Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Zionist Prime Minister to meet with President Obama

US questions its unwavering support for Israel: Consensus forming in Washington that Israeli government is abusing support with policies seen to be risking US lives

Chris McGreal
The Guardian
Monday 5 July 2010

There are questions that rarely get asked in Washington. For years, the mantra that America's intimate alliance with Israel was as good for the US as it was the Jewish state went largely unchallenged by politicians aware of the cost of anything but unwavering support.

Binyamin Netanyahu, left, arrives in Washington tomorrow to patch up relations with Barack Obama and the US administration. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

But swirling in the background when Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, arrives in Washington tomorrow to patch up relations with the White House will be a question rarely voiced until recently: is Israel ‑ or, at the very least, its current government ‑ endangering US security and American troops?

Netanyahu would prefer to be seen as an indispensable ally in confronting Islamist terror. But his insistence on building Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which is causing a deep rift with Washington, is seen as evidence of a lack of serious interest in the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. That in turn is seen as fuelling hostility towards the US in other parts of the Middle East and beyond, because America is perceived as Israel's shield.

In recent months Barack Obama has said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a "vital national security interest of the United States". His vice-president, Joe Biden, has confronted Netanyahu in private and told the Israeli leader that Israel's policies are endangering US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior figures in the American military, including General David Petraeus who has commanded US forces in both wars, have identified Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian land as an obstacle to resolving those conflicts.

More recently, Israel's assault on ships attempting to break the Gaza blockade has compromised relations with Turkey, an important American strategic ally.A former director of intelligence assessment for the US defence secretary, last month caused waves with a paper called Israel as a Strategic Liability? In it, Anthony Cordesman, who has written extensively on the Middle East, noted a shift in thinking at the White House, the US state department and, perhaps crucially, the Pentagon over the impact of Washington's long-unquestioning support for Israeli policies even those that have undermined the prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

He wrote that the US will not abandon Israel because it has a moral commitment to ensure the continued survival of the Jewish state. "At the same time, the depth of America's moral commitment does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily make Israel a strategic liability when it should remain an asset. It does not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbours.

"It is time Israel realised that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of US patience and exploits the support of American Jews."

Cordesman told the Guardian that the Netanyahu government has maintained a "pattern of conduct" that has pushed the balance toward Israel being more of a liability than an asset.

"This Israeli government pushed the margin too far," he said. "Gaza was one case in point, the issue of construction in Jerusalem, the lack of willingness to react in ways that serve Israel's interests as well as ours in moving forward to at least pursue a peace process more actively."

It was a point made forcefully by Biden to Netanyahu in March after the Israelis humiliated the American during a visit to Jerusalem by announcing the construction of 1,600 more Jewish homes in the city's occupied east.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that at a meeting between the two men, Biden angrily accused Israel's prime minister of jeopardising US soldiers by continuing to tighten the Jewish state's grip on Jerusalem.

"This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace," Biden told Netanyahu.

Obama's chief political adviser, David Axelrod, said the settlement construction plans "seemed calculated to undermine" efforts to get fresh peace talks off the ground and that "it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue".

Netanyahu sought to head off the issue when he spoke to pro-Israeli lobbyists in Washington earlier this year. "For decades, Israel served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. Today it is helping America stem the tide of militant Islam. Israel shares with America everything we know about fighting a new kind of enemy," he said. "We share intelligence. We co-operate in countless other ways that I am not at liberty to divulge. This co-operation is important for Israel and is helping save American lives."

But that argument is less persuasive to the Americans now. Last month, Israel's ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, said the Jewish state had suffered a "tectonic rift" with America. "There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs," he told Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem. "Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart."

Oren said that assessments of Israeli policy at the White House have moved away from the historic and ideological underpinnings of earlier administrations in favour of a cold calculation.

Cordesman said it is too early to tell whether Netanyahu has fully grasped that while there will be no change in the fundamental security guarantees the US gives Israel, "the days of the blank cheque are over".

He added: "I think it is clear there is more thought on how to deal with Gaza, how to deal with the underlying humanitarian issues, less creating kinds of pressures which frankly, from the viewpoint of an outside observer, have tended to push Hamas not toward an accommodation but toward a harder line while creating of all things an extremist challenge to Hamas. But until you see the end result, some comments and some token actions don't tell you there's been a significant shift."

Editor's NOTE:

In opposition to the argument made by Anthony Cordesman that the United States has a moral obligation/committment to the security of Israel, the truth is that from a moral perspective, the modern state of Israel has no claim whatsoever to the land it currently occupies in Palestine since it was taken from the Palestinian Arabs by force (the Nakba).

If the US is to salvage the moral highground, it should insist that at a minimum Israel must (1) return to the pre-1967 borders, (2) allow the return of those exiled Palestinian Arabs who desire it and (3) properly compensate the victims (and or their families) of the Israeli atrocities in the period 1945-1950 during which several million Arabs were forcibly sent into exile and or murdered by the Hagana (pre-Israeli "defense" force). Israel should also make reparations to the remaining Arab inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza who have been since 1967 subjected to occupation and progressive encroachment on their land.

All subsquent US aid to Israel should be made conditional on Israel's compliance with the "3" points above. Each American of good conscience should ask that this be done in our names and should frequently contact their Congressional Representatives, Senators and the Obama administration in an concerted effort to accomplish same.

The "two-state solution" is effectively dead as is any other so-called Israeli/Palestinian peace initiative unless and until Israel is willing to observe the bear minimum (universal) moral norms. Israel's current policy vis a vis Gaza and the West Bank are not only illegal under international law and US law but are gravely immoral (from an Aristotelian/Thomistic [golden-rule] perspective) as well.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

How Did The Jewish Zionists Acquire Palestine?

The roots of Israeli exceptionalism

By Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti
Monday, June 28, 2010
09:56 Mecca time, 06:56 GMT

An American academic once told me: "Many people in the Islamic world think America does not believe in human rights, but they are wrong; America believes in human rights indeed, the problem is the American definition of human."

In other words: the American definition of 'human' is not a universal one. This is not purely an American characteristic; every culture faces the challenge of broadening its cultural limits and universalising its moral norms.

But among all human cultures and ideologies, the Israeli case is unique in its double standard.

Criminality wrapped in self-righteousness and aggression immersed in victimhood are a few striking characteristics of the Israeli reality and discourse.

The Israeli personality

The duality of "Israel's insistent emphasis upon its isolation and uniqueness, its claim to be both victim and hero," as Tony Judt wrote in Haaretz a few years ago, reflects the fragility and self-centeredness of the Israeli personality. This is not, unfortunately, exclusive to Israel's political elite, but rather it extends to their Zionist supporters worldwide, including those, such as novelist Elie Wiesel and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who portray themselves in humanistic and aesthetic images.

I was profoundly moved by the graphic description of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust in Elie Wiesel's Night, which depicts his and his father's experience of a terrifying process that violates human life and degrades human dignity.

But I was struck by the tone of self-righteousness and self-justification in Wiesel's fictional Dawn, particularly when he writes: "The commandment thou shalt not kill was given from the summit of one of the mountains here in Palestine, and we were the only ones to obey it. But that all over ... in the days and weeks and months to come, you will have only one purpose: to kill those who have made us killers."

When the Jewish South African judge, Richard Goldstone, exposed Israeli war crimes in Gaza, Wiesel called that "a crime against the Jewish people". But this is simply an immoral use of past atrocities as a moral justification for present brutalities and oppression.

Moreover, one cannot but entertain two questions here: Firstly, what kind of moral claim does Wiesel, who was born of a Romanian father and a Hungarian mother, have over the divine call at Mount Sinai in the heart of a Middle Eastern desert? And secondly, by which moral or legal norm are the Palestinians of today responsible for the wrongdoings of the Germans of yesterday?

Self-serving myths

Israel uses past atrocities as a moral justification for present brutalities [GETTY]The worst of this hypocritical language, however, can be found in Bernard-Henri Lévy's article about Israel's aggression against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla published in Haaretz on June 8, 2010.

Lévy presents himself in self-glorifying terms as being "someone who takes pride in having helped to conceive, with others, this kind of symbolic action ‏(the boat for Vietnam; the march for the survival of Cambodia in 1979)...".

But when it comes to Gaza's plight, Lévy simply dismisses the tragedy by denying the existence of the Israeli blockade and attacking easy targets, such as "the fascislamist government of Ismail Haniya" and "the Islamist gang who took power by force three years ago".

Thus, he shamelessly dismisses the grand effort of the multiethnic, multinational and religiously diverse group of humanistic leaders and activists on the Freedom Flotilla.

Moreover, Lévy lacks the objectivity to address the fascizionist - to borrow from his own terminology - gangs who aggressively invaded Palestinian land over six decades ago, and uprooted a whole population forcing them into the new Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps - Gaza and the West Bank.

Indeed, for those who put their selfish desires above the moral principles of justice and compassion, their self-serving myths are better in their eyes than the ugly truth.

Jewish humanistic intellectuals, such as Professor Tony Judt and musician Gilad Atzmon deplore Israel's self-indulgence and lack of maturity. Judt writes: "Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one 'understands' it and everyone is 'against' it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offence and quick to give it ... that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences, and that it is immortal."

Atzmon writes: "We are dealing here with a uniquely and seriously disturbed immature nation. We are dealing with a self-loving narcissistic child .... The more the Israelis love themselves and their delusional phantasmic innocence, the more they are frightened that people out there may be as sadistic as they themselves proved to be. This behavioural mode is called projection .... Jews have a very good reason to be frightened. Their national state is a racist genocidal entity."


What is most disappointing, however, is not the Zionist self-righteousness and narcissism; rather it is the Western acceptance and support of this attitude - an attitude that is better understood when placed in a historical context.

The main theoretical basis of the acceptance of Israeli exceptionalism in Western culture is the diversion, mainly within the Protestant branch of Christianity, of the Christian incarnation of God in the person of Jesus to a new incarnation of God in the Jews as a people - the Chosen People.

This tendency started with Martin Luther (1483-1546) who subdued Christianity theologically and morally to the Jewish factor in his small epistle That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew. Luther wrote in that epistle: "When we are inclined to boast of our position, we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord."

Through this Luther - who was paradoxically a staunch anti-Semite - inadvertently opened a theological window, that would centuries later allow the 'cult of Israel', as it has been dubbed by the American writer Grace Halsell, to replace Christianity in most Protestant denominations, especially among American Baptists. After all, what they are doing is no more than a literal implementation of Luther's deification of the Jews.

Professor Yvonne Haddad of Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding calls this heresy 'Holocaustianity'. And within this new heresy lie the roots of the Israeli exceptionalism.

Trivialising the Holocaust

Israel is becoming a moral burden for those who value social justice [GETTY]Professor Judt writes that: "What Israel lost by its continuing occupation of Arab lands it gained through its close identification with the recovered memory of Europe's dead Jews." But he knows well that the memory of the dead is the worse moral justification for murdering innocents: "In the eyes of a watching world, the fact that the great-grandmother of an Israeli soldier died in Treblinka is no excuse for his own abusive treatment of a Palestinian woman waiting to cross a checkpoint. 'Remember Auschwitz' is not an acceptable response."

But that is exactly the kind of moral justification we have from the Israelis today.

When an advisor to Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, tried to attack Helen Thomas' remarks in which she said Israelis should "go home ... [to] Poland, Germany ..." all he did is remind her that some of his relatives were killed in Poland and Germany more than half a century ago, as if that is a good reason to starve the Palestinians to death and to kill humanitarian activists in international waters today.

After all, the Israeli politician was just confirming what Thomas said: you belong there; not here.

This is how the Holocaust memory, a memory of a human tragedy by any and every measure, is trivialised by Israeli criminality.

A moral burden

Many political thinkers and politicians have recently realised that Israel is becoming a liability and a strategic burden for the US. It has always been a strategic burden. But the problem is much deeper. Israel is becoming a moral burden on all those who have an ethical conscience, including Jews who value human dignity and social justice.

Even those who spent their lives advancing the Zionist cause are today realising the moral paradox of their life's achievement. Henry Siegman, a German-born American writer who served as the executive director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994, wrote in Haaretz on June 11, 2010: "A million and a half civilians have been forced to live in an open-air prison in inhuman conditions for over three years now, but unlike the Hitler years, they are not Jews but Palestinians. Their jailers, incredibly, are survivors of the Holocaust, or their descendants."

All decent human beings must support the oppressed Palestinian against the Israeli oppressor.

The oppressed Arabs of Palestine (Muslims and Christians) are rendering through their suffering a great service to the entire body of humanity, by exposing the most self-centered and supremacist ideology in our world - an ideology that is wrapped today in a bloody sacredness.