The United States, Israel, and the Constitution Party

- 18 August 2014 – 
by Darrell Castle, National Executive Committee member and 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate
 

 When Americans talk about the nation of Israel, the discussion generally centers on questions concerning its right to exist, or of its right to self-defense.   If a nation exists, as Israel clearly does, and has since 1948, then it also has a natural right to self-defense.   That should not be in question.  What we should be asking is “What is the nature of the relationship between the United States of America and the nation of Israel?”

 

Clearly the U.S. has a relationship with Israel, but what of its origin and its nature?  It seems to be a bit strained right now.  In fact, it would be fair to say that the relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is the worst ever between a U.S. President and an Israeli Prime Minister and after all, isn’t that what it comes down to—the relationship between both leaders as representatives of their respective nations?

 

Harsh words between these two heads of state were common during Israel’s recent war in Gaza and the U.S. effort to negotiate a cease fire.  For example, the U.S. Department of State condemned Israel’s strike on a United Nation’s school in Gaza, calling it “appalling” and “disgraceful”[1].  Netanyahu, in return, insulted Secretary of State John Kerry, and then publicly admonished the U.S. Ambassador to Israel saying, “Don’t ever second guess me again”[2], when it comes to dealing with Hamas.

 

The German magazine Der Spiegel retorted that Israel wire-tapped Kerry’s phone during the peace negotiations[3] – but it would not be a surprise to find out that the NSA was doing its own wire-tapping of Kerry’s Israeli counterpart.

 

Immediately following that little exchange, President Obama signed a bill giving $225 million dollars to Israel[4], to fund improvements in the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system.  This money, in addition to the $351 million dollars earmarked for Iron Dome in 2015, brought the total Iron Dome funding provided by the U.S. to about $1 billion dollars.  The Bill, House Joint Resolution 76, passed unanimously in the House – by voice vote in the Senate, with the combined bill passed 395 to 8 in the House.

 

Presidents and Prime Ministers conduct foreign policy, so they see the problems first hand and have to deal with these public spats with other countries.   Both sides portray their differences in this dispute as a “family spat.” Netanyahu said it was “like a Jewish family dinner”, but the Americans have been great.

 

The point is that support for monetary and military aid to Israel is overwhelming in the U.S. Congress.    Whatever happens, U.S. aid keeps flowing, despite the fact of drastic military cutbacks in U.S. military spending, including the dismissal of 550 Majors currently serving in the U.S. Army[5].

 

But why?  That is the question.

 

Maybe Israel is economically helpless, could that be the reason?  With an economy approximately the size of South Korea, a G-20 nation[6], Israel could hardly be described as “economically helpless”.  So why can’t Israel fund its own Iron Dome system?  It should be pointed out here that the supplemental funding for Iron Dome is over and above the billions provided each year under an existing ten year agreement.

 

Perhaps it’s because the United States has a Mutual Defense Treaty with Israel?  No, that’s not the answer either, as there is no Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and Israel.   Legally speaking, it is incorrect to refer to Israel as an ally without such a treaty.   There is no formal agreement between the two countries, which requires either country to come to the defense of the other in time of war.  Mutual Defense Treaties require clearly defined limits as to what each nation involved in the treaty can do or not do.   Israel seems to like doing what it wants without much restraint.

 

What does seem to exist between the U.S. and Israel is a continuing series of Congressional Aid Bills, which continue despite any problems any American president may have with his Israeli counterpart.    These are supplemented, from time to time, with unanimous voice vote “Emergency Aid” bills.  Military aid is also increasing from $2.4 billion to $3.1 billion dollars annually.

 

So if you want to see both economic and military aid to Israel continue to flow from U.S. coffers, you’re in luck, because it will continue.   Indeed it seems it cannot be stopped because support among the American public, and especially Congress, is overwhelming.  Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quoted by the New York Times as saying that “Tel Aviv urgently needs more financial aid from the United States for its offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”  Senator Reid always seems concerned for the poor and weak, especially the Latin Americans on the Mexican border, but perhaps not so much for the Palestinians.

 

As of the writing of this article, Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a new 72-hour ceasefire[7] with Hamas. This ceasefire may hold, but then again, it may not.   All the talk of peace is just that, words.   Words spoken and forgotten like the moral dilemma of this war.

 

One is saddened by the loss of life, especially the innocent children of Gaza, but one also knows that Hamas planned it that way.   Sacrificing its children by placing rockets and bomb supplies in close proximity to places where children will be, sacrificing them to make the Israelis appear to be monsters in the Court of World Opinion.

 

In the meantime, the split between the United States and Israel is apparently very real.   According to journalist Jeff Steinberg of Executive Intelligence Review the rift is growing even wider.   “So, on the one hand, “he says, “there’s a growing rift, and the personal rift between President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on the one side, and Prime Minister Netanyahu on the other, is growing deeper and more personal.  However, at the same time the U.S. just last week delivered a significant amount of new weapons to Israel for free.”[8]

 

This is the paradox – every President thinks the Israelis should obey him, or at least they should think like he does, but they do not and they will not.   They spy on the U.S. and steal military secrets, but the U.S. continues to give them money and weapons for free.

 

In any event, President Obama seems to have a new plan for Israel and Gaza in which Fatah, the Palestinian organization in the West Bank, would disarm Hamas and open the borders with Israel.  Israel would then lift the blockade for the free flow of people and material into and out of Gaza.  This plan infuriates the Israelis because they know in their hearts that Fatah and Hamas are united – one and the same.   All the President’s proposal does is embarrass them, while relieving a little of his own embarrassment.

 

U.S. Presidents seem to think that, because they pour free money and weapons into Israel, Prime Ministers should do their bidding.  Prime Ministers seem to think that they should always be trusted and supported, no matter what.  It really doesn’t matter.  The Pro-Israel lobby seems to control Congress, and Israel gets their money anyway.

 

What do the Constitution and the Constitution Party platform say about this relationship?  Neither specifically addresses the nation of Israel but both do address defense and foreign policy issues.

 

Under the heading of Defense, in the Constitution Party platform, we read, “We condemn the Presidential assumption of authority to deploy American troops into combat without a Declaration of War by Congress, pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.”[9]   In the same plank, the platform states that “we should be the Friend of Liberty everywhere, but the guarantor and provisioner of ours alone.”  Later it makes another statement that defense expenditures should be carefully reviewed to eliminate foreign aid.

 

The Foreign Policy plank, under the sub-heading “National Sovereignty” says, “The U.S. is properly a free and sovereign Republic, which should strive to live in peace with all nations, without interfering in their internal affairs, and without permitting their inference in ours.   We are, therefore, unalterably opposed to “entangling alliances” – via treaties or any other form of commitment—which compromises our national sovereignty or commit us to intervention in foreign wars.”[10]

 

And finally, “we propose that the United States cease financing, or arming of belligerents in the world’s troubled areas;” and also, “no further funds be appropriated for any kind of foreign aid program.”

 

Well, that’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

 

Keep in mind that the Constitution Party platform has an avenue for change if you don’t like it.  You can join your state party and become a delegate to the 2016 National Convention and represent your state as a member of the Platform Committee, where you can lobby the committee and the convention to insert the words  “except for Israel” in each of these sections.

 

The Constitution Party has always felt that taking part in other people’s disputes is a bad idea.  It leads to conflict and makes enemies who may need to be fought, while unreasonably emboldening friends who assume the full weight of the United States is behind them.   Perhaps it’s time to follow the counsel of Thomas Jefferson when he said that America should have “honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”[11]


[1] State Department Condemns ‘Disgraceful’ Shelling of U.N. School in Gaza; Huffington Post – August 3, 2014; www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/03/un-school-shelling-_n_5645771.html

[2] Netanyahu to U.S.: Don’t second-guess me on Hamas; politico.com – August 2, 2014; www.politico.com/story/2014/08/netanyahu-to-us-dont-second-guess-me-on-hamas-109664.html

[3] Wiretapped: Israel Eavesdropped on John Kerry in Mideast Talks; Der Spiegel – August 3, 2014; www.spiegel.de/international/world/israel-intelligence-eavesdropped-on-phone-calls-by-john-kerry-a-984246.html

[4] Obama Signs Law Providing $225 Million for Israel’s Iron Dome; Wall Street Journal – August 4, 2014; http://online.wsj.com/articles/obama-signs-law-providing-225-million-for-israels-iron-dome-1407193842

[5] Army to force out 550 majors; some in Afghanistan; Stars and Stripes – August 2, 2014; www.stripes.com/news/army/army-to-force-out-550-majors-some-in-afghanistan-1.296587

[6] Israel and South Korea could be ‘economic powerhouse’; The Times of Israel – 14 November 2013; www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-south-korea-could-be-economic-powerhouse

[7] Hamas Rejects Egyptian Proposal for Long-Term Gaza Truce;  Bloomberg.com – August 16, 2014; www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-16/hamas-says-egypt-proposal-for-gaza-truce-with-israel-falls-short.html

[8] US-Israeli split is real and widely known: Steinberg; PressTV – August 7, 2014; www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/08/07/374430/usisraeli-split-is-real

[9] The Constitution Party platform: 2012-2016; www.constitutionparty.com/defense

[10] The Constitution Party platform: 2012-2016; www.constitutionparty.com/foreign-policy

[11] Jefferson, Thomas; First Inaugural Address – March 4, 1801