US-Israel relationship: More critical than ever
© Getty Images

In the 50 years since the 1967 Six Day-War, Israel has grown into a technological, economic and military regional superpower in the Middle East.

A nearly nonexistent inflation rate and low unemployment have helped propel Israel to third in the world after Hong Kong and South Korea on a list of the world’s most stable and promising economies for 2016 published by the Bloomberg financial news agency.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the World Happiness Report published in March by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Israel is the 11th-happiest country in the world in 2017 for the fourth year running.

 

Israel fared better than the United States in both of those studies, prompting questions about where the quality of life is better nowadays — in the U.S. or the country that is the recipient of the most American military aid. 

Nevertheless, Israel still needs America — now more than ever. It can even be said that the U.S.-Israel relationship is more critical than ever for both countries.

For America, Israel is an ally that can be counted on in the volatile Middle East. A short-lived experiment by former U.S. president Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE in shifting its primary regional alliance to Turkey started with Obama making his first trip abroad as president to Ankara and ended with American allegations that Turkey was allied with ISIS in Syria.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Israel alliance endured the poor personal relations between Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Former Obama adviser Dennis Ross wrote in his book “Doomed to Succeed: The US-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama” that Obama made a deliberate, strategic decision to add daylight between the US and Israel in order to improve his relations with the Muslim world. But by the end of his tenure, Obama decide to upgrade annual military aid for Israel from 31 to 38 billion.

There were Israelis who called for rejecting American military aid and turning elsewhere. After all, Israel fared well in the Six-Day War before the U.S. started aiding the IDF and before the Yom Kippur War reminded Israelis of their vulnerability. But those calls were rejected by Netanyahu, who made a deal with Obama despite his hopes that whoever won the American election would be better for Israel.

For Israel, America acts as a strategic buffer between the Jewish state and hostile world and — as has been repeatedly proven — its only friend that it can truly count on in good times and bad. When the international community received indications from the White House that positive treatment of Israel was not a prerequisite for good ties in Washington, Israel suffered accordingly.

Now, under U.S. President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE, more and more world leaders have realized that the road to Washington once again passes through Jerusalem. Hebrew media have reported that many diplomats in Washington have turned to Israel's ambassador Ron Dermer for help getting to Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

The perception of close ties between Netanyahu and Trump have helped Netanyahu improve his ties with Europe and Asia. Netanyahu has not been afraid to dictate new terms to Europe, vowing not to meet with visiting European leaders who meet with representatives of Israeli NGOs perceived by him as demonizing Israel and its military.

During this renaissance in Israel's relations with the U.S., Netanyahu is working behind the scenes to prevent the potential existential threat of the nuclearization of Iran. Looking to the future, Netanyahu is working with Trump to ensure that the Islamic Republic will not emerge from the Syrian civil war with a foothold on the Mediterranean and on the border with Israel.

Meanwhile, strong ties are being maintained with top Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives, maintaining the bipartisan relationship that is such a strong strategic asset for Israel. This is crucial at a time for Israel as a small country that is struggling with constant threats from terror, anti-Semitism, boycotts, divestment and sanctions. 

On May 17th, 25 national Jewish organizations are gathering at the Capitol with Congressional leadership from both houses and parties to initiate a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. 

With Congress rarely agreeing on anything these days, it is no small accomplishment to bring this group together for this commemoration. The event is proof that just as the alliance with the United States unites the very divided people of Israel, the Jewish state — and its capital — bring the very divided American leadership together at a time when the U.S.-Israel relationship is more critical than ever for both countries.

Martin Oliner is the co-president of the Religious Zionists of America.


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.