A Modest Proposal: U.S. Statehood for Israel?
By Rosa Schmidt Azadi
I’m only half kidding.
Just think of the possibilities. Making Israel the 51st U.S. state could be a win-win-win solution for our country, for Israel, and for Middle East peace. The way I see it, Israel’s security would get a boost at a lower cost to the U.S. taxpayer, and the biggest cause of conflict in the Middle East would be resolved, reducing the threat of terrorism.
Stay with me on this for a minute.
Improving security in Israel.
We’re supplying Israel with billions of dollars in weaponry and we look like their only friend at the United Nations. Right? This is supposedly to defend them from attack by their sworn enemies, who are legion. Many Americans have a deep emotional commitment to the people in Israel and so we are bending over backward to protect them from threats both real and perceived.
But if Israel were the 51st state of the USA, things would be different. I doubt anyone would seriously attack the world’s only superpower. Every state is defended by the U.S. armed forces, which we’re already funding out of our tax dollars, and the United States has plenty of missiles and spy satellites. Plenty enough to watch over the newest state as well as all 50 others.
Israel is too far from the U.S. to feel protected, you say? Well, if Japan was betting on Hawaii being too far from the “contiguous United States” when they attacked Pearl Harbor, they had another think coming.
Imagine this, too. Once Israel became a state they would officially benefit from the services of the CIA and wouldn’t need their own spy agency (Mossad) anymore. That would be a relief to Americans who were so disappointed to hear that Israeli agents had spied on the U.S. and deceptively lobbied Congress. Also, what a relief it would be to hear no more rumors about how Mossad was secretly behind an unrealistic number of dastardly deeds in an unrealistic number of locations all over the world. (These rumors are not helping the struggle against anti-semitism.)
Saving U.S. taxpayers money.
If Israel were a state, we wouldn’t need to give them billions of our hard-earned dollars in military aid every year any more than we had to send the governor of Alaska billions of dollars to defend his state from the nearby USSR during the Cold War.
As a bonus to the U.S. bottom line, individuals and businesses in Israel would pay into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) like everyone else who receives the protection of the U.S. Defense and State Departments. And they'd also benefit from the services of all the other federal agencies.
Promoting peace in the Middle East (and reducing terrorism).
Statehood is not just about Israel’s security and U.S. taxpayers’ comfort, though. Think how Israeli statehood might benefit the peace process and Middle East peace in general. This would help reduce terrorism.
First, Israel’s borders and land disputes would have to be settled before statehood could be granted, and naturally the U.S. would be interested in getting the best possible bargain. Other countries would also weigh in with their opinions and help mediate. This might be the perfect chance to offer compensation or repatriation to dispossessed Palestinian refugees. With an ultimate prize so big, the price would be worth it, and Israel wouldn’t have to worry about paying the cost all alone.
Second, we probably wouldn’t hear many complaints from the Palestinians and Arab Israelis about discrimination or “apartheid” after Israel joins the United States. Why? Because Israel’s state legislature would have to abide by the U.S. Constitution in its guarantee of religious freedom, separation of church and state, and equal civil/legal rights to all residents. We could also expect to see a sharp drop in terrorist recruitment as conditions improve.
Third, and equally important, transforming Israel from a major military power into one of 51 states in the USA would go a long way toward stabilizing the region. Neighboring countries would understand that, just as the Texas State National Guard cannot on their own authority attack Tijuana and the New York State National Guard cannot attack Montreal, the Israel State National Guard (which would replace the Israeli Defense Force) couldn't launch preemptive strikes into towns in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, or Iran. And that would mean we U.S. taxpayers wouldn’t have to “balance” the billions in military aid we send to Israel with yet more billions in military aid to Israel’s neighbors. Nor would we have to worry about being drawn into conflagrations that we don’t want and that Congress wouldn’t approve if they knew about them in advance (e.g., bombing Iran).
Fourth, when it became part of the USA, Israel would be automatically signed on to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and other international agreements that they’ve so far avoided. Israel would finally have to answer whether or not they have nukes and/or chemical weapons and, if so, put them under Pentagon command. What a public relations coup this would be for the United States internationally! In one fell swoop we’d eliminate all further talk of the “Israeli lobby” or the tail wagging the dog.
As a bonus, we wouldn’t need unpopular military bases in Saudi Arabia or Iraq because we’d have bases in Israel. We could dock our aircraft carriers there instead of in the Arab-Persian Gulf, a move that would reduce tensions in the region. Maybe we could even use this as an excuse to get out of Iraq, saving more money (and lives) and further improving our image.
In sum, if Israel became the 51st state, Israelis would be safer, Palestinians would breathe easier, the biggest source of tension in the region would have been settled, Americans would look like heroes, and the U.S. taxpayer would save megabillions. Which we need for repairing bridges and dams, it seems.
Statehood for Israel: an impossible dream?
There’s only one problem with this dream solution: it might be hard to sell. I think two groups would be especially hard to convince.
The first group would be the people who are emotionally attached to the notion of Israel as a solely “Jewish state.” Statehood advocates will need to convince them that it’s in their best interest to adopt the American system of separation of church and state. (If Israel changed in this way, it would also be easier for Americans to criticize “Islamic nationalism” without being called hypocrites.)
The other group that would need to be won over are those in the region who have always seen Israel as a U.S. satellite helping police the countries of the Middle East and North Africa so that U.S. corporations can exploit their resources. These people would say that making Israel part of the United States would be like putting a leash on the police dog that’s been scaring people . . . and then bringing in a squad of police commandos.
But we can prove they’re wrong, can’t we?
This reminds of when a leading Israeli politician, maybe even the PM of the day, suggested that Israel go on to the US dollar to stabilise the currency. By way of a protest, or maybe a joke, a referee tried to flip a dollar bill at the start of a football match. I think he got the sack.