Revolution #153, January 18, 2009
It’s Not About the Israel Lobby, And Not At All About “The Jews…”
Israel is a Hitman For the IMPERIALIST Interests of the United States
Many people who are correctly appalled and outraged by Israel’s crimes are profoundly and dangerously confused about the relationship between the United States and Israel. Too many of these people have the rabid dog and the master mixed up, and have been deluded into thinking that Israel is dictating the terms of this relationship that are not in the “national interest” of the United States.
And, it is a painful irony that among oppressed peoples in particular, among those who are outraged by Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinians, far too many have bought into the anti-Semitic message that blames “the Jews” for U.S. support for Israel.
Neither of these things is true.
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The United States supplies Israel with massive military, economic and political assistance—to the tune of over $3 billion per year. And yes, there is an “Israel Lobby” that appears to get everything it asks for from the U.S. But the essential dynamic between the U.S. and Israel is illuminated by a quick look at the actual history of the relationship between those two countries.
When the state of Israel was originally founded on the land of the Palestinian people, it was sponsored not by the United States but mainly by Britain. When Israel, backed by Britain and France, waged a war in 1956 against Egypt over control of the Suez Canal, the U.S. placed intense pressure on Israel to withdraw from sections of Egypt that it seized. This was because at that time constraining Israel (and sending a message to Britain and France who backed it) was deemed necessary by the rulers of the U.S. to asserting that the USA—not the old colonial powers of Europe—was the new dominant imperialist power in the Middle East.
Even in the early ’60s, U.S. aid to Israel was nowhere near the levels it is now. That changed fundamentally only after Israel, without major U.S. backing, won decisive victories over Egypt, Jordan and Syria in the 1967 war. It was at that moment that the U.S. ruling class came to a consensus that Israel could and had to play a unique role as their enforcer in the region.
Through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Israel was the U.S. bulwark in America’s contention with the Soviet Union in the Middle East. And today, Israel plays a particular and essential role for U.S. imperialism. Within Israel, there is a mass social base that identifies with the interests and aims of U.S. imperialism in the region. That is not the case with other U.S. allies in the Middle East, like Egypt, where there is widespread outrage that threatens the stability of the regime. This makes Israel all the more important to U.S. strategic goals at a time when the U.S. feels compelled to radically restructure the whole Middle East—a violent and risky venture in a volatile part of the world.
While the U.S. and Israel have their own interests, overwhelmingly the relationship is that Israel is the attack dog of the United States. Last June, U.S. Representative Steve Rothman (who has been a strong supporter of Obama), told his colleagues that Israel provides “America with vital security assistance in the Middle East and around the world.” He pointed to “literally hundreds of examples of how Israel has helped the United States with our national security goals: intelligence, improving American military technology, capturing Soviet and Iranian equipment, destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor, eradicating a Syrian nuclear facility, and many more unclassified and classified [secret] instances.” He argued that “without our partnership with the IDF [Israeli “Defense” Forces—the Israeli army], the United States might need to have 100,000 or more additional troops stationed permanently in that part of the world to make up for the protection of U.S. interests and vital intelligence provided by Israel to the United States.” And, Rothman emphasized, “With the ongoing efforts of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons technology,” Israel’s role is “more critical than ever.” (“U.S.’s valuable, strategic relationship with Israel,” The Hill, June 3, 2008)
All that—the strategic role Israel plays in service of U.S. imperialism—not the “Israel lobby,” explains the real nature of the relationship between the U.S. and its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Middle East.
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Arguments that U.S. support for Israel’s crimes is because “the Jews” are pulling the strings have nothing to do with the fundamental reality of Israel’s relationship with the United States. Israel is a strategic thug for the U.S. empire. That is why Barack Obama, as the incoming Commander-in-Chief for the U.S. ruling class is shamefully silent on Israel’s current massacre of the people of Gaza. Covering up Barack Obama’s actual role by blaming “the Jews” for his support of Israel lets the rulers of the United States off the hook, and enables their crimes.
And, blaming “the Jews” for Obama’s shameful support of Israel promotes anti-Semitism. That is an old game that has been played on the oppressed for centuries by oppressive ruling classes. The Russian Czar and Adolph Hitler set people, including starving peasants, against the Jews, while the Russian and German ruling classes carried out horrific crimes.
If you want to see where the “logic” of turning the anger of the oppressed against other sections of the people leads to, look at what the Zionists are doing to the Palestinians in service of U.S. imperialism. The Jews were oppressed by the German imperialists, and now the Zionists are oppressing the Palestinians in service of U.S. imperialism. Is that where you want to be? Let’s be real here: If you’re being played by anti-Semitism, or if you go along with it, and you don’t call it out whenever and wherever you hear it, you are serving the oppressor and helping him get over with all the horrors the people of this world are subject to. The time is now for people who have been duped by anti-Semitism: Open your eyes to the real situation, stop being played for fools and chumps, and start thinking and acting like emancipators of humanity.
Recognizing and revealing the true role of Israel as hitman for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East is essential to unleash real, mass resistance to the crimes currently being carried out by Israel in Gaza. And, beyond that, it is an important part of understanding and opposing all the oppression in today’s world.
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