Israel or Palestine - Not Both
With U.S. politics more divided today than at any time since the 1960s, shocking accusations have become de rigueur and rather un-shocking. Nevertheless, I’ll try to make one here: America might be the new capital of anti-semitism.
Why America? After all, anti-semitism isn’t exactly uncommon. Europe and Asia have together butchered Jews in their millions for millennia. European liberals have been constant critics of Israel practically since independence in 1948. Arab Muslims have tried to recreate the Holocaust nearly every decade after that.
But no country in the Middle East, Europe, or any other continent outside North America holds the power of life or death over Israel. That terrible honor alone belongs to the United States, the single most important factor in preserving Israeli independence outside of Israel itself.
If Jews learned anything in the 1940s, it’s that their survival cannot rely on the tolerance of others; they need arms, and friends willing to use them. America has been that constant friend. If Americans chose to leave Israel to fend for itself against a sea of Arab Muslims, we aren’t merely anti-Zionist (or anti-Israel), like many Europeans -- we’re anti-semitic. What could be more anti-semitic than a policy which allows for the destruction of Israel at the hands of its Islamic enemies? Seen through this lens, America will either prove to be the greatest defender of Israel -- or its greatest betrayer.
Are Americans anti-semitic, though? Hardly. If anything, the American people -- already pro-Israel -- have grown even warmer towards Jews since the 2016 election, according to a Pew Research Center poll in February. White evangelical Protestants report the most favorable feelings towards Jews of any (religious or otherwise) group examined in the poll. (Curiously, atheists report the least favorable feelings towards them.)
Not so with many of our leaders. During the eight years of the Obama presidency, the left-wing of the Democratic Party pushed for a radical departure from the party’s traditional pro-Israel stance. Much of that change was driven by the president himself. Last year, the Obama administration’s refusal to veto a U.N. resolution identifying “Jerusalem’s holiest sites, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, as ‘occupied Palestinian territory’” was ranked the most anti-semitic incident of 2016 by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
It should be remembered, too, that of the two major political parties in the U.S., only the Democrats had to debate calling Israel an occupying power in its 2016 platform (notably by allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders, himself Jewish).
This isn’t a question of nosing in on an Israeli-Palestinian debate, either; we’re already a part of it. In 2016, the United States gave Palestinians a whopping $712 million in aid through the State Department and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) -- more than any other country. (The Palestinian response was characteristic: last December, Prime Minister Rami Hamdullah whined that Washington had imposed a “financial siege” on his statelet because it didn’t deliver financial aid, which it did.)
In his 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater laid out a key question every financial aid advocate should answer: Will our money change this country’s character?
If the goal of U.S. aid isn’t to support Hamas, Palestine’s active terrorist regime, then our aid program needs a serious reconsideration. Ask yourself this: Have billions of dollars in American aid to a failed statelet with virtually no economy -- whose closest friends are murderous dictatorships and anti-Western fundamentalists -- brought Palestine any closer to becoming a peace-loving democracy?
Opponents of closer ties with Israel say the United States has no business aiding the Jewish state, either due to their libertarian persuasion or out of desire to aid the supposedly oppressed Palestinians. Yet a December 2016 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 60.5 percent of Arab Israelis described their life in Israel as “good” or “very good.” 55 percent said they were “proud citizens” of Israel. Let’s remember, too, that Arabs make up one-fifth of the Israeli population. There are 1.8 million Arabs in Israel, a country with only 8.6 million citizens. How many Israeli Jews want to live under the Palestinian regime?
The first concern of the United States should always be preserving our independence. This was the dream that inspired the patriots of 1776, just as it’s the core of George Washington’s farewell address and Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Americans should not seek permanent alliance with Israel, or any other nation, lest we lose sight of that goal. But we should also remember this lesson of our heritage: there are very few God-fearing, freedom-loving peoples in the world. In this, Israelis and Americans are brothers-in-arms.