It is useful when you feel stumped to step back and ask yourself: what if I were coming to this person/situation/decision fresh, without precedents or historical baggage?
Inertia is a powerful and insidious force. How many times, working in an office, when you ask why a something is done a certain way, do you get the circular answer that it’s because it’s always been done that way?
About that friend you’ve had since you were both kids: sure, you’ve known each other for decades. If you met the guy now, for the first time, though, would you still want to hang out?
What about your job? It may have been a good fit when you first took it. Is your workplace still better than what’s available now?
If your answer is no, perhaps you’re due for a rethink—and possibly a radical change.
America is long overdue for a rethink of its toxic relationship with Israel.
We’ve been in deep with Israel since its creation. Supporting the creation of the Jewish state helped Harry Truman win a close election in 1948. Israel served as a bulwark against Soviet influence in neighboring Egypt and Syria during the Cold War. But we aren’t afraid of the commies anymore. Israel is no longer pretending to be a democracy.
Why are we still together?
It’s not like we’re getting much out of this romance. We pay Israel $4 billion a year even though they are living better than we are, with national healthcare and subsidized college tuition. They don’t have oil. Every time they murder a Palestinian, the bullet or the bomb is stamped “Made in USA”—which makes us a target for Islamist terrorism. Our relationship with Israel is an alliance, not a marriage, so we never promised “for better, or for worse.” But even if we had, so what? You’re surely allowed to run out the door when your partner is draining your bank account, ruining your reputation and dragging you into fights. If he’s turning violently insane, you should split.
Israel’s war in Gaza makes one thing clear: Israel has lost its mind. It’s time to cut them loose before they suck us down their maelstrom of madness.
According to military historians, the ferocious war Israel is waging against the innocent civilian population of the Gaza Strip is being waged at a scale unheard of in human history. According to the New York Times, Israel has killed more people in Gaza over the past two months than have died in two years of fighting between Russia and Ukraine. And that’s in a tiny space that’s 1/1500th of the area of the Russo-Ukrainian front. Proportionally, the Palestinian death rate in Gaza is 20,000 times higher than in Ukraine.
Casualties are sky high and soaring because Israel, unlike most combatants, refuses to open Gaza’s borders in order to allow refugees to escape the carnage. Israel doesn’t even allow boats to flee via the Mediterranean. Also unique to Israel’s efficiently bloodthirsty assault is its subjecting of a population to both siege warfare and bombing, simultaneously denying food, water, fuel and medical supplies to 2.3 million people at the same time missiles are raining down upon them.
Moreover, the Times reports, Israel is using nukes to kill flies. “Israel’s liberal use of very large weapons in dense urban areas, including U.S.-made 2,000-pound bombs that can flatten an apartment tower, is surprising, some experts say…In fighting during this century, by contrast, U.S. military officials often believed that the most common American aerial bomb—a 500-pound weapon—was far too large [emphasis mine] for most targets when battling the Islamic State in urban areas like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.”
A 2000-pound bomb is a devastating weapon. Military experts say that the minimum safe distance away on the ground from the detonation of a standard U.S.-made 2,000-pounder of the kind being used by Israel in Gaza is over half a mile; a plane dropping such ordinance should fly at least 4000 feet in altitude to avoid being damaged by flying debris from the blast. Israel has dropped at least 20,000 bombs, each with a blast radius of 1 square mile, enough to flatten the whole territory more than 100 times over.
“They are using extremely large weapons in extremely densely populated areas,” Brian Castner, a weapons investigator for Amnesty International and a former explosive ordnance disposal officer in the Air Force, told the Times.
Israel has carried out numerous atrocities over the past 50 years, including a bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza in 2014. The brutality and scale of the 2023 conflict, coupled with the racist and genocidal rhetoric of Israeli political and military leaders, is so extreme that it’s no longer possible to ignore.
Even the U.N. is disgusted. “We have in a few days in Gaza thousands and thousands of children killed, which means there is also something clearly wrong in the way military operations are being done,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
So are many others, including nations with close relations with Israel. “These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy,” added French President Emmanuel Macron. Jordan, Bahrain, Chad, Turkey, Colombia and Chile have recalled their ambassadors from Israel to protest the bloodshed. South Africa, a long-time ally of Israel dating to the apartheid period, has severed diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israel has nearly exhausted the world’s patience. The amount of time that it can continue to wage war against Gaza without being isolated as a pariah state is measured in months, perhaps weeks. More embassy closings are coming. Sanctions will follow.
The United States should prepare itself for the next step: cutting Israel loose. This means cutting off military aid and logistical assistance, no more blank checks for its actions against Palestine. In just two months, American domestic public opinion has reversed, with a majority of young Americans now opposed to further assistance to Israel. Older voters are not far behind.
Getting back to the question raised at the beginning of this essay: if we were considering the question anew, free of the burden of history, would we embrace Israel as it looks and acts today? Would we supply them with weapons to bomb Gaza? Of course not.
We may or may not be able to stop Israel from its reckless and murderous carpet-bombing of Gaza. We certainly don’t have to be joined at the hip as they commit war crimes. Our alliance with Israel has outlived its usefulness.
(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)