoenix no doubt expected me to play the “God’s chosen people” chords.  A ot of Israel’s enemies in the US tell themselves that all center-right support for Israel is a product of Biblical literacy combined with geopolitical illiteracy.  It is easier to win arguments with yourself when you dismiss the positions of the other side via such straw men.

Some Americans do choose to support Israel for faith-based reasons, but not me.Neither the Harvard faculty, nor Richard Nixon –for whom I worked as an editorial assistant during the writing of his book The Real War— nor the Reagan Adminsitration in which I spent years anchored their support for Israel in religious doctrine.

Pro-Israel beliefs have many origins, all of them legitimate in a free society.The most powerful ones when it comes to securing support from Congress are those above.

I hope those who do support Israel for whatever reasons are active in pushing Congress to provide urgently needed aid to Israel now, and not wait for next year.


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