US "Suckered" Again in Israel

by Michelle Campos

In the Israeli cultural lexicon, there is no bigger insult than "freyer." Hebrew for "sucker," it describes anyone who pays too much for anything, stands quietly in line waiting his turn, or generally is too weak to get his own way, on his own terms. When I lived in Jerusalem, a recurring television commercial for baby diapers featured one dry baby triumphantly saying to a wet baby: "I’m no freyer!" Aggressive, blunt Israeli society eats freyers for lunch.

When President Bush declared yesterday that he "was satisfied" with Israel’s response in the aftermath of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s shuttle diplomacy, he proved himself to be…a big fat freyer. Our well-respected former general, Secretary Powell, is also a freyer. The US Congress is made up of a bunch of freyers.

They join the long list of US intermediaries dismissed in the Israeli political jungle as ineffective, irrelevant, and easily manipulated–in short, "freyers." President Clinton (though personally not considered a freyer), repeatedly sent freyers to the region on his Mideast peace team: Warren Christopher, Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller. Their visits were virtually ignored, because it was clear they did not have the authority or will to stand up to Israel, but rather meekly accepted the terms it offered for US involvement. As a result, they were not at all respected in neighboring Arab countries. Israel’s "sucker" is no one’s friend in the Middle East.

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is certainly no freyer, as he conveyed most effectively in response to Bush’s demand that the Israeli invasion of Palestinian cities and towns end "now," "without delay." Flash back to 1982, when Sharon as Minister of Defense masterminded Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, surpassing the intentions of Prime Minister Begin and the Israeli Cabinet. Sharon did not listen to his own prime minister then and even after 18 years of disastrous policy in Lebanon that led to the deaths of hundreds of occupying Israeli soldiers (not to mention thousands of occupied Lebanese civilians and Palestinian refugees), Sharon was not prepared to accept that his policies had been politically short-sighted and even immoral.

Amazingly, President Bush and his foreign policy "advisors" thought Sharon would play along with the rhetorical reprimand of Israel’s military invasion, and pull out by the time Powell made it to the Middle East (after dawdling in multiple pit stops along the way). What should have been perfectly clear to anyone who knows anything about the Middle East and Israel is that Sharon had no intentions of doing anything Bush demanded–to do so would have been to show weakness, a lack of resolve or power, never mind the fact that it would have contradicted Sharon’s geo-political strategy of dismantling all vestiges of independent Palestinian state and society.

And now, in an effort to save face as well as to placate the right wing and pro-Israel lobby, Bush has declared he is "satisfied" with Sharon, "a man of peace." Is Bush "satisfied" with the hundreds of Palestinians–among them militants, yes, but mostly civilians and those just defending their homes and villages–killed in Sharon’s operations? Would a man of peace see military force as the only legitimate answer to crush a national resistance to occupation (for Sharon’s strategy goes far beyond the "terrorist infrastructure" he flaunts to the world)? Do the US foreign policy experts understand that yet again, Sharon’s policy as well as American acquiescence to it, are provocations and escalations whose ramifications will be felt in the coming weeks, months and years in the Middle East (and perhaps even at home)?

When will the American executive and foreign policy apparatus stop making concession after concession to whatever Israeli government is in power, whatever its policies? When will the US administration, Congress, and "free" press stop pandering to those interests who would have us believe that peace in the Middle East is a zero-sum game, that Israeli children have any more of a right to live free and safe than Palestinian children? When will the images of burned out Palestinian refugee camps horrify and mobilize as much as the images of bombed Israeli buses?

Mr. President, Secretary Powell: when will the US pursue a universal commitment to human rights, self-determination, and social justice? Our international credibility and national moral compass are at an all-time low regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–let’s not get suckered again.

Michelle Campos is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern history at Stanford University. She has lived in Israel for four years, most recently as a Fulbright Scholar. She can be reached at: mcampos@stanford.edu


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”