The United States-Israel relationship has not been what most think it has been. It has been strong since the inception of the State of Israel. On the other hand, often people overestimate how dependent the State of Israel has always been on the United States.
1948 – Declaration of Independence
When David Ben-Gurion announced the State of Israel in May 1948, Israel was already in the middle of the initial stages of it’s War of Independence. It was clear to everyone, that if Ben-Gurion declared the State, 5 Arab armies would invade it immediately. The State Department, under the strong leadership of former General Marshall was squarely against recognizing the nascent State of Israel. But, President Truman listened to other advisers and both recognized and supported the State of Israel. Israel did not receive weaponry from the US, but it still withstood all of the Armies and survived the onslaught.
This was not a small matter. It was part of a significant shift that the State of Israel leadership made from a socialist to a Western-oriented democracy. President Truman’s decision was critical to this process.
Nineteen years of Moral Support
From 1948 till 1967, Israel developed enormously from a poor and struggling small country to a more modernized country. It was in no way a technologically advanced country, but it’s Army had become a real force to deal with. The weapons were purchased from European countries and were generally leftover surplus from World War II. By 1967, most of Israel’s weapons came from France. The United States expressed support, but it was mainly just moral support.
Six Day War and Onwards
The United-States Israel relationship took a major shift in 1967. The Soviet Union had made a strategic decision to spread it’s influence into the Middle East via the Arab countries around Israel. This was perhaps the main reason that the United States decided to agree to support the State of Israel through a serious arms deal. 6 Years later in the Yom Kippur War, President Nixon came through in a big way when Israel found itself in a rough spot. The US sent over a significant amount of weapons at a critical juncture. That allowed Israel to counterattack with confidence that they would have their weapons replenished if things did not go smoothly.
Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton
In the late 1970’s Jimmy Carter, never a friend of the State of Israel, helped broker a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. This was a historic agreement. It may not have led to a perfect peace, but at least, Israel has not had any wars against Egypt since then.
Ronald Reagan was generally a friend to the State of Israel while President George H. Bush was more hostile. But, generally speaking, the US – Israel relationship held strong. Throughout the years of the Clinton presidency, Israel did not have any major conflagrations, and the two countries basically had a positive relationship.
From the Year 2000 Onwards
Israel faced a new challenge around the year 2000 when the Arabs began a 3-4 year intifada. The world of course also changed radically on 9-11 in 2001. Since then, the major challenge of the world has shifted and the radical Islamic threat has become the paramount threat to the world.
Both Israel and the United States are joined together in the battle to keep the world safe. Beyond that, there are other bonds, such as democratic values, freedom, and technological advances. But, the most basic bond between the two countries is that it is in the best interest of both countries to work together and keep the world safe.