Why does US imperialism back the Israeli State?

By Donal Devlin 

On 25 February, 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell, a serving member of the US Air Force, tragically died of wounds incurred from self-immolation in an act of protest against the genocide in Gaza. It was a desperate expression of outrage at the criminal support this massacre is receiving from the US ruling class. Days before, the US representative on the UN Security Council raised her hand yet again to veto a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza – giving the green light to countless more innocent people being further tortured and killed.  

Despite episodic and mild criticisms of the Israeli State’s action over the last few months, US imperialism’s support for the Gaza genocide has been unwavering. Its political representatives, from the Biden administration to the vast bulk of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, have dismissed any suggestion that the massacre should cease.

McCarthyite witch hunt 

A McCarthyite witch hunt has been conducted to try to stamp out the movement of solidarity with Palestine that has bubbled up in the US. In November, a motion was passed to censure Rashida Tlaib, a member of the Squad (a loose group of left Democrats in Congress) and the only Palestinian-American representative in the House of Representatives. Tlaib has vocally opposed the Israeli State’s genocidal war on Gaza. Significantly, November’s motion was backed by both Republicans and Democrats. 

In the face of a growing revolt against the war on college campuses, this witch hunt was extended to the heads of prominent US universities, with a Congressional hearing demanding to know why there had not been a clampdown on these protests and the groups behind them. This resulted in the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, the first black person to hold this position. 

During the hearing, Gay faced a grilling from Congresswoman Elise Stafanik, who has voiced support for the ‘great replacement theory’. This is a disgusting, racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that argues that there is an attempt by “elites”, usually code for Jewish people, to replace white people with people of colour. 


The example of Stafanik points to the fact that support for the Israeli regime from representatives of US capitalism has nothing to do with opposing anti-Semitism or addressing the past sufferings of Jewish people. History has shown that anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, is an embedded part of the outlook and ideology of the US ruling class.

In the 1920s, the archetypal US capitalist Henry Ford published a newspaper that consistently propagated anti-Semitic tropes, such as the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Notoriously, in the 1930s and 1940s, during the persecution of Jews in Europe the US stubbornly maintained strict anti-Semitic immigration laws, condemning millions to the industrialised murder of the Nazis. 

Imperial domination 

While there is an important pro-Israel lobby in the form of AIPAC, which funds a large number of Congress members and Senators, this is not the decisive factor in explaining the support for the Israeli State. Like the British Empire before it, support for the Zionist project and the Israeli State on the part of US imperialism is rooted in a strategic necessity of dominating and exploiting the Middle East and its resources. 

The region’s most important resource, oil, was described in a State Department memo as being “…a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” If ever the interests of the US and the Israeli State were to clash, as they have at different points in time, the influence of the lobby would collapse like a house of cards. 

Unlike the dictatorial Arab regimes, the Israeli State is considered a more stable force that can act as its proverbial cat’s paw, boasting as it does the fourth largest military power, armed with high-tech military equipment and nuclear weapons to boot. It is not for nothing that then Senator Joe Biden said in 1986, “If there were not an Israel, we’d have to invent one.” 

Growing opposition 

While US imperialism will back the Israeli State to the hilt, providing it with $3.8 billion per annum and an additional $14 billion in the context of the Gaza genocide; there is growing opposition to its murderous actions amongst young and working-class people throughout the US. Significantly, this includes a considerable section of young American Jews. Opinion polls have for months shown majority support a ceasefire, while 35% believe that what is happening in Gaza is a genocide; this rises to 49% among 18-29 year-olds. 

It is in the interest of all working-class and poor people in the Middle East and North Africa, including the Israeli working class, that the rule of imperialism and capitalism is ended in this region. Its rule has only helped perpetuate oppression, poverty and bloodshed. The significance of the fact that opposition is growing to the main imperialist power at home must be seen in this context. 

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