Israel controls America’s Middle East policy


imaybewrongbutnz

Events in Washington over the past week show that Israel controls America’s Middle East policy. Some people may think me naive to have taken so long to realise that, but I’ve tried for many years to keep an open mind on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I can no longer.

I remember hearing the news of the quick 1967 war between the two states. I was in my early 20s, a new adult becoming more aware of affairs outside my own youthful adventures. From what I heard and read at the time, I was a little ambivalent in attitude but probably my impression was mainly that Israel did need to defend itself so it was sort of acceptable.

Over the past 20 years my opinion has developed and changed. I’ve read extensively from both sides of the argument; I’ve tried to place myself in the skin of both parties; I’ve paid attention to my gut feeling as to who was more in the right morally.

Now I am solidly behind the Palestinian cause. Not because they are the “goodies” – no more or less so than any other country – but because it is clear to me that Israel as a nation has gone way beyond what is reasonable and sensible and is now exercising power because it can, regardless of consequences which it thinks it can control. Furthermore, I think that its policy of maintaining and increasing suppression of Palestinians is, if nothing else, stupid as a medium to long term strategy and eventually will be self-defeating.

Watching Netanyahu lecture Obama on TV about what was and was not acceptable was an insight into the way in which a man who represents and serves an arrogant and aggressive electorate can control the foreign policy of a mighty country like USA. I felt deeply sorry for those Israeli citizens who genuinely want to make a reasonable and fair peace with Palestine, but who have a leader behaving thus.

Netanyahu’s main argument – that the borders that stood before 1967 are “indefensible” – is likely true. But this is not because of anything Palestine has done since 1967; it is only so because of Israel’s long-standing policy and practice of encouraging and militarily backing its extremist right-wing settlers to take whatever land they like within the West Bank, which is still officially Palestinian territory.

Israel’s leaders have made the old border indefensible, and they need to live with the long-term consequences of their provocative actions. They have also made sure that any new border, based on settlers staying put, makes an unviable Palestinian state. Palestine would become the tiny Gaza Strip plus fragments of lands to the west more fractured than swiss cheese. Its resident Palestinian communities would be confined to poor and unsupported land pockets and strips, cut off from each other and subject to the whims of a multitude of adjacent armed settler communities demanding easy access to “mainland” Israel.

This is simply nonsense, and attempts to justify it on security grounds are arrogant piffle, an insult to thinking people. Settlers must leave their isolated pockets and allow Palestine to develop into an integrated society. Anything else would constitute an unsustainable “peace” solution. On this point, Obama is precisely right.

In my mind, there are close parallels between the two simplest factors that are keeping this conflict alive year after year.

On one side, while probably the majority of moderate Palestinians would want the militants to stop sending provocative (and, it seems, pretty harmless) rockets into Israel, they cannot stop the militants who are spoiling it for all.

On the other side, while probably the majority of Israeli citizens would want militant settlers to stop moving provocatively into Palestinian land and claiming it as non-negotiably theirs when it comes to any two-state solution, that majority seemingly cannot stop the settlers who have an iron grip on their government. To me, Israeli settlers are like terrorists but with different attack weapons – one side does some random rocket firing and perhaps an occasional suicide bombing, the other just marches onto land they don’t own, refuses to move, and challenges the legitimate owners to do something about it.

Israel refuses to recognise Hamas because it is a terrorist group. Sure, some in Hamas do appear to sanction terrorist activities, but then so does the Israeli state. Sending bombers into the skies above Gaza and without warning bombing a few buildings, killing some civilians along the way, must be pretty terrifying.

In fact, Hamas is a terrorist group only because Israel defines it as such, and uses its influence over Western governments to get their endorsement of this definition. Unilaterally defining Hamas as terrorists, and then saying that is why you won’t recognise them, is weak logic.

Likewise with their argument that they will not recognise a group that does not recognise Israel’s right to exist. But Israel and its Western allies don’t recognise Hamas’s right to exist. What’s the difference? Oh, that’s right: Hamas is a terrorist group – we know that because we defined them as such.

Along with others, I’m sure, I wish Hamas would simply say it recognises Israel. That would take the wind out of the opposition, and Israel would have absolutely no reasonable basis for continuing oppression.

I also wish that the US would stop funding Israel’s actions in support of its militant settler aggression. However, Israel’s influence through the Jewish lobby in the US means Obama cannot do this unless he wants to commit electoral suicide.

I applaud Obama’s attempt to stand up to Netanyahu and the illegal Jewish settlers. What hope has Obama of making headway on this? Very little for now, I suspect; but I hope he can promote some rational thinking about what is actually going on over there.

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My apologies to those who would like to add genuine comments to my blog articles, but I have had to disable comments because I was being flooded with spam messages from people posting non-specific, automated comments aiming to get links to their dodgy sites included in commentary (doubtless to boost their Google ranking). If and when it ever stops, I will renew the comments feature.

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