Obama’s beginning of the end
Eric S. Margolis
12 December 2010
In 1956, Britain , France and Israel colluded to invade Egypt to overthrow its hugely popular nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. US President Dwight Eisenhower deemed the tripartite Suez aggression immoral and damaging to American interests in the Muslim world. “Ike” ordered the British, French and Israelis to get out of Egypt at once – or else. They got out.
Fast forward to 2010. President Barack Obama demands Israel stop building illegal Jewish settlements around Jerusalem and on the West Bank . Obama rightly concludes the ongoing agony of Palestine has turned the Muslim world against the United States . It is also the primary cause of what Washington calls “terrorism.” After the Suez invasion, Israel ’s American partisans set about building an influence network that would ensure no American president could ever force Israel to do anything against its will.
Their brilliant success was again confirmed this week as Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Israel ’s rightist coalition, literally spit in Obama’s face, sneeringly rejecting the president’s pleas to create a viable Palestinian state. The US Congress and rightwing media actually applauded the public humiliation of their president and vice president. How the mighty have fallen. Obama has shown himself utterly without spine, and terrified of the Israel lobby at a time when his political fortunes are plummeting. The White House understands that America ’s vital interests in the Mideast are being increasingly undermined by Israel ’s adamant refusal to allow a workable Palestinian state instead of apartheid-style Arab Bantustans.
A triumphant Netanyahu made clear Israel would retain all of Jerusalem , settlement blocks around it, water resources, key roads, the West Bank high ground and the Jordan River valley. In short, “useful Palestine .” The rest, waterless scrub and slums, might be left to the Arabs. Nothing was said about Israel ’s illegal occupation of Syria ’s Golan Heights .
Even Obama’s shameful offer of a multi-billion dollar bribe to Israel of 20 F-35 warplanes and unlimited diplomatic support, in exchange for a flimsy 90-day building freeze, was contemptuously rejected by Netanyahu. He knows the US Congress would give Israel the moon if asked. The US has already given Israel at least $114 billion since its creation in 1947.
What does Obama’s humiliation mean? His chances of being defeated in the next presidential election are growing. Obama’s arch-rival, the pro-Israeli Hillary Clinton, is positioning herself to take over the Democratic Party from Obama.
The US diplomatic, intelligence and military establishment has got the message, loud and clear: don’t mess with Israel . The last US president who tried to restrain Israel ’s West Bank colonisation, George H.W. Bush, failed to win re-election; his able secretary of state, James Baker, was slandered as an “anti-Semite.” By caving in to Israel ’s hard right over the West Bank , Obama sends a message of profound weakness to the rest of the world. He is signaling that Israel , not the White House, really makes America ’s Mideast policy. Israel also increasingly influences US policy towards Pakistan , Afghanistan , India , Iran and North Korea . The humiliated Palestinian Authority is shown as a helpless puppet of the Americans and Israelis, as rival Hamas has long charged.
Obama’s defeat suggests Israel now has “carte blanche” to move ahead and attack Lebanon ’s resistance movement Hezbollah , Syria , and eventually Iran . In fact, Israel now seems to have the power to plunge the US into war against Iran whenever it decides the time is right and the risk worthwhile.
Since the US has become a helpless giant, it’s up to the rest of the world to end the suffering in Palestine . Brazil and Argentina have taken an important step forward by recognising a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders. The 2002 Saudi peace plan still offers all parties concerned the fairest, most practical road to peace.
The UN General Assembly should again endorse this plan and call for more pressure on Israel . But Netanyahu and his fellow rightwing zealots are determined to hold on to every meter of the West Bank and Golan. Some far rightists want to expand Israel into Lebanon and Syria . Israel ’s refusal to compromise over Palestine is at the heart of its increasingly dangerous confrontation with Iran .
Obama’s shameful failure will haunt the world for decades.
Eric Margolis is a veteran US journalist.