"... you can't have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here."
"... to be critical of Israel is to deny oneself the ability to succeed in American politics." -Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." -Ariel Sharon
"American politicians need to get over their fear of the Israeli lobby and attend to America's business. Israel is a sovereign state with one of the world's most powerful military machines and a higher per capita gross domestic product than some of our NATO allies. We should cut the strings, stop the tax giveaways, repeal all of the special legislation and tell the Israelis they are on their own." -Charlie Reese
"The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress. Open debate about U.S. policy towards Israel does not occur there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world."
"Nothing is more urgently needed in our political discourse than for the taboo against speaking forthrightly about Israel to be overthrown."
The Arab/Israeli conflict is moving toward eventual use of nuclear weapons.
This warrants an open discussion of the subject.
To begin with, I've traveled in Israel and Palestine, and right off everyone needs to get past the "holy land" notion, or at least get past those who can't get past it. It's OK to attach some cultural or national significance to a particular area, we all do that, but when this sentiment rises to the level of divine decree it just invites trouble.
Israel is essentially a late religious variation on European colonialism, a Jewish South Africa of sorts. It was established by force, is maintained by force, has expanded by force, and has of late been shrinking under the weight of opposing force. The principal dynamic is a violent struggle for land, period. We need to move past the rhetoric and acknowledge this simple fact.
Israel is an anomaly, and the Middle East would be a calmer place without it. The Arabs have reacted to the establishment of Israel the same way we would react to outsiders setting up a separate country in America. And I personally would rather live in New York or Miami Beach. That having been said, I've ridden Israeli trains, wandered Israeli cities, gotten directions from Israeli soldiers. Israel is, in short, a done deal, a "fact on the ground" to use their phrase.
Most people on both sides would rather live in peace, I expect even together if necessary, but it hasn't happened. We can speculate about what might have been, but violence seems perhaps inevitable in a theocratic nation founded upon land already occupied by others of a different religion, though for what it's worth if everybody could stop thumping their respective holy texts and committing their respective atrocities all the boats could rise.
The Israeli desire to maintain a separate national identity would seem to preclude a single state solution, even assuming sufficient Palestinian acceptance of such. Thus, unless one side or the other is forced out or wiped out, a two state solution seems the only potentially viable approach, though with the high Arab birth rate and the threat of a cascading yerida, time and demographics are not on the Israeli side. The threat of Israeli empire appears to have passed, their quest for lebensraum having reached a high water mark in Sinai and southern Lebanon. A first step in a potential two state solution might be open and formal recognition of this reality by all parties concerned, followed by a return to the 1967 borders specified in UN mandates. History will ultimately judge, but it may be that the Israelis should have taken what shot they had at peace when they were in a position of maximum strength. If the Arabs weren't going to make peace then, it seems problematic to expect them to do so on the other side of the curve.
So why has America taken sides on this issue? Because Zionist influence in our country far exceeds Arab influence. Israel has for four decades stood in open defiance of standing UN resolutions calling for withdrawal from occupied Palestine. Israel maintains a substantial nuclear arsenal, and refuses to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Israel aggressively spies on the US, in fact two alleged Israeli spies are under indictment at this writing. Yet the US gives Israel more money per capita than any other country in the world, though Israel is in fact comparatively wealthy, and both President Bush and the currently favored Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have pledged America unreservedly to Israel's defense, though there is in reality no treaty stipulating this. Such obvious favoritism persists to the substantial detriment of US standing around the world. Further, quiet acquiescence to this reality is presumed to be a de facto condition of entry into American politics, and this has a substantial corrupting effect upon the quality and character of American political leadership. I discuss this subject further in my page on Griffith.
I suspect what our massive and uncritical support of Israel may ultimately have done will be to have helped them sow the seeds of their own whirlwind, in the same way our support for the French in World War I helped them dictate terms at Versailles afterwards, in an act which history now substantially credits with bringing about World War II. Only the Israelis may not survive their 1940, if it comes.
And let me just work in here how curious it is that you're as a matter of course expected to support a group of basically European people in their oppression of a group who are the definition of semitic, and if you don't then you're, that's right, antisemitic, and I would emphasize at this juncture in the narrative that I am absolutely not making that up.
I personally think the matter should be approached objectively, with the best interests of the world as a whole in mind, or at least the best interests of the United States.
from A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy (Tony Judt, NY Times, 4/19/2006):
"Looking back, we shall see the Iraq war and its catastrophic consequences as not the beginning of a new democratic age in the Middle East but rather as the end of an era that began in the wake of the 1967 war, a period during which American alignment with Israel was shaped by two imperatives: cold-war strategic calculations and a new-found domestic sensitivity to the memory of the Holocaust and the debt owed to its victims and survivors.
For the terms of strategic debate are shifting. East Asia grows daily in importance. Meanwhile our clumsy failure to re-cast the Middle East and its enduring implications for our standing there has come into sharp focus. American influence in that part of the world now rests almost exclusively on our power to make war: which means in the end that it is no influence at all. Above all, perhaps, the Holocaust is passing beyond living memory. In the eyes of a watching world, the fact that an Israeli soldier's great-grandmother died in Treblinka will not excuse his own misbehavior.
Thus it will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client state. It is already not at all self-evident to Europeans, Latin Americans, Africans or Asians. Why, they ask, has America chosen to lose touch with the rest of the international community on this issue? Americans may not like the implications of this question. But it is pressing. It bears directly on our international standing and influence; and it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. We cannot ignore it. -Tony Judt
And here's a link to a recently published authoritative study on this subject- The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy:
"For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S. Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. 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?"
Here's the President at the American Jewish Committee "gala event" in Washington on May 4, 2006 pledging "America's commitment to Israel's security is strong, enduring and unshakable". UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is at right, the German Chancellor is out of view. The Israeli ambassador to Washington couldn't make it, nor did any senior representative from the Israeli government attend.
Do this, kind reader- stand in open defiance of the UN for 40 years, do
it by armed and active military force, thumb your nose at the Nuclear Non
Proliferation Treaty, build and deploy hundreds of nuclear weapons in the
middle of the most volatile region on Earth, get your spies convicted in
US courts, and then, and then kind reader, have the most powerful people
in the world play step'n fetch for you. And when you do, kind reader, let
me know how you did it.
(7/28/06) from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz- "Israel's ambassador to the United Nations ruled out Thursday major UN involvement in any potential international force in Lebanon, saying more professional and better-trained troops were needed for such a volatile situation.
Dan Gillerman also said Israel would not allow the United Nations to join in an investigation of an Israeli air strike that demolished a post belonging to the current UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Four UN observers were killed in the Tuesday strike."
... So there you go. Israel says No.
No UN forces in a neighboring country.
No UN investigators sniffing around either.
End of story.
(8/8/06)- Here's what a national security official should sound like:
"Neocon prescriptions [of use of force to try to change things unilaterally] of which Israel has its equivalents, are fatal for America and ultimately for Israel. They will totally turn the overwhelming majority of the Middle East's population against the United States. The lessons of Iraq speak for themselves. Eventually, if neocon policies continue to be pursued, the United States will be expelled from the region and that will be the beginning of the end for Israel as well."
(8/28/06)- Here's a good short long view of the Arab/Israeli conflict by Uri Avnery, a former Israeli commando.
"The insuperable, structural obstacle to a serious pursuit of success in the Middle East through accepting failure in Iraq, the elephant in the room that I have carefully avoided mentioning hitherto, is Israel. More precisely, it is not Israel itself or its actions, but the fact that the United States has deliberately forfeited control over its policy toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts that form one critical aspect of the Middle East imbroglio. While the U.S. could conceivably change its policy and aims in regard to all its other vital aspects—Iraq, Iran, oil, regional security, even terrorism—I see no possibility that any party, administration, or American public will take the steps needed to regain that essential control." -Paul W. Schroeder, Liberating Ourselves
I'm going to just cut and paste this in its entirety-
Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine
By Jimmy Carter
December 8, 2006
I SIGNED A CONTRACT with Simon & Schuster two years ago to write a book about the Middle East, based on my personal observations as the Carter Center monitored three elections in Palestine and on my consultations with Israeli political leaders and peace activists.
We covered every Palestinian community in 1996, 2005 and 2006, when Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and members of parliament were chosen. The elections were almost flawless, and turnout was very high — except in East Jerusalem, where, under severe Israeli restraints, only about 2% of registered voters managed to cast ballots.
The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations — but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.
It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.
With some degree of reluctance and some uncertainty about the reception my book would receive, I used maps, text and documents to describe the situation accurately and to analyze the only possible path to peace: Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within their own internationally recognized boundaries. These options are consistent with key U.N. resolutions supported by the U.S. and Israel, official American policy since 1967, agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and their governments in 1978 and 1993 (for which they earned Nobel Peace Prizes), the Arab League's offer to recognize Israel in 2002 and the International Quartet's "Roadmap for Peace," which has been accepted by the PLO and largely rejected by Israel.
The book is devoted to circumstances and events in Palestine and not in Israel, where democracy prevails and citizens live together and are legally guaranteed equal status.
Although I have spent only a week or so on a book tour so far, it is already possible to judge public and media reaction. Sales are brisk, and I have had interesting interviews on TV, including "Larry King Live," "Hardball," "Meet the Press," "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," the "Charlie Rose" show, C-SPAN and others. But I have seen few news stories in major newspapers about what I have written.
Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories, and their primary criticism is that the book is anti-Israel. Two members of Congress have been publicly critical. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for instance, issued a statement (before the book was published) saying that "he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel." Some reviews posted on Amazon.com call me "anti-Semitic," and others accuse the book of "lies" and "distortions." A former Carter Center fellow has taken issue with it, and Alan Dershowitz called the book's title "indecent."
Out in the real world, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I've signed books in five stores, with more than 1,000 buyers at each site. I've had one negative remark — that I should be tried for treason — and one caller on C-SPAN said that I was an anti-Semite. My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professors. I have been most encouraged by prominent Jewish citizens and members of Congress who have thanked me privately for presenting the facts and some new ideas.
The book describes the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, this is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid. I have made it clear that the motivation is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonize choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens. Obviously, I condemn any acts of terrorism or violence against innocent civilians, and I present information about the terrible casualties on both sides.
The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
(1/6/07) The news from Azerbaijan-
In a stark statement published on Saturday Brigadier General Oded Tira observed, "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."
(2/1/07) Here's some more Israeli prodding to bomb Iran.
(3/13/07) Geneva-Israel walks out of nuclear disarmament conference with US in tow.
(3/14/07) Jerusalem (AP)- Israel recalls ambassador found naked, drunk;
Diplomat, wearing sex bondage gear, found outside El Salvador residence
.... looks like God chose some randy people.
(4/12/07) Riyadh (AP)- Also Thursday, ElBaradei expressed support for a proposal by the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to jointly run a peaceful nuclear program. The Gulf Arab nations announced in December that they had commissioned a study on setting up the program.
... Eventual checkmate?
How many Israelis are going to sit in their Tel Aviv condos and watch the Arab nuclear genie relentlessly coalesce around them? What would you do? If you had ties to another country and the means to live there, what would you do, and how long would you wait to do it? Israelis know what happens to those who wait too long.
Here's a really funny bit on what is perhaps the most dire and immediate threat currently facing the planet.
Regrettably, it can only be discussed on a comedy show.
Not making that up.
(6/28/07)- OK, yes, technically the president of Israel is a convicted sex offender.
So ... there's that.
(10/3/07)- Here's a well written piece by Chris Hedges about the obvious US double standard applied to Israel, and here's one person's comment on it-
#103972 by Akira_Maritias on 10/02 at 2:29 am
(359 comments total)
I grow weary of Israel, I really do. Supported by America in the same barbaric way that the Crusades were considered God’s work, I see no point to it. It was land given to the Jews in their book, and they have no right to it otherwise. Instead of living there peacefully with the inhabitants already there, they were permitted to boot them out and claim their own country; a country which devours more and more land from their frightened and cornered neighbor.
I may be of Jewish descent, but I am behind the Palestinians 100%. It’s their land, and we have no right to steal it from them. We have no right to romanticize the slaughter of them, nor do we have a right to support such cruelty and hatred. The same group of people that suffered the holocaust are now foolish enough to invent their own? Why? Did we enjoy the camps so much that we decided to force down our own group of ‘inferior’ people?
It’s disgusting, it’s foul...it’s Israel. Destroy the boundary lines, call it all Palestine. Jews can live with Palestinians, it’s possible. It’s just that when you steal the land right out from under someone, they tend to get mad at you. An attack from them should not be answered with a counter-strike; give them back their land, at the very least the land that you have recently stolen, and stop withholding Palestinians from entering Israel; it is sheer humiliation and cruelty to force a pregnant woman to sit in a car until she gives birth because you don’t want her in Israel.
(11/1/07)- Here's a downside to having your own superpower-
"According to Ha’aretz chief political columnist AKIVA ELDAR (it seems likely he’s got MOSSAD credentials too), Israeli society — and 70 of the 120 member Knesset — are ready for the two-state solution. The “neocons” and thoroughly propagandized American Zionist groups (AIPAC etc.) — who currently wield the power — are behind the times and don’t get it."
(11/16/07)-LONDON (Reuters) "Israel believes it is incumbent upon the international community to send a crystal clear message to the leadership in Tehran that their nuclear program is unacceptable and must cease immediately," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.
This from a country which has never signed the NPT, and has some hundreds of undeclared nuclear warheads.
Now that's some chutzpah. Or however you spell it.
(4/24/08)- Here's the Israeli ambassador to the UN calling Jimmy Carter a "bigot". Jimmy Carter, you will recall, is a former US President who negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Wait and see if calling him a bigot costs the Israelis a single dime of our massive foreign aid to them.
(1/9/09)- Glenn Greenwald lays bare the essential question of why we're paying for the slaughter in Gaza when we don't have a dog in the fight.
(5/15/09)- John Mearsheimer points out the cold hard demographic facts: Since 2007, emigration has been outpacing immigration in Israel. According to scholars John Mueller and Ian Lustick, “a recent survey indicates that only 69 percent of Jewish Israelis say they want to stay in the country, and a 2007 poll finds that one-quarter of Israelis are considering leaving, including almost half of all young people.”
The moderates leave. The nuclear weapons stay.