An Unbreakable Bond
During my recent visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, I could not help but notice how much attention our small corner of the world continuously receives throughout the United States. Despite an economy in danger of a double-dip recession, European banks on the brink of implosion and a war on Al-Qaeda that has now expanded to the Arabian Peninsula, President Obama felt the need to dedicate a large part of his address to the General Assembly to the seemingly insolvable Israeli-Arab conflict. Surely there must be a reason why so many Americans hold a vested interest in the holy land, despite the fact that many have never stepped foot in the region.
The US-Israel relationship has been a constant – and some would say rare – point of bipartisanship since 1948. After all, it was Democratic President Harry Truman who recognized the infant state before any other nation. Republican President Richard Nixon initiated the nonstop airlifting of needed weapons during the 1973 Yom Kippur War ensuring Israel’s survival during that pivotal moment. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush agreed on very little domestically, but both continued to develop and expand the US commitment to Israel’s security and well-being. The long lasting relationship between these two allied powers suggests a bond based on shared values that stands the test of time.
Many have tried to explain and analyze this support for Israel. I believe that this commitment is the result of three important components: religious beliefs, shared values, and basic strategic security needs.
The US is one of the most religious countries it the world, and there is no denying the historic and religious ties that result from our shared Judeo-Christian heritage. These values are not only inscribed in both books of worship, they are woven into the fabric of our societies.
The shared values of democracy, liberty, and humanity have also heavily contributed to the Israeli-US relationship. Israel, like the United States, sees herself as a beacon of hope in a world where so many countries fight for the same democratic freedoms that both nations hold so dear. Take Egypt, for example; once considered a strong ally to Israel in the region. Initial hope for the emergence of a liberal democracy in the most populated Arab country has been crushed in a wave of violent extremism that has resulted in an attack on Israel’s embassy and fatal violence against women and minorities. While the world hopes that the Arab Spring will bear positive fruit, Israel remains the only true democracy in the Middle East: A nation where the civil rights of all its citizens are respected, the rule of law reigns supreme, and leaders answer directly to the people in regular, free and open elections.
Finally, and I believe most importantly, Israel is a true strategic ally to the United States. It is a know axiom that Israel is the US’s cheapest and most effective aircraft carrier in the region. Israel has never made demands or concessions from the US in return for strategic assets and access as so many other allies have done. On the contrary, Israel regular supplies the US with anti-terrorism training and know-how and much needed intelligence that help the US military keep the American people safe. Examples of this type of cooperation are too numerous to list – and mainly remain classified and unknown to most – however one can only imagine the threats that would be posed today to US-interests from both terrorist elements and belligerent states if not for the high-level of cooperation between these two allies.
President Obama, like several of his predecessors, has seen himself fit to attempt to solve an age-old conflict, putting the US-Israel relationship through unprecedented strain by ignoring its unique nature. In doing so, he simply cannot dismiss the shared values, shared history, and shared strategic ends that unite these two nations. They not only bind us as formidable allies in the fight against terror, but also set us apart as outposts of liberty and democracy in a community of nations that is increasingly threatened by tyranny and oppression. It is on the basis of these values that this special relationship has maintained and will continue to remain strong for the vested interest of both countries.
Member of Knesset Danny Danon is Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and Chairman of the Word Likud.