“I was the first who wanted to impose Israeli sovereignty . . . I admit it . . . I was not ready to look into all the depths of reality.”
– Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert –
In a September 30 article in the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronot, Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a former member of the right-wing Likud party, said that Israel must withdraw “from almost all of the territories, if not from all the territories. We shall keep in our hands a percentage of these territories, but we shall be compelled to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
He went on to say, “We can perhaps take an historic step in our relations with the Palestinians . . . the decision we must make is the decision we have refused to face with open eyes for 40 years . . . What I am telling you was never said by any previous Israeli leader, it’s time to lay everything on the table.”
The reality that Olmert was willing to lay before the Israeli people, “which exposed him to criticism from all quarters,” according to Yedioth Ahronot interviewers Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, is one that no Democratic or Republican politician who aspires to national office has the chutzpa to tell the American electorate.
This lack of chutzpa has been nowhere more evident than in the presidential and vice-presidential “debates.” These prime-time events, which are really nothing more than 90 minutes of vacuous one-upmanship, could serve as a reality check for the 70 million-plus viewers if the moderators were willing to challenge the candidates’ evasions, half truths, exaggerations and outright lies . . . or if Ralph Nader were allowed to participate.
During the vice-presidential debate, both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin professed their undying love and support for Israel, “our strongest and best ally in the Middle East (Palin).”
“No one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel . . . (Biden).”
“I’m so encouraged to know that we both love Israel (Palin).”
One-upping Palin, Biden boldly claimed, “I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion [for Israel].” Obviously, Obama does.
Moderator Gwen Ifill might have taken this opportunity to inquire as to the source of Palin’s “love” and Biden’s “passion” for Israel. Ifill might have pointed out to the 70 million-plus viewers that a candidate does not make it to a national “debate” without first being pronounced kosher by Israel’s shadow government on K Street.
Both Ifill and Tom Brokaw, the moderator of the recent town hall presidential “debate,” might have challenged the candidates’ assertions that Israel is a hairs’ breath away from annihilation by its Arab neighbors.
“An armed, nuclear armed . . . Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period. Israel is in jeopardy . . . (Palin).”
“We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon . . . it [would] threaten Israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world . . . (Obama).”
Keep in mind that U.S. intelligence estimates that Iran is years away from developing even one nuclear device, while Israel has over 200 nuclear warheads targeted and minutes away from any Arab or Persian country foolish enough to attack it.
Keep in mind also what Olmert told Yedioth Ahronot, “Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East, it can win any war against any regional country, it can even win a war against all of them together.”
All four candidates took the opportunity during the “debates” to once again assure Israelis in the Holy Land and Jews on K Street that their administrations would continue the annual $6 billion in direct and indirect economic and military aid . . . even as Americans are losing their homes and jobs and retirement savings.
Ifill and Brokaw might have challenged the candidates’ promise of continued economic and military aid to Israel considering:
– Israel is one of the most economically and industrially advanced countries in Southwest Asia.
– Israel ranks second among foreign countries in the number of companies on U.S. stock exchanges.
– Israel has the second largest number of startup companies in the world and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America.
– Israel’s GDP per capita is $31,767
– Israel’s economic growth in 2006 was the fastest of any Western nation.
– Israel has the best armed and trained military in the region and is the fourth largest weapons exporter in the world ($2 billion annually)
And the United States’ taxpayers are expected to finance Israel?
But the “depth of reality” check of utmost salience to the 70 million-plus “debate” viewers is why the candidates and most members of Congress consider Israel our “strongest ally in the world.”
In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, igniting a civil war. America’s support for Israel cost the lives of 241 servicemen who were blown apart as they slept in their Beirut barracks.
Israel did not fight in the first Gulf War, neither did its soldiers die in Afghanistan or Iraq—a war its cooked intelligence helped to bring about. This year our “strongest ally” pushed the Bush administration to the brink of war with Iran—a war whose catastrophic reverberations would have been on a par with the current global economic meltdown.
Israel’s regional aggression and its repressive—often brutal— domestic policies regarding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank inflames its Arab neighbors and cinches tight the explosive vest to the chests of Arab youths.
Predictably, the United States’ irrational and unconditional support of Israel makes it equally culpable and equally target-worthy in the eyes of Arabs and Persians in the Middle East and Muslims worldwide. An ally that causes more insecurity than succor can hardly be considered the strongest ally in the world—unless that ally is also the only way to the White House.
Gwen Ifill and Tom Brokaw might have challenged the candidates in a way that exposed him or her to criticism from the Israeli quarter. Unfortunately for the 70 million-plus viewers Israel is a “depth of reality” the American political system and mainstream media are unwilling to plumb.
But as a right-wing Israeli Prime Minister says, “it’s time to lay everything on the table.”
ROBERT WEITZEL is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org