On March 20, President Barack Obama visited Israel for the first time since his presidency began. This visit occurred in order for President Obama to repair the damage done to his administration’s “Israel friendly” image. He accomplished this by reaffirming the relationship between Israel and the United States and addressing the security threats that Iran and the general instability in the region pose to Israel.
On this visit, President Obama affirmed “America’s commitment to the state of Israel,” announced that, “Israel will receive approximately $200 million this fiscal year” and claimed that “the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”
In my book, Obama was one for three: I do not support “America’s commitment to the state of Israel” nor do I support providing Israel with foreign aid; I do, however, support a two-state solution.
My first concern regards Israel’s human rights violations. According to Amnesty USA, “for decades, the Israeli authorities have held Palestinians without charge or trial under renewable detention orders, denying them any semblance of justice.”
A U.N. Human Rights Council report found that during conflicts in Gaza, Palestinian children were being used as human shields and “civilian targets, particularly homes and their occupants, appear to have taken the brunt of the attacks, but schools and medical facilities have also been hit.”
My second concern is that Israel is guilty of violating U.N. resolutions and sanctions. In 1979, during apartheid in South Africa, weapons shipments to South Africa accounted for 35 percent of Israel’s weapons exports. Israel provided South Africa with “training and weapons systems that helped the South African military suppress internal revolts against apartheid.”
The provision of weapons and military assistance to South Africa was the subject of U.N. Resolution 181. The resolution “[called] upon all states to cease the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition and military vehicles to South Africa.” The sanctions became mandatory on November 4, 1977, so Israel clearly violated the mandatory sanctions, but was never held accountable for its actions.
Furthermore, according to international law Israel is an apartheid state. The treatment to which the Israelis subject the Palestinians is analogous to the treatment of non-white persons in South Africa during apartheid. Palestinians are subjected to military checkpoints, discriminatory marriage laws, separate roads, economic isolation and “inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources.”
A two-state solution would provide the Palestinian people with their own state, end the “Jewish-only settlements, separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens, military checkpoints, discriminatory marriage law, the West Bank barrier, use of Palestinians as cheap labour, Palestinian West Bank enclaves, inequities in infrastructure, legal rights and access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli residents in the Israeli-occupied territories […]” and therefore provide Palestine with the means of self-determination.
Given Israel’s violation of human rights and U.N. resolutions and sanctions, one has to wonder why the United States continues to ally itself with the state of Israel. I have found that the popular narrative is that Palestine is a “terrorist” state, Israel faces existential threats and the Israeli-American alliance is geopolitically strategic.
I disagree that Palestine is a “terrorist” state. Given Israel’s human rights violations and occupation of Palestinian land (Israel has no right to land beyond its pre-1967 borders), I argue that the Palestinians largely act in self-defense.
Admittedly, Iran has stated that it intends to annihilate Israel with the nuclear weapons that it is attempting to acquire. However, warring with any country purely based upon rhetoric and the acquisition of weapons is not good policy, nor does it correspond with international law. As it stands, Iran currently does not pose an imminent threat to Israel’s existence.
The only truth that I see in the argument for America’s support for Israel is that the American-Israeli alliance is geopolitically strategic. Israel’s location enables it to “move forces from front to front rapidly, allowing for sequential engagement” of enemies.
All this considered, Israel should be left to its own devices. The United States should no longer intervene in Palestinian and Israeli conflicts unless that means pursuing or facilitating a two-state solution.
—Jeremy Markel is a junior from Dunwoody majoring in communication studies