The Deadly Embrace
Explanations for the US attack on Iraq range from military-political pretexts to accounts focusing on geopolitical and economic interests.
The original official explanation was the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destructions (WMD), which threatened the US, Israel and the Middle East. Subsequent to the US military occupation, when no WMD were discovered, Washington justified the invasion and occupation by citing the removal of a dictator and the establishment of a prosperous democracy in the Arab world. The imposition of a colonial puppet regime, propped up by an imperial occupation force of over 200,000 troops and irregular death squads, which have killed close to a million Iraqi civilians, forced over 4 million into exile and impoverished over 95% of the population, puts the lie to that line of argument. The latest line of justification revolves around the notion that the US occupation is necessary to prevent a civil war. Most Iraqis and military experts think the presence of the US colonial occupation army is the cause of violent conflict, particularly the US military’s devastating attacks on civilians, their financing of rival tribal leaders and Kurdish mercenaries and their contracting of local police-military to repress the population. Since most Americans (not to speak of the rest of the world) are not convinced by these specious arguments, the Washington regime rationalizes its continued war and occupation by citing the need for a colonial military victory to maintain its world and regional status as a super-power, and to assure its Middle East client regimes that Washington can defend their ruling cliques and their hegemonic ally, Israel. The Bush White House and pro-Israel Congressional leaders claim a victory in Iraq will bolster Washington’s image as a successful global anti-terrorist (anti-insurgent) regime. These post-facto justifications have lost credibility as the war drags on, popular resistance grows in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and elsewhere. The longer the war continues, the greater the economic cost and the demoralization and depletion of military personnel, the more difficult the task of sustaining the capacity to intervene in defense of the empire.
If the official political and military justifications for the US colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ring hollow and convince few, what of the other economic explanations for the war put forth mostly but not exclusively by critics of the Bush administration?
The major focus of the economic determinists of the war centers on the issue of oil, as in war for oil.* These explanations in turn break down into several variants: The first and most popular is that the big US oil companies were behind the war, that Bush and Cheney were pressured by their Big Oil handlers into launching the war so that US oil companies could seize the nationally owned Iraqi oil fields and refineries. A second, slightly modified, version argued that the White House was not pressured by Big Oil but acted on their behalf as a reflex action. (This is put forth to explain why the spokesmen for Big Oil multinationals were so conspicuously absent from the media and halls of Congress in the lead-up to the war.)
(* see recent statements in September and October by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan and US General John Abazaid among others)
A third version argued that the US went to war to secure oil for US national security interests threatened by Saddam Hussein. This explanation cites the danger of Saddam Hussein closing down the Strait of Hormuz, invading the Gulf States, inciting revolts in Saudi Arabia and/or reducing the flow of Middle East oil to the US and its allies. In other words, the geopolitics of the Middle East dictated that a non-client regime was a threat to US, European and Japanese access to oil. This is apparently the latest argument put forth by Alan Greenspan, a former proponent of the WMD propaganda.
The major advocates of the war for oil (WFO) argument fail several empirical tests, namely that the oil companies were not actively supporting the war via propaganda, congressional lobbying or through any other policy vehicle. Secondly the proponents of WFO fail to explain the efforts by major oil companies to develop economic ties with Iraq prior to the invasion and they were in fact, working through clandestine third parties to trade in Iraqi oil. Thirdly, all the major oil companies operating in the Middle East were mainly concerned with political stability, the liberalization of the economic policies of the region and the opening of oil services for foreign investors. The big oil companies strategies were to advance their global interests through the ongoing liberalization process in the Middle East and conquering new markets and oil resources through their formidable market power investments and technology. The onset of the US invasion of Iraq was viewed with anxiety and concern as a military action, which would destabilize the region, increase hostility to their interests throughout the Gulf and slow down the liberalization process. Not a single CEO from the entire petroleum industry viewed the US invasion as a positive national security measure, because they understood that Saddam Hussein, after over a decade of economic and military sanctions and frequent bombing of his military installations and infrastructure throughout the Clinton years, was not in a position to launch any acts of aggression against Gulf oil companies or states. Moreover the oil companies had several real prospects of developing lucrative service and commercial oil contracts with Saddam Hussein’s regime in the lead-up to the war. It was the US government pressured by the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC), which pushed legislation blocking (through sanctions) Big Oil from consummating these economic agreements with Iraq.
The argument that Big Oil promoted the war for its own benefit fails the empirical test. A corollary to that is that Big Oil has failed to benefit from the US occupation because of the heightened conflict, continuous sabotage, the predictable resistance of the Iraqi oil workers to privatization and the general insecurity, instability and hostility of the Iraqi people.
The American Left jumped on Alan Greenspan’s declaration that the Iraq war was about oil, as some kind of confirmation in the absence of any evidence. Yet every day that has transpired since the beginning of the war five years ago, demonstrates that Big Oil not only did not promote the invasion, but has failed to secure a single oil field, despite the presence of 160,000 US troops, thirty thousand Pentagon/State Department paid mercenaries and a corrupt puppet regime. As of September 19, 2007 the Financial Times of London featured an article on the conspicuous absence of the Oil Majors in Iraq: Big Oil Plays a Waiting Game over Iraqs Reserves (September 19, 2007). Only a few small companies (oil minnows) have contracts in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan), which has only 3% of Iraq’s reserves. Big Oil did not start the Iraq war, nor has Big Oil benefited from the war. The reason why Big Oil did not support the war is the same reason they haven’t invested after the occupation: The level of violence is still unacceptably high, if anything the prospects of agreement appears to be receding as tensions between parties grow. (ibid) Big Oil’s worst nightmares leading up to the Zionist-influenced war have all been utterly confirmed. Whereas Big Oil’s negotiations and third-party deals with pre-war Iraq provided a stable and consistent flow of oil and revenue, the war has not only reduced these revenues to zero, but has all but eliminated any new options for the next decade.
Despite the war, liberalization elsewhere in the region has proceeded and US oil and financial interests have advanced despite the increased obstacles and hostilities, which have grown out of the US slaughter of Muslims.
Big Oil, Texas billionaires, even big contributors to the Bush family political campaigns were no match for the ZPC when it came to Middle East war policy. They lacked the inside and outside power, the disciplined grass-roots organization of Jewish community organizations to overcome the Zionist warmongering power over Congress, their position in strategic executive offices and their army of academic scribes from Harvard, Yale and Hopkins churning out bellicose propaganda in the US media. What is striking about the position papers and op-ed reprints in the Daily Alert is the total absence of any deviation from official Israeli pro-war positions: Whether it is killing children in Jenin, bombing population centers in Lebanon, shelling Arab families relaxing at the beach in Gaza, the Daily Alert simply echoes the official Israeli line and blatant lies about human shields, accidents, gunmen among school children, self-induced atrocities. Never in the entire period analyzed is there a single critical article questioning Israels massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. No crime against humanity is too great for the Presidents of the Leading American Jewish Organizations to defend. It is this slavish obedience to the official Israeli policy that marks out the Zionist Power Configuration as something much more than just another lobby as its left apologists and even Walt and Mearsheimer claim. The ZPC is much more sinister both as a transmission belt for the policies and interests of a colonial power hell-bent on domination in the Middle East and as the most serious authoritarian threat to our democratic freedoms: no single individual who dares criticize can escape the long hand of the pro-Israel authoritarians. Book sellers are picketed, editors are intimidated, university presses and distributors are threatened, university presidents are blackmailed, local and national candidates are browbeaten and smeared, meetings are cancelled and venues are pressured, faculty are fired or denied promotion, corporations are blacklisted, union pension funds are raided, theater performances and concerts are cancelled. And the list of repressive actions taken by these authoritarian Zionist organizations at the national and local levels runs on, arousing fear among some, anger among many more and a slowly burning resentment and growing awareness among the silent majority. The second geo-political version of war for oil focuses on the national security issues. After the First Gulf War in 1991 and eleven years of economic sanctions and military disarmament, Iraq was an impoverished, weak nation partially dismembered by the US backed Kurdish enclave in the north and constant US bombing and over flights. Iraq was severely bombed several times during the Clinton regimes and over 1 million of its citizens, including an estimated 500,000 children, died prematurely from conditions related to the US imposed deprivation of food and essential medical and water treatment supplies.
Before the invasion in 2003 Iraq did not even control its shorelines, airspace or even a third of its national territory. As the US invasion demonstrated, Saddam’s military lacked the most elementary capacity to mount any defense in a conventional war, not even a single fighter plane presented a threat to any offshore US client or to the Strait of Hormuz. The stiff resistance to the US came later in the form of irregular forces engaged in guerrilla warfare, not from any organized force established by the Baathist regime. In other words no matter how far the concept of national security is stretched to include US military bases, oil installations, client rulers and transport and shipping lanes in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein was clearly not a threat. If however the concept of national security is re-defined to mean the physical elimination of any potential opponent of US and Israeli domination in the region, then Saddam Hussein could be labeled a national security threat. But that takes the discussion of the explanation for the US war against Iraq to another terrain and a discussion of the political forces who manipulated the phony WMD and War for Oil propaganda to justify a war for US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Even more important the disinformation campaign about who was responsible for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is highly relevant to the current propaganda blitz driving us toward a war with Iran.
From the Iraq War Cover-up on to Iran War Propaganda
The pro-Israel power configuration beats the war drums for an assault on Iran with greater insistency and successfully induces the Democratic Congress and Presidential hopefuls as well as the Republican White House to put the military option on the table. Parallel to overt war propaganda, a number of liberal critics of the Iraq war have published articles arguing that Israel really opposed the Iraq war. Writers as diverse as Gareth Porter, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Colonel Wilkerson (Colin Powells Aide), ultra Zion-Con Michael Ledeen and others claim that Israel opposed the war because they wanted the US to target Iran. Others argue that Israel had advised the US that an invasion of Iraq would have dire consequences for the Middle East, tipping the balance toward Iran and which they now claim to have predicted. These Israel-exonerators point to other culprits, namely Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld or the American Neo-Cons (also known as the Zion-Cons) who, they insist, have acted independently of Israel or ignored Israeli priorities in the region.
There is an alternative view, which argues that Israel promoted the US attack on Iraq, did all in its power through its US pro-Israel followers to design, propagandize and plan the war. This alternative view sustains that at no point did the Zion-Cons act contrary to Israeli state interests. In fact, Israeli officials worked on a daily basis with its US agents inside the government, particularly the Pentagons Office of Special Plans to provide disinformation to justify the military attack. If, as we will show, Israel was deeply involved in pushing the US to attack Iraq and is behind the current disinformation campaign to provoke a US war against Iran, then anti-war forces and US public opinion must openly confront the Israel factor.
We will argue that the exoneration of Israel is mainly an attempt to deflect US public hostility away from those Israel Firsters who manipulated us into this costly, bloody unending war. Exoneration of Israeli responsibility for the US invasion of Iraq allows the Jewish state and its US agents to escape any blame for the degradation of US forces in Iraq and provides them a clean moral slate for launching a new bloody US attack against Iran. Rather than seeing Israel as giving us a double dose of an incurable colonial disease, exoneration allows Israel and its agents to follow the same Iraq invasion pattern of manipulation and duplicity in leading us to war with Iran. The White House and Democratic Congress, echoing Israel, are using inflated threats of nuclear attack, demonizing Iran’s leaders, financing low intensity warfare through the training and funding of violent Iranian exile-based clients, economic sanctions and failed diplomatic maneuvers to lead up to a new war. Taking advantage of their liberal (Zion-lib)-led exoneration for their role in the invasion of Iraq, the Zionist Power Configuration, through such loyal mouthpieces as Senator Joseph Lieberman, blame the Iranians for the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq. It is not the Zionist pro-war officials in and out of the government who sent young American soldiers to die in Iraq at the behest of the Israeli state to whom the US public should direct its anger, but rather the Iranians who are accused of arming and training Iraqi resistance fighters. Leaving Israel out and bringing Iran into the debacle in Iraq serves the Israeli purpose of covering their backsides while inciting Americans into a new military adventure against the much larger and better-armed Iranians.
The exonerators of Israel are not homogeneous in their political background or goals. Some liberals, fearful of arousing a powerful Zionist backlash, seek to whitewash Israel’s lobby operatives in the US as a way of gaining sympathy among pro-Israel Congressional Democrats and financial backing from wealthy Jewish liberals critical of the Iraq war. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, following the new Israeli script declared during a visit to Tel Aviv in 2006 that the the US invaded the wrong country!
The price of the exonerate Israel strategy is to overlook the powerful role that the Israel First lobby is playing in bringing us to a new war with Iran as part of a sequence of invasions promoted by Israeli strategists. These clever ploys are backfiring. Playing to the prejudices of the liberal pro-Israel crowd in the Democratic Party has lead to the current absence of any significant anti-war movement against the Zionist-led propaganda and war-mongering blitz against Iran.
There is no question that some anti-war Zion-Libs are trying to put some distance from the Zion-Con/Israeli policymakers who promoted the invasion of Iraq. But this does not come from any opposition to another new and more dangerous military commitment. On the contrary, the Zion-Libs criticize the discredited Bush-Cheney-Iraq policy in favor of a new more aggressive war policy toward Iran. By exonerating Israel and its transmission belt of organized local and national Jewish and fundamentalist Christian organizations, the liberals have not found allies for peace they have revived the powerful influence of Israel and its US apparatus which was being increasingly rejected by the US public and elements in the US military. By putting the blame for the debacle in Iraq exclusively on Bush/Cheney and their allies in Big Oil and excluding the role of Israel, the ZPC and their toadies among the Democrats in Congress, the liberal exonerators, open the way for a new cycle of war in the Middle East. To prevent a future Zionist and Israeli-orchestrated US attack against Iran, we must be perfectly clear about who maneuvered the US into attacking Iraq.
Israel, the ZPC and the Run-up to the Invasion of Iraq
Analytically, the differences between Israeli state policy and the leading US Zionist organizations are, with very rare exceptions, indistinguishable. The run-up to the US attack on Iraq is a case in point. From the late 1980s, through the first Gulf War, the Clinton Administrations sanctions, daily bombings and territorial separation of northern Iraq, Kurdistan, from the rest of the country, to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Israeli government pressured US Congress-people and senior policy makers toward bellicose policies toward Israel’s enemies. Israeli state policy urging further US degradation of Iraq was transmitted through the major Zionist organizations and key Zionist officials in the Clinton and later Bush administrations. Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger, William Cohen and others were the most important foreign policy-makers toward the Middle East in the Clinton Administration and they produced and implemented the sanctions, bombings and territorial dismemberment of Iraq. Following their term of office, key Clinton Zionists went to work at pro-Israeli think tanks in Washington. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Zion-Cons in top level positions in the Bush Administration (Ari Fleischer, Paul Wolfowitz, David Frum, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eliott Abrams, Irving (Scooter) Libby, David Wurmser and others) and key Zionist Congress-members like Senator Joseph Lieberman, called for the US to attack Iraq, as part of a series of sequential wars, to include Syria and Iran. They echoed the policies of the Israeli state and in particular Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Israeli state officials, at no point expressed any reservations or differences with the bellicose efforts of its highly placed liaison agents in the Bush Government, nor with its servile lobby, AIPAC, nor with the pro-Israel Op-Ed writers of the major newspapers and broadcast media. Zionist ideologues prevailed everywhere berating the US military officials for their timid caution. Israel, consistent with its policies since the late 1980s, encouraged the Bush Administration toward an invasion and occupation of Iraq in all of its top level meetings with Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and Bush. The Israeli media, with rare exceptions, demonized Saddam, played up his threat to the Middle East and Israel’s security, conflated Palestinian suicide bombings with Iraqi support for the Palestinian peoples national aspirations, and energized their fundamentalist Christian allies in the US to follow suit in calling for an invasion of Iraq.
An analysis of the relationship between the Israeli state and highly placed Zionist officials in the Bush Administration reveals first and foremost that Tel Aviv laid out the strategic policies of eliminating Middle East regimes opposed to its ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories and unlimited expansion of colonial settlements in Occupied Palestine and the consolidation of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The Zionist elite in the Bush regime invented the pretext and the propaganda for war and most important, successfully designed and operationalized the US invasion of Iraq. This division of labor included the Zion-Cons in the executive branch, backed by the Presidents of the Major Jewish American Organizations (including AIPAC), the regional, state and local Jewish federations through their influence over Congress.
Testimony by former Pentagon analyst, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski confirms that throughout the period leading to the Iraq war, Israeli military officials, intelligence officers and other high-ranking functionaries had daily access with top Zionist Pentagon officials like Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. Frequent consultation, intelligence coordination and joint planning between top Zion-Cons in the Pentagon and top Israeli military operatives in the US indicates that there was close agreement in directing the US to invade Iraq. There was Zion-Con/Israeli agreement, confirmed in the immediate aftermath of the initial successful occupation, that Iraq was the first of a series of invasions in the Middle East, to be followed by attacks against Iran and Syria. The Israeli joke current at the time was: Anyone can take Baghdad, real men go for Tehran. In November 2002, Ariel Sharon, in an interview with the Times of London, called for the bombing of Iran the day after the US invaded Iraq.
The Zion-Con/Israeli blueprint for sequential wars was explicitly stated in the policy paper Project for a New American Century, a kind of American-Israeli Mein Kampf of US world domination in which Israel would be a co-benefactor of American military might and treasure. Most of the Zion-Con designers and executers of US war policy in the Middle East were listed as authors or sponsors of the New American Century Project. Many were also contributors to the policy paper for Likud leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, which specifically called for the dismemberment of Iraq into manageable ethnic enclaves.
Israeli intelligence disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s threat to the region was embellished and adapted to the propaganda needs of the White House. While Israeli propaganda pounded away at Saddam Hussein as the modern Hitler, Zionist propaganda chief and Bush speechwriter, David Frum, repeated the same theme in the infamous Axis of Evil speech in which Bush pronounced before the world his intention to attack other nations preemptively. Given the Israeli regime’s pro-war propaganda it is understandable that Israeli public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the war as were all the leaders of the major American Jewish organizations, but not the majority of American Jews, especially young Jews and those who were not members of any of the Zionist (Israel First) front organizations.
Israeli advisers and Zion-Cons in the US government were highly influential in the dismantling of the entire civilian and military administrative structures in Iraq the so-called de-Baathification campaign in order to decisively weaken any attempt to reconstruct Iraq as a modern secular republic opposed to Israeli regional hegemony. The Israeli policy, pursued by the Zion-Cons, was to fragment the Iraqi state and society into pre-modern ethno-religious entities run by pro-Israeli Iraqi exiles (like Ahmed Chalabi who had business ties with Douglas Feith), incapable of ever challenging Israeli policy in the Middle East.
Israeli Zion-Con policy succeeded in so far as it secured the US destruction of the Iraqi state; but it failed to secure a rapid victory on the road to the second phase of invading Iran, because of the massive armed resistance by the Iraqis. In their blind racism against Arabs, the Israeli officials and their American agents discounted any possibility of Iraqis mounting a people’s war against the destruction of their society. As the Iraqi resistance gained momentum and US military and economic losses multiplied, US public opinion turned against the war and began to ask who was responsible for the military debacle. In the face of this potentially dangerous question Zionist propaganda shifted gears in order to cover their tracks. Top Zionist official who framed the war quickly left the scene, beginning with the most obvious war perpetrators: Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Shumsky in the Pentagon and David Frum and Ari Fleischer in the White House. The hardliners with less overt profiles in the State Department stayed on for a while longer: Elliot Abrams, Scooter Libby, David Wurmser. Libby later was convicted of a felony for his role in exposing the CIA operative married to Ambassador Joseph Wilson in retaliation for Wilson exposing his Zionist cohort’s fabrication of intelligence in the lead up to the war.
War with Iran: The Highest Priority for the ZPC (and Israel)
Israel’s campaign for the destruction of Iran has already led to two acts of war. In June 2006 Israel assaulted Lebanon, aiming, unsuccessfully, to destroy the Shiite political-military organization Hezbollah, an ally of Iran. A little more than a year later (Sept 6, 2007) Israel engaged in an even more provocative act, an unprovoked bombing mission over Syrian territory, destroying a military installation. Since Syria and Iran have a mutual defense pact, the Israeli action was designed to test the willingness of Iran and Syria to respond to a surprise (sneak) military attack.
The propaganda arm of the Israeli intelligence services prepared a piece of disinformation comparable to their earlier weapons of mass destruction lie; they claimed that they bombed a nuclear site which North Korea was constructing and supplying with nuclear material. Israeli disinformation was immediately reproduced verbatim in the leading US newspapers, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times as well as all the major television networks. Pro-Israeli propaganda experts justified the attack and were in turn quoted in the Washington Post (Sept 20, 2007). The Post quoted Bruce Riedel, formerly an intelligence expert at the pro-Israel Saban Center for Middle East Policy (housed in the now discredited Brookings Institute):
There is no question it was a major raid. It was an extremely important target. It came at a time the Israelis were very concerned about war with Syria and wanted to dampen down the prospects of war (sic). The decision was taken despite their concerns it could produce a war (sic). The decision reflects how important this target was to Israeli military planners.
In other words, Israel is concerned about war so it engages in an unprovoked act of war in which the propagandists dont even know the nature of the target!
On September 21, 2007, the principle propaganda sheet (Daily Alert) of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) reproduced the pro-war propaganda cycled through the Washington Post and sendt it out to all top officials and Congressmen in Washington and across the country and activated it’s lobbyists in AIPAC to ensure US support for the blatant Israeli act of war. True to its deceptive propaganda function, the Daily Alert published a highly misleading excerpt from an article in the Financial Times (September 21, 2007 p.4), which combines the Israeli propaganda line of a potential Syria-North Korea nuclear tie without including several paragraphs debunking the Israeli-Zionist disinformation campaign. The Financial Times article quotes Joseph Carccione, Director of Nuclear Policy at the Center for American Progress:
It is highly unlikely that the Israeli attack had anything to do with significant Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation. The basic, well-documented fact is that the 40-year-old Syrian nuclear research program is too basic to support any weapons capability. Universities have larger nuclear facilities than Syria, (Financial Times September 21, 2007, p.4).
A former senior Asian adviser to President Bush and expert on North Korea, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also debunked the Israeli-Zionist nuclear weapon ploy: “I would be very, very surprised if the North Koreans were dumb enough to transfer fissile material to Syria or were trying to do work outside of North Korea in a place like Syria,” (ibid). Equally damaging to the Israeli-Zionist war propaganda, the Bush Administration never raised North Korea’s supposed involvement with Syria during the entire series of meetings during 2007, despite the fact that it was greatly hostile to Syria and looking for any excuse to attack it. In contrast to previous Israeli provocations in which the Bush Administration rushed to vouch for Israel’s pretexts, Bush declined to comment on the Israeli attacks against Syria, likely advised by his intelligence chiefs that it was an Israeli act of provocation hoping to draw in the United States.
The Israeli act of war against Syria and its defense and promotion by the US Zionist Power Configuration is the latest step in bringing the US into a joint war against Iran and Syria. A survey of the Daily Alert (the house organ of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations) from January to September 2007 (180 issues) reveals that there is an average of three articles in each issue calling on the US to engage in acts of war, impose strict economic sanctions and a naval blockade and prepare for a widespread confrontation with Iran. There is not a single voice or article that questions Israel’s pro-war posture. Every issue of the Daily Alert parrots the Israeli line, even when it involves supporting the brutal cutting of electricity, gas and drinking water to over a million trapped civilians in Gaza a war crime under international law. In the words of the Daily Alert, regarding Israeli murders of unarmed teenage Palestinian boys and girls the victims are labeled militants or gunmen. And the Daily Alert describes Israeli peace negotiations as being carried out in good faith despite continued land grabs and assassinations of scores of Palestinians, including young kids. In the time between George W. Bush, US President announcing the (Annapolis) peace meeting on July 16, 2007 and October 15, 2007, the Israeli military had killed 104 Palestinians including 12 children. (Financial Times October 18, 2007 p.4)
After the November 2006 Democratic Party Congressional victory thanks to the increasingly angry anti-Iraq war voters, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Levi attended the AIPAC meeting in Washington to urge the thousands of Zionist activists and a large contingent of US Democratic and Republican congressmen to continue to support the Bush Administration’s occupation of Iraq and incited them toward another war against Iran. In a highly charged screed, she ejaculated on the non-existent existential threat of Iranian nuclear capability. The entire Jewish Lobby picked up the line and went into action.
The scope, depth and centralized structure of the Zionist Power Configuration far exceed anything, which can be properly conceived of as a lobby. In that sense Mearsheimer and Walt in the study of the Israel Lobby underestimate the power and political influence of the pro-Israeli forces. Secondly the measure of the ZPC power must take account of several factors. These include its direct and indirect power. ZPC power is exercised directly on political, academic and cultural decision makers to make sure their policies back pro-Israel, pro-Zionist interests. An even more direct expression of power is when Zionists occupy top decision-making positions and make policies on behalf of Israeli military and economic interests. Elliot Abrams, President Bush’s key Middle East advisor on the National Security Council is one of many examples as is the Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who allocates over three-quarters of available funds for the security of private Jewish organizations.
Equally formidable is the ZPC exercise of indirect power through several mechanisms.
One is by parleying influence over a small group of Congressmen into a large majority. For example, AIPAC wrote up the bill, presented by Senator Lieberman and co-signed by Senator Kyl, labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, which paves the way for Bush to launch an attack. It was passed by 80% of Congress.
Cumulative power is the convergence of different sectors of the ZPC on a single issue. For example, pro-Israel writers and Jewish leaders from all major organizations and spheres of its media from Left to far Right, joined to denounce Mearsheimer and Walt’s essay and subsequent book, most resorting to either ad hominem attacks (anti-Semites) or illogical and convoluted arguments ignoring the empirical data.
Propaganda of the deed is a favorite power tool of the ZPC. This involves publicizing the successful punishment of critics of Israel and the ZPC in order to intimidate current or future policymakers. An example is how Zio-fascist Professor Alan Dershowitz of the Harvard Law School successfully campaigned, with backing from the ZPC, for the ouster of Professor Norman Finkelstein from his university post, thus serving as exemplary punishment to any future academic critics of Israel. Dershowitz campaign went so far as to slander Professor Finkelstein’s deceased mother, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, as a Jewish kapo or Nazi collaborator.
The ZPC has multiple resources that are mutually re-enforcing in both the private, and public spheres. Large-scale, long-term party and electoral financing buy Congressional influence. This in turn increases the power of the large minority of Zionist Congressmen in gaining control over party nominations and committee assignments in Congress. This in turn feeds back into greater influence for the ZPC in shaping US-Middle East foreign policy and facilitating access of pro-Israeli writers to the Op-Ed pages of the major dailies, weeklies and other branches of the corporate media.
Zionist power is also the result of a long-standing, pervasive and totally one-sided propaganda campaign which demonizes Israel’s Arab, especially Palestinian, critics, and paints Israel (the worlds fourth largest and Middle East’s only nuclear power) as a democratic fortress, surrounded by hostile authoritarian governments. Through its access and partial control over most of the major media, the Zionist Power Configuration provides heavily biased reports on events such as the Israeli terror bombings of populations centers in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere. Reputational power projected by the ZPC in the US counteracts reality in the Middle East to the extent that Palestinian victims of all ages and genders, suffering 40 years of Israeli military rule, land expropriation and constant violent assaults are made into aggressors and the Israeli executioners are portrayed as virtuous, peaceful victims.
Israel Lobby or Zionist Power Configuration?
Mearsheimer and Walt describe the pro-Israel power configuration as a lobby, just like any other US lobby, a loose collection of individuals and groups outside of government, acting on behalf of Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The power of Israel in the United States is manifested through a multiplicity of highly organized, well financed and centrally directed structures throughout the United States. The ZPC include several score political action committees with innocuous names, at least a dozen propaganda mills (think tanks) employing scores of former highly connected top policymakers mostly in Washington and the East Coast, and the 52 major American Jewish Organizations grouped under the umbrella listing Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO). AIPAC and other national organizations (ADL, AJC etc ) are important influences at the national Executive-Congressional lobbying levels. But equally or even more important in censoring and purging critics, controlling local media and shaping opinion throughout cities, towns and villages are the local Jewish community federations and organizations which browbeat local cultural programmers, editors, bookstores, universities, churches and civic groups to deny public platforms to speakers, writers, artists, religious spokespeople and other public figures critical of Israel and its Zionist disciples.
The power base of the ZPC is found in the local activist doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate brokers and landlords who preside over the local confederations and their several hundred thousand affiliates. It is they who harass, badger, browbeat, raise money and organize propaganda junkets for elected officials and ensure their support for Israeli wars and increases in the US multi-billion dollar aid packages to Israel. The local Zionist power structure organizes successful campaigns forcing state pension funds to purchase billions of dollars in underperforming Israel state bonds and to disinvest in companies engaged in economic transactions with Israel’s self-described state terrorist adversaries. It is the Jewish based pro-Israel student organizations which spy on US professors, who may or may not be critical of Israel and smear them in local and national newsletters and pressure administrations to fire them. Even where less than 1% of the local population is Jewish, Zionist zealots are able to pressure small private Christian colleges to ban a Nobel Peace Prize winning theologian, like Bishop Desmond Tutu, from speaking on their campus. The Zionist octopus has extended its tentacles far beyond the traditional centers of big city power and national politics, reaching into remote towns and cultural spheres. Not even the American small town obituary pages are exempt: When a Connecticut newspaper published a memorial of a prominent Palestinian grandmother and community leader from Hebron (May 2003) the 61 year old Shadeen abu Hijleh, who was shot in her home by Israeli soldiers, members of the local Jewish confederation expressed outrage at the exposure of Israeli military crimes thus censoring a moving obituary page tribute written by her American friends and relatives.
Centralized structures coordinated policy, targets, quotas, fund raising, large-scale special campaigns, black lists (anti-Semites and self-hating Jews), and networks all are integral parts of the ZPC. Mearsheimer and Walt have failed to analyze the organizational relations between the head office, regional staff and local organizations of the major pro-Israel Jewish organizations and how quickly they can be mobilized to stigmatize, censor or support a given speaker, activity or fund raiser in favor of Israeli interests.
Throughout the country the newsletters of local Jewish Community Relations Councils have parroted the line or reprinted libelous canards of their national offices denouncing Mearsheimer and Walt’s book The Israel Lobby and from their rather ill-informed caricatures of M and W’s discussion it is clear they have barely even read the book’s cover.
One thing is clear from the largely emotional ejaculations from the predominantly Jewish intellectuals attacks against the book, the intellectual level of contemporary Jewish intellectuals has seriously deteriorated to the point that envy, communal spite and partisan vitriol has gotten the better of a reasoned review of data and logic. The literary efforts by Abraham Foxman of the ADL to answer M and W are reminiscent of the Stalinist diatribes featured during the Moscow show trials of the 1930s (our Jewish version of Andrei Vishinsky). What accounts for the influence of these intellectual mediocrities is neither the evil vapors emanating from their venomous writing, nor their appeal to reason though some pretense to reasoned debate is made by Zionist progressives if such exist but the fact that their repetitious messages circulate throughout their mass media outlets uncontested.
The ZPC, having organized the war through falsified data, via the top two officials in the Pentagon (Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith), the Vice Presidents office (Wurmser and Irving Scooter Libby) and the National Security Council (Elliot Abrams) organized the President’s office (Ari Fleischer) and written Bush’s pre-emptive war speech (David Frum) are now fearful they will face the anger of the American people who have suffered the loss of thousands of soldiers. To avoid identification with this disastrous war, Zionist Power Configuration War planners and propagandists have resorted to lies (denial of the crucial role of Israel in bringing the US to war) and the somewhat more clever operators like Alan Greenspan have joined the mindless American left to drag out the old canard of War for Oil.
War For Oil or War For Israel: The Public Record
Zionist Power Configuration support for the Iraq War was an open, relentless, propaganda campaign by well-known writers, publicists, and community leaders as well as by the 52 leading Jewish organizations. There was no conspiracy or cabal the Zionist campaign was brazenly public, aggressive and reiterative.
A systematic review of the major propaganda organ of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations newsletter, Daily Alert, from 2002 to September 2007 - 1,760 issues - provides us with a scientific sample of ZPC opinion. On average, each issue contained 5 articles in favor of the war or moves toward war with Iraq and/or Iran. The Daily Alert featured op-ed articles by the major liberal, conservative and Zio-fascist writers and academics which regularly appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the New York Sun, and the New York and Los Angeles Times, the Daily Telegraph and Times of London, YNet and others. In other words, in the crucial pre-war to post-invasion period, the leading pro-Israel Jewish organizations produced approximately 8,800 pieces of pro-Iraq war propaganda and circulated it to all its member organizations, every Congressman, every leading member of the executive branch with follow-ups by local activists and an army of Washington lobbyists (150 from AIPAC alone) plus several hundred full-time activists from local and regional offices.
In a comparable survey of the leading Anglo-American business and financial newspaper, the Financial Times between 2002 and September 2007, regarding Big Oil’s policy toward war with Iraq and now Iran is just as revealing. I reviewed the opinion, editorial and letter pages of 1,872 issues of the Financial Times and there is not a single article or letter by any spokesperson or representative of a major (or minor) oil company calling for the invasion and occupation of Iraq or the bombing of Iran. There was no oil lobby or grass roots organization demanding Congress or the Bush Administration to go to war in defense of US oil interests. But the ZPC was active, promoting the lie that disarmed and embargoed Iraq represented an existential threat to the nuclear armed Israel.
A similar comparison of Zionists and Big Oil regarding propaganda for a US military confrontation with Iran reinforces the argument of the centrality of the major Jewish organizations in promoting United States involvement in Middle East wars for Israel. Between 2004 and September 2007 (3 years and 9 months) the Zionist propaganda sheet, the Daily Alert, published 960 issues in which an average of 6 articles argued for an immediate or near future US or Israeli preemptive military attack on Iran, tougher economic sanctions than the Security Council was willing to support, organized disinvestment and boycotts of Iran. A survey of the Financial Times during the same period, 1053 issues, (the FT prints 6 times a week, the Daily Alert 5 times), fails to produce a single letter or op-ed article by any representative or spokesperson of Big Oil supporting war against Iran. On the contrary, as was the case with Iraq, major oil leaders expressed anxiety and fear that an Israeli instigated war would destabilize the entire area and lead to the destruction of vital oil installations, undermine transport routes and shipping lanes and cancel lucrative service contracts. Contrary to the latest Zionist propaganda, Big Oil wants the US to lift its sanctions against investment in Iran, since it has lost lucrative deals to competitors.
In complete contradiction to the leftist Trotskyist-Zionist finger pointing at Big Oil as the main push for war, big Texas oil was working profitably with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, signing hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal contracts with the now executed ruler. Oscar Wyatt, a Texas oil billionaire, recently convicted for paying bribes to Saddam Hussein, was one of many big oil dealers involved in the lucrative pre-war oil trade with Iraq (Financial Times Oct. 2, 2007, p.2).
Zionist Warmongering: Fear and Venom
As the pressure from Israel for a US-backed military attack on Iran mounts, and as top US military officials and the general public grow increasingly hostile to Zionist arm twisting and gross manipulation of policy makers, the ZPC turns aggressively authoritarian in its effort to silence opposition which exposes its role as a disloyal actor for a foreign power. In the past, agents for a foreign power, once detected, usually received severe sanction or worse. Today, numerous Zionist insiders know they are playing an increasingly risky game as the perceived costs of a new war with Iran rise and their Israeli handlers press them to promote an attack on Iran at the top of their agenda.
Ultimately, the Zionist Power Configuration, despite their wealth and current dominance over US Middle East policy, know that they represent less than 1% of the population: They are an elite without a mass base. They have power only as long as the other 99% of the population is inactive, manipulated or intimidated to serve Israel’s interests. But as the growing flow of books, articles and speeches begin to call attention to the Israeli-directed ZPC and their destructive war-mongering activities, their self-promoted images of their members as brilliant professionals, successful leaders in the world of business and finance and compassionate politicians serving the best interests of the USA, begins to erode. The ugly side of their servile loyalty to Israel, an arrogant, racist colonial power provoking wars via the US to establish itself as an unchallenged regional power has entered into the American public debate.
The ZPC is at or near the peak of its political power in Congress, the Executive, the Office of Homeland Security and prospective Attorney General, in culture and the mass media propaganda. But paradoxically, as the ZPC peaks, it also exposes more of itself much more than it wants to be seen by the American public.
Even the brash and impudent Zionist polemicists who hole up in the prestigious universities and think tank-propaganda mills are beginning to feel public anxiety, even perhaps private worries. As they do so, they back track, trying to cover their fingerprints on all the war plans and propaganda leading to the now-massively unpopular invasion of Iraq. They resort to outright lies in the form of denials or complicity or war-mongering. Outrageous denials abound! For the more aggressive die-hard Zion-Cons, exposure of the disloyal role of the ZPC and their complicity evokes savage rejoinders, academic screed in the gutter language of ad hominem abuse which reflects poorly on their vaunted academic positions. The ZPC, its scribes, operatives and power brokers are vulnerable they have committed great crimes against the interests of the American people. Their actions have led to the death and maiming of tens of thousands of US soldiers, 99.9% of whom have no loyalties to the interest of greater Israel or its US agents who have their own children pursuing lucrative civilian careers. Recent estimates found less than 0.2% of US soldiers serving on the ground in Iraq are American Jews, some of whom were Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. This despite the strong Zionist pressure to invade and destroy Iraq and Iran. The manipulations of the ZPC in pushing the Bush Administration into invading and occupying Iraq has led the US military into an unprecedented state of disgrace and demoralization, with thousands of officers tendering their early retirement, thousands of troops going AWOL and facing court-martial, and an increasing number of retired senior officers expressing outrage. It is no surprise that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates secured the support of top military officers in the Middle East in opposing an immediate invasion of Iran.
Zionist vituperation against their critics expresses fears of exposure and unmasking of their double discourse, their false amalgamation of Israeli colonial policies with the democratic values of the American people. Nothing else can explain the shrill verbal personal assaults aimed at killing the messenger rather than facing unpleasant realities and working to rectify a disastrous situation. While the state of Israel has placed its American promoters in an uncomfortable position as the occupation of Iraq crumbles and Americans resist shrill calls for attacking Iran, nevertheless Israel has turned out to be the real winner, in the short term, having achieved the destruction of the unified, secular republic of Iraq.
From a Scratch to Gangrene: The Transition from Zionism to Zion-Fascism
The mainstream Zionist conservatives early on demonstrated their authoritarian politics through their whole-hearted and un-problematical support for Israel’s brutal campaigns driving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands. Subsequently, the Zion-Cons fully and un-questioningly endorsed the killing and jailing of thousands of Palestinian civilians protesting the Israeli military occupation and conversion of the occupied West Bank and Gaza into open air concentration camps, with over 500 military outposts and roads blocks. More recently the entire leadership of the major Jewish organizations, comprising both Zion-Cons and Zion-Libs, defended Israel’s building of a massive 30 meter wall, effectively corralling the entire Palestinian population in ghettos resembling the walls constructed around the huge Jewish population in Warsaw by the Nazis. The wall and the military outposts strangle trade, movement of food and people from the occupied territories to markets, schools and hospitals and prevent farmers from even tilling their lands.
On October 10, 2007 the Jerusalem Post quoted Aron Soffer, head of research and lecturer at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) National Defense College. The 71-year old father of 4 and grandfather of 8 had said on May 21, 2004:
When 2.5 million people live in a closed off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. Its going to be a terrible war. So if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day every day.
This is the literal message of murder taught to Israeli officers at their most advanced military school by eminent Zion-Fascist lecturers. This helps us understand the naked brutality and homicidal behavior of Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories.
A recent Israeli study by two prominent psychologists illustrates the deep strain of sadism and racism inculcated by Israels military academies and backed by Israel’s top politicians, including the Prime Ministers Office. According to Haaretz on September 21, 2007, two Israeli psychologists interviewed 21 Israeli soldiers, who expressed their innermost emotions about the horrendous crimes, in which they took part: murder, breaking the bones of Palestinian children, acts of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft. One of the Israeli psychologists was shocked to find that the soldiers enjoyed the intoxication of power and had pleasure from using violence. She said, Most of my interviewees enjoyed their own instigated violence during the occupation. (Haaretz September 21, 2007) Absolute colonial domination brings out the psychopathic tendencies in an occupation army. Soldier C testified, If I didn’t enter Rafah (Palestinian City in Gaza) to put down some rebellion at least once a week I’d go beserk. Like previous colonial occupiers, the Israeli soldiers adopt a totalitarian super-race complex. Soldier D testified:
What is great is that you dont follow any law or rule. You feel that YOU ARE THE LAW. Once you go into the Occupied Territory YOU ARE GOD!
The soldiers internalization of the powerful Zion-fascist ideology provides a self-justification in the eyes of the interviewees for castrating a man, bashing in the face of a woman protester, shooting an innocuous pedestrian, breaking the arm of a 4-year old child and other gratuitous acts of random violence.
The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations never ever mention, let along criticize, the daily psychopathic behavior of the IDF. Major Jewish billionaire philanthropists contribute hundreds of millions in support of the IDF’s violent occupation and repression of Palestinian civilians, described with cruel pleasure by the soldier-subjects of the Israeli study. In fact, the biggest Zionist contributor to the Democratic Party, Haim Saban ($12.3 million dollars in 2002), has a soft spot for Israeli combat soldiers. According to Haaretz (September 12, 2006), Saban declared, ”I cant handle combat soldiers, whenever I have any interaction with them I cry.” There is a powerful emotional bond that links Israeli Zion-fascism to its US counterparts. Saban arrogantly points to the primacy of his loyalty to Israel, I strut around like a peacock in America and say I am an Israeli-American. (Haaretz October 14, 2007). The formerly respectable Brookings Institute now houses the Saban Center, financed by Haim Saban, turning Brookings into just another of a dozen propaganda mills churning out apologetics for the totalitarian practices of the IDF their leading research directors and their Prime Minister. The deadly sentimentality of the Israeli-American billionaires toward the psychopaths in the IDF does not extend to the young Americans serving Israel’s interests as US soldiers in Iraq and who are suffering the burdens of a war to extend Israel’s regional power. Saban, like the great majority of the top leaders of the most influential Zionist organizations, is pushing for another war, this time with Iran. According to Saban, I would try other things first, but if they dont work, then attack . In Iran you go in and wipe out their infrastructure completely. Plunge them into darkness. Cut off their water. (Haaretz October 14, 2007). These are not the homicidal ranting of a fanatical Jewish settler beating a pre-adolescent Palestinian shepherd. Saban is a major leader in AIPAC, family friend and political broker of the Clintons and the entire current Israeli leadership. His $2.8 billion dollars buys the fawning attention of all major US presidential candidates courting Jewish support (MSNBC, October 14, 2007).
The Zionist Power Configuration has buried 3 top level political initiatives designed to reach a settlement of the Israeli colonial occupation of Palestine. A statement to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice sent by former top political officials of both political parties, including Brzezinski, Lee Hamilton, Brent Scowcroft and others calling for Israel to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338 and other initiatives, was totally dismissed by the Democratic Congress and the Republican White House, after the ZPC intervened and labeled Brzezinski as hostile to Israel following the Israeli state’s complete dismissal of the statement. Tony Blair’s efforts as head of the Quartet Peace-Making Mission has been a total failure in resolving even the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians, in the face of Israeli intransigence and rejection of any but the most banal conversations with the now subdued (formerly so frenetic) ex-British Prime Minister (Guardian October 13, 2007). Secretary Rice’s efforts to organize a Middle East peace conference for late November in Annapolis, Maryland were diluted to the point of pointlessness by Israeli pronouncements. Israel rejects any substantive agreements on borders, timetables, Jerusalem, settlements, territory etc… They insist the conference focus on meaningless general agreements that commit them to nothing. In action designed to further humiliate US Secretary of State Rice, the Israeli government illegally seized several hundred acres of Palestinian lands a clear example of extending the settlements (Al-Jazeera October 14, 2007). While trying to appear stylish in a dunce cap, Secretary Rice responded that the new Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land might erode confidence in the parties commitment to a two state solution (BBC October 14, 2007).
Recognizing that the ZPC has completely tied up her negotiation position, that she cannot demand anything substantive from Israel, Secretary Rice has signaled the futility of the Annapolis meeting by calling for lower expectations, that is no agreements of substance. There is good reason to believe that Israel and its Fifth Column have effectively scuttled Bush’s own Annapolis initiative. Even US clients like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and even the Palestinian puppet Abbas have expressed doubts since there are no substantive agreements on state boundaries, anathema to Israel and the ZPC. Whether the conference is postponed or actually takes place, the event promises to be another inconsequential gesture, another US Middle East defeat, another victory for Israel’s colonial status quo and another reason for increased Arab resistance in the Middle East.
What is more ominous, Israel and the ZPC will find that their successful sabotage of the White House Annapolis Peace Conference is likely to encourage them to press ahead with further violent seizures in the Occupied Territories, new more deadly incursions in Lebanon and Syria and heightened pressure for war with Iran. Zion-fascism feeds into the sense of irresistible power over US Middle East policy against any major US institutional force, which fails to follow the Israeli line.
Along with the right-wing radicalization of Zion-Con ideology with regard to Israel’s push toward totalitarian solutions, came overt manifestations of racist anti-Islamic, anti-Arab and anti-Persian practices and speeches from leading Zion-Con spokespeople and especially academic propagandists in the United States.
War propaganda and military solutions dominate Zion-Con rhetoric: first against Palestine, then Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia and Sudan. Accompanying the radicalization of Zion-con rhetoric is a growing number of repressive acts within US society.
The ZPC and Holocaust Denial: At the Service of Israel
Leading Zionist Democrats following Israeli directives played a major role in undermining a Congressional resolution condemning as genocide the Turkish murder of 1.5 million Armenians. For many years the state of Israel and its academic specialists both in Israel as well as in the US have denied Turkish-led Genocide against the Armenians in their ancient homeland between 1915-1917 despite the voluminous documentary record compiled by scholars throughout the world. One reason is that the Jewish Holocaust industry insists on the exclusive franchise on 20th century genocide, in order to push its fundraising and propaganda efforts. An even more important contemporary reason for Israeli and US Zionist holocaust denial is the close military collaboration between Israel and Turkey and more recently the heavy presence of Israeli military advisers and secret police (Mossad) operations in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, dubbed Kurdistan.
Former member of the Israeli armed services, US Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, opposed the resolution from the start and convinced a group of senior House Democrats to demand the Democratic Congressional leadership drop plans for a vote on the measure. Deeply implicated with the interests of Israel, Emanuel has both feet in the terrain of an Israeli-defined Middle East reality. Congressman Emanuel cynically rationalized his service for the state of Israel in a convoluted statement: ”This vote (on the Armenian genocide) came face to face with the reality on the ground in that region of the world.” (NT Times, October 16, 2007) The Israeli fifth column in the US Congress has extended the scope of its control beyond narrow focus on the contemporary Middle East and Israel’s quest for regional dominance to encompass historical issues involving non-Arab, non-Muslim people who indirectly affect Israeli strategic interests. Israeli strategists see the Congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide as provoking Turkish hostility to the US, increasing the likelihood of an invasion against the US and Israeli-backed Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. Israeli officials have been training and arming Kurdish commandos to engage in terrorist activities in Iran and elsewhere on the Turkish, Iranian and Syrian border. A Turkish land invasion and aerial attack would, at a minimum, destroy or disarticulate these terrorist bases and more likely lead to a generalized Kurdish mobilization in defense of the Kurdish irregulars. The Kurds are loyal clients and their Pershmerga militias play an integral role in ethnic cleansing of non-Kurds in Northern Iraq and savage repression in Central Iraq as US-led mercenary forces against the Iraq Arab resistance. A Turkish invasion is likely to result in the transfer of the Kurdish military toward their Turkish frontier, undermining US control in Iraq and weakening their assaults on Iran. The Israelis will have to choose between its alliance with Turkey, its only consequential ally in the Middle East, by withdrawing its operative and arms sales from Kurdish Northern Iraq or its support for Kurdish separatists.
The entire ZPC was on maximum alert to block or defeat the Armenian resolution in the US Congress in order to show Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that Israel is using its power over the US Congress on Turkey’s behalf. In this conflict between, on the one hand, millions of Americans who abhor genocide wherever it occurs and whoever is victimized and the influential Armenian lobby, and, on the other hand, a few dozen highly placed Israel First Congress members and their billionaire Zionist political contributors, the latter won out. Even on an issue as palpable as genocide, the ZPC has no fear or shame in opposing a symbolic resolution recognizing a world-historic crime.
The Zionist Congressional victory on the Armenian resolution illustrates in the most graphic manner the way Israeli interests degrade our institutions and values. The fact that many Congress-members, including the majority of Democrats, were initially convinced of the justice of passing the resolution, and later under the pressure of the Zionist Congressional leadership, withdrew their support, is indicative of just how far Congress has degenerated into a Zionist colonized institution. Not only does Congress ignore its electorate, the values of the people who elected them, but also they surrender their own values and conscience, for what Seymour Hersh aptly refers to as New York Jewish money.
The Israeli effort to head off a Turkish attack on their Kurdish clients is closely related to their efforts to undermine Iranian defenses and gain intelligence via terrorist commando operations by Kurdish irregulars.
The centerpiece of activity for all the major national, state and local pro-Israeli Jewish organizations is to isolate and destroy Iran, by economic sanctions and a massive military attack by the US. There is absolutely no consideration of the millions of Iranians who would be killed, injured or made homeless by a US or Israeli effort to wipe Iran off the map.
The major recipient of New York (and Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago) Jewish money is Hillary Clinton, the most hawkish Democratic war monger in the 2008 president race, in fact the most hawkish Democratic candidate since the Vietnam war era. Clinton, in a recent article in Foreign Affairs, has all but written the date and the weapons with which the US will strike Iran. She argues that Iran poses a long-term strategic challenge to America and its allies and that it must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons . If Iran does not comply, all options must remain on the table. (Guardian, October 15, 2007).
Israel keeps a box-score on how servile US presidential candidates are to Israeli state interests and obedient to the dictates of the Israel lobby. Clinton, by far, is the Zionist choice among Democratic presidential candidates. They have forgiven her for kissing Suha Arafat over a decade ago, because she has kissed both cheeks of each and all male and female Zionist lobbyists and Israeli officials in Washington and applauded the repression of Palestinians. Clinton aroused the passion and pleasure of the pro-Israel Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization by being the only Democratic presidential candidate to support the Senate resolution calling on the US government to declare the Iranian governments Revolutionary Guards, an elite division of Teheran’s military, to be a terrorist entity, thus providing the Bush administration with a justification for a massive pre-emptive attack against Iran and its infrastructure.
Both in terms of financing war resolutions and sanctions campaigns against Iran, in terms of lobby authored legislation and Congressional speeches, of hours campaigning for an attack on Iran, of op-ed columns published and media pundits comments, the Zionist Power Configuration exceeds by a multiple of ten any other group in pushing for a war with Iran. Not only do the Zionists monopolize the attack Iran propaganda, but they are leading all other authoritarian groups in silencing US critics of this aggressive military option.
Let us be perfectly clear that the ZPC, the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, the Rahm Emanuels (Israeli-Americans) controlling the Democratic caucus agenda do not always and everywhere speak for the majority of American Jews, especially on the denial of the Turkish genocide of the Armenians. Pugnacious ADL President Abraham Foxman found out in Waltham, Massachusetts that both the local Armenian-American community and their Jewish-American compatriots and neighbors do not tolerate the denial of genocide even by the ADL. Substantial sectors of American Jews object to Clinton’s war mongering and find her servile truckling to Israeli officials offensive, even obscene. Zionist polls reveal the majority of educated young American Jews are less and less interested in Israel and its local Fifth Column much to the chagrin of the self-styled leaders of the community. Saying that a Jewish minority speaks in the name of an unwilling majority, however, does not lessen its power and stranglehold over US political institutions and public opinion with regard to policy or appropriations touching on the Middle East or Israeli-defined interests.
Jew-haters became the agitation slogan animating the Zion-con purge of public forums and a call for mass direct action by hundreds of local Jewish notables and community councils. Even Presbyterian elders were brow-beaten by Jewish Zionists because of their tepid stand divesting from US companies involved in oppressing Palestinians.
There is no transcendent event, which defines the moment in which Zion-conservatism became Zion-fascism. The transition was an evolutionary process, during which racism, militarism and authoritarianism developed a mass community base and took hold over time and became the definitive modus operendi of the ZPC.
Like earlier fascist movements, Zion-fascism subscribes to racialist doctrines of knowledge; according to Zionist epistemology only Jews can (if they dare) criticize Jews as knowledge of Jewry is monopolized by a closed communally defined people. This Zion-fascist theory of knowledge is buttressed by the frequent utterances of progressive or leftist Zionists who frequently dismiss or warn non-Jewish writers that they enter the Jewish debate at their peril.
Zion-fascism is not merely an ideological expression of a marginal group of unbalanced extremists its ideology and practice, in full or part, has been taken over by mainstream Jewish organizations.
Zionist Authoritarianism on the March
Grassroots Zionist-led authoritarianism, practicing coercion, repression and financial blackmail in defense of Israel and the ZPC is occurring in every region of the country, in every sphere of social, cultural and academic life at an accelerating pace. Below we cite a small sample of cases which have gotten national and even international attention and which illustrate a far more extensive pattern. We lack a comprehensive data bank to cover the hundreds of incidents of Zionist intimidation and thought control which occur on a weekly basis and go unreported by their victims for fear of retaliation or because they would not receive sympathetic public attention given the media bias. In informal interviews, writers and journalists have reported to me visits by local Jewish notables and members of the Jewish Community Councils to local newspaper editors to demand the firing of columnists who dared to criticize, for example, Israel’s horrific invasion of Lebanon. After one such visit and talk, a local columnist never ventured to criticize or even write about the Middle East. This is not a matter confined to the United States. In 2004, after I wrote an article for the Mexico City daily, La Jornada, critical of Israel’s savage repression of Palestinians in Jena and the US Zionist apology for mass killings, the Israeli Ambassador in Mexico visited the editors to demand they discontinue publishing my articles. The editor refused to accede at that time, but immediately afterwards they published several vicious personal attacks by their regular columnists (one a Troskyist, and the other a Jewish dentist) labeling my critiques as Nazi propaganda , in line with the Protocols of Zion. This was in a reputed independent progressive daily newspaper.
Private visits, abusive phone calls by Zionist zealots, including death threats are not uncommon practices among respectable Zion-fascists. One incident involved a local doctor who received a visit to her office by a fanatical Zionist colleague complaining of her letter to the local newspaper criticizing the role of the Zionists in financing the electoral defeat of Georgia Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney because of her criticism of Israeli policy. She was warned that it was anti-Semitic to criticize the activities of organized Jewry in destroying politicians, especially Black politicians, for their support of Palestinian civil rights. African Americans, she was told, were increasingly ungrateful to American Jews, who had lead and financed the civil rights struggle, and therefore had to be taught a history lesson. A local group of notables had chosen her Harvard-educated Zionist colleague to deliver this message. When he declared himself a Jew and a Zionist, she countered that she was an anti-fascist and an anti-Zionist and pointed to the door but not before asking him how an educated man of high professional standing could stomach such a degrading task of trying to censor a colleague. These types of visits from respectable Zionists intimidate others with less standing and intestinal fortitude.
When presented with the manuscript of my book, The Power of Israel in the United States, many of my previous editors informed me that it would make a great book but they didn’t want to face the backlash, threats and vituperation that they expected from the ZPC, Jewish academics, writers on contract and publishers. Even the publisher and editor who finally agreed to publish my MS expressed real fear of Zionist hostility and eventually a dozen or so Jewish academics cancelled book orders for their classes.
A sample of the most publicized cases of Zionist efforts to silence and purge American society of critics of Israel and the Zionist Power Configuration includes the case of over one thousand Zionist alumni of Barnard College campaigning to deny tenure to Professor Nadia Abu el-Haj for publishing Facts on the Ground , her ground-breaking critique on Israeli archeologists efforts to erase centuries of continued Palestinian presence in the Holy Lands (Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2007).
More recently there was the public campaign to rescind Colombia University’s invitation to Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmedinejad resulting in an unprecedented insulting introductory address by the President of Colombia University.
Banning the successful British play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, based on the writings of the murdered American activist, from scheduled performances in New York, Miami and Toronto caused consternation among theater goers and actors on both sides of the Atlantic. The Israeli soldier who murdered the young woman was exonerated in Israel while Rachel’s words were banned from the cultural capital of her own country.
Even more recently, the Chicago Council of Global Affairs bowed to pressure from the Zionist lobby and cancelled a lecture by the respected professors of political science, John Mearsheimer and Stephan Walt because of their critical study The Israel Lobby.
The list goes on to include the cancellation of a concert by Marcel Khalife in San Diego, California and the cancellation of an invitation to Nobel Peace Prize winner, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu because of his criticism of Israeli apartheid policies in the occupied territories.
There was a successful campaign to prevent author Susan Abulhawa from presenting her gripping novel, The Scar of David, at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Bayside, New York. This was followed by a cyberspace attack on the author to undermine a scheduled speaking tour. This pro-Israel attack was led by 14 rabbis and the President of the Queens Jewish Community Council.
The University of Michigan Press was pressured to withdraw distribution of Joel Kovel’s Overcoming Zionism, violating a contract with his publisher, Pluto Press. The University Press then threatened to stop distribution of all books published by Pluto Press.
The recent Congressional Hearings of a blue ribbon committee, which finally got around to investigating the Israeli military attack on the USS Liberty (after 40 years of successfully preventing an official investigation through the pressure of the Israel lobby) found Israel guilty of the deliberate killing and maiming of over 100 US service personnel. Its explosive findings, published in the Congressional Record, never appeared in the print and broadcast media.
In violation of United Nations resolutions, Israel’s military aggressions against Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, were rewarded by the US Congress with an additional $30 billion dollars in military aid over the next 10 years (NY Times, August 16, 2007). At a time of record US deficits and cuts in domestic health programs for poor children and educational services, the vote to give Israel an additional $30 billion dollars passed with virtually no opposition or even discussion.
Australian journalist and documentary maker, John Pilger produced a searing critique of Israel entitled Palestine is Still the Issue which has been viewed all over the world. Its scheduled showing on the public educational channel in San Francisco was blocked by a campaign led by the Jewish Community Relations Council.
The bilingual Arabic-English public middle school in New York City named after the Lebanese Christian poet, Kahil Gibran, was attacked by the ZPC (NY Times August 11, 2007) leading to the firing of its Arab American Principal. Her crime was accurately translating the Arabic word intifada into shaking off instead of ranting against the Palestinian rights movement in the Occupied Territories. The Zionist-controlled United Federation of Teachers actively backed the blatant purge of one of its own members for her thought crimes.
At San Francisco State College there was a campaign led by the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco to ban a mural depicting a famous Palestinian cartoon character, a little boy defiant before Israeli occupiers. The subject in question was a child holding a key in his hand, which, according to the local Jewish leadership represented a veiled reference to Palestinian right of return to Israel (Jewish Forum, August 10, 2007).
One of the most bitter and successful Zionist Purge campaigns was to deny tenure to highly respected scholar, Professor Norman Finkelstein of De Paul University in Chicago. The purge, led by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, was a direct response to Finkelstein’s numerous scholarly studies critical of Israel and the exploitation of the Holocaust to further the aims of the Zionist Power Configuration.
Despite the recommendations of three academic committees at Yale University, Zionist millionaire philanthropists were able to block the appointment of renowned Middle East specialist, Professor Juan Cole. The millionaires threatened to withdraw contributions and several Zionist professors prepared a scurrilous attack on Professor Cole (June 1, 2006).
A campaign was mounted to pressure several state pension funds to divest funds from any company doing business with Iran and pushing the funds to invest in Israel bonds. This has so far succeeded in Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. Several state governors were persuaded while on Zionist-paid junkets to Israel (Houston Chronicle, July 18, 2007). During one of these junkets, the now disgraced New Jersey Governor McGreevy met an Israeli operative with whom he formed a homosexual relation and later had him installed as Homeland Security Chief for the State of New Jersey, until the FBI intervened. McGreevy resigned from office after denouncing the Israeli, Golan Cipal, for blackmail.
The Anti-Defamation League, pro-Israel transmission belt, forced the only Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, to recant and humiliate himself for daring to compare the tactics of the Bush Administration to the Nazis (Jewish Telegraph Agency, July 20, 2007). As in the case of Congresswoman McKinney, Zionist punishment against African-American politicians is particularly vehement.
The major Zionist organizations led by the American Jewish Committee successfully mobilized the major US trade union bureaucrats to denounce the United Kingdom’s militant trade unions boycotts of Israel (Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2007). The AFL-CIO unions are under the thumb of the ZPC and have purchased over $5 billion dollars of their members pension funds in Israel bonds which consistently under-perform market indexes, thus costing their 12 million members many millions in investment returns each year.
The dean of religion Barry Levin, a pro-Israel activist at McGill University recently fired Professor Norman Cornelt after 15 years of teaching for his support of Palestinian human rights (Montreal Gazette, June 2, 2007).
Every major newspaper published editorials and scurrilous book reviews attacking former US President Jimmy Carter’s critical study, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. This was part of a high-priority propaganda campaign coordinated by major Zionist organizations and prominently included Professor Alan Dershowitz (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2007).
The prominent Jewish writer, Professor Tony Judt of New York University was dis-invited from a scheduled talk at the Polish Consulate because of Zionist opposition to his criticism of Israeli policy.
Bnai Brith of Vancouver, Canada attacked a Canadian web site called Peace, Earth and Justice forcing the removal of 18 articles critical of Israel.
In early 2007 the ZPC intervened in the US Civil Rights Commission and introduced a section equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and slandered dozens of academic Middle Eastern studies programs as centers of campus anti-Semitism. The Middle East Studies Association of North America, the major academic group, wrote a reasoned refutation on June 11, 2007.
Plans to construct a mosque for the Muslim community in Roxbury, Massachusetts were attacked in a campaign by the David Project, a Zionist front group affiliated with the Jewish Community Council of Greater Boston.
On the basis of secret testimony by Israeli intelligence agents and backed by the ZPC terrorism charges were made against 16 members of a US Islamic charity. A Texas court convicted them of crimes against Israel, even though many of the accused were US citizens and had no access to challenge their hooded accusers, Israeli secret agents operating in the US. The lead defendant, Dr. Rafil Dhofer received a sentence of 22 years for an Israeli crime although he was never convicted of any crime committed in the US. The defendants and their attorneys were never allowed to question the secret foreign witnesses.
Campus Zion-fascist organizations run by their little fuehrer David Horowitz, routinely bait blacks, Latinos and Arab Americans by praising the benefits of the African slave trade and defend the use of torture and assassination by Israelis and their US counterparts in Iraq and Guantanamo. In addition, they smear professors not sufficiently favorable to Zionism, spy on instructors, disrupt classes, bring lawsuits for anti-Zionist bias against teachers, other students and college administrators throughout the US.
Despite the Zionist turn to fascist tactics and embrace of authoritarian-coercive measures, the fact of the matter is they still only have partial control over civil society and political power. Some of the Zion-fascist power plays were, at least temporarily, defeated in specific circumstances. The play, My Name is Rachel Corrie played to packed houses in London, Seattle and other courageous cities even as it was banned in New York, Toronto and Miami.
Norman Finkelstein was fired, but he got powerful support throughout the academic world and was able to negotiate monetary compensation for De Paul Universitys cowardly betrayal of one of its faculty. Above all, Professor Finkelstein is fighting back.
The University of Michigan was forced to distribute Kovel’s book even as they threatened to cancel their contract with his publisher, Pluto Press.
The lesson is clear: the rise of Judeo-fascism represents a clear and present danger to our democratic freedoms in the United States. They do not come with black shirts and stiff-arm salutes. The public face is a clean-shaved, necktied, pink-jowled attorney, real estate philanthropist or Ivy League professor. They work hard to send the family members of non-Zionists to fight wars in the Middle East in the interest of Greater Israel. And they tells us to keep quiet or face slander, ostracism in our communities, loss of jobs or worse. And it is the exemplary punishment of the many small voices, which keeps the number of vocal critics low until recently. There is rising anger and hostility in America against the ZPC, against its arrogant authoritarian communal attacks on our democratic values. Sooner or later there will be a major backlash and it ill behooves those who, through vocation or conviction, engaged in the firings, censoring and intimidation campaigns against the American majority. The American people will not remember their cries of anti-Semitism they will recall their role in sending thousands of American soldiers to their death in the Middle East in the interests of Israel.
Let us hope that those who seek justice will not use the same authoritarian laws like the Patriot Act, nor the harsh interrogation techniques of degradation (torture) and anti-Arab/Muslim practices promoted by the Zionists in the Pentagon, Congress, Justice Department and Homeland Security. Those who oppose Zionism need to abide solidly by higher moral standards.
It is time to discard the two-state premise
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently argued, ‘What is required is creative, novel thinking in order to resolve these complex [peacemaking] issues.’ Netanyahu has never been so right.
The current Mideast peace talks will fail, as befell predecessors, because they are based on a flawed premise blocking the conflict’s resolution. The proposed solution is based on an uneven partition of the land. Israeli Jews, who make up roughly 50 percent of the population, would receive at least 78 percent of the land – and probably more – while the Palestinians who comprise the other half of the population would receive what remains.
Over the last 100 years countless attempts have been made to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via partition. All have failed. Today, with Israelis living comfortably in all parts of the country, including major parts of the West Bank, there is no reason to expect the current attempt will fare any better. On the contrary, one can count on further attempts at partition to fail.
This solution, a two-state outcome wrongly regarded as the only game in town, is based on the Zionist narrative claiming that Jewish Israelis have a greater right to the land than do the Palestinians. The current state of affairs in Israel/Palestine is that 10 million people are ruled by the State of Israel but live under different laws. Israeli Jews enjoy a free democratic society, Palestinians who are Israeli citizens make do with limited rights within Israel, Palestinians within the West Bank suffer from a dual system of law, while those in Gaza are confined to an open-air prison over which Israel maintains ultimate control.
Israeli forces may detain or kill Palestinians at will and without due process. Furthermore, Israel can easily confiscate land and other property from Palestinians. Recourse by Palestinians stripped of property or fundamental rights is confined to a kangaroo court that largely rubber stamps military and government actions. International law is toothless.
Israel has made its stance on the main issues of the conflict abundantly clear: no, no, no, and no. Israel will never stop building settlements, Israel will never share Jerusalem, Israel will never allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, and Israel will never return to the pre-1967 borders. In other words, Israel rejects Palestinian requirements – and the obligations of international law — needed to establish a free and independent state.
The Arab leaders who support the current talks and traveled to Washington last week are all recipients of billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid. They certainly cannot afford to say no to the President of the United States. Likewise, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who saw firsthand how his predecessor was vilified and then placed under siege while Israeli tanks took over the Palestinian government headquarters in Ramallah, cannot say no to ham-fisted demands by Israel and the U.S.
The Palestinian Authority is often likened to a government – it has a Prime Minister, a parliament, and a President – but in reality its authority merely rivals that of a city council. The Palestinian Authority has very little control and is permitted to do very little governing. Israel essentially exercises veto control.
Netanyahu was right to propose it is time for “creative, novel thinking,” but his caveats on a Palestinian state doom it from the start. It is time to discard the two-state premise.
Since both people share the land they call home, their futures are tied together. They must chart their future together as equals. As Israelis and Palestinians are already largely governed by one government and one state, it is time that they have an equal voice in that government and an equal voice in determining their shared future. A shared state providing equal rights and protection under the law to all those who live in this shared homeland is the only way for the two peoples to enjoy peace and prosperity.
The two-state solution is finished, done in by decades of settlement activity entrenching unmovable colonies. A pluralistic, secular democracy in all of Israel/Palestine, with no partition and no segregation, will be a powerhouse of creativity and cooperation and will enable Israelis and Palestinians to move ahead towards a bright future. What worked in South Africa and a de-segregated American South can work in Israel/Palestine as well.
- Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and peace activist living in San Diego. Peled’s upcoming book, “The General’s Son,” tells about his father, the late general and peace activist, Matti Peled, and his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
At first glance Washington’s sudden support for extending Israel’s settlement ‘freeze’ in the West Bank appears to be typical 11th hour positioning at Sharm el-Sheikh. Having delayed until the final moments in hope of reaching a compromise with the Palestinian Authority (PA), US officials must now rush to strike a deal before September 26th, when the “freeze” expires and direct negotiations between Israel and the PA potentially collapse.
President Barack Obama initiated the call for an extension of the “freeze” on September 10th, followed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday and US envoy George Mitchell on Tuesday.
That America’s credibility in the Middle East, along with Obama’s, hangs in the balance has provided the necessary fuel to break Washington’s pro-Israel stance. With one indirect round of negotiations already scuttled and widespread pessimism harassing the current negotiations, the White House cannot afford for direct talks to collapse so prematurely. America’s ability as an independent mediator would be subjected to new doubt, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict left to drift into September’s UN Security Council meeting, US Congressional elections, and Obama’s December review of the Afghan war.
Embarrassment would be an understatement.
America seems to have no other choice if a settlement “freeze” is the only means of keeping Palestinians in negotiations, especially in light of Egypt’s reiteration for an extension. But it should be no mystery why US officials are so supportive of a settlement “freeze” – the “freeze” is no freeze at all. As Obama said himself, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has significantly reduced settlement construction in the region.” Many reports can be found over the last ten months alleging the same idea – that settlement construction has slowed but not halted.
Further allegations claim that Israel builds in undefined areas and thus off the grid. Why does it makes sense for the US to extend the “freeze?” Because a “freeze” still allows for settlement planning, approval, and construction.
In one way this strategy makes sense. The Palestinians are adamant on a true freeze, fully aware of the difference between Israel’s public statements and its action on the ground. Without any limitation on Israeli settlements they have no domestic support for continuing negotiations – they need a “freeze” in the West Bank to maintain their dignity. Thus America’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is essentially the compromise needed to keep negotiations alive.
Unfortunately Israel doesn’t appear to see this logic. That Netanyahu faces his own domestic pressure from Israeli settlers is valid, but stiff resistance to freezing settlement construction seems driven by ulterior motives. Though Israeli officials complain that the Palestinians are running their mouths to reporters while they keep quiet, Netanyahu doesn’t miss an opportunity to cast PA President Mahmoud Abbas as the main obstacle to a two-state solution.
“The end of the settlement freeze must not be allowed to foil the talks,” Netanyahu told Abbas. “We have taken on an ambitious mission of reaching agreement within a year and we must focus on that.”
Netanyahu’s behavior makes his intentions clear: to make Abbas cave, not cave himself. Direct negotiations are progressing more like a game of chicken and Netanyahu has no intention of blinking. Both he and his Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have publicly ruled out an extension to the “freeze,” realizing that their worst-case scenario still allows for discreet construction. While new reports surface of an Interior Ministry committee discussion over hundreds of new units in East Jerusalem, Netanyahu is deploying the usual substitutes of prisoner releases and checkpoint removals.
By offering “confidence-building measures” in place of an actual settlement freeze, Netanyahu hopes to force Abbas out of negotiations while simultaneously blaming him for their collapse. The “freeze” will end, allowing him to build unrestricted until America can corral the two sides for a new round of negotiations. The Palestinians, sensing Netanyahu’s trap, have held their line on a settlement moratorium while privately backtracking from their absolutist position.
But while they stand a good chance of accepting America’s version of a “freeze,” anything less is likely to veto further direct negotiations. Palestinians surely realize that America won’t be able to deliver anything else if not this, and must steadfastly hold to their demands.
Washington has 12 days to clean up a toxic mess partially of its own creation. Polar reports out of Sharm indicate the odds favor collapse over compromise, with Netanyahu’s spokesman claiming “substantive issues” were addressed and the Palestinians noticeably frustrated with the Israel’s priorities. “We continue our efforts to make progress, and we believe that we are moving in the right direction over all,” Mitchell said at a news conference afterward.
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reported the Palestinian viewpoint from Bethlehem: “Americans came pretty much empty handed… They [US negotiators] had no solution to bridge the gap between Palestinians and Israelis.”
One thing is certain. If America can’t even secure a partial settlement freeze from Israel, Palestinians will feel no urge to trust America’s arbitration over all final status issues. Only false hope would anticipate fair judgment over refugees and Jerusalem when Washington still protects Israeli settlement construction. Washington coerced the Palestinians to direct talks in the first place by claiming settlements would be addressed within the first month of direct negotiations. As a result Palestinian officials need something tangible to show their people, not the image of Netanyahu weaseling out of his obligations under America’s blind eye.
Sharm has become child’s play, with one Western diplomat remarking of Washington’s summit, “They feel they’ve got to give it some momentum. It’s a way of getting them past the settlement freeze.”
A few summits won’t “get the Palestinians past the settlement freeze.” In fact, holding another summit in Jerusalem throws settlements in their face. Palestinian spokesperson Ghassan Khatib warned that “progress” in direct talks would not soften the Palestinians’ demands. “Nothing can compensate the need for cessation of settlement activities. Everything else is meaningless.”
America agrees, but only out of the need to protect Israel and itself. The Palestinians come last as usual – not the way to equitably resolve one of the world’s most lopsided conflicts.
- James Gundun is a political scientist and counterinsurgency analyst based in Washington D.C. Contact him in The Trench, a realist foreign policy blog, at www.hadalzone.blogspot.com.