Op-ed submission: Candidates support the new U.S.-Israel memorandum of understanding, and you should too
In this upcoming election, one of the few issues where both presidential candidates tend to agree is in their support for Israel, and for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. This fundamental relationship, which Missouri’s own President Harry Truman formally initiated just 11 minutes after Israel’s founding in 1948, has since yielded extraordinary benefits to both of these two great nations. Sixty-eight years later, President Obama signed a new memorandum of understanding that pledges $38 billion in military aid and bilateral, technological research and development over the next 10 years to Israel. Both presidential candidates, and more than 100 congressmen and congresswomen, have announced their support of this agreement, and here’s why you should, too.
The deep-rooted bond between Israel and the United States is based on shared democratic values. In its Declaration of Independence, Israel guaranteed to all its citizens regardless of race, religion and gender, equal rights of voting, free speech, freedom of the press and due process of law, often borrowing phrasing directly from the United States Constitution. Despite six established Arab nations declaring war and attacking Israel the night of their declaration, Israeli leaders realized the importance of granting full democratic rights to Arab citizens in Israel in these turbulent times, just three years after the United States closed its last Japanese internment camps. In 1969, Israelis elected Golda Meir as their prime minister, who at the time was only the third female (non-ceremonial) head of state in the modern world. Israel, to this day, is the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East and serves as a beacon of light for democratic ideals in a region filled with theocracies, dictatorships and kingdoms.
While these common values between the U.S. and Israel help advance our shared ideals, both nations have seen substantial benefits in many facets of life. In the early years, Israel faced the challenge of making a desert nation bloom, and, in doing so, developed advanced drip irrigation and water recycling techniques that were shared with the United States. In those same early years, the U.S. came to Israel’s aid and helped arm the Israelis in their struggle for independence and defense in both the 1948 and the 1967 war. In light of an oil embargo aimed at Israel and the United States, the U.S. helped Israel significantly when it faced a surprise attack from its neighbors on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish Year, which this year is this Wednesday. The United States has shifted in its most recent aid package to providing strictly military aid that Israel must spend in the United States. Since the 1980s, Israel has had a technological revolution that has brought innovations such as the cell phone, Intel processors, anti-virus software, SMS texting and 4G wireless chips, the pill cam, radiation-free Xrays, bandages (including the one that saved Rep/ Gabrielle Giffords’ life), desalination and anti-drought techniques, the supercomputer in the new F-35 and countless other advances to the United States. Most recently, because of experiences that Israel unfortunately must deal with all too often, Israeli anti-terror, recovery and security agencies lead the world, and several major American police and fire departments now train with Israeli experts.
Moreover, every president and Congress since Harry Truman has recognized the unique, extreme and expensive security threat that Israel faces every day. Israel is surrounded in the broader Middle East by countries that either don’t recognize Israel as a state, are technically at war with Israel or actively threaten Israel, namely Iran. The terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah operate with effective diplomatic independence directly on Israel’s southern and northern borders, respectively, and in total, have more than 150,000 rockets prepared and aimed at Israel and all her civilians, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’is and others. Due to these looming international threats that Israel faces, the United States has deemed it necessary to provide military aid for this nation of only 8 million. For example, the average Hamas rocket costs only $800 to make, while the Israeli rocket interception system (The Iron Dome) that was a joint development by the U.S. and Israel has a cost of $50,000 per interceptor fired. And thus, as a solution, the United States signed its new 10-year memorandum with Israel to provide stability in its military assistance package from 2018 and 2028. Irrespective of their other political positions, I applaud President Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for voicing their support for this pledge. Hopefully, now you too can understand why this aid is both crucial for Israel and extremely beneficial for both Israel and this great nation of ours, the United States of America. If you find yourself inclined, please contact your members of Congress and your pick for president and thank them for their support of this new memorandum.