Trends in US Congressional Support for Israel
American political leaders have supported the “special relationship” between the US and Israel since the earliest days of Israel’s existence. Support for Israel is invariably invoked during presidential campaigns and in party platforms. During their terms in office, US presidents regularly address issues relating to Israel and assert their commitment to Israel’s security.
A better gauge of trends in congressional activity with regard to Israel is the sponsorship of bills and resolutions designed to demonstrate support. This study uses such sponsorship to investigate the direction of congressional activity toward Israel over the past four decades. It addresses four issues: the frequency with which members of Congress show support for Israel through legislative action; the correlation of congressional activity toward Israel with wider trends of congressional activity regarding foreign policy; the ways in which Congress’s use of this tool on Israel’s behalf has changed; and the differences in trends between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
This investigation by Dr. Amnon Cavari with Elan Nyer of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya shows that while congressional support for Israel has historically transcended the partisan divide, the parties are growing less cooperative with regard to the means by which to express that support. The authors term this development as “Congressional Dysergia.”
As long as the cost of support for Israel remains low, the growing partisan divisions are likely to remain muted. That can change, however, if the relationship with Israel becomes perceived as a threat to American security and interests.