The following essay contains much that is original, but it also incorporates thoughts and sources from several pro-Israel thinkers and groups. While we normally prefer cites to original work, the author expressed his concern that many references to particular people or organizations would distract from the arguments themselves. In this case, we agree.
Why Support Israel?
There are dozens of reasons to support continuing the close relationship between the United States and Israel. Here are some of the most important ones.
Israel is the world’s frontline in defending the foundational values of the United States and the Western World.
In the face of withering threats and lethal terrorist attacks against her citizens, Israel is a beacon. She is a beacon for peace, individual liberty, democracy, the rule of law, and pluralism in the Middle East. Her elections are free and fair; her judiciary is independent; her press is rich with dissent and self-examination. Israel extends political rights and protections to women, ethnic minorities, non-heterosexuals, and non-Jews alike. As Prime Minister Netanyahu noted in his historic 2011 address to a joint session of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, a Muslim man enjoys more of his civil rights in Israel than in any of the 20-plus Arab nations surrounding her. (We scarcely need discuss where a Muslim woman enjoys more of her rights.) Our Founding Fathers would look at Israel with approval and admiration. If America does not stand with Israel, it cannot stand for much.
Those values are illustrated by the eye-opening childhood experiences of Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian Lebanese woman. She and her family endured brutal persecution because of their faith while Ms. Gabriel was a child. When Israelis rescued Ms. Gabriel and her mother after a Lebanese attack, she saw firsthand the stark contrast between Israel’s treatment of ethnic minorities and that of her home country. She detailed those experiences in a speech at a Duke University rally in 2004. The text of that speech can be found here.
Israel’s history and culture make her a natural friend of the United States.
The modern State of Israel was founded by refugees escaping religious and political persecution, just like the English Dissenters who settled Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. Both the United States and Israel were tempered in their infancy by formidable attacks aimed at snuffing out the light of their independence. Although no single brushstroke could accurately paint any culture, Israeli culture fundamentally embraces education, modernity, religious and political freedom, and economic development. As even President Obama has stated, “The bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interest; it’s rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people.”
Centuries of anti-Semitism, exemplified most bitterly by the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, demonstrate the need for a Jewish homeland.
Jews have faced existential threats throughout our history. From the massive empires of antiquity – Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Persia – to Iran’s homicidal regime and its proxies on Israel’s borders, Jews have always needed, but rarely possessed, adequate measures for self-defense. With the United States as her closest ally, the modern State of Israel – peaceful but armed –provides a historic refuge for the Jewish people from the eternal threat of anti-Semitism.
Israel is a peaceful nation.
Despite largely baseless claims of aggression and atrocities, Israel has always extended her hand in peace both to her neighbors and to non-Jews living within Israel. Even before the legal creation of the State of Israel, Zionist leaders like Ze’ev Jabotinsky stood ready “to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never try to eject anyone.” For an excellent history of early Zionist leaders’ attempts to encourage good relations between Arabs and Jews before and during 1948, see this article.
Israel forged historic peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt after each of those countries attempted to annihilate her multiple times. While Israel’s attackers target civilian neighborhoods and school busses full of innocent children, Israel takes unparalleled steps to avoid civilian casualties while defending her people. To see some of those steps, please watch the video here.
A simple thought experiment proves Israel’s peacefulness to most intellectually honest people. Simply ask yourself what would happen if Israel’s neighbors completely renounced their aggression to Israel. Most people would expect to see a newfound peace in the region. But what if Israel unilaterally disarmed herself? Most rational people would expect that her neighbors – or at least plenty of them – would make good on their countless promises to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. That simple experiment should show you that the “cycle of violence” between Israel and her neighbors is no cycle at all. Rather, it is the result of unprovoked attacks on the one side and legitimate self-defense on the other.
Throughout history, only Israel has protected the freedom of all peoples and faiths in Jerusalem.
Israel has been a faithful steward for religious freedom and for the protection of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish holy sites and artifacts. Under Israel’s watch, Christians from all over the world flock to Nazareth and Jerusalem to worship freely and visit the walks of Jesus, while Palestinian gunmen held the Church of the Nativity hostage in Bethlehem during an uprising. Israel preserves and protects the Dome of the Rock mosque despite the fact that it sits on Judaism’s single most holy site, the Temple Mount.
To support Israel in the face of her enemies is to stand firm against use of “The Big Lie”.
Many of the threats Israel faces are based on arguments which wholly lack any basis in political, religious, or historic reality. Rather, they’re examples of “The Big Lie”, the propaganda technique of distorting the truth so egregiously, adamantly, and frequently that decent people assume the lie must be true. Many of the Big Lies about Israel are catalogued and debunked here.
Israel has a sound legal and historical right to exist as a Jewish state.
Unlike nearly any country in the world, Israel’s existence and borders are a combined result of international agreement from her inception and a people’s multi-millennial connection to her land. The Friends of Israel Initiative discusses the issue here, and Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, discusses the legal status of some of Israel’s current border issues in the video here. Click here for a brief synopsis of Jerusalem’s amazing 4,000 year history.
Israel is a crucial partner for America in economic, military, environmental, and intelligence development.
Israeli innovations in medicine, robotics, and semiconductors have revolutionized aspects of American life. American companies like Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Motorola and Intel have established Israeli operations to capitalize on Israel’s world-class workforce. Israel is a world leader in green technology, with a project underway to facilitate plug-in electric vehicles across the country. Defense systems and tactics developed in Israel have played critical parts in the war on terror, and, based on decades of trust and experience with common threats, the United States and Israel coordinate on a huge range of intelligence and defense operations.
Israel needs our help right now.
Terrorist groups run rampant through her neighbors. Iran is run by a madly anti-Zionist regime that’s developing nuclear weapons and long range missiles. School books throughout the Arab world teach Muslim children to kill Israelis (and all Jews). In short, Israel is surrounded by existential threats to her peaceful existence.
Israel’s many enemies are deterred by strength. Without American political support for Israel, Israel’s enemies will successfully isolate her in international relations. And without America as her military ally, Israel will be extremely vulnerable to attack. Israel’s existence depends on her relationship with the United States.
If there is one country with which the U.S. should ally, with which the U.S. must ally to fulfill her founders’ mandate, it is Israel.