Saturday, March 27, 2010


The government of Israel has decided it does not have to make peace with the Palestinians.

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


  1. sadly the crux of the issue is palestinian self determination and its denial israel. if we hold the to a old American value of one man one vote then they would be required to have 2 states. The last thing they would want is all those poor and disenfranchised folks voting in their election. your on rock solid ground when you say no israeli provocation will result in an American response. hell, they sunk the USS Liberty over 40 years ago

  2. Chris says... thanks for another insightfull post Bernie... I hope I get to hear you speak on the radio asap. take care Mr. Ward and thanks for the informative post

  3. Since I've been two the Israelis have been killing Palestinians.

    When I die, it is likely they still will be killing them.

    They've had all kinds of rationalizations for the killing and indeed, some of them were valid.

    I do find it odd though - that the Judaic tradition is all about a religion that is not really based in one place or time, but rather is glued together by the Old Testament - of which much of the theological wisdom therein does not have to do with killing other souls for land, but rather having faith in the invisible transcendental realities such as the One God.

    Just my opinion however.

  4. Hi Bernie,

    I sure do miss this type of analysis on the airwaves. No other radio host has come upon the scene to fill the void you left, especially on Middle East politics.

    All we get down here in Los Angeles are radio personalities who are absolutely terrified to say anything at all critical of Israel. Even the seemingly bold, outspoken, and irreverant John & Ken on KFI 640 dare not to open their mouths on these issues.

    They spend their time attacking safer targets like the Catholic Church, calling it the "church of child rapists". They have been insulting the sacredness (not just the incompetent bishops who created the current mess) of the Church for nearly twenty years now as they and every other radio and TV personality has learned that there is no risk in doing so(i.e. Bill Maher, Christopehr Hitchens, etc).

    As incredible as it may seem, there is not one other figure on TV or radio who dares to criticize Israel. I believe you and Pat Buchanan were the only two I have heard doing so over the past 35 years. Pretty shocking when you think about it.

    I pray you are doing well there Bernie and hope we hear you again soon. Before my mother passed away a few years ago, it was a true event waiting for your show to go on the air at 10pm. We would ask each other every night, "I wonder what Bernie will talk about tonight?" While mom would often disagree with you, especially on Church issues, she absolutely loved your show. 10pm no longer brings the excitement it once did. Come back soon! We are all praying for you.