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Are Israel’s Interests in America’s Interest?

Ghali Hassan, Axis of Logic

April 15, 2006

Three years ago an Israeli Army bulldozer – manufactured and financed by the US – drove over and killed Rachel Corrie. The 23-year-old student from Washington State was in Palestine trying to protect defenceless Palestinians from Israel’s daily terror. Rachel’s horrifying death was deliberately covered-up and her name smeared in order to "protect Israel’s interests". Why is the U.S. sacrifice so much for so little?

 

Since its creation on Palestinian land, Israel has received massive financial, military and political aid from the U.S. to facilitate Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinian people and expansionist policy. In 1948, Israeli Jews have ethnically cleansed more than 800,000 Palestinian (75 per cent of the population) from their land and massacred tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Again, in 1967 Israel used the same process of systematic ethnic cleansing to expel more than 500,000 Palestinians from their land in the West Bank. Israel is devoid of any moral superiority.

 

In Palestine, Israel’s brutal policies involve permanent injuries to individuals, sadistic torture, rapes and deliberate executions of innocent Palestinians, including school children and political leaders. Today, more than 4 million Palestinians live on less than 20 percent of what was once the British Mandate of Palestine. They are pushed into disconnected ghettoes control and denied freedom of movement by the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF). Gaza is a large prison with more than 1.2 million impoverished and hungry Palestinians. According to the World Bank, Gaza is experiencing the worst depression in history caused by Israeli blockade and restrictions. More than 10,000 Palestinians are illegally imprisoned in Israeli-run prisons without charge. Another 4-6 million Palestinians are languishing in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon unable to return to their homeland. The aim is to fractionate and exterminate the Palestinian community while the rest of the world looking the other way.

 

Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris, who advocated the expulsion of all Palestinians from Palestine because he thinks Palestinians are Untermenschen or "lesser humans" than Jews has admitted (recently) that Israel "founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beating and torture chambers and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation" together with the stealing of Palestinian land and water resources. The situation has not changed since. Israel continues the dispossession and the systematic process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people with unquestionable support of the US administrations.

 

A study by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, accurately detailed the hidden fist of the pro-Israel America’s pro-Israel Jewish Lobby ('the Lobby’) behind US unquestioned support for Israel’s terror against the Palestinian people.  In the March 2006 issue of the Faculty Research Working Papers Series of Harvard University. [1] The authors write:

 

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.

 

Compare this with what Americans received in Katrina devastated New Orleans.

 

"Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidise its own defence industry. It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank", write Mearsheimer and Walt. "Moreover, the US has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the US gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons", add the authors. Furthermore, the US provides Israel with strong political backing – even though Israel is in violations of International Law and countless UN Resolutions –, in particular using its veto’s power at the UN against the world community to veto any criticism of Israel and increases the misery of the Palestinian people.

 

"The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only U.S. security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?" question Walt and Mearsheimer.

 

It is alleged that US support for Israel is motivated by the following:

 

  1. Israel is "outnumbered" by the Arabs;
  2. Israel is the only "democracy" in a region; and
  3. Israel is a strategic U.S. ally and that supporting Israel is in the "interests of the American people".

 

However, evidence shows that the opposite is true in all cases.

 

Israel is the largest military power in the region. In fact Israel is the fourth largest army in the world. Its modern army in financed and backed by the US and Western allies with more than 200 nuclear warheads aimed at defenceless neighbours. It is not a true Israel is only outnumbered by defenceless peoples. The Arabs armies are not for defence purposes, but to protect US stooges from the Arab masses and Arabs nationalism. Israel has regularly attacked and invaded neighbouring countries. In addition to its occupation of Palestinian land, Israel is still occupying the Golan Height in Syria, and south Lebanon. Israel continues to kill and wounding Palestinians in ratio of four or five to one. And in recent time, Israel has threatened to bomb Iran.

 

Israel is not a "democracy". Israel defines itself as a "Jewish state". It is not a state for all its citizens. According to a recent report published in the Guardian and substantiated by Gideon Levi of Ha’aretz, Israel is one racist state reminiscent to Apartheid South Africa. [2] It discriminates not only against native Palestinians and 'Israeli Arabs’ but also against non-Jews. Even Jews are treated and categorised according to their origin. Furthermore, Israel is in violations of international law and the UN Charter in its brutal treatments of the Palestinian people.

 

Furthermore, Israel is not a "strategic" US asset. The US has far more reliable vassals in the region than Israel. Saudi Arabia, like other big US military bases in the Gulf, is a vital US ally in the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. A large sector of the US economy depends on good relation with Saudi Arabia. Turkey is another more important US ally than Israel. The reality is that the unquestioned U.S. support for Israel is against Americans’ interests, and that Israel has succeeded in making America one of the most feared and hated countries in the world.

 

Time has shown that the behaviour of the US administrations and Israel – in rejecting countless peaceful proposals to end the conflict – have been consistent in creating and encouraging long-lasting conflict and political stalemate in the region. U.S. leaders have always put Israel’s interests above all other more vital US interests, and vehemently refused to reconcile US interests in the Arab World with its interest in preserving Israel’s interest. This imperialist agenda of conflict and stalemate is designed to:

 

  1. advance Israel's Zionist ideology;
  2. benefit US oil corporations from moderately high oil prices and;
  3. provide market for US weapon industries.

 

However, support for Israel – pushed by the pro-Israel America’s Lobby in the US – takes precedence over other US interests in the Middle Eats. Because the Lobby "claims are about advancing US interests and its support for Israel is contextualised in its support for the overall US strategy in the Middle East".

 

The influence of the pro-Israel Lobby, a collection of individuals and organisation led among others by Zionist organisations such as the powerful American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations (CPMJO), and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is formidable. With massive amounts of money collected from donations, the influence of these organisations in Congress and over US foreign policy is far-reaching. It is common among elites American Liberals that Capitol Hill is the fourth "Israeli Occupied Territory", after the Syrian Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Gaza.

 

Without a doubt, "[t]he thrust of U.S. policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical," argue the authors of the study. In coalition with the American religious right from the Republican Party to the evangelical Christian groups, AIPAC with about 100,000 wealthy members form a single ethnic group wields a formidable force in US politics.

 

The study by professors Walt and Mearsheimer reveals that; "AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and punish those who challenge it. We can recall in this regard the attack waged in 1984 on Senator Charles Percy, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Thomas Dine, head of AIPAC: All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust [Senator Charles] Percy [of Illinois. Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee] and the American politicians – who hold public positions now, and those who aspire – got the message". [3]

 

Money is critical to US elections (as the recent scandal over lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s various shady dealings remind us) and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad pro-Israel political action committees. Those seen as hostile to Israel, on the other hand, can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to their political opponents. AIPAC also organizes letter-writing campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates". In 1982, AIPAC led a very successful campaign to defeat Paul Findley, of Springfield, Illinois. Findley was   a congressman known for his sympathetic views toward the Palestinian people. In other words, follow the Lobby’s line of unconditionally supporting Israel’s terror, or else.

 

To have her ambition for the presidency and her way to the White House certified by the Lobby, Hillary R. Clinton has now turned against the Palestinian people. In her latest attack on the Palestinians, the New York Senator defended the Apartheid Wall – condemned as illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague – which is built by Israel on stolen Palestinian land. In fact, the ICJ’ ruling was that the Wall and all settlements (Israeli colonies) in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem are illegal and must be removed. The ICJ ruling, like all other world curt ruling, requires all other signatories to the ICJ Charter to compel Israel’s compliance with the ruling. The Wall annexes 58 per cent of the West Bank. It is designed to imprison the Palestinians into disconnected ghettos and confiscate their land and water resources. Yet, the Palestinians are told to 'democratise’. An imperialist cliché designed to manipulate public opinion and increase the suffering of the victims.

 

Early this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Bush Administration to deduct from Israel’s foreign aid assistance the amount it spends on expansion of settlements and the Apartheid Wall. This request is an encouraging sign of due moral principle. Most Americans are misled by the Lobby and Israel’s propaganda that the Apartheid Wall is just a 'security fence’. A recent report by Shin Bet (the Israeli intelligent service) attributed the decline of attacks against Israel and increased safety to the "the informal truce observed by some Palestinian groups" and not to the Apartheid Wall.

 

Mrs. Clinton campaign donation is assured now.  Mrs. Clinton just accepted $2000 from Willie Tan, owner of a string of clothing sweatshops in the tiny Pacific nation of Saipan. Mr. Tan was recently ordered to pay $9 million in back wages to workers – mostly teenage Chinese females illegally shipped into the Island from China – after officials branded his operation a sweatshop in 1992. Mr. Tan has links with the Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who pleaded guilty in January to fraud, corruption and embezzlement charges.

 

Abramoff who received large amount of money as a Republican lobbyist diverted most of it ('charity donations’) to Israeli settlers living illegally on Palestinian lands. His customers were told this money is intended for inner city poor Americans. Instead the money bought military hardware to help settlers terrorize native Palestinians. Among other expenditures, building school for Israeli snipers, purchases of camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as security equipment. (Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, 02 May 2005). Abramoff is one of Tom Delay "closest and dearest friends". Tom DeLay is the evangelical Christian Zionist who was indicted on money laundering and other charges, and resigned his post as House Majority Leader. DeLay is an advocate of Israel’s policy of deliberate killings of Palestinian leaders. In July 2003 on a visit to Israel, DeLay told the Israeli Knesset that: "Israel’s fight is our fight" and that "Israel should not withdraw from the occupied Arab lands". The speech was an Armageddon of violence and injustice orchestrated by the alliance of AIPAC and the Christian Zionists.

 

In addition, the Lobby plays an important role in the thought control of the American public. Its most formidable weapon is the use of anti-semitism against anyone who dares to criticise Israel’s terror against the Palestinian people. The Lobby uses the cliché of anti-semitism to stifle debate and remove any even-handedness criticism of Israel. Any criticism of Israel is labelled anti-semitism and subjected to threat and intimidation. As a result of this blackmail, the US media – from the mainstream to the so-called "Alternative" media – is the most biased and less informative pro-Israeli media in the world. Even Israeli media by comparison are more even-handed than the US media. "Because so many powerful people in the media and publishing business are strong supporters of Israel, the task is made vastly easier", wrote the late literary critic Edward Said.

 

Furthermore, to steer young Americans in a pro-Israeli direction, the Lobby is moving into the university and college campuses across the US – even though the average American is unaware of "that there is a narrative of Palestinian suffering and dispossession at least as old as Israel itself". It instituted and created several right-wing groups to watch and monitor any department or faculty who dares to have pro-Palestinian opinion. Faculty members across the US are under pressure from the Lobby to hue to Israel’s policy. It demands a total pro-Israel teaching and brainwashing of American students regardless.

 

Several universities with Middle Eastern departments have been targeted and their faculty members were subjected to hate e-mails and intimidation. They are also demanding Congress to reduce the appropriation for Title VI-funded programs of the Higher Education Act, in which federal funding provided to universities to support the study of languages such as Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Leading the pack of these attacks on American free thought, education and democracy is Campus Watch. It is a pro-Israel, anti-Muslims web site founded by the Zionist and Islamophobic, Daniel Pipes. The site is a Zionist propaganda arm of the Israeli government. It is specialising, among others, in witch-hunts academics and students who question the US blind support for Israel’s terror and repression in Palestine. It is a form of terrorist propaganda against academic freedom.

 

The study of Mearsheimer and Walt concurs with several other studies and opinions around the world that the US war on Iraq was largely to advance Israel’s interests and has nothing to do with WMD and terrorism – as has been proved. The study make a strong case that the Lobby and US Zionists (the so-called 'dual loyalty’ neo-cons or cabal, including Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, David Wurmser, John Bolton, Michael Ruben, Dick Cheney, and Lewis 'Scooter’ Libby, who is awaiting criminal trial) in the Bush Administration formulated the policies and made the decisions to push the US to got to war on Iraq. "The main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to the Likud [Party]", write Mearsheimer and Walt. "Given the neo-conservatives’ devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush administration, it isn't surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests", argue the authors. Yet, the neocons push for the war on Iraq was largely uncovered in US media.

 

The war against the Iraqi people proves to be a carbon copy of the war on the Palestinian people. In the same way Israel is destroying Palestine, US illegal war on Iraq has destroyed the entire nation. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi women and children slaughtered in cold blood, an unknown large number of US soldiers killed and wounded. Why a premeditated mass murder of innocent civilians is good for the Jewish people or the American people?

 

Furthermore, the war on Iraq has cost American taxpayers massively. According to Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University budget expert and Columbia University’s Professor of Economics and Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculate that the war is likely to cost the American taxpayers a minimum of nearly one trillion dollars and potentially over $2 trillion. [4] America’s education system and the health care services will blossom with a fraction of this money. Israel is the only beneficiary of this criminal and illegal war, and Israel continues to foment new war in the region.

 

The current warmongering propaganda against Iran by Israel, the Lobby and some American politicians such as Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Hillary R. Clinton is against the interests of the American people. Americans should know that good relations with Iran are in the interests of their nation. Any US attack on Iran is against the interests of the American and Iranian peoples, and can only lead to hostility between the West and the Muslim World. The Lobby’s push for the war on Iraq and Israel’s involvement in the crisis of both Iraq and Iran show that Israel is not only attacking the Palestinian people, but Israel is also attacking every other Arab and Muslim nation deemed to disagree with its colonial policy.

 

Israel reciprocates to this generous and unquestioned support provided by American taxpayers and the US administration by simply undermining American security. The case of Jonathan Pollard, a Texan Jew and former intelligence analyst in the US Navy is a case in point. Pollard was recruited by Israel to spy on the US military and US Nuclear Deterrent program. Israel then traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the former Soviet Union in exchange for increased emigration quotas from there to Israel. "A number of officials strongly suspect that the Israelis repackaged much of Pollard's material and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate to Israel", wrote Seymour Hersh. Former Defence Secretary, Casper Weinberger, in his affidavit opposing a reduced sentence for Pollard, described the damage done to the United States; "[It is] difficult to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by … Pollard's treasonous behaviour".

 

Lawrence A. Franklin, the former analyst at the Defence Secretary Office at the Pentagon was recently convicted and sentenced to 12 years, and seven months in prison after pleading guilty to three felony counts under the Espionage Act to communicate classified information to foreign government.  Franklin passed highly classified military information about Iran and Iraq to two pro-Israel lobbyists (Steven Rosen, AIPAC director of foreign policy issues, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC Iran expert) and an Israeli diplomat.  As Mearsheimer and Walt argue, AIPAC is simply "a de facto agent for a foreign government" which enjoys tax exempt status spying on the US.

 

Rosen and Weissman were charged and still waiting trial. The leaking of the FBI investigation of AIPAC to the media on August 28th, 2004 gave advance warning to other spies working with Franklin. Further more, Israel’s export of technology, particularly arms technology (built with US input), and to China is on the rise. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz report recently that "in 2005 contracts were signed for the export of more than $3 billion between Israeli and foreign companies". Yet the mainstream media in the US who hyped and propagated the illegal war against the Iraqi people remain mute about Israel’s illegal activities in the US and the danger of the pro-Israel powerful Lobby to American democracy.

 

The arming of Israel by the US and its European allies is neither in the interests of the Jewish people nor is in the interests of the Americans and the Europeans. In fact, what Israel is doing in Palestine is against the interests of the Jewish people. Anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe and around the world is not the result of anti-Semitism – all Arabs are 'Semites’ –, but as a result of Israel’s brutal policy against the Palestinian people, and Israeli propaganda to foment anti-Muslim and anti-Arabs hatred around the world. Jews and Muslims (including Arabs) have lived in coexistence for centuries. There are an estimated 30,000 Jews live happily in Iran. They are far better treated than the 1.2 million Arabs living in Israel, or the 4 million Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal Occupation.

 

For the "two states" solution to achieve equitable and lasting settlement for the peoples of the region, Israel must first withdraw from all occupied Palestinian land – demanded by UN Resolution 1402. Second, UN Resolution 3236 adopted in 1974 which affirmed the right of the Palestinian to self-determination and national independence, as well as their right to return to their homes and properties must be implemented unconditionally. The implementation of this resolution is essential for a just and lasting peace.

 

Anti-American sentiment across the world has increased as a result of US immoral policy of unconditionally supporting Israel’s colonial policies in Palestine. "People do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget the torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, and they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They do not only don’t forget. They strike back", said playwright and Nobel laureate, Harold Pinter. If not rectified, US immoral policy will continue to have massive consequences for the American people.

 

Mearsheimer and Walt rightly argue that Israel is no longer a reliable ally but a burden on the US. They write; Israel "is becoming a strategic burden [and] does not behave like a loyal ally". Israel is now "a liability". The US "[s]upport for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits", write Mearsheimer and Walt.

 

Having said all this, one must be careful to blame all US crimes around the world on the pro-Israel Lobby; it is a deliberate diversion. The US is the most powerful country in the world. The US has far more tools for violence than any one, and the US is not accountable to anyone, let alone the pro-Israel Lobby. The US has enough power to force Israel to end it’s terror against the Palestinian people. Any form of economic sanctions by the US and its allies will force Israel to change its behaviour and pursue peaceful settlement. The US administrations knew all along what they were/are doing. In other words, the American administrations are complicit in Israel crimes against the Palestinian people. The policies of both, the US and Israel, are complementary imperialist policies.

 

Before she died for a noble cause in Palestine, Rachel Corrie accurately observed: "I feel like what I’m witnessing here is a very systematic destruction of people’s ability to survive, and that is incredibly horrifying … Sometimes I’m sitting down to dinner with people, and I just realised that there is a massive military machine surrounding them and trying to kill these people that I’m having dinner with, these families that I’m sitting down to eat with and who are being very generous and kind to me, and their children here, who are incredibly threatened, living lives that no child ever should have to live". Rachel Corrie’s words were deliberately smeared and censored because they humanise the Palestinian people.

 

It took only one brave American citizen to stand in front of a US-made Israeli Army bulldozer to protect not only innocent Palestinian lives but also America’s interests. It is up to the Americans people to choose between the path of immorality and injustice and the path of human rights and dignity for all.

 

 

 

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen (2006, March). The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Faculty Research Working Papers Series. Harvard University: Boston, MA. An edited and shorter version of this study is available on LRB.

[2] Chris McGreal (2006). Worlds Apart. The Guardian, 06 February.

[3] Tivnan, Edward (1987). The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy. New York: Simon & Schuster, (p. 191).

[4] Bilmes, Linda & Stiglitz, Joseph (2006, January). The Economic Costs of the Iraq War. Paper presented at the ASSA annual meeting. Boston, MA.


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