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foreign policy

U.S. Does Israel’s Bidding at the U.N.

American hypocrisy on flagrant display

America preaches to the world that its peoples should be free of oppression and have the right of self-determination, yet in the vote at the United Nations this past week, our country has sided with Israel that the Palestinians should not even have “nonmember observer status” at the international body. Standing out in stark relief, our vote, disagreeing with 138 countries that voted “yes”, gives the lie to what this country purportedly stands for.

The U.S. and Obama’s position has been that recognition of a Palestine in the wake of Arab Spring could spur uprisings. But that was made obsolete by the conflict in Gaza that has raised Hamas’ stock in the Arab world compared to the more peaceful approach at the U.N. of the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority. By hoping that the petition fail, by saying just days before the vote that his administration opposes the Palestinian bid, what is Obama trying to do, deliver a mortal blow to Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, for whom a failed diplomatic approach would have looked feeble compared to rocket-throwing Hamas.

So aligned with Israel is The New York Times that it agreed with the Obama administration’s action in an editorial the next day, citing as reasons that Israel might retaliate by withholding tax payments needed by the Palestinian Authority, might even oust Abbas and dismantle that organization, might encourage the U.S. to withhold funds as well. No mention that these actions would be reprehensible. Only a concern that the Palestinians might try to join the International Criminal Court to bring actions against Israel.

For years now, the U.S.-funded security forces of the Palestinian Authority have kept a tight lid on violence against Israel, but the Palestinians have seen nothing in return for making life comfortable for Israel. The “peace process” is moribund and the last two American presidents have done nothing across a dozen years to press the two sides. Instead, Palestinians see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu using the their quiescence to appropriate ever more land in the West Bank for Israel’s metastasizing settlements.

A hard-liner in a coalition with right-wing and ultra-orthodox parties, Netanyahu is increasingly thought to be subverting the two-state solution. Abbas and the Palestinians call for suspension of settlement building as a precondition to talks.
Israel's West Bank settlements

That Netanyahu refuses shows that Israel regards usurpation of Palestinian lands as its right and its cessation as a concession. Israel uses the precondition to blame Palestinians for unwillingness to negotiate, conveniently buying time to continue its land grabs.

The confiscation of land exposes the unspoken racism of those Israeli factions that have always wanted all of the West Bank, which they refer to by the Biblical name of Judea and Samaria, the homeland of 2,000 years ago that God promised them, a risible notion that land permanently belongs to whoever lived on it however many millennia ago (and that there is a God that makes promises to people). They long for what is euphemistically called “the transfer”, the desire that all Palestinians be rounded up and bussed into Jordan.

Settling in for Good

Netanyahu’s moves are in that direction. Obama and the United States implore him to suspend further settlement construction without which no peace talks can proceed, but he has repeatedly defied these requests. Stunningly, one day after Obama had the U.S. vote against Palestinian recognition in the U.N. in support of Israel, Netanyahu betrayed him by announcing a major development in East Jerusalem that would connect the settlement town of Maale Adumim and seal Jerusalem off from the West Bank.

It is clearly Netanyahu’s intent to so impact the West Bank with settlements — some 160,000 now live outside the settlement blocs that the two-state solution would annex to Israel in a trade for equivalent land — that their removal will soon be beyond consideration.

This is met with docile acquiescence by the United States. We frown upon such moves, we even use strong words like “condemn”, yet we continue to send Israel its annual $3 billion in aid year after year that helps buy the weapons that flatten Palestinians towns. The U.S. gets nothing in return, only demands, such as insisting we draw a red line beyond which any Iranian move would obligate this country to fight a war for Israel.

lapdogs

To get what he wants, Netanyahu simply sidesteps the Obama and previous administrations by going straight to an adoring U.S. Congress, thoroughly converted by the Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and by paid-for trips to the Holy Land. In May 2011, Congress applauded 56 times and gave Netanyahu a standing ovation for a speech in which he called “indefensible” Obama’s proposal that Israel revert to the 1967 borders before that war as the fundamental basis of the two-state solution. So in thrall to Bibi is Congress that a year ago the White House had to enlist him to sell Congress on approving $50 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, telling them that its use was to train their police would benefit Israel by keeping the peace among the Arabs. The New York Times quoted a Congressman as feeling “more comfortable receiving the explanation from the prime minister than from Obama administration officials”.

Those are the politics, but the more serious question is whether America and Americans are remotely aware of what Israel has become. It is a lengthy subject having to do with the growing strength of the ultra-orthodox, but for now, consider Gaza.

the world’s largest open-air prison

The military may have evacuated Gaza under Sharon, but that has distracted the world’s attention from the constant surveillance, the drones, and the blockade imposed by Israel since 2007 that deprives the 1.6 million inhabitants of the densely populated sliver of land of essentials and has shut down 95% of industry for lack of raw material. To prevent reconstruction of the buildings destroyed in Israel’s 2008 assault, and by the latest bombardment, concrete imports are embargoed. Border patrols have cordoned off 35% of the Strip’s arable land as a buffer, thus limiting food production. A carefully calculated number of trucks is allowed to bring in food based on the minimum number of calories the population needs, reports Noam Chomsky, a linguist professor become activist, who calls Gaza “the world’s largest open-air prison”. He points us to Mideast scholar Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, who informs us that the result of the food blockade is that

“about ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition" and that "a recent report by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that...anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers”.

Chomsky, who visited Gaza in October, said that, sitting in his hotel, he could hear the machine gun fire of the Israeli Coast Guard warning Gazan fishing boats to stay within Israel’s 3-mile limit. That forces fishing in waters that are polluted because of Israel’s disallowed reconstruction of the sewage and power systems they destroyed.

It’s enough to inspire some to fire rockets at an oppressor that has occupied Palestinian lands for an appalling 45 years. Barack Obama has said,

“There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So, we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”

Well, yes, but does our country give any consideration to the reasons for Gazans resorting to violence?

We cheered when Tunisians rose up, applauded the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, helped Libyan rebels gain independence, but, well, you see, the Palestinians are different, because our support for Israel is “ironclad” — Obama’s word — no matter its human rights violations.

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1 Comment for “U.S. Does Israel’s Bidding at the U.N.”

  1. Reginald Jones, Col., USAF (Ret)

    The impasse cannot be blamed solely on the U.N.; especially since the U.S., as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council systematically vetoes plausible solutions available to resolve this conflict that the State of Israel opposes….

    I support former U.S. Ambassador Charles Freeman’s plan:

    “…First, get behind the Arab peace initiative. Saudi Arab culture frowns on self-promotion and the Kingdom is less gifted than most at public diplomacy.

    Second, help create a Palestinian partner for peace. There can be no peace with Israel unless there are officials who are empowered by the Palestinian people to negotiate and ratify it.

    Third, reaffirm and enforce international law. The UN Security Council is charged with enforcing the rule of law internationally. Almost forty American vetoes have prevented the application to the Israeli occupying authorities of the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg precedents, human rights conventions, and relevant Security Council directives.

    Fourth, set a deadline linked to an ultimatum. Accept that the United States (under orders of the Israel lobby) will frustrate any attempt by the UN Security Council to address the continuing impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. Organize a global conference outside the UN system to coordinate (and impose) a decision..”

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