By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban
News that a "strategic dialogue" was to take place between Israel and the United States was very brief; the news agencies hardly mentioned it. The names of the participants; the heads of the delegations; the meeting is held once every six months; the latest was held in Tel Aviv; and top of the agenda is Iran's nuclear threat. That was it. Apart from US commitment to Israel's 'security', of course, which practically guarantees Israel's continuing military supremacy over its neighbours near and far, as well as the Israeli monopoly over weapons of mass destruction in the region.
The brief statement issued after the meeting said: "The United States and Israel are committed to working together to enhance regional security and stability. The present discussions helped identify ways to improve our already strong cooperation in this regard for the benefit of all in the region." The question which nobody asked is this: how could the United States' strategic cooperation with Israel be for the benefit of "all in the region"? How does American support for Israel's nuclear arsenal and capability benefit the Arabs and Turks who inhabit the region in which Israel was planted? How could American funding through loan guarantees of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land be for the "benefit" of those whose land has been confiscated, whose homes are destroyed, against whom war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing are committed? And who are the "all in the region" who will benefit from US-Israel strategic cooperation, when it is all about war, settlement building, intelligence gathering, state terrorism and breaches of international laws and conventions? The strategic thinking behind such cooperation aims at the preservation of Israel's military supremacy and giving cover to its destruction of Palestinian security, livelihood, lives, human rights and land.
The way that the media dealt with this news item illustrates the skill involved in passing-off such a threatening piece of news in a way in which very little interest was stirred-up, even among the potential victims of US-Israeli strategic cooperation. In truth, the people of the Middle East and their leaders should now be able to see more clearly that the US can never be an honest broker on Middle East affairs in general, let alone the Israel-Palestine conflict; it will never be able to achieve a just and comprehensive peace as long as it offers such support to one side in the conflict, namely Israel. The latest "strategic planning" also goes some way towards explaining why the so-called peace process has failed over the past twenty years. Successive US administrations are held hostage by the strategic dialogue with the occupying power and pretend to be a broker for peace. Meanwhile, the reality is that the US sustains the state of Israel in every possible way as a strategic partner; militarily, politically and economically. In such a scenario, Palestinian lives and neighbouring countries face military occupation, war and insecurity in order to preserve Israel's military supremacy.
Those who are surprised by the Obama administration's inability to achieve any progress in the Middle East peace process should refer to an article entitled "Good news about Obama appointments", published by the Jewish Issues Watchdog on 24 November 2008. It says: "Previous postings raised questions about potential nominees to Obama Administration positions regarding their views on Israel, Iran, the Palestinians, and other issues. Today, I focus on reasons to have confidence that the incoming team will do positive things in the Middle East". Two years down the line, we know that these "positive things" include raising the question of the Jewish nature of the state of Israel, unprecedented illegal settlement building, the destruction of Palestinians' homes in East Jerusalem, passing a law in the Knesset forcing Palestinians to pay for the demolition of their homes, banning Palestinians from working in the tourist sector so that they do not direct visitors towards anything Palestinian and forcing them to swear allegiance to a Jewish state; in short, the ethnic cleansing of any Palestinian existence in their own land.
The documents published by Wikileaks about the war on Iraq shows that the crimes committed against the Iraqi people are similar in nature and magnitude to those committed daily by Israel against the Palestinian people. However, when something about such crimes is leaked to the media, no one dares comment or call for the punishment of those who commit them, because there is also strategic cooperation between the American and Israeli media. The media are 'free' not to publish anything about the crimes committed by their governments against the Arabs. But who punishes the culprits when the United Nations itself lies under the heavy weight of American hegemony?
After all the disasters that have befallen Iraq and Palestine, American diplomacy is now doing its best to support Israeli actions to impose internal conflict on Lebanon and divide Sudan. Despite the fact that the Sudanese are one people and have been living together for centuries on the same land, an announcement of the "inevitability of separation" has been made by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. A flurry of activity was initiated, including the sending of envoys, UN forces and visits by promoters of Sudanese division to Washington.
From the war on Iraq, to war on the Palestinians, to aggression on Lebanon and providing Israel with cluster bombs which still kill people in southern Lebanon, US-Israel strategic dialogue sees nothing positive in the Arab world except oil and self-interest. Just as the Zionists once promoted Palestine as "a land without people", all Arab countries appear on their radar as lands without people which they can invade at will, divide in the way that suits their interests and destroy human beings through killing and displacement. And they still have the gall to say that US-Israel "strong cooperation… [is] for the benefit of all in the region".
The media treated the "US-Israel strategic dialogue" as a short news story because that is the way they treat all of the disasters that are wrought on the people of the Middle East; they are short news stories, mere collateral damage in the great schemes planned and executed by the new world pharaohs.
Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through [email protected]
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.