U.S.-Israeli relations


Below, from the green start line to the red end line,
is the perceptive outline of U.S.-Israeli relations
in George and Douglas Ball’s The Passionate Attachment, written in 1992.

[PA, pages 110–111]

Israeli Provocations and America’s Response

[Early in the Reagan administration]
relations between the United States and Israel
settled into a rigid pattern—a kind of choreographed ballet.
By the end of Reagan’s first term,
that ritualized pattern had become a political fact
that critically distorted policy.
This is how it worked.

In response to a real or contrived Arab provocation9,
Israel would embark on certain military actions
that tested the limits of international tolerance.
The U.S. government might then express disapproval,
and even suggest that Israel stop whatever it was doing.
That homily was often accompanied by
a condemnatory resolution passed by the UN Security Council,
largely to placate the Arabs.

Israel—and its American partisans—
responded with loud indignation to American’s mild disapprobation.
Yet, almost before these objections could be raised,
the President (or the Secretary of State) neutralized America’s cautionary words
by asserting categorically:
  1. that Israel is America’s “ally”;
  2. that America gives the highest priority to Israel’s security;
  3. that the U.S. government will never pressure Israel
    to comply with its wishes.
    Such unilateral diplomatic disarmament,
    not evident in our relations with any other country,
    has become a conditioned reflex10.

Unmollified, the Israeli government would respond by asserting:
  1. that it acted for vital reasons of national security,
    of which it was the best, indeed the only, judge;
  2. that it was only seeking to advance the United States’ own interests; or
  3. that it never perpetrated the alleged offense.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government would challenge
the good faith of any critical Jewish Americans.
Jewish Americans, it would declare, must give unquestioning loyalty
because they choose to live in America
instead of joining their fellow Jews on the Middle East barricades.

Finally, if, as occasionally happened,
the Israeli government should comply even partially with America’s requests,
it would couple that acquiescence with demands for more aid or special favors.
Then, when the President granted such demands,
Congress, on its own,
would frequently raise the amount requested by the White House.
The President would promptly approve the bill as passed.

If the U.S. government reluctantly concluded—as it did occasionally—
that an Israeli action
endangered international peace,
offended world opinion, or
harmed major American interests,
it might threaten to withhold—or even actually temporarily withhold—
military aid or some political concession.

AIPAC would then express such intense outrage
that Congress would hasten to release the withheld equipment—
thus validating the comment of I. L. Kenen (founder of AIPAC)
that his organization was established
“to lobby the Congress to tell the President to overrule the State Department.”11

At this point the President would quietly fold his tent
and leave the field without further resistance.
He would have restored the withheld aid
and provided Israel with a substantial financial or political “peace offering,”
after which he or the Secretary of State would terminate the incident
by the soothing proclamation that
American-Israeli ties were now stronger than ever.12

Notes for The Passionate Attachment

Ball, PA, Ch. 6, Note 9
If possible Israel chooses a time when urgent events elsewhere
are distracting the attention of key Western leaders.
Examples of this have been
the 1956 Sinai campaign during the Hungarian revolt;
the annexation of the Golan in 1981 during the Polish crisis; and
the 1982 Lebanese invasion during the Versailles economic summit meeting.

Ball, PA, Ch. 6, Note 10
The United States does not have any principled objection
to the use of military or economic pressure against other nations;
indeed, it routinely uses these against nations such as Nicaragua and Libya.
Pressure is a standard part of any powerful nation’s diplomatic repertoire.
But in this, as in all else,
the deviation from standard practice in favor of Israel
is based on pure political expediency.

Ball, PA, Ch. 6, Note 11
Quoted in Straus, “Israel’s New Superlobby in Washington: Reagan and Co.,”
Washington Post, 1986-04-27, “Outlook.”
If the Americans miss their cue,
the Israeli ambassador makes the same comment for them.

Ball, PA, Ch. 6, Note 12
... note the statements after the various conflicts noted in Chapters 1–6.

Economic issues

An Israeli company desires to spend $225 million to buy an American company,
as described in these Washington Post or AP articles:
Leaving aside the national security issues, which are certainly serious enough,
my question is:
If the Israeli economy is healthy enough that
Israeli companies are attempting to purchase American ones,
then why on earth is the American government
giving Israel $3 billion per annum in aid?
It isn’t enough that Israel is using American aid
to suppress and oppress the Palestinian people,
a fact of which the Muslim world is acutely aware
and which enflames their anti-American opinions,
but now Israel is also using its American-supported economic strength
to buy up American companies.
(Don’t forget, money is the ultimate fungible commodity.)

President George H.W. Bush’s News Conference
President George H.W. Bush (Bush-41)
The White House, 1991-09-12

[Emphasis is added.]

The President.
Since the end of the Gulf war,
we’ve worked extremely hard to take advantage of what we believe
are new and exciting possibilities for peace in the Middle East.
Secretary of State [James A.] Baker [III]
has traveled to the region about a half a dozen times
and will go again in a few days.
As a result of these efforts we’re on the brink of an historic breakthrough.
We’ve come a long, long way,
and we’re close to being able to convene a peace conference that, in turn,
would launch direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab States,
something the state of Israel has sought since its inception.

A few days ago, I asked Congress to
defer consideration for 120 days
of Israel’s request for [$10] billion in additional U.S. loan guarantees

meant to help Israel absorb its many new emigrants.
I did so in the interests of peace.
I did so because
we must avoid a contentious debate
that would raise a host of controversial issues,
issues so sensitive that a debate now could well destroy
our ability to bring one or more of the parties to the peace table.

A good deal of confusion surrounds this request for deferral,
confusion that I’d like to try to clear up.
Let me begin by making clear what my request for delay is not about.
It’s not about the strength of my or this country’s support
for emigration to Israel.
Both as Vice President and President
I’ve tried my hardest to do everything possible
to liberate Jews living in Ethiopia and the Soviet Union
so that they could emigrate to Israel.
Today, in no small part due to American efforts,
hundreds of thousands of people are now living in Israel
able at last to live free of fear, free to practice their faith.

Nor should our request for delay be viewed as an indication
that there exists any question in my mind
about the need for a strong and secure Israel.
For more than 40 years
the United States has been Israel’s closest friend in the world,
and this remains the case
and will as long as I am President of the United States.

This is a friendship backed up with real support.
Just months ago, American men and women in uniform risked their lives
to defend Israelis in the face of Iraqi Scud missiles.
And indeed, Desert Storm, while winning a war against aggression,
also achieved the defeat of Israel’s most dangerous adversary.
And during the current fiscal year alone
and despite our own economic problems,
the United States provided Israel
with more than billion in economic and military aid,
nearly ,000 [???] for every Israeli man, woman and child,
as well as with 0 [???] million in loan guarantees
to facilitate emigrant absorption.

My request that Congress delay consideration of the Israeli request
for [$10] billion in new loan guarantees to support emigrant absorption
is about peace.
For the first time in history,
the vision of Israelis sitting with their Arab neighbors to talk peace
is a real prospect.
Nothing should be done that might interfere with this prospect.
And if necessary, I will use my veto power to prevent that from happening.
Peace is what these new emigrants to Israel and, indeed, all Israelis long for.
Their chance for a decent job, a decent life, depends on it.

It is our goal to support the welfare of the new emigrants and to have peace;
not to choose one humanitarian goal at the expense of the other.

Let me end with just one final point:
The Constitution charges the President
with the conduct of the Nation’s foreign policy.
And during Desert Shield and then Desert Storm,
I came before the American people, as President,
asking for the latitude to do what was right and necessary.
A good many sincere Members of Congress of both parties disagreed at the time.
And now again there’s an attempt by some in the Congress
to prevent the President from taking steps central to the Nation’s security.

But too much is at stake for domestic politics to take precedence over peace.
This I know is something the bulk of the American people understand.
And I’m asking the Congress to postpone this question for 120 days.
This postponement is not meant to prejudice in any way
of what we would do come January.
And I’m asking the American people to support me in this request.

Quite simply,
a 120-day delay is not too much for a President to ask for
with so much in the balance.
We must give peace a chance.
We must give peace every chance.
And now I’d by glad to take a few questions.

American Jobs and Foreign Aid

Q. Mr. President,
what do you say to people who believe that if there is aid made available,
that it best be spent on the millions of Americans
who are without jobs and are disadvantaged?

The President.
Well, that is a question that the American people
seem to be raising more and more about foreign aid.
But my view is, we must do what we can to facilitate this peace process.
In the long run, that is not only in our national security interest,
but I think it would prove to be
in the financial interests of the United States as well.

So I don’t think that these two need to be mutually exclusive.

Q. Do you think you are going to do more and more
for the Americans who are without jobs now
and who are really poverty-stricken?

The President.
I think we are beginning to see this economy move, and I think that, of course,
is by far the best answer to jobs.
Jobs created by the Federal Government don’t last.
Jobs created by reinvigorated private sector do.
And that is why I would hope that our growth package that we have there
can be moved on.

Release of Hostages

Q. Mr. President, Israel yesterday released 51 Arab prisoners,
and the Shiite Moslem kidnappers say that
they support a comprehensive settlement of the hostage ordeal.
What’s your reading of this situation,
and is there anything that the United States can do to facilitate the process?

The President.
Not directly. I was very pleased, though, at the release of those prisoners.
We have been in touch with the Secretary-General,
with Mr. Picco of his office also who is doing a very good job.
And again, we’re back where we were a month ago,
“How optimistic is the President?
How optimistic is the Congress about the release of these prisoners?”
And once again, I am going to resist quantifying my optimism.
But I think this recent development
is bound to be viewed properly as very, very favorable.

Q. Do you believe that the release of a hostage is imminent?

The President.
I don’t want to put terms on it.
I mean, I know that there was a feeling a month ago, I remember it very well,
that a hostage release is imminent, and sure enough, thank heavens,
a release did take place.
But I just am going to resist, Terry [Terence Hunt, Associated Press],
if you will permit me not to go into
how optimists or moderately optimistic or whatever that I am.

Supreme Court Nomination

Mr. President, to change the subject yet again,
Judge Thomas has told the Senate Committee
that he’s never expressed an opinion about Roe versus Wade;
that he has no opinion in 18 years
on one of the most controversial legal issues in the country.
First of all, do you find that credible?
And secondly, do you find that something that commends him further
to be a Justice on the Supreme Court?

The President.
I think it’s a question for the Senate to decide,
and I think he’s handling himself very, very well.
And if you look back to other people that have appeared before the Court,
there seems to be some similarity in wanting to stay away from prejudging cases.
So, he has my full support.
I think he’s doing a beautiful job up there.
And I, again, I don’t quantify everything,
but I feel more confident than ever that he will be confirmed.
And I think that’s because the American people see that he should be.

Q. Are you surprised that he said he has absolutely no opinion on the subject?

The President. No, I think he’s handling himself very, very well.

Israeli Loan Guarantees

Back on the question of the Israeli loan guarantees,
even many of your Republican supporters on the Hill say that
Israel should have had this money a long time ago.
And they don’t support the 120-day delay that you’re asking for.
Is there any kind of compromise?
Is there any kind of middle ground?
You sound very tough today on wanting to hold to that 120.

The President.
I just sound principled.
I am convinced that this debate would be counterproductive to peace.
And I owe it to the Member of Congress to say it as forcefully as I can.
I’ve worn out of the telephone in there and one ear,
and I’m going to move over to the other ear and keep on it.
Because this is, peace is vital here,
and we’ve worked too hard to have that request of mine denied.
And I think the American people will support me.
They know we support Israel.
I’ve just detailed some of what we’ve done.
So, there should be no question about that.
I am giving the Congress --
and I did it with the leaders today, having an opportunity here, thank you,
to do it here --
to give my best judgment.
And I’m up against some powerful political forces,
but I owe it to the American people to tell them
how strongly I feel about the deferral.

Are those power political forces ungrateful
for what you’ve done so far on a peace process?
And why doesn’t the peace argument sell with them?

The President.
I think it will sell, but it’s taken a little time.
And we’re up against a very strong and effective, sometimes,
groups that go up to the Hill.
I heard today
there was something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill
working the other side of the question.
We’ve got one lonely little guy down here doing it.

[Laughter] However, I like this forum better too.

Q. Are they ungrateful for what you’re trying to do?

The President.
I don’t know whether -- I’m not talking about gratitude.
I’m talking about world peace.
And we’ve got to get it into a far broader perspective.
And that’s exactly what I’m talking about,
and I think people will understand that.

Mr. President, you said that a contentious debate now
could actually keep some parties away from the peace table.
Yet, the Israelis claim that
those Arabs who have indicated a willingness to participate in the peace process
have not made the settlement issue a precondition.
They say that’s your precondition.
As one columnist said this week, “It’s your obsession.”
Is that fair?

The President.
I would simply say that I read some charges coming out of a source in Israel
that we’d made a deal with the Arabs that we would fight this.
That’s not true.
That is factually incorrect.
It’s simply not true.
No, it is my judgment, and Jim’s,
and everybody else that’s working this problem and has been for months,
that this is the approach we ought to take
because we don’t want a contentious debate
on settlements or anything else over there
at this junction.
We want to get these parties to the table.
And I don’t think it’s asking too much to have a 120-day delay.
I think Congress should listen carefully to what I’m asking for,
and I hope that they will go along with this.

Mr. President, you talked about powerful political forces at work.
It sounds like you’re feeling the heat from the Israeli lobby.
Do you think that
there’s unfair foreign intervention in the U.S. political process here?

The President.
No, I don’t think --
I think everybody ought to fight for what they believe in.
That’s exactly what I’m beginning to do right here.
We’ve laid back down, we’ve been lying in the weeds,
saying let’s not get all these debate subjects going.
The best thing for peace, to move the process forward,
is just have this deferral.
But I’m going to fight for what I believe.
And it may be popular politically, but probably it’s not.
But that’s not the question here.
That’s not -- the question is whether it’s good 1992 politics.
What’s important here is that we give this process a chance.
I don’t care if I get one vote. I’m going to stand for what I believe here.
And I believe the American people will be with me
if we put it on this question of principle.
And nobody has been a better friend to Israel than the United States,
and no one will continue to be a better friend than the United States.

But here we are simply asking for a 120-day deferral,
and that’s what motivates me.
It doesn’t have anything to do with lobbies or politics or anything else.

Mr. President, just how much damage is being caused by this showdown?

The President.
I don’t think there’s any damage.
Lawsy, we’ll be debating something else tomorrow.
But I think this one’s very important,
and that’s why I want to be sure that our position is out there.
I’m not only half in jest about what’s happening up there on the Hill.
Listen, there’s a tremendous effort going on.
And we have had a low profile on this.
And I wake up now and see that we better get our message out loud and clear.

Q. Does this strain itself threaten the peace process?

The President.
It has nothing to do with the peace process in my view.
If what would happen, the result is what would strain it, not the -- --

Isn’t there a loss of trust, sir?
Do the Israelis trust you as much as they did?

The President.
Well, you’ll have to ask the Israelis that.
I can’t tell you about that.
All I’m doing is expressing the foreign policy of the United States of America.
And we’re going to say what we think is best.
If they agree, fine.
They’ve got to worry about their priorities.
But I think many people there want to see this peace process go forward.
The polling numbers in Israel are overwhelming in support of the peace process.

And so, what I’m trying to say is,
listen to the degree America’s judgment and leadership matters,
listen to what we say, how strongly we feel about this.
And I think the people there will respond.
I think the American people will respond.
Mr. Fitzwater. The final question please.

Have you made a commitment to the Israelis and to the Congress,
if that delay is acceded to,
that you will support the loan guarantee
unequivocally and with no further conditions?

The President.
What was that?

Have you made a commitment
to the Israelis and to their supporters in the Congress
that if they agree to the delay,
that you will then support the loan guarantee?

The President.
Absolutely not.
That would undermine everything.
I proposed that the question be considered in 120 days
without any objection on our part
and that in principle a concept of absorption aid,
the principle that we backed up by 0 million this year,
will still be a valid principle.
But to agree to something of that nature would be just the same --
if I feel it’s detrimental to the peace process as presented now,
that kind of agreement would be equally detrimental to the peace process.

I’m really going to have to run.
I’m going to Philadelphia here in a minute,
and then I’ve got something else I’ve got to do before I go there.

Q. What?

The President.
Domestic agenda.

Mr. President, you’ve said Israel wants this peace conference as much as you do.
And yet it’s Israel that submitted this request to you.
Have they put you in a difficult position?
And does this say something about their less-than-genuine interest?

The President.
you can’t judge by statements from one or another in the Cabinet in Israel.
You’ve got to look at the whole picture.
And there have been some disquieting statements by one rather flamboyant minister
that I’m sorry I didn’t get asked about
because I’ve just been aching to answer the question.
But we’re not judging.
Not going to answer any more.
But I’m just simply saying, we’re not judging it on a statement here or there.
I take the Prime Minister [Shamir] at his word
when he says that they feel it is in their interest to have a peace conference.
And it’s not been an easy decision for him.
But he’s taken that decision, and to his credit,
he reaffirmed their interest in the peace process just less than 48 hours ago.
So, those are the statements we ought to look at, and in that one,
why, I was quite reassured.

But again, Charles [Charles Bierbauer, Cable News Network],
we are the United States of America.
We’ve got our policy.
We should say clearly what our policy is.
And I want this peace process to happen.
I want the Israelis to do that which they wanted all along:
have a chance to sit down one-on-one with historic adversaries.
And I want the Arabs to have a chance to get this question settled
once and for all.
And I really believe the whole world wants that.

And it is my best judgment that a rancorous debate now is literally miniscule in importance compared to the objective of peace.
And that is, we ought to set it back 120 days only.
Who’s going to get hurt?
What possibly could work against that reasonable request from an administration that has brought this thing from square one right up to a peak that nobody really believed we could achieve:
getting these countries together.
And the work that’s gone into it,
I just don’t want to risk it
by us taking some stand in the United States Congress
against a request by the President
in order to satisfy some other interest.

We’ve got to keep our sights
on the broad picture of peace in the Middle East.
And I would say that includes world peace.

They’re so closely interlocked
when you look at the complex relationships in the Middle East
and how they spill over into Europe and to Asia, and to the Soviet Union still.
So, we’re talking about a major chance now
for one more tremendous step towards peace.
We’ve seen the evolution in the Soviet Union.
And we’ve seen the defeat of aggression over there in Iraq [in 1991].
We’ve seen democracy on the move in our hemisphere.
And here is a last place that really needs this peace process to go forward.

Mr. President, just a quick followup was
if this goes through, which Arabs could you no longer count on?

The President.
I’m not going to define that at all.
It’s just our judgment that it would be very detrimental to the peace process.
I can’t help you with individual -- listen, I’ve got to go, honest.

Should we get one in the -- too bad you’re not in the back of the room.
Right back there.

CIA Nomination

Mr. President,
next week you have another somewhat controversial nominee going to hearing,
the Robert Gates CIA nomination.
Are you still confident that he will be confirmed?
Is there any consideration being given to withdrawal?

The President.
Absolutely no consideration to withdrawal because there’s no reason for withdrawal.
I don’t see, I’m not sure how controversial this nomination will be.
When the facts are out there,
and the Committee are going to deal with it in my view,
in extraordinarily good faith.
I’ve had an opportunity to talk to
the chairman, the ranking Member, other Members of Congress,
and I think that a lot of these kind of feathery charges that are floating out there
are nonsense.
And I think the process will be fair enough that I wouldn’t concede that this nomination is in any trouble at all.
And I believe Bob Gates is the best man to head the intelligence community.
I have total confidence in his honor, his integrity, if you will, his word of honor.
And I think he will be confirmed.
So, I have no question in my mind about this being the proper choice.

You don’t think the Clair George indictment hurt him?

The President.
I don’t think so.
I think people are fair.
I mean, if Clair George came out and made some charge against Bob Gates,
that might have some influence.
But I don’t think that will happen.
I have no reason to believe that at all.

Q. Followup on the -- --

Q. Sir -- --

The President.
Hey listen, I’m not making an excuse.
I really do have to get the heck out.

Q. Can you just follow up on Jerusalem, sir, just a quickie on Jerusalem?

The President. Thank you very much.

Q. Thank you.

Note: President Bush’s 103d news conference began at 1:05 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.
In the news conference, the following persons were referred to: Secretary of State James A. Baker III; Giandomenico Picco, Assistant to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Special Assignments; Robert M. Gates, nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Assistant to the President and Deputy for National Security Affairs; and Clair George, former Chief of Covert Operations, Central Intelligence Agency, who was indicted on September 12 on charges relating to the Iran-Contra affair.
A tape was not available for verification of the content of this news conference.

Other issues


In Major Shift, Bush Endorses Sharon Plan and
Backs Keeping Some Israeli Settlements

New York Times, 2004-04-15
(alternative URL)

[Emphasis is added.]

WASHINGTON, April 14 —
President Bush on Wednesday
recognized Israel’s right [sic] to retain some West Bank settlements
as part of any peace accord with the Palestinians

as he formally endorsed
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan
to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.
He called the plan “historic” and “courageous.”

In a major shift in American policy
that was already angering many Arabs on Wednesday night,
Mr. Bush said that
Israel should not have to return to its pre-1967 borders,
and that
Palestinians and their descendants
who lost their land in Israel in 1948
should eventually be settled in a Palestinian state,
not back in Israel.

The president’s pronouncement effectively ruled out
any “right of return” by Palestinians.

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” Mr. Bush said in a news conference with Mr. Sharon in the Cross Hall of the White House.

Mr. Sharon, who beamed at Mr. Bush’s side throughout their 24-minute appearance, said his plan would create “a new and better reality” for Israel.

Mr. Bush did not specifically mention, as Mr. Sharon had wanted, that Israel should retain five West Bank settlements that have been growing for decades and now hold some 55,000 people. Administration officials said Mr. Bush left his language vague to avoid angering Palestinians even more than expected.

As a gesture to the Palestinian side, Mr. Bush reiterated in a letter to Mr. Sharon on Wednesday that any security barrier being built by Israel must be “temporary” and that its route should take into account its effect on Palestinians. American officials said this meant that the United States expected Israel to build only those parts of the barrier that are close to its pre-1967 borders, and not on routes that jut into the West Bank, walling off Palestinians from each other.

In another concession to the Palestinians, Mr. Bush said that any future Palestinian state should be “viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.” Administration officials said that meant that a future Palestinian state could not be shrunken or truncated by the lines that some officials in Mr. Sharon’s government say should be the final boundaries.

But Palestinians still reacted with furor. In anticipation of Mr. Bush’s endorsement of Mr. Sharon’s plan, both Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian president, and Ahmed Qurei, the prime minister, issued denunciations declaring that the plan put any future peace agreement in peril.

“The Palestinian leadership warns of the dangers of reaching such an accord, because it means clearly the complete end of the peace process,” Mr. Arafat said in a statement.

Administration officials sought to play down the negative comments as an instant Palestinian reaction to press reports rather than to the reality in front of them.
“I don’t think that reaction is going to stop progress because there are real benefits here for Palestinians, and they’re going to see those benefits here clearly,” said a senior administration official who asked not to be identified because he wanted to speak more freely. “The main benefit is that a Likud government of Israel is going to withdraw from settlements. Israel has not withdrawn from a settlement since 1967. This is therefore going to be a very big deal.”

Administration officials also held out hope that Mr. Sharon had embarked on a process of withdrawal that would be rejected by Mr. Sharon’s far-right coalition partners, which would force him to bring the left-of-center Labor Party into the government and create a political climate the Palestinians might consider more hospitable.

“There’s a great deal of suspicion of Sharon — that’s a fact,” the senior administration official said. He then predicted that “in a month this coalition government will fall, and will be replaced with a different coalition with Labor in it.”

“Palestinians are more comfortable with that,” the official added.
Israeli officials said withdrawals from the West Bank and Gaza could begin in nine months to a year. They did not address the Bush administration’s expectation that Mr. Sharon’s government would fall, but they said the timing of the withdrawal would be determined by Mr. Sharon’s ability to win approval in the cabinet and the Parliament. Some 200,000 Likud members are to vote on the plan.

Israeli officials also said the timing of withdrawal depended on operational details like finding new homes for the settlers.

A senior Israeli official said in Washington on Wednesday that he remained hopeful that the Palestinians would see the agreement between Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon as an opportunity. “They can really take matters into their own hands and chart their own destiny,” the official said.

Politically, the Bush-Sharon accord will have “enormous psychological impact” on Israelis that will make it easier for Mr. Sharon to carry out his withdrawal plan, the official said. “In a way, it kind of sweetens the bitter pill for us” of “giving up territories,” the official said. The American response “will hopefully convince the Israeli public to support” Mr. Sharon’s plans.

It was Mr. Sharon who developed the idea in the 1970’s of populating Gaza and the West Bank with Israeli settlers to improve security, but his aides say he is now eager to break with his legacy. He announced his withdrawal plan in December, and aides say he sees it as the only way to guarantee Israel’s security.

At the same time, the United States has insisted that Israel not substitute the withdrawal plan for the “road map,” the Middle East peace plan that calls for a Palestinian state next to Israel.


NEWS ANALYSIS: Sharon Coup: U.S. Go-Ahead
New York Times, 2004-04-15

JERUSALEM, April 14 — By throwing his support on Wednesday behind an Israeli plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, President Bush provided diplomatic assurances that represented a victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Sharon wanted three commitments: backing for the Gaza withdrawal, American recognition that Israel would hold on to parts of the West Bank, and an American rejection of the right of millions of Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and their descendants to return to their lands in what is now Israel. He got them all by promising to trade something Israelis overwhelmingly do not want any more: the Gaza settlements and a handful of settlements in the West Bank. And he got them without having to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials knew that Israel strongly opposed yielding the whole West Bank or accepting the “right of return,” and they had explored compromises in the past. But they relied on both demands as formidable negotiating levers. Mr. Bush has now moved to pluck both from their hands.

“Imagine if Palestinians said, `O.K., we give California to Canada,’ “ said Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser for the Palestine Liberation Organization. “Americans should stop wondering why they have so little credibility in the Middle East.”

For the first time in American diplomacy in the Middle East, Mr. Bush announced that major Jewish settlements on the West Bank had achieved the status they aimed for: rooted “facts on the ground,” or, as Mr. Bush called them, “already existing major Israeli population centers.” The innovative, though risky, element in Mr. Sharon’s strategy was to trade his concessions in Gaza and the West Bank not to the Palestinians as part of a negotiated agreement but to the Americans, over outraged Palestinian opposition.

For Israel, the risk is that the Palestinians will now reject as imposed on them any peace plan along the lines Mr. Bush laid out, in his White House statement and a letter he gave Mr. Sharon. For the United States, the risk is that, with Arabs and Muslims already suspicious of American motives, the Bush administration will be seen as teaming with Israel to void Palestinian rights.

Mr. Bush emphasized his support for an eventual Palestinian state. He repeatedly indicated that he was merely sketching the realistic outline of any peace agreement, as suggested by past, American-brokered negotiations over issues like settlements and the right of return. But Palestinians were not mollified.

“As far as I’m concerned, Sharon and Bush can decide to cancel Ramadan,” Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said, referring to the Muslim holy month. “But that doesn’t mean that Muslims will not fast.”

All smiles and gentle jokes as they stood side by side at the White House Wednesday, Mr. Sharon and Mr. Bush looked like leaders who saw strong political and policy reasons for a close alliance.

Mr. Bush’s statements will doubtless appeal to Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel in the United States. They are also consistent with the policy tilt toward Israel evident since he entered office, refusing to meet with Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, whom he accused of being an obstacle to peace.

That tilt became more pronounced after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, which led Mr. Bush to declare a war on terrorism that has often seemed to emulate Israel’s military tactics, and to mirror its fears. Mr. Bush has rarely emphasized any role of Israeli settlements as an “obstacle to peace,” the longstanding formulation in American policy. Noting that West Bank settlements doubled in size after the Oslo peace accords were signed, Palestinians point to them as evidence that Israel never intends to part with much of the West Bank.

Asked on Monday if settlements were an obstacle to his Middle East peace initiative, the road map, Mr. Bush spoke instead about terrorism. “The problem is, is that there’s terrorists who will kill people in order to stop the process,” he said.

For Mr. Sharon, the political benefits of Mr. Bush’s statement and accompanying letter are obvious. Facing tough opposition from his political right, he can now present his withdrawal as an American-Israeli initiative in a referendum to take place in his Likud faction on May 2. Those who vote against him will now be voting against Israel’s most important ally. Mr. Sharon, who has a record of relying greatly, and sometimes disastrously, on his own judgment, is once again taking a tremendous gamble. It was not without cause that Mr. Bush called his intentions “historic and courageous.”

Settlers are vehemently opposed to any withdrawal. Many view the territory that Israel conquered in the 1967 war as part of Jews’ birthright, delivered to them by God through what they consider Israel’s miraculous victory. “Transfer Sharon, not settlements,” read a sign one protester carried outside Mr. Sharon’s residence here on Wednesday.

The most ideologically committed settlers — the very ones who live in the fringe settlements Mr. Sharon wants to evacuate, rather than in the sprawling, bedroom communities he wants to keep — view leaving a single settlement as shattering the rationale for retaining any. Many Israeli doves supportive of Mr. Sharon’s plan share that view. They think that once Israel begins withdrawing from settlements, it will pull back from almost all of them.

Mr. Sharon is betting that he can use Mr. Bush’s commitments to stop the withdrawal where he chooses and retain as much as half of the West Bank, a senior Israeli official said. This official compared the proposed withdrawal to a tactic he said baffled him when he first watched an American football game: he said he was astonished to see the ball hiked backward before it moved forward.

Mr. Sharon told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week that he was pursuing his plan now because “a situation has been created in which it is possible to do the things I want and to get an American commitment.”

But if far-right parties bolt Mr. Sharon’s governing coalition over the withdrawal plan, he could be compelled to turn to his left, to the Labor party, for support. Labor would almost certainly push for a more sweeping withdrawal, as well as renewed negotiations.

For Mr. Sharon, who is not a religious man, the settlements have always been an instrument of security and of negotiating leverage. He intended them to thicken Israel’s borders against possible Arab attack. After the 1967 war, Mr. Sharon and other Israeli leaders saw moving civilians into the West Bank and Gaza as giving legitimacy to Israel’s grip on that territory in a way that an occupation army alone never could.

Further, Mr. Sharon viewed settlements as deepening Israelis’ attachment to the land and giving them incentive to hold it. “Yes, I want to put the children before the tanks,” he told The New York Times more than 25 years ago.

But Mr. Sharon, who drew up the settlement plan in Gaza, believes that Israel’s grip there has become a liability. In Gaza, just 7,500 Israelis live in fortified enclaves among 1.3 million Palestinians. In the West Bank, about 230,000 settlers live among 2.3 million Palestinians. Another 200,000 Israelis live in areas of Jerusalem that Israel captured in 1967. Mr. Sharon argues that his plan means Israel will no longer be held responsible by the world for the well-being of Palestinians, at least in Gaza. That may be something of a leap of faith, since Mr. Sharon intends to keep military control of Gaza’s boundaries, airport and seaport.

It is also not certain if, as some Middle East analysts have suggested, the United States will find itself with new obligations in Gaza, now that Mr. Bush has blessed Mr. Sharon’s approach.

In fact, for all the points of American-Israeli agreement on Wednesday, there were hints of divergence in long-term strategy. Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Sharon’s approach would fit with his own road map and “open the door to progress toward a peaceful, democratic, viable Palestinian state.” But Mr. Sharon, arguing that the Palestinians have proven themselves unworthy as peace partners for now, has said his approach closes the door to substantive negotiations and a Palestinian state for years. “It will bring their dreams to an end,” he told the Israeli newspaper Maariv recently.


Does Israel Conduct Covert Action in America?
You bet it does
by Michael Scheuer
Antiwar.com, 2006-04-08

[This article might more appropriately appear
within my post on “The Israel Lobby”,
but that HTML page is getting rather large, so the text appears here.
Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Covert action is much talked about and little understood.
At its most basic level,

covert action is
a set of intelligence operations
undertaken by a specific state’s intelligence agencies
to advance its national interests.

They are executed in a manner
that limits the visibility of that state’s hand in whatever is done.
Ideally, covert actions cannot be traced back to their sponsor.
Most people take the term covert action
to mean violent actions of one kind or another:
kidnapping, assassination, support for insurgents, etc.
While violence can certainly be part of a covert-action campaign,
the more insidious – and often more effective – arm of covert action
is called

“political action,” whereby
one state seeks to influence the public opinion of another
by speaking through the mouths of that country’s citizens.

And let me stress,
there is nothing wrong or immoral about covert political action.
America used political action worldwide in the Cold War;
Britain used it in the United States
to accelerate neutral America’s entry into both world wars;
the Saudis pay untold amounts to retired senior U.S. officials
to speak admiringly of the anti-American desert tyranny; and
Israel uses it today against America
to ensure unlimited and unquestioning U.S. support.
It is a legitimate foreign affairs tool,
and the leaders of any nation who choose not to engage in such activity
are certifiably negligent fools.

For years – even decades –
U.S. citizens have been the subject of a political action campaign
designed and executed by Israel.
Currently, Israel’s campaign is
part steady-as-she-goes and part improvisation
to neutralize an unexpected and – for Israel – worrying development.
So far, Israel’s covert political action is succeeding hands down.
Americans are gradually being indoctrinated to believe
Islamists are today’s Nazis
and that
there is no “Israeli lobby” in America.
Simply put, Israel is conducting
a brilliant covert political action campaign in the United States,
a campaign any intelligence service in the world would rightly be proud of.

Part one of Israeli’s political action consists simply of using
that old standby debate-suppressor, the four-letter word “Nazi.”
Newspapers in Israel, of course, have long used the word
to describe Israel’s Muslim enemies.
Recently, for example, the Jerusalem Post ran an article in which
al-Qaeda is described as “yet another Nazi knockoff.”
This sort of language is the stuff of Israeli journalism,
and not of much concern to Americans.
If the Israeli press wants to teach their readers
to underestimate the Islamist threat,
so be it.

But now the word “Nazi” is being gradually fed to Americans
as a scientific definition of our Islamist enemies.
Headlines such as
“Hamas Uber Alles,”
“Hitler’s Heirs in Damascus,” and
“The Nazi Correction to Islamic Terror”
are increasingly common
in U.S. media publications found in the news files Googled daily by Americans.
U.S. politicians, too, are eager to jump on the call-them-Nazis bandwagon,
Secretary Rumsfeld recently saying that
leaving Iraq early would be like returning postwar Germany to the Nazis, and
Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)
comparing the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra
to the burning of the Reichstag by the Nazis.

The goal of using the Nazi analogy is
to suppress any realistic debate
about the pluses and minuses of the U.S.-Israel relationship,

to make sure any American raising questions about U.S. support for Israel
is seen as siding with the “Islamofascists,” the heirs of Nazism.

Any person who knows the least bit about Islam –
and the Israelis know a great deal –
knows it is not Nazism,
yet the Internet is rife with such titles as
“A Manifesto Against Islamofascism” and
“Islamofascism’s Creeping Coup in Turkey.”
The best capsule description of the threat posed by Islamofascists
is provided by Frank Gaffney
in a recent issue of The Intelligencer,
the journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
Listen to Mr. Gaffney,
and you will almost hear Muslim jackboots striking the pavement.
We are engaged in nothing less than a War for the Free World.
This is a fight to the death with Islamofascists,
Muslim extremists driven by a totalitarian political ideology that,
like Nazism and Communism before it,
is determined to destroy freedom and the people who love it.
The drive to make Islamofascist the term of choice
in describing America’s Muslim enemies
is meant
to still U.S. debate about Israel and, indeed,
to limit questions
about any aspect of U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world....

The second part of any nation’s covert political action plan
is to be ready to exploit or redress
unexpected developments within the target society.
Last month,
Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt provided such an environment
when they published a lengthy study
showing the strong influence the Israeli lobby has
on the crafting and application of U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world.
If American society had its head screwed on right,
the collective response of the citizenry would have been, “DUH!” –
signifying that
the near-determinative nature of Israeli influence is so clear that
no academic analysis of that fact is necessary.

Instead, the reaction from American elites
has been that of Captain Renault in Casablanca –
they are shocked, shocked, that anyone could even think
that there is such a thing as an Israeli lobby.

The elites demand that Americans believe
there are no such things as
Israel-suborned American-citizen spies
stealing U.S. national security secrets,
pro-Israel U.S. media publications routinely savaging
any American questioning
the perfect and eternal mesh of U.S. and Israeli interests, and
U.S. politicians from Pelosi to McCain to DeLay to Rice
groveling at AIPAC’s annual conference,
each willing to compromise U.S. security
if they can garner pro-Israel votes
and pockets stuffed with cash from pro-Israel contributions.

In the specific case of the Mearsheimer-Walt paper,
prominent pro-Israel Americans have been quick off the mark
to limit the damage caused to Israel’s interests
caused by the paper’s candor and truthfulness.
From Marvin Kalb to David Gergen to Max Boot to Alan Dershowitz,
these folks have brazenly defied reality
by insisting there is no “Israeli Lobby”
and that Mearsheimer and Walt are
dead wrong,
poor scholars,
paranoid conspiracy peddlers, or
reborn Elders of Zion.
Eliot Cohen’s essay in the Washington Post
epitomizes the Israel-Firsters’ goal
of defaming Mearsheimer and Walt
to convince the citizenry that they are crazy and ranting anti-Semites.

The attacks on Walt and Mearsheimer are the stuff
that the dreams of political action planners are made of:
The apparently spontaneous response by target-country citizens
voicing all-out support for the covert-action-sponsoring country.
Such a response
deep-sixes any chance for a substantive debate on the issue at hand,
and submerges it in a blizzard of hate speech directed at the authors
from prominent Israel-Firsters,
those paragons of virtue who are the chief proponents of
First-Amendment-destroying laws against hate speech.

So at day’s end, one can only say:
Astoundingly well done, Israel, good for you!
The impact of your covert political action activities in America
are all that you could have hoped for:
Truth is negated,
dissent is suppressed, and
opponents are intimidated and defamed,
and all this is done by prominent U.S. citizens.
The only competitor you have is the Saudi lobby,
an organization just as damaging as yours to genuine U.S. national interests,
a reality you and we would see
if the bloodied but hopefully unbowed Mearsheimer-Walt team
decides to analyze the corrupt and corrupting Saudi lobby.

Finally, I forgot to mention at the start that
covert political action campaigns
are almost always directed by one nation against another nation
that it considers an enemy
or whose leaders it judges to be
gullible, venal, none too bright, unreliable, or all four.
That surely gives one pause for thought,
but it truly is the way the world works.

Holy Land Christians blame Israel
(alternative, presumably identical, version:)
Who harasses the Christians?
by Robert Novak,

[An excerpt, with some emphasis added:]

Where [the U.S.] Congress could help,
[the Very Rev. Michael H. Sellers,
an Anglican priest who is coordinator of Jerusalem's Christian churches,] added,
was influencing Israeli government policy:
"Your support for the Christian presence in the Holy Land will best be served
  • by helping to remove the separation wall
    (which has converted all the Palestinian towns into big prisons
    for Christians and Muslims alike)
  • by helping to bring occupation to an end
    with all its inherent types of oppression and humiliation."

After his letter to [two fellow congressmen], [U.S. Representative Henry] Hyde
made an unscheduled appearance last Friday at an International Relations subcommittee hearing on the plight of religious minorities.
He argued
the problem for the Holy Land's Christians is not Muslims but Israel.
Long a steadfast supporter of Israel, Hyde testified:
"I have been unable to understand how the currently routed barrier in Jerusalem—
which rips asunder the existential poles of Christian belief,
the Nativity and the Resurrection,
and encloses 200,000 Palestinians on the Jerusalem side of the barrier—
will improve the security of Israel's citizens."

Hyde was followed at the hearing by the Rev. Firas Arida,
the 31-year-old Roman Catholic priest in the West Bank village of Aboud.
Asserting that the Israeli security wall causes his parishioners
to lose water and olive trees, he said
"the Israeli occupation must end," and
"there must be no more settlements on Palestinian land."

Anatomy of an Alliance:
In New Middle East, Tests for an Old Friendship

by Steven Erlanger
New York Times, 2006-11-13


First of two articles.

This is the first of a two-part series
examining the impact of recent events on the American-Israeli alliance.
Tomorrow: the role of evangelical Christians.

[An excerpt (emphasis is added):]

JERUSALEM, Nov. 12 —
Even before the American elections, a certain wariness had crept into the intimate friendship between Israel and the United States. The summer war in Lebanon produced questions in Washington about the competence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In Jerusalem, there were worries about the American approach to Iran and the Palestinians.

In theory, the two countries share a vision for a modern Middle East in which a thriving Israel would be accepted by its neighbors. But the Israelis balk at President Bush’s embrace of regional change through promotion of Arab democracy. They view his effort as naïve and counterproductive, because it brings Islamists and Iranian clients to power.

Although Israel was grateful to see Saddam Hussein overthrown, officials here have long focused on what they consider a much bigger concern: preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. They say the American policies that have empowered Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have been counterproductive to Israel’s interests.

That concern is bound to be the subtext when Mr. Olmert goes to the White House on Monday. And now the Democratic sweep has created fresh concerns that the administration, whose muscular approach to Islamist terrorism and Iran has brought comfort here, will turn more to accommodation and compromise. President Bush has chosen as his next secretary of defense Robert M. Gates, who in the past has been highly critical of the administration’s refusal to engage in dialogue with Iran.

The defeat for the party of Mr. Bush, “possibly the friendliest president we’ve ever had,” said Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, “raises question marks regarding the administration’s ability to promote its diplomatic and security objectives.”

In war or peace, most Israelis say they believe they have only one true ally in the world, the United States. The relationship is extraordinarily tight, especially since 9/11 and the beginning of the campaign against terrorism.

But Israel is haunted by the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran, despite Israel’s own nuclear deterrent. Iran has called for Israel’s destruction, flouted the United Nations by continuing to enrich uranium and has just announced that it has a new longer-range missile.

“Many Israelis feel that the free world under the leadership of the U.S. is facing a similar situation to Europe in the 1930s, when they watched the rearming of the Nazi Reich,” said Yuval Steinitz, a senior member of Parliament’s foreign and defense committee. “No one could predict the global catastrophe 10 years later, and Iran may be the same.”

Mr. Bush says his stance on Iran is unchanged: he will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. Yet Israelis have been increasingly anxious about the Bush approach, seeing recently a tendency to delay confrontation through further negotiations. They worry that because of Iran’s ability to further inflame Iraq, Mr. Bush is hesitant to take any steps that could lead to confrontation. And Israelis are worried about what concessions an administration seeking to build an anti-Iran alliance in the Arab world might ask of them on the Palestinian question in order to bolster that alliance.

Both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories are armed, radical, Iranian-backed Islamic groups sworn to Israel’s destruction. And each has been empowered and legitimized by elections that Mr. Bush demanded, and Israel’s summer war involved fighting both of them.


Asked in a recent interview with The New York Times whether the administration had to get the Israelis to stop their attacks, [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice said no. “I wasn’t going to give the Israelis military advice,” she said, adding that she “had a lot of sympathy for what the Israelis were dealing with.”

It was another example
of Washington’s intimate relationship and patience with Israel.


Israelis worry that Mr. Bush may dither over Iran. “Our big worry is that they will wait too long to act, after it is too late to stop the Iranians from gaining the knowledge to build a bomb,” said one senior Israeli official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, after long, recent discussions with top Bush administration officials. “Are they committed to keeping the Iranians from actually building a weapon? I think so. Are they committed to keeping them from putting together all the parts they need? I’m not sure.”

The Israelis say Washington was disappointed
in their performance against Hezbollah.
They are right:
inside the White House, said one senior official there,
who agreed to speak about internal deliberations on condition of anonymity,
“Bush and Cheney believed that this would be another Six-Day War,
or on the outside, two weeks.”

“They believed it because that’s what the Israelis said,”
the official said.

[What a sad statement, which shows
how Jewified Bush and Cheney are.
They take their intelligence from Israel,
not from their own people.

(Or maybe they think the Israelis are their own people.)
I think it is incredibly clear
that they are more interested in the interests of Israel
than those of the United States.
This just is more evidence of that.]

Anatomy of an Alliance:
For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is ‘God’s Foreign Policy’

by David D. Kirkpatrick
New York Times, 2006-11-14

Anatomy of an Alliance

Second of two articles.

This is the second of a two-part series
examining the impact of recent events on the American-Israeli alliance.

Falling In Line On Israel
By Stephen Zunes
TomPaine.com, 2006-11-15

The election of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate
is unlikely to result in any serious challenge
to the Bush administration’s support for
Israeli attacks against the civilian populations of its Arab neighbors and
the Israeli government’s ongoing violations of international humanitarian law.

The principal Democratic Party spokesmen on foreign policy will likely be
Tom Lantos in the House of Representatives and Joe Biden in the Senate,
both of whom have been longstanding and outspoken supporters of
a series of right-wing Israeli governments and opponents of the Israeli peace movement.
And, despite claims—even within the progressive press—
that future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
is a “consistent supporter of human rights,”
such humanitarian concerns have never applied to Arabs, since
she is a staunch defender
of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
and his predecessor Ariel Sharon.

Israelis piqued by Gates nuclear "confirmation"
By Dan Williams
Reuters, 2006-12-07

Some Israelis were less pleased, however,
to hear Gates mention with equal frankness
what U.S. administrations have long avoided uttering in public -- that
the Jewish state has the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Israel, Alone
The nuclear cat is out of the bag – and Olmert issues a warning...
By Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-13


Helping Israel Die
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-10

[A brilliant article!
Here is one poignant but telling paragraph:]

[Bush] showed a preference to get [background briefings]
from [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon who,
with his senior military aide, Gen. Yoav Galant,
briefed the president both in Crawford (in 2005) and the Oval Office (in 2003)
on Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”
Sorry if I find that odd.
That used to be our job at the CIA.
I’ll bet Sharon and Galant packed a bigger punch.

[Whatever the explanation,
could there be a more telling indicator
of Israel’s takeover of the American government?]

U.S. takes harder line on talks between Jerusalem, Damascus
By Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel and Yoav Stern
Haaretz, 2007-02-24

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The United States demanded that
Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria,

of the sort that would test whether Damascus is serious
in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel.
[For some background, see this.]

In meetings with Israeli officials recently,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful
in expressing Washington’s view on the matter.

The American argument is that
even “exploratory talks” would be considered a prize in Damascus,
whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty
and the functioning of its government,
while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq,
to the detriment of the U.S. presence there.

It is also known that Syria, like Iran,
continues to provide Hezbollah with arms and equipment.

According to senior Israeli officials,
the American position vis-a-vis Syria,
as it was expressed by the secretary of state,
reflects a hardening of attitudes.

When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about
the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria
in its calls for peace talks,
her response was unequivocal:
Don’t even think about it.

Coalition of Evangelicals Voices Support for Palestinian State
by Laurie Goodstein
New York Times, 2007-07-29

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

In recent years,
conservative evangelicals who claim a Biblical mandate to protect Israel
have built a bulwark of support for the Jewish nation —
sending donations, denouncing its critics and
urging it not to evacuate settlements or forfeit territory.

Now more than 30 evangelical leaders are stepping forward to say
these efforts have given the wrong impression
about the stance of many, if not most, American evangelicals.

On Friday, these leaders sent a letter to President Bush saying that
both Israelis and Palestinians have
“legitimate rights stretching back for millennia
to the lands of Israel/Palestine,”
and that
they support the creation of a Palestinian state
“that includes the vast majority of the West Bank.”

They say that being a friend to Jews and to Israel
“does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted.”
The letter adds,
“Both Israelis and Palestinians
have committed violence and injustice against each other.”

The letter is signed by 34 evangelical leaders,
many of whom lead denominations, Christian charities,
ministry organizations, seminaries and universities.


They are clearly aiming their message not just at President Bush,
but at the Muslim world and policy makers in the State Department.

Mr. Sider said he and three other evangelical leaders
got the idea for the letter in February [2007]
at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar,
where they met Muslim and American diplomats who
were shocked to discover
the existence of American evangelicals who favored a Palestinian state....

“We think it’s crucial that the Muslim world realize that
there are evangelical Christians in the U.S. in large numbers
that want a fair solution,”
Mr. Sider said.

U.S.: No strings attached to new defense package for Israel
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz, 2007-08-17

The new $30 billion American defense package for Israel
is not conditioned on diplomatic progress or concessions to the Palestinians,
a top U.S. aide said Thursday as representatives from both countries
signed the memorandum of understanding in Jerusalem.

See also this.

[All the settlements, whether authorized by the Israeli government or not,
constructed in the last twenty years
are not only in violation of international law
but also break promises and commitments that Israel has made to the U.S.
But yet, as this makes clear,
U.S. statements that the United States opposes settlement growth
(see 2006-12-27-Maskiot-NYT for some information on the situation)
are nothing but a filthy lie, meant to placate world opinion,
without the U.S. having the slightest intention of punishing Israel
for breaking those commitments.
What a sick joke it is that
the media refuses to acknowledge that
our government is but a craven stooge of Israel.
The only sicker joke is that the vastly misnamed “Anti-Defamation League”
denies that Israel controls America in all important respects,
via the instrument of the power of American Jews.]

Cut Israel Off
by Charley Reese
Antiwar.com, 2007-11-17

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Americans have been brainwashed into believing that
it’s the Arabs, and the Palestinians in particular,
who don’t want peace.
That is a big lie.

The Palestinians made an enormous concession
when they agreed to settle for a state on 18 percent of Palestine.
Saudi Arabia proposed several years ago a peace plan in which
all of the Arab countries would recognize Israel
in exchange for
Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.
The Israelis rejected it out of hand,
just as they reject Arab efforts to have the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Israel’s goal is and always has been
to take all of Palestine and to get rid of the Palestinians.
The Israelis employed ethnic cleansing in 1948 and again in 1967
to make hundreds of thousands of Palestinians refugees.
For 40 years, the Israelis have refused to give back
the Palestinian and Syrian lands they seized in war.
They have blatantly violated international law
by building settlements on occupied land,
and by violating the airspace of other sovereign countries.

Palestinians are the victims, not the villains, in this case.
The Israelis make their lives miserable
in the hope they will give up and leave.
At the same time, the Israelis, in cahoots with the American government,
maintain a charade of proposed peace talks.
They of course never come to fruition.
The Israeli government is not about to allow the Palestinians
to have a viable state.
If they give the Palestinians anything,
it will be a patchwork of enclaves
completely surrounded and controlled by Israel.
Having created 700,000 Palestinian refugees,
the Israelis have from the beginning
refused to allow them to return to their homes, farms and businesses,
all of which Israel confiscated on the specious grounds
that they were “abandoned property.”

US Must Reevaluate Its Relationship With Israel
by Scott Ritter
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-17

[Most of the article;
paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

As a firsthand witness
to the remarkable vigor of the Israeli state and its people,
and as someone who considers himself to be their friend,
it saddens me to see
just how poorly the current Israeli government returns this friendship,
not to me personally, but to my country, the United States of America.
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has embarked on policies
that are questionable at best
when one examines them from a purely Israeli standpoint;
they are nothing less than a betrayal of the United States
when examined from a broader perspective.


The insidious manner in which
the current Israeli government
has manipulated the domestic political machinery of the United States
to produce support for its policies
constitutes nothing less than
direct interference in the governance of a sovereign state.

[Ritter and Michael Scheuer are in complete agreement.]

The degree to which the current Israeli government has succeeded in this regard
can be tracked not only by the words and actions
of the administration of President George W. Bush and the American Congress,
but also by the extent to which
a pro-Israel lexicon has taken hold
within the mainstream media of the United States.

[The issue is far more than just that of lexicon.
The wider issue is how
those who try to criticize Israel or American support thereto,
such as Norman Finkelstein, Jimmy Carter, and Mearsheimer and Walt,
have their careers damaged and/or are ignored by the conduits of opinion;
cf. The Israel Lobby.
And this is effected by, let’s face it,
not the Israeli government but the American Jewish community
(or at least powerful representatives thereof).]

Witness the pro-Israel bias displayed when discussing
the situation in southern Lebanon,
the air strike in Syria, or
the Iranian situation, and
the retarding of any effort toward
a responsible discussion of anything dealing with Israel
becomes apparent.

One would expect such efforts to shape the domestic public opinion
of a state deemed hostile,
but when the target of these Israeli actions is its ostensible best friend,
one must begin to question whether or not
the friendship is a one-way street.
And if this is indeed the case,
then perhaps it is time for the United States to reconsider
its decades-old policy of strategic partnership with Israel.

It must be understood that the government of Ehud Olmert
is acting in a post-9/11 environment,
with considerable facilitators in the administration of President Bush,
including the vice president.
These two factors combine to create a cycle of enablement
that allows a purely Israeli point of view to dominate American policy.
If the Israeli point of view were built on logic, compassion, and the rule of law, then this tilt would not constitute a problem.
But the Israeli point of view is increasingly constructed on
a foundation of intolerance and irresponsible unilateralism
that divorces the country from global norms.
In this day and age of nuclear nonproliferation,
the undeclared nuclear arsenal of Israel
stands as perhaps the most egregious example
of how an Israel-only standard
destabilizes the Middle East.
It is the Israeli nuclear weapons program,
including its strategic delivery systems,
that is the core of instability for this very volatile region.

The statements by Israeli officials
concerning the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)
on Iran and its nuclear program
are perhaps the best manifestation of this reality.
Avi Dichter, Israel’s public security minister,
has condemned the NIE as a flawed document,
and in terms that link the American analysis
to a cause-and-effect cycle
that could lead the Middle East down the path of regional war.
Like many Israelis, including the prime minister,
Dichter disagrees with the American NIE on Iran,
in particular the finding that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
The Israelis hold that this program is still active,
despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
has reached a conclusion similar to the NIE’s
based upon
its own exhaustive inspection activities inside Iran over the past five years.

In threatening the world with war
because America opted for once to embrace fact instead of fiction,
Israel, sadly, has become like a cornered beast,
lashing out at any and all it perceives to threaten its security interests.
[Not quite the right analogy.
Better is a paranoid control freak
(which, it must be admitted,
they have some historical justification for being).]

The current Israeli definition of what constitutes its security interests
is so broad as to preclude any difference of opinion.
Israel’s shameless invocations of the Holocaust to defend its actions
not only shames the memory of those murdered over 60 years ago,
but ironically dilutes the impact of that memory
by linking it with current policies that are cruel and intolerant.
The message of Holocaust remembrance should be “never again,”
not just in terms of the persecution of Jews,
but in terms of man’s inhumanity to man.
The birth of the Israeli state, as imperfect and controversial as it was,
served as a foundation for the pursuit of tolerance.
However, Israel’s current policies, rooted in ethnic and religious hatred,
are the antithesis of tolerance.
[It would be much easier to be supportive of Israel
if it weren’t for their occupation of the West Bank.]

Israel at present can have no friends [e.g.],
because Israel does not know how to be a friend.
Driven by xenophobic paranoia and historical grievances,
Israel is embarked on a path that can only lead to death and destruction.
[One might state slightly differently their rationale for seizing the West Bank:
Recovering the territory that they held 2,000 years ago.]

This is a path the United States should not tread.
I have always taken the position that Israel is a friend of the United States,
and that friends should always stand up for one another,
even in difficult times.
I have also noted that, to quote a phrase well known in America,
friends don’t let friends drive drunk,
and that for some time now Israel has been drunk on arrogance and power.
As a friend,
I have believed the best course of action for the United States to take
would be that which helped remove the keys from the ignition
of the policy vehicle Israel is steering toward the edge of the abyss.
Now it seems our old friend is holding a pistol to our head,
demanding that we stop interfering with the vehicle’s operation
and preventing us from getting out of the car.
This is not the action of a friend, and it can no longer be tolerated.

It is time for what those who are familiar with dependency issues
would term an intervention.
Like a child too long spoiled by an inattentive parent,
Israel has grown accustomed to American largess,
to the point that it is addicted to an American aid package
that is largely responsible for keeping the Israeli economy afloat.
This aid must be reconsidered in its entirety.
The day of the free ride must come to an end.
The United States must redefine its national security priorities in the Middle East and position Israel accordingly.
At the very least,
American aid must be linked to Israeli behavior modification.
The standards America applies to other nations around the world
when it comes to receiving aid must likewise apply to Israel.

Let there be no doubt:
Israel and its considerable lobby of supporters here in America
will scream bloody murder if their aid is trimmed in any fashion.
But in the greater interest
of what will best benefit the security interests of the United States,
and indeed the Middle East and the entire world,
the grip Israel has on American policymaking must come to an end.
It is up to the American people to make this change,
first and foremost
by recognizing that a real problem exists in American-Israeli relations,
then by electing officials to Congress
who will deal responsibly with these problems
based not on the behind-the-scenes lobbying of Israel and its proxies,
but rather the legitimate interests of the United States.

If Israel decides it wants to be our friend,
then it will change its behavior accordingly.
Absent this,
America has no choice but to declare its independence
from a relationship that has
destroyed our credibility around the world and
drags us dangerously down the path
toward another irresponsible military misadventure in the Middle East.
If, in the future,
Israel desires to reestablish a relationship with the United States
built upon the principles of mutual trust and benefit,
then so be it.
Such a relationship is something I could embrace without hesitation.
But one thing is certain:
no such friendship can truly exist
under the conditions and terms that are in place today,
and for that reason the entirety of the American-Israeli relationship
must be reexamined.

[I agree with the spirit of much of what Ritter is stating.
For a detailed policy towards Israel,
my preference is that recommended by Mearsheimer and Walt,
which I think is essentially what Ritter is recommending.]


Israel's False Friends
Los Angeles Times, 2008-01-06

(Also published at the The Oregonian,
and by CommonDreams.org as
Candidates’ Unconditional Support Isn’t Right for Jewish State.)

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Once again, as the presidential campaign season gets underway,
the leading candidates are going to enormous lengths to demonstrate
their devotion to the state of Israel and
their steadfast commitment to its “special relationship” with the United States.

Each of the main contenders emphatically favors
giving Israel extraordinary material and diplomatic support --
continuing the more than $3 billion in foreign aid each year
to a country whose per capita income is now 29th in the world.
They also believe that this aid should be given unconditionally.
None of them criticizes Israel’s conduct, even when
its actions threaten U.S. interests,
are at odds with American values or
even when they are harmful to Israel itself.
In short, the candidates believe that
the U.S. should support Israel no matter what it does.

Such pandering is hardly surprising, because
contenders for high office routinely court special interest groups,
and Israel’s staunchest supporters --
the Israel lobby, as we have termed it --
expect it.
Politicians do not want to offend Jewish Americans or “Christian Zionists,”
two groups that are deeply engaged in the political process.
Candidates fear, with some justification,
that even well-intentioned criticism of Israel’s policies
may lead these groups to turn against them and back their opponents instead.

If this happened, trouble would arise on many fronts.
Israel’s friends in the media would take aim at the candidate,
and campaign contributions from pro-Israel individuals and political action committees
would go elsewhere.
Moreover, most Jewish voters live in states with many electoral votes,
which increases their weight in close elections (remember Florida in 2000?),
and a candidate seen as insufficiently committed to Israel
would lose some of their support.
And no Republican would want to alienate
the pro-Israel subset of the Christian evangelical movement,
which is a significant part of the GOP base.

Indeed, even suggesting that the U.S.
adopt a more impartial stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
can get a candidate into serious trouble.
When Howard Dean proposed during the 2004 campaign
that the United States take a more “evenhanded” role in the peace process,
he was severely criticized by prominent Democrats,
and a rival for the nomination, Sen. Joe Lieberman,
accused him of “selling Israel down the river”
and said Dean’s comments were “irresponsible.”

Word quickly spread in the American Jewish community
that Dean was hostile to Israel,
even though his campaign co-chair
was a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
and Dean had been strongly pro-Israel throughout his career.
The candidates in the 2008 election surely want to avoid Dean’s fate,
so they are all trying to prove that they are Israel’s best friend.

These candidates, however, are no friends of Israel.
They are facilitating
its pursuit of self-destructive policies that no true friend would favor.

The key issue here is
the future of Gaza and the West Bank,
which Israel conquered in 1967 and still controls.
Israel faces a stark choice regarding these territories,
which are home to roughly 3.8 million Palestinians.
It can opt for a two-state solution,
turning over almost all of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians
and allowing them to create a viable state on those lands
in return for a comprehensive peace agreement
designed to allow Israel to live securely within its pre-1967 borders
(with some minor modifications).
Or it can retain control of the territories it occupies or surrounds,
building more settlements and bypass roads and
confining the Palestinians
to a handful of impoverished enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel would control the borders around those enclaves and the air above them,
thus severely restricting the Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

But if Israel chooses this second option,
it will lead to an apartheid state.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said as much when he recently proclaimed that
if “the two-state solution collapses,”
Israel will “face a South African-style struggle.”
He went so far as to argue that
“as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”
Similarly, Israel’s deputy prime minister, Haim Ramon,
said earlier this month that
“the occupation is a threat to the existence of the state of Israel.”
Other Israelis, as well as Jimmy Carter and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
have warned that
continuing the occupation will turn Israel into an apartheid state.
Nevertheless, Israel continues to expand its settlements on the West Bank
while the plight of the Palestinians worsens.

Given this grim situation, one would expect the presidential candidates,
who claim to care deeply about Israel,
to be sounding the alarm and energetically championing a two-state solution.
One would expect them
to have encouraged President Bush to put significant pressure
on both the Israelis and the Palestinians at the recent Annapolis conference
and to keep the pressure on when he visits the region this week.
As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently observed,
settling this conflict is also in America’s interest,
not to mention the Palestinians’.

One would certainly expect Hillary Clinton to be leading the charge here.
After all, she wisely and bravely called for establishing a Palestinian state
“that is on the same footing as other states”
in 1998, when it was still politically incorrect
to use the words “Palestinian state” openly.
Moreover, her husband not only championed a two-state solution as president
but he laid out the famous “Clinton parameters” in December 2000,
which outline the only realistic deal for ending the conflict.

But what is Clinton saying now that she is a candidate?
She said hardly anything about pushing the peace process forward at Annapolis,
and remained silent
when Rice criticized Israel’s subsequent announcement
that it planned to build more than 300 new housing units in East Jerusalem.
More important,
both she and GOP aspirant Rudy Giuliani recently proclaimed that
Jerusalem must remain undivided,
a position that is at odds with the Clinton parameters and
virtually guarantees that there will be no Palestinian state.

Sen. Clinton’s behavior is hardly unusual among the candidates for president.
Barack Obama,
who expressed some sympathy for the Palestinians
before he set his sights on the White House,
now has little to say about their plight,
and he too said little about
what should have been done at Annapolis to facilitate peace.
The other major contenders
are ardent in their declarations of support for Israel,
and none of them apparently sees a two-state solution as so urgent
that they should press both sides to reach an agreement.
As Zbigniew Brzezinski,
a former U.S. national security advisor and now a senior advisor to Obama, noted,
“The presidential candidates don’t see any payoff
in addressing the Israel-Palestinian issue.”
But they do see a significant political payoff in backing Israel to the hilt,
even when it is pursuing a policy -- colonizing the West Bank --
that is morally and strategically bankrupt.

In short, the presidential candidates are no friends of Israel.
They are like most U.S. politicians,
who reflexively mouth pro-Israel platitudes
while continuing to endorse and subsidize policies
that are in fact harmful to the Jewish state.
A genuine friend would tell Israel that it was acting foolishly,
and would do whatever he or she could
to get Israel to change its misguided behavior.
And that will require challenging the special interest groups
whose hard-line views have been obstacles to peace for many years.

As former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami argued in 2006,
the American presidents who have made the greatest contribution to peace --
Carter and George H.W. Bush --
succeeded because
they were “ready to confront Israel head-on and
overlook the sensibilities of her friends in America.”
If the Democratic and Republican contenders were true friends of Israel,
they would be warning it about the danger of becoming an apartheid state,
just as Carter did.

[Gee, I’m no political scientist,
but is it entirely coincidental that
the only two presidents in the last half-century
who pushed Israel towards compromise
(“the American presidents who have made the greatest contribution to peace”)
were also the only two one-term presidents?]

Moreover, they would be calling for an end to the occupation
and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
And they would be calling for the United States
to act as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians
so that Washington could pressure both sides
to accept a solution based on the Clinton parameters.
Implementing a final-status agreement
will be difficult and take a number of years,
but it is imperative that the two sides formally agree on the solution
and then implement it in ways that protect each side.

But Israel’s false friends cannot say any of these things,
or even discuss the issue honestly.
Because they fear that speaking the truth
would incur the wrath of the hard-liners
who dominate the main organizations in the Israel lobby.
So Israel will end up
controlling Gaza and the West Bank for the foreseeable future,
turning itself into an apartheid state in the process.
And all of this will be done with the backing of its so-called friends,
including the current presidential candidates.

With friends like them, who needs enemies?

When Conservatives Loved the Palestinians
by Jeet Heer
Sans Everything, 2008-02-25

[Its beginning:]

War propaganda often rests on the myth of eternal enmity:
the current enemy must be portrayed as perennially and irredeemably vile.
George Orwell aptly limned this mindset in his novel 1984:
“Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.”
During the two world wars,
Anglo-American historians wrote many a book arguing that
Germans have always been stinkers
from the Gothic barbarians and autocratic Frederick the Great
to the amoral Bismarck and psychotic Hitler.
This whole literature of eternal Teutonic villainy was conveniently forgotten
when West Germany became a pillar of NATO.

Reading the conservative press now you would think that
Arabs and Muslims have always and everywhere been
the enemies of Western civilization.
We’re invited to imagine that the current troubles in Afghanistan and Iraq
are just the most recent manifestation of a clash of civilizations
that goes back to Mohammed, the Crusades, and the conquest of Constantinople.

Yet within the lifetime of our parents,
conservatives were surprisingly pro-Arab.
This was particularly true of the most salient issue in the Middle East,
the Palestinian refugee problem.
As surprising as this may sound,
the mainstream consensus view of American conservatives
from the late 1940s until well into the late 1960s was that
the Palestinians had been deeply wronged by Israel
and deserved restorative justice.


Was Truman Courageous in Recognizing Israel in '48?
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-30

Try Tough Love, Hillary
New York Times Op-Ed, 2008-12-01

[Its beginning; emphasis is added.]

Imagine Ehud Olmert, the outgoing Israeli prime minister,
saying this to Barack Obama:

“The United States has been
  • wrong to write Israel a blank check every year;
  • wrong to turn a blind eye to the settlements in the West Bank;
  • wrong not to be more explicit about the need to divide Jerusalem; [cf.]
  • wrong to equip us with weaponry so sophisticated
    we now believe military might is the answer to all our problems;
  • wrong in not helping us reach out to Syria.
Your chosen secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said during the campaign that
‘the United States stands with Israel, now and forever.’
Well, that’s not good enough.
You need to stand against us sometimes
so we can avoid the curse of eternal militarism.”

Perhaps that seems unimaginable.
But Olmert has already said something close to this.
In a frank September interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth,
reprinted this month by The New York Review of Books,
the Israeli leader chose to exit with a mea culpa for his country’s policies.

Those policies have been encouraged by the Bush administration,
whose war on terror was embraced by the Israeli government
as a means to frame Israel’s confrontation with the Palestinians
as part of the same struggle.
No matter that Al Qaeda and the Palestinian national movement are distinct.
The facile conflation got Bush in lock step with whatever Israel did.

So, by saying Israel has been wrong,
Olmert was also saying the United States has been wrong,
even if he never mentioned America.


Is Israel A Strategic Liability For The United States?
A Symposium
NationalJournal.com, 2009-01-05

As Israel escalates
its efforts to root Hamas and its rocket launchers out of Gaza,
the global reaction is increasingly negative --
except in the United States.
Washington provides Israel with
diplomatic backing,
U.N. Security Council vetoes of “anti-Zionist” resolutions,
and of course $3 billion a year in military aid.
But what does Israel provide in return?
Yes, Israel and America cooperate on counterterrorism,
but how many of the groups on which Israel provides intelligence
would be gunning for the United States if it wasn’t supporting Israel?
Setting aside for a moment
the emotional and religious anchors of the U.S.-Israel alliance,
what is its value to the United States in practical, realpolitik terms?

-- Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., NationalJournal.com

[This contains fifteen responses
from a variety of heavyweights in terrorism and national security studies,
such as
Michael Scheuer, Patrick Lang, Bruce Hoffman,
Larry Korb, Loren Thompsen, Paul Pillar, etc.

Its most controversial contribution (web references), not surprisingly,
seems to be the following from Michael Scheuer:]

Israel is not only an unnecessary and self-made liability for the United States,
it is an untreated and spreading cancer on
our domestic politics, foreign policy, and national security.
America has no genuine national security interests at stake
in either Israel or Palestine;
if they both disappeared tomorrow
the welfare of Americans and the security of their country
would not be impacted a lick.
The Arab-Israeli religious war
is a war that properly belongs solely to Israelis and Arabs;
let them fight each other to the death
with no interference in favor of either side from the United States.
The continued, automatic, and idiotic identification
of U.S. national interests as identical with Israel’s
made by our bipartisan political elite, the media,
and those U.S. citizens who prefer Israeli to American security
is only earning Americans deeper hatred and more wars with Muslims.
There is no question that Israel has every right in the world
to militarily defend itself to whatever extent it deems necessary,
but neither Israel, the United States, nor any other nation
has a “right” to exist.
Nation-states survive if they can vanquish their enemies.
The democratically elected Israeli govermment
is right to try to vanquish Hamas;
and the democratically elected Hamas regime
has every right to try do the same to Israel.
The point to keep squarely in view is that
it does not matter to America’s security who emerges the winner.

U.S. Military Aid to Israel:
The Ultimate Earmark

CounterPunch.com, 2009-03-05

Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States
By Christopher Ketcham
AlterNet.org, 2009-03-10

Israel runs
one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks
targeting the U.S.,
yet public discussion about it is almost nil.

Breaking With Israel
A new turn in US foreign policy?

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-27

Professor Dershowitz Encounters a Worrying Future
by Michael Scheuer
Antiwar.com, 2009-04-02

[An excerpt.]

On 25 March 2009, I participated in a “Doha Debate” held at Georgetown University under the auspices of the Qatar-Based Doha Foundation.
The Oxford Union-style question before the house was:
“This house believes that
it is time for the U.S. administration to get tough with Israel.”

The “no” team consisted of
Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz and
former Israeli foreign ministry adviser Dore Gold.
On the “yes” team were
myself and
Avraham Burg, a former speaker of Israel’s Knesset.

I was the weak link in the debate....
I am far from as well-versed on the minutia of Israel-Palestine affairs
as the other debaters.
But I did learn two things from the debate.

* First,
when Mr. Dershowitz stressed that
the Israel-Palestine war was not a religious conflict,
I asked him
why so many Republican and Democratic leaders -
and evangelical Israel-Firsters like Reverends Haggee and Graham -
claim that
it is America’s duty to ensure that
God’s promise to Abraham about the land of Israel
is kept.
Mr. Dershowitz responded “they are wrong,” which can only mean that
Israel’s claim on the land they took from the Palestinians, with the West’s help,
is based on
Israel having more and better guns than Palestinians,
as well as unqualified U.S. military support.

* Second,
after Mr. Dershowitz — hands waving in the air —
raked me over the coals for suggesting that
such a thing as the malignant influence of Israel-Firsters
even exists in U.S. politics and foreign-policy making
[who could believe such a thing],
I argued that
the roles of Messrs. Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle and others
in facilitating America’s war of self-immolation in Iraq
suggested there was indeed a strong Israel-First influence
in the highest councils of the U.S. government.

Mr. Dershowitz’s response was
classic, predictable, irrelevant, and
a successful tactic to divert debate from the issue at hand.
He loudly told the audience something akin to:
“Listen to the ethnic names Scheuer is using! He is a bigot, a bigot.”
As the name-caller from Harvard Yard railed on,
I said that the names James Woolsey, Victor Davis Hanson, Andrew McCarthy,
and the two evangelical preachers mentioned above could be added to the list
but I suspect the words were drowned out by
my opponent’s contemptible but effective theatrics.

Mr. Dershowitz and Mr. Gold seem to believe that
Americans who disagree with them
will always refuse to publicly attack the reality of pro-Israel subversion
as long as
the Israel-Firsters can pull from the stone the great Excalibur of U.S. politics
and strike Americans with a blade emblazoned “bigot” and “anti-Semite.”
Perhaps the 2-to-1 vote
[63% to 37%]
of the Doha Debate’s audience against Mr. Dershowitz and Mr. Gold
suggests that times are beginning to change, at long last,
in favor of genuine U.S. national interests.

[It, by itself, suggest no such thing.
The audience at that debate was selected twice:
first by the Georgetown administration,
in selecting the type of people they wanted to admit;
second, by, of those of the Georgetown community,
those who chose to attend the debate.]

The Doha Debate described herein
will be televised by BBC World on 4 and 5 April 2009.
It is quite heated at times.
Hear it (running time is about 50 minutes; mp4 format starts immediately).

Lieberman: U.S. will accept any Israeli policy decision
By Lily Galili and Barak Ravid
Ha'aretz, 2009-04-23

The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives
only if Israel wants it to,

said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.

“Believe me,
America accepts all our decisions,”

Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets.

Lieberman granted his first major interview to Alexander Rosensaft,
the Israel correspondent of one of the oldest Russian dailies,
not to an Israeli newspaper.
The role of Israel is to “bring the U.S. and Russia closer,” he declared.

During the interview, Lieberman said
Iran is not Israel’s biggest strategic threat;
rather, Afghanistan and Pakistan are.

This comes after years of Lieberman warning about the growing Iranian threat.
Now, he has dropped Tehran to number two, with Iraq coming third.

Lieberman also discussed Moscow’s under-utilized role
in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
and said he aims to correct this.
The newspaper emphasized
Lieberman’s intention to develop closer ties with Russia
and to resolve international issues jointly.

“Russia has a special influence in the Muslim world,
and I consider it a strategic partner
that should play a key role in the Middle East,”
Lieberman said in the interview.

“I have argued for some time
that Israel has insufficient appreciation for the ‘Kremlin factor’;
I intend to mend this gap,” he said.

Political sources in the Commonwealth of Independent States
have told Haaretz that they believe Lieberman’s appointment
will result in “greater understanding” between Israel and Russia.

Regarding his changing view on Israel’s greatest threats,
Lieberman said that since he began warning against the nuclear threat from Iran,
nuclear threats have become more prevalent.
Meanwhile, a more urgent problem has developed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is nuclear and unstable,
and Afghanistan is faced with a potential Taliban takeover,
and the combination form a contiguous area of radicalism
ruled in the spirit of Bin Laden,” Lieberman said.

“I do not think that this makes anyone in China, Russia or the U.S. happy ...
these countries [Pakistan and Afghanistan] are a threat not only to Israel,
but to the global order as a whole.”

In response to a question on Israel’s role in countering these threats,
Lieberman said,
“Our role is that we should bring the U.S. and Russia closer ...
it is unclear to me
why the U.S. needs to confront Russia on Kosovo or Ukraine’s entry to NATO;
however, Russia needs to understand that close cooperation with Hugo Chavez
does not build western confidence.”

Later in the interview,
the foreign minister spoke unkindly of the road map, which he called binding,
unlike the Annapolis process, in his view.
The Palestinians “are not very familiar with the document,” he said.
Lieberman called a two-state solution a nice slogan that lacks substance.

On Tuesday, Army Radio reported that
Lieberman ruled out an Arab peace initiative,
after previously announcing that
Israel was not bound to the U.S.-backed Annapolis process.

“This is a dangerous proposal, a recipe for the destruction of Israel,”
he was quoted as telling a closed meeting of senior Foreign Ministry officials.


Is Obama Taking on the Israel Lobby?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-05-08

Keeping Score on Obama vs. Netanyahu
New York Times, 2009-05-21

WASHINGTON — After the much anticipated White House meeting on Monday between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, one question being asked in diplomatic circles is this: Did Mr. Obama give up more than he got?

The meeting between the two, their first as leaders, was mainly an exercise in breaking the ice. But at the early stages of a relationship between the nations’ leaders that is likely to be more strained than it was during the Bush years, their dealings are being analyzed for signs of who has the upper hand.

American and Israeli officials had predicted an exchange with some give-and-take: Mr. Netanyahu would try to extract from Mr. Obama a timetable for dealing with Iran, with a deadline for Tehran to stop enriching uranium or face serious repercussions.

In return, Mr. Obama would push Mr. Netanyahu to move swiftly on a peace plan with the Palestinians, as well as to freeze the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Mr. Netanyahu got his timetable. “We’re not going to have talks forever,” Mr. Obama said of Iran, assuring Mr. Netanyahu that he expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making “a good-faith effort to resolve differences.”

But Mr. Obama did not get his settlement freeze. In fact, Mr. Netanyahu told him it would be politically difficult for him to halt the construction of settlements. That is a hurdle to the administration’s broader peace objectives because Israel’s Arab neighbors have characterized a freeze as a precondition for them to establish normal relations.

Nor did Mr. Obama get much from Mr. Netanyahu on a peace plan beyond his promise to make good on a few commitments that Israel had already agreed to on the “road map,” an outline of peace steps that has not gotten either Palestinians or Israelis any closer to peace since President George W. Bush first announced it in 2003.

Mr. Netanyahu did agree to resume talks with Palestinians without preconditions. But he would not explicitly endorse the notion of an eventual Palestinian state, something his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, had already done.

“This is why I’m asking the question, did our president get suckered?” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel and director of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. “We don’t know the answer yet, but unless he got something more from Bibi in that meeting than they’re telling us, that question can be asked.”


Israeli Settlement Growth Must Stop, Clinton Says
New York Times, 2009-05-28

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration reiterated emphatically on Wednesday that it viewed a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank as a critical step toward a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions.” Talking to reporters after a meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, she said: “That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly.”

Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, the administration’s strongest to date on the matter, came as an Israeli official said Wednesday that the Israeli government wanted to reach an understanding with the Obama administration that would allow some new construction in West Bank settlements.


Israel Insists on Some Construction in West Bank Settlements
New York Times, 2009-05-28

Obama Calls for Swift Move Toward Mideast Peace Talks
New York Times, 2009-05-29

WASHINGTON — President Obama called on Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday to move swiftly toward peace talks, as his administration embarked on its first public dispute with Israel.

Speaking to reporters at the White House after talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Obama said that the absence of peace between Israelis and Palestinians was clogging up other critical issues in the Middle East.

“Time is of the essence,” Mr. Obama said. “We can’t continue with the drift and the increased fear on both sides, the sense of hopelessness that we’ve seen for too many years now. We need to get this thing back on track.”

Mr. Obama reiterated his call for a halt to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and said he expected a response soon from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Mr. Obama’s words echoed — albeit less bluntly — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brusque call on Wednesday for a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank. In expansive language that left no wiggle room, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”

Her comments took Israeli officials by surprise.

Israel and U.S. Can’t Close Split on Settlements
New York Times, 2009-06-02

[Some excerpts:]

Critics argue that
successive Israeli governments have turned a blind eye to this construction
and that they have contributed more broadly to settlement growth.

The settlers’ annual population growth, at 5.6 percent,
far outstrips the Israeli average of 1.8 percent.
But official data from the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel shows that
while about two-thirds of that is a “natural” increase,
as defined by settler births in relation to deaths,
one-third stems from migration.
There is also
a disproportionately high level of state-supported building in the settlements
compared with most regions of Israel.


The Israeli population of the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem, has tripled since the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort started in the early 1990s, and it now approaches 300,000. The settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in about 120 settlements, which much of the world considers a violation of international law, as well as in dozens of outposts erected without official Israeli authorization. Israel argues that the settlement enterprise does not violate the law against transferring populations into occupied territories.

According to the newly disclosed data, about 58,800 housing units have been built with government approval in the West Bank settlements over the past 40 years. An additional 46,500 have already obtained Defense Ministry approval within the existing master plans, awaiting nothing more than a government decision to build.

The data began to be compiled in 2004 by a retired brigadier general, Baruch Spiegel, at the request of the defense minister at the time, Shaul Mofaz. The Defense Ministry has long refused to make the data public, but it has since been leaked and obtained by nongovernmental groups. Mr. Etkes analyzed the master plans in the Spiegel data, together with a colleague from Bimkom, an Israeli group that focuses on planning and social justice.

Under international pressure, construction in the settlements has slowed but never stopped, continuing at an annual rate of about 1,500 to 2,000 units over the past three years. If building continues at the 2008 rate, the 46,500 units already approved will be completed in about 20 years.

In Kfar Tapuah, a group of young Israelis who grew up here decided about six years ago that when they married, they would stay.
The population has more than doubled since then, to 150 families from 60.
Like in other West Bank settlements,
nobody counts individuals here:
the rate of new births makes that impossible.

[What BS.
Any census is a snapshot in time.
Why on earth does the NYT report such BS as if it were true?]

Obama's "interference" in Israeli politics
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2009-06-03

Israeli Minister Eyes Sanctions Against US
By Jason Ditz
Antiwar.com, 2009-06-09

Anti-Americanism in Israel
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-06-10

Israeli minister wants sanctions on US

Free Marriage Counseling
New York Times, 2009-08-01

Israel and America are having
one of those periodic marital spats they have had over the years,
replete with “I-am-not-taking-any-more-of-your-guff”
outbursts by Obama officials at American Jewish leaders, and, yes —
it wouldn’t be a real Israel-U.S. dust-up without it —
Israeli accusations that Jewish Obama aides are “self-hating Jews,”
working out their identity crises by working over Israel.
Having been to this play before, and knowing both families,
I’d like to offer some free marriage counseling.

Here’s what Israelis need to understand:
President Obama is not some outlier when it comes to Israel.
His call for a settlements freeze reflects attitudes that have been building in America for a long time.
For the last 40 years,
a succession of Israeli governments
has misled, manipulated or persuaded naïve U.S. presidents
since Israel was negotiating to give up significant territory,
there was no need to fight over “insignificant” settlements on some territory.

Behind this charade,
Israeli settlers bit off more and more of the West Bank,
creating a huge moral, security and economic burden
for Israel and its friends.

As Bradley Burston, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, put it last week:
“The settlement movement has cost Israel some $100 billion. ...
The double standard which for decades has favored settlers with
inexpensive housing,
heavily subsidized social services,
and blind-eye building permits
has long been accompanied by
a kid-gloves approach
regarding settler violence against Palestinians and their property. ...
Settlers and settlement planners have covertly bent and distorted
zoning procedures, military directives, and government decrees
in order to boost settlement,
block Palestinian construction, agriculture, and access to employment,
effectively neutralize measures intended to foster
Israeli-Palestinian peace progress.”


For years,
the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations
and the pro-Israel lobby
[gee, is it just my imagination,
or does that sound an awful lot like
the taboo Mearsheimer and Walt noun phrase?]
rather than urging Israel to halt this corrosive process,
used their influence to
mindlessly protect Israel from U.S. pressure on this issue
and to
dissuade American officials and diplomats
from speaking out against settlements.

Everyone in Washington knows this,
and a lot of people — people who care about Israel —
are sick of it.

The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner,
captured the we-are-untouchable arrogance of the settlers last week
when he quoted Rabbi Yigael Shandorfi,
leader of a religious academy at the settlement of Nahliel,
calling Mr. Obama in a speech “that Arab they call a president.”

So if Mr. Obama has bluntly pressed for a settlements freeze,
he is, in fact, reflecting a broad sentiment
in Congress, the Pentagon and among many Americans, Jews included.
Haaretz quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as
calling two Obama aides pushing the freeze “self-hating Jews.”
Bibi’s spokesman denies he said that. I hope he didn’t.
When you have to trot that one out, you’re really, really out of ammo.

What about Mr. Obama? He has nothing to apologize for policy-wise.
The president is working on a deal whereby
Israel would agree to a real moratorium on settlement building,
Palestinians would uproot terrorists
and the Arab states would begin to normalize relations —
with visas for Israelis, trade missions,
media visits and landing rights for El Al.
If the president can pull this off, it would be good for everyone.
But going forward, if peace talks get under way,
there are a few style points Mr. Obama should keep in mind.

One is:
Don’t get into the business of apportioning historical blame for this conflict,
which his Cairo speech veered into.
Palestinians don’t believe they are to blame for this problem;
neither do Israelis.
A religious Israeli professor friend of mine said it well:
“People will give a lot if they think they are not guilty.
My mother says to me:
‘Look, I am ready to give them Jerusalem, but don’t tell me that I started it.’ ”

The other point is: Israel has real enemies.
Iran’s president says the Holocaust is a myth,
that Israel should be wiped away.
And, he’s trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from South Lebanon and Gaza.
Its leaving was messy, but it got out.
And the first thing it got back was rockets.
Israelis are like most people; they listen through their stomachs.
[Friedman, and, I believe, other Jews often use that analogy.
I (a WASP) hate it.]

That is, connect with them on a gut level that says
you understand where they live, and you can take them anywhere.
Don’t connect on a gut level, and you can’t take them anywhere.

Bottom line: Israelis need to understand
this is not the Bush administration anymore,
where they had the run of the White House;
they have a real problem with America on settlements.
Mr. Obama needs to understand that on Arab-Israel affairs,
the less you say and the more you do,
the better off you are.
Every word in this conflict has its own history.
Get the deal done — a settlement moratorium for some normalization —
and that breakthrough will do the talking.

Is Israel too strong for Barack Obama?
The Economist, 2009-11-05

As America drops its demand for
a total freeze on the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,
angry Palestinians say there is no scope for resuming talks.

FIVE months after Barack Obama went to Cairo
and persuaded most of the Arab world,
in a ringing declaration of even-handedness,
that he would face down Israel in his quest for a Palestinian state,
American policy seems to have run into the sand.
The American president’s mediating hand is weaker,
his charisma damagingly faded.
From the Palestinian and Arab point of view,
his administration—
after grandly setting out to force the Jewish state
to stop the building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land
as an early token of good faith,
intended to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiation—
has meekly capitulated to Israel.


Israeli Exceptionalism
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-10-05

A major cause of Middle East turmoil

America, Israel’s Lackey
By Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2009-11-12

It did not take the Israel Lobby long to make mincemeat out of
the Obama administration’s “no new settlements” position.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is bragging about
Israel’s latest victory over the US government
as Israel continues to build illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

In May President Obama read the Israelis the riot act,
telling the Israeli government that
he was serious about ending the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians
and that
a lasting peace agreement required the Israeli government
to abandon all construction of new settlements in the occupied West Bank.

On November 10 Obama’s White House chief of staff, Rahm Israel Emanuel,
surrendered for his boss
at the annual conference of the United Jewish Communities.
The ongoing Israeli settlements, he said,
should not be a “distraction” to a peace agreement.


Allegedly, the US is a superpower and Israel is a client state
whose very existence depends entirely on
US military and economic aid and diplomatic protection.
Yet, in the real world it works the other way.
Israel is the superpower and the US is its client state.

This true fact is proved to us at least once every week
and sometimes two or three times in one week.
A few days ago the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36
in favor of disavowing the UN report
by the distinguished Jewish judge Richard Goldstone
that found that Israel had committed war crimes
in its attack on the civilian population in the Gaza Ghetto.
The Israel Lobby demanded that the House repudiate the fact-filled report,
and the servile House did as its master ordered.

US Rep. Dennis Kucinich spoke to his colleagues for 2 minutes
in an effort to make them see that
their vote against the Goldstone report
would be a great embarrassment to the US government
and demean the House in the eyes of the world.
But none of that matters when Israel gives its servants an order.
The US House of Representatives preferred to demean itself
and to embarrass the US Government
rather than to cross the Israel Lobby.

Retribution quickly fell upon Kucinich for his 2 minute speech.
On November 9, Kucinich was forced to withdraw as the keynote speaker
for the Palm Beach County (Florida) Democratic Party’s
annual fundraising dinner.
The Israel Lobby gave the order —
dump Kucinich or there’s no money and no one is coming to the dinner.
County Commissioner Burt Aaronson [“who is Jewish”]
called Kucinich “an absolute horror.”

Kucinich is the rare Democrat who stands up for
his party’s principles, the working class,
and tried to get health care for
those Americans the corporations have thrown out on the street.
But helping Americans doesn’t count.
Israel uber alles.

the US dollar continues to decline relative to other traded currencies.
Since spring, anyone could have made a double-digit rate of return
betting on most any currency against the US dollar.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently expressed concern that
despite the dollar’s continuing slide, it might still be over-valued.

The Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy
encourages speculators to use the dollar for the “carry trade.”

Speculators, whether individuals or financial institutions
borrow dollars at rock bottom interest rate
and use the almost free capital to purchase
higher yielding instruments in other countries.

The demand for dollars to finance the “carry trade”
keeps the dollar higher than it would otherwise be.

[This sounds to me like a terrible deal for the U.S.]

Last year it was the Japanese Yen that was used for the “carry trade”
due to the practically zero Japanese interest rates.
The next scare that unwinds the “carry trade”
will cause another big drop in financial asset values.
This means that the stock market is very volatile.
It is based on speculation, not on fundamentals.

When the “carry trade” next unwinds,
the demand for US dollars to pay off the loans
will temporarily boost the dollar.
But don’t be fooled.
The large US trade and budget deficits are the dollar’s death warrant.

When the dollar finally goes, so will the government’s ability to
conduct wars of aggression, underwrite Israel,
finance its red ink and pay for imports.
That’s when the printing press will really get going.


Time for George Mitchell to resign
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-01-22


In an interview earlier this week with Time’s Joe Klein,
President Obama acknowledged that
his early commitment to achieving “two states for two peoples” had failed.
In his words,
“this is as intractable a problem as you get ...
Both sides-the Israelis and the Palestinians-
have found that the political environments,
the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies,
were such that
it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation.
And I think we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so
when their politics ran contrary to that”

([Walt’s] emphasis).

This admission raises an obvious question:
who was responsible for this gross miscalculation?
It’s not as if
the dysfunctional condition of Israeli and Palestinian internal politics
was a dark mystery when Obama took office,
or when Netanyahu formed the most hard-line government in Israeli history.
Which advisors told Obama and Mitchell to proceed as they did,
raising expectations sky-high in the Cairo speech,
publicly insisting on a settlement freeze,
and then engaging in a humiliating retreat?
Did they ever ask themselves what they would do if Netanyahu dug in his heels,
as anyone with a triple-digit IQ should have expected?
And if Obama now realizes how badly they screwed up,
why do the people who recommended this approach still have their jobs?


The point is not that
Obama’s initial peace effort in the Middle East has failed;
the real lesson is that he didn’t really try.
The objective was admirably clear from the start --
“two states for two peoples” --
what was missing was a clear strategy for getting there
and the political will to push it through.
And notwithstanding the various difficulties on the Palestinian side,
the main obstacle has been
the Netanyahu government’s all-too obvious rejection
of anything that might look like a viable Palestinian state,

combined with
its relentless effort to gobble up more land.
Unless the U.S. president is willing and able to push Israel
as hard as it is pushing the Palestinians (and probably harder),
peace will simply not happen.
Pressure on Israel is also the best way to defang Hamas,
because genuine progress towards a Palestinian state
[is] the one thing that could strengthen Abbas and other Palestinian moderates
and force Hamas to move beyond its talk about a long-term hudna (truce)
and accept the idea of permanent peace.


Yet U.S. diplomacy in this area remains all talk and no action.
When a great power identifies a key interest
and is strongly committed to achieving it,
it uses all the tools at its disposal to try to bring that outcome about.
Needless to say, the use of U.S. leverage
has been conspicuously absent over the past year,
which means that
Mitchell has been operating with both hands tied firmly behind his back.
Thus far, the only instrument of influence that Obama has used
has been presidential rhetoric,
and even that weapon has been used rather sparingly.

And please don’t blame this on Congress.
Yes, Congress will pander to the lobby, oppose a tougher U.S. stance,
and continue to supply Israel with generous economic and military handouts,

a determined president still has many ways
of bringing pressure to bear on recalcitrant clients.
The problem is that Obama refused to use any of them.

When Netanyahu dug in his heels and refused a complete settlement freeze --
itself a rather innocuous demand if Israel preferred peace to land --
did Obama describe the settlements as “illegal”
and contrary to international law?
Of course not.
Did he fire a warning shot by instructing the Department of Justice
to crack down on tax-deductible contributions to settler organizations?
Did he tell Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to signal his irritation
by curtailing U.S. purchases of Israeli arms,
downgrading various forms of “strategic cooperation,”
or canceling a military exchange or two?
Not a chance.
When Israel continued to evict Palestinians from their homes
and announced new settlement construction
in East Jerusalem and the West Bank
in August,
did Obama remind Netanyahu of his dependence on U.S. support
by telling U.S. officials
to say a few positive things about the Goldstone Report
and to use its release
as an opportunity to underscore the need for a genuine peace?
instead, the administration [that would be Secretary Clinton]
rewarded Netanyau’s intransigence
by condemning Goldstone
and praising Netanyahu for “unprecedented” concessions.
(The “concessions,” by the way, was an announcement that
Israel would freeze settlement expansion in the West Bank “temporarily”
while continuing it in East Jerusalem.
In other words, they’ll just take the land a bit more slowly).

Like the Clinton [42] and Bush [43] administrations, in short,
the idea that the United States ought to use its leverage
and exert genuine pressure on Israel
remains anathema to Obama, to Mitchell and his advisors,
and to all those pundits
who are trapped in the Washington consensus on this issue.
The main organizations in the Israel lobby are of course dead-set against it --
and that goes for J Street as well --
even though there is no reason to expect Israel to change course
in the absence of countervailing pressure.

Obama blinked -- leaving Mitchell with nothing to do-
  • because he needed to keep sixty senators on board
    with his health care initiative
    (that worked out well, didn’t it?),
  • because he didn’t want to jeopardize
    the campaign coffers of the Democratic Party,
  • because he knew he’d be excoriated
    by Israel’s false friends in the U.S. media
    if he did the right thing.
I suppose I ought to be grateful
to have my thesis vindicated in such striking fashion,
but there’s too much human misery involved on both sides
to take any consolation in that.

So what will happen now?
Israel has made it clear that it is going to keep building settlements --
including the large blocs (like Ma’ale Adumim)
that were consciously designed to carve up the West Bank
and make creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and other moderate forces will be increasingly discredited as collaborators or dupes.
As Israel increasingly becomes an apartheid state,
its international legitimacy will face a growing challenge.
Iran’s ability to exploit the Palestinian cause will be strengthened,
and pro-American regimes in Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere
will be further weakened by their impotence
and by their intimate association with the United States.
It might even help give al Qaeda a new lease on life,
at least in some places.
Jews in other countries will continue to distance themselves from
an Israel that they see as a poor embodiment of their own values,
and one that can no longer portray itself convincingly as
“a light unto the nations.”
And the real tragedy is that all this might have been avoided,
had the leaders of the world’s most powerful country
been willing to use their influence on both sides more directly.

Looking ahead, one can see two radically different possibilities.
The first option is that Israel retains control of the West Bank and Gaza
and continues to deny the Palestinians
full political rights or economic opportunities.
(Netanyahu likes to talk about a long-term “economic peace,”
but his vision of Palestinian bantustans under complete Israeli control
is both a denial of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations
and a severe obstacle to their ability to fully develop their own society.
Over time, there may be another intifada,
which the IDF will crush as ruthlessly as it did the last one.
Perhaps the millions of remaining Palestinians will gradually leave --
as hardline Israelis hope
and as former House speaker Dick Armey once proposed.
If so, then a country founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust --
one of history’s greatest crimes-
will have completed a dispossession begun in 1948 --
a great crime of its own.


Welcome to Israel, Mr. Vice-President!
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-03-11


[Vice President Biden was] blind-sided by the announcement that
Israel's Interior Ministry had authorized the construction of
another 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem....
Given that the Palestinians hope to locate their capital there
if a two-state solution is ever reached,
this announcement was -- to put it mildly -- not a friendly gesture.


I am wondering what prominent neoconservatives think of all this.
They are almost always in favor of the bold and decisive use of American power,
and they are quick to criticize
when Democratic presidents get humiliated by some foreign leader.
I therefore assume they are deeply upset by this display,
and that the Weekly Standard and National Review
will quickly demand that
Obama stand up to this latest challenge
to America prestige and global leadership.

[I am sure Walt has never been more serious than when he wrote those words :-)]

Biden in Israel
They b*tch-slapped him good
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-12

Biden in Israel: Tiff or Tipping Point?
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-15


The Poodle Gets Kicked

By Patrick J. Buchanan
buchanan.org, 2010-03-15

[Note also Kevin MacDonald’s report on the censorship of this column:
Pat Buchanan is Censored by Human Events.”]

The US/Zionist Crisis of 2010
by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2010-03-15


I have finally become convinced that
this is a major crisis in US/Zionist relations.
I describe the crisis in that way because
AIPAC’s preference for Israel in this matter
makes this a controversy not just between
the Jewish state and the US,
but also a conflict between
Israel’s international supporters and the US.

The warning contained in this AIPAC statement
is largely directed to its agents in the Congress and the media.

The AIPAC annual conference is impending.
Natanyahu is coming.
If he wanted to resolve this problem
on any basis other than humiliation of the United States
he would stay home,
but he will not because that is what he wants.
He wants to demonstrate the subordination of the US to Israel.

What sort of reception will he get from AIPAC?

AIPAC is an instrument of the Jewish Agency is Jerusalem.
The differences between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government
are obscure and ambiguous.

What will be the reaction of the Obama Administration to
Natanyahu triumphally striding the halls of Congress?


Who are Israel's true friends?
(Hint: it's not AIPAC)
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-03-16

Israel vs. America: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
The Biden ambush
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-17

Stop Funding the Israelis
It's the only way to rein them in
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-24

The Crisis That Wasn’t
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-25


Lest there be any confusion about what happened,
the White House said “Thou shalt not”
and Bibi Netanyahu responded “I shall”
with Bibi left standing at the end.
AIPAC managed to get the support of nearly every congressman who mattered,
including many leaders from Obama’s own party.
Half of the entire Congress attended
the Monday evening gala dinner where Bibi Netanyahu was the guest speaker
and there was what amounted to a bipartisan love fest
when the Israeli Prime Minister visited Capitol Hill on the following day.
Many legislators wrote statements affirming the US-Israeli relationship,
carefully recorded by AIPAC in a 39-page document on its website.
House Minority Leader John Boehner weighed in
with a comment that might have been composed by a twelve year old,
which means that he probably actually wrote it,
and was echoed by Republican stalwarts
Eric Cantor, John McCain, and Sarah Palin.
Other commentary repeated the same themes:
a threatening Iran, Palestinian intransigence, and Israel as a staunch ally.
It all read as if from a script, suggesting a common source.
Israel’s apologists never took Tel Aviv to task for anything,
not even for being rude to the Vice President of the United States.
[This is one place where I disagree with many of the commentators.
The “rudeness” was, in my opinion, of negligible importance
next to the substance of what Israel has been doing:
Forty years of taking over land they conquered in 1967 by force,
in violation of countless U.N. resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.]

the media was on board the trashing of the White House right from the start,
supporting the perceived interests of a foreign country
against those of the US.
The Washington Post led the charge,
calling on “expert” analysis of the situation from
Elliot Abrams, Danielle Pletka, David Makovsky, Aaron David Miller,
Daniel Curter, Martin Indyk, and Charles Krauthammer
while excoriating the White House with its own lead editorials.


Despite ‘Tensions,’ US OKs Massive Arms Shipment to Israel
Israel's New C-130J Planes to Be Paid for By US Aid
by Jason Ditz
Antiwar.com, 2010-03-25

The entire cost of them will be covered by the US
as part of its annual military aid to Israel.

Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East
New York Times, 2010-04-15

Israel Lobby Leadership Losing It
by Jim Lobe
Lobelog.com, 2010-04-15

The Strategic Ally Myth
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2010-05-26


The intelligence provided by Israel that Zuckerman praises
is generally fabricated and completely self serving,
intended to shape a narrative about the Middle East that
makes the Israelis look good and virtually everyone else look bad –
ask any intelligence officer who has seen the stuff.

Our Enemies, the Israelis
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-06-07

When will we wake up to the threat?

Obama and Netanyahu meet to thaw relations, discuss Middle East peace process
By Anne E. Kornblut and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post, 2010-07-07

Netanyahu hears no discouraging words from Obama
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Opinion, 2010-07-07


Four months ago,
the Obama administration made a politically perilous decision
to condemn Israel over a controversial new settlement.

The Israel lobby reared up,
Netanyahu denounced the administration’s actions,
Republican leaders sided with Netanyahu, and
Democrats ran for cover.

So on Tuesday, Obama,
routed and humiliated by his Israeli counterpart,
invited Netanyahu back to the White House....

Obama came to office with an admirable hope
of reviving Middle East peace efforts by appealing to the Arab world
and positioning himself as more of an honest broker.
But he has now learned the painful lesson that
domestic politics won’t allow such a stand....

Even before Obama’s surrender to Netanyahu,
Muslims were losing faith that he would be the transformational figure
who spoke to them from Cairo last year....

The president’s opening statement in front of the cameras
contained not a word of criticism of the Jewish state....

Obama didn’t even mention Israel’s settlements until a reporter inquired --
and then
he declined to say that
Israel should extend a moratorium on settlements

that expires in September.
Avoiding any criticism of Israel,
he instead directed Palestinians not to look for “excuses for incitement”
or “opportunities to embarrass Israel.”

Netanyahu celebrated victory.
“To paraphrase Mark Twain,” he said,
“the reports about the demise of the special U.S.-Israel relationship
aren’t just premature, they’re just flat wrong.”

[The Zionist occupation government (ZOG) at work.]


How About a Clean Break – with Israel?
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2011-02-03

U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli settlements
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post, 2011-02-19


The Obama administration Friday
cast its first-ever veto in the U.N. Security Council,
blocking a Palestinian-backed draft resolution
that denounced Israel’s settlement policy
as an illegal obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East.

The U.S. vote killed off a measure that was
supported by the 14 other members of the Security Council
and isolated the United States on a crucial Middle East matter
at a time of political upheaval in the region.

Although U.S. officials have consistently criticized the settlement policy,
a vote in favor of the resolution
would have angered Israel and its U.S. supporters,
including Republican lawmakers,
who had urged the Obama administration to stand with Israel at all costs.
The resolution had more than 120 co-sponsors.

[Yet more proof that we have a Zionist Occupation Government.]

Abbas proves he prefers posturing to a peace process
Washington Post Editorial, 2011-02-19

[What person who values the American national interest
over that of the Israeli settler movement
cannot be absolutely disgusted by this craven sell-out of America
to Israel's supporters in America?

This editorial is an example of
the unbroken stream of editorials under the Graham/Weymouth WaPo regime
which absolutely refuse to support putting any pressure on Israel
to get it to make the 1967 internationally-recognized boundary
the starting point for negotiations.]

A false friend in the White House
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2011-02-20

Last Friday the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council Resolution
condemning Israel’s continued expansion of settlements
in the occupied territory of the West Bank.
The resolution didn’t question Israel’s legitimacy,
didn’t declare that “Zionism is racism,”
and didn’t call for a boycott or sanctions.
It just said that the settlements were illegal
and that Israel should stop building them,
and called for a peaceful, two-state solution
with “secure and recognized borders.
The measure was backed by over 120 countries,
and 14 members of the security council voted in favor.
True to form, only the United States voted no.

There was no strategic justification for this foolish step,
because the resolution was in fact consistent with
the official policy of every president since Lyndon Johnson.
All of those presidents has understood that the settlements were illegal
and an obstacle to peace,
and each has tried (albeit with widely varying degrees of enthusiasm)
to get Israel to stop building them.

Yet even now,
with the peace process and the two-state solution flat-lining,
the Obama administration couldn't bring itself to vote for a U.N. resolution
that reflected the U.S. government's own position on settlements.

[It would seem the U.S. actually has two positions on those settlements.
One it states for public consumption, whenever it really doesn't make a difference,
and another (controlled by Israel through the intermediation of American Jews)
which it puts into play whenever Israel might actually be subjected to meaningful pressure.]

The Veto from Hell
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2011-02-24

Obama granted Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory
By Aluf Benn
Haaretz, 2011-05-19

After Obama accepted Netanyahu's demands,
the PM now cannot be apathetic to
the U.S. president's proposal for 1967 borders.


The Increasingly Transparent U.S.-Israeli Conflict of Interest
by Paul R. Pillar
National Interest Blog, 2012-03-29

Former Israeli Premier Assails Netanyahu on Iran
New York Times, 2012-04-30


Drawing boos from a largely American audience in New York, he fired off a wide-ranging broadside against Mr. Netanyahu’s foreign policy, saying that the prime minister was unprepared to offer meaningful compromise to Palestinians, disrespectful to the United States and dismissive of the international community at a time when Israel particularly needs foreign support to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.


His remarks on Sunday were noteworthy for their place and time — before an audience of some of Mr. Netanyahu’s strongest American supporters, and only a few days after Israel’s top military officer suggested that the threat posed by Iran was less urgent than Mr. Netanyahu has said, and the former head of Israel’s internal security service said the prime minister had “messianic feelings.”

Illustrating how visceral the debate has become,
and how entwined it is with politics in both Israel and the United States,
some in the crowd peppered Mr. Olmert
with shouts of “Naïve!” and “Neville Chamberlain!”
and booed loudly when he called for
a less confrontational stance toward President Obama,

whose political opponents Mr. Netanyahu has openly courted.

“You have to respect him,” Mr. Olmert said of Mr. Obama.
“He is the president of the most powerful nation on earth,
and happens to be a friend of Israel.”
When boos rang through the conference room in response,

he joked, “I can see that this hall is full of Democrats.”

Mr. Olmert was booed again when he declared that while Israel should prepare the military ability to strike Iran’s nuclear program as a last resort, it should first push for American-led international action against Iran, including sanctions and possible joint military action.

This time, he responded caustically.

“As a concerned Israeli citizen who lives in the state of Israel
with his family and all of his children and grandchildren,” he said,
“I love very much the courage
of those who live 10,000 miles away from the state of Israel
and are ready that we will make every possible mistake
that will cost lives of Israelis.”


U.S. overseeing mysterious construction project in Israel
by Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2012-11-29


The Corps offered a lengthy description of
the mezuzas the contractor is to provide
“for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms”
in the Site 911 building.
A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment
which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah,
placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house
as a sign of faith.
Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that
a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.

These mezuzas, notes the Corps,
“shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment”
and be handwritten by a scribe
“holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.”
The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik”
but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”

Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer
at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection,
as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.”
The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes
so it can be connected to the door frame or opening.
Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility
shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative
and not by the contractor staff.”

Are U.S. funds going for this religious expense?
Where are the separation of church and state harpies on this issue?
If this is acceptable,
why not U.S. funds for crucifixes in Catholic institutions
which receive government support?
Hey, we know those exist.
Just watch one of them try to get away with not supporting abortion and the homosexual agenda.
The Amercians United and ACLU harpies would be down on them faster than lightning,
specifically on the issue of federal funds supporting religion.]

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