Briefing: Strains in US 'special relationship' with Israel
The 'special relationship' the US and Israel have long enjoyed is being tested again today as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses AIPAC, the most powerful Israel lobby in Washington.
Tel Aviv, Israel; and Boston
Amid unusually high tensions between the US and its closest ally, Israel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today addresses AIPAC – the strongest Israel lobby in Washington. At issue is just how far the US should push Israel to make difficult choices in the name of peace.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
After Israel recently announced plans for 1,600 new homes to be built in East Jerusalem, Palestinians got cold feet on renewed peace talks. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington today, the Monitor offers a snapshot of a unique friendship.
What are the friendship’s roots?
Long before the 1948 rebirth of Israel, Puritans had lobbied the Dutch government to “transport Izraell’s sons and daughters ... to the Land promised their forefathers.”
From Civil War officers who helped Egypt establish a modern army that later preserved its independence to missionaries who sought to free Muslims from a religion they saw as crushing “all independence of thought and action,” Americans long sought to bring to the region the ideals that today many see Israel as upholding.
What does Israel get out of it?
The most tangible benefits are guns and money. Annual US aid averages around $3 billion, most of which goes to weapons such as US fighter jets and components for Israeli tanks. The US also provides an annual subsidy for Israel’s defense industry, a benefit given to no other country. All this helps preserve Israel’s military advantage in the region.
“If the US were to limit the delivery of weapons, it would have a severe effect on the Israeli military capability,” says Gerald Steinberg, political science professor at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.
In addition, the US funds joint development of defense systems such as the Arrow II Missile interceptor. While Israel’s military is formidable in its own right, US support adds an extra deterrent to would-be attackers such as Iran.