'Usrael' Beyond The Israel Lobby: Making Sense Of Washington's Tight Embrace Of Its Belligerent Ally

"The comprehensive shield and empathy extended by the United States have provided Israel with the latitude to pursue its expansionist agenda with impunity"

'Usrael' Beyond The Israel Lobby: Making Sense Of Washington's Tight Embrace Of Its Belligerent Ally

The United States' approach to its Israel policy egregiously contradicts its professed dedication to a value-based foreign policy agenda. Despite enduring international opprobrium and the lamentable toll of approximately 30,000 civilian lives predominantly women and children in Gaza, the US has predominantly espoused a stance of passivity, abstaining from harmonising its actions with the prevailing global sentiment.

Over the past 75 years, substantial US military aid and financial bolstering have served as linchpins in fortifying Israel's national fortitude. Through unwavering political backing, conspicuously manifested in assertive advocacy at the UN, the United States has shielded Israel from accountability for its actions, potentially perpetuating future transgressions while cementing enduring American support.

Should the United States not be deemed complicit in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza as a consequence?

Misattributing Washington's indefatigable backing solely to the sway of the Israel lobby – epitomised by entities like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – oversimplifies the nuances of the situation. Israel has woven itself deeply into America's political tapestry, exerting an omnipresent and deeply ingrained influence. While the US indeed seeks a steadfast ally to safeguard its strategic and economic interests in the Middle East, the enduring alliance has been fortified by influential proponents of Israel spanning diverse sectors, including think tanks, media and finance. These individuals have magnified Israel's perceived worth as an ally and accentuated its vulnerabilities in the region, advocating for a policy of sustained US support while cautioning against exerting pressure on Israel.

Both the executive branch and Congress find themselves deeply entrenched in substantive allegiance to Israel, transcending mere influence to become integral bastions of support. This allegiance permeates Congress, where public opinion, notably influenced by Israeli sympathisers aligning with the Christian Right, exerts considerable sway. The allure of campaign funding orchestrated by AIPAC has further swayed American lawmakers. The fusion of policy and politics has resulted in an amplification of US support for Israel while concurrently diminishing Washington's leverage. Israel's unswerving confidence in this steadfast backing has, consequently, fostered an atmosphere of unyielding determination.

The comprehensive shield and empathy extended by the United States have provided Israel with the latitude to pursue its expansionist agenda with impunity, often at the expense of Palestinian rights. This phenomenon, as succinctly articulated by esteemed Harvard Professor Stephen Walt in his article "America is a Root Cause of Israel and Palestine's Latest War" in Foreign Policy, underscores the absence of substantive political and legal repercussions for Israel's actions.

The recent conflagration in Gaza has failed to elicit any discernible shifts in the United States stance. Joe Biden, often lauded as one of the most pro-Israel presidents in history, evinces little to no empathy for the plight of the Palestinians. His approach primarily revolves around ameliorating humanitarian crises; however, even in this sphere, a conspicuous absence of substantive pressure on Israel is evident. Biden finds himself ensnared in a tumultuous re-election campaign, grappling with pressing issues such as immigration, economic turmoil, and mounting critiques regarding his management of foreign policy challenges, all against a backdrop of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

In this tempestuous milieu, Biden proceeds with trepidation, keenly cognizant of the peril of alienating a significant faction of voters by even intimating and exerting pressure on Israel. Meanwhile, Netanyahu remains resolute and unyielding in his defiance against compulsion. He shrewdly gambles on the premise that acquiescence to such demands might imperil Biden's favour among the Muslim electorate in pivotal swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and many more, potentially facilitating Trump's triumphant return to power. Against a backdrop of escalating tensions and the looming spectre of electoral upheaval, Netanyahu contemplates prolonging the conflict until the precipice of the elections, casting a profound pall over the political landscape with each fleeting moment.

In grappling with the intricacies of whether to exert pressure on Israel, Biden is contemplating the possibility of soliciting aid from Saudi Arabia. This strategy involves leveraging the prospect of normalisation with Israel as a catalyst to garner Netanyahu's backing for a two-state solution. Nonetheless, the feasibility of Saudi cooperation remains tenuous in the absence of a clear and irreversible framework for establishing a Palestinian state. Furthermore, Netanyahu has exhibited a scant interest in participating in normalisation endeavours. Instead, he has cynically exploited the tragic events of October 7 to fortify Israel's existing rationales for denying Palestinian rights and vigorously advancing expansionist agendas. These actions flagrantly flout the fundamentals of International Humanitarian Law, perpetuating persistent hurdles in the pursuit of peace and justice in the region.

Endeavours embarked upon by progressive Democrats in Congress to impose stipulations on financial aid to Israel via the Foreign Affairs Act are poised to encounter formidable hurdles. Even in the event of their successful imposition, it is imperative to underscore that the President retains prerogative powers to waive such conditions if deemed exigent. The most efficacious recourse would entail unilateral actions by the United States. However, the feasibility of such a scenario is markedly diminished, particularly given the intricate dynamics of an election year.

The United States remains oblivious to the profound impact it could have wielded in the region and the wider Muslim world had it not cemented such a tight alliance with Israeli expansionist pursuits. At present, Washington's capacity to mould and sway events in the region is gradually being undermined by an array of factors, encompassing escalating competition from China, looming threats emanating from Iran, burgeoning rivalry with India, and formidable impediments posed by Saudi Arabia. Consequently, the United States finds itself increasingly marginalised and isolated on multifarious fronts.

Both the United States and Israel find themselves deeply entrenched in policies that not only lack ethical integrity but also diverge from their respective national interests. The destiny of the Palestinian people hinges crucially on a paradigmatic shift in policies within both nations. Such a transformation would herald a new epoch for both. Within the United States, policies must realign with the moral precepts that the nation has professed yet frequently failed to uphold. In Israel, as underscored by Aluf Benn, the Editor-in-Chief of Haaretz, in a recent Foreign Affairs article, "Israelis cannot expect stability if they persist in overlooking the Palestinians and rebuffing their aspirations, their narrative, and even their presence."

The author is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Law at the University of London. He writes extensively on Public International Law, Governance, Domestic and International Socio-economic, Political and Legal Affairs.