According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” Other special benefits also flow to the Israeli military. Each year, the U.S. pays for about 20 percent of Israel’s overall military spending, and the total places Israel as the 16th largest military spender in the world. “In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018.” Obama has renewed that pledge.
The U.S. routinely supports Israel’s policies and avoids condemning Israel for its rights violations against Palestinians. It may never have done so. This week, for example, the U.S. cast the sole vote against the U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The vote was 29-1. A link to the full text of the resolution is here. (The texts vary slightly in different reports.)
Because the U.S. government has made itself virtually one with Israel, we must ask the question: What exactly is the U.S. supporting when it supports Israel? One cannot arrive at answers to this question without examining Israel’s history. One may make a start by reading Theodor Herzl’s 1896 pamphlet “The Jewish State”, a visionary tract. This provides insight into the goals of Herzl and his assumptions behind colonizing Palestine. How the colonization actually worked out has not been as he planned. Israel continues to be a problematic state, an expansionary state, and what is worse, a dangerous nuclear power state. Wikipedia has a number of articles on the history. This one provides a start. One thing the U.S. supports when it supports Israel is what Israel is doing in Gaza at this moment.
Murray Rothbard has a highly readable and valuable account of the history up to 1967.
Although America has stood in theory as a melting pot and a country that favored the assimilation of many peoples from all over the world, and in practice was against Black Nationalism, the U.S. government has supported Jewish Nationalism in Israel. It has supported a society that could only support such a state by being exclusionary and segregated, or even ethnically cleansed. The philosophy behind that state rested on Herzl’s assumptions, which in my view were deeply flawed. He simply ignored the native population of Palestine. He simply asserted that Jews were a people one people, that assimilation was out of the question and that a Jewish State was a solution to anti-Semitism. All of these assertions are questionable. He declared that “Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home.” Can any people or ethnic group of today return to the place where their ancestors originated with the idea of displacing its current residents and making their own State? No one would approve of such an idea. Anyway, this “historic home” idea was really not true of all Jews after 1,800 years had passed and Jews had had many, many homes in many lands. It was an appeal to a subset of Jews who wanted to emigrate and maintain their culture with others of their kind. Nor could this idea justify a Jewish State governing Palestine and its then current Arab inhabitants. But in addition Herzl’s philosophy in practice assumed a much more militant and exclusionary form as new generations appeared after him. In particular, David Ben-Gurion was an exponent of power and force.
Israel is a brutal state as the latest excesses of destruction and killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza show. That’s what the U.S. supports.