IF you’re not just aghast at Israel’s massacre of Palestinians, including 60 children, in Gaza City through hi-tech weapons but also puzzled at how the civilized world seems impotent to stop this horror, this is the short answer:
Israel has become the Frankenstein monster of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. It built up the tiny nation economically and militarily starting in the 1960s, viewing it as its proxy and de facto military base in an unfriendly but oil-rich Middle East, which until the 1980s or so were as close to the Soviet Union as the US was.
It is quite shameful for the US, purportedly the beacon of human rights in the world and the champion of the international rule of law, to have blocked in the past days UN Security Council resolutions, calling for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Palestinian war. It is, in fact, the only country in the 15-nation Security Council that did so with even its usual puppets, the United Kingdom and France, refusing to join it in blocking the resolutions. That is unsurprising though: the US, so far, has vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions that Israel didn’t like.
The late Republican senator Jesse Helms had a vivid imagery for Israel, calling it “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.” This “aircraft carrier” has been the biggest recipient of US aid since World War 2, receiving $3 billion annually or totaling $146 billion, from 1967 to 2004. In contrast, the US’ “aircraft carrier” in Southeast Asia — the Philippines until 2016 — has been estimated to have received just $4 billion from the US in the same period.
The respected Washington-based left-of-center Institute for Policy Studies pointed out that Israel has been the US’ surrogate in its wars against radical nationalist movements in Lebanon, Jordan as well as Syria; provided battlefield testing for American arms in its frequent wars; served as conduit for US arms to regimes and movements too unpopular in the US to be granted direct military assistance, such as apartheid in South Africa, the military junta in Guatemala and the Nicaraguan Contras.
Israeli military advisers have assisted the Contras that tried to topple the Marxist Nicaraguan government, the Salvadoran junta, and foreign occupation forces in Namibia and Western Sahara. Israel has cooperated with the US military-industrial complex with research and development for new jet fighters and anti-missile defense system and its intelligence service Mossad has assisted the US in intelligence gathering and covert operations.
Not a few analysts in fact point out that it is not a US military-industrial complex that exists but a US-Israeli military-industrial-technological complex. If you’re amazed at the popular navigation tool Waze, it was developed and owned by Israelis before they sold it to Google for $1 billion. Do you still wonder how Israelis could have obliterated the Al-Jazeera-Associated Press building totally while keeping the adjacent buildings intact?
And probably the most important value for the US is that Israel’s missiles can deliver nuclear bombs are capable of reaching Russia.
I use the term “Frankenstein” since despite US efforts — particularly that of President Kennedy in the 1960s — to stop Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel managed to build, unaided by the US, its nuclear bombs in 1967. It has been estimated to have 80 to 400 nuclear strategic and tactical warheads, deliverable by submarine-launched cruise missiles and the “Jericho” series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic. One of the smallest nations, with just a population of 8 million, is the sixth nuclear power of the world (after the US, China, Russia, India and Pakistan), its nuclear arsenal capable of devastating the planet.
Analysts more forgiving to the US in fact say that the Americans have been worried that if it abandons Israel, and its Arab enemies attack it, the Jewish state will likely respond by using its nuclear weapons — making the oil from the Middle East’ wells radioactive for hundreds of years.
But it’s not simply the financial, military and technological might of the US that has developed this tiny nation into a nuclear power.
Ironically, two values cherished in the modern world contributed much: religion and democracy. Zionism converted Judaism into nationalism and had its followers occupy a territory, Palestine, on their religious claim that their deity Yahweh himself purportedly gave the Chosen People that “Promised Land” to their ancestors and they are simply recovering it — 2,500 years later.
Strip it of the religious claptrap and forget the dozens of movies glorifying Zionism made by Jewish Hollywood producers, Israel is the most ignominious case in the modern era of the forcible occupation by foreigners — mostly Eastern European Jews — of a territory where a people, the Palestinians, had lived undisturbed for centuries.
Representing only 3 percent of that place’s population at the start of the 20th century, Jews there now make up 76 percent of Israel’s 8 million residents. About 8 million of the native Palestinians and their children had been driven out to become refugees in adjacent countries or live in Gaza City (“Strip” as Western media refers to it) and the West Bank, in the east of Israel. Jewish “settlements” in these areas are even gradually driving these remaining Palestinians out, amazingly even through orders by Israeli courts — which triggered the present bloody conflict.
The Nazi Holocaust gave a boost to the Zionist project, demonstrating that only with its own state and army could the Jews prevent another genocide. A good chunk of the US and European ruling class, especially financial, are Jewish and therefore contributed much to the formation of Israel. The fact that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was Jewish and even converted his wife Ivanka — prodding the US president’s all-out support for Israel — wasn’t really surprising to Americans.
But it hasn’t been only Jews of the world who helped set up and establish Israel. Christians in fact enthusiastically helped, both due to their religion’s deep-seated hatred for Muslims and to a sense of brotherhood with the religion from which theirs emerged. With a membership of 7 million, the US-based Christians United for Israel, among many similar associations, has been one of the biggest lobby groups continually pressuring the US government to defend Israel.
Furthermore, while Christianity, especially Catholicism, has disdained Judaism for thousands of years that it has been the source of antisemitism in the world (on the ground that the Jews had asked the Romans to kill Jesus), there has been a counter-cult to this, said to have contributed to the British government’s 1918 Balfour Declaration. That announcement committed the British who occupied Palestine to help the Jews create their state there. This cult is Christian Zionism, which emerged as early as the 16th century, and gained some popularity in Europe in the 19th century. It believed that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land was a prerequisite to the Second Coming of Christ.
This points to that other factor that has made Israel so powerful. US leaders, even those initially apathetic to Israel — such as John Kennedy, a Catholic — would later throw their support behind the Israelis, since a good chunk of the country’s economic and political elites are Jewish. American voters, mostly Christian, see the Israelis as the guardians of their Holy Land, where Jesus walked on earth, and which would be desecrated if the Muslim Palestinians were to gain control of the land.