The delusions of anti-Israel conservatives
In 1948, the argument for the creation of Israel was a moral argument; the argument against the creation of Israel was based on an assessment of America’s national interest. Almost seventy years later Israel is an economic and military powerhouse, with a rapidly growing population, while her traditional enemies are weaker than ever.
At the present time, most of those who argue against the continued existence of Israel attempt to base their arguments on moral grounds. Still, a small and noisy group of conservatives contend that our support for Israel undermines our standing in the region, and threatens our national interests. Philip Giraldi, Mark Perry, and others, continue to advance this argument despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
Historically the U.S attempted to chart a middle course between Israel and the demands of her Arab and Muslim neighbors. Israel would have preferred to use the Suez Canal as a natural barrier between themselves and Egypt; President Carter twisted their arm and forced them to give it back in return for peace. The first President Bush forced Israel to negotiate with the PLO, something they didn’t want to do. President Clinton forced Israel to cede territory to the Palestinian Authority, territory later used to launch suicide bombings from. Finally, president Obama has repeatedly pressured Israel into doing things they don’t want to do.
Those who argue against the U.S relationship with Israel only calculate the costs in terms of foreign aid, but don’t count the benefits. Imagine if the Suez Canal were still a war zone between Israel and Egypt. Absent U.S aid to both Israel and Egypt there might be no peace treaty between the two countries.
In the present conflict over Gaza, it is hard to see how allowing Hamas access to the world’s arms markets would benefit America, or the people of Gaza for that matter. In 2011, the Israeli Navy intercepted one-ton guided anti-ship missiles bound for Gaza, missiles that could easily sink a cargo freighter a cruise liner, or even destroy an oil or natural gas platform. Arguing that Israel ought to lift its naval blockade without disarming Hamas is crazy.
Crystalizing this insanity, Mark Perry complained about an article that encouraged the U.S to pressure Qatar to stop funding Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mark Perry argued that our real interest is the U.S jobs that depend on building Qatar’s oil infrastructure.
Absent is the acknowledgement that Qatar is a third-world country, fortunate to possess tremendous oil wealth. Qatar pays U.S companies to extract their oil because they can’t do it themselves; they buy U.S arms because they can’t build them themselves; without U.S. armed forces defending their emirate, they might not even exist. Qatar needs the U.S far more than the U.S needs Qatar.
The assumption among many is that without U.S diplomatic support, Israel would struggle to survive. Despite what one witnesses at the U.N, Israel continues to enjoy favorable trade relations with the world’s largest economies; the nations of the world find it in their interest to do business with Israel.
More to the point Israel’s destruction would manifestly not be in the U.S national interest. Imagine the IDF’s arsenal of conventional and likely nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, etc. Given the means by which Israel might be dismantled, this only scratches the surface of the headaches her destruction would cause.
Anti-Israel conservatives seem largely motivated by two things: an underestimation of Israel’s growing strength, and a naïve romanticization of the Palestinian cause. Israel’s comparative advantage over her enemies has continually shocked the world. In 1960 Egypt’s total GDP was one and a half times larger than Israel’s, today Israel’s total GDP is larger. It should be noted that Egypt’s population is more than ten times larger than Israel’s, and Egypt may be one of the better-run Arab countries.
Anti-Israel conservatives understandably sympathize with the plight of the refugees and mourn the destruction of Palestine’s native Arab civilization, ignoring the even greater catastrophe that would have occurred if Israel had lost the 1948 war. They also ignore the violent attacks on Jewish immigrants that occurred in mandatory Palestine, and the refusal of the Muslim Arab population to live and let live. Like their friends on the anti-Israel left, anti-Israel conservatives romanticize the “indigenous other,” absolving them of any moral responsibility for their actions.
If the U.S were to listen to the advice of the so-called foreign-policy realists, we would be making not just a moral mistake, but a strategic one as well. We would permanently alienate large segments of the American public, and gain very little. Meanwhile, Israel would probably survive and grow stronger, eventually allying with China, strengthening our rival in Asia.
The only way Israel would be destroyed would be through war or economic strangulation. A war that could destroy large swathes of the Middle East and shut down oil production would not be in America’s interest. If economic strangulation forced Israel to accept the end of her Jewish majority, the result would be an extremely violent and bloody civil war; also not in America’s interest.
Given the circumstances, the only argument against providing Israel with diplomatic assistance is that one believes Israel should not exist. Regardless of whether Israel should exist, it does exist, and is likely to continue existing. From a perspective of cold national interest, the conditional support we provide to Israel is in our best interest, and unconditional support for the Arabs would not be.