Israel's war is America's, too

'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' are just different slogans for the same hatred

Houthi flag
Protestors lift Palestinian and Houthi anti-US flags during a rally
(Image credit: Mohammed Hamoud / Getty Images)

God is the greatest / Death to America / Death to Israel / A curse upon the Jews / Victory to Islam. If you are ever at a loss to find the motivations of America's enemies on the world political stage, it's helpful to think back on the slogan that Yemen's Ansar Allah — the Houthis — put on their flag. In the Gaza war, the Houthis, who have bombed shipping in the Persian Gulf ostensibly in sympathy with the plight of Palestinians, are bit players. But their slogan nicely crystallizes the issue. Death to America / Death to Israel: The two are intertwined. After our foes are done with Israel, they can move on to the main event. In Ukraine, things are little different. After Russia invaded Ukraine, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian billionaire turned exiled dissident, wrote that "Putin, in his head, has long been at war not with Ukraine, but with America." 

Putin's strategy of poisoning American debate to separate the U.S. from Ukraine is transparent. The designs of Hamas, Iran, and their fellow travelers are similar. Nicaragua, led by the repressive Daniel Ortega, last month led a bizarre genocide case against Germany at the International Court of Justice for supplying weapons to Israel. Is Ortega's target Germany, or Israel? Or is it really the United States — the country Ortega has fought with for four decades? When crowds wave signs deploring settler colonialism and the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian territories takes to X to deplore the "unlawful endeavor" of "settler colonialism," the ultimate settler-colonialist state they have in mind is not Israel. Gaza has been a terrible war, and there are legitimate questions about the Israeli military's conduct. But if the U.S. fails to back its allies, and Israel in particular, that will not win us any friends. It will be seen for what it is: a defeat for the United States. And it will be an invitation to America's enemies to bring their wars ever closer to us.

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Mark Gimein

Mark Gimein is a managing editor at the print edition of The Week. His work on business and culture has appeared in BloombergThe New YorkerThe New York Times and other outlets. A Russian immigrant, and has lived in the United States since the age of five, and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.