Washington’s Military Aid to Israel: Fake Peace Process, Real War Process

Yves here. Chase Madar describes the curious phenomenon of how, on an economic and military basis, Israel should be regarded as a client state, yet operates as an equal partner and even tries to dictate US policy. America’s involvement in the Middle East is one of the big drivers of our ongoing military commitments (which increasingly look like overreach) and our ties to Israel help keep the US mired. This in turn has implications for domestic policy, since high levels of military spending compete with other uses, most notably, social programs. It’s not hard to notice that aside from the squeeze during the sequester, the continued soft austerianism known as budget balancing has left the war apparatus largely untouched (save for spending on veterans, which apparently falls in the “welfare” bucket).

By Chase Madar, a lawyer in New York and the author of The Passion of [Chelsea] Manning: The Story behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower (Verso). You can follow him on Twitter at ,@ChMadar. Originally published at TomDispatch

We Americans have funny notions about foreign aid. Recent polls show that, on average, we believe 28% of the federal budget is eaten up by it, and that, in a time of austerity, this gigantic bite of the budget should be cut back to 10%. In actual fact, barely 1% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid of any kind.

In this case, however, truth is at least as strange as fiction. Consider that the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

Consider also that this top recipient of such aid — nearly all of it military since 2008 — has been busily engaged in what looks like a nineteenth-century-style colonization project. In the late 1940s, our beneficiary expelled some 700,000 indigenous people from the land it was claiming.  In 1967, our client seized some contiguous pieces of real estate and ever since has been colonizing these territories with nearly 650,000 of its own people. It has divided the conquered lands with myriad checkpoints and roads accessible only to the colonizers and is building a 440-mile wall around (and cutting into) the conquered territory, creating a geography of control that violates international law.

“Ethnic cleansing” is a harsh term, but apt for a situation in which people are driven out of their homes and lands because they are not of the right tribe. Though many will balk at leveling this charge against Israel — for that country is, of course, the top recipient of American aid and especially military largesse — who would hesitate to use the term if, in a mirror-image world, all of this were being inflicted on Israeli Jews?

Military Aid to Israel

Arming and bankrolling a wealthy nation acting in this way may, on its face, seem like terrible policy. Yet American aid has been flowing to Israel in ever greater quantities. Over the past 60 years, in fact, Israel has absorbed close to a quarter-trillion dollars in such aid. Last year alone, Washington sent some $3.1 billion in military aid, supplemented by allocations for collaborative military research and joint training exercises.

Overall, the United States covers nearly one quarter of Israel’s defense budget — from tear gas canisters to F-16 fighter jets. In their 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces made use of M-92 and M-84 “dumb bombs,” Paveway II and JDAM guided “smart bombs,” AH-64 Apache attack helicopters equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles, M141 “bunker defeat” munitions, and special weapons like M825A1 155mm white phosphorous munitions — all supplied as American foreign aid. (Uniquely among Washington’s aid recipients, Israel is also permitted to spend 25% of the military funding from Washington on weapons made by its own weapons industry.)

Why is Washington doing this? The most common answer is the simplest: Israel is Washington’s “ally.” But the United States has dozens of allies around the world, none of which are subsidized in anything like this fashion by American taxpayer dollars. As there is no formal treaty alliance between the two nations and given the lopsided nature of the costs and benefits of this relationship, a far more accurate term for Israel’s tie to Washington might be “client state.” 

And not a particularly loyal client either. If massive military aid is supposed to give Washington leverage over Israel (as it normally does in client-state relationships), it is difficult to detect. In case you hadn’t noticed, rare is the American diplomatic visit to Israel that is not greeted with an in-your-face announcement of intensified colonization of Palestinian territory, euphemistically called “settlement expansion.”

Washington also provides aid to Palestine totaling, on average, $875 million annually in Obama’s first term (more than double what George W.  Bush gave in his second term). That’s a little more than a quarter of what Israel gets.  Much of it goes to projects of dubious net value like the development of irrigation networks at a moment when the Israelis are destroying Palestinian cisterns and wells elsewhere in the West Bank. Another significant part of that funding goes toward training the Palestinian security forces. Known as “Dayton forces” (after the American general, Keith Dayton, who led their training from 2005 to 2010), these troops have a grim human rights record that includes acts of torture, as Dayton himself has admitted. One former Dayton deputy, an American colonel, described these security forces to al-Jazeera as an outsourced “third Israeli security arm.” According to Josh Ruebner, national advocacy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace, American aid to Palestine serves mainly to entrench the Israeli occupation.

A Dishonest Broker

Nothing is equal when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip — and the numbers say it all. To offer just one example, the death toll from Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on the Gaza Strip, was 1,385 Palestinians (the majority of them civilians) and 13 Israelis, three of them civilians.

And yet mainstream opinion in the U.S. insists on seeing the two parties as essentially equal. Harold Koh, former dean of the Yale Law School and until recently the top lawyer at the State Department, has been typical in comparing Washington’s role to “adult supervision” of “a playground populated by warring switchblade gangs.” It was a particularly odd choice of metaphors, given that one side is equipped with small arms and rockets of varying sophistication, the other with nuclear weapons and a state-of-the-art modern military subsidized by the world’s only superpower.

Washington’s active role in all of this is not lost on anyone on the world stage — except Americans, who have declared themselves to be the even-handed arbiters of a conflict involving endless failed efforts at brokering a “peace process.” Globally, fewer and fewer observers believe in this fiction of Washington as a benevolent bystander rather than a participant heavily implicated in a humanitarian crisis. In 2012, the widely respected International Crisis Group described the “peace process” as “a collective addiction that serves all manner of needs, reaching an agreement no longer being the main one.”

The contradiction between military and diplomatic support for one party in the conflict and the pretense of neutrality cannot be explained away. “Looked at objectively, it can be argued that American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East have, if anything, made achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis more difficult,” writes Rashid Khalidi, a historian at Columbia University, and author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.

Evasive Silence

American policy elites are unable or unwilling to talk about Washington’s destructive role in this situation. There is plenty of discussion about a one-state versus a two-state solution, constant disapproval of Palestinian violence, occasional mild criticism (“not helpful”) of the Israeli settlements, and lately, a lively debate about the global boycott, divestment, and sanction movement (BDS) led by Palestinian civil society to pressure Israel into a “just and lasting” peace. But when it comes to what Americans are most responsible for — all that lavish military aid and diplomatic cover for one side only — what you get is either euphemism or an evasive silence.

In general, the American media tends to treat our arming of Israel as part of the natural order of the universe, as beyond question as the force of gravity. Even the “quality” media shies away from any discussion of Washington’s real role in fueling the Israel-Palestine conflict. Last month, for instance, the New York Times ran an article about a prospective “post-American” Middle East without any mention of Washington’s aid to Israel, or for that matter to Egypt, or the Fifth Fleet parked in Bahrain.

You might think that the progressive hosts of MSNBC’s news programs would be all over the story of what American taxpayers are subsidizing, but the topic barely flickers across the chat shows of Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and others. Given this across-the-board selective reticence, American coverage of Israel and Palestine, and particularly of American military aid to Israel, resembles the Agatha Christie novel in which the first-person narrator, observing and commenting on the action in calm semi-detachment, turns out to be the murderer.

Strategic Self-Interest and Unconditional Military Aid

On the activist front, American military patronage of Israel is not much discussed either, in large part because the aid package is so deeply entrenched that no attempt to cut it back could succeed in the near future. Hence, the global BDS campaign has focused on smaller, more achievable targets, though as Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, an advocacy group, told me, the BDS movement does envision an end to Washington’s military transfers in the long term. This makes tactical sense, and both the Jerusalem Fund and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation are engaged in ongoing campaigns to inform the public about American military aid to Israel.

Less understandable are the lobbying groups that advertise themselves as “pro-peace,” champions of “dialogue” and “conversation,” but share the same bottom line on military aid for Israel as their overtly hawkish counterparts. For instance, J Street (“pro-Israel and pro-peace”), a Washington-based nonprofit which bills itself as a moderate alternative to the powerhouse lobbying outfit, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), supports both “robust” military aid and any supplemental disbursements on offer from Washington to the Israeli Defense Forces.  Americans for Peace Now similarly takes the position that Washington should provide “robust assistance” to ensure Israel’s “qualitative military edge.” At the risk of sounding literal-minded, any group plumping for enormous military aid packages to a country acting as Israel has is emphatically not “pro-peace.” It’s almost as if the Central America solidarity groups from the 1980s had demanded peace, while lobbying Washington to keep funding the Contras and the Salvadoran military.

Outside the various factions of the Israel lobby, the landscape is just as flat. The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the Democratic Party, regularly issues pious statements about new hopes for the “peace process” — with never a mention of how our unconditional flow of advanced weaponry might be a disincentive to any just resolution of the situation.

There is, by the way, a similar dynamic at work when it comes to Washington’s second biggest recipient of foreign aid, Egypt. Washington’s expenditure of more than $60 billion over the past 30 years ensured both peace with Israel and Cold War loyalty, while propping up an authoritarian government with a ghastly human rights record. As the post-Mubarak military restores its grip on Egypt, official Washington is currently at work finding ways to keep the military aid flowing despite a congressional ban on arming regimes that overthrow elected governments. There is, however, at least some mainstream public debate in the U.S. about ending aid to the Egyptian generals who have violently reclaimed power. Investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica has even drafted a handy “explainer” about U.S. military aid to Egypt — though they have not tried to explain aid to Israel.

Silence about U.S.-Israel relations is, to a large degree, hardwired into Beltway culture. As George Perkovich, director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told the Washington Post, “It’s like all things having to do with Israel and the United States. If you want to get ahead, you don’t talk about it; you don’t criticize Israel, you protect Israel.”

This is regrettable, as Washington’s politically invisible military aid to Israel is not just an impediment to lasting peace, but also a strategic and security liability. As General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2010, the failure to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians makes Washington’s other foreign policy objectives in the region more difficult to achieve. It also, he pointed out, foments anti-American hatred and fuels al-Qaeda and other violent groups.  Petraeus’s successor at CENTCOM, General James Mattis, echoed this list of liabilities in a public dialogue with Wolf Blitzer last July:

“I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that [alienates] all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.”

Don’t believe the generals? Ask a terrorist. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks now imprisoned at Guantanamo, told interrogators that he was motivated to attack the United States in large part because of Washington’s leading role in assisting Israel’s repeated invasions of Lebanon and the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians.

The Israel lobby wheels out a battery of arguments in favor of arming and funding Israel, including the assertion that a step back from such aid for Israel would signify a “retreat” into “isolationism.” But would the United States, a global hegemon busily engaged in nearly every aspect world affairs, be “isolated” if it ceased giving lavish military aid to Israel? Was the United States “isolated” before 1967 when it expanded that aid in a major way? These questions answer themselves.

Sometimes the mere act of pointing out the degree of U.S. aid to Israel provokes accusations of having a special antipathy for Israel. This may work as emotional blackmail, but if someone proposed that Washington start shipping Armenia $3.1 billion worth of armaments annually so that it could begin the conquest of its ancestral province of Nagorno-Karabakh in neighboring Azerbaijan, the plan would be considered ludicrous — and not because of a visceral dislike for Armenians. Yet somehow the assumption that Washington is required to generously arm the Israeli military has become deeply institutionalized in this country.

Fake Peace Process, Real War Process

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry is leading a push for a renewed round of the interminable American-led peace process in the region that has been underway since the mid-1970s.  It’s hardly a bold prediction to suggest that this round, too, will fail. The Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Ya’alon, has already publicly mocked Kerry in his quest for peace as “obsessive and messianic” and added that the newly proposed framework for this round of negotiations is “not worth the paper it’s printed on.” Other Israeli high officials blasted Kerry for his mere mention of the potential negative consequences to Israel of a global boycott if peace is not achieved.

But why shouldn’t Ya’alon and other Israeli officials tee off on the hapless Kerry? After all, the defense minister knows that Washington will wield no stick and that bushels of carrots are in the offing, whether Israel rolls back or redoubles its land seizures and colonization efforts. President Obama has boasted that the U.S. has never given so much military aid to Israel as under his presidency. On January 29th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously to upgrade Israel’s status to “major strategic partner.” With Congress and the president guaranteeing that unprecedented levels of military aid will continue to flow, Israel has no real incentive to change its behavior.

Usually such diplomatic impasses are blamed on the Palestinians, but given how little is left to squeeze out of them, doing so this time will test the creativity of official Washington. Whatever happens, in the post-mortems to come there will be no discussion in Washington about the role its own policies played in undermining a just and lasting agreement.

How much longer will this silence last? The arming and bankrolling of a wealthy nation committing ethnic cleansing has something to offend conservatives, progressives, and just about every other political grouping in America. After all, how often in foreign policy does strategic self-interest align so neatly with human rights and common decency?

Intelligent people can and do disagree about a one-state versus a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. People of goodwill disagree about the global BDS campaign. But it is hard to imagine what kind of progress can ever be made toward a just and lasting settlement between Israel and Palestine until Washington quits arming one side to the teeth.

“If it weren’t for U.S. support for Israel, this conflict would have been resolved a long time ago,” says Josh Ruebner.  Will we Americans ever acknowledge our government’s active role in destroying the chances for a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. esb

    If ethnic Armenians occupied high percentages of the senior decision making positions of the top finance, insurance, real estate entrprises, wildly disproportionate to their percentage representation in the general population, and therefore were able to channel vast sums of direct and indirect bribes (oops, “campaign contributions”) to the members and potential members of the Congress, then you can bet your bottom dollar that you borrow that the conquest, ethnic cleansing and apartheid governance of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenians would be a fact.

    If the author wants to solve the problem that is the subject of his piece, he needs to find a solution to the horribly defective US political campaign finance “system.”

    And lots of luck he will need.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is all very tidy and oh-so-reasonable-souding bigotry. And it does not stand up to much scrutiny.

      IIRC, the US changed its position from trying to be neutral on the Israel/Arab question and play honest broker in the Middle East around 1967. Russia had supported Israel prior to that. And in those days, Jews were not all that well represented in the top echelons of finance or insurance. More important, Wall Street was much less powerful than now (Wall Street was really “stock brokerage” and muni bond trading, for the most part) and the Jewish firms were playing catch up to the WASP leaders (the big kingpin, Morgan Stanley. Goldman and Salomon were second-tier firms; the class acts among the Jewish firms were Kuhn Loeb and the old Lehman Brothers, but they were still seen as less prestigious than Morgan Stanley, and Morgan was the dominant player in the underwriting business; the final bulge bracket player of that era was First Boston). The largest commercial banks were run by WASPs. Insurance was a sleepy business and not politically influential. Real estate developers were heavyweights, but on a local/state level, not nationally.

      So you need to deal with the political landscape of the 1960s, when even electing a Catholic as President was a racy idea, and explain the shift in US policy. AIPAC clearly capitalized on and institutionalized the US sponsorship of Israel, but you are getting the timelines and hence the drivers wrong.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh come on. The fact that it is “unremarkable” is hardly a legitimate defense. Wife beating, drunk driving, and predatory conduct by financial firms are also “unremarkable.”

          The original comment is an adept formulation of the “Jews run things” canard. If you want to give that sort of slur a free pass, please do so elsewhere. Tolerating that serves the folks who beat back critics of Israel by charging anti-Semitism. That comment IS anti-Semitic, albeit in innocuous-seeming packaging, and has nada to do with legitimate criticisms of Israel’s conduct and our role in enabling it.

          1. Kunst

            “folks who beat back critics of Israel by charging anti-Semitism”

            Isn’t that what you just did? I think the bigger religious factor is the Christian Right, who see Jewish Israel as a precursor to their dark end-days visions. From what I understand (I am of no religion), American Jewish opinion is split, although undoubtedly sympathetic to Israel. I was born the year Israel became a country and I have always been her strong supporter. But I have developed more and more concern about Israel’s policy and actions. I fear that power and fear have corrupted the country and its people. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the behavior of the state of Israel and hope that it will not lose its soul. When you won’t listen to your friends is when you have a real problem.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Straw man.

              This was not criticism of Israel. If you look at the comment that kicked off this discussion, there is no mention of Israel’s indefensible conduct towards Israel. Instead, the writer effectively says: “if any ethnic group had a lot of power, you’d see them sanctioning ethnic cleansing by people of the same ethnicity”. That’s an astonishing and demonstrably false claim. Do we see Chinese working to get the US to support China’s conduct in Tibet, for instance?

              You seem unable to distinguish between criticism of Israel and comments that allege vague Jewish conspiracies. The latter are just “Protocols of Zion” lite.

      1. Working Class Nero

        US policy towards Israel has shifted gradually, and this shift roughly correlates with the increase in Jewish power and influence in the US that commentator esb is alluding to. But of course correlation is not causation and so this proves nothing. But it is true that the initial US moves towards Israel during the mid Sixties all made complete sense from a Cold War strategic perspective in the struggle for the upper hand versus the Soviets. Although the Soviets were important backers of Zionism in the 1940’s, by the mid fifties they were selling arms to Egypt and Syria. They even threatened to attack Israel in 1956 and 1973. Back in the 50’s and 60’s France was Israel’s biggest backer and financially Israel relied heavily on German reparations.

        So it is important to emphasize that the early relationship between the US and Israel was quite normal and nothing like the bizarre situation today where the US is basically a client state of Israel. In the Yom Kippur War when things were not going so well for Israel, Kissinger was even advising Nixon “to let them bleed” in order to ensure Israel would be reasonable at the negotiating table afterwards. A few days later after Ariel Sharon turned the tide, Kissinger saved the Egyptian 3rd Army from destruction and in doing so pushed the Soviets out of Egypt for good. Jimmy Carter did serve as an honest broker during the Camp David accords. Things started going bad during the Reagan years despite the fact that there were several cabinet members with links to Bechtel (pro-Arab). George Bush I was the last president who could be said to have a somewhat reasonable position towards Israel.

        Now none of this proves esb’s implied link of the indisputable rise of Jewish power in the US over the past 20 years to the changes in US policy towards Israel over the same time. But at the same time I don’t think asking this question equates to bigotry and in fact it does seem to be a somewhat reasonable hypothesis to explore.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          There is a big difference between pointing to the success of AIPAC as a focused lobbying group and his argument which is along the lines of “the Jews stealthily run lots of things, they are pulling strings between the scenes.”

          The NRA is a similar focused lobbying group that represents a small but highly motivated group (NRA members are a fairly small subset of gun owners) that pols are similarly unwilling to cross (by contrast, AIPAC has been lost some important fights recently). US politics have long been hostage to special interests, and this predates changes in campaign finance like Citizens United. AIPAC has actually become weaker as amount it takes to win national seats has risen, so the campaign finance explanation may not be as powerful as you think. This is likely in part classic identity group politics among a cohort that will turn out in the polls in high proportions.

          Young Jews show considerable antipathy towards Israel, and I know a few older Jews who had been solid (not AIPAC member level) supporters of Israel but turned into opponents after the invasions of Lebanaon. So to conflate Jews with AIPAC and its sympathizers as uniformly in support of Israel, and to further insinuate that they use their day job positions to promote Israel, is a crude caricature and inaccurate. The fact that you can’t see that is pretty remarkable.

        1. optimader

          RE : USS Liberty
          Israel perceived this aggression against the US fair game in the context of protecting National Sovereignty, That is a distinction between the mutual policies of Israel and the U.S. toward each other.

          1. jm

            What the heck is THAT supposed to mean? Israeli forces can shoot up and try to sink a US Navy ship, with cannon fire from jets and patrol boats, in several attacks, a ship clearly marked as US Navy, in international waters, because “NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY?’ “Fair Game?” Because the US Navy electronic intelligence ship was trying to see what the Israelis were up to, stuff that kind of affects US sovereignty and interests? And Jonathan Pollard and others, to the point that former US CIA folks say that Israel is the biggest security threat to the US in terms of espionage? “Mutual policies toward each other”? What kind of gobbledegook is that?

            1. Optimader

              I think you misunderstand my comment as an endorsement rather tan an observation… It is what it is, and what it was, was apparently acceptable by both governments or their would have been a calibrated retaliation in kind.
              There wasn’t… Call your congressman , what, 40 years ago?

      2. Banger

        While I agree with you totally on the history and, in addition, the shameful treatment of Jews by the U.S. until, really, the fifties–as far as the present day is concerned, the man has a point. Jews do dominate the mainstream media and the neoconservative side of the political establishment and AIPAC is a ruthless and take-no-prisoners agent of the Isreali state.

        However, on the other side, they also dominate the anti-Israeli left. There are no better, more articulate and braver critics of the Israeli state than Norm Finklestein and Noam Chomsky. And in Israel itself criticism of the Israeli state is vociferious and, obviously, insightful by publications like Haaretz.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Reagan thought the neocons were nuts and made a point of not giving them an audience, much the less positions of power. So the rise of the neocons can’t easily be attributed to this “Jews are an influential minority group” meme.

            1. Optimader

              What reagan may or maynot have thought is not relevant, the first neocon patron happened to be Scoop Jackson(D). The neocons have fidelity to ideaology not party affiliation.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think you have left out the role the political parties in the U.S. and the perception that Ethnic groups vote as blocs over single issues.

        At least from my recollection, Israel advertises in U.S. theocratic circles, and prior to W., a religious drunk, the GOP was a better partner for the palestinians. Democratic fears of those inroads which would somehow (I don’t think Democratic strategists are generally on the ball) morph into Democratic Jewish voters abandoning the GOP. I suppose it’s the soft version of the white man’s burden syndrome which is surprisingly prevalent.

        Israel is being seen through the prism of losing or keeping a bloc of democratic voters in florida, new jersey (a GOP stronghold until 93), and waspier areas of the north east.

        Israel policy is being devised by the same people behind the political calculus of ACA or Syria. Both parties want immigration reform which brutality immigrants on behalf of the security industry and lowers wages, but the parties despite offering these same ideas with different rhetoric are worried the other party will receive a swell of future Hispanic support.

      4. Susan the other

        I think you are on the money. Pun notwithstanding. In 1963, on the evening, or next morning, that JFK was assassinated, LBJ called “a banker friend of mine” (I think it was Lehman – in Caro’s biography which everyone should read at least twice -) and had a discussion which was not revealed in detail. This was prior to going in to Vietnam in full force, which LBJ did as soon as he arranged for congressional concessions on the things he wanted to achieve for the “great society.” Quid pro quo. And LBJ went in like Alexander the Great. So just thinkin’ back, what you are saying makes reasonable sense. And add to that that we became a defacto military dictatorship on November 23, 1963, which meant we needed a huge, HUGE, supply of cheap oil; and then piece together our relationship after 1967 with Israel – Russia may have been bumped by us because we were so desperate for oil and needed an outpost doing our bidding, aka Israel. I could make some other points, but without a clear memory or any dates – but I think, bottom line, we have used Israel and Israel has been willing to be used, to make sure the US military remains the most powerful force on the planet. As Pogo said. Only now are we wondering what the US military actually does to deserve to be the most powerful force on the planet. That is now our question.

      5. P Nach

        Russia was NEVER Israel’s patron. At the time in question, the USSR backed Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc. Yasser Arafat was trained by the KGB and Abu Mazen received his doctorate from a Soviet university.
        As Winston Churchill once said regarding the Arab states – You can’t buy one, you can only rent one. It might be worthwhile to keep that in mind.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          On further investigation, the date when the USSR stopped supporting Israel was a full decade earlier, in the mid-1950s. It supported Israel early on, became equivocal in the early 1950s, and then supported the Arabs solely. So I apologize for getting the timeline wrong. And the support did not take the form of materiel. The intensity of the rhetoric against Israel increased after the Six Day War (1967). I’m not sure whether that played a role in moving the US into more unambiguous support (as in the Soviets were depicting Israel as visible evidence of a global conspiracy).

  2. James Levy

    That Israel is doing what Washington wants done (or doesn’t care one bit about) I have no doubt. They provide one arm of the scissors (the other being the rage and disgust of the Arab masses at the impotence of their governments) that keep the Arab states powerless and their elites dependent on Washington for their survival. That America lets the Israelis laugh in our political leader’s faces I do find surprising. I think it is because the wannabe tough guys in Washington and the media are so enamored of fuck-you power that they can’t help but admire the Israelis even when they are (perhaps despite the fact that they are) biting the hand that feeds them. But in the end Israeli bullying and intransigence are the disease–America is the source of the contagion.

  3. psychohistorian

    Great posting and not one you will see much of anywhere else in the US

    I think if you view this from an American Empire perspective it makes complete sense to the global plutocrats, many of them aligned with Israel if not directly linked.

    Is Israel a client state of the US or is it really the other way around? I would posit that the US is now a pawn of Israeli global politics and finance.

    I see new lines being redrawn internationally. I frequent a China news site and Saudi Arabia, Russia and Afghanistan leadership has all met with president Xi Jinping in the past week.

    I sure as heck don’t know how this is going to come to a head in 2014 but believe it will and certainly hope that our nuclear winter will not get any worse than the extended effluent from Fukushima…..you know Japan, a real client state of the US/Israel empire. It is telling that Tokyo has just elected pro-nuclear Masuzoe. I have said before that the 2020 Olympics will never happen in Tokyo because it will become unlivable because of the effluent of Fukushima but ongoing delusion seems to be alive and well there.

    I just hope the world leaders love their children.

    1. Susan the other

      The most recent stuff alleges that reactor #3, I think, at Fukushima was refining plutonium and that when #3 blew it released a plume of yellow smoke indicative of plutonium and since then evidence of plutonium has been prevalent altho’ cesium and strontium are the only ones reported. So cesium and strontium would be bad enough, poisoning the Pacific and all its creatures for 90 plus years as well as Californians. If plutonium is added to the mix all bets are off. We are cooked. All eyes should be on Fukushima, all effort internationally should be focused there. And if we can hope to come up with some way to neutralize plutonium poisoning in living creatures that would be great and should be funded without limit by all the world’s governments. Etc. This should now be the task of the US military and all other militaries because it threatens all life on the planet. What else should the military confront?

      1. ToivoS

        Oh please that is just nonsense. If there had been a major plutonium release at Fukoshima, that could not be hidden. Every country in the Western Pacific was monitoring that radiation release. Cs137 was clearly observed and reported. There is no way that a plutonium release would not have been observed and reported. Korea, China, Russia and the Philippines would not have kept that secret.

  4. allcoppedout

    Good to see this and also to know Manning has some support. The apparatus that supports idiot, populist nationalism in the US (and almost everywhere else) is easy to expose but we have been able to do this so long the exposure cannot be the solution. We also know our publics remain pretty stupid, uniformed and too full of superstitions to reason properly (the line here runs from Socrates’ ‘doxa’ – public opinion is worthless – through Bacon’s Idols, Machiavelli, Descartes, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein’s references to our bewitchment by means of language).

    “We” Brits (I really would rather be Scandinavian) love to laugh at Americans not knowing where Iraq is while bombing the country, but many of us wanted to nuke Rio whilst having a set-to with Argentina and probably that the Falklands were vital to British interests rather than a sheep farm owned by a coal company. Democracy is more or less doomed if the body politic is so stupid. I won’t, of course, be going to the pub on the night this is explained to large, aggressive members of such!

    We’re on a loser being so smart over Israel or the rest of foreign policy and politics. There is no real debate because the context is set in propaganda and the silent reasoning of dirty hands and PR and newsroom staff developing careers. I think we need to re-address what goes on in education. Current qualifications at 16 are so low as to be pointless in the UK, but well beyond this we seem to have little clue or testing of what percentage of our populations can actually reason. Most bits and pieces crossing my desk (Wason tests, large surveys of what people think as opposed to measured reality etc.) suggest that sound reasoning ability is in less than 5% of us, and there is a very good chance that even this few will use it for self-advancement ahead of decency. I suspect school serves the purpose of switching people off reasoning, that the problems with trying to argue what the facts are are in deeper than we think, embedded in the very processes like education that look as though they should help. Most of our populations are ranked at school on a tiny notion of what intelligence and ability are and learn they lose in reason. I might despair of the body politic, but why should the people in it engage with the facts and reasoning processes that have already relegated them to also-rans, especially when stuff they must have learned to be dross by hard experience like ‘honesty is the best policy’, are assumed to rule in discourse?

    I have managed ti change from the young boy taught (often by comics) to die for his wonderful country and wonderful Empire, to an old fart who knows nearly everything around to learn at school and in disciplined upbringing was false. Worse, it is obvious that Britain committed many atrocities and these were ongoing in my lifetime. I’m aware from personal experience of vile intelligence operations by armed services and police. I don’t know whether the US has been as bad or worse, though plenty available to read suggests the US has been atrocious.

    The issue is Freudian in the sense that the truth is something we push away because it is too scary to handle. We should be addressing this to find ways critique might actually get through. Israel was quite a place of socialist hope when I was there as a kid. Now it’s paranoid.

  5. middle seaman

    We have seen this post many times in the past and, my guess, will see more of its like in the future. In addition to trying extremely hard to dig all negatives, it also represents a simplification of a complex problem that fails to do justice to both sides.The post represents the worst possible read of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict/complex with respect to Israel. It also represent the bankruptcy of the left that abandoned workers, neglects social issues and instead dwells only with black and white foreign affairs.

    This conflict itself represents, probably, the most genuine and most complex national conflict pending. If the whole land from the Sea to the Jordan river were to be given to the Palestinians or the Israelis only. Each nation would still have a land too small for comfortable existence. Now, to borrow a phrase, the very serious people want a solution now, now, now.

    Sadly, that’s not the way humanity works. Conflicts take time and this conflict, about 100 years long now, isn’t the worse, the longest and the most deadly. Compared to Europe, both nations are mild and moderate. You can bad mouth any side quite easily. What is the point of that? I wish secretary Kerry will succeed in moving the sides toward a peaceful resolution. He works hard, many Israelis and Palestinians actively are trying to help. Many on both sides try to resist his efforts.

    But hey, hate is easy. Why not have a ball then?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      “Very serious people” have been trying for nearly 25 years to come up with a solution. Your claim that this is “now now now” push is false. We nearly had a deal in the Camp David accords under Clinton. I can’t recall the details save that the Americans were very upset that Israel turned down what was a done or close to done deal. The assassination of Rabin was also a fatal setback of the peace process, and I have heard from well placed people that many harbor the belief and have supporting evidence that it was an inside job.

      Israel continues to build settlements. That is bad faith conduct, period.

      1. mpr

        Your memory must indeed be foggy. It wasn’t Israel turning down a done deal. Arafat found the Israeli offer unsatisfactory and refused to negotiate further. (and yes the Americans were uspet about that). I think the sticking point was the final status of Jerusalem. He went back to Israel and started the second intifada.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The Economist begs to differ with your spin. From its July 27, 2000 issue (emphasis mine):

          THEIR return from Camp David was markedly different. Yasser Arafat came home a hero, absorbing praise for not having buckled to Israeli and American pressure. Ehud Barak came back to a crumbled government, angrily blaming the collapse of the 15-day summit on Mr Arafat. The Palestinian, he said, failed to make the “historic decisions necessary to end the conflict.”

          Mr Arafat’s reply is simple. “The Arab leader has not been born who would give up Jerusalem,” he reportedly told Bill Clinton during a heated exchange. It was Jerusalem that unravelled the negotiations, though the Palestinians say that there were also no firm agreements on the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, or where the borders of a future Palestinian state would lie.

          The news blackout that persisted through the summit has turned into story- telling. The Palestinians say that Mr Barak was offering them sovereignty over several districts on the edge of Jerusalem’s municipal borders—Israeli sources say these included Beit Hanina, Kalandia and Shuafat—in return for Israel annexing three large Jewish settlements, Ma’ale Edumim, Gush Etzion and Givat Ze’ev, and making them part of Jerusalem. In the Old City and areas adjacent to it, the offer was apparently “broad civilian and administrative autonomy” over Palestinian neighbourhoods, including the Muslim and Christian quarters within the Old City, and “signs of sovereignty” at the Dome of the Rock. Israel would retain “residual sovereignty”.

          By Israeli standards, these are far-reaching concessions. Mr Barak described on July 25th how he had offered Mr Arafat a re-drawn, and in effect divided Jerusalem. Mr Clinton went out of his way to praise him for his “very bold decisions”.

          Yet there is barely any Arab leader who could have countenanced these new arrangements, let alone Mr Arafat. Apart from its numerous Muslim and Christian shrines, the Old City is home to 37,000 Palestinians, against 3,000 Jews. And like the rest of East Jerusalem, in international law it is occupied territory.


      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The story I heard was that Barak’s coalition and cabinet balked at the details or showed skepticism to get Barak to go back to Clinton asking for a delay or to tell Arafat the deal they had negotiated in good faith wasn’t going to work despite the deal fitting public stances of the various sides. Bill told Arafat Barak’s views, not Barak himself which Arafat considered an insult after their work to that point.

        Arafat told Bill he needed to make Barak make it work much like how Carter told the Israelis he was going to cut them off and call the Soviets to tell them Egypt was rejoining their sphere. Bill did his usually dopey dog routine about how hard it was to be confrontational and just ignored the problem. At the same time, the election was under way, and the Saudis wanted W. in. The Saudis told Arafat if he made trouble he would swing the election to the Bush family, and 41 and his people as VP under the protection of Reagan had pushed Arafat into a position of legitimacy for Western countries. I don’t think Arafat grasped (the Saudis too) the power of the Christian right in the GOP culture and how devoted W. was too. Pro-Likud propaganda had taken hold of the KKK GOP. From the U.S. Klan perspective, they may be Jews in Israel, but they are masters over darker people. Then of course, there is the nuttiness found in “left behind” gibberish.

        Bill had nothing to do with the Oslo Accords (its why its called the Oslo Accords) except to position himself for a photo op, and when the Israelis violated their side of the agreement, Bill did nothing. From Arafat’s perspective Bill was not a trusted negotiator.

        From the story I heard, it wasn’t that we were upset. Bill just wanted a political victory but he didn’t want to be confrontational or risk offending the Jewish vote on the cusp of an election with Florida in the mix and the riveting Al Gore on the ticket. It was another victory for wishy washy Democrats. Ehud Barak was really just a wishy washy Democrat who lived in another country.

        Barak called an election in the hopes that he could scare Arafat into worrying about Likud, but I think Arafat was banking on 41’s perceived adults (are there any GOP adults? No) coming into power, not a gang of Nixon thugs, swooping in to declare victory with the peace process as they had run on a promise of restoring honor, and other nonsense, to the White House.

      3. Banger

        There was no chance the Clinton talks would go anywhere, none–all phony mainstream media propaganda to the contrary. The die was cast with the failure of Clinton to enforce Oslo by doing nothing about settlements. Of course Rabin’s assassination was also very convenient and locked Israel into perpetual rule by the corrupt right-wing.

  6. Hugh

    Israel is an apartheid state whose political spectrum begins with the fascistic and devolves from there into the merely vicious. A few years ago, this would have been virtually impossible to say without bringing down a flood of hasbara. Now not so much. Most hasbara nowadays comes across as pretty half-hearted, just going through the motions. The main points have been tacitly accepted even by the writers themselves.

    US-Israeli relations are governed by a set of fictions. Israel is not an ally. It has subverted US interests in the Middle East for decades. It is not alone in this role. One has only to look at America’s other prime “partners” in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to understand how toxic US strategic relationships are in its imperial conflicts.

    Israel in the region is not threatened but the threatener. It has, thanks to us, not only the premier military. While the focus is always turned to Iran’s nuclear intentions, it is largely overlooked by our media that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of 100-200 weapons. Israeli policy is not to make the Middle East nuclear free but rather to protect its nuclear monopoly.

    The two-state solution was never viable. The assassination of Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist marked its definitive end. After Rabin’s death, the Oslo Accords, the political process which was supposed to lead to a two-state solution, were actively sabotaged and rolled back by Netanyahu, Israel’s current prime minister.

    Israel is not a democracy. If the two-state solution is a non-starter, then the solutions that are left are a single bi-national state or apartheid. Israel chose apartheid. A central tenet of apartheid is the disenfranchisement and denial of citizenship to the targeted group, the Palestinians. Israel, of course, does not stop there. It treats Arab Israelis as second class citizens as well.

    My memory is that Nixon and Kissinger cultivated Israel as a Cold War counterweight to Soviet influence in the Middle East. Like most Kissinger realpolitik policies, it was clever without being wise. This strategic shift also had domestic political benefits. It detached a segment of the Democratic New Deal coalition, wealthy right wing Jews. It was the making of the Jewish Lobby. It’s important to understand though that it was hardly the first such lobby. In the 40s and 50s, there was the China lobby, and in the 60s to the present, a Cuba lobby. What these lobbies have in common is that they distort American policy and they continue to exist for decades beyond their original, or really any rational, purpose. The Jewish Lobby has been particularly successful because of its strategic alliance with the neocons and a highly paradoxal one with evangelicals who both support Israel and believe such support will lead to the ultimate demise of Judaism.

    All of these relationships have become highly deformed and even further corrupted over time. Their original purposes have been lost. So we have the spectacle of Secretary Kerry pushing a peace formula that hasn’t been operative for 20 years. It isn’t terribly relevant whether he actually believes in it or not. It is rather an exercise of empire abroad and part of the mythology of our ruling classes here at home. To think of it as an actual peace plan or process is to misunderstand it entirely.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘If the two-state solution is a non-starter, then the solutions that are left are a single bi-national state or apartheid. Israel chose apartheid.’

      For now. In Johannesburg in the 1980s, stores displayed books with photos of tanks on the cover, touting ZA as ‘Africa’s superpower.’ All that military firepower didn’t prevent the hollowed-out, defective structure of apartheid from collapsing a decade later.

      Like ZA’s bantustans, the proposed West Bank statelet isn’t viable because Israel controls its borders, its infrastructure, and its (nonexistent) sea and air access. By making a two-state solution impossible through its relentless land grabs, Israel has unwittingly guaranteed a South African-style binational democracy after its apartheid system falls (sooner than most people think).

      Decades ago, separate Jewish and Palestinian states might have been possible. But U.S. ‘dumb money,’ backing the most extremist elements in Israel and its U.S. lobby, created a musclebound Israeli state whose institutionalized ethnic and religious discrimination mocks everything America stands for. Gandhi and Martin Luther King would have instantly perceived the brittle weakness concealed behind Israel’s swaggering military might, and set to work toppling this anachronistic colonialist apartheid state.

    2. Banger

      I don’t agree with you on Israel not being a democracy. It is more of a democracy than the U.S., by far. It is a democracy that conquered some of its neighbors and dominates them. It’s not actually an apartheid state since the territories are only conquered territories with native populations living on reservations just like us. What makes this interesting is that the Palestinians still resist to some extent–I’m not sure that will last for much longer but it is an astonishing thing to see.

      1. Hugh

        Certainly well into the 60s Israel pushed the propaganda line that Jewish immigrants to Palestine had only settled “empty lands”. Much like the settling of the American West but in a very different age, the old colonial mandate of Palestine was empty except for the native population (the Arabs) which had been living in it for the previous nineteen hundred years. The creation of the state of Israel resulted in the ethnic cleansing of many of them. It also resulted in the permanent denial of their return, indeed the characterization of such a policy as absurd and even an overtly hostile act, even as Israeli Jews invoked a “right of return” for Jews, most of whom had been absent from the region for periods measured in centuries and millennia.

        So when you write “It’s not actually an apartheid state since the territories are only conquered territories with native populations,” you are missing how Israel and these territories came into existence, that they have never been separate but separated, and that this process of separating the people from the land has coalesced into apartheid.

        1. Mikizo

          What all the claimants of “Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing” conveiently remember is that the Palestinians (just Arabs at the time – the term “Palestinian” coming into being after the establishment of the State of Israel) had been murdering and “cleansing” Jews for a generation prior to the war and the all regions remaining under Arab control at the end of the war were completely “Judenrein”.
          At the end of the 1948 war Israel was 15% Arab and that percentage has grown to over 20% since then.
          While Arabs may encounter some personal discrimination, it is nothing near the rabid anti-Jewish rhetoric of the “Palestinian Authority” and the Arab media, and Israeli Arabs enjoy full political, religious and economic rights in Israel.
          The situation in the West Bank is more difficult and yes, Israel has made things worse by settling several hundred thousand Israelis on a piece of land that is too small as it is.

      2. liberal

        BS. Israel has explicitly racist policies for internal issues (ie, not even in the occupied territories) that the US progressed past decades ago.

  7. Carolinian

    According to the folks at http://mondoweiss.net/ about forty percent of the Democratic party’s funding comes from Jewish donors. Undoubtedly this is mostly because Jews are traditionally a politically liberal group. But as the article points out, even pro peace groups like J Street are vehemently in favor of U.S. military aid to Israel and presumably that would also apply to those liberals who are so much a part of the Democrats funding. Barbra Streisand for example often partcipates in fund raisers for the IDF.

    So I don’t believe it is anti-semitic to point out that a large segment of our current elites are Jewish, have a lot of money to donate, and that money is what drives American politics these days. In fact this is one of the constant themes of former journalist Phil Weiss at Mondoweiss.net and while he might be considered a turncoat to some, it’s unlikely that he is bigoted against himself.

    So I’d say the big picture here is the same as many other articles on this site: that the wealthy in the U.S. have a disproportionate and damaging amount of power at the present time. And in fairness it should be said there are other lobbyists who have reasons to favor the military aid including defense contractors and the rightwing Christian Dominionists such as are to be found in my neck of the woods.

    At any rate thanks for posting this article and enlarging the conversation.

  8. Banger

    Whenever I read these kinds of stories, and this one is passionate and well written, I feel just a touch of nausea. Israel and large numbers of American Jews have worked tirelessly and often ruthlessly to make sure the interests of the Israeli state are of paramount importance in Washington. They have put it the hard work of realpolitik because they don’t live in an intellectual construct of American Exceptionalism with it high-school civics ideas of politics. They don’t f— around. I admire that about Israel and their supporters here. They have cynically manipulated the Holocaust to make it appear that only Jews died in WWII camps (for more read Norm Finklestein’s book on the subject) and worked tirelessly to brand any opponent who works in the media or in Washington who opposes them a anti-Semite (a curious word since most Semites are Arabs). Like Miami Cubans militant right-wing Jews dominate American foreign policy in Palestine and much of the ME.

    Having said that, the U.S. recognized Israel as a kind of Fort Apache in the ME that policy-makers could always count on. There was no reason then and there is no reason now not to support Israel, for very different reasons. Then it was to be a source of stability in the region and now Israel serves the purpose of making sure instability is maintained. The USG does not and has not wanted “peace” in the region. Islamic terrorism is a boon to the national security state–think about it! Where would we be had not “terrorism” replaced the threat of “communism”? I believe the U.S. and now the West as a whole nurtured and supported radical Islam first as an opponent to socialism (Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 50s to counter Nasser) and then as a way to keep the pot boiling (support of Saudi Arabia and its support of radical Islam everywhere) and make sure no anti-capitalism notions should enter the region. Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad became enemies because they did provide some level of decent living for their citizens through authoritarian methods but what is the alternative? Read about conditions from travel writers who wrote about Libya and Syria just a few years before their “revolutions.” Read about conditions in Iraq before the Gulf War–quite stunning and similarly conditions in Afghanistan before the complicated war there artfully promoted by good ole Zbig (btw, I admire the guy).

    As for Kerry and all those who go through the grand Kabuki called “the peace process” between Israel and Palestine, I spit on them, so to speak. There can be no peace process based on justice because we live in a world that honors only and I mean ONLY realpolitik. Americans, including American intellectuals, are encased in these American Exceptionlist and Kerry knows that. Fantasies that the Ukraine, the “Arab Spring” and all the color revolutions is about liberal “democracy” and the inevitable glide towards liberty and justice for all is a load of crap. These conflicts are, as always, about asserting power, often U.S. power, against rivals like Russia, Iran, China and for neoliberal capitalism and it’s twin the neoconservative U.S. national security state domination of the world, aka, the Empire.

    We can mourn the suffering of the Palestinian Arab population all we want but nothing will or can change as long as we don’t understand the dynamic of Empire. Empire depends on the strong dominating the weak–the Palestinians have resisted that notion and, in a way, they resist for all of us. They have clearly shown the lie of “democracy” (Israel is the most democratic state in the region and the most belligerent) and the fact that we only accept democratic results of elections if the winners favor the will of the American national security state or at least don’t go out of their way to piss people off in Washington. And, in case you are worried that these people who run FP (mainly neocons like the Victoria Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan), know that some are fanatics but they only survive because they are allied to the CIA, Wall Street, and the vast army of national security contractors who are only interested in looting the Treasury and earning their billions–they will never let the world go too far out of balance and destroy the goose that has laid golden eggs for them since WWII.

    Israel, btw, has the virtue of acting in its own interest without shame–I see that as better than the phony “idealism” displayed by American politicians and for that Israelis should be honored.

    1. JTFaraday

      Well, it is true that the tendency to ritually abuse the professed ideals of the American government, and liberal ideals more generally, by twisting them into a cloak for naked self interest is a hallmark of our current crisis in legitimacy.

      I don’t know. Maybe other people can still listen to diehard liberal war hawk Paul Berman piously intone on liberal ideals, for example, but I can’t.

  9. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

    Eric Hoffer: “The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it.Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese–and no one says a word about refugees.

    But in the case of Israel , the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.

    Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.”

    1. F. Beard

      Good point!

      Still the Middle East is prophesied to be crucial in the End Times and so it continues to be a thorn in the side of world peace.

      Only a Miracle can change things but you, for one, scoff at such things.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      That is the stupidest, most self-serving bunch of BS I have ever read.

      And, by the way, the French had no business in Algeria in the first place. They were invaders, not natives.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Ever heard of the World Jewish Congress lawsuit against Swiss banks for their retention of dormant bank accounts from WW II? It resulted in the payout of nearly $500 million, not only for bank accounts, but also as compensation for persons denied admission to Switzerland as refugees.

      I’m sure you’d be glad to explain why Palestinian refugees’ claims for property seized by Israel are different and less deserving than the settlement obtained by the World Jewish Congress.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Exactly. The world and history had no problem with ethnic cleansing, racial supremacy, genocide, and concentration camps perpetrated by the Nazis. So why should we quibble about Gaza, West Bank Bantustans, and IDF Gestapo brutality. Anyway, all the evil throughout history justifies anything Israel does, right? Hoffer’s two-wrongs logic is impeccable! /s

      Katniss is right. That’s some audacious BS!

    5. Banger

      Nonsense. “Everybody” hasn’t favored the right of return. The reason all this was an issue at all was that the West largely imposed Israel on the Arab residents of Palestine at a time when the Holocaust proved the need of Jews to have a place of refuge. For some time the idea of ethnic cleansing, essentially what happened in Palestine, was seen as a very bad thing after the displacement of the first half of the 20th century. Even that being the case most of the world supported the Israeli state. In the end it was the growing belligerency of the Israeli state and its idea that it was absolutely not subject to international law (something that was once thought to be important and now lies tattered in some red-light district) that created problems for Israel’s reputation. Not only that, but Israel went out of its way to attack, undermine and character assassinate any voice that was raised against the treatment of Palestinians whether in the media or professional organizations anywhere in the world where Israeli agents had some power. Finally, Israel has nuclear arms and it is allowed to escape all international agreements on those while Iran, traditionally a non-aggressive country is threatened with war continually by the West. How the f—- is that ok?

      Having said that, Israel conquered its enemies fair and square and should be able to determine the fate of its conquered territories since, at this point in history, there is no such thing as international law (“we don’t need no stinkin’ badges”). I think Israel is wrong in its policies and hard-nosed and often spectacularly cruel treatment of Palistinians (if Americans knew half of the atrocities Israel committed everyone would have been up in arms–for example, systematic torture of Palestinian prisoners was never reported in the U.S. press–I had to learn of it from an Israeli soldier.)

      I think Greater Israel and eventual displacement of much of the Palestinian population is the most likely long-term result.

    6. Working Class Nero

      “ Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.”

      Everyone? Really? What sort of rhetorical device is this. Everyone? Surely not Israelis. So all non-Israelis? Everyone? Can you really quote such nonsense? It’s pretty much a real bad sign when anyone says all of this group or that group thinks a certain way.

      So now for our history lesson. Sure the Turks sent back around half a million Greeks but all this was negotiated. What wasn’t mentioned by Hoffer is at the same time that the Greeks sent back a million peasants to Turkey. And if you think about it for a second, this mirrors pretty closely what happened after the Jewish victory in the 1948 war. Around a million Palestinians were sent packing and in retaliation at least a half million Jews were kicked out of Muslim countries (not all of them ended up in Israel). So the two cases seem pretty similar, the one huge difference was that the Greek / Turkish exchanges were the results of international negotiations while the Palestinian / Jewish trades were not.

      It’s interesting that Hoffer mentions Algeria since that is the closest historical example to the Israeli / Palestinian conflict today. The best book on the subject is Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace and it is said Ariel Sharon kept this book on his nightstand. Much as Israel took over Palestine, the French in the 1830’s invaded and annexed Algeria. To be clear, the Mediterranean portion of Algeria was not a colony; it was part of France; but almost only the colons (Europeans) were allowed to vote. The colons gained exaggerated influence in the National Assembly back in Paris and eventually installed an apartheid system in Algeria. Replace Paris with Washington DC and the colons with Israelis and you can see the similarities although up until now the US and Israel remain separate countries although the financial burden Israel imposes on the US is more than the colons in Algeria imposed on France.

      Finally inspired by Maoist revolutionary ideology and armed with relatively inexpensive weaponry the Algerians launched a war of attrition against the French. After a coup de etat launched by the French Algerian military hierarchy at the peak of their power, they made the fatal mistake of placing Charles de Gaulle in power who quickly turned on the generals in Algeria by cutting and running out of Algeria. And yes the Algerians kicked out around 800,000 pied noirs. The funny thing is that the French didn’t send their Algerians back but have instead taken in probably a million more since then. And the Algerians in France and the pied noirs still don’t get along.

      Ariel Sharon was inspired by de Gaulle for his retreat from Gaza. However the plan was to use that pullback to justify holding on to the West Bank for at least another twenty years. One day though the Palestinians will wake up and either lead a violent campaign as in Algeria or a peaceful one as in India. Or they will not wake up and then the international community will lead the campaign as in South Africa and then twenty years later the Palestinians will fight. One way or another it is quite likely that in the future Israel will face their Battle of Algiers and come up wanting. And that’s the day we will hear a whole different tune from the Hoffer’s of the world on refugees, victors enjoying the fruits of victory, and the morality of population transfers.

    7. Hugh

      A standard hasbara argument is to duck the question of wrong by asserting that everyone does it, or did it. This is both a dangerous and stupid argument. The whole history of discrimination against Jews could simply be rationalized away because many groups have been discriminated against over the ages, and some treated even worse than the Jews. Groups have massacred other groups throughout history. Would Jews, or indeed anyone, feel comfortable explaining away the Holocaust in such terms? Well yes, a lot of people were killed but it’s not like that hasn’t happened before …

      Belittling the Palestinians as “eternal refugees” is rich given Jewish history. Rather the history of the state of Israel illustrates a sad lesson about human nature, that the oppressed often, if given the chance, embrace the role of the oppressor, and that the experience of tragedy and oppression conveys no special wisdom or insight on to its victims.

  10. SAKMAN

    It is a war process. All the details and intellectual debate is irrelevant. If you disagree with the wrong person in that part of the world you get shot in the head. Then your logic and your life is gone. All you need to do is choose a side and hope they win. It’s war and therfore it isn’t really all that complicated. Put two crazy people in a room. You support the one that isn’t going to kill you once he kills the other guy. That is the strategy that the US is taking.

  11. smartstrike

    For most of our lives we were taught that we Americans must sacrifice our lives to protect Germany and South Korea even if meant nuclear war. US spent trillions on security of foreign nations that have independent foreign polices and economic predatory designs on US.

    US spent over $8 trillion securing oil passage to China and Japan alone.

    Does anyone even question US commitment to security of Germany or South Korea? Why, should we care? Personally it would bother me very little if Russia dominated Germany like it dominated former East Germany and reunification of Koreas is not our responsibility either! Should Americans die to protect South Koreans from Kim Jong-un?

    Both Germany and South Korea are predatory competitors of US while American taxpayers foot bills worth tens of billions in military and economic subsides to Korea and Germany with detrimental effect on employment in US.

    When American farmers want to sell beef in South Korea, they’re faced with million men protests denouncing America. Whose interests are we minding in Germany, ours or German?

    Articles like the one above are full of hypocritical trite. We Americans pretend to be an integrated nation, yet most whites find it more than just a necessity to live in segregated and walled-off communities. Of course, the same logic could not possibility apply to Israel.

    I personally find it very ironic that the European right often cheers Israel while the left loathes it like Oxfam when it calls for a boycott of Israeli soda company operating a plant out of West Bank, but Oxfam is okay with global wage exploitation in countries like China.

  12. Waking Up

    What an honest and discussion opening article written by Chase Madar. Thanks for posting it Yves. Something very few in our propaganda machine would allow to be said for decades now.

    It’s also time not only for the Jewish community but also the population at large in the United States to acknowledge that everyone who questions Israeli and U.S. relations are not automatically “anti-semite”. This type of “emotional blackmail” has gone on for too long. However, it seems if we have the discussion on Israeli-U.S. relations, it will force us to have the larger discussion on U.S. hegemony.

    1. Jackrabbit

      I’d guess ’emotional blackmail’ has also directed against American Jews.

      Yves states that many young Jews are uninterested or critical of what is happening in Israel, and that may be so but I’d guess that Jews face much pressure to give to Israel causes and toe-the-line as they get older.

      How many Jews, in a position of any power/substance, have spoken out? Oh there are some academics or artsy fold, no doubt, but anyone with real money or power?

      1. Jackrabbit

        Add’l comments:
        1) ethnic/religious solidarity is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be preyed upon.

        2) the US was able to play a fairly positive role in British-Irish relations because the large population of immigrants gave the US an strong interest, and neither side represented an overwhelming influence on US politics.

        3) we are seeing lots of propaganda and litmus tests in many areas (not just Israel-Palestine) spurred by the growth of hard-line/conservative influence.

  13. duffolonious

    In reading about the Israeli Air Force it’s very interesting.
    There is a book by an RAF pilot (I can find it when I’m home) that goes throw the history of the Israeli Air Force in a roundabout in the early 70’s (before the ’73 war). The book is a bit painful because it’s obviously a “write nice about us, and we’ll give you access.”
    1) In the ’48 war the RAF and IAF (Spitfires vs. Me-109’s? So I’ve heard) actually fought against each other (interesting the Israeli’s in this book knowing the auther is a former RAF pilot say they’re sorry a number of times).
    2) They talk about having almost no resources in the battle for the Suez: young amateur pilots attacking the Egyptians with Cessna’s (reads like 5 o’clock charlie from M*A*S*H). Remember Eisenhower sided with Egypt, more-or-less.
    3) To the ’67 war – using French Mirage’s and whatever else they had (kind of like Suez, but with some modern equipment).
    4) To the point of the book – where the Israeli’s are doing everything they can to get F4 Phantoms from Nixon (he sent them some [4?], then stopped, and they apparently didn’t know why). The French had stopped selling them planes by this point.

    It’s interesting how things evolved. How gradually (and sometimes even taking a step back) the Israeli’s were able to get more access to US munitions.

    I think Yves is exactly right. AIPAC and related – much like the NRA, knew how to maneuver US politics to their advantage. Although they did start differently, AIPAC was originally like the Mafia – it didn’t exist. Robert John talks about this (if I have the name correct – going off of memory from college) and apparently his publicist got beaten up because of it (talked about in the book itself published in the late 70’s). Unlike the NRA, AIPAC had to be somewhat covert before reaching some sort of critical mass, apparently.

    I think this shift happened in the 70’s. But I’m not sure how. By the 80’s I think AIPAC was already established.

  14. Stevedoc22

    I assume, that right after Israel “gives back” (to whom I wonder) the “occupied territories”, obtained after beating back two attempts by combined Arab forces to destroy it, the U.S. will give back the land taken over many years from the indigenous american “indian” tribes, who were, in fact, clearly “ethically cleansed”.

  15. onda

    Israel did not conquer anything. European Jews started arriving in “Palesitne/Israel/Middle East” based mostly on supremely wealthy Jewish bankers in Europe with the idea to get Jews back into Israel because hey we’re wealthy and we can make things happen. Those went weren’t that welcome, more because they had so little connection with the area, and the locals started making it known they were not welcome (even though there were ME Jews living side by side with the locals) because the European Jews were complaining about “anti-semitism” by some other group and that, this is our land, not yours locals, our religious text says so.

    As it’s easy to be a local and band together against “invaders”, the Jews started terrorism with the Irgun, attacking anyone as opposed when a bunch of. Anyone who says no does not understand that the European Jews were ALL invaders, so attacking any of them is attacking a combatant, while attacking the resident locals is attacking a non-combatant, and thus, terrorism. Not to mention bombing the British King David Hotel, because they were not helpful with the European Jews desires.

    When the diplomatic “solution” was raised after WWII, the locals must have asked, as before “why do we lose our land for what some European/Russian did?” All the “conquering” based on “self-defense” used as propaganda to justify the constant victim status of Israel were really pre-emptive war if you read the history not provided by the MSM.

    Finally, Arafat did refuse the Camp David “offer” in 2000, but search “Gush Shalom barak generous offer” (Gush Shalom a Jewish peace group) to see that we never get the proper story… because why???

    Because they have control of the medium that brings us the message. They did it in pre-WWII France, and they are doing it now. And when any resistance appears to their party line, they start their hellfire anti-semite rant. Propaganda is credited to Hitler, but the pro-Israel world is now master of that domain. Do you hear of the militant settlers, of the Israeli religious right? Have you seen what happened to the Somali refugees? There is a whole side of Israel, that controls its politics, that is just as venal as Fundamental Islam. But we dont’ hear about that either… because why??

    Ultimately it’s a campaign finance issue. Look at the sabotaging of the current Iranian deal, all financed by pro-Israel money. How are neocons not laughed out of DC after their horrendous Iraqi War/Remake the Middle East plans?

    A quote: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country….We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?” David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel

  16. tiger

    Stop talking about my country. My country Israel is not perfect, but so what? Is YOUR country perfect? No it isn’t. So why are you talking about Israel?

    Those of you that are arabs or Jews, let’s all talk. To everyone else: go screw yourselves. Let’s talk about capitalism. Israel is foreign policy, it’s not capitalism, and Israel is none of the business of NC readers who have no skin in t he game, literally. My 2 cousins are completing the mandatory military service this week and I am very proud of them.

    Now let’s go back to talking about banks and Draghi and stuff.

  17. Binghamton SJP

    Binghamton University, New York’s largest public university, will not stay silent. We now have a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, dedicated to advancing the BDS campaign on our campus in parallel with campus chapters across the country.

Comments are closed.