As Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the next US presidential election fall over themselves to prove how Israel-friendly they are to “Republican Jewish leaders”, the country closest to their heart – no, it’s not the USA – has demonstrated once again its contempt for due process and international law. In two separate incidents this week, Israel’s status as a rogue state has been laid bare: in the first, a judge has ordered the expulsion of a democratically-elected Palestinian legislator from his home city of Jerusalem; in the second, two Palestinians have been incinerated in an Israeli missile attack in Gaza City. Israeli propaganda claims that the two men – Essam Subhi al-Batsh and his nephew Ala’a al-Batsh – were “terrorists” who have been “busy” planning other “terrorist attacks”. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?
Israelis accused by independent third parties of war crimes and crimes against humanity – terrorists by any other name – are given special status and feted in capitals whose governments have amended local laws to permit them to travel; Palestinians resisting the military occupation of their land are blasted to pieces by Israeli missiles, while the same governments offer platitudes or nothing at all. And the West lectures Islamists about human rights and democratic values!
Those Republicans know little about such values; their support for Israel is bought by lobbyists whose interests lie not in the 50 states of the Union, but in the unofficial 51st state at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. In return, the pro-Israel Lobby gets a compliant Senate, House of Representatives and, it hopes, White House, ready to do the bidding of the rogue state.
Am I exaggerating? I think not: take a look at the content and purpose of bill reference H.R. 3131 currently before Congress. In summary, it proposes to make anyone involved with the Audacity of Hope flotilla attempt to break the siege of Gaza more or less an enemy of the state. This was the flotilla blocked by Greece after intense lobbying by Israel and its lackeys. If passed, the bill would criminalise people like courageous Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein who took part in the flotilla “to seek justice and equality for all”.
Despite this grotesque abuse of legislative power by the proposers of the bill all does not appear to be well with the cosy relationship between servant (the USA) and master (Israel). An advertising campaign trying to persuade ex-pat Israelis to return to the Zionist state has upset American Jewish groups. They complain that the television advertisements suggested that you couldn’t be a “real Jew” if you live in America. Even the rabidly pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) felt moved to criticise the bosses in Tel Aviv; so the campaign was pulled from the airwaves by Benjamin Netanyahu.
This prompted New York Times columnist Roger Cohen to lament, “When Israeli actions seem arrogant or insulting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is capable of rapid action to repair the damage — provided those offended are American Jews.” This is because, claims Cohen, “The one true existential threat to Israel is loss of U.S. support”, although he thinks that this “will never happen”. Iranian nuclear ambitions, “terrorism” and Islamist governments are a side-show to divert attention from the real nature of the relationship between Israel and its lucrative cash cow, the USA. Losing the latter will, as Cohen says, be catastrophic for the rogue state. But will its arrogant far-right leaders allow themselves to care?
Cohen goes on to suggest that “if Netanyahu could show a fraction of the nimbleness evident when American Jews are offended in instances where Turks are offended (by the killing of their citizens in international waters), or where President Barack Obama is offended (by ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank against his express request), or where Egyptians are offended (by Israel’s dismissal of their democratic aspirations), then Israel would be in a better, less isolated place today.” One of the aforementioned right-wing Republicans, Mitt Romney, claimed in a speech at a conference during which, according to the New York Times, the candidates all “pledge(d) to be Israel’s best friends”, that Obama had actually “insulted” Netanyahu by calling for an end to Israel’s illegal settlement activity in occupied Palestine. That’s how twisted these mutually-parasitic politicians and lobbyists are, and how far-removed they are from genuine democratic values.
Roger Cohen added that he’d be “pleased” if the Jewish Federations of North America “could reserve a little of their outrage for times when Israeli insensitivity or arrogance takes more violent form — as is frequently the case with Palestinians in the West Bank.”
Comments like Cohen’s are not unusual in the New York Times, which suggests that ordinary American citizens may be getting a little fed up with Israel and its violence, some of which has been directed against American citizens. Remember the USS Liberty “incident” in 1967? Not many people do, because there has been an official cover-up and silence for more than forty years, but the survivors of that attack by Israeli jets and torpedo boats in which 34 US Navy personnel were killed and 170 were injured remember it well. Their calls for an official inquiry have fallen on deaf ears, not least due to the influence on Capitol Hill of the pro-Israel Lobby.
This influence more or less dictates US foreign policy, at least in the Middle East. Is that in the interests of the American people or should they be governed by people who actually care about America? Anyone who doubts the degree of influence that pro-Israel lobbyists have over the American legislature should read The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. It’s a stunning eye-opener.
It all suggests that the lobbyists’ agenda and the best interests of the people of America is not always one and the same thing. If it was, then Israel wouldn’t have maintained a spy ring second only to the ex-Soviet Union in the USA; or, it is alleged, sold US secrets to the Soviets in return for permission for Soviet Jews to migrate to Israel. Or, as a report due out soon will claim, have stolen weapons-grade uranium from America for its own nuclear programme.
The spat over the “come home” adverts could be an indication that Israel is ready to upset its most ardent supporters, American Jews, in order to look after its own interests. If so, then all the chutzpah in the world will not save Israel from itself. Displaying incredible arrogance from Egypt to Turkey and now to the USA, Israel may well be sowing the seeds of its own downfall, and like all rogue states it will find that it has to comply with international laws and conventions that allow us all to live with justice and peace, or live in not-so-splendid isolation, or… well we won’t go there. It may take some time – it probably will – and matters may get worse before they get better. Israel’s neighbours know that they don’t have the military might to tackle the Zionist state head-on – US support and legislation bought by the lobbyists makes sure of that, as does the small matter of Israel’s uninspected nuclear arsenal – but maybe they won’t have to. As the cracks begin to appear in US-Israeli solidarity, the Israeli far-right may well over-reach itself and, with full support from its US and European friends, of course, self-destruct. We live in hope.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.