No, Republicans Don’t Support Israel Because of Sheldon Adelson

Sept. 11 2015

A recent article in New York magazine argued that the billionaire Sheldon Adelson is largely responsible for the Republican party’s current pro-Israel stance. David Bernstein objects:

[P]utting aside the question of whether GOP support for Israel is truly “unconditional and unquestioning,” [as the article states], the person most responsible for making support for Israel a core Republican issue is Osama bin Laden, with a supporting role played by Yasir Arafat. Gallup polls from the past 25 years show that Republicans were already leaning somewhat more in favor of Israel in early 2001 than were Democrats. . . . This reflected the increasingly strong influence of pro-Israel evangelicals and national-security hawks in the Republican party, on the one hand, and the hostility or ambivalence of what was once known as the “McGovernite” wing of the Democratic party, on the other.

But the difference in partisan attitudes accelerated after 9/11. Relative support for Israel unsurprisingly went up among both Democrats and Republicans. September 11 made Americans more sensitive to Israel’s terrorism-related security concerns, and Arafat’s decision to continue and accelerate the second intifada—replete with bus, café, and synagogue bombings—was hardly likely to endear the Palestinian cause to Americans after 9/11. But these factors had a greater influence on Republican opinion than on Democratic opinion. . . .

In short, you have a Republican party in which 80 percent of the grass-roots membership supports Israel, and a significant percentage of that 80 percent considers it a litmus-test issue. Meanwhile, the current Democratic administration has engaged in open rhetorical warfare against an Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Democrats tend to loathe and Republicans tend to admire. Under those circumstances, . . . it’s really not possible . . . to imagine any scenario other than the GOP, and all its major presidential candidates, offering Israel strong support.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: 9/11, Israel & Zionism, Republicans, Terrorism, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy