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"What are You Doing? What Have You Become?"

Israel as an Extension of American Empire

by JEFF HALPER

There are many tragic and self-destructive features of the Occupation for Israel itself. Although the country was founded on the "original sin" of exclusivity and the expulsion of the refugees, it nevertheless had (has?) the potential to develop into a normal, even progressive society. Many of the socialist principles that accompanied the Zionist program led in those directions. Israel always talked of democracy, even extending citizenship to its Arab population in 1948, even though the underlying concept of a "Jewish democracy," coupled with a deep-based fear of demographics only exacerbated by the Occupation, has emptied that of much of its content. It constituted itself as a welfare state, only to see that largely dismantled as the Israel-Palestine conflict gave dominance to the right whose agenda, together with expansion, was anti-socialist and pro-privatization. Israel became a member of the Socialist International and engaged in constructive development work in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but its need for military strength, coupled with a self-serving "alliance" with the US, has led to become a major arms dealer on a global scale, a subverter of progressive civil society elements throughout the developing world.

One of the tragic developments related to this rightward shift of Israeli politics and social policies — even defining Israel’s view of itself in the world — is its emergence as a center for the global right-wing, a constellation of nefarious ideologies, groups and forces that seek nothing less than American-Christian hegemony over the entire world. In a unique and, again, tragic confluence of historical processes, the rise of an aggressive neo-con ideology and militaristic foreign policy, centered in the US but not limited to it, coincides with the emergence of the Israeli rights and an expansionist Israel. "Coincides" might understate the case: in fact, the rise of a religious right in the West owes much of its impetus to Zionism and Israel, while Israel is able to pursue its Occupation only because of its willingness to serve Western (mainly US) imperial interests including acting as a galvanizing center for global neo-con forces. What follows is a brief survey of those forces and their interplay with Israel.

Israel as a Center of Neo-Con Ideology and Mobilization.

Many of the founders of neo-conservatism in the 1970s and most of its prominent advocates today are Jewish. This is not an irrelevant fact, nor is it "anti-Semitic" to say so. Neo-conservatism emerged not of traditional anti-New Deal Republican conservatism, which was largely WASP and Middle Western in its roots, but out the Roosevelt’s New Deal itself, which resonated with Eastern European Jewish immigrants, many of whom were working class and attracted to socialism and communism. From there they and their children gravitated to the New Left and then to liberalism (Irving Kristol has described a neo-con as "a liberal mugged by reality.") The Jewish magazine Commentary, a publication of Jewish liberals who were indeed mugged by the Sixties, became the fountain and mouthpiece of neo-conservatism as it emerged and entered into power politics during the Reagan Administration (when Jeane Kirkpatrick became the leading non-Jewish luminary).

Just a glance at some of the most prominent neo-cons:

Commentary founder and editor Norman Podhoretz;
Irving Kristol, former Commentary editor and founder of The Public Interest;
Elliot Abrams, head of the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council and Podhoretz’s son-in-law;
Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense and one of the architects of the occupation of Iraq;
Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense now heading the World Bank;
Richard Perle, former Chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board;
William Kristol, son of Irving, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century;
Daniel Pipes, Middle East Studies professor and founder of the notorious CampusWatch;
Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist;
Dov Zakheim, former Comptroller of the Separtment of Defense;
David Wurmser, Cheney’s chief Middle East advisor;
Kenneth Adelman, a hawkish arms control expert and senior Pentagon official.

Just to name a few points up a Jewish connection that is hard to understate.

Israel, of course, has long been of prime concern to these pillars of the American Jewish community, who now enjoy the political clout to integrate that issue seamlessly into the neo-con doctrine and thereby into the very fabric of American foreign policy and military strategy. It is a measure of how Jews have assimilated into American life, how they identity completely with the United States of which they see Israel as an extension, the "only democracy in the Middle East." In the "clash of civilizations" paradigm that defines the neo-con approach, the United States has embarked on a pre-emptive crusade to generate a "global democratic revolution" regime change to usher in governments more reflective of US values and thus more in tune with American interests all under American (corporate) tutelage. American Empire in a truly New American Century. Israel, then, fits neatly into the equation in three ways. First, it represents just that kind of American underling the US holds up as its model (and how Israel benefits from American largesse should help persuade other regimes); second, it possesses the military capacity and political readiness to further American interests; and third, it is located in the Middle East, the primary "theater" of the Crusade, where it is engaged with America’s declared arch-enemy, "radical Islam." A strong Israel, then, represents a strong America.

Playing with Fire: The Centrality of Israel to Christian Fundamentalists.

All this dovetails neatly with yet another powerful strand of right-wing ideology, that of Christian Zionism. According to Stephen Sizer, the author of Christian Zionism (2003), modern Christian fundamentalism is largely defined by a notion of dispensationalism, the idea that humanity will go through seven periods of Divine testing, culminating in Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In this eschatology, the Jews and the modern state of Israel play such a key role that fundamentalism, dispensationalism and Christian Zionism are virtually interchangeable. As explained by Sizer, Christian Zionism claims not only that every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by everyone else, but that the Jews will lead the process since, in the fundamentalist view, this will lead to blessing for the entire world as nations recognise and respond to what God is seen to be doing in and through Israel.

Sizer defines Christian Zionism by seven tenets:

1. A literalist hermeneutic
2. The Jews remain God’s chosen people
3. The Jews have a divine right to the land of the Middle East
4. Jerusalem is their exclusive capital
5. The Jewish temple must be rebuilt
6. The Arabs are the enemies of God’s people
7. The world will end soon in the great battle of Armageddon but Christians who support Israel will escape.

This religious movement has its roots in the Protestant Reformation, where the Bible was taught within a contemporary historical context and given a plain literal sense. Puritan eschatology, which became dominant in European and American Protestantism as early as the late 17th century (think of Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mathers) took on a postmillennial character, teaching that the conversion of the Jews would lead to future blessing for the entire world.

In Britain, where dispensationalism matured, Christian Zionism spawned such influential figures as Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Arthur Balfour and Lloyd George (Queen Victoria herself took on the title: Protectress of the Jews). Balfour worked closely with Zionist leader Haim Weizmann (later the first President of Israel) to produce what came to be known as the Balfour Declaration. Considered the first major statement of support for Zionism by a world power, it states somewhat disingenuously that "His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done, which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish Communities in Palestine" Already at that early period the Christian Zionists privileged the rights of the Jews over those of the Palestinians indeed, were ignoring the rights of the "natives" altogether. In an extraordinarily candid letter written in 1919, Balfour articulated for the first time the deceitful nature of Western foreign policy towards the Palestinians that has characterized it for the past century:

"For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country," he wrote. [T]he Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires or prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land….[I]n short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate."

While Christian Zionism also has pockets of strength elsewhere — in Holland and Scandinavia, for example, as well as among many fundamentalists in the developing world its center is certainly the United States, where it was brought from England in the middle 19th century by John Nelson Darby, whom Sizer describes as

"the father of Dispensationalism," for whom a revived Israel became a cornerstone of his apocalyptic theology. Darby, says Sizer, "has probably had a greater influence on end-time thinking than anyone else in the last two centuries [though rivalled by Hal Lindsey Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" series, influenced by him]. In the absence of a strong Jewish Zionist movement, American Christian Zionism arose from the confluence of these complex associations, evangelical, premillennial, dispensational, millenarian, and proto-fundamentalist.No longer were Christian Zionists expecting Jewish national repentance to precede restoration; it could wait until after Jesus returned during the millennium."

Darby preached that God has two distinct and separate peoples: the Church, his heavenly people, and the Jews, his earthly people. While they function as one unit indeed, as mentioned, the Jews even take a leading role via Israel — dispensationalists nevertheless see two very different "dispensations" at the End of Time. While Christians enjoy the Second Coming and the salvation of the Millennium, Jews, their supposed allies, suffer a much different fate: at Armageddon two-thirds of the Jews die and the final third convert to Christianity, a precondition of the Second Coming. Dispensalism is hardly a Jewish-friendly theology. The three major types of dispensationalism, however — Apocalyptic (preoccupied with the End of Tome; Messianic (busy evangelising Jews for Jesus); and Political (using political means to defend and bless’ Israel share the same basic tenets: a commitment to biblical literalism; a futurist eschatology; and the restoration of the Jews to Palestine.

Several Dispensationalists have played an elemental role in shaping modern Christian Zionism. William E. Blackstone, who preached that that the Jews had a biblical right to Palestine and would soon be restored there, supported Darby financially and worked very closely with Louis Brandeis, the Jewish member of the Supreme Court and early American Zionist leader who once proclaimed: "You [Blackstone] you are the Father of Zionism as your work antedates Herzl.’ Cyrus Scofield, whose Scofield Reference Bible, published in 1918, has been described as "the Bible of American Fundamentalism," played a key role in founding the Dallas Theological Seminary, the main academic arm of dispensationalism (where Lindsay hails from). Israel’s independence in 1948 and its stunning victory in the 1967 "Six Day War" foreshadowing Armageddon — galvanized Christian Zionists, but was only with the election in 1976 of President Jimmy Carter, a "born again" Christian, which coincided with Menachem Begin’s 1977 election as Prime Minister of Israel, did they truly began coalescing as an organized political force within American politics a trend consolidated by the subsequent election of Reagan and the emergence of Jerry Falwell’s "Moral Majority." Not only did the Zionist Jewish lobby in the US have a champion in the White House, but Christian Zionists including Attorney General Ed Meese, Secretary of Defence Casper , Secretary of the Interior James Watt and, indeed, Reagan himself achieved political power for the first time. Lindsay, Pat Robertson and Falwell, who in 1982 was invited by Reagan to give a briefing to the National Security Council, gained formal access to American political leaders and policy-makers.

Today, Jerry Falwell, who calls America’s "Bible Belt" Israel’s "safety belt," estimates that there are 70 million Christian Zionists 80,000 fundamentalist pastors, their views disseminated by 1,000 Christian radio stations as well as 100 Christian TV stations. They are clearly a dominant part of the Republican Party, representing a quarter of Bush’s voters.

Mobilizing the Global Extreme Right.

Just as it has benefited from the rise of the Right in the US and elsewhere in Europe, Israel under the Likud (though not exclusively under the Likud) has become a center for mobilizing right-wing ideological and political forces on a global scale. Most visible in this regard is the annual Jerusalem Summit (actually held in the Israeli city of Herzliya), where the neo-con tribe gathers and galvanizes its plans for world domination around their concern for Israel. We are not speaking of marginal "kooks," but of top right-wing political leaders from Israel, the US, Europe and other parts of the world, high military officers and leading academics. Its leading lights include: Baroness Caroline Cox, Deputy Speaker of the U.K. House of the Lords and the non-executive director of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (I wonder what Sakharov, who spent his whole life upholding human rights, would think of that!); Sam Brownback, Republican U.S. Senator from Kansas; Prof. Moshe Kaveh, President of Bar-Ilan University; Prof. Daniel Pipes, Board Member, United States Institute of Peace; Director of the Middle East Forum; Initiator of CampusWatch; Dr. Yuri Shtern, Knesset Member, National Union; a leader of the Russian community and a member of the extreme right;

Their worldview and agenda is summed up in what is called the "Jerusalem Declaration." It covers a range of issues of concern to the global right: But it also brings Israel into the center of the global right-wing agenda, suffusing it with Israeli claims and terms. Thus, Israel and its exclusive "right" to the entire Land of Israel is inserted into the very center of the neo-con agenda. The Jerusalem Declaration asserts:


ISRAEL AS THE KEY TO THE HARMONY OF CIVILIZATIONS

Billions of people believe that Jerusalem’s spiritual and historical importance endows it with a special authority to become a center of world’s unity.

Israel’s unique geographic and historic position at the crossroads of civilizations enables it to reconcile their conflicts. Israel’s unique spiritual experience enables it to find a golden mean between the fault lines dividing civilizations: between tradition and modernity, religion and science, authority and democracy.

We call upon all nations to choose Jerusalem, the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel, as a center for this evolving new unity. We believe that one of the objectives of Israel’s divinely-inspired rebirth is to make it the center of the new unity of the nations, which will lead to an era of peace and prosperity, foretold by the Prophets.

Most Islamic countries, regrettably, have sworn to destroy Israel. We call on the countries of the Free World to realize the following: if the people of Israel can live in peace in their Promised Land, peace will have a chance to reign in the whole world. If radical Islam succeeds in destroying Israel, there will never be peace, and Western civilization will fall to Jihad as well.

For the sake of the entire world and therein, the land of Israel must belong to the people of Israel.

The front line in the war we are fighting rests in the birthplace of Judeo-Christian civilization. The stakes are high: if Israel and Jerusalem are fortified, they will become the center where mankind will gather to usher in an era of peace and prosperity. But the West’s failure to save them may well spell doom for civilization itself.

Just as in the past the Free World stood together against Fascism and Communism, so it today must do to combat the third challenge: radical Islam. We prevailed then, and we shall prevail now. United around Jerusalem and armed with our eternal values, we cannot fail.

And what of the Palestinians? They are disposed of neatly, almost mater-of-factly, in the Jerusalem Declaration:


PLO STATE AS A THREAT TO PEACE

Supporting the creation of a PLO state in Judea and Samaria is a historical injustice of colossal proportion.

A tiny democracy is urged to concede the only thing it lacks – territory – to totalitarian regimes in exchange for the promises of the only thing they cannot provide – peace.

In pressuring to attain this suicidal arrangement, the "free world" betrays the very principles on which it is based. Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attitudes, which disguise primordial anti-Semitism, constitute one area where hypocrisy in international politics is most visible.

The genesis of a totalitarian PLO state would represent an act of surrender to radical Islam’s false rhetoric and a capitulation to terror.

The totalitarian PLO state would become a safe haven for international terrorism, a new Taliban-esque refuge, replete with plots to destroy both Israel and the West. Thus the future generations of the Free World will pay in blood for their fathers’ moral blindness.

We call on the government of Israel to provide moral leadership to the world in the struggle against terror:

Cease negotiating with terrorists and proffering mass releases of captured murderers.

Eliminate the terror-sponsoring capabilities of the Palestinian Authority.

Liberate Arabs residing in Judea, Samaria and Gaza from the Jihad propaganda machine, which has turned them into a morally depraved people who worship murder and terror.

Promote a viable humanistic alternative for just and secure peace instead of creating a terrorist PLO state.

We call on all free nations to:

Unite in order to remove from power despotic Islamic regimes and re-educate an entire generation of Muslim children to embrace the democratic traditions of normative Islam.

Recognize the PLO/ PA as the terrorist organization which it is.

Cease forcing Israel to negotiate with terrorists.

Encourage Israel to establish full sovereignty throughout the land of Israel.

We must reject moral relativism and confront creeping "anti-Zionism" on Western campuses.

A favorite target of global neo-cons, Christian fundamentalists and the Israeli right is "radical Islam" — convenient for Israel if it can succeed in depicting the Palestinians at part of that nefarious but mystified conspiracy/population. Says a statement issued by the Jerusalem Summit:

The front line in the war we are fighting rests in the birthplace of Judeo-Christian civilization. The stakes are high: if Israel and Jerusalem are fortified, they will become the center where mankind will gather to usher in an era of peace and prosperity. But the West’s failure to save them may well spell doom for civilization itself.

Just as in the past the Free World stood together against Fascism and Communism, so it today must do to combat the third challenge: radical Islam. We prevailed then, and we shall prevail now. United around Jerusalem and armed with our eternal values, we cannot fail.

But a second target a favorite with the neo-cons of the Bush Administration as well are NGOs, the very body and soul of civil society. Well, that’s not exactly true. After all, some of the favored neo-con organizations fundamentalist churches, right-wing think tanks, The Project for a New American Century, the Zionist Organization of America and others are also of civil society. Let’s rephrase: a favorite target of neo-cons are progressive NGOs. These are blamed for being undemocratic (!) organizations whose main raison d’etre is to constrain American power. "The work of the state," writes the prominent Australian neo-con Gary Johns in his well-known article "The NGO Challenge: Whose Democracy is it Anyway?" "is as much to counter the tyranny of the minorities, including individuals, as well as to [sic] counter the tyranny of the majority. The task is to limit the claims on the commons, to depoliticize much of life, to make it less amenable to public dispute.In the most egalitarian and peaceful of nations, there is the invention of a permanent litany of human rights abuses."

None other than the venerable American Enterprise Institute, (NGO) home to some of the major neo-cons, runs a website called "NGO Watch," which keeps an eye on other "undemocratic" NGOs. Since NGOs constitute a serious threat to American Empire by exposing its workings, countering its dis-information and mobilizing civil society opposition (European NGOs are particularly suspect), it is not surprising that Israel, too, has its own anti-NGO website, "NGO Monitor," an off-shoot of the NGO Watch whose declared objective is "to end the practice used by certain self-declared humanitarian NGOs’ of exploiting the label universal human rights’ to promote politically and ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas." Operated by an "approved" NGO headed by Dore Gold, Netanyahu’s Ambassador to the UN, NGO Monitor targets such organizations as the Ford Foundation (who, according to the Monitor, "provided funding to a number of human-rights based NGOs that engaged in demonization and anti-Israel activities"), Christian Aid, ICAHD, B’tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, together with all Israeli NGOs favoring "peace" (including the mild New Israeli Fund) and, virtually by definition, all Palestinian NGOs. By intimidating funders of NGOs whose views are unacceptable to them, the "monitors," the neo-cons and their Israeli clones hope to limit the effectiveness of progressive civil society groups, thus strengthening the hand of governments in which such "democratic" elements as themselves, religious fundamentalists, corporations and the military have the upper hand.

Bringing the Israeli Right into the Global Neo-Con Alliance.

Although hardly a fan of Christians, Menachem Begin and his Likud colleagues appreciated their ideological similarities and the dovetailing of their political worldviews, especially since a militarily strong Israel able to use its Occupation for expansion was at the common center of their concerns. In order not only to strengthen the right-wing position at home but to influence policy towards Israel deriving from the US-led international community, Israel’s right wing has worked diligently to insert itself into the global right alliance.

The Likud has long courted the Christian Right. In 1980, Falwell became the first non-Jew to be awarded the Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky medal for Zionist excellence by Begin. It was well known that Benjamin Netanyahu, when visiting Washington as Prime Minister, used to first meet with Falwell, and The National Unity Coalition for Israel, a gathering of more than 500 fundamentalist Christian leaders, then with the President and Congressional leaders. That continues: Pat Robertson received Israel’s Freedom Award in 2004, and both Netanyahu and Benny Alon, the leader of the extreme right National Union Party, conduct extensive and ongoing contacts with them. It is a case of strange bed-fellows of great use to each other: Alon and other xenophobic orthodox rabbis who hold Christianity in contempt embracing dispensationalists who look forward to the End of Days and the end of the Jews. Yet each has its own interest in using Israel as a vehicle for its political program and of course the Jewish neo-cons lend a legitimacy to the relationship. All use the other.

Another interesting wrinkle is provided by another xenophobic and in principle anti-Christian community in Israel, the leaders of the Russian immigrants in Israel, such as Nathan Sharansky and Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former office chief. United by their fierce anti-communism and similar neo-con views of the world (Sharansky, who has been called "Bush’s guru," was instrumental in getting the US to isolate Arafat), the Russian immigrant leaders carry on an intimate relationship with Washington through both the neo-cons and the Christian Right, while ensuring through their mobilization of the one million-strong Russian community in Israel the continued rule of the Likud (even though they actually stand to the right of it).

Through their control of the organized Jewish community in the US and elsewhere, demonstrated most openly in the work of the American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), the Likud and Russian elements in Israel have even succeeded in turning what was historically a liberal Jewish Establishment into another uncritical arm of Israeli policy, and thus of the extreme right.


Operational Conclusion: Israel Against Progressive Civil Society

The operational upshot of all this is not merely a well-organized, well-financed and well-articulated global cabal of neo-cons, religious fundamentalists, academics who will legitimize their positions and political leaders, but the integration of Israel into a global military system again, led by the US but involving the elites of almost every country, including Arab and Muslim ones whose purpose is to subvert progressive civil society elements and create an "environment" conducive to American Empire and the well-being of those compliant international elites. Israel’s leading position in this military alliance, then, has global implications, but it also serves to give Israel the military strength and political umbrella needed to transform its Occupation into annexation while advancing a Pax Americana over the Middle East.

Israel’s military influence as a point-country for American Empire stems from four main sources:

(1) Israel has inserted itself into the center of the US military industry. This, at least, is how AIPAC is able to sell Israel to members of Congress. According to its website in 2001 (www.aipac.org):

The United States and Israel have formed a unique strategic partnership [a formal "strategic alliance" was signed in 1985].Perhaps more than any two countries, the US and Israel share vital intelligence on terrorism, weapons proliferation and other threats. With US help, Israel is able to maintain its qualitative military edge for deterring aggression by its potential enemies. By collaborating with Israel, the US has a reliable, democratic and technologically-advanced partner in securing American strategic interests. This partnership includes: bilateral strategic agreements on military planning, ballistic missile defense and counter-terrorism; joint development of weapons and technologies; intelligence sharing; and combined military exercises.By working closely with the Israeli Defense Forces, and by pre-positioning equipment in Israel, the United States military enhances the readiness of its own forces responding to future crises in the Middle East.

The US pre-positions hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment, including spare parts, trucks, ammunition and armor in Israel. This equipment can be used by Israel as emergency supplies in times of crisis and is available to US forces for military contingencies in the region.Israeli defense companies have become a significant provider of military equipment to the US Armed Forces. Israel represents one of the top five suppliers of high-tech military hardware to the United States, and is first on a per capita basis. An average of 300 US Department of Defense and military personnel travel to Israel every month, more per capita than any other US ally.

Needless to say, Israel provided key support for the US in Iraq, including the construction of mock Iraqi neighborhoods and villages in the Negev where American troops could train. The American military government in Iraq, the "Civil Administration," was patterned after the Israeli Civil Administration that rules the Occupied Territories. Israeli involvement in the defense-related economies in the districts of most members of Congress explains to a great degree why Israel enjoys the uncritical support it does. The Israeli astronaut who died in the Challenger accident testifies to the intimate involvement of Israel in the most guarded parts of the American military, where even European countries are excluded. In fact, Israel has just taken delivery of advanced F-16s and helicopter gunships that have been denied Europe.

(2) Israel also serves as the major arms subcontractor for American arms. It recently signed two agreements, worth $1.5 billion each, to train and equip both the Chinese and Indian armies with Israeli-tinkered US weaponry. The US uses Israel as a conduit when it wishes to avoid Congressional bans, embodied in the Arms Export Control Act, on selling arms to countries with serious human rights violations or, as in the case of India and Pakistan, when it wishes to avoid taking sides.

(3) Because of access to American technology and financial support, Israel has become the third largest arms producer in the world, making more weapons than China, Britain or France. In fact, Israel produces 12% of the world’s arms. And it sells to countries few other want to associate with: Apartheid-era South Africa (where it trained the notorious security forces and helped develop the regime’s nuclear program), Mobutu’s Zaire, Liberia under Charles Taylor, the Burmese generals, Agentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras and Guatemala under their military dictatorships, the corrupt and brutal regimes of Central Asia and Rwanda, where it sold small arms to the Hutu before and during the genocide, then, without interruption, to the Tutsis immediately afterwards.

(4) Israel has become a military superpower in its own right. Its army and air force rival those of the major European countries, and it has become the world’s fourth largest nuclear power, despite never signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It works closely with the US military. For example, Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker (January 24-31, 2005) that "The next strategic target [is] Iran.The [Bush] Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer.Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran." And it pursues an aggressive military policy of its own, although with tacit or explicit American "permission." Israel has become a leading subverter of human rights and progressive change throughout the world. It has military advisors and mercenaries in Columbia (both on the side of the government and of the drug cartels). Its mercenaries (all of whom operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense) are active in West Africa, where they broke the UN’s boycott on "blood diamonds," as in many other conflictual locales. Israeli advisors completely built Singapore’s army, today the strongest in Southeast Asia. Israel also has major weapons development programs with every country in the European Union.

As an Israeli (and an immigrant to the country to boot), I write all this with sadness and concern. For all the violence and injustice that accompanied its birth, this was not the country it was intended to be. The slogan of the Israeli peace movement, "occupation corrupts," has proven to be true with a vengeance. Israel has become a Sparta, an aggressive country with no moral brakes that endangers its neighbors, peoples of far-away land and, in the end, its own population. The fact that Israel has become a handmaiden (to choose a nice word) to American Empire, that it has compounded the sins of occupation by joining forces with chauvinistic neo-cons, corporations pursuing war profits, anti-Semitic fundamentalists and other dubious forces subverting progressive civil society elements around the world. This is the greatest betrayal, not only of what Israel might have been had it sought accommodation and peace with the Palestinians and its other neighbors but of the Jewish people as a whole, who have been disproportionately represented among the progressive forces seeking to spread universal human and civil rights, and who themselves have a fundamental stake in such principles prevailing. The purpose of this paper is not to "knock" Israel, but to shake it, to yell at its leaders and citizens: "What are you doing? What have you become? Save yourselves!" If not that, then at least to constrain it, as we must constrain American Empire, for the sake of us all.

JEFF HALPER is an anthropologist and the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at icahd@zahav.net.il.)

 

Bibliography

Prior, Michael 1999 Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry. London: Routledge.

Sizer, Stephen 2003 Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon.

http://www.jinsa.org/home/home.html (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
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http://www-hjs.pet.cam.ac.uk/patrons_html (Henry Jackson Society)