CP Article: "No Thank You, Mr. President" - ie., Letting Israel Off the Hook?

Mohammad J Alam alam.m at neu.edu
Sat Sep 14 16:46:29 MDT 2002

There appear to be two major positions about the exact nature of the
U.S. - Israeli relationship, one claiming that Israel is a client state
doing Washington's bidding, fatalistically tied to America's
trajectory, the other espousing the view of an elite Jewish-American
minority dragging the sole imperial power into Zionism's regional
long-standing aims.

Frankly neither position, unless I am mistaken, has really been
completely worked out or thoroughly argued, but below is one that is of
the client-state position. I believe the precise nature of the
US-Israeli relationship is not a matter of semantics or abstruse
dialectics, because it may help us immensely to understand why the US
is going to war with Iraq, whether or not Israel plans an expulsion
campaign during war, and above all if and how the US plans to take over
and occupy the entire Middle East.
Counterpunch Sept. 13 2002
No Thank You, Mr. President
by Lev Grinberg

Following end of the '67 battles, the Israeli government decided to
knock down the barriers separating Eastern Jerusalem and annex the
eastern Palestinian neighborhoods. Expecting immediate American
pressure to withdraw from the conquered territories, the government
rushed in and took control. The pressure never came. That expectation
was based on past experience: In 1956 the US forced Israel to withdraw
from the Sinai Desert back to the international border, in three
months. In 1967, though, surprisingly, no such demand was made. On the
contrary - the Americans allowed Israel to start a construction lunge,
building neighborhoods in Eastern Jerusalem, settlements in the West
Bank, in Sinai, and in the Golan Heights. Not only was there no
pressure to withdraw, but Israel received a generous three billion
dollars funding yearly, which went mainly to subsidize the American
weapon industry.

The difference between 1956 and 1967 is in the political context. In
1956 Israel attacked Egypt in cooperation with the UK and France, who
were grabbing to get the Suez Canal back under their control, after
being nationalized two years earlier by Gamal Abd el-Nasser. The US and
the USSR, WWII victors, were interested in blocking the declining
empires of Great Britain and France, while encouraging the independence
of the post-colonial world. And so Israel was punished on the attack in
1956, and made to retreat. In 1967, on the other hand, the US and USSR
were deep in the Cold War, and the cooperation between the USSR, Egypt
and Syria encouraged the US to support and boost the military power of

The Israelis, who felt threatened and surrounded by enemies till then,
and who still had not overcome the Holocaust's trauma, were thrilled by
the backing of the mighty US, and blinded by the power. Some took it as
divine influence and turned to messianic beliefs, and yet others saw it
in terms of pure military force and developed a shallow, pervasively
militaristic outlook. However, in effect, Israel became trapped by the
US: it has become the spearhead of American presence in the Middle
East, which carries with it a dear price of aggression, arrogance, and
continuing conflict. Already in 1973 it became clear that the "aerial
arms train" sent by the US could not save the 2700 Israeli soldiers,
victims of a moronic policy relying solely on military force. In other
words, the American support was a historical disaster to Israel. The
occupation and settlement regime that followed, for 35 years now,
corrupted Israel morally and politically. The messianic-religious and
military elites shape the discourse of Israeli politics, and no policy
holds against their interests.

President Bush's current policy brings Israel even closer to danger,
greater than ever before, in leaps and bounds, without any public
debate, since the Israeli government depends on the US and cannot
object. After Sharon received full backing for canceling the Oslo
agreements, disbanding the Palestinian Authority, re-conquering the
Gaza strip, de-legitimizing Arafat and turning the Palestinian cities
to no more than large prisons, how can he object to attacking Iraq? The
Israeli government is the only government in the world that
unconditionally stands by the Bush administration in attacking Iraq,
though her citizens are the only ones expected to be hurt by this war,
almost certainly. Ariel Sharon proudly declared that "Israel is the
best prepared nation in the world for a chemical or biological attack"
(Yediot Aharonot, 6.9.02). What he did not add is that its civilians
are the only ones in the world under real threat of being hit by
chemical and biological weapons.

There is no doubt that if the Iraqi people suffer serious damage from
the US, the majority of Arab nations will largely view using
unconventional warfare on Israel as legitimate. There is also no doubt
that if Israel will be attacked by chemical or biological missiles, the
majority of the Israeli public will support a nuclear strike on Iraq.
Sharon will certainly take the chance to mass-deport Palestinians into
Jordan, a move that the current IDF chief of staff recently hinted upon
when he defined the Palestinians as a "cancer," offering "amputation"
as a possible solution (Haaretz, 31.8.02). The consequences of an
American strike on Iraq would undoubtedly be a disaster to the entire
Middle East, at the very least.

Any reasonable Israeli must object to a war endangering him and his
family, that can spell a disaster to the future of his country. But we
are stuck in the same 35-year-old problem: our government is run by
messianic-nationalists and a war-craving military elite, who get
support and encouragement from the extremist conservatives of the Bush
administration. We are captives of the US, unable to say No. There is
no political force able to defend the vital interests of the state of
Israel and its citizens, because the US has invested large funds and
prestige in Israel, and now it wants to get some profit back. We must
stand against this war, as independent Israeli citizens. The US is not
doing us any favor - it is endangering us for it's own aggressive
interests as a financial and military superpower.

We have to say: No Thank You, Mr. President!

Dr. Lev Grinberg is a political sociologist, senior lecturer in the
Behavioral Science department of Ben Gurion University.

He can be reached at: lev at bgumail.bgu.ac.il

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