President Joe Biden, soon after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis, publicly vowed his administration’s “rock solid and unwavering” support to Israel, “just as we have from the moment the United States became the first nation to recognize Israel, 11 minutes after its founding, 75 years ago.”

Since Oct. 7, Israel has aimed to eliminate Hamas by undertaking a punishing bombing campaign in Gaza that has killed 14,000 civilians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. And Biden has faced mounting public pressure to find a way to support Israel that does not ignore the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Biden administration “appears to have played a key role in negotiating a temporary truce and an exchange of hostages and prisoners between Israel and Hamas,” writes USC Dornsife scholar Fayez Hammad. And that balancing of interests in its Israel policy is not something new for American presidents, Hammad says in his story that charts the US-Israel relationship from before Israel was founded.

Yet, while the U.S. has traditionally supported Israel, that support has not been solely altruistic. Standing with Israel’s interests has often been a means to achieve American goals and purposes, rather than solely an end in itself. And, writes Hammad, a review of U.S. presidents’ policies shows “that the U.S.-Israel relationship has not always been ‘rock solid.’”

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Democracy

U.S. President Harry Truman holds a Torah given to him by Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, in May 1948. Bettmann via Getty Images

A brief history of the US-Israel ‘special relationship’ shows how connections have shifted since long before the 1948 founding of the Jewish state

Fayez Hammad, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

A historian of the Middle East examines the decades-old ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the US.

Citizens have sometimes been surprised to find public officials blocking people from viewing their social media feeds. alashi/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

Supreme Court to consider giving First Amendment protections to social media posts

Lynn Greenky, Syracuse University

The Supreme Court will hear five cases this term that will examine the nature of online discussion spaces run by social media platforms.

President Richard Nixon, left, speaks with national security adviser Henry Kissinger at the White House in September 1972. AP Photo

A tortured and deadly legacy: Kissinger and realpolitik in US foreign policy

Jarrod Hayes, UMass Lowell

Henry Kissinger’s influence on US foreign policy was profound. His transactional approach – avowedly values free – included support of murderous and genocidal foreign leaders.

West Bank’s settler violence problem is a second sign that Israel’s policy of ignoring Palestinians’ drive for a homeland isn’t a long-term solution

Dana El Kurd, University of Richmond

While the war in Gaza has riveted public attention, the simultaneous escalation of violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank is not disconnected from the violence in Gaza.

Henry Kissinger’s bombing campaign likely killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians − and set path for the ravages of the Khmer Rouge

Sophal Ear, Arizona State University

A Cambodian scholar who fled the Khmer Rouge as a child writes about the legacy of Henry Kissinger, who died at the age of 100 on Nov 28, 2023.

Edward Blum’s crusade against affirmative action has used the legal strategy developed by civil rights activists

Julian Maxwell Hayter, University of Richmond

Without much scrutiny or fanfare, Edward Blum has led the attack against federal minority voter protection laws and the use of race in college admissions.

A ceasefire is far from lasting peace – a national security expert on the Israel-Hamas deal

Gregory F. Treverton, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

A cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas has seen the release of 58 hostages held in Gaza and 111 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

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