With Friends Like These: America, Israel and Palestinian Statehood

For all his lofty sentiments of a year ago Barack Obama, like
every American President since Dwight Eisenhower, has caved in completely to Israel.  He may well feel for the Palestinians and he
certainly despises Benjamin Netanyahu, but like all the rest he wants to be
reelected, and the conventional wisdom says you will lose the Jewish vote if
you do not give unqualified support to Israel.
With American Jews, especially the
Reformed, losing faith in an increasingly right-wing Israel, that wisdom may no
longer be completely true, but American politicians will nevertheless continue
to pander to a state that more or less spits in our face.  A new twist is Christian Zionism, espoused by
evangelical politicians like Rick Perry, who are setting new standards in
channeling Tel Aviv.  Their support is of
course warmly welcomed by the Israeli government, even though their only
apparent interest in Jews is that they be converted or slaughtered on Judgment
Day.

Obama showed
his true colors when the US
vetoed the UN resolution condemning the Israeli separation wall, which
manifestly violates the international law that we have sworn to uphold.  The promised veto of the Palestinian bid for
UN recognized statehood, however, is perhaps a new high in American hypocrisy
regarding Palestine.  After repeatedly asserting his support for a
Palestinian state and after twenty years of failed peace negotiations he
intends to prevent a symbolic step in that direction, claiming this move will
only cause violence.  Knowing full well that
the current administration in Israel
has absolutely no intention of seriously negotiating and is in fact pumping a
steady stream of colonists into the West Bank, he
blithely claims that face-to-face negotiations are the only road to peace.  The self-serving deceit is breathtaking.

America
expresses “disappointment” at the settlements (the standard euphemism
for “colonies”), but has never taken any action whatsoever on the
issue, even when we are slapped in the face with them, as during the Vice
President’s visit to Israel.  As for the clear violations of accepted
international law, no American administration has dared even mention the topic,
and even the media, whether liberal or conservative, never refers to this
illegal behavior.  Americans of course
are highly suspicious of the United Nations and international agreements, which
are seen as dangerous to our sovereignty and restrictive of our freedom to do
whatever we please around the world.  The
irony – and demonstration of our cynicism and lack of principle -is that in the
wake of WW II we emphasized international conventions and created the UN, which
under American leadership then created the state of Israel,
an act legitimized by the supposed support of the international community.

Most of that
international community is now clearly fed up with Israel,
which continually ignores resolutions of the very body that established it and
is protected against any serious measures by the American veto in the Security
Council.  While railing against other countries
for human rights violations, the White House and Congress consistently ignore Israel’s
behavior in the Occupied Territories.  Our favorite ally has violated or continues
to violate approximately thirty articles of the Fourth Hague Convention, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the Convention Against Torture and
the Fourth Geneva Convention, which we ourselves are violating by refusing to
take action against Israel
as we are required to do as a High Contracting Party.  Indeed, protected by the US,
Israeli has ignored or violated more UN resolutions than any other state in the
region, including Saddam Hussein’sIraq.

The most
egregious and basic infractions are those typically associated with the
totalitarian states of the twentieth century: annexation of land and planting
of settlements in territory gained through military conquest.  Yet Israel
apparently gets a pass because much of the occupied territory was once part of
ancient Israel,
obtained through conquest but also given them by their god.  Two millennia later this hardly justifies an
exemption from well-established norms of international behavior, but given the
importance of Israel in the emergence of Christianity, many Americans are
willing to accept this, despite the fact that this is a questionable precedent
for people who themselves live on land relatively recently seized from
others.

The Israelis
in fact at times seem to be emulating the acknowledged masters of international
bad behavior, the Nazis.  Granted, they are
not carrying out mass executions, but Israeli policy in the West
Bank seems strikingly like German plans for Poland,
Belarus and the
Ukraine:
creating fortified enclaves of colonists and reducing the local population to
an impoverished pool of laborers lacking any rights.  And the “freeing” of Gaza
has locked almost a half million Palestinians into what can only be called a
ghetto, albeit one of unprecedented size.
Domestically, even the most generous analysis can only describe the
twenty percent of the population who are not Jewish as economically and
socially disabled, right-wing Israelis seeing no contradiction in calling their
state both “Jewish” and “democratic.”  Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, the
former bouncer from Moldava, has in fact publicly called for the expulsion of
all non-Jews; at least he is honest about it.

Israel
might simply be an historical oddity, a curious and ironic betrayal of
traditional Jewish liberalism were it not for the fact that virtually
unqualified American diplomatic, economic and military support has inextricably
bound our national reputation to that of this increasingly pariah state.  In return Israel
has treated us with contempt, spied on us, resold our weaponry and even
deliberately attacked us (the USS Liberty in 1967), confident the
incident would be covered up, which it was.
Our alliance with Israel
has become the kind of “passionate attachment” that George Washington
warned the country about in his Farewell Address, but given the leverage
the Zionist lobby has in our elections, that attachment is unlikely to
change.  Meanwhile, we suffer on the
international stage and the Palestinians just suffer.

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