Bay Area professors say public pressure, Iran strike complicate U.S. policy on Israel

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Monday that he plans to put aid for Israel up for a vote, by separating the funding from other more controversial aid packages to Ukraine

The vote would come during a time of increasing public pressure on Congress and the White House. 

Large-scale protests were held across the nation Monday to send a coordinated message to Congress and the White House calling for more U.S. pressure on Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop civilian casualties and increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza war.

"There is growing opposition to the Israeli war and not because people are anti-Israel, necessarily, although some of them indeed are, but because of the very high civilian death toll," said Stephen Zunes, a University of San Francisco Professor of Politics and International Studies.

"A sizable majority of Americans, according to polls, believe that U.S. military aid to Israel should be conditional on human rights," Zunes said.

President Biden's recent criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's war on Hamas and demand for humanitarian aid in Gaza, now comes with new complications.

Iran's weekend airstrikes on Israel forced the U.S. and other countries to assist with Israel's defense.

"The U.S. is walking a very fine line. On the one hand, the U.S. is not pleased with Israel's activities in Gaza...but in defense of Israel, the United States has committed itself to it historically for a long time," said Associate Professor Maziar Behrooz, with the San Francisco State University History Department.

Behrooz says Iran's hardline rulers made a big shift in their policy by issuing a direct attack on Israel.

"This is very significant. Iran up to this point has been following a doctrine which is known as "strategic patience" with Israel, harassing Israel with allies around the country, but not directly getting involved," Behrooz said.

Behrooz says Iranian news outlets are claiming victory, even though Israel, with the help of the U.S. and other allies, shot down most of the hundreds of drones and missiles Iran fired Saturday.

Iran says it was retaliation for Israel's April 1st attack on Iran's consulate in Damascus, Syria.


‘A15’ Pro-Palestine protests disrupt traffic in multiple cities across US

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked freeways and bridges in Illinois, California, New York and Oregon on Monday.

"Today they said if Israel attacks the Iranian mainland, they will attack not in a few days, but in a few seconds," Behrooz said.

On Monday, Israel promised a counterattack.

"Iran will face the consequences for its actions. We will choose our response accordingly," General Herzi Halevi of the Israel Defense Forces said.

The U.S., U.K. and other countries, however, are urging restraint, saying Israel has already proven its military superiority with its defense against Iran's attack.

This attack failed because it was defeated by Israel, by the United States, and by a coalition of other partners committed to Israel's defense," said John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, "The President urged the Prime Minister to think about what that success says all by itself to the rest of region."

"We are working urgently with our allies to de-escalate the situation and prevent further bloodshed," U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, "All sides must show restraint."

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or