Cut From the Same Cloth: The United States and Israel in Palestine

Israeli President Isaac Herzog with US President Joe Biden. (Photo: Spokesperson unit of the President of Israel, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Dr. M. Reza Behnam

After a half-century of steadfast support, it has become virtually impossible for Washington to imagine a regional reality that does not have Israel at its core.

Revolutionaries in Iran in the 1970s referred to the United States as the “Great Satan” and to its ally, Israel, as the “little Satan.” The truth of their rallying cry resounds today as Israel executes, unimpeded, its scorched earth policy in Gaza.

The Israeli war on Gaza has been oiled by the military, financial and diplomatic benefaction of the United States. While President Joe Biden makes passive public appeals for Israel to show restraint, behind closed doors, he reaffirms America’s continued support.

The administration’s recent indulgence of Israel was visible during a March 4, 2024, meeting in the White House between Israeli Minister Benny Gantz and Vice President Kamala Harris. At that meeting, the vice president stated the administration’s displeasure with the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza; but in the same breath, told Gantz that the United States wanted to continue supporting Israel, but that Tel Aviv needed to do its part; stating, “help us, help you.”

The infamous “hug that was seen around the world” has come to haunt even a committed Zionist like Biden. In order to retrieve a modicum of domestic and international credibility—after Israel’s massacre of more than 100,000 Palestinians—the administration has put on its “humanitarian face.” Salvage efforts that have been for Palestinians are obviously too timid and too late.

The language, action, and inaction that has emanated from the Biden White House indicate that either Israel is calling the shots in Washington, or the administration is on board with Israel’s genocidal plan to empty Gaza and the West Bank of Palestinians. It also seems evident, that Biden, who has said on a number of occasions “I am a Zionist,” has been beguiled by the myths and fantasies that the Jewish state has created.

In the face of domestic and global condemnation, the administration has embraced the right-wing regime in Tel Aviv. It has continued to block United Nations resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire. Recently, on February 29, the United States alone, among the 15 members of the UN Security Council, opposed a statement expressing “deep concern” over the Israeli military’s killing of Palestinians who had gathered near trucks carrying food to Gaza City. At least 112 were killed and another 760 injured in what is now called the “flour massacre.”

In a symbolic display of concern following the massacre, the United States began airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza, while simultaneously supplying Israel with bombs to drop on Gaza.

During the administration’s first photo-op on March 2, the US and Jordanian air forces dropped 38,000 meals to some 1.5 million Palestinians. Water and medical supplies were not included. Biden refused to blame Israel for blocking aid into Gaza, but said he would “insist” that Israel open additional routes and allow more aid trucks to enter.

In its eagerness to indulge Israel, the administration has been willing to break US laws. The Biden administration has used emergency powers to bypass arms sales reviews and Congressional oversight to expedite its arms transfers to Israel. It is currently violating the Foreign Assistance Act, 1961; Arms Export Control Act, 1976; War Crimes Act,1996; Genocide Convention Implementation Act (Proxmire Act), 1987-88; and the Leahy Laws, 1997-98.

The White House is awash in rhetoric. It has, however, refused to put any real limits on Israeli violence, choosing instead to stoke the Israeli war machine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for example, during discussions in February 2024 with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv, sheepishly stated: “It will be up to Israelis to decide what they want to do, when they want to do it, how they want to do it. No one’s going to make those decisions for them….”

The administration’s actions, even when confronted with Israel’s systematic violence against the Palestinians, clearly indicate that US financial and military hegemonic interests outweigh what little is left of its humanity.

Like his predecessors, Biden has shown no genuine concern for the Palestinians, for the region and its people. He has, however, been dedicated to integrating Israel into the Arab Middle East, with Saudi Arabia seen as the prize.

To realize his integration policy, Biden has continued to expand on former President Donald Trump’s objective of strengthening military cooperation and economic ties among family-ruled Arab dictators and Israel. He has pressed ahead with the Trump era Abraham Accords—a set of Arab-Israeli normalization agreements initiated in September 2020 and signed by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

When the accords were initiated, the Trump administration and its Arab partners believed that Palestinians could be ignored; that they were irrelevant; and that they would simply accept their slow death. Biden has amplified that disregard.

The administration is under the impression that deepening economic and military ties with Arab despots will lead to regional stability—which ultimately translates into US-Israeli hegemony. It is worth noting that the region remains volatile, even though Riyadh and Tel Aviv have cooperated covertly for years, as have Bahrain, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Egypt.

After close to five months of Israeli atrocities, Biden continues to push for what Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, once called the “deal of the century” — a normalization pact between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The United States sees Saudi Arabia as the integration linchpin. If Riyadh—the largest and wealthiest Gulf regime—allies with Israel, the White House believes that others will fall in line.

In addition to encouraging Israel-Arab economic ties, Washington has been actively promoting the furtherance of cybersecurity linkages. The US Department of Homeland Security, for example, at a Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv on February 3, 2023, announced an expansion of the Abraham Accords to include an agreement on cybersecurity. By giving official recognition to intelligence sharing and security agreements between Israel and the Arab states, the accords have made the spyware business easier and more lucrative.

The Gulf regimes, believing that linkages with Israel will shore up their security ties with the United States, have become eager customers of advanced surveillance technology; which they also see as useful in policing their populations. Israel—one of the world’s top spyware exporters—has been more than willing to sell its technology, with little regard for human rights abuse.

The United States, Israel and Arab dictators have become deeply enmeshed in the cybersecurity/intelligence world. Israel has positioned itself in the international “order” through its global cybersecurity/surveillance web and the lucrative global tech weapons industry that have developed around it.

Washington’s steadfast support for and unwillingness to criticize Israel can plausibly be attributed to the cyber power and economic clout that together they have been able to wield in the region and globally.

The ongoing collaboration between the US National Security Agency and its Israeli equivalent, the secretive Cyber Unit 8200—the tech intelligence unit of the Israel Defense [occupation] Forces—is just one example of the cybersecurity network that has linked the two countries.

Former soldiers of the elite 8200 cyber warfare unit, for example, have gone on to found and occupy top positions at cybersecurity and international IT companies and in Silicon Valley. Google, for one, has two offices and over 2,000 employees in Israel.

Washington cares little that Israeli cybersecurity companies (numbering 700) export their spyware around the world or that Unit 8200 honed its intelligence skills through mass surveillance of innocent civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza; personal information that was used to blackmail Palestinians, to turn them into Israeli collaborators.

Zionist hubris, facilitated by the United States, has no bounds. After stealing Palestinian land, water and pillaging Gaza, Israel has been seeking to plunder the maritime offshore natural gas reserves that are the property of Palestine.

On October 29, 2023, amidst its brutal war in Gaza, the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure announced that it had awarded licenses for natural gas exploration in areas that overlap with the recognized maritime borders of Gaza. As an occupying power, Israel has no legal right under international law to award licenses in areas it does not hold sovereignty over.

The bidding process for the illegal licenses was launched in December 2022, a year before Israel’s horrific assault on Gaza. Licenses were issued to six companies: Ratio Energies and NewMed Energy (Israeli), ENI (Italian); Dana Petroleum (UK subsidiary of Korea National Oil Company); SOCAR (Azerbaijan’s national oil company); and British owned BP.

The US-Israeli economic and military stranglehold over the region has been challenged by the colonized Palestinians in Gaza who have bravely resisted despite having no sizable army, air force or sophisticated surveillance technology or weaponry. Gaza has become an inspirational symbol of resistance in the Middle East and worldwide; a reality the US and Israel will be powerless to overcome.

To understand the unsavory alliance that has held the United States and Israel together, is to understand that they are cut from the same cloth. Both countries share a ruthless exploitative settler-colonial ideology and psychology, that has set them on parallel social, political and economic paths. They have existed by exploitation and churning the cauldron of division and conflict among countries in the region.

After a half century of steadfast support, it has become virtually impossible for Washington to imagine a regional reality that does not have Israel at its core. The United States has finally been forced to confront the brutishness of its “ally,” and to recognize that Zionists, and they, have no place or future in the Middle East.

– Dr. M. Reza Behnam is a political scientist specializing in the history, politics and governments of the Middle East. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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