Archive for March 29th, 2010
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
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