TW: excessive use of force by the police, voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement
Why are the United States and Israel allies? As that connection seems increasingly dependent on both nations tolerating blowback for the other’s policies (with the US endangering Israel with the long-term impacts of “regime change” and Israel possibly dragging the US into war with Iran), it seems worth investigating why the United States is still bothering with this. Israel is much more politically isolated, so the answers are much more straightforward.
If you listen to advocates of a close relationship between the two nations, some of whom are even quite liberal, it’s almost impossible to get through the explanation without a certain word coming up: democracy. Now one of the US Senators from Minnesota, former comedian Al Franken wrote during the Bush Administration, “Neo-cons support the Jewish state for the same reasons I do: because it is the only democracy in the region”. You see, the US apparently has to support some threshold number of governments in the region, so we might as well go with supporting the democracies.
This investment in Israel’s democratic bona fides as legitimizing the unique relationship between the United States and Israel is a noticeable media phenomenon in both countries. It’s seemingly reached the point where any uncertainty that the political system of Israel is as democratic as it should be has come to be labeled as criticizing the positive relations between the two nations. Deriving the good relationship from the shared democracy has grown more difficult as of late.
(Left, Israeli police attacking an Israeli-Arab family during an eviction last year. Right, pepper spray of illegal strength being used on protesting UC Davis students by US police. Photos from here and here.)
If nothing else, the recent realization that several hundred thousand Jerusalem residents and millions of Americans will be effectively disenfranchised should shake this vision of Israel and the United States as partners in democracy.