Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship Imperative To America’s Success And Security
Last Thursday, the USC Center for Public Diplomacy hosted Michael B. Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, for a conversation about the U.S.-Israel relationship. Ambassador Oren spoke to a group of USC students, faculty and staff about the common spiritual and democratic values, as well as military and economic interests, that make the U.S.-Israel relationship “unlike any alliance in the world.”
The United States’ and Israel’s shared spiritual values date back to the early 17th century, when the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock in pursuit of religious tolerance and a better life. They held the Old Testament—the Hebrew Bible—as the highest authority and likened themselves to the Israelites of the Book of Exodus, fleeing Egypt in search of God’s Promised Land. The state of Israel was established in 1948 on similar principles: religious tolerance, freedom and the right to self-determination.
Ambassador Oren spoke about the democratic values that both Israel and America share, noting that Israel, like America, is one of the only countries in the world to "have never known a second of non-democratic rule.”
If America, as the leader of the free world, is to protect and promote the chosen ideals of democracy, freedom of speech and religious tolerance, it is essential that it maintain a solid relationship with Israel.
Much of the United States’ military support and intelligence on terrorist and nuclear activity in the Middle East comes from Israel. In October 2012, the two countries held their largest joint military exercise ever, testing Israeli and American defense systems against rockets from nations like Iran that pose potential threats to both countries. This type of cooperation provides the U.S. military vital information and helps it better understand and defend against enemies of Western civilization.
Israel has become a major supplier of weaponry and defensive technology for the U.S. in recent years. According to the Washington Institute, Israeli sales of defense materials to the U.S. military grew from $300 million per year before September 11, 2001 to $1.1 billion in 2006. Camero, an Israeli company based in Netanya, Israel, pioneered a wireless transmission system that can see through walls and detect armed men and explosives on the other side. One of the company’s largest clients is the U.S. Department of Defense, whose use of the technology helps to save the lives of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. and Israel are both leaders in business and innovation. Israel, nicknamed the "Start-up Nation," has the highest density of start-up tech companies in the world. Israel has 60 stocks listed on the NASDAQ, the third highest number of stocks of any country, behind only the U.S. and China. According to the Embassy of Israel to the United States, Israel is America’s 20th largest customer. Major American companies like Proctor & Gamble, Google, Microsoft, Intel and Motorola all have offices in Israel.
Free speech in the media is a right protected by the law in the U.S. and Israel. Citizens are allowed to voice their opinions and share their thoughts on the government or social issues without the fear of prosecution. In contrast, on December 25, 2012, the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-led government reportedly banned Reporters Without Borders from cooperating with Israeli media, announcing that, “offenders will be prosecuted.”
The U.S.-Israel relationship continues to strengthen each year, benefitting both nations politically, economically and militarily. The shared values of denouncing terrorist organizations, protecting minority rights, supporting innovation, military ingenuity, economic stability, democracy, freedom of speech, religious tolerance and gay rights truly do make the U.S.-Israel relationship “unlike any other in the world.”
Jonathan Kalfus is a Fellow at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Reach him here.