A Strong US-Israel Relationship is Good for the United States
The relationship between the United States and Israel has existed even before the state was founded in 1948 with presidents such as Abraham Lincoln discussing the importance of creating the Jewish state. Today, this relationship is built upon common values of democracy, human rights, and freedom. As the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and one of the strongest allies of the United States, the relationship between the United States and Israel is very beneficial for both countries. While the diplomatic relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is tense, the benefits of this relationship are extremely important for the success of the two countries. The military and intelligence cooperation, technological advancements, and promotion of US interests in the Middle East make the US-Israel Relationship one of the most important relationships that the United States cultivates today.
The military and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel provides over $2 billion to the US economy and strengthens our national security. Since 2007, Israel has received $3.2 billion dollars per year in foreign aid as part of a 10-year commitment from former President Bush. Most of this money is allocated for military assistance and over 75% of that money comes back into the United States. Israel uses foreign aid money to purchase advanced weapons from the United States such as the new F-35 fighter jet from Lockheed Martin. This money is also used to fund the development of Israeli weapons systems such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow, missile defense systems that intercept short-range, mid-range, and long-range missiles respectively in order to protect Israeli civilians. The money that returns to the United States through arms purchases and development projects helps to stimulate the economy and also provides new military technology to the United States. In addition to military cooperation, the intelligence cooperation between Israel and the United States strengthens our national security.
Intelligence cooperation between Israel and the United States has existed for decades. One of the most significant examples of this cooperation occurred in 1966. At the height of the Cold War, Israel directed an operation that led an Iraqi fighter pilot to defect and fly his Soviet MiG, the most advanced Soviet aircraft at the time, to Israel. This allowed the United States to study the aircraft and build a strategy to defeat it. Additionally, Amir Oren, Senior Correspondent for Haaretz, wrote an article that outlines the current cooperation between the US and Israel. He discusses the great amount of cooperation between the American National Security Agency and the Israeli SIGINT unit that have compiled large amounts of information on threats to both American and Israeli interests. This cooperation provides information to the United States on security concerns in Egypt, Iran, the Palestinian territories, and other areas of strategic interest. This strengthens our national security and helps protect our interests and allies in the region. However, this relationship extends beyond the military.
The technology sharing between the United States and Israel also contributes to the US economy and provides goods that improve the lives of people in the United States and around the world. Israel has become a technology capital of the world second only to Silicon Valley. Technology that runs cell phones, instant messaging, computers, eBay fraud prevention, and many more were all first developed in Israel. Large technology companies such as Google, IBM, and Apple have built research and development facilities in Israel and there is a large exchange of people and information between Israel and Silicon Valley. Products and applications such as Sodastream and Waze were developed in Israel as well. These products advance our technological abilities, help create new products for consumers, and add to the US economy.
Additionally, Israeli advances in medicine, agriculture, and water conservation have benefited people all over the world. Israeli doctors designed the Pillcam, a non-invasive medical device that allows doctors to see inside a patient’s GI tract to better diagnose disease. They also designed medical bandages that instantly clot blood and a method to predict the probability of a heart attack or stroke 5-10 years in advance. To improve agriculture around the world, Israel invented drip irrigation, which has allowed farmers to lower their water use by drastic margins. Israelis have also found a way to increase the efficiency of desalinization at a lower cost, recycle over 70% of their water, and monitor water networks to detect leaks faster. These technologies have improved the lives of millions of people and are currently used all around the world and none of this could be possible without the economic interactions between the United States and Israel.
A strong US-Israel relationship promotes the interests of the United States in the Middle East and the Peace Process. History has shown that Israel is most willing to make peace with its neighbors when the US-Israel relationship is strong and Israel feels secure. The peace deal with Egypt in 1979, the peace agreement with Jordan in 1994, and the Oslo Accords I and II in 1993 and 1995 were largely made possible due to the strength of this relationship. President Clinton also recognized the role that a strong US-Israel relationship plays in peacemaking when he spoke about the Oslo Accords in the mid 1990’s, saying, “Now that you are taking risks for peace, our role is to help you to minimize the risks of peace. I am committed to working with our Congress to maintain the current levels of military and economic assistance.” A resolution to the Arab-Israel Conflict and the Palestine-Israel Conflict has been a policy objective of multiple presidents and success has only come at times when the US-Israel relationship is strongest.
The relationship between the United States and Israel has a long history and has expanded over time. What began as a relationship based in shared values transformed into a multi-faceted relationship that benefits the United States and the international community in many ways. The military cooperation has helped improve the US military, the sharing of ideas and technology has created countless innovations that are utilized in everyday products, and the strong relationship between the two countries has promoted American interest in the Middle East. While Israel is certainly a small country and this relationship is not perfectly equal, the benefits provided by this relationship greatly advance the economic and security interests of the United States. As one of the most consistent allies of the United States and the only democratic ally in the Middle East, the continuing strength of the US-Israel relationship is directly in line with the US national interest.