Open Letter from nearly 100 Retired U.S. Military Leaders in Support of Israel

by | May 30, 2024 | Other News

Given our experience as retired American military leaders, we are very concerned about the security impacts of increasingly strained U.S.-Israel ties as Israel becomes a growing source of domestic division. We therefore feel compelled to declare that a strong Israel is vital to the United States national security, and it is imperative that America unequivocally stand by this indispensable ally.

Amid surging antisemitism in America and the world, following the largest one-day loss of innocent Jewish life since the Holocaust, U.S. support for the only Jewish state should be clear, unwavering, and not conditioned. The benefits of this partnership for the American people and this important region are many, and too valuable, to forsake.

America must support Israel as it restores its security, shattered on October 7, against Iran and its terrorist proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen that all seek to destroy the Jewish state. These forces are also enemies of the United States and everything we stand for. This Iranian-backed axis of terror, as well as other adversaries and allies around the world, are watching closely to see whether the United States will stand by one of its closest allies fighting in self-defense, even when the going gets tough.

Against these barbaric enemies, Israel stands on the front lines of the fight for civilization, the lone stable, democratic American ally in a critical, yet tumultuous, region. Israel is a visceral part of the West with its liberal democracy, ethnically diverse population, and support for individual rights. Even in facing adversaries who respect neither the laws of war nor human life, we believe Israel has fought in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

Outside the United States, Israel arguably has the most innovative economy in the world. It is a leader in nearly all the key technologies that will determine whether the global balance of power in the 21st-century continues to favor U.S.-led forces of freedom and democracy. 

Israel also has one of the most capable militaries and intelligence services in the world, to America’s benefit. Our militaries work hand in glove, sharing intelligence and military lessons, and co-developing cutting-edge defense technologies. More than any other American ally, Israel has always sought to defend itself by itself. Still, U.S. forces recently helped defend Israel against an Iranian onslaught. Israel’s military and intelligence services have also often protected U.S. soldiers and citizens and provided critical intelligence.

Israel has traditionally been the source of overwhelming bipartisan support. So it should remain. We can disagree, as all allies do, but signs of public division only embolden the forces of violence, instability, and extremism that threaten both America and Israel. When we stand together, however, peace and regional stability become possible. 

In these challenging times, we reaffirm our friendship and bond with the State of Israel—and urge all Americans to stand by our close friend and partner.

VADM Herman A. Shelanski, USN (ret) was one of the signers.