Archive for June 2nd, 2011
Can Obama Beat the Israel Lobby?
How one gauges the importance or shortcomings of Barack Obama’s comments on the Israel-Palestine conflict in his speech of May 19 depends on how one understands the history of the Middle East peace process. My take on that history has always reminded me of the gallows humor that used to make the rounds in the Soviet Union: Soviet workers pretend to work, and their Kremlin rulers pretend to pay them. So it has been with the peace process: Israeli governments pretend they are seeking a two-state solution, and the United States pretends it believes them—that is, until President Obama’s latest speech on the subject. But I am getting ahead of myself.
The main agency for the promotion of this deception in the United States has been the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose legitimacy is based on the pretense that it speaks for the American Jewish community. It does not, for the lobby’s commitment is to Israeli governments of a certain right-wing cast.
AIPAC went into virtual hibernation during the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s because he disliked its politics and the notion that an Israeli prime minister needs AIPAC’s intercession to communicate with the US administration. The chemistry between them was so bad that Rabin encouraged the formation of a new American support group, the Israel Policy Forum.
It is not widely known that in 1988 the three major US Jewish “defense” organizations—the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League—joined in a public challenge to AIPAC (as well as to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations), charging that the policies it advocates do not always represent the views of the American Jewish community. I am familiar with the episode because I served on the executive committee of AIPAC for nearly thirty years—from 1965 to 1994—while heading the Synagogue Council of America and then the American Jewish Congress. As the New York Times reported at the time, the challenge was “politically significant because it suggests that American Jewish opinion is more diverse and, on some issues, less hard-line than the picture presented by AIPAC, which is viewed by Congress and the Administration as an authoritative spokesman for American Jews.” AIPAC managed to neutralize the challenge by promising deeper consultation with the three organizations, which of course it never did.
Today, AIPAC gives full and unqualified support to an Israeli government most of whose members deeply oppose a two-state solution. The lip service that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, pay to such an accord is a cover for their government’s overriding goal of foiling one. In fact, it is a goal that Israeli governments have pursued since 1967, when the Palestinian territories came under Israel’s control. As Aluf Benn of Haaretz noted this April:
Israeli foreign policy has, for the past 44 years, strived to prevent another repetition of this scenario [Israel’s withdrawals from territory beyond its legitimate borders, forced first by President Truman and then by President Eisenhower] through a combination of intransigence and a surrender of territories considered less vital (Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank cities, South Lebanon), in order to keep the major prizes (East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights).
Most members of Netanyahu’s government do not hide their opposition to Palestinian statehood, and they openly advocate Israel’s permanent retention of the occupied territories. Danny Danon, a Likud member and deputy speaker of the Knesset, published an op-ed in the New York Times the day before Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House, calling on Netanyahu “to rectify the mistake we made in 1967 by failing to annex all of the West Bank.”
In a June 2009 speech, under pressure from the Obama administration, Netanyahu declared his acceptance of a two-state solution. It was a patently insincere speech, for he uttered not the slightest reproach when senior members of his own Likud Party and ministers in his government announced the formation of a thirty-nine-member Land of Israel Caucus, the largest caucus in the Knesset. The co-chair of the caucus is Ze’ev Elkin, head of the party’s parliamentary delegation. It includes the Likud’s Reuven Rivlin, Knesset speaker; Benny Begin, a member of the so-called Septet, Netanyahu’s seven-member inner security cabinet, which passes on all major government decisions; as well as several other ministers and deputy ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet. Haaretz reported at the time that the only two Likud ministers in his government who did not support the caucus were Dan Meridor and Netanyahu himself. Only one minister, Michael Eitan, objected to it, calling the caucus a “thunderous contradiction” of Netanyahu’s declared commitment to a two-state accord.
The official goal of the caucus is to strengthen “Israel’s grasp on the entire Land of Israel.” If that’s not clear enough, Begin helpfully elaborated: “The establishment of a foreign independent sovereign state headed by the PLO in parts of the Land of Israel stands in opposition to two basic ideas that are both supported by a majority of the Knesset: the absolute historic right of the Nation of Israel to the Land of Israel and the right of the State of Israel to national security.”
Is there any question in anyone’s mind how the United States would react to the presence in Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority government of ministers who made similar claims to Palestinian rights in any part of pre-1967 Israel?
* * *
For some time now, Obama has been urged by senior foreign policy experts who served in previous administrations to abandon his efforts to revive the moribund peace process and instead present Israelis and Palestinians with an American outline of an accord. But Dennis Ross, Obama’s senior adviser on the Middle East, strongly opposed this course, as did Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations. In a recent blog post, Gelb wrote that “taking this leap [toward an American plan] without any prior indication by the two parties that they’d accept U.S. terms…would be jumping off the cliff for peace…. If this grand leap fails, U.S. credibility would virtually disappear, and the warring parties could be left without a viable intermediary. Then what?”
Critics of the proposed US initiative are certainly right about its likely rejection by this Israeli government. But they seem blindingly unaware that their question, “Then what?” is evoked far more forcefully by their insistence on returning to a process that has gone absolutely nowhere in twenty years—precisely because it has shielded Israel from outside pressures. It has left the Palestinians to the tender mercies of colonial rulers ever more intent on retaining control over a West Bank to which they have transferred, in blatant contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, more than 300,000 Israeli settlers—and that does not count the 200,000 illegal settlers in East Jerusalem.
Haaretz columnist Nehemia Shtrasler wrote recently that “Netanyahu is not ready for any agreement, any concession, any withdrawal; as far as he is concerned, it’s all the Land of Israel.” Netanyahu’s May 24 speech before the US Congress left no doubt that this is the case. Therefore, the purpose of a US peace initiative to rescue a two-state solution cannot be to obtain the acceptance of Netanyahu’s government. Its purpose, instead, must be to establish clear red lines that define the limits of US support for Israeli and Palestinian policies. Both parties need to know that neither retaining the West Bank under Israeli control nor permitting unlimited rights of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees will receive US support.
The outline of such an initiative was presented to President Obama in several letters by former senior officials, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, William Fallon, Chuck Hagel, Lee Hamilton, Carla Hills, Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, Thomas Pickering, Brent Scowcroft, James Wolfensohn and Paul Volcker. They proposed that negotiations take place within the following parameters:
1. The United States will work to establish a sovereign and viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, subject only to agreed, minor and equal land swaps to take into account areas adjoining the former Green Line that are heavily populated by Israelis. Unilateral changes to the 1967 borders will not be accorded US recognition or legitimacy.
2. The United States will support a solution to the refugee problem on the principle of two states for two peoples; it would address the Palestinian refugees’ sense of injustice, and provide them with resettlement opportunities and financial compensation. The United States will oppose proposals that undercut the principle of two states for two peoples—such as proposals for unlimited entry of Palestinian refugees into the State of Israel.
3. The United States believes both states must enjoy strong security guarantees. In this context, Washington will support a nonmilitarized Palestinian state along with security mechanisms that address legitimate Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty. The United States will support the presence of a US-led multinational force to oversee security provisions and border crossings.
4. The United States believes Jerusalem should be home to both states’ capitals, with Jewish neighborhoods falling under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty. Regarding the Old City, arrangements should provide for each side to control its holy places and to have unimpeded access by each community to them.
5. The United States will encourage the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas on terms compatible with these principles and UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The signers of these letters urged that if a US-supported plan is rejected by either side, the United States and Europe should submit it to the UN Security Council. With US and European support, the Council would surely adopt the plan. If either party refused to abide by the Council’s determination, it would be on its own. The United States would of course continue to counter threats to Israel’s security, but it would no longer provide a diplomatic shield for Israel from international criticism when it disregards US guidelines, nor would Washington discourage international efforts by Palestinians to seek legal redress.
That would help pave the way for a two-state accord—not with current Israeli leaders but with those who will replace them. The rejection of US proposals by Netanyahu’s government, and the ensuing gulf between Netanyahu and the White House that would inevitably result, will make the proposed parameters the central issue in the next Israeli elections—and likely produce a new government that will seek to repair the damage done to the Israel-US relationship by Netanyahu. It is not clear whether a majority of Israelis supports a two-state solution, but a majority does understand that without US friendship and support, Israel has no future in that part of the world.
* * *
To be sure, Washington cannot impose terms for a peace accord. But neither can the two sides impose on the United States an obligation to support policies that deeply offend American principles of justice and respect for international law and bilateral agreements—especially if the policies would damage vital US interests in the region and beyond.
Which brings me to the president’s May 19 speech. Even though what he said will not produce renewed peace talks—much less a peace agreement—it was important because it laid down certain markers:
1. The time to press for a peace accord is now, not some time in the indeterminate future.
2. Putting forward American parameters for bilateral talks is not an imposition on the parties. The parameters are essential terms of reference for successful talks.
3. The starting point for talks about mutually agreed-upon territorial swaps must be the 1967 lines.
4. A peace accord must provide credible security arrangements for both parties and “full and phased” withdrawal of Israel’s military forces from the West Bank.
Obama suggested that the parties seek agreement on border and security issues before tackling the status of Jerusalem and the rights of refugees. The danger of such a two-stage process is that Israel may have no interest in proceeding to the second stage, leaving an undivided Jerusalem in its hands and the refugee issue unaddressed. It is also hard to imagine that Palestinians will agree to borders before the status of Jerusalem has been resolved or before they know whether their state would have to accommodate all refugees who wish to return.
The fatal flaw in Obama’s proposal is that it does not state clearly that rejecting his parameters will have consequences. Indeed, he seemed to suggest the opposite when he stressed on May 19 and in his speech to AIPAC on May 22 that the ties that bind America to Israel are “unshakable” and “ironclad.” Did Obama really mean to say that Washington would continue to defend Israel against its critics if its policy was—and as everyone in Israel above the age of 6 knows already is—to prevent a Palestinian state? In those circumstances (which would clearly prevail if Avigdor Lieberman or someone of his ilk were to win the premiership in the next elections), would our “unshakable” and “ironclad” ties require us to continue providing billions in military funding to help the IDF enforce the permanent disenfranchisement and dispossession of the Palestinian people?
If that is what the president meant, what right do we have to berate Palestinians for turning to the UN—source of the two most fundamental resolutions to the peace process, 242 and 338—for adjudication of their grievances? If that is not what he meant, why didn’t he tell his AIPAC audience and Netanyahu, in the spirit of—as Obama put it in his speech before AIPAC—“real friends talk openly and honestly with one another,” that US support for Israel could not survive an Israeli government that pursues such policies?
* * *
It is generally believed that for a US president to speak truthfully to the American people about the dishonesty of this Israeli government’s peaceful pretensions is to invite a devastating loss of financial support, as well as electoral defeat. Can Obama overcome the opposition of the Israel lobby, and of a Congress so deeply beholden to that lobby, and successfully promote a US peace plan? I believe he can, particularly if he obtains the support of former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, whose deep friendship with Israel is beyond challenge. The plan is consistent with the Clinton parameters of December 2000 and with positions taken by Bush, who stressed that Israel cannot acquire any territory beyond the ‘67 lines without Palestinian consent. In a confrontation between the Israel lobby, on the one hand, and former Presidents Clinton and Bush and President Obama, on the other—who together declare their support for a peace plan they believe to be just, fair to both sides and in America’s national interest—there should be no question about who would prevail.
This is the only way the Obama administration can bring about an end to this long-running and tragic conflict, ensure the survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and regain the respect and trust it has lost—in the region and in much of the world—because of its mishandling of this issue. It is also the only way the administration can protect Israel from an inevitable and unstoppable wave of delegitimization that would surely follow a UN General Assembly vote recognizing the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood within the pre-1967 borders. Some Obama advisers assume that the hundreds of thousands of Arabs throughout the region who have risked their lives—and continue to do so—to regain their freedom and dignity will remain indifferent to Israel’s denial of that freedom and dignity to millions of Palestinians. That is a delusion that will bring about catastrophic consequences.
Israelis would do well to heed a warning by the sages of the Talmud: Tafasta merubah, lo tafasta! (If you try to grab it all, you risk losing it all!)
Subject: How the Zionist Lobby Almost Flattened Jewish Senator
Date: Thursday, June 2, 2011, 9:20 AM
This is how the super power, The United States of America, is run and
Controlled by the state it created, nursed, fed and cleaned its dirt!!!
Very instructive. This account, by one who is today a sharp critic of Israeli policy, confirms two of my personal tenets held for decades:
1)Netanyahu is a professional liar.
2)Wm. Safire(no gem), the late Likudist NYT columnist, had a personal line to the Israeli Embassy and was its conduit.
Shamir, as co-head of the Stern Gang in 1941, proposed an alliance to Nazi Germany. (See Lenni Brenner, “Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.”) -AFS
But when a US politician respects himself:
There was one happy note that came from the whole affair: Levin backed me 100 percent. The letter did get him in trouble with donors, but he stood by it and by me, and since then he has been re-elected four times. In fact, he told me not long ago that he was proud that he wrote it. Him. Not me.
__._,_.___ How The Lobby Chills Middle East Debate
May 27, 2011 12:58 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg
This week, following that tumultuous reception for Prime Minister Netanyahu at the congressional joint meeting, I want to share a personal recollection of how the Middle East status quo is preserved on Capitol Hill.
It was in 1988 and I was a foreign policy aide to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). One February day, Levin called me into his office to say that he was disturbed at a quote he saw in that day’s New York Times. An article quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir saying that he rejected the idea of withdrawing from any of the land Israel captured in the 1967 war:
Mr. Shamir said in a radio interview, ”It is clear that this expression of territory for peace is not accepted by me.”
Levin instantly understood what Shamir was saying. He was repudiating U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (which Israel had helped draft) which provided for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent  conflict” in exchange for peace and security. Those resolutions represented official U.S. and international policy then, and they still do.
But, in 1988, Shamir tried to declare them null and void.
Levin asked me to draft a letter to Secretary of State George Shultz stating that it was the view of the Senate that the U.N. Resolutions remained the policy of the U.S. whether Shamir liked it or not. Of course, the letter wasn’t written in that kind of language. It was more than polite. Additionally, Levin wanted it addressed to Shultz, not to Shamir, to avoid ruffling too many feathers in Israel.
I wrote the draft. Levin edited and re-edited it. Then he called in the head of AIPAC, Thomas A. Dine, to run the language past him. Tom said it was “great.” Levin told Dine that he would not embarass him by revealing that he had approved the letter.
Levin then asked me to deliver it to the Secretary of State but said that first he would try to round up a few other senators to join him in signing it. In an hour he had 30. He probably could have gotten three times as many but it was Friday afternoon and most of the senators had decamped.
I delivered the letter. Because Levin wanted to avoid a brouhaha, the Levin office did no press about it. It was essentially a secret initiative.
But then one of the senators who had the letter gave it to the New York Times. And within minutes the phones started ringing off the hook. Reporters and AIPAC donors (who had no idea Dine had signed off on the letter) were going crazy. Levin was asked to appear on all three Sunday morning talk shows. He declined. In fact, he took off for Moscow, on a long-planned trip.
On Sunday, news of the Levin “Letter of 30″ was the lead story in the New York Times.
Thirty United States Senators, including many of Israel’s staunchest supporters, have written a letter criticizing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his Likud party, suggesting they may be obstructing efforts to reach a peace settlement in the Middle East.
The extraordinary public criticism of Israel was contained in a letter addressed to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who returned home today after several days in the Middle East. Mr. Shultz has proposed the broad outlines of an interim settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. …
The senators who signed the letter said they were dismayed at Mr. Shamir’s continued resistance to the concept of Israel’s ceding some territories it occupies in exchange for peace, a cornerstone of Mr. Shultz’s efforts. Although the letter also criticizes Arab states except for Egypt, Congressional aides said it was intended principally to send a message to Mr. Shamir and the Likud bloc.
So significant was the fact that any U.S. senator had criticized any Israeli policy in any way (albeit mildly), that the Sunday Times reprinted the whole text.
On Monday all hell broke loose. Because Levin was in Russia, staffers had to field both the press calls and the threats from outraged donors, constituents, and “pro-Israel” organizations.
Then some real weirdness happened. A top Israeli embassy official came to the office to deliver a protest from Prime Minister Shamir. When Levin’s chief of staff, Gordon C. Kerr, told him that it was inappropriate for a foreign official to protest a letter senators had addressed to their own government (i.e., the Secretary of State), the Israeli official insulted Levin and made ugly threats. Kerr then threw him out of the office.
In the meantime, Levin heard from President Ronald Reagan, who thanked him for organizing support for the administration’s position. Meanhile, Shamir began calling senators to express “astonishment” that his policies had been criticized.
Then came a moment that was, for me, the most shocking experience I ever had during my years working for the United States government.
William Safire, the most influential New York Times columnist, phoned me in a rage. He told me that he knew for a fact that neither Levin nor I had drafted the letter. He said that he knew that the letter was written by an aide to the leader of the Labor Party opposition in Israel, Shimon Peres. He said that aide, one Yossi Beilin, had hand-delivered the text to me, and that I had convinced Levin to circulate it. He said that my goal was to unseat Shamir and replace him with Peres.
I almost laughed. The very idea that a Senate aide had such power was astounding. But then Safire asked if I thought it was appropriate for a Senate aide to be the agent of a foreign political party, and what would Levin think when he read about that in Safire’s column.
That was scary. As a Senate aide, I had sworn allegiance to the United States and the Constitution. I also had a security clearance. This could be serious.
I told Safire that I had written the draft and that Levin had (as is his wont) extensively edited it. I told him I had no idea who Beilin was (which was the truth). Safire then got really nasty and told me that he knew I was lying because he had the story on good authority (Israeli U.N. ambassador Binyamin Netanyahu and AIPAC’s number two guy, Steve Rosen, who was subsequently indicted for espionage). I said I didn’t care who he heard it from, it was a lie. Additionally, Levin had undertaken the initiative to help Israel because he thought that if Israel ruled out territorial withdrawal, the conflict would never end.
The call concluded with Safire backing down after warning me that if he ever found out I was lying, I would be “finished.” He said he would not write the column because — get this — in the end he believed me more than his sources.
And that was that. Nothing more happened with the Letter of 30, except that after the vicious attacks on Levin, few senators have challenged the Israeli government or AIPAC since.
So what’s the moral? It is this: Criticizing Israel is dangerous business. On what other issue would a New York Times columnist call a Senate staffer and threaten to destroy his career? None. And why was a New York Times columnist acting as if he was working for the Israeli government? Safire wasn’t a journalist that day; he essentially was a representative of the Israeli government.
Accordingly, is it any wonder the whole Congress abased itself the other day by jumping up and down and hurling love at Netanyahu? Who wants to mess with an 800-pound gorilla? Certainly not members of Congress.
There was one happy note that came from the whole affair: Levin backed me 100 percent. The letter did get him in trouble with donors, but he stood by it and by me, and since then he has been re-elected four times. In fact, he told me not long ago that he was proud that he wrote it. Him. Not me.
‘Pro-Israel lobby has stranglehold on US political system’
Additional via http://tinyurl.com/AIPACStrangleholdonUS
The Tie that Binds
Posted By Philip Giraldi On June 1, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 13 Comments
The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a personal triumph for him and a disaster for the United States. Since the 1960s, if not before, Israel has sought to bind the United States to her by maintaining that the two countries have identical interests worldwide. In reality, this has never been true, even during the cold war when the Soviets were actively engaged in a number of Arab states, but it is a lie that has been assiduously promoted by Israel’s friends in Washington. The false narrative has been used to justify extraordinary levels of taxpayer-provided aid to Israel as well as unlimited political cover in international organizations like the United Nations, where the US Security Council veto has been regularly deployed to negate possible consequences whenever Israel attacks one of its neighbors.
The Bush Administration used to refer to “narrowing the playing field” to eliminate alternative strategies whenever it was planning something particularly nasty or illegal. Israel’s latest initiatives are cut from the same cloth, the culmination of years of effort to reduce the options for independent action by the United States to such an extent that there would be no wiggle room over issues that Tel Aviv considers to be important. For the past twenty years, for example, Washington has embraced the Israeli definition of terrorism, that all groups hostile to the State of Israel are terrorists and cannot be dealt with except by killing them. That has meant that groups that do not threaten the United States including Hamas and Hezbollah have been declared terrorists even though they started out as resistance groups in Lebanon and Palestine opposing the respective Israeli occupations and have now morphed into political parties. Israel, which actually helped create Hamas as a counter to Fatah, has piled on the confusion by regularly and inaccurately referring to al-Qaeda presence in Gaza and by conflating Hamas with al-Qaeda. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so several times in his speeches last week. The confusion has apparently worked judging by Congress’s serial standing ovations when Netanyahu piled lie on top of lie on top of lie.
A more nuanced approach to the terrorism issue would be for the United States to step back from entering into new quarrels on behalf of its friends and associates internationally. Director of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano perfectly illustrated the perils of that kind of groupthink when she declared last week that the Pakistan based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is “as dangerous” as al-Qaeda. Lashkar is active in Indian-occupied Kashmir and also was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but it does not threaten the United States. Napolitano’s singling out of the group was in front of an audience in New Delhi which might well lead one to question why she was over there and what homeland she was protecting. And her remarks could, of course, produce a bad result. They could suggest to LeT’s leaders that some targeting of Americans might be desirable.
Overall, the adoption of an Israeli-influenced counter-terrorism policy was a great success that was cast in concrete by the events of 9/11, which Bibi Netanyahu welcomed, knowing that Washington would be bound even more tightly to Tel Aviv. But there still remained that old nagging peace process to be dealt with. The United States had sent off former Senator George Mitchell to the region in an attempt to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, or at least take a couple of baby steps in that direction. For Israel, peace would require fixed borders and it would also mean that the expansion of the illegal settlements would have to stop and might even be reversed. That was not a good outcome in the view of Netanyahu, who relies on right wing extremist parties for his governing majority.
Completely frustrated by his experience as peace negotiator, George Mitchell resigned shortly before Netanyahu appeared in Washington to attend the AIPAC conference and also to lecture President Obama. Obama’s eagerly awaited speech on the Middle East delivered the night before Netanyahu’s arrival was actually reviewed by the Israeli Prime Minister before it was given, demonstrating clearly whose foot was on whose neck. Netanyahu reportedly responded angrily to any mention of the 1967 borders in a phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the speech was delayed for forty minutes while the president and his staff worked in other rewrites demanded by the Israeli Prime Minister. But it was not enough. The Obama suggestion that the old lines between Israel and the West Bank might serve as a basis for negotiations to decide on respective territorial claims became the president’s “macaca” moment. “No to 1967″ emerged as the rallying cry for Netanyahu and his friends in Congress and the media, enabling them to completely humiliate the American president.
At the end of the week in Washington the process was complete. Obama was forced to back away from his comments about the former borders. Netanyahu was able to affirm without any challenge from the Administration that Israel would never return to something “indefensible,” a curious assertion given Israel’s lack of any evident vulnerability when it attacked and defeated three of its neighbors simultaneously from those borders back in June 1967. And all of that was before Tel Aviv had acquired a nuclear arsenal which further tipped the balance of power in its favor.
Netanyahu also stated the following: that the West Bank is not occupied because it is really Judea and Samaria and therefore the patrimony of the Jewish people, that Jerusalem will remain under complete Israeli control, that any Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized and not even control its own airspace, that there would be an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River, that Israel will never talk with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, and that no Palestinian would ever be allowed to return to his former home in Israel. Netanyahu knew full well that he was denying that the Palestinians have any rights at all and even suggesting that they do not exist as a people but rather as some sort of terrorist entity. Netanyahu’s formulation would lead at best to the creation of a helot Arab state that could not possibly engage in any sustainable peace agreement unless compelled by brute force at the point of Israeli bayonets. Shouting and cheering congressmen endorsed every detail of the hateful Israeli program, supporting a foreign leader against their own president. It was a shameful moment.
In return for considerably less than nothing, the Obama Administration committed itself to an “ironclad” guarantee of Israeli security, the precise details of which are apparently to be determined by Netanyahu. It also rejected Palestinian plans to declare statehood at the United Nations in September and implied that it would veto any such attempt. The White House added that it would oppose any steps taken to isolate Israel in any other international fora. Israel’s $3 billion-plus each year from the US taxpayer was also untouched.
So what does it all mean? It means that the Obama Administration has no leverage whatsoever against Netanyahu. It has de facto accepted that there will be no peace process in the Middle East because Israel does not want there to be one. It means that the United States will use its veto at the UN as well as other forms of suasion internationally to make sure that Israel is neither criticized nor isolated, no matter what Netanyahu and his colleagues do. It means that largesse from the US taxpayer will continue, with plans afoot to budget the money out of the annual Pentagon appropriation so it will untouchable in any future debate over foreign aid packages. It also means that the United States is part and parcel to the ongoing system of apartheid practiced by the Israelis. To further punish the Palestinians there is even considerable talk in Congress about cutting US aid in response to the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas.
Taken all together it means that the United States has absolutely no wiggle room in terms of its relationship with Israel. Israel has tied the US Congress and media so tightly to it that President Obama could do little but agree. When Israel attacks Gaza or Iran or Syria, as it surely will, Washington will be the accomplice to the act both factually and in the eyes of the world. Hillary Clinton should resign in shame, but she appears to have no self respect in her, having spent last week again threatening the hapless Pakistanis. Someone should remind her that Secretaries of State once represented Americans around the world in an honorable and forthright fashion. Hillary and her boss have demonstrated clearly that Israel’s all-embracing and constantly expanding “security concerns” trump the United States’ interests every time.
Read more by Philip Giraldi
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com