Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

James Siekmeier

Committee Co-Chair

Scott Crichlow

Committee Member

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Ken Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Joseph Hodge


This dissertation explores the development of U.S.-Israel relations during a crucial period---the Presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, 1968--76. This was a crucial period because U.S. aid to Israel skyrocketed during these years, especially military aid. Importantly, U.S.--Israel relations are examined not only through presidential policies, which other scholars have done, but also through congressional activity. Congress consistently pushed both Presidents to sell more and more weapons to Israel, which would allow the U.S. to project strength abroad during the Cold War---especially given the deteriorating situation in Vietnam---and create job opportunities at home during the hard economic times of the 1970s. Yet the White House resisted as it was leading delicate negotiations connected to the Arab-Israeli peace process. This dissertation discusses how the U.S. Congress used the issue of weapons sales to forcefully challenge White House diplomacy connected to the peace process. Over the course of the Nixon-Ford years, the White House consistently sought to use the threat of withholding aid from Israel, especially military aid, to get Israel to be more "flexible" in peace negotiations in the region. Thus, congressional activity had a two-pronged effect---it substantially strengthened the U.S.--Israel relationship through weapons sales, and also weakened the ability of the White House to facilitate peace agreements.