Archive for March, 2010
Norman Finkelstein on Israel, Palestinians and Iraq
The following URL was also mentioned near the end of the call:
US Explicitly Opposes Palestinian Right to Self-Determination
I think Phil Weiss nailed it with the following blog entry of his for mondoweiss.net
Finkelstein, a Victim of the Israel Lobby, Denies That It Has Power
Dr. Sniegoski’s ‘The Transparent Cabal’ book was also mentioned by Richard Ingrams in the UK Independent newspaper this past December (one can access the link for such in the comments section at the bottom of the following URL if interested further):
Britain’s Inquiry into the Iraq War and the Israel Lobby Taboo
AIPAC rallying pressure on Obama over Israel
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has circulated a letter on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to pressure the administration of President Barack Obama to end its public criticism of Israeli policies.
The open letter, signed by more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives, urges the administration to reinforce its relationship with the Israeli regime.
The apparent disagreement between the US and Israel was sparked after Tel Aviv’s announcement of 1,600 new Jewish settlement units in the occupied East Jerusalem (al-Quds), which undermined the Washington-sponsored “proximity talks” with Palestinians.
After the Israeli announcement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express the US frustration. She told the hard-line Israeli premier that the latest settlements announcement was “a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach” to relations with the US, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on March 12 in Washington.
The Palestinians have been demanding an end to Israeli settlements constructions on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, which the international community also deems as illegal.
The recent settlements expansion plan is even more provocative as it targets east al-Quds, which was annexed by Israel during its 1967 invasion of its Arab neighbors. East al-Quds has long been designated by Palestinians as the capital of their future state and it includes the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest place.
Israel lobby presses Congress to soften Obama’s tough stance on Netanyahu
American Israel Public Affairs Committee circulates letter urging White House to ‘reinforce’ relationship with Israel
Chris McGreal in Washington Tuesday 30 March 2010 19.24 BST
Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel. Photograph: Pete Souza/AP
America’s main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilising members of Congress to pressure the White House over its bitter public confrontation with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
The move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), appears aimed at exploiting differences in the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel towards concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.
Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to “reinforce” its relationship with the Jewish state.
The open letter, which has been circulating among members of Congress for the last week, says that while it is recognised that there will be differences between the two countries, they should be kept behind closed doors. “Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence,” it says.
The public differences, and revelations of Obama’s private snubs of Netanyahu at the White House last week, have proved embarrassing to the Israeli leader at home, where he has been accused of undermining Israel’s most important relationship.
Signatories to Aipac’s letter include Steny Hoyer, the Democrat majority leader, and Eric Cantor, the Republican whip. The wording is similar to an email Aipac sent out during Netanyahu’s visit, describing Obama’s criticisms of the Israeli government as “a matter of serious concern” and calling on the US administration “to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish state”.
But while Aipac has for years influenced US policy on Israel, by targeting members of Congress who criticise the Jewish state, it may no longer have the same impact.
Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs, said the administration’s decision to take a once routine disagreement over settlement construction in East Jerusalem and turn it in to a confrontation is a reflection of the determination in the White House.
“This episode tells us more about the past and the future than the present. It’s a reflection of the accumulated frustration and mistrust of the Netanyahu government by the White House. For the future, they’re headed for a collision on the pace and nature of peace negotiations,” he said. “We’re seeing determination.”
A source, who is consulted by administration officials on Israel policy but did not wish to be named, said that having chosen to take Netanyahu on, Obama cannot afford to back away. “The administration’s credibility is at stake – in Israel and the Arab world. Netanyahu thought he had the better of it last year after he humiliated the president by rejecting his demand for a settlement freeze. If the administration does not follow through on this, or reaches some compromise that takes the heat off the Israelis, I suspect it will be almost impossible for us to get anything off the ground,” he said.
Netanyahu appears to have been caught off guard by Obama’s stand, perhaps because he was overconfident of being able to bypass the administration by relying on strong support for Israel in Congress. But while Aipac has been able to mobilise support for its letter, Congressional leaders have remained largely silent on the substance of the dispute.
That is, in part, because there is little enthusiasm for Jewish settlements. In addition, the White House has played an unusual card in suggesting that Netanyahu’s intransigence is endangering US interests in the Middle East, and the lives of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“So far, I’ve been surprised by how muted congressional reaction has been,” said Malley. “It may come, but if the administration manages to portray this as an issue of US national interest, it may be able to sustain a level of criticism.”
However, there are reports of divisions within the administration on how to proceed. The US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, and the national security adviser, James Jones, believe Israeli governments respond to pressure. Last year an Israeli diplomatic memorandum described Jones as having told European officials that the US administration would take a hard line with the government in Jerusalem. Some officials favour mapping out a blueprint for peace and pressing both sides to adopt it.
But other officials argue against forcing Netanyahu to make compromises that will bring down his rightwing coalition. There has been criticism from Dennis Ross, who served as Bill Clinton’s Middle East envoy. Now a Middle East strategist for the Obama administration, he is reported to be arguing for the White House to ease up on Netanyahu. However, Ross is regarded by some sceptics as too close to Israel. He has publicly argued that Jerusalem must remain undivided and is regarded with suspicion by the Palestinians, who saw him as effectively negotiating on Israel’s behalf, rather than as a neutral mediator.
Malley says that whatever the Obama administration does it is almost certain to lead to further confrontation with the Israeli government. “The next crisis is more or less inevitable, given the diverging views of the Israeli and US governments on the pace and direction of the emerging talks,” he said.
War of words
“We must not be trapped by an illogical and unreasonable demand.”
Binyamin Netanyahu, below, on Obama’s demand for an end to settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
“I think at one point the [Israeli] prime minister added that he did not see a distinction necessarily between building in Jerusalem and building in Tel Aviv. We disagree with that.”
White House spokesman on Netanyahu’s reaction to the demand for an end to settlement construction.
“We recognise that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues, both large and small. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits long-standing strategic allies.”
Letter signed by members of Congress pressing the administration to avoid such public disagreements.
Biden incident not the first time Israel tugged our reins
Appeared in print: Monday, Mar 29, 2010
Is there really a crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations? Yes and no.
Yes, because the world’s premier power doesn’t care to have its vice president publicly humiliated by a nation where the entire population is smaller than that of Los Angeles County. No, because the elected politicians nominally running the government of the world’s premier power live in mortal fear of the Israel lobby in the United States. This time, as always, No will carry the day.
So, yes, we can call it a crisis, but not one that was prolonged. Barack Obama is not the first president to have lost patience with Israel for messing up Uncle Sam’s larger plans. Hillary Clinton is not the first secretary of state to shout angrily down the phone to Tel Aviv.
But the dust already is settling. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t stop new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The United States will go on issuing all required loan guarantees. Some pro forma “concessions” by Israel will be deemed enough to permit the quisling Palestinian Authority to participate in what ludicrously is called “the peace process.”
Recall other crises, all satisfactorily resolved in Israel’s favor.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly blamed Israel for the breakdown of negotiations with Egypt over withdrawing from the Sinai. Ford said he was going to tell the American people that U.S.-Israel relations should be recast.
Prodded by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, 76 U.S. senators signed a letter to Ford telling him to lay off Israel. He did.
In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter was forced to apologize after his U.N. representative, Donald McHenry, voted for a resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement policies in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and that called on Israel to dismantle them.
In June of the same year — after Carter requested a halt to Jewish settlements and his secretary of state, Edmund Muskie, called the Jewish settlements an obstacle to peace — Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced plans to construct 10 new ones.
In August 1982, the day after President Ronald Reagan requested that Ariel Sharon end the bombing of Beirut, Sharon responded by ordering bombing runs over the city at precisely 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon, the times coinciding with the two U.N. resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
In March 1991, Secretary of State James Baker complained to Congress that, “Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process … I have been met with an announcement of new settlement activity. … It substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process, and creates quite a predicament.”
In 1990, Baker had become so disgusted with Israel’s intransigence on the settlements that he publicly gave out the phone number of the White House switchboard and told the Israelis, “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”
On Sept. 12, 1991, President George H.W. Bush got sufficiently infuriated by the pro-Israeli lobby’s success in getting enough votes in both houses of Congress to override his veto of Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees that he declared to the TV cameras, “I’m up against some powerful forces. They’ve got something like 1,000 lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely little guy here doing it.” A national poll taken immediately afterward gave the president an 85 percent approval rating. The lobby blinked, but not for long. Not only did the loan guarantees ultimately go through, but Jewish voters turned strongly against Bush in the 1992 elections, a fact that George W. Bush never forgot.
In January 2009, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly boasted that he had “shamed” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by getting Bush to prevent her at the last moment from voting for a Gaza cease-fire resolution that she herself had worked on for several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United Nations.
Olmert bragged to an Israeli audience that he pulled Bush off a stage during a speech to take his call when he learned about the pending vote and demanded that the president intervene.
“I have no problem with what Olmert did,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward. “I think the mistake was to talk about it in public.”
I should note that this list does not reach into the dark backward of time and such ringing affirmations of the relationship as Israel’s assault on the USS Liberty in June 1967, killing 34 and wounding 171, all covered up by the Johnson administration, most notably Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara.
In sum, as Stephen Green wrote in “Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations With Militant Israel” (Morrow, 1984), “Since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of U.S. policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues.”
So yes, the crisis soon will be over. And no, there is no new era in the offing for U.S.-Israel relations.
Alexander Cockburn writes for The Nation and other publications from his home in Petrolia, Calif.
Obama Squeezed Between Israel and Iran
By Pepe Escobar
March 26, 2010 ”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual show in Washington would hardly be out of place in a Quentin Tarantino movie; picture a giant hall crammed with 7,500 very powerful people regimented by a very powerful lobby – plus half of the United States Senate and more than a third of the congress – basically calling in unison for Palestinian and Iranian blood.
The AIPAC 2010 show predictably was yet one more “bomb Iran” special; but it was also a call to arms against the Barack Obama administration, as far as the turbo-charging of the illegal colonization of East Jerusalem is concerned.
The administration has reacted to the quarrel with a masterpiece of schizophrenic kabuki (classical Japanese dance-drama) theater. Corporate media insisted there was a deep “crisis” between the unshakeable allies. Nonsense. One just has to look at the facts.
Only 10 days after scolding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 43 minutes over the phone, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up at AIPAC spinning the usual platitudes. At least she talked about a “change of facts on the ground” in Palestine and stressed the current status quo is untenable. Netanyahu for his part apparently told Clinton in private (and later Obama as well) that Israel would take “confidence-building measures” in the West Bank, but would continue anyway to build settlements like there’s no tomorrow.
When Clinton switched to Iran demonization mode, she was met with universal rapture. The Obama administration will “not accept a nuclear-armed Iran”; is working on sanctions “that will bite”; and the leadership in Iran must know there are “real consequences” for not coming clean with their nuclear program. The demonization seemed to turn Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei into a paradigm of wisdom. Khamenei remarked this week, “If they are extending a metal hand inside a velvet glove, we won’t accept it.”
Israel rules, Washington follows
AIPAC arm-twisted members of the US Congress to sign a letter to the White House calling for the US to bypass the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally sanction Iran. And AIPAC also urged lawmakers to pass with no comments the annual US$3 billion US aid to Israel. This means the new made-in-USA F-35 fighter jets Israel buys will be basically financed by US taxpayers.
No surprises here. This is a congress that backed Israel’s assault in Gaza in late 2008 and condemned the Goldstone Report on Israeli atrocities in that conflict by a vote of 334 to 36. After all, the Democratic party depends heavily on very wealthy Jewish – and Zionist – donors for a chunk of its budget.
Just one day after Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the building of 1,600 exclusively Jewish apartments in East Jerusalem (part of a planned, non-negotiable 50,000 which will block it from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state and prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank), publicly humiliated US Vice President Joe Biden went to Tel Aviv University and told his audience he is … a Zionist.
He added, “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States.”
Of course it does not matter that General David “I’m positioning myself for 2012” Petraeus, chief of US Central Command, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the Israeli-Arab conflict “foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel”. Even though “perception” may be the understatement of the millennium, as a potential Republican presidential candidate Petraeus knows he will be in deep trouble with the Republican hardcore Christians and with the Christian-Zionist fringe.
When Obama, as a presidential candidate, addressed AIPAC on June 3, 2008, he said, “We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran … I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. Everything and I mean everything.” Obama even pulled a Netanyahu avant la lettre and declared, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
At AIPAC this week, Netanyahu said the Israelis were already building in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and will continue to do so. Even without referring to Israel’s religious supremacist and colonialist approach to Jerusalem for these past few decades, historian and Middle East expert Juan Cole at his blog “Informed Comment” demolished Bibi’s claim. For instance, “Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2,700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so.”
Cole points out that Muslims, Egyptians, Romans, Iranians and Greeks have the greatest claim on the city.
All in all, it’s no wonder Stephen Green, in Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with Militant Israel, a book published in 1984, had already noted how “since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues.”
Former Moldovan bouncer turned Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is basically a spokesman for Zionist settlers and a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He can tell the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel that “Iran is threatening the whole world” and still get away with it. No wonder multitudes across the developing world – and not only Muslim lands – increasingly deplore Zionism policies of occupation/colonization, targeted assassinations, Lebensraum (living space) and degrading Palestinians.
But crisis? What crisis? Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies could not have put it better. “Someone seems to have told the Obama administration that a series of polite requests equals pressure. It doesn’t. Real pressure looks like this: ‘Please stop settlements.’ Answer: ‘No.’ ‘Then, you know that [the] $30 billion that [former president George W] Bush arranged for you from US tax money, and we agreed to pay – you can kiss that goodbye.’ That’s what pressure looks like.”
It won’t happen. This “crisis” between Tel Aviv and Washington is a non-event. On the other hand, no one knows exactly whatever hardball Obama and Netanyahu played behind closed doors for three-and-a-half hours in Washington. Did Netanyahu “spit into Obama’s eye”, according to Israeli Labor Party member Eitan Cabel? Or was this was just more kabuki designed to obscure a not-so-silent drive towards an attack on Iran – where once again fresh American blood will be spilled to placate a non-existent “existential threat” to Israel?
The Poodle Gets Kicked
Posted By Patrick J. Buchanan On March 15, 2010
Actually, Joe set himself up. From the moment he set foot on Israeli soil, our vice president was in full pander mode.
First, he headed to Yad Vashem memorial, where he put on a yarmulke and declared Israel “a central bolt in our existence.”
“For world Jewry,” Joe went on, presumably including 5 million Americans, “Israel is the heart. … Israel is the light. … Israel is the hope.”
Meeting Shimon Peres the next day, Joe confessed that when he first visited at age 29, “Israel captured my heart.”
In Peres’ guestbook, he wrote, “The bond between our two nations has been and remains unshakable.”
He then told Peres and the world, “There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.”
As Peres spoke, Biden took notes. When Peres called him “a friend,” Joe gushed, “It’s good to be home.”
Even at AIPAC, they must have been gagging.
Walking around the corner to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, Joe called him by his nickname, “Bibi,” declared him a “real” friend, and said the U.S. relationship with Israel “has been and will continue to be the centerpiece of our policy.”
Then the sandbag hit.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced construction of 1,600 new apartment units in Arab East Jerusalem. Stunned and humiliated, Biden issued a statement saying he “condemned” the decision.
He then retaliated by coming late to dinner at Bibi’s house.
Netanyahu has apologized for the timing, but they are going ahead with the apartments. What are the Americans going to do about it? At this point, nothing but bluster.
Indeed, a day later, at Tel Aviv University, Joe was back at it: “[T]he U.S. has no better friend … than Israel.”
On his departure for Jordan, Ha’aretz reported that Israel plans to build 50,000 new homes in East Jerusalem over the next few years.
Biden may feel he was played for a fool, and Americans may feel jilted, but we got what grovelers deserve. And if we wish to understand why the Arabs who once respected us now seem contemptuous of us, consider that battered-spouse response to a public slap across the face.
Consider also the most remarkable statement of Biden’s first 24 hours.
“Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel.”
Biden is saying we are a more effective force for Mideast peace in a region where Arabs outnumber Israelis 50 to one if everyone knows we sing from the same song sheet as Israel and have no policy independent of Israel’s.
How can America be seen as an honest broker between Arabs and Israelis if there is “no space” between America and Israel?
Even with the closest ally in our history, Britain in World War II, there was space between Winston Churchill and FDR on where to invade – North Africa, Italy, France, the Balkans? – whether to beat Stalin to Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, who should be supreme allied commander, even whether the British Empire should survive.
Israel keeps its own interests foremost in mind, and when these dictate actions inimical to U.S. interests, Israel acts unilaterally. David Ben-Gurion did not seek Dwight Eisenhower’s permission to attack Egypt in collusion with the French and British in 1956, enraging Ike.
Israel did not consult JFK on whether it could steal enriched uranium from the NUMEC plant in Pennsylvania for its atom bomb program.
Israel did not consult us on whether it could attack the USS Liberty in the Six-Day War, or suborn Jonathan Pollard to loot our security secrets, or transfer our weapons technology to China. They went ahead and did it, knowing the Americans would swallow hard and take it.
Ehud Olmert did not consult President-elect Obama on whether to launch a war on Gaza and kill 1,400 Palestinians. Nor did Netanyahu consult us before Mossad took down the Hamas minister in Dubai.
What Netanyahu and Yishai are telling Obama with their decision to keep building on occupied land is, “When it comes to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, we decide, not you.”
And if Netanyahu has jolted Joe and others out of their romantic reveries about Israel, good. At least now we no longer see as through a glass darkly.
Israeli and U.S. interests often run parallel, but they are not the same. Israel is concerned with a neighborhood. We are concerned with a world of 300 million Arabs and a billion Muslims. Our policies cannot be the same.
If they are, we will end up with all of Israel’s enemies, who are legion, and only Israel’s friends, who are few.
And if our policy and Israel’s are one and the same, the Arab perception will be what it is today – that America cannot stand up to Israel, even when her national interests command it.
Joe’s performance before he got the wet mitten across the face only underscored the point: The mighty superpower is a poodle of Israel.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM
Read more by Patrick J. Buchanan
•Bibi’s Hollow Victory – March 25th, 2010
•The Wars of Tribe and Faith – March 18th, 2010
•Liquidating the Empire – February 22nd, 2010
•Is Iran Running a Bluff? – February 15th, 2010
•Will Obama Play the War Card? – February 4th, 2010
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Fierce debate on Israel underway inside Obama administration (UPDATED)
A Crisis in U.S. / Israeli Relations? Sure. But …
Why Israel Always Prevails
By JEFFREY BLANKFORT
If the State Department had issued travel advisory warnings to US government officials about to travel to Israel, Vice President Joe Biden would have no doubt ignored them. A better friend to Israel could not have been found in the 36 years that Biden represented Delaware in the US Senate and there was speculation that his popularity among Jewish voters and major Jewish donors was the primary reason he was added to the Democratic ticket. According to all reports, Biden’s trip was to mend fences with the Israeli officials and with the Israeli Jewish public which had become disenchanted with the Obama administration where the president’s popularity is measured in the low single digits.
Indeed, even a day after having been blind-sided by the announcement that Israel would build 1600 new and exclusively Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, Biden was still trying. In a prepared speech, he once again bragged, this time to a Tel Aviv university audience, that he was a Zionist and that, “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States,” a statement that should raise questions about dual loyalties and which, curiously, was omitted from all reports on his speech in the US press.
In addition, Biden repeated what he said on his arrival in Jerusalem, that, “There is no space — this is what they [the world] must know, every time progress is made, it’s made when the rest of the world knows there is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space. That’s the only time when progress has been made.” Biden did not offer any examples of such progress and would have had a hard time doing so.
It was not until the end of his speech, after he had thoroughly regurgitated the standard Israeli line on the threats to its existence from Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, that he felt safe to offer words of criticism for his treatment at the hands of his hosts. The words of condemnation issued the previous day, however, were patently missing. Almost apologizing for doing so, Biden told his audience:
“Now, some legitimately may have been surprised that such a strong supporter of Israel for the last 37 years and beyond… as an elected official, how I can speak out so strongly given the ties that I share as well as my country shares with Israel. But quite frankly, folks, sometimes only a friend can deliver the hardest truth.
“And I appreciate… the response your Prime Minister today announced this morning that he is putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence of that sort of that sort of events [sic] and who clarified that the beginning of actual construction on this particular project would likely take several years … That’s significant, because it gives negotiations the time to resolve this, as well as other outstanding issues. Because when it was announced, I was on the West Bank. Everyone there thought it had meant immediately the resumption of the construction of 1,600 new units.”
What, of course, Biden meant was not that Israel should not be able do as it pleases in East Jerusalem, but that announcements of its plans should be handled in a more tactful manner, when, presumably, he, or other US officials are several thousand miles away.
Biden, of course, was patently ignoring repeated statements by Netanyahu that Israel’s decisions to build in East Jerusalem will not be subject either to pressure from Washington or negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Moreover, as Ha’aretz noted, those projected 1600 units are only a small part of 50,000 units planned for the eastern part of the city, which was annexed in 1967, and which are designed to preclude it not only from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state but also to prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank.
According to Yediot Ahronoth, Israel’s most widely read newspaper, Biden had privately complained to Netanyahu that Israel’s behavior was “starting to get dangerous for us.” “What you’re doing here,” he reportedly said, “undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.” That Biden made such a statement has been denied by the White House, but it follows closely an earlier memorandum sent by General Petraeus to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his testimony before a US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
In his prepared statement, Petraeus depicted the Israeli-Arab conflict as the first “cross cutting challenge to security and stability” in the CENTCOM area of responsibility [AOR]. “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR.”
Treading in an area where few members of the US military have dared to go before, Petraeus observed that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.” It should be noted that neither the NY Times’ Elizabeth Bumiller nor the Washington Post’s Anne Flaherty included any reference to these comments by Petraeus in their coverage of his testimony.
In other words, in the view of Gen. Petraeus, resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is critical to the US national interest and that, plus his reference to the “perception” of Washington’s pro-Israel bias, is what may have been what, for the moment, occasioned President Obama through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ratchet up the criticism and publicly brand Israel’s treatment of Biden as “insulting.”
Rather than letting the issue die, she had her office publicize the fact that she had given a piece of her mind to Netanyahu in a 43 minute phone call in which, according to her spokesperson, P.J. Crowley, she described the planned units in East Jerusalem as sending a “deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president’s trip” and that “this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”
Moreover, she made three demands of Netanyahu that were spelled out in the Israeli press but which were only alluded to in the US media: cancelling the decision to approve the 1600 units, making a “significant” gesture to the Palestinian Authority to get it back to the bargaining table, and issuing a public statement that the indirect talks will deal with all the core issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Pretty heady stuff for those used to see Clinton falling all over herself to show her loyalty to Israel.
To emphasize the US position, the Obama administration cancelled the scheduled visit of Middle East envoy George Mitchell who had planned to meet with Israelis and Palestinians in what had been touted by the administration as “proximity talks.”
The gravity of the situation was not lost upon Israel’s new ambassador, American-born historian, Michael Oren, who, in a conference call with Israel’s US consulates, reportedly expressed the opinion (which he now denies) that this was the worst crisis in US-Israel relations since 1975 when Pres. Gerald Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly blamed Israel for the breakdown of negotiations with Egypt over withdrawing from the Sinai. As a consequence, Ford announced that he was going to make a major speech calling for a reassessment of Israel-US relations. Although hardly the powerhouse that it has become today, AIPAC, the only officially registered pro-Israel lobby, responded to the threat by getting 76 senators to sign a harsh letter to Ford, warning him not to tamper with Israel-US relations. Ford never made the speech and it would not be the last time that AIPAC got three quarters of the US Senate to sign a letter designed to keep an American president in check.
Others point to the nationally televised speech on September 12, 1991 of the first President Bush, who, upon realizing that AIPAC had secured enough votes in both houses of Congress to override his veto of Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees, went before the American public depicting himself as “one lonely little guy” battling a thousand lobbyists on Capitol Hill. A national poll taken immediately afterward gave the president an 85 per cent approval rating which sent the lobby and its Congressional flunkies scuttling into the corner but not before AIPAC director, Tom Dine, exclaimed at that date, Sept. 12, 1991, “would live in infamy.” Following the election of Yitzhak Rabin the following year and up for re-election himself, Bush relented and approved the loan guarantee request.
There are those who, while aware of what happened to Ford and of the subsequent humiliations visited by Israel upon American presidents and secretaries of state, view the Biden affair as a charade designed to placate the heads of Arab governments as well as their respective peoples and give the impression that there is a space between Israel and the US when it comes to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict when, they assert, none exists.
Viewing the unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlements and settlers in the West Bank through one US administration after another for the past four decades they would appear to have a solid argument. It is undermined, however, by one obvious fact: while the rest of the world considers the Israel-Palestine conflict to be a foreign policy concern, for Washington and both Democrats and Republicans it has been and remains primarily a domestic issue. In that arena there is only one player, the pro-Israel “lobby” which is represented by a multitude of organizations, the most prominent of which is AIPAC.
As if it needed more help, flocking to Israel’s side in increasing numbers over the past several decades have come the majority of America’s Christian evangelicals whose doomsday theology fits in nicely with that of Israel’s ultra right wing settler movement. The result is that in each election cycle anyone with any hope of being elected to a national political office, be it in the White House or Congress, whether incumbent or challenger, feels obligated to express his or her unconditional loyalty to Israel by shamelessly groveling for handouts from Jewish donors and the nod from Jewish voters who make up critical voting blocs in at least six states.
This being the case, it is not so strange that a string of leading elected American officials would willingly submit to public humiliation by a country so politically and militarily dependent on the U.S. and whose population is less than that of New York City or Los Angeles County, even when doing so has made the U.S. seem weak in the eyes of a world in which Washington has other, more pressing interests, than pleasing Israel. There is no better example of this phenomenon than Barack Obama whose stature as leader of “the world’s only superpower” has been severely undercut by repeated verbal face-slappings at the hands of Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers.
It clearly has been in the US interest that the Israel-Palestine conflict be peacefully resolved. There is nothing in the proposed “two-state solution” that would interfere with Washington’s regional objectives. On the contrary, the creation of a truncated Palestinian statelet, allied and dependent, politically and financially on the US, as it most certainly would be, would be a boon to US regional interests and ultimately viewed as a setback for anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. It was not just to expend some US taxpayers’ money that the GW Bush administration built a four story security building for the PA in Ramallah (that Sharon later destroyed), brought PA security personnel to Langley, VA for training with the CIA, and had Gen. Dayton build a colonial army to maintain order.
Israeli officials view all of this from a very different perspective, as should be obvious, and will do everything they can to prevent any kind of a Palestinian entity from coming into existence since this would interfere not only with its expansion plans but would also create a junior competitor for US favors in the region. This was why Sharon targeted the US built institutions on the West Bank and the CIA trained personnel during the Al-Aksa Intifada despite the fact that they were non-participants, which raised the hackles at CIA headquarters, as reported at the time in the Washington Post.
What the insult to Biden was clearly designed to do, as were the previous humiliations, was to remind the current and future occupants of the White House that when it comes to making decisions concerning the Middle East, it is Israel that calls the tune. As Stephen Green spelled it out in “Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with Militant Israel” (Morrow, 1984) a quarter century ago, “Since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues.”
That Netanyahu was also taken unawares by the announcement concerning the housing units as he claimed is questionable, particularly since he has apologized only for its timing, not its content and the offending minister remains unpunished. Netanyahu was surely cognizant that next week he will be coming to Washington to speak before AIPAC’s annual policy conference where he will find a greater degree of support than anywhere in his own country. Last year’s conference attracted a record 7,000 attendees plus half of the US Senate and a third of the House and it is likely to be ever larger this year in response to the administration’s perceived hostility to Israel.
Netanyahu will no doubt happily recall that before he met with President Obama for the first time last year, 76 US senators, led by Christopher Dodd and Evan Bayh, and 330 members of the House, sent AIPAC- crafted letters to the president calling on him not to put pressure on the Israeli prime minister when they met. The only report of this in the mainstream media was by a Washington post blogger who noted the AIPAC tagline on the pdf that was circulated among House members. Netanyahu will also be succored by memories of the House’s near unanimous support of Israel’s assault on Gaza and by its 334 to 36 vote condemning the Goldstone Report in its aftermath.
In addition, during last year’s Congressional summer recess, 55 members of the House, 30 Democrats led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and 25 Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, the House’s lone Jewish Republican member, visited Jerusalem. Both groups met with Netanyahu and afterward held press conferences in which they expressed their solidarity with Israel, particularly with its claims on East Jerusalem, at a time when the Obama administration was calling for a settlement freeze. These visits, too, went unreported in the mainstream media.
Under the present circumstances, we can expect to see AIPAC extend every effort to make this year’s event the largest and more successful yet and there should be no doubt that those attending will give a far more rousing welcome to Netanyahu and to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is also on the AIPAC program, than to Secretary of State Clinton.
AIPAC is already posting statements on its website from members of Congress who are taking the Obama administration to task for making its differences with Israel public and for keeping the issue alive when the focus should not be on Jewish settlements but on the growing threat of a nuclear Iran which has been at the top of AIPAC’s agenda since the beginning of the Iraq War.
Nevertheless, given that the Democratic Party remains dependent on wealthy Jewish donors for the bulk of its major funding, estimated to be at least 60 per cent, and that this is an election year, we can expect Clinton to reach out and once again embrace Israel as she did at the 2008 AIPAC conference when, Biden-like, she said, “I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security, because Israel’s security is critical to our security….[A]ll parties must know we will always stand with Israel in its struggle for peace and security. Israel should know that the United States will never pressure her to make unilateral concessions or to impose a made-in-America solution.”
For those with short memories, here is a sampling of past humiliations of US presidents and secretaries of state at the hands of our loyal ally:
March, 1980, President Carter was forced to apologize after US UN representative Donald McHenry voted for a resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement policies in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and which called on Israel to dismantle them. McHenry had replaced Andrew Young who was pressured to resign in 1979 after an Israeli newspaper revealed that he had held a secret meeting with a PLO representative which violated a US commitment to Israel and to the American Jewish community.
June, 1980 After Carter requested a halt to Jewish settlements and his Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie, called the Jewish settlements an obstacle to peace, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced plans to construct 10 new ones.
In December, 1981, 14 days after signing what was described as a memorandum of strategic understanding with the Reagan administration, Israel annexed the Golan Heights “which made it appear that the US either acquiesced in the move or else has absolutely no control over its own ally’s actions. In both cases the US looks bad….he has once again poked his ally, the source of all his most sophisticated weapons and one third of his budget in the eye.” (Lars Erik-Nelson)
In August, 1982, the day after Reagan requested that Ariel Sharon end the bombing of Beirut, Sharon responded by ordering bombing runs over the city at precisely 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon, the times coinciding with the two UN resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
In March, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker complained to Congress that “Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process.., I have been met with an announcement of new settlement activity… It substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process, and creates quite a predicament.” In 1990, he had become so disgusted with Israel’s intransigence on the settlements that he publicly gave out the phone number of the White House switchboard and told the Israelis, “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”
In April 2002, after Pres. George W Bush demanded that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli forces out of Jenin, declaring “Enough is enough!,” he was besieged by a 100,000 emails from supporters of Israel, Jewish and Christian and accused by Bill Safire of choosing Yasser Arafat as a friend over Sharon and by George Will, of losing his “moral clarity.” Within days, a humiliated Bush was declaring Sharon “a man of peace” despite the fact that he had not withdrawn his troops from Jenin.
In January 2009, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly boasted that he had “shamed” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by getting President Bush to prevent her from voting for a Gaza cease-fire resolution at the last moment that she herself had worked on for several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United Nations.
Olmert bragged to an Israeli audience that he pulled Bush off a stage during a speech to take his call when he learned about the pending vote and demanded that the president intervene.
“I have no problem with what Olmert did,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward. “I think the mistake was to talk about it in public.”
That episode and Foxman’s comment may have summed up the history of US-Israel relations.
War, Fifth Columns, and What Won’t Be Asked on 60 Minutes
Have a Nice World War, Folks
By John Pilger
March 25, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.
According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.
“War is fun”, the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair in 1997 as one “who wants to create a world [where] ideology has surrendered entirely to values” (Hugo Young, the Guardian) compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.
Western war-states such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the anti-war instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police “kettled” (corralled) thousands, first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry custodial sentences. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal war has become a serious crime.
Silence in other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature, journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the “market” or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991, the US Defence Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system and lead to “increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease”. So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population: one of the causes, noted Unicef, of the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently has no name.
Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”
This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.
In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.
“Human beings will generally exercise power when they can get it, and they will exercise it most undoubtedly in popular governments under pretense of public safety.” — Daniel Webster – (1782-1852), US Senator
Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq “1,366,350”
Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’s War On Iraq: 4,704
Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,700
Total Cost of Wars Since 2001
Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan
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Stop Funding the Israelis
Posted By Justin Raimondo On March 23, 2010
If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the AIPAC conference isn’t a reason for the US to declare – finally – that they’ve had quite enough of the “special relationship,” then nothing is. After ambushing the Vice President of the United States with an announcement that new “settlements” are in the works, the Prime Minister then took his anti-American jihad to the enemy’s very gates, in Washington, D.C., where he invoked what Cato policy analyst Justin Logan trenchantly described as “the fallacy of ‘39”:
“Seventy-five years ago, many leaders around the world put their heads in the sand. Untold millions died in the war that followed. Ultimately, two of history’s greatest leaders helped turn the tide.
“Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill helped save the world. But they were too late to save six million of my own people. The future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.”
It’s always 1939 for Israel’s amen corner, and the Holocaust is always invoked as justification for whatever atrocities they’re whitewashing at the moment, but, really, one has to ask, if the Israelis are so damned independent-minded, why don’t they start “defending” their state all by their lonesome selves? That means we can pull the billions we send them – both economic “stimulus” and military aid, not to mention generous loan guarantees – or, better, yet, let the Israelis send those billions back. Then we’ll see how much actual substance is behind all the bluster, the boasting, the heroic posturing – exactly nil.
Referring to Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, Netanyahu averred that “Today an unprecedented threat to humanity looms large.” Unprecedented? Really? Yet he’s old enough to remember the cold war well, a time when the Soviet Union and the United States faced off in a nuclear stalemate that nearly erupted into a hot war. Has he forgotten? I doubt it.
The Soviet Union possessed thousands of nukes: Iran, on the other hand, has yet to produce a single nuclear weapon, and, according to our CIA, they abandoned their nukes program in 2003. While they could restart at any time, presumably – albeit not without encountering the technical problems that seem to perpetually bedevil them – this is hardly the equivalent of the US-USSR nuclear standoff.
Yet we’re quite used to the hyperbolic language the Israelis routinely employ to describe the threats – real and imagined – faced by the Jewish state. To hear them tell it, a reincarnated Hitler is fiendishly planning a replay of the Holocaust, and the “existential” threat to Israel is imminent and unstoppable except through acts of war (sanctions, regime change, military action).
If this is true, and if Israel can only depend on itself for its defense, then what is holding the Israelis back? Why don’t they attack Iran on their own?
They don’t do it because they are completely dependent on the US, and such an attack would not only endanger US troops in Iraq but also plunge the entire Middle East into a war that would decimate American interests in the region and signal the end of the “special relationship” – a relationship based on mutual trust and understanding. That trust would be gone if the Israelis went after Iran without a green light from Washington – and the Israelis, who know what side their bread is buttered on (and who’s paying for the butter), would much prefer that someone else fight their battles. After all, it’s a strategy that’s worked so far.
Contra Netanyahu, the Israeli survival strategy has been the complete opposite of defiant independence and military self-sufficiency: they have been joined at the hip to the US military machine since the Reagan years, and they depend on us to keep their socialist economy from falling apart at the seams.
In return for such unusual generosity, Netanyahu and his fellow ultra-nationalists of the Likud party and its extremist allies are spitting in our faces, very publicly humiliating our public officials, and launching an all-out political attack on the interests of the very country they depend on for their survival.
This goes way beyond mere ingratitude – it indicates a very large gap between the values of the givers and those of the takers.
We hear much about the common aims and culture of the US and Israel, the mutual commitment to “democracy,” and the many links that tie our two nations together,. Yet all this is suddenly swept aside when the characteristically Middle Eastern touchiness and hysteria of the Israelis is provoked – and it takes very little to provoke them.
As the Israeli Prime Minister put it in his speech: “Nothing is rarer in the Middle East than tolerance for the beliefs of others.” Even rarer, however, is Israeli tolerance for the interests of their American patrons: we are expected to self-sacrificially put Israel first. American presidents have gone along with it for decades – and so no one should be surprised when they pull a stunt like the Biden ambush.
The Israelis are like spoiled children who’ve been coddled and indulged way beyond the limits of reason. If they don’t get what they want the outcry is deafening – and their agents and apologists are numerous, vocal, and well-placed enough in the US to make quite a bit of noise.
Senators McCain and Lieberman likened the dispute between Washington and Tel Aviv to a “family quarrel,” and advanced the view that the dispute should never have become public. Aside from the fact that it was the Israelis who went public by blind-siding Biden, isn’t it long past time to apply a little “tough love” to our adopted child in the Promised Land – and maybe even cut off his allowance if he persists in what can only be described as the equivalent of juvenile delinquency?
As it stands now, the US is subsidizing and supporting the expansion of the Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians, while Israel is doing its best to drag us into a war with Iran, and ignite the whole region. The ensuing chaos would give cover to complete the goal of the extremist Likud-far right alliance: the establishment of a “Greater Israel.”
This is a mission the United States should have nothing to do with, and the Obama administration knows it. Their response to Israeli intransigence is a good first step, but in order to make it stick they must go beyond mere rhetoric. The Israeli government can’t build settlements if we stop paying for them: they can’t threaten their neighbors, oppress an entire people, and maintain a working alliance with the West unless it’s with our active cooperation. Cut off their funding – and see how quickly they’ll turn, because they know their survival is at stake.
Read more by Justin Raimondo
•Israel’s Passport Farm – March 25th, 2010
•Springtime for Obama – March 21st, 2010
•Follow That Story! – March 18th, 2010
•Israel vs. America: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do – March 16th, 2010
•Al-Qaeda-in-America – March 14th, 2010
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com