International Relations Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] Why Americans Supports Israel

This note will discuss the reasons why Americans have a strong support to Israel, and the possible strategies to reduce it.

On early February 2019, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar made a tweet that said that the reason why the US government supports Israel is because of bribing done by the pro-Israeli lobby group, AIPAC. This is a misunderstanding of why Americans supports Israel, and her tweet causes outcry from a lot of people that made her eventually apologize. What makes Americans have such a strong support to Israel then?

1. Religious reasons. 25% of Americans are “Evangelical Christians”, a deeply conservative branch of Christianity that militantly believe that all Jews should move to Israel in order for the second coming of Jesus to happen. The fact that Evangelical Christians is large makes a lot of politicians have incentive to pander to their beliefs in order to get votes.

2. Non-religious reasons. Israel are seen by a lot of Americans as the representative of American values in the Middle East, where the majority of countries have dominant anti-western sentiments and are not democracies. For example, during the Cold War Israel fought several Soviet-backed Arab states on the Yom Kippur War. In the current age, it is represented by how Israel is strongly anti-terrorist and anti-undemocratic regimes such as Syria and Iran.

This abstract perspective translates to actual policies; for example, during the early 2000s George W. Bush’s administration imposed an embargo on helicopter spare parts to Israel as protest to the harsh Israeli treatment to the Palestinians on the Second Intifada. After the 9/11 attacks, however, the embargo was lifted.

These two reasons shows that Americans have legitimate reasons to support Israel, and oftentimes this support is bipartisan (both Democrats and Republicans have people that supports Israel). So what’s the more strategic tactic to campaign against Israel, instead of accusing them of bribing Americans?

1. Point out the fact that Israel does not show any good intention when it comes to making peace with the Palestinians, for example when Israel builds illegal settlements in the West Bank and also when they declare that Jerusalem is their legitimate capital. Anti-Israeli campaigners can focus on this to show that it is the Israelis that are provocative the Palestinians, hence creating conflict, instead of the other way around.

2. Try to draw a parallel of Israeli oppression to Palestinians to the Martin Luther King’s Civil Right Movement in the 1960s, or the past apartheid regime of South Africa. This makes the struggle of Palestinians more relatable to the average American.

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