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US support for Israel: what do you think?

By Peter Bowden - posted Thursday, 16 May 2024

The Biden administration has told key lawmakers it is sending a new package of more than $1 billion in arms and ammunition to Israel, two congressional aides said Tuesday,14 May 2024.

Why is Joe Biden continuing to support Israel? Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, a world affairs columnist has a pro Biden point of view. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. She says:

Biden learned Jewish history at his father's foot. He has talked about growing up hearing his father at the dinner table remark on "how the world stood silently in the 1930s in the face of Hitler," whose rise led to the murder of 6 million Jews and to a worldwide conflagration. Biden has travelled to the Dachau death camp many times, most recently taking his granddaughter with him and walking into the gas chamber where the Nazis poisoned countless Jews to death.


She added that the North Star of his presidency is a sense that the world is at a turning point – a potentially catastrophic one – in which dangerous powers are threatening to undo the international norms crafted over the decades since World War II, norms that allowed the world to make progress in preserving peace and advancing democracy.

Biden made that point at the end of a press conference with the visiting president of Chile. "There comes a time," he said, "maybe every six to eight generations, where the world changes in a very short time." That is happening now, he said. "What happens in the next two, three years (is) going to determine what the world looks like for the next five or six decades."

He was referring, as he has on other occasions, to multiple dramas at play at home and abroad, from the possibility of another Trump presidency, to the war in Ukraine, to the current war and potential for even more violence in the Middle East, to the simmering tension between China and its neighbours.

But there is an alternate view – the power of the Jewish lobby in the US – the influence of Jews in politics and the political process and includes organized groups such as the American Jewish Committee, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, B'nai B'rith, and the Anti-Defamation League. Congressional votes on issues relating to Israel are famously lopsided. The Senate resolution supporting Israel's recent offensives in Gaza passed unanimously, as many "pro-Israel" bills and resolutions are.

The simplest explanation for these lopsided votes is that supporting Israel is popular among voters. "The single factor most driving the US-Israel relationship appears to be the broad and deep support for Israel among the American public", the overall thrust of US policy in the region is due almost entirely to US domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the "Israel Lobby." Backing Israel has not been cheap, and it has complicated America's relations with the Arab world. For example, the US decision to give Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an OPEC oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies.

The question at issue is for each of us to decide. Has the US gone too far in supplying weapons to Israel? Weapons that have resulted in the killings of so many Gazan civilians. António Guterres has said that he condemned the civilian loss of life, A May 7 Health Ministry report gave an overall toll of 34,844. The numbers "do not necessarily reflect all victims due to the fact that many victims are still missing under the rubble", the Palestinian Health Ministry says. In May it estimated that some 10,000 bodies were uncounted in this way.


The U.N. human rights office and the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health have also said during the conflict that the true figures are likely higher than those published.

Israel's liberal use of very large weapons in dense urban areas, including US-made 2,000-pound bombs that can flatten an apartment tower, is surprising, some experts say.

"It's beyond anything that I've seen in my career," said Marc Garlasco, a military adviser for the Dutch organization PAX and a former senior intelligence analyst at

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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