In 1956, Britain, France and Israel colluded to invade Egypt to overthrow its hugely popular nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Israel provoked border clashes and quickly captured the Sinai Peninsula. The British and French landed at Suez.
US President Dwight Eisenhower deemed the tripartite Suez aggression immoral and damaging to American interests in the Muslim world. “Ike” angrily ordered the British, French and Israelis to get out of Egypt at once – or else. They got out.
Fast forward to 2010. President Barack Obama has been demanding Israel stop building illegal Jewish settlements around Jerusalem and on the West Bank.
Obama rightly concluded the ongoing agony of Palestine has turned the Muslim world against the United States. It is also the primary cause of what Washington calls “terrorism.” I write about this extensively in my latest book, “American Raj.”
After the Suez invasion, Israel’s American partisans set about building an influence network that would ensure no American president could ever force Israel to do anything against its will. Over the next half century, the Israel lobby became the most powerful and feared lobby in America, dominating both the US Congress and media.
The lobby’s brilliant success was again confirmed last week as Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Israel’s rightist coalition, literally spit in Obama’s face, sneeringly rejecting the president’s pleas to create a viable Palestinian state. Vice President Joseph Biden was earlier humiliated on a trip to Israel to plead with Israel to stop building Jewish settlements.
The US Congress and rightwing media actually applauded the public humiliation of their president and vice president.
How the mighty have fallen. Obama has shown himself
utterly without spine, and terrified of the Israel lobby at a time when his political fortunes are plummeting. Unfortunately, this shameful spectacle was largely overshadowed by the WikiLeaks uproar.
The White House understands that America’s vital interests in the Mideast are being increasingly undermined by Netanyahu’s adamant refusal to allow a workable Palestinian state. He wants only apartheid-style Arab Bantustans. Israel’s prime minister is also undermining the long-term security and well-being of his own people by refusing to make a decent, lasting peace with Palestinians.
A triumphant Netanyahu made clear Israel would retain all of Jerusalem, settlement blocks around it, water resources, key roads, the West Bank high ground and the Jordan River valley. In short, “useful Palestine.” The rest, waterless scrub and slums, might be left to the Arabs. Nothing was said about Israel’s illegal occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights which has become, de facto, an annexation.
Even Obama’s astounding, shameful offer of a multi-billion dollar bribe to Israel of 20 F-35 warplanes and promises to veto any UN resolutions calling for a Palestinian state in exchange for a flimsy 90-day temporary settlement building freeze, was contemptuously rejected by Netanyahu. He knows the US Congress would give Israel the moon if asked. The US has already given Israel at least $114 billion in official aid since its creation in 1947, as well as tens of billions more in covert support.
What does Obama’s humiliation mean? His chances of being defeated in the next presidential election are growing. Obama’s arch-rival, the pro-Israeli Hillary Clinton, is positioning herself to take over the Democratic Party from Obama. There are already rumbles in the Democratic Party of a primary challenge to Obama.
The US diplomatic, intelligence and military establishment has got the message, loud and clear: don’t mess with Israel. The last US president who tried to restrain Israel’s West Bank colonization, George H.W. Bush, failed to win re-election; his able secretary of state, James Baker, was slandered as an “anti-Semite.”
By caving in to Israel’s hard right over the West Bank, Obama sends a message of profound weakness to the rest of the world. He is signaling that Israel, not the White House, really makes America’s Mideast policy. Israel also increasingly influences antagonistic US policy towards Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, and ever warmer relations with India, a key ally of Israel.
The humiliated Palestinian Authority is shown as a helpless puppet of the Americans and Israelis, as rival Hamas has long charged. Its hapless leader, Mahmoud Abbas, should resign if he has a shred of pride left. The pliant Abbas was put into power by the US and Israel after PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s convenient death that many Palestinians suspect was caused by poison.
Obama’s defeat suggests Israel now has “carte blanche” to move ahead and attack Lebanon’s resistance movement Hizbullah, Syria, and eventually Iran.
In fact, Israel now seems to have the power to plunge the US into war against Iran whenever it decides the time is right and the risk worthwhile. That’s a major reason why Netanyahu holds the whip hand over Obama. Thanks to George Bush’s reckless wars, US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are now in a sense hostages of Iran.
Since the US has become a helpless giant, it’s up to the rest of the world to end the suffering in Palestine. Brazil and Argentina have taken an important step forward by recognizing a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders. The 2002 Saudi peace plan still offers all parties concerned the fairest, most practical road to peace.
The UN General Assembly should again endorse this plan and call for more pressure on Israel. Israel’s own pro-peace movement badly needs to hear support from abroad.
But Netanyahu and his fellow rightwing zealots are determined to hold on to every inch of the West Bank and Golan. Some far rightists want to further expand Israel’s borders. In fact, Netanyahu’s Likud Party has been reluctant to define Israel’s permanent borders.
Israel’s refusal to compromise over Palestine is at the heart of its increasingly dangerous confrontation with Iran. If Israel would conclude a peace deal with authentic Palestinians – not the current Palestinian Authority puppets – the confrontation with Iran would likely end.
Obama’s shameful failure in the Mideast will haunt the world for decades.
This post is in: International Politics