When it comes to Israel, politicians in Washington can get hysterical, making the stupidest of statements or acting idiotically. Evidence of such behaviour is common and varied; this week, for example, newly-elected Republican senator for Illinois Mark Kirk called for the US to use military means to stop Freedom Flotilla 2 heading for Gaza to break Israel’s siege. He said that the United States should “provide all the necessary special operations and naval support to the Israeli naval forces in order to stop the ships before they pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives in danger”. When and how would or could unarmed activists and peace campaigners on ships heading for Gaza “pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives in danger”?
Apparently, it is not an issue of concern for this Senator that dozens of American citizens are on board those ships (including retired US military personnel), or that any hostile action by US forces could endanger the lives of US citizens. Nor does the low esteem in which America is held in the Middle East as a result of the wars in which it is engaged appear to bother Mr. Kirk.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has written to the US Attorney General calling for participation in flotillas trying to break Israel’s immoral and illegal siege of Gaza to be prohibited because such participation is “illegal”. He doesn’t say under which law it is illegal, but that doesn’t bother someone planning, it is claimed, to stand for the Republican nomination for President of the USA; a scary thought indeed.
In Washington, the US Senate voted unanimously for a resolution expressing “its opposition to bring Hamas into a government of national unity” through the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The Senate statement pointed out that Palestinian efforts to obtain recognition for an independent state of Palestine at the United Nations “reflects an absence of commitment towards the peace negotiations [which] will have repercussions on the continuation of American aid” to the Palestinian Authority.
In the course of the discussion on the wording of the resolution, Republican Senator for Maine Susan Collins accused the United Nations of having a “documented record of being hijacked” by the Palestinians to be used against Israel. Her Democratic colleague for the state of Maryland, Ben Cardin, denounced the efforts of the United Nations, describing them as “a unilateral attempt by the United Nations to establish a Palestinian state”. This is sheer and utter nonsense, of course, but since when did that bother top US legislators? Neither Collins nor Cardin have ever expressed any concern that the US Congress has been hijacked by the powerful Israel Lobby in the United States, such as when it voted to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision which had a devastatingly negative effect on public perceptions of America across the Arab world.
This is not harmless chit-chat for these are professional politicians. What they say and do has consequences beyond the shores of North America. It is clear, though, that American politicians are incapable of dealing with Middle East issues impartially due to an inbuilt bias towards Israel. The resultant political, economic, financial and military cover that they give to the Zionist state serves to encourage hardliners in the Israeli government to expand their settlements and aggressive policies. The Arab voice isn’t heard in Washington on anywhere near the same level.
All of the above statements and others like them point to more than simply pro-Israel political hysteria (serious though that is) or stupidity. They are direct evidence that a just conclusion to the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a distant dream and that America has lost all claim to be an honest broker for peace.
*This article was first published in arabic by Al-Ittihad Al-Emiratiyah on 3rd July 2011 Dr. James J. Zogby is the author of Arab Voices (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI),
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.