Posted by Andrew Davis on Jan 05, 2009 at LP.org
Since its creation as a Jewish state in the late 1940s, Israel has been one of the main sources of tension and unrest in the Middle East. Now, more than 50 years later, Israel once again finds itself at odds with its Palestinian neighbors, forcing the hand of the United States to show where it stands on one of the most polarizing issues in modern history.
The tension between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East goes back thousands of years, and there is no easy solution to the issues in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. Many U.S. presidential administrations have tried to act as brokers of power or arbiters of peace without any success.
Libertarians aren’t foolish enough to think we have the answer to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, we do realize that steps can be taken by the United States to remove itself from injury in the conflict, and perhaps begin the process of long-term stability in the region.
The biggest of these steps is to eliminate all economic and military aid to Israel and all other foreign countries.
It’s the general opinion of Libertarians that as far as the U.S. government should be involved, Israel should look out for its interests so long as its actions are not subsidized by the American taxpayer and Israel does not look to the U.S. for assistance. However, because Israel is the top recipient of foreign aid (aside from Iraq), it is reasonable to assume that some of the money given to it by the United States in foreign aid is used to either directly or indirectly support Israeli military operations.
Therein lies the problem.
There are several complications with U.S. foreign aid going to Israel. One, it makes the United States culpable for the actions of Israel that many times come with international condemnation. Secondly, it opens up the United States to cries of extreme bias in favor of Israel—a main catalyst for terrorism against U.S. interests at home and abroad.
Critics of removing foreign aid from Israel cite that this is the United States turning its back on a staunch ally. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The United States is not “giving up” on Israel by removing foreign aid as much as it is adhering to a principle of non-intervention—in Israel and across the world as well. Israel will still be a trading partner with the United States, and will benefit greatly from this trade. Additionally, Israel has a strong and effective military along with nuclear arms to deter aggression.
The United States’ top priority needs to be the United States, and our billions of dollars of foreign aid to Israel have hurt our national security and international standing. “Contrary to the warnings of the do-something buffs, U.S. interventions in the Middle East have likely unleashed more anti-American terrorism and more pressure on energy markets than they have prevented,” says Leon Hadar, a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.
In essence, the interests of Israel are not always those of the United States.
However, it is not an analysis of what we have gotten in return from our relationship with Israel as it is an adherence to the principle of non-intervention. There is great wisdom in remaining disconnected from the problems facing other nations, especially when these problems are complicated and have negative consequences for getting involved.
At issue for Libertarians in the current situation with Israel and Palestine is not so much who is right or wrong, but whether the United States should continue to support other countries with foreign aid. Libertarians may all feel differently on whether Israel is “justified” in invading Gaza, but Libertarians all agree that taxpayer-subsidized foreign aid to other countries is bad for business and bad for peace.
Treating Israel like any other country is not abandoning an ally, but freeing the United States from a cumbersome relationship of the likes George Washington, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson all warned against hundreds of years ago.
In the words of Jefferson, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”