FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US "Suckered" Again in Israel

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

 

More articles by:

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail