August 31st, 2012
Read part one of this series about Israeli espionage against the U.S.
(MediaRoots) – The United States boasts a storied history of protecting Israel on the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) and was the lone dissenter against the most recent UN resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The fourteen other Security Council members backed the resolution. One could almost hear the global community’s collective wheeze when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice voiced the United States’ incongruence on 18 February 2011.
While claiming the United States strongly opposes Israeli settlement activity, Rice still refused to vote in line with the decency of the international community. Instead, she opted to pepper the world with diplomatic platitudes, as if that lessened the blow. By claiming her actions are somehow helpful to the peace process – although one cannot be sure how voting to perpetuate colonization in violation of international law is helpful – Susan Rice vetoed the resolution and continued the U.S. tradition of irresponsibility. Employing the utmost diplomatic circumlocution, Secretary of State Clinton deemed the colonies “illegitimate,” not illegal.
Reaction to the February 2011 veto was enlightening:
“The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, B’nai B’rith International and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee all issued statements expressing appreciation for the veto. “Exercising the veto is a painful decision, particularly for an administration with a deep and sincere commitment to multilateralism,” said David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “That is why we salute President Obama and his team for their courage in vetoing this mischievous resolution, which would have caused irreparable damage to the future prospects of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Contrary to David Harris’ assertion, the only mischievous behavior is the United States’ tradition to abuse its power. From 1972 – 2006, the U.S. vetoed over forty UN Security Council resolutions that criticized or condemned Israel’s actions.
Russia and China have vetoed a series of UN Security Council resolutions, which condemn Syria over its harsh crackdown on anti-government protestors. Susan Rice condemned the Russian/Chinese October 2011 veto, saying it was a “cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.” She then concluded “the United States is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and stability.” Surely she sees the irony in her words. Firstly, USA’s use of the veto to protect Israel from criticism is also a “cheap ruse,” whereby the United States government prefers to bow to AIPAC pressure and give Israel weaponry (paid for by the U.S. taxpayer) rather than stand with the Palestinian people and the Israeli citizens who want justice. Secondly, the council’s failure “to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and stability” is precisely what the United States does each time it vetoes resolutions critical of Israel’s destructive policies. Israeli foreign policy can easily be categorized as a “growing threat to regional peace and stability, yet the U.S. government continually blocks any progress confronting this particular “urgent moral challenge.” Syria’s brutal internal crackdown and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of historical Palestine are worthy of international condemnation. To condemn the former while protecting the latter exposes the United States’ double-standards and failed policies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s words are an accurate reflection of the international community’s frustration in dealing with Israel’s obstinacy and the United States’ complicity. She reportedly communicated to Prime Minister Netanyahu, after Germany voted in favor of condemning Israel’s settlement activity: “How dare you? You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.” The Chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee clarified Chancellor Merkel is “trying to explain to the Israeli government that with the extraordinary changes taking place across the Middle East, time is not on its side when it comes to resolving the conflict with the stateless Palestinians.” British politician Lord Dykes acknowledged the United States’ tradition of harm by stating: “a seemingly unanimous decision in a moderately worded resolution asking Israel to obey its international law duties in occupied Palestine was deliberately – I am sad to use the verb – wrecked by the U.S.” Notably, Netanyahu’s former colleagues, such as Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, have referred to him as a liar (Sharon). The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy also referred to Netanyahu in one word: “liar.” The list goes on, as even the former chief of Shin Bet has no confidence in Netanyahu as a leader.
A leading Zionist pundit unintentionally describes Netanyahu’s view with alarming candor: “Israel, of course, says it’s all the Palestinians’ fault. It says their UN gambit is just the latest move in their campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, proving again that they won’t accept Israel’s existence. Israel has no choice but to resist their assault using the tools at its disposal, including the American veto.”
This pundit’s view is enlightening in many ways. Firstly, Netanyahu and many in the Israeli government view the U.S. veto as a “tool at its disposal.” Israel uses the United States’ position on the UN Security Council as an instrument to be manipulated, similar to the manner in which AIPAC views the U.S. Congress. During a 2006 interview with Bill Maher, Netanyahu insinuated as much when he noted: “the secret is that we have America.” In his capacity as Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon had conveyed a similar, disturbing view during a 3 October 2001 interview with Kol Yisrael radio. Secondly, instead of viewing the Palestinian bid for statehood as an attempt at self-determination, the Israeli propaganda machine spins it as a refusal to accept Israel’s existence. Israel and the United States both declared independence unilaterally but the populaces seem quick to forget. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy underscored this severety from the Holy Land: “Five million Israelis are deeply convinced today that they are right and seven billion people of the world are wrong.”
The Israeli government persistently colonizes the West Bank, facilitated by the U.S. government’s unconditional, unapologetic support. In referencing the war of 1967, former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben Yair concedes the war “continues to this day and is the product of our choice. We enthusiastically chose to become a colonialist society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaged in theft and finding justification for all this” (Stern: 103). Yair frames the situation well.
This sad political reality, implemented by a relentless ideology, has moved roughly half a million Israelis into more than 100 colonies across the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, amounting to a de facto annexation of land for Israeli use. Over 20,000 Israeli colonists now live in the Golan Heights alone, which was Syrian territory prior to 1967. Meanwhile, Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, which many refer to as an apartheid wall, carves chunks out of the future de facto Palestinian state and places favorable amounts of water resources on Israel’s side of the wall. Israeli colonies, which Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D – Florida) prefers to call “suburbs,” elsewhere receive a disproportionate share of the water supply.
USA and Israel walk hand in hand. For example, Shimon Peres’ April 2011 visit to Washington, D.C., coincided with a Jerusalem planning committee’s approval of 942 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood, south of Jerusalem, which the international community considers illegal. On 4 August 2011, the Israeli Interior Ministry approved of 900 new homes to be built in the Har Homa area, amounting to a de facto slice between Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Less than two weeks later, Israeli officials approved 277 new homes in the West Bank colony of Ariel. One month later, Israel’s government approved 1,100 additional housing units to be built in the Gilo area of occupied east Jerusalem. Another 2,600 housing units were given the green light two weeks later. After Palestine received membership in UNESCO, Israel expedited construction of roughly 2,000 homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, all of which would “remain in Israeli control under any future peace agreement,” according to Prime Minister Netanyahu. One month later, the Israeli government approved more colonial construction in the dead center of a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. In April 2012, the Israeli government threw its full weight behind this misery and authorized the West Bank colonies of Bruchin, Rechelim, and Sansana. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the West Bank in 2011 rose eighty percent when compared to 2010 rates, while the Israeli government increased its spending on West Bank colonies by 38 percent over the same period. 600 Palestinians lost their homes in the first five months of 2012. Israeli officials cite lack of “proper permits” as one pretext for bulldozing Palestinian homes, restaurants, schools, and even demolishing residential solar panels. On 6 June 2012, Netanyahu ordered the construction of 300 new homes in the West Bank colony of Beit El. Zionism marches on, enabled by the U.S. government.
Israeli officials point to symbolic, menial efforts as proof they care to comply with international consensus. As of 1 March 2011, the Israeli government began dismantling all “illegal settlement outposts built on privately-owned Palestinian land.” Such a concession sounds tremendous, but it only applied to three outposts. Moreover, Israeli authorities simultaneously began to “legalize” illegal colonies built on state land, and even going so far as confiscating an olive grove for “agricultural cultivation” and granting the plot of land to a colonist “with no known farming skills.” Overall, the Israeli government stripped almost 250,000 Palestinians of their residency rights from 1967-1994, a figured which doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were driven from their homes around 1948. As a result, Israel gains far more than it loses.
Israel’s colonial obstinacy manifests itself in many forms. As President Obama delivered a major speech on events in the Middle East on 19 May 2011, the Israeli government approved plans to build more than 1,500 new homes on two settlements around East Jerusalem. Arieh Eldad, a member of the Israeli Knesset and head of the Hatikva faction, stated “I hope that [this] sends a clear message to the American administration. I hope that the new building of new settlements next week will send a similar message.” Contrary to Mr. Eldad’s assertions, the United States’ active role in perpetuating Israeli colonization of the West Bank has aligned criminally with Israeli deviance:
“The endorsement of ‘land swaps’ by President Obama, which is a euphemism for the annexation by Israel of major Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, is one demonstration of the unquestioning acceptance by the United States of the Israeli narrative of the conflict. By accepting the ‘land swap’ argument, President Obama has in effect declared that it is legitimate for the occupying power to settle and colonize occupied lands. This suits the settler-colonial mentality of the Israeli establishment for, despite arguments to the contrary, Israel itself is a product of settler colonialism with the British mandate over Palestine acting as its midwife. It was British rule that facilitated Jewish migration from Europe to Palestine and laid the basis of the demographic transformation of the mandated territory with the Jewish population in Palestine rising from approximately 10 percent at the beginning of the mandate to roughly 30 percent at its end. An American position endorsing Israel’s annexation of settler colonies is bound to put it at odds with the majority opinion in the international system.”
The modicum of pressure, which President Obama placed on Israel to freeze settlement expansion, was neither laudable nor realistic without proper confrontation of AIPAC. Backing down only days later, President Obama looked like a clown in front of the international community, further undermining the United States’ arrogation of global leadership. Wolf Blitzer foretold of such an occurrence in the event a U.S. administration got tough with Israel on any number of issues:
“If the U.S. administration did pressure Israel and was subsequently forced to back down in the face of reactions from Congress, the Jewish community, and others in the United States as well as Israel and around the world, there would be another price to pay. The limits of U.S. policy would be advertised for all to see. No president wants to show off American impotence” (Blitzer: 14).
According to Blitzer, such pressure would stem from a comprehensive Israeli mobilization against the U.S. presidential administration, an anti-administration enterprise directed by the Jewish community and allegations of anti-Semitism (ibid: 13-14). The Oracle at Blitzer’s predictions came true.
The U.S.-Israel relationship is one of paradox. Israel spies ferociously against the United States, while the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch work overtime to support Israel “unconditionally.” (President Obama even awarded Israeli President Shimon Peres the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom). Meanwhile, U.S. public is sound asleep. Until we wake up, the Israeli government will continue to capitalize upon this lopsided relationship.
Christian Sorensen for Media Roots
Source: Media Roots