As we write, Israeli planes, missiles and drones are raining death and terror on Gaza, and Israeli ground forces are expanding operations within Gaza. At least 8,000 people—overwhelmingly civilians, and including more than 3,000 children—have been killed already. Hundreds of thousands are homeless. Food, water and fuel have been all but completely shut off by Israel for weeks. Hospitals are unable to function. All this is creating concentration-camp conditions for residents—conditions designed to cause massive unnecessary death.
The devastation is so severe that Palestinian parents are reportedly writing their children’s names on their arms and legs so they can be identified if they are buried in the rubble of their bombed-out homes.
Who could possibly support such merciless, genocidal violence?
The irrefutable answer to that question is: The overwhelming majority of political leadership of both major ruling class parties in the United States, Democrats and Republicans. Though these two parties are on the verge of literal civil war with each other, both enthusiastically back Israel, and have made clear that they will continue to do so no matter what.
On October 18, Biden flew to Israel. He warmly embraced its vicious anti-Palestinian leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden pledged “steadfast support for Israel and reaffirmed U.S. determination” to provide Israel with whatever weaponry it needs. He bragged that “For decades, we’ve ensured Israel’s qualitative military edge.” And he pledged “to ask the United States Congress for an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense.”
Biden also rushed two U.S. aircraft carriers and thousands of additional U.S. troops to the region, partially to warn Israel’s many foes not to interfere with the mass slaughter, or face the full wrath of U.S. military power.
Meanwhile, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives unanimously elected Rep. Mike Johnson, a hard-core Christian fascist with close ties to the Israeli far-right, to the powerful position of Speaker of the House. These right-wing Evangelicals recently issued a statement—with 2,000 signatories—that applied the so-called "Christian Just war tradition” (that is, a Holy War against “evil”) to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. And Johnson’s first act as Speaker was to call for a resolution supporting Israel in its war on Gaza. Trump threw in too... he encouraged Israel to “straighten it [Gaza] out,” and also pledged to bar any refugees from Gaza—whom he labeled as “terrorists”—from entering the U.S.
This “bi-partisanship” is nothing new. Democratic President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize the new state of Israel after it was violently clawed out of Palestine through ethnic cleansing. And support for Israel has been a pillar of U.S. policy ever since, regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans held power.
In 1999, Democratic President Bill Clinton pledged to give Israel “at least $26 billion” in aid—mostly military—over the next 10 years. In 2007, Republican President George W. Bush pledged $30 billion for the next 10 years. In 2016, Democratic President Barack Obama signed a 10-year pledge for $38 billion, entirely for military aid. 1
So $104.7 billion over 30 years—or $3.5 billion a year went to Israel for the specific purpose of ensuring Israel had the most powerful military in the region. And Israel used that “edge” to aggressively expand its borders (see map of Israeli expansion), and to wage two major wars on Gaza (2008 and 2014), killing at least 3,700 Palestinians.
Over the years the U.S. and Israeli leaderships have had policy disagreements. And from time to time, some U.S. leaders express “concern” for the grotesque mistreatment of Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and the Israeli leadership’s rejection of any “political” solution in favor of raw and brutal violence. But these “objections” have never had any impact on the U.S. actions of consistent and full military and political support for Israel.
Now, some people are looking to the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party to magically transform it into a vehicle for “reining in” the worst excesses of Israel.
That is NOT going to happen!
Yes, some congresspeople have made statements expressing “concern” for the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, and at times even—in a mealy-mouthed way—criticized Israel’s historic oppression of Palestinians. But even those weak statements have been slapped down with extreme prejudice by the Democratic leadership and are clearly having no effect on U.S. policy.
Regardless of the intentions of any of these “progressives,” the real-world role they are playing is to hold the allegiance of the Democratic base—a large portion of which is horrified by Israel’s war on Gaza—firmly in tow behind this virulently pro-Israel party, by giving them the illusion that they have some “influence,” or at least “a voice.”
But here is the reality. The “bi-partisan consensus” on supporting Israel is so consistent because it is consistent with the fundamental interests of U.S. imperialism as a whole, and those are the interests that both the Democrats and Republicans serve and are dedicated to, even if they sharply disagree on how best to advance them.
Israel is an armed enforcer for U.S. domination in the Middle East. … Israel’s capacity to militarily threaten and strike at any obstacles to U.S. domination in the Middle East gives the U.S. a tremendous “leg up” over its rivals in this critical part of its global empire.
This is the determining factor in U.S. policy. To paraphrase the great Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, “the imperialists—Democrats or Republicans—will never lay down their butcher knives and become Buddhas.”
If you want to end this nightmare world that capitalism-imperialism has created, stop pinning your hopes to the very institutions set up and dedicated to perpetuating the world of death that you hate. Take up the revolutionary struggle to bring down imperialism—in the U.S., in Palestine, and around the world—so humanity can bring a whole different system to life.