Israel and the US: Ironclad

Israel USA

The massive movement in the US and around the world against Israel’s genocide has been inspiring in its breadth and militancy. It has played an important role in exposing this atrocity to millions in the US, who see very little on American media, and the close relations between universities, Zionism and the US gov. We must give kudos to the students who are fighting the new McCarthyism at Columbia and Yale, among many others, and who have suffered arrests and suspensions. Some politicians have been pressured to at least express distaste at Israel’s brutality. However, it would be a mistake to think that there is any chance that the US will divorce from Israel or limit its military support, no matter which party is in office, even if it would prefer that Israel mitigate its behavior.  As Biden has said, if Israel didn’t exist we would have to invent it. or as other US spokespeople have said, our defense of Israel is ironclad.

I think we must take them at their word because Israel is vital to US interests. Israel was established as a Zionist outpost by Britain after WWI just as oil was coming to be the main fuel of industry and instruments of war. Lying at the crossroads of oil producing, containing and transiting countries in the Mideast, many with unexplored deposits, its control was essential to maintaining imperial interests. Having a population with European background and values was thought essential to maintaining Western influence and resource access.

After WW2, the US replaced Britain as the main upholder of Israeli power and Israel is now more important than ever as the West’s only remaining stalwart ally in the area. Iran was lost with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and is now an enemy. In return for favors like no longer being called terrorist by the US, Israel has signed treaties with the UAE, Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain. The biggest prize was to be Saudi Arabia, which has lately been waffling in its loyalties between US and China and recently signed a pact with Iran at China’s behest. Other US allies like Egypt lack the stability and military clout of Israel. Only Israel has a stable pro-western government no matter what party is in office and massive military and nuclear power. US aid was increased in the 1970s, and Israel became the highest recipient in the world since the 80s.

This region remains of paramount importance to the US empire. It is still the fount of much of the world’s petroleum, both flowing and unexplored. Yemen is thought to contain the world’s greatest unexplored oil deposits. The shipping lanes through the Red Sea and Persian gulf, that pass the narrow straits at their southern ends and through the Suez canal at the north of the Red Sea, are vital. 20% of the world’s petroleum passes through the Persian Gulf. 40% of all Asia to Europe trade passes thru the Suez Canal, including 12% of all international trade, 12% of seaborne oil, and 8% of liquefied gas 2,3 So far $200 billion worth of goods has had to be diverted away from the Canal and go around the Horn of Africa because of Houthi attacks.

In the overall picture of inter-imperialist rivalry, China is the biggest competitor of the US. China now gets 40% of its oil from the gulf and is Iran’s biggest customer, invests in Saudi energy, and has interest in building a pipeline thru Iran.3 As we all know, China is massively extending its worldwide influence through the Belt and Road initiative to boost trade, diplomatic relations and exports. Its worldwide meeting in 2023 involved 0ver 130 countries, including Egypt, and 18 other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In the last few years China has begun aiming at increasing its strategic and political influence to rival the US in Asia, Africa, the Mideast and South America, and It also has created two huge banks to rival the dollar and US investments.

China has not yet taken any aggressive positions in the current war except calling for a ceasefire. It wants to be seen as an ally of Arabs and so is not anti-Hamas and is critical of Israel. China has at least $112 billion invested in Israel and $30 billion in the Arab world and exports over $13 billion in goods to Israel, so at the moment China wants stability. China is, however, massively increasing its nuclear arsenal and naval power and maintaining a 2 million man army for the inevitable clash with the US.

As of now, Israel has already attacked Iran directly in a limited way and the US says it did not help. However, when and if Israel is attacked in response, the US will come to its defense. Meanwhile the massacre and starvation in Gaza continues and violence in the West Bank  is escalating.

What can we do who are far away? We face a continuation of the conflict in Gaza with no good end in sight. There is no possibility of two states as we consider a state to have the right and possibility to defend itself and Israel would never allow this. Nor is there enough territory left under Palestinian control to make up a contiguous state. Israel cannot bear the current situation in which Palestinians in the overall territory outnumber Jews. In Gaza the population will be decimated and maybe forced into exile or confined to a much smaller area under some form of Israel-friendly control. Or maybe massive general conflict will ensue. Without a unified class-conscious movement uniting all Palestinians and uniting them with such movements in other countries, I see no chance their lot will be improved.

So the question remains, what can we do? I would say that our duty is to weaken the power of US and European imperialism as much as we can. That does not mean relying on influencing or changing politicians but building ever wider movements on campuses and in industries and communities that strike at the heart of capitalist power and indoctrination. We must organize our fellow students and workers to fight against imperialist wars, against racism, against deficiencies in social services. That could mean professional society resolutions, bans on investments or military support by universities, fighting racism and police brutality, demanding better wages and social services – in whatever way we can unite, build leadership from below, expose the nature of capitalism and ready ourselves to lead the eventual struggle to end capitalism, with our fellow students and workers around the world. We have many ongoing and recent struggles to inspire us and a world that needs to be won.

Ellen Isaacs is a physician, anti-racist and anti-capitalist activist and co-editor of She can be reached at [email protected]




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