Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Stephen Berk




Cold War, Israel, foreign policy, international relations


Today the relationship between the United States and Israel includes multiple bi‐lateral initiatives in the military, industrial, and private sectors. Israel is Americas most established ally in the Middle East and the two countries are known to possess a “special relationship” highly valued by the United States. Although diplomatic relations between the two countries drive both American and Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East today, following the establishment of the State of Israel the United States originally did not advance major aid and benefits to the new state. While current foreign policy focuses on preserving the strong relationship with the only democratic nation in the Middle East, Israel, during the Cold War era the United States global foreign policy focused on combating Soviet Influence and containing the spread of communism. The early relationship between the United States and Israel was contrived around United States Cold War strategies that dominated U.S. foreign policy for the greater part of the 20th Century. All the presidents ranging from Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman all supported the proposition of a Jewish national home in the Middle East. American support for Israel was not engineered by domestic lobbies or the American Jewish population, but emerged as a strategic relationship during the Cold War era. American support for Israel was originally predicated upon early commitments the United States upheld including the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and United Nations Resolution 181 (1947) which both dictated a form of a Jewish home in the area known as Palestine. In order to maintain an image of American credibility, and out maneuver the Soviet Union, the United States became the first nation to extend de facto recognition of the State of Israel on May 14, 1949. The United States policy during the first decade of Israel’s existence was reflexive of greater global U.S. foreign policy focused on combating Communist expansion. In its early years, Israel originally adopted a policy of non‐alignment with both the Western and Soviet Powers in order for the state to receive opportunities available from both blocks. The United States took a hesitant approach towards Israel and focused on building relationships with the Arab states in the Middle East. American Cold War policy dictated American policy towards Israel. The origins of the American affiliation with Israel derive from Israel’s commitment to anti‐communism following Arab alignment and arms cooperation with the Soviet block in the 1950’s. In order to maintain a balance of Western and Soviet power in the Middle East the United States shifted its attitude towards Israel and sought to strengthen the two countries relationship. The sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles marked the turning point in the U.S.‐Israel relationship and led to the bi-national military collaborations the two countries are known for today.