Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Holding Israel to account
The Israelis obviously thought the Obama administration was too busy with internal issues to pick a fight in the Middle East. I'm glad they were wrong. For far too long Israel has been given carte blanche to do what it wants in territory it seized by force in the past: build settlements and security walls, blockade, invade, deny Palestinians the right to movement, the right to livelihood, any rights at all.
Every time a peace plan is drawn up, the Israelis agree not to expand or build settlements, and then proceed to expand and build settlements. It must seem like a charade to them by now, which is why they announced a new building plan in East Jerusalem even while Vice President Biden was in town. When he expressed displeasure, the Israelis moved to Plan B, which is apologise but continue to expand and build settlements. It seems now that Obama and Clinton want actual evidence of real actions rather than words, a demonstration on the part of Benjamin Netanyahu's government that it is seriously interested in resolving the Palestinian issue through dialogue.
The Jewish American lobby has immediately gone to work in favour of Netanyahu. American newspapers are full of commentaries stressing Israel's stragetic importance to the United States. I don't understand this. In what way does Israel's existence help the USA? I can't think of a single important strategic objective that the US gains from the relationship. All it causes is anger in the Islamic world directed toward the United States.
This is not to suggest the US should abandon an ally in the interest of pleasing populations and governments which, in many cases, do not adequately respect human rights. But let's stop the 'strategic interest' humbug and recognise that Israel needs the US, the US does not need Israel. Somehow, both Israelis and Americans have forgotten this fact, and the result has been a ridiculous tail-wagging-the-dog scenario playing itself out for over a decade.