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A Constitutional View of the U.S. and Israel

Mar 17, 2014 — by: Dennis Linthicum
Categories: Uncategorized

Last week, I was challenged about my reasoning for supporting Israel. The question was, if I’m really dedicated to the Constitution, what is my argument for national support of Israel? Here is my response:

Today’s entire Middle East conflict needs to be addressed to help frame this discussion. The Arab-Israeli conflict is, in truth an Arab conflict with Western, particularly American, culture. Part of the dilemma that our nation faces is one of leadership and influence. Is it appropriate that American ideals get exercised throughout the world, or on a smaller scale, in the Mid-East region?

I think the answer is “Yes”, although my preference is that this influence should come through open commerce and voluntary contractual relationships instead of through foreign aid, or worse, foreign wars.

I will continue to support Israel because Israel is a true friend to the American experiment. America was nation was built upon Constitutionally-insured freedoms. These freedoms have been codified in the Constitution, but there will no doubt be gray areas in how our nation supports other “like-minded” nations. In fact, the term “nation” shows up only two times in our Constitution. Once with regard to regulating commerce and the second time with regard to, “Offenses against the Law of Nations.”  This last reference surely calls for recognizing a “Higher Law” concept and would be similar to the Nuremberg “Crimes against Humanity” ideas during World War II.  These higher laws hold power above and beyond the government’s assumed power. Thomas Jefferson commented that any rule which violated the higher law was actually null and void.

In terms of a strict Constitutional justification for what we see today, it doesn’t show up in any one sentence. However, we must note that the Constitution doesn’t describe every jot and tittle.

For example, Article 1, Section 8, reads, “To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;”  Notice, there are no details about what a “Navy” is supposed to do. That comes under the “make rules” clause. Does this mean policy? Or administrative and organizational management rules? As you can see, its wide open to interpretation. This doesn’t mean that we trample all over the original intent in an attempt to make our wishes seem “Constitutional”, but it does mean that we have to exercise some logic and common sense.

I’ll turn to Professor Paul Eidelberg for more thoughts on America and Israel. Professor Eidelberg conducts seminars on constitutions, diverse parliamentary electoral systems, Jewish law, and related topics for the Jerusalem center of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.  In 2009, he wrote concerning the larger issues. These were and are legitimate concerns for Iran’s aggressive stance against Israel:

“Let us take a closer look at what a nuclear-armed Iran portends not only for Israel, but for Europe and the United States—indeed, for Western civilization. Here, let us consult Robert Baer, a most farseeing and experienced former CIA operative in the Middle East. Last year, in his book The Devil We Know, Baer convincingly argues that Iran, contrary to what most believe, Iran is not a regime of crazies. Its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, head of the Revolutionary Guard, is pursuing a political strategy whose goal is to restore the Persian Empire. Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be viewed in these grandiose terms. As for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is Khamenei’s subordinate.

“Ahmadinejad’s imprecations “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” should not be dismissed as the ranting of a maniac. It is a double entendre. It prompts the naïve to trivialize, hence obscure, Iran’s Machiavellian modus operandi. For the cognoscenti, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” signify the demise of Christianity and Judaism and the global ascendancy of Islam.”

If we ignore these warnings, it is at our own peril. If the age of the American collapse has begun, will other free nations be able to survive? I think not. I believe that helping to keep those nations’ sovereignty intact is a discussion that warrants prudence, careful policy and a willingness to see our world as the dangerous place it is.

If you’re interested, I also recorded a podcast on this topic (which you can listen to here).