March 26, 2006
Israel the Good Underdog
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt have released a paper titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” They attempt to explain how Israeli lobbies are guiding the policy of the United States in the Middle East region. In following articles I will attempt to dispute the conclusions of these gentlemen but for now I will try to explain why the United States is a staunch supporter of Israel.
There are two ideas that America, even now, will support; the ideally good and the underdog. Israel falls into both of these categories. Israel is the lone democracy in a sea of despots and oppression. Despite continuous harassment they have been able to build a successful society in a sea of despair. For the last 58 years Israel has done its best to establish and maintain this democracy. Living in an area smaller than the state of New Jersey they have been able to stave off attacks from the enemies that surround them. In fact, they are a constant reminder to the surrounding nations of their own failures. Despite living in a terrain that is not conducive to crop growth they have been able, with the exception of grain, to be self sustainable. With a labor force of less than 2.5 million they have a GDP of $123 billion. Because of their lack of resources they have learned to excel in the services sector of business.
Being a relative sliver of land they have been able to defend themselves physically and ideologically from their surrounding enemies. They have stood up against nations that have superior resources and finances. The only true ally that they have has is the United States. In the last five years the US has given Israel an average of $3.28 billion in military aid. This makes up a third of their total defense expenditures. Without this aid Israel would have an extremely hard time defending themselves. Because America loves an underdog they have supported the idea of supporting Israel. We were an underdog 230 years ago and we overcame the odds. Our way of life was considered to be a short lived experiment; we have proven that idea wrong. Sporting events, especially championships, usually leads Americans to celebrate the overachiever in the Cinderella role. Israel is that Cinderella.
Israel is fighting for its existence in a way that the United States didn’t have to. Every day they face homicide bombers and enemies on the brink. They have had to watch as diplomats made excuses for the actions of those who wish to destroy Israel. They have watched murderous thugs receive peace prizes and awards from the world body. Despite this, they continue to fight for their right to exist. Had their neighbors accepted the partition in 1948 none of what they face today would be occurring. Things may have turned out better. Of course this is a hypothetical and will never be known. Meanwhile America will stand by Israel as long as they are the ideal good. The underdog role may fade but the true supporters within the United States will not.