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14 March 2017

‘Web of Weirdness’: US and Israeli Codependent Relationship is Not Just about Money

By: Ramzy Baroud
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"We must look back twenty-five years to realize how far Israel has fallen in world support," wrote famed Jewish scholar, Harvard sociologist, Nathan Glazer in 1976.
 
In the last forty years since Glazer wrote his piece, which was uncovered and transmitted by Philip Weiss, Israel's global support has fallen much further. The country that once appealed to both United States’ capitalism and the Soviet Union’s socialism is now militarily powerful but, otherwise, politically isolated on the international stage.
 
The misleading perception that Israel is a ‘beacon of light’ among nations has worn off. Worse, the last time this phrase was uttered at an international level, it was made by Geert Wilders, a Dutch populist right-wing politician perceived by many to be a racist and an Islamophobe.
 
Yet, the more isolated Israel became, the more its dependency on the United States grew.
 
"Supporting Israel is not in America’s interests," Weiss wrote. "In fact, Israel is a strategic liability for the US. That makes American Jewish influence the ultimate pillar of Israel’s survival."
 
Although Zionists often speak of a historical bond between the US and the Jewish people, nothing could be further from the truth.
 
On May 13, 1939, a boat carrying hundreds of German Jews was not allowed to reach American shores and was eventually sent back to Europe.
 
That was not a foreign policy fluke. Three months earlier, in February 1939, members of Congress rejected a bill that would allow 20,000 German Jewish children to come to the US to escape the war and possible extermination at the hands of the Nazis.
 
Not only did Congress shoot it down but the public had no interest in the matter either, as allowing Jews into the US was quite unpopular at the time.
 
Fast forward nearly eight decades, things have changed in name only.
 
While most American Jews continue to support Israel, they are opposed to the administration of Donald Trump, which they rightly perceive to be dangerous and hostile to all minorities, Jewish included.
 
However, Israel does not seem to have much qualms with the new administration. On the contrary, the most ardent Israeli Zionists are particularly pleased by Trump’s clique of reviled politicians.
 
Mere days after Trump won the US Presidential election, American Zionists moved quickly to ensure Israeli interests were fully guarded by the new administration.
 
The Zionist Organization of America wasted no time, either, by fraternizing with individuals accused of having anti-Jewish agendas. ZOA's annual gala on November 20 hosted none other than Steve Bannon, a leader in the so-called ‘alt-right’, otherwise known as white supremacy in the US.
 
Under his leadership, Breitbart, seen as a major platform for the alt-right, fueled anti-Semitism (needless to say, racism of all shades), argued Alex Amend and Jonathan Morgan in AlterNet.
 
Watching top Israeli officials and leaders of the Jewish community in the United States hosting - ever so enthusiastically - Bannon at ZOA's annual gala appeared perplexing to some.
 
But Bannon's ties with Zionists go back to well before the rather surprising Trump election victory.
 
In an article entitled: "Steve Bannon’s web of weirdness: Meet the bizarre billionaires behind the president-elect’s chief strategist," Heather Digby Patron named a few of these 'bizarre billionaires'.
 
They included, Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing billionaire with a gambling empire, who is 'singularly focused on the state of Israel.'
 
Adelson's relationship with Bannon (and Trump) has well preceded Trump's victory, and seemed to take little notice of the fact that Bannon and his ilk were viewed by many American Jews as frightening, racist, anti-Semites with a menacing agenda.
 
Adelson, however, cares little for the true racists. His obsession to shield Israel's militant Zionist agenda trumped all other seemingly little irritants.
 
But the gambling mogul is not the exception among powerful Zionists in the US, and, despite official Israeli rhetoric, Israel does not make political decisions based on the collective good of the Jewish people.
 
Writing in ‘Mondoweiss’, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network explained: "From Russian Tzars to the Nazis to Mussolini to the colonial British Empire to the Christian Right - Christian Zionists; (The Zionists') embracing of Trump and renowned reactionary political strategist, Steve Bannon, is no exception."
 
Israeli commentator Gideon Levy agrees.
 
In an article published by ‘Haaretz’ on November 21, Levy wrote, "When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the Occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists."
 
Thus, it is no surprise that Adelson is funding a massively rich campaign and lavish conferences to combat the influence of the civil society-powered Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), while plotting against Palestinians using the same American elements that consider the word 'Jew' a swear word in their own social lexicon.
 
By putting Israel and Zionism first, these rich individuals, powerful lobby groups, hundreds of think- tanks, thousands of networks across the country and their allies among the religious right, are now the main wheelers and dealers in any matter concerning US foreign policy in the Middle East and Israel's political and security interests.
 
With no empirical evidence, however, Israel still insists on linking American interests to US support of Israel.
 
Speaking in the White House on February 15 at a joint press conference with President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cordially thanked Trump for his hospitality, then uttered these words: "Israel has no better ally than the United States. And I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel."
 
But it was only half true. The US has indeed been a stalwart supporter of Israel, offering it over $3.1 billion in financial assistance each year over the last a few decades, an amount that dramatically increased under President Barack Obama to $3.8 billion. Coupled with hundreds of millions more in all kinds of financial, military assistance and 'loans' that were mostly unaccounted for.
 
The cost of Israel is not only financial, but strategic as well.
 
Since World War II, the US has vied to achieve two main foreign policy objectives in that part of the world: control the region and its resources and prop up its allies, while maintaining a degree of 'stability' so that the US is able to conduct its business unhindered.
 
Nevertheless, Israel remained on the war path. Wars that Israel could not fight on its own, required American intervention on Israel's behalf as was the case in Iraq. The outcome was disastrous for US foreign policy. Even hardened military men began to notice the destructive path their country had chosen in order to defend Israel.
 
In March 2010, General David Petraeus, then Head of the US Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a testimony that Israel had become a liability for the US and that it has become a challenge to the ‘security and stability', which his country aimed to achieve.
 
Although recent polls have shown that younger Americans - especially among Democratic party supporters and young Jewish Americans - are losing their enthusiasm for Israel and its Zionist ideology - the battle for the US to reclaim its foreign policy and a sense of morality regarding Palestine and the Middle East is likely to be long and arduous.

* Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). - ramzybaroud@gmail.com



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