A few days ago I discussed a document about “resurging” anti-Americanism in the Arab world, juxtaposing it with Barack Obama’s warning of a “new phase” in Middle Eastern terrorism after the Paris andSan Bernardino attacks. The memorandum, sent from the State Department to American officials throughout the Middle East on May 1st, 1950, at the very outset of the modern-day conflict in the region, spoke of a “reenkindling” of Arab “animosity” and the “sincere objections” among the people there about the U.S. role in supporting Israel ownership of Palestine land in the U.N. statehood decision.
The importance of the document is simple to discern. The U.S. has been the pivot point in tension in the Middle East since Israel became a state and Arab oil became globally vital in World War II. And that came with great consequences, and opposition. The words “resurgence” and “reenkindling” clearly indicate an escalation of an ongoing situation. So Obama’s talk of a “new phase” notwithstanding, the Americans have been the object of dissension, hatred, and sometimes aggression for well over a half-century, but, unlike American officials in May 1950, today’s politicians generally take a crude, provocative, and incendiary position in the affairs of the region, stoking “Islamophobia” and offering unreserved support of Israel.
And things aren’t likely to change. Writing an op-ed in the Jewish Journal, the presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton observed that “in this time of terrorism and turmoil, the alliance between the United States and Israel is more important than ever. To meet the many challenges we face, we have to take our relationship to the next level.” She pledged American support of “an Israel strong enough to deter its enemies and strong enough to take steps in the pursuit of peace.” Taking up one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s main causes—crushing the “existential threat” of Iran—Clinton warned that Tehran leaders “need to understand that America will act decisively if Iran violates the nuclear agreement, including taking military action if necessary.”
Clinton’s promise to take the Israeli-American relationship to the next level can only create more instability in the region. (Indeed, one wonders what that “next level”would be–the Israeli embassy moving in with the State Department?) The U.S. role in backing up Israel is already massive. A Congressional Research Service paper from June 2015 explained that
“Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date,the United States has provided Israel $124.3 billion current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries; for example, Israel can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers. In addition, U.S. assistance earmarked for Israel is generally delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year, while most other recipients normally receive aid in installments, and Israel (as is also the case with Egypt) is permitted to use cash flow financing for its U.S. arms purchases. In addition to receiving U.S. State Department-administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriations bills for rocket and missile defense programs. Israel pursues some of thoseprograms jointly with the United States.”
The U.S. is currently sending Tel Aviv $3.15 billion annually, or about $11 million per day. In addition to that, America provides political support and cover, preventing action against Israel inthe U.N. with 42 vetoes between 1972 and 2011.
So, with her promise to offer essentially blank-check support to Israel and use heated rhetoric against Iran, Clinton offers more of the same in the region: instability, militarization, and war. Aid to Israel isn’t a pathway to peace, but a guarantee that anti-Americanism in the Arab world will continue to resurge and reenkindle, just like American diplomats understood and predicted 65 years ago.