Could the U.S. one day find itself called upon in desperation by Israel to help it put down an uprising in the illegally occupied West Bank? The question seems preposterous. Israel is a military juggernaut. Neither the First nor the Second Intifada posed a serious military threat to Israel. And Israel has crushed Gaza repeatedly. The Palestinians are weak, and no matter what they do, they will never pose a real military threat to Israel. Assuming that Israel is willing to put up with international ostracism and the economic penalties imposed by the BDS movement there is nothing threatening its grip on the West Bank. It is inconceivable that it would ever need to call on the United States to help it maintain control there.
Or is it? Let's imagine a worst case scenario. Israel's border with Egypt is secured by a friendly government and it maintains relatively good relations with Jordan. But that could change. Egypt's brutal crackdown on Islamists is creating a new generation of jihadis. What if they were to become powerful enough to overthrow the Egyptian government? Egypt's President al-Sissi did say that he was worried that Islamist radicals could cause his country to collapse. And what if Jordan's government were to become hostile toward Israel--either because it is overthrown by its own Palestinian population, or because it becomes enraged by unilateral Israeli changes to the status of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif? And what if while engaging in a war with Iran, Israel was attacked by Egypt and Jordan? And what if the population in the West Bank and Gaza took the opportunity to rise up in a Third Intifada? And what if some of the 20% of the Israeli population that is Palestinian took this opportunity to sabotage Israel as well? This conjunction of events may sound farfetched. It probably will not happen. But if you asked anyone in Israel after the 1967 War whether Israel would be fighting for its life just six years later they would have thought you were crazy. Israel felt invincible after the 1967 Six Day War and was unable to imagine how the strategic situation would change in just six short years. Yet, in 1973 the U.S. had to rescue Israel from near defeat in the Yom Kippur War with an airlift of military supplies. Israel's strategic situation could change again, and that is why, at least theoretically, America could again one day be called upon to rescue it. Only next time Israel may need more than an airlift of supplies. It may ask us to send boots on the ground.
This is why Israel's solidification of its illegal occupation through ongoing settlement construction jeopardizes U.S. national security. If it hasn't already, it may make a two-state solution impossible. And if a two state solution is impossible, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could fester indefinitely. And if it festers long enough, it could explode in a strategic environment less favorable to Israel than it is today.
If American politicians were really looking out for OUR national security interests they would be demanding--not asking-- Israel to stop new settlement construction until after they have reached an agreement with the Palestinians on the borders of a new Palestinian state. The U.S. is in the driver's seat. WE are giving Israel $3 billion a year in military aid. And, as Yousef Munayyer notes, it is WE who have cast "the SINGLE, SOLITARY, no vote and veto on 42 United Nations Security Council Resolutions concerning Israel." If our politicians were truly putting America first they would tell Israel that we consider their continued settlement construction a potential threat to our security. More importantly, we'd be telling them that any unilateral change in the status of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif could trigger World War III and poses an even bigger threat to our security. If Israelis want us to expend political capital protecting them at the U.N. then they need to take OUR national security interests into account before they act. We are in the driver's seat. But why won't we drive?
A recent in-depth New Yorker article reveals how, our politicians have been cowed by AIPAC for years into supporting anything Israel does unquestioningly. However, it is a bit simplistic to put all the blame on AIPAC. AIPAC is powerful, but it couldn't have done it alone. Millions of Evangelical Dispensationalists have also backed Israel unquestioningly in the hopes that doing so would usher in the Final Days. This may be slowly changing. As the New Yorker article points out, AIPAC is losing support amongst younger American Jews. Younger Jews are less likely to look at Israel through rose colored glasses. And younger Evangelicals are less likely than their parents to give unconditional support to Israel as well. Our politicians may eventually grow backbones and put OUR national security interests first as the younger generation replaces its elders.
Until that day happens, if America's youth is ever called upon to defend Israeli occupied territory in the West Bank, they must rise up and yell, "Hell, No! We won't go! Not one dead American soldier to defend an Israeli land grab!"