Israel has been a key ally of the United States for more than sixty years. While President Harry S. Truman recognized the Jewish state against the advice and furious lobbying of both the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community, President Dwight D. Eisenhower embraced a “realist” outlook and an unabashed pro-Arab policy. After all, the U.S. economy was increasingly thirsty for oil, and that was a resource which Arab states had plenty but Israel, at the time, had none. By Cold War calculations, a U.S.-Arab alliance also made sense: There were more than twenty Arab states but only one Jewish one. This realist calculation was the major reason why Eisenhower sided with Egypt against not only Israel but also Great Britain and France during the 1956 Suez crisis.
Why then, have generations of U.S. presidents supported Israel so absolutely? The simple reason was that Israel made a better ally than even America’s closest Arab ally. Israel consistently votes with the United States at the UN more than 90 percent of the time, more than any other country; most Arab states don’t crack ten percent threshold and none in the most recent year counted topped 30 percent. Israeli military prowess was also the gift that kept giving, often gaining access to and providing to the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency intelligence and Soviet military equipment which they had no other way to access.