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Israel is a core pillar of U.S. dominance.

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Over the last eight months, Israel’s genocide has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and reduced most of Gaza to rubble. 

In the face of all this horror, many of us are asking ourselves: How could the U.S. government continue to support this? 

To answer that question, you need to understand one thing: Israel is a core pillar of U.S. dominance in the Middle East.

In “Framing Palestine Israel, the Gulf states, and American power in the Middle East,” Adam Hanieh breaks down why the U.S. provides billions each year in military funding to Israel. The answer? It’s all about U.S. empire.

Why imperialism matters

Limiting our focus to Israel’s occupation of Palestine misses the key role Israel plays in protecting U.S. imperial interests in the wider region. “Solidarity with Palestine is frequently reduced to the question of Israel’s…ongoing violations of international law,” writes Hanieh. This approach cannot account for what drives U.S. and Western support for Israel. And thus, it also wrongly assumes that the U.S. government will be moved by appeals to respect human rights.

“A major bulwark of American interests in the region”

Hanieh contends that Israel has historically acted to protect American imperial interests in the so-called “Middle East,” a region whose economic and geostrategic importance to maintaining U.S. global hegemony cannot be understated. 

Successive U.S. governments have sought to protect and expand U.S. empire, er, American interests in the Middle East — chief among them, maintaining a stable supply of oil and ensuring the longevity of the “American-centered global system.” 

Israel serves as a core pillar of this strategy, acting as “a loyal partner and a bulwark against threats to American interests in the region.” And it benefits greatly from this relationship, too. After all, it could not maintain a “permanent state of war” or an indefinite military occupation over millions of Palestinians without American political and economic support, and a lot of it.

Israel’s “internal character as a settler colony”

There’s another factor driving the U.S.-Israel “special” relationship: settler colonialism. Hanieh writes, “Settler colonies must continually work to fortify structures of racial oppression, class exploitation, and dispossession. As a result, they are typically highly militarised and violent societies.” 

Why does that matter? It means settler colonies are even more likely to be reliant on external support to survive, as is the case with Israel. That makes them, in Hanieh’s words, “much more dependable partners of Western imperial interests.”

Normalization and evolving U.S. imperialism

It is in this context that we should understand calls to “normalize” relations between Arab states and Israel.

According to Hanieh, U.S. strategy in the Middle East has focused since the 1990s on Israel’s economic integration with the wider region. It is for this reason that the U.S. has pursued normalization between the two pillars of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East — Israel and the Gulf monarchies, as well as Jordan and Egypt. 

Though often held up as such, calls for normalization have nothing to do with the U.S. wanting “peace.” Normalization undercuts the cause of Palestinian liberation and is nothing more than a transparent attempt to shore up U.S. imperial interests, especially recently, in the face of declining U.S. power and a rising China. 

What does this mean for our movements?

Material interests drive continued U.S. support for Israel. In our movement’s fight to end U.S. support for Israel’s oppression and murder of Palestinians, our mandate is explicitly anti-imperialist. 

Today, unprecedented numbers have joined the fight against Israel’s genocide, what Hanieh describes as a “global political wakening” with Palestine “ at the forefront.” At the same time, more and more U.S. Jews agree that Jewish safety can never be achieved through the oppression and slaughter of Palestinians. 

Pushing to send billions in weapons to Israel while it commits genocide should be an untenable political position. And it will be, as we grow our movement. People power can defeat special interests. That’s why we must protect the progress we’ve made and keep organizing toward bigger wins.

Tell Congress: Stop arming Israel 

Together, we’ve already sent over 26,000 emails to our members of Congress demanding that they support an immediate arms embargo on Israel. 

Will you help us hit 30,000 emails today? It only takes a few clicks.

Happy Juneteenth.

Slavery was foundational to the U.S. empire we are now challenging. We celebrate the end of one of the darkest chapters in human history, even as we are living through yet another bleak moment.

JVP is an organization committed to racial justice — from the U.S. to Palestine. We are committed to fighting anti-Black racism, even as we recognize that the struggle for Black liberation is incomplete, and even as we struggle through another genocide today.

We give profound gratitude to the Black liberation movements that have shaped so many freedom movements in the U.S. and around the world, including the movement for Palestinian freedom.

What we’re reading

In this piece for The Transnational Institute, Adam Hanieh breaks down what’s behind U.S. support for Israel. According to Hanieh, Israel protects U.S. “interests” in the Middle East, and in turn, the U.S. provides Israel with the external support it needs to maintain its “permanent state of war, occupation, and oppression.” 

What we’re not reading

We’re not reading the ADL’s efforts to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. And soon, no one might, as the ADL faces a Wikipedia ban.

Wikipedia’s editors determined in a vote that the ADL is “generally unreliable” on Palestine/Israel. An “overwhelming majority of editors involved in the debate about the ADL” also voted to declare the organization unreliable on the subject of antisemitism, putting the ADL in the company of the National Inquirer, Newsmax, and others.

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