Israel and Vietnam


The threat to Israel’s survival compels democratic socialists to reconsider their attitude toward American foreign policy in the face of unabated Communist expansionism in the Near East as well as Southeast Asia. One such effort is Irving Howe’s “Vietnam and Israel” (September-October 1970), which poignantly reveals the moral dilemma, but which unfortunately leaves the necessary questions unanswered.

(1) The first question is, “Why is it our duty to support Israel?” Is it in the interest of the survival of the State of Israel qua Israel? In defense of a democratic state? In defense of valid American interests? In the interest of socialism? Or, is it possibly in defense of the principle that every state, without regard to its internal structure or government, has the inherent right to exist free of foreign aggression, direct and indirect, and that it is a proper exercise of American foreign policy to come to the aid of a nation so threatened? The only affirmative reason advanced for justifying American and world support is that Israel is a democratic state. Is this inserted to logically exclude the right of survival of non-democratic states (such...

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