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Israel and the US: a Troubled Romance

It is sometimes interesting to see the many hoops the United States jumps through to accommodate the brutal whims of Israel. With Palestine ratifying the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) beginning its initial investigation of possible Israeli war crimes committed against the Palestinians, more such information is leaking out.

Israel, it is reported, is pressuring nations that fund the ICC, however inadequately, to either reduce or suspend that funding altogether. Reports are that poor Israel is being rebuffed at every turn, with the major funding nations saying they have no intention of making such adjustments. The U.S., this writer is sure, would cease all funding for the ICC, if it had ever deigned to join. But no international body, it seems, has the right to judge the soldiers and/or leaders of the self-described ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ for illegal invasions, wanton killing of civilians, or torture of political prisoners. So Israel, which has in the past successfully demanded that the U.S. cease any aid to Palestine, can’t rely on the U.S. to pull the plug on the ICC.

All this comes at a very awkward time for the troubled romance between Israel and the U.S., a time when perhaps the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of the dysfunctional bromance between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. In March, Mr. Netanyahu will visit the U.S. to give Congress his instructions regarding U.S. negotiations with Iran. This, in all likelihood, will torpedo the delicate, years-long negotiations that Mr. Obama, with support from much of the international community, has been spearheading. But the general direction of these negotiations has been displeasing to Mr. Netanyahu, and he will inform Congress of that fact in no uncertain terms. Congress, always responsive to the holders of the purse strings, will fall into line. So what if it means that more young Americans will be sent to kill and die in another war? What is this, when funds are needed for one’s next re-election campaign?

A presidential spokesperson said that Mr. Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to the U.S. is a slap in the face of Mr. Obama. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, an international joke if ever there was one, is said to be particularly peeved. Did he not, as has since been reported, contact at least fifty world leaders in December, begging and pleading with them on Israel’s behalf, to vote down a resolution being introduced at the United Nations, that would have mandated an end to the Israel occupation of Palestine by 2017? Was he not successful in procuring Israel’s desire at the expense of the basic human rights of the Palestinians? And then, within days, to have Mr. Netanyahu spit in his eye! Oh, the same of it! One is confident that Mr. Kerry will send a strongly-worded message to someone in Israeli diplomatic circles, perhaps a staff member responsible for cleaning the guest bath at the ambassador’s residence.

A reasonable person might ask what response to this is most appropriate. Unfortunately, we have moved far beyond reasonable when the U.S. tramples the basic human rights of an entire nation to please a powerful lobby, and when a member of the House of Representative invites a world leader to address Congress without mentioning it to the president. But let’s play the ‘what if’ game anyway.

The U.S. gives Israel $3 billion a year, with no strings attached. One might think that that would give the U.S. some leverage in getting Israel to adapt its behavior in some way. Might not the U.S. say that the next gift, perhaps a shipment of bombers, is contingent on a cessation of new, illegal settlement activity? Or perhaps an end to the brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip? Some adherence to international law, it seems, could be tied to continued U.S. funding.

But no, there is no precedent for such actions; in fact, the reverse is true. There is historical precedent for simply writing a blank check to Israel. In 1988, an Israeli journalist commented that “One may say no to America and still get a bonus.” Nothing has changed in twenty-seven years.

So there we are. In March, Mr. Netanyahu will be in town to address Congress and participate in that even more important governing body, AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee). Most of Congress will join him there, where the real governing takes place, to bow and scrape before the holders of the biggest checkbooks. Heaven forbid they spend as much time or energy with constituents; what a waste of valuable time! Money, it is said, talks, and the members of Congress always have a listening ear.

Fortunately, the rest of the world is looking in another direction, recognizing the arrogance of Mr. Netanyahu, the cruelty of the occupation, the hypocrisy of the U.S. and the ineffectual administration of Mr. Obama. The work of the ICC will continue slowly, but it will continue. Without Israel’s cooperation, which it has vowed not to provide, there may be no just outcome, but the focus is on Israel. While an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the reputation of an accused who gets off on the technicality of refusal to cooperate is more than a little tarnished. Israel’s long walk toward international isolation is accelerating. And the U.S. is only expediting it.

Whatever the next several months bring for Palestine, Israel and the U.S., only a few things are sure: Palestinians will continue to suffer under the brutal, apartheid Israeli regime even as more and more nations recognize it; Israel will continue to draw almost universal condemnation, with the U.S. being the main holdout, for the brutal occupation of Palestine, and the U.S., long seen outside its own borders as the world’s main terrorist nation, trampling on the human rights of entire nations simply to ensure the filling of corporate coffers, will do nothing to dissuade the world from that opinion. The U.S. and Israel will impede the march of justice, but increasingly it is obvious that they cannot stop it.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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