Over 60 years ago, Israel was created as a refuge for a persecuted people yearning for reunification with Zion after two thousand years. This state allowed Jews who were disjointed by national boundaries to finally realize that the unifying principles of freedom and equality could empower them to thrive against seemingly insurmountable odds. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Israel was founded on the same enduring democratic principles as its greatest ally, the United States. As a matter of fact, Freedom House — an independent watchdog organization that examines the state of freedom in all nations — gave Israel its highest and second-highest respective marks in the categories of political rights and civil liberties. In an incredibly volatile region marked by unpredictable and hostile authoritative regimes, Israel stands as the one crucial American ally in the Middle East prepared to uphold the mutually fundamental values of democracy and make rational, carefully calculated decisions in the foreign policy realm.
Not only does Israel serve as a reliable asset by making measurable decisions in an otherwise unstable region, it provides the United States with vast economic, technological and security-oriented benefits. The United States is Israel’s largest state trading partner and the nations conduct billions of dollars worth of business each year. The U.S. imports many high-tech products developed exclusively in Israel that are applicable to a variety of American economic sectors. Last year, Israel and the United States verified over $28 billion in trade transactions.
Some argue that moral obligation and trade relations don’t sufficiently justify a relationship with Israel, a country that has strained diplomatic ties with Arab neighbors the U.S. seeks to befriend. These detractors, however, fail to realize the depth of cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. This interaction’s strength and comprehensiveness vastly outweighs the unfounded perceptions of certain states.
In addition to sharing essential values and trading goods with the United States, Israel provides extensive knowledge regarding unconventional warfare with Islamic extremists and homeland security operations to its American counterparts. Intelligence exchanges between the two countries are essential, especially to American personnel waging two similar wars in foreign countries marked by unfamiliar geography, culture and political structure. Furthermore Israel provides the U.S. with operational guidance about security measures, ensuring that the American government is able to simultaneously maintain an open, democratic society while protecting its citizens from domestic threats.
Though the content of such high-level security meetings are kept private, U.S. officials don’t hesitate to emphasize their crucial importance. Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs and former senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referenced these talks in July when he stated, “our regular and well-established meetings have recently been supplemented by an unprecedented number of intimate consultations at senior levels of our governments […which] provide an opportunity for our governments to share perspectives on policies, address mutual concerns, explain threat perceptions, and identify new areas for cooperation.”
Arguably the most important aspect of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is the strong connection shared by citizens of both nations for lasting peace in the region. The American people have applauded Israel’s attempts to indicate a serious desire for peace, whether they are offering over 90 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Arafat for a future Palestinian state in 2000 or executing a unilateral withdrawal of troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 to encourage Palestinian independence and development.
More than an alliance based on shared values, trade and a desire for peace, relationship between the U.S. and Israel is, at its foundation, a bond that aims to extend human advancement. By supporting innovation and growth in secure and free societies, the United States and Israel serve as models to all others, embodying the comprehensive success associated with democratic cooperation. The current peace talks show this vital relationship remains strong: while the U.S. helps Israel address its unique security concerns, Israel continues to reach out to the United States and the Palestinians as essential partners in a quest for peace sorely needed by all.
This viewpoint was written by Max Friedman on behalf of the American Movement for Israel.