donderdag 15 april 2010

De onbreekbare band tussen de VS en Israel kan breken

Na het recente conflict tussen de VS en Israel verzekerde de VS dat de relatie nog steeds goed en hecht is, 'unshakeable' en 'unbreakable', en ook diverse Israelische pundits zeiden dat het allemaal best meevalt en er tussen de beste vrienden weleens onenigheid is. Is het niet juist een teken van hechte vriendschap dat je elkaar af en toe flink de waarheid zegt?
Dat mag zo zijn, vriendschappen tussen staten werken anders, betoogt Ami Isseroff, en worden geregeerd door belangen en machtspolitiek. Vandaar ook dat de VS Israel af en toe stevig de waarheid kan zeggen, maar Israel dat omgekeerd niet kan doen. Netanjahoe had waarschijnlijk maar wat graag Hillary Clinton toegebeten in dat fameuze drie kwartier durende telefoongesprek: 'Pleur op met je kritiek op onze bouwactiviteiten in Jeruzalem (Clinton schijnt goed te zijn in vloeken), Jeruzalem is van ons en we bouwen waar we willen. We hebben het gebouwd toen de VS nog een grote wildernis was en men in Europa nog in berevellen rondliep. Ik vertel jullie ook niet waar je in New York wel en niet mag bouwen en hoe groot precies de reservaten voor de indianen moeten zijn en waarom zij geen royalere compensatie hebben gekregen en waarom jullie niet harder optreden tegen de duizenden moorden per jaar in verschillende grote steden, en waarom de gevangenissen nog steeds vooral door zwarten worden bevolkt, om maar eens een paar zaken te noemen. En nou ga ik weer aan het werk want het land moet bestuurd worden.' tuut-tuut-tuut.....
Isseroff legt uit dat het recente conflict serieus moet worden genomen, maar ook dat het zeker niet uniek is in de relatie tussen beide landen, en die relatie een stuk minder innig is dan veelal wordt beweerd. Joodse lobby of niet, als het erop aankomt zijn er voor de VS meer en andere belangen, zo is in het verleden al vaak gebleken. De miljarden steun die de VS Israel geeft is ook niet van eigenbelang gespeend. Hiermee heeft de VS beslissende invloed op Israel gekocht, die zij tot aan 1967 miste. Er zijn ook talloze voorwaarden aan verbonden. Israel doet er goed aan om weer wat onafhankelijker van de VS te worden en bijvoorbeeld meer wapens zelf te produceren.

There is no doubt that the United States is currently Israel's strongest and best ally. The list of recent affirmations of the alliance, the "special relationship," and the "unshakable" and "unbreakable" bond is awesome: Secretary of State Clinton; President Obama; Vice President Biden.

Jews in general, and Zionists in particular, seem to have an unshakable faith that this bond is unshakable and unbreakable. Daniel Pipes declares:

More broadly, the U.S.-Israel bond has strengths that go far beyond politicians and issues of the moment. Nothing on earth resembles this bilateral, "the most special" of special relationships and "the family relationship of international politics."

Neville Teller reviews the reasons often cited for this "unshakable bond: Common culture and values, the "Jewish vote" and the mythical power of AIPAC.

The story of the "historical connection" and common values" is more myth than fact. There was no such relationship before 1967, as Mitchell Bard and Daniel Pipes pointed out in a 1997 article:

For many years, U.S.-Israel military ties were non-existent. From Israel's creation in 1948 until the mid-1960s, State Department and Pentagon officials argued against even providing American arms to Israel

On the eve of the Six Day War the influential State Department official Harold Saunders made it unequivocally clear that there was not, and had never been until then, any special relationship:

For twenty years Israel has sought a special relationship-even a private security guarantee-with us. We have steadfastly refused in order to preserve our other interests in the Middle East.

Nobody, so far as is known, contested Saunders' statement. He was stating the obvious, but his words were buried in a classified document and are ignored. Unpleasant truths are unpopular. The special relation existed only in the election campaign speeches of U.S. politicians to Jewish voters. The same politicians tell the same story about special relations to every other national minority. Obama even invented such a story for Muslims.

As I have noted previously, however, though most of the same factors were in place since the creation of the State of Israel, Israel was not favored by the United States during the Eisenhower administration, to say the least, and didn't really enjoy a close partnership with the United States until after 1967.

Israel became "valuable" to the United States after the Six Day War because it had proven its ability to act independently. That made Israel useful to have as an ally. It also evoked the fear that without US "guidance" (control), Israel might act in opposition to US interests and "destabilize" the Middle East (meaning that Israel might threaten regimes that are friendly to the United States or anger the Arab states).

This exchange, in a joint meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, between Senator Symington and Secretary of State Dean Rusk , is enlightening:

Senator Symington: effect they have struck by themselves and have been markedly successful. Does it not mean we have relatively little leverage on what they want to do now that they have physically occupied these countries by utilizing their military equipment intelligently?

Secretary Rusk. We have some limited leverage on them...

But Israel would soon need advanced aircraft and equipment to fight the Soviet aircraft, pilots and air-defense systems during the war of attrition with Egypt. The United States saw an opportunity to gain leverage on Israel by selling them Phantom jets, previously refused, and to use that leverage to get Israeli territorial concessions as a way to gain influence for the United States with the Arab states. The Yom Kippur war and the peace diplomacy that followed accelerated and magnified this process. From the American point of view, that is what the "peace process" has always been about.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is widely touted by terror groupies as a Zionist agent. But in 1975, Kissinger told Iraqi representatives in a secret meeting in Paris:

We can't negotiate about the existence of Israel, but we can reduce its size to historical proportions. I don't agree that Israel is a permanent threat. How can a nation of three million be a permanent threat? They have a technical advantage now. But it is inconceivable that peoples with wealth and skill and the tradition of the Arabs won't develop the capacity that is needed. So I think in ten to fifteen years, Israel will be like Lebanon-- struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.

Kissinger's frank remarks represent the consensus of a large group of US policy makers, and not necessarily those who are outspoken foes of Israel. It is not altogether clear what is to become of the "special relationship" according to this view, once Israel has been cajoled or forced to surrender all of the territories conquered in the Six Day War.

The recent declarations and affirmations regarding the "unshakable bond" are, in reality, quite the opposite. They are sugar added to hide the taste of bitter medicine -- the sort of thing you say to an employee you are about to fire. Each such declaration has been part of an announcement of policies that are bad news for Israel. They are not signs of a strong relationship, but rather signs of a relationship that has seen better days, but requires lip service. "The lady doth protest too much."

Disillusionment should certainly have come when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was deliberately humiliated by President Obama. Netanyahu, who counted on the mythical "special relationship," walked in to an ambush at the White House, and Obama made certain that it was reported in the media. Barack Obama does not act on impulse. The insult was planned with malice aforethought. It was cold and calculated.

However, there doesn't seem to have been any disillusionment or any lessons learned. Dore Gold wrote a carefree piece about "fluctuations" in the US-Israel relationship. Indeed there have been fluctuations, and we have "been here before." But just because you dodged the last bullet doesn't mean you can be careless about this next one, or that you can make believe that nobody is shooting. Daniel Pipes engaged in platitudes about the "special relationship." These are either symptoms of fatal complacency or whistling in the dark. Denying that a problem exists is not a way to solve it.

The nature of the policy dispute was of far less significance than the fact of the ambush. It was relatively unambiguous signal to the Arab and Muslim world that the United States government has no compunctions about selling Israel down the river, and the Holocaust - denying Iranian Press TV was glad to gloat.

It is folly to count on American Jews or an "Israel Lobby" to maintain American support for Israel, or to be complacent about U.S. support for Israel. Jews constitute a tiny minority in the population of the United States - about 2%, even according to a most generous estimate. A small but very active faction of American Jews is virulently anti-Israel and is much better at making its views known than are supporters of Israel. The Jewish minority is supported by pro-Israel Evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christians may constitute about a third of American voters, but not all Evangelical Christians are pro-Israel. "Evangelical" can include Mennonites for example, not known for their sympathy for Israel or Jews. The stereotyped "Christian Zionist" pro-Israel right wing evangelicals have not had the political clout to enact other parts of their political program, such as school prayer and bans on abortions and gay marriages. They cannot be the sole source of the fairly solid pro-Israel sentiment in the United States. This consensus of pro-Israel opinion is not to be taken for granted It is under constant attack from an alphabet soup of anti-Israel groups and organizations: ISM, PSM, PAJL, BDS, JVP... from increasingly hostile and biased media, and from a more and more hostile academic environment, which is spawning the opinion-shapers and leaders of the very near future. There is also no guarantee that US government policy will always follow public opinion on an issue that is peripheral for most people.

The United States also has a sizable, well organized and vociferously anti-Israel Muslim population, which is claimed by some to be larger than the Jewish population, though it is probably no more than 1% of U.S. population.

The much-vaunted AIPAC is not going to save Israel from inimical American policies. AIPAC can get Congress to vote for an impressive resolution about U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the resolution is not worth the paper on which it was printed. The US government doesn't recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, and certainly not as the capital of Israel. AIPAC cannot lift the U.S. embargo on advanced military equipment to Israel either. Lobbies work through Congress. Congress does not control foreign policy except in the most indirect ways. Congressional races are always decided by domestic issues.

The myth of the Jewish lobby and the special relationship is good for American leaders, who can use it to elicit misplaced trust that any policy pursued by the American government "has the best interests of Israel at heart," since after all, "we are family." It is also useful for Israeli and American Jewish leaders, as a means to intimidate the enemy and to garner support for AIPAC. AIPAC's ability to get donations, as well as its ability to influence policy, depend on the perception that it is powerful. Not surprisingly, when there is a difference of opinion, nobody is willing to admit that there is a problem.

Read the rest at:
where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome.

(Ami Isseroff)

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