They have made a political calculation that no matter what they do, no matter what policies
they institute; the United States will go along. They have decided against a two-state solution
to the Palestinian problem; and so far their calculations appear to be correct.
Vice President Biden had just arrived in Israel to make nice, only to be greeted with the
announcement that Israel intends to build 1600 housing units in East Jerusalem. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement "an insult". Palestinian President Abbas
refused to participate, even indirectly, with any peace talks. All the work by Mideast envoy
George Mitchell to bring the two sides together has gone up in smoke. The Israeli strategy
is quite simple. They will build thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem, the West Bank,
and the occupied territories. Jewish families will move in, effectively annexing the land for
the Palestinians. So, whatever two-state solution might be reached in the future, these lands
will be, by necessity, off the negotiating table. The Palestinian demand that East Jerusalem
be the capital of their new state would be moot with tens of thousands of Israelis living on
the disputed land.
For more than a year, the Obama Administration has called for a total freeze on new
settlement construction. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to freeze
settlements; offering instead a ten month partial moratorium on settlements in the West Bank
and now proposes new construction projects in East Jerusalem despite outrage by Secretary
Clinton and President Obama. He firmly announced that he will not back down.
President Obama is said to be "really angry". Secretary of State Clinton is said to be
"offended". And what is the result of all this anger and offense? Secretary Clinton gave a speech
to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in which she assured supporters of
Israel that America is still their strongest ally and will remain so. This little kerfluffle did
nothing to upset the diplomatic apple cart. The little show of "anger"and "offense" produced
nothing except that American officials were quick to go out of their way to assure everyone
the security issues that both Israel and America adhere to have not been damaged. A small
matter, like a married couple having a fight over who takes out the garbage, nothing more.
Strange, but sadly true.
So, the "Israeli calculation" is correct. There is nothing Israel can do which would cause
America to respond in a punitive manner. There is no penalty for slowly taking more and
more Palestinian land. They will suffer no negative consequences if peace talks do not resume.
The United States will continue to funnel billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel and will
continue making loan guarantees so that Israel can purchase weapons and armaments. The
United States will do nothing no matter what provocation Israel decides to engage in.
Let's review Israel's political "calculation". The "Israeli calculation" is based on the not
so well known fact that the U.S. pro-Israel lobby is the most powerful lobby group in our
country. It's also a not so well known fact that no American politician can be elected to office
who is not pro-Israel. The sad fact is that no American president can survive in office if he
takes on the pro-Israel lobby. So, despite statistics showing that for every Israeli killed by
a terrorist rocket or bomb, over 600 Palestinians are killed; despite invasions of Lebanon
and Gaza, invasions which raised cries of serious human rights violations; despite Israel's
possession of nuclear weapons and their willful refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation
treaty (which our own law requires the United States to cut off aid to any nation refusing
to sign); despite all of this and despite expanding illegal settlements, taking Palestinian land,
and building a wall through Palestinian settlements; Israel has NEVER suffered a single
sanction or penalty. All this, plus American presidents have gone so far as to state that an
attack on Israel will be treated like an attack on the United States. We are inextricably
entangled in this foreign alliance.
The continuing plight of the Palestinians is one of the major recruiting tools used by
our enemies, including al Qaeda, in their war of terror. United States General David Petraeus
is on the record stating the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is a key element
of the violence in Arab and Muslim countries directed against the United States and we
cannot bring stability to the region if this problem is not solved. The lack of a two-state
solution is cited in Arab capitals as proof of the hypocrisy of American values. The lack of
any consequence for Israeli actions is proof in many people's eyes that the United States is
not an honest broker when it comes to the interests of Israel versus the Palestinians.
News reports say Netanyahu is between a rock and a hard place. They say he has to please
the regressive elements of his coalition while not alienating Israel's most important ally.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Netanyahu knows no matter what he or his
government decides, it will not result in any substantive negative reaction from the United
States. He knows he can invade neighboring countries, invade Gaza, expand illegal settlements,
build in East Jerusalem, and nothing will happen. Unfortunately, the rest of the world knows
this too; and that knowledge fuels an anger and passion which will not abate and fuels
irrational behavior such as suicide bombings and terrorist activities.
Israel has every right to exist in peace. There is no justification for the killing of innocent
Israeli citizens. The United States has an obligation to ally with all democratic governments
and an obligation to assist Israel in resisting armed aggression against its territory. However,
the subservient role the United States assumes vis-a-vis Israel doesn't serve our long-term
national interests in the Arab world. And it certainly doesn't serve our interests in Iraq,
Afghanistan, or Pakistan.
Israel, knowing they are immune to sanctions and penalties, causes that nation to take
chances in the pursuit of policies contrary to our national interests. Worse still, it has lulled
them into a false sense of security that cannot continue indefinitely. Will the 1600 housing
units be built in East Jerusalem? Yes. Will settlements continue to expand in the West Bank?
Yes. Will Palestinian land continue to shrink? Yes. Will the United States do anything about
this? What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to