Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

America’s Israel

by C.G. Estabrook

The proper way to begin to understand the “Israeli-Palestinian problem” is to recognize that Israel is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States government. Criticism of its racist and oppressive policies towards non-Jews and of its brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine is necessarily criticism of the policies of American governments, Republican as well as Democrat, that have made these things possible.

During the Cold War, it was fashionable to sneer at the Cuban economy as “unviable” because it depended on money from the Soviet Union, principally in exchange for Cuba’s sugar crop (owing to the long-standing US embargo); but every year for a generation Israel has received much more money per capita from the United States than Cuba received from the USSR in its best year. The present Israeli economy is of course unviable — it survives as a military outpost of the US, armed to the teeth to prevent the emergence in the Middle East of any domestic radicalism that would threaten US control of the world’s greatest geopolitical prize, Mideast oil. To control world energy resources is to control the world economy, as the US has done for generations — and intends to continue to do. Israel is vital to its plans, and therefore successive US governments have been willing to put up with Israel’s enormities in regard to the Palestinian people.

But it has been pointed out that our principal client is a racist state in the legal — and not just psychological — sense of the term. A legally racist state is one in which privileges for a certain group defined by descent — and disabilities for those not so descended — are enshrined in law and governmental practice: disregarding anything thought or done, you belong to the privileged group if your parent(s) did, and if not, not. That was the case in South Africa from 1948 to 1991 and in many southern states in the US for the first half of the 20th century. Those states ceased to be legally racist when those laws were abolished, although psychological racism remained.

Israel of course is racist in a legal sense in that one group defined by descent, Jews, are privileged. (It is not of course a matter of religion, the majority of Jews in Israel not being religious.) Indeed, Israel is a uniquely racist state, in that all states, democratic and dictatorial, are taken to be the states of their inhabitants — but not Israel: it is by law the state of one group defined by descent, the “Jewish people world-wide.” It is as if a radical faction of the Irish Republican Army should come to power in Ireland and declare Ireland the state of the “Irish people world-wide,” so that an Irishman in South Boston (or Urbana) had more rights in Dublin than an Englishman (or a Jew) whose family had been there for generations. (There is not to my knowledge any such faction in the IRA.)

It is surprising in the extreme to see self-styled “supporters of Israel” write rabid letters to editors in this country whenever the state of Israel or any of its government’s policies are criticized. If they really loved Israel and its people, as they profess, you’d think they would want to encourage a situation in which the citizens of Israel could live in peace with their neighbors and prosper in an open, democratic society that was not the economic dependence of another state. Instead, they support Israel’s expanding moral corruption as a militarized colony, its prime ministers including men inspired by a nazi ideology (in the Jabotinsky tradition) and guilty of war crimes. Beleaguered and hated by the people surrounding it (and many in it) and armed with illegal nuclear weapons, Israel threatens the world with massive destruction. The Air Force officer in charge of nuclear strategy for the last US administration, Gen. Lee Butler, said, “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so.”

What could Israel do to cease being a pariah state, if its Washington masters permitted it? First of all, it could end the occupation of Palestinian territory, declared illegal by the UN Security Council thirty-four years ago, and not just pretend to do so by maintaining the proposed Palestinian statelet as a set of Indian reservations, controlled by the Israeli military. It could withdraw the settlements that cover the map of the West Bank and Gaza like a rash, settlements illegal under the Forth Geneva Convention (1949). It could establish the rights of non-Jewish citizens within Israel and come to an agreement on a “law of return” for Palestinians and their families driven out of Israel fifty years ago. (The existing Law of Return applies only to Jews, whose forbears may have left the area in the time of the Roman Emperor Titus, or before.) And it could move towards agreements on disarmament and economic cooperation with its neighbors, with the goal of an economically self-sufficient region, not dependent on US handouts. (Israel, followed distantly by Egypt, is by far the largest recipient of US aid.) The route to peace in the Middle East begins and ends in Washington. CP

Carl Estabrook teaches at the University of Illinois and is the host of News From Neptune, a weekly radio show on politics and the media. He writes a regular column for CounterPunch.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”