How did American “unconditional support” for Israel come about? , Young Africa

How did American “unconditional support” for Israel come about?

Washington's support for the Jewish state has never wavered. And this, until today: have we not seen, a week after the start of hostilities launched on October 7 by Hamas, a second American aircraft carrier, the USS Dwight Eisenhower, arriving lend a hand to a first aircraft carrier of the 6th Fleet already there? A naval device clearly aimed at creating a defensive-offensive shield around Israel and warning any potential aggressor, from Hezbollah to the Iranian mullahs.

When did this unwavering support begin?

Long before 1948 and the birth of Israell, England, the mandatory power, sought to involve the UN in the settlement of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. Until obtaining a partition plan into two states adopted by the General Assembly. “From the start, underlines the historian Andre Chouraqui, the United States and the USSR expressed their agreement on the adoption of the partition plan with economic union. This exceptional convergence in the history of the UN was to attract the support of the hesitant. » The two superpowers then supported the creation of a Jewish state.

De facto recognition

Washington's support for Israel was evident on the night of May 14 to 15, 1948. The anecdote has it that American President Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state ten minutes after Ben-Gurion's declaration announcing its creation. Historians and political scientists have wondered at length about the reasons for this gesture. They identified three. The first is historical, even biblical. American Protestant fundamentalists, from evangelicals to Mormons to Quakers, display a particular connection to the Zionist cause. Alone the reconstruction of a Jewish state in Palestine, they believe, will allow the return of Christ to earth, hence the attachment to Israel.

This religiosity crosses the political field from one side to the other, and Harry Truman, believer and practitioner, is no exception. In a tie in the presidential election against Republican Dewey, Truman hunts for votes: those of Jews and Protestants are welcome. Third reason, and not the least, the international context. We are at the dawn of the Cold War and Truman has just put forward his theory of containment aimed at containing Soviet expansion around the world.

Relations between Washington and Tel Aviv will vary according to the successive presidents in the White House and the international situation, but will remain under the sign of la solidarity. Despite Truman's recognition, Washington did not deliver weapons to the Jewish State before the 60s. The explanation is certainly to be found in the Quincy Pact, signed on February 14, 1945 between President Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. The agreement boils down to free access for Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company) to Saudi oil in exchange for American military protection of the young Arab kingdom.

It was with the advent of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1960 that the situation changed completely. The young president authorizes the sale of weapons (Hawk missiles, in particular) to Tel Aviv, and assures it of his assistance in the event of an invasion. The year 1967 – and the Six-Day War – was the definitive tipping point. Israel stands as the only regional power able to defend the interests of the West in the Middle East. From then on, it will serve as a bridgehead for American interventionism.

Early honeymoon with Moscow

Another major player in the game: the USSR. Its pro-Arab – and particularly pro-Syrian – policy since the start of the Cold War obscures the fact that Moscow was also actively committed to the Jewish state, from 1947 to 1951. A brief interlude but one which deserves to be evoked. Like the United States, the USSR is in favor of the creation of a Hebrew state alongside a Palestinian state. Moscow also recognizes Israel three days after its creation.

Unlike the Americans, the Kremlin does not skimp on arms deliveries (rifles, mortars, etc.) through third countries such as Czechoslovakia. Several German-made combat planes, Messerschmitts, were also delivered to him. This shows Stalin's strong support in Tel Aviv against the Arabs.

The Israeli-Soviet honeymoon lasted only briefly for two reasons. The first is an immigration issue. Golda Meir, future Prime Minister of Israel and first ambassador of the young nation to the Soviet Union, raises the angry question: that of the departure of Soviet Jews. Inaudible to Moscow. Second explanation: Ben-Gurion’s geostrategic choices. In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, the first Israeli head of state opted for the West to the detriment of the East. It offers Washington a military infrastructure. Stalin's wrath and end of Israeli-Russian goodwill. Israel's diplomatic positioning, in the bipolar context of the Cold War, puts a stone in the geopolitical shoe of the USSR. Hence Moscow's strategic turn towards Syria.

Egyptians and Syrians will be armed by the Soviets during the Yom Kippur War. Even today, Syria continues to be equipped and supported more or less discreetly by Russia. Another, more recent, subject of contention: strong suspicions of Russian assistance in Iran's nuclearization efforts. Here again Tel Aviv sees red and does not hesitate to point it out to Vladimir Putin.

Israel, an asset of the West in the East

From then on, the reciprocal commitment between the Jewish State and America will no longer be denied. In 1958, Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Dayan proposed to American President Eisenhower a plan bringing together Israel, la Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia in an alliance to counterbalance Moscow's influence in the region. Still in this bipolar dialectic, Israel achieved a masterstroke by managing, in 1969, to dismantle and steal an entire Egyptian Soviet P-12 radar device to transmit it to the Americans.

In return, American military, financial and economic assistance to the State of Israel will never be denied. We again saw, during a speech on October 20, 2023 in prime time, the current tenant of the White House plead for an additional $10 billion in aid to the Jewish state. If the timing and the form also aim to demonstrate American hyperpower, in reality the announcement is not very particular. America's financial commitment data of the beginnings of the Cold War, and each year Tel Aviv receives more than a billion dollars from ESF (Economic Support Fund) and 1,8 billion from FMF (Foreign Military Financing).

The year 1979 further strengthened Israel's position on the geostrategic spectrum of the United States. Two reasons for this. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Red Army and the coming to power in Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, accompanied by the long hostage-taking of the staff of the American embassy in Tehran: all this brutally redraws the map geopolitics of the Middle East. Israel is more than ever a reliable support whose geographical position is a major asset. The height of the American-Israeli alliance certainly took place in the 1980s with the Reagan administration, as the Cold War entered its home stretch.

La end of the decade coincides with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Of the two superpowers reigning over the destiny of the planet since 1945, only one will emerge, the United States. It is in this context that they manage to force Israel's hand and obtain peace talks with the Palestinians. Without denying its commitment to guaranteeing the complete security of the Jewish State. This is evidenced by the deployment, in 2010, of the Iron Dome, this system for intercepting rockets and other shells from Hamas or Hezbollah launched at Israel. Or, in the diplomatic field, the incredible initiative taken by Donald Trump, when he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. A step that no American president before him would have dared to take, and which today leaves the Biden administration deeply embarrassed.

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