Israel and the United States
The relationship of Israel and the United States is very important throughout the entire world of international politics. The country of Israel has a very unique and controversial history, which helps put an emphasis on their relationship to the world and the United States in particular. The relationship with Israel designates the foreign policy of the United States in regards to the rest of the Middle East. This thereby impacts foreign policy throughout the world.
“The centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering U.S. support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracy throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security.”
(Mearsheimer and Walt, 1)
The United States did not take an overly "sympathetic" position on the Zionist movement until the second decade of the 1900s. One main reason for their new support was the establishment in 1914 of the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs. On
September 21, 1922, the United States Congress passed the Lodge-Fish resolution, which lent the support of the United States for Zionists to establish a homeland in Palestine. In May of 1942 at the Biltimore Conference, the Zionists made the declaration that Palestine needed to be recognized as a "Jewish Commonwealth." (Oren, 442) The end of the Second World War brought about two changes in the Middle East. The first of these changes was the decolonization of the Middle Eastern states; Britain and France withdrew from some of their colonies early on, but remained in others for more years to come. The second of these changes was the involvement of the Middle East in the Cold War. “The most controversial of all withdrawals,
Brown 2 however, was that from Palestine: the British tried initially to continue the balancing act of the pre-war years, but this now proved impossible. Zionist forces emerged stronger from World War
II and enjoyed much greater sympathy; they were now more determined than ever on an independent, internationally recognized, Jewish state.” (Halliday 110, 111)
The United States kept a policy of "acquiescence" in regards to the Zionist movement.
One reason for this policy was that the way the United States acted in regards toward Israel could have dictated the natural resources of the Middle East - mainly oil. With the rapidly declining bad treatment of Jews after WWII, the United Nations saw fit to draw up the United Nations
Partition Plan for Palestine. This plan would create both an Arab and a Jewish state. Jews supported the plan, whereas the Arabs rejected it. There were several issues that concerned the officials of the United States. The first was that their support of a Jewish state would have an effect on the rest of the Middle East. They did not want to worsen their relations to the Middle
East and affect their supply of oil. They also did not want to weaken the region by throwing it into chaos. The United States became the first to give "de facto" acknowledgment to Israel, once it was declared a Jewish state on May 14, 1948.
During the Eisenhower administration, Israel was given monetary and economic aid from the United States (mainly food aid). However, it got quite a bit more funding from Germany's war reparations. During this time, the Suez Crisis occurred. Egypt sought to nationalize the
Suez Canal and create a symbol of independence and also to gain revenue. President Gamal
Abdel Nasser accomplished this on July 23, 1956. In response, Israel attacked and took control of the Canal for a brief period. Israel teamed up with Great Britain and France in order to gain
Brown 3 control of the Suez Canal from President Nasser. However, the forces had to withdraw because of outside influences of the United States and the USSR. In this crisis, the United States did not side with its long-time allies. The country took a neutral position,