August 23, 2012
It is true that Israel has been America’s most reliable ally in the Middle East. Support for Israel has been entrenched in the American body politic ever since President Harry S. Truman recognized the Jewish state in May 1948.
Support for Israel is particularly deep in the American Jewish community and among a significant majority of those Americans who describe themselves as “Evangelical” Christians. Evangelicals who support Israel do so from deeply held religious convictions. First, they believe God gave the Holy Land to the Jews forever, and second, they believe God has promised to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews (Genesis 12:3). In other words, if they want God to bless America they believe America must bless Israel. 'honest broker' with sufficient trust from both sides.
Yes, most Americans will “side with” Israel in its right to exist. That does not mean blind support for everything Israel does, or wants to do. Let’s remember, the first American president to officially call for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict was George W. Bush, once described to me by an Israeli official as “the best president of the U.S. Israel has ever had.”
Also, America gives a great deal of aid to the Palestinians as well as other Arab states, not just the Israelis.
America can exert significant influence in the Middle East and may be the only “honest broker” with sufficient trust from both sides and the power to make any agreements reached enforceable.
However, the Islamists who want to erase Israel’s existence will forever find America unalterably opposed to their goal.
This column was originally published by The New York Times' Room for Debate column Aug. 23, 2012.