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   Responses to Common Inaccuracies About Israel
U.S.-Israel Relations   

The only reason the United States supports Israel is because of the powerful Jewish lobby.

The U.S. relationship with Israel threatens our national interests as it alienates important Arab allies the U.S. needs for access to oil and for support against Middle East-based extremists such as Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Islamic terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network target the United States because of its relationship with Israel and its favoring of Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians. If the U.S. ended its close relations with Israel, these terrorists would no longer have a reason to attack the U.S.

The United States gives Israel too much foreign aid making it difficult to meet critical needs at home.

U.S. foreign policy on Israel involves many complex issues, actors and considerations and cannot be simply ascribed to a “powerful Jewish lobby.”

The United States is a longstanding strong ally of Israel based on shared democratic values and strategic interests including the rejection of terrorism and violence. The United States has a great interest in the stability of the Middle East, a region that is afflicted by extremists who violently oppose the U.S., Israel and democracy, by rogue states with large military arsenals which include non-conventional weaponry, and other authoritarian regimes. Bolstering and supporting peace, stability and democracy in the region through relations with Israel is in America’s strategic interest.

Indeed, public opinion polls taken over decades have consistently demonstrated that Americans of all backgrounds support strong U.S.-Israeli relations and view Israel as a key ally of the United States.

As citizens of the United States, American Jewish advocacy is an appropriate exercise of American democracy and reflective of the Jewish community’s commitment to American democratic ideals. The American Jewish community’s active engagement in the political process is mirrored in the activism of other minority constituencies, such as Chinese Americans, Arab Americans, Irish Americans, Indian Americans and others.

Indeed, there is no shortage of voices who are critical of U.S. policy towards Israel. There are strong lobbyists for Arabs and Palestinian interests, there is lively debate on U.S. policy daily on op-ed pages, radio and television talk shows, and by speakers on college campuses, where the viewpoint is at times harshly critical of Israel and of U.S. policy. Even within the Jewish community there is a diversity of opinion on U.S. policy towards Israel.

The exaggeration of the power of the “Jewish lobby,” the disregard for the consistently broad-based American public support for Israel, the omission of the very many interests that the U.S. has in a strong and safe Israel, and the overriding theme that policymakers are controlled by this so-called “lobby,” adds up to an effort to delegitimize pro-Israel activists and has elements of classical anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

U.S.-Israel relations do not jeopardize relations with others in the region. The U.S. enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with its Arab allies, who have overriding national interests in maintaining their close relations with the U.S. They are an important source of oil for Americans, while the U.S. provides them with crucial military and political support.

For U.S. allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, internal pressures dictate how much those nations can show support for any U.S.-led coalition against extremists – regardless of Israeli policies or involvement. Because of internal threats from Islamic extremists in their own populace, these nations generally do not provide too much public assistance – for example, using their countries as takeoff points for U.S. military actions – lest they antagonize these anti-American extremists. At the same time, given the threat Islamic extremist terrorist organizations pose to both the Egyptian and Saudi regimes, they are supportive of the U.S. effort against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

America’s Arab and Muslim allies recognize that support for U.S. efforts against Middle East-based extremists is in their interest. U.S. policies towards Israel, and Israel’s policies and actions have little bearing on these overriding interests.

The hatred of the United States and the West by Islamic extremist terrorists such as Osama bin Laden has little to do with U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, their key “grievances” against the U.S. and the West would remain even were there no Israeli-Palestinian conflict or were the U.S. to sever its ties with Israel.

These extremists are ideologically opposed to everything the U.S. and the West stand for: democracy, modernism, freedom, globalism and diversity. In Al Qaeda’s public pronouncements the U.S. is blamed for its presence on Muslim soil (the war in Iraq, stationing U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), and for its support of “moderate Arab regimes” such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and others that they consider corrupt and anti-Muslim. Bin Laden and his supporters recognize that the U.S. and its allies in the region (including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) stand in the way of his ultimate goal: the establishment of a theocratic, unified Muslim state spanning the region.

Until the U.S. launched military action against Al Qaeda in response to the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden said hardly a word about the Palestinians or Israel. His periodic championing of the Palestinian cause is clearly calculated to woo support from the “Arab street.”

Foreign aid, which represents less than one percent of the federal budget, is a crucial tool in promoting American interests around the world. Foreign affairs spending in general is vital to advance our country’s security, economic and humanitarian interests and preserve America’s leadership worldwide. It is a tool for spreading liberty and democracy. That is why such a broad array of faith, business and humanitarian organizations continue to advocate for a strong foreign affairs budget. Foreign aid also creates jobs in the United States. Indeed, by law, nearly all U.S. assistance must be spent on American-produced goods.

Aid to Israel promotes stability and democracy in the Middle East. The United States has an ongoing strategic interest in supporting Israel – a stalwart democratic ally with whom it shares many core values, including a commitment to democracy and a rejection of extremism and terrorism in a vital region of the world. Moreover, history has shown that American aid, particularly military assistance, which keeps Israel strong, is the primary ingredient in bringing Israel’s neighbors to the peace table.

In recent years, aid to Israel has decreased and its proportion of the overall foreign aid budget has been cut in half. Israel is in the final stages of phasing out economic assistance from the United States, maintaining only military assistance to promote its security.

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