By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Britain and France won World War I and divided the Arab countries to the east of the Mediterranean, and Britain issued Balfour Declaration that designated Palestine as a homeland for worldwide Jews. And when Israel was created in 1948, Israel placed itself on the side of the colonial powers including the French in Algeria. Israel has become the West main consideration as a political and military constituent in the Middle East.
When President Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, the artery for the tankers carrying oil to the West, Israel joined the colonialist Britain and France in declaring war on Egypt provoking world-wide condemnation and forcing even the US to call for restraint to avoid confrontation with the Soviet Union. Israel proved itself in the Suez War as an accomplished team player, a serious military power and the West colonialists provided it with the first military nuclear reactor in the Middle East to ensure its military superiority in the region. The West helped Israel build hundreds of Atomic bombs. According to the American historian, Noam Chomsky, a 1958 US National Security Council memorandum noted that a “logical corollary” of opposition to radical Arab nationalism “would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East.”
The US strategic and diplomatic policy has been much in evidence from the administration of Woodrow Wilson who supported the British Balfour Declaration, to President Barack Obama who has allowed Israeli extremists to dictate the US foreign policy in the Middle East. American leaders do not admit that the US bid to control the Middle East oil is the main reason for the financial, military and political aid to Israel. A 1945 US State Department report stated, “The Middle East contains oil, one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”
The 1967 Israeli-Arab War strengthened Israel’s role as the US strategic ally in the Middle East. Israel humiliated President Jamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt, an ally of the Soviet Union and the leader of Arab nationalism. A US State Department document stated that “Israel has probably done more for the US in the Middle East [in the 1967 War] in relation to money and effort invested than any of our so-called allies and friends elsewhere around the world since the Second World War.”
According to Professor Naseer Aruri: in a rare moment of frank talk, President Reagan said in 1981: “with a combat experienced military, Israel is a force in the Middle East that actually is a benefit to us. If there were not Israel with that force, we’d have to supply that with our own.” Israel is supposed to help encase the region in a military structure to protect Western interests including the oil supplies. That is why the American political, financial and military support to Israel has been institutionalized. Thus, Israel’s survival has been tied to the predatory policies of the West to maintain equilibrium and stability in the Middle East and tasking Israel to threaten or punish any state or organization that acts beyond the permissible.
The time for pay-off to Israel came ten years after 1967 War and four years after the 1973 War. The US effectively gave Israel the reward it had been seeking since waging its 1967 War: the newly Palestinian occupied land. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, advanced his step-by-step approach for resolving the conflict between Egypt and Israel without addressing the Palestinian issue. Kissinger concluded the separate Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that detached Egypt from the Arab opposition to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands; it offered Israel free hand to colonize, terrorize, and deport the indigenous population; and it left the powerless Palestinians to fend for themselves against Israel and its allies in the West.
The relation between the US and Israel became strangely reversed after the 1967 War. Instead of Israel serving the US interests, the US serves the Israeli government’s policies even if they harm the US own interests. The US Policies on the Palestinian issue have been indistinguishable from the Israeli settlers’ perspective. US administrations have integrated the extreme Israeli positions into its policy for the region.
Israel has been viewed by US liberals as enlightened colonialism, a segment of the American people support Israel based on the biblical ties that connect Christians with Jews, and others feel sympathy with Jews who were victims of the Holocaust crimes. And there is the US Jewish community.
US Jews are the largest Jewish community in the world, the most vigorous, the freest and the most powerful. The national Jewish institutions are essentially oligarchic and the majority of their leaders and spokespeople are self-selected. Israel has become a source of pride and anxiety for the US Jews, but their community is by no means a homogeneous group regarding their Jewish private life or political point view. There are the Orthodox Jews, the Conservatives, the Reformed and the seculars; some are increasingly disenchanted with the Israeli government policies in the Palestinian occupied lands; and others recommend absolute refusal to concede anything politically or territorially to the Palestinians.
The US Jewish population refuse to be referred to as “Diaspora Jews”; they enjoy civil liberty and equality before the law, participate in the political process and they have access to public offices. Upon Israel’s establishment, Israel has taken on greater and more immediate importance for them, the Zionists and non-Zionists, than anything ever envisaged. The affairs of Israel in all its ramifications are the central issue in Jewish public lives. There is no precedent for such a relationship for one community to be involved in a foreign entity.
Pro-Israel groups created powerful and well financed organizations to lobby the US governments and the public to continue their support to Israel and strengthen the US-Israeli alliance. The influence the pro-Israeli groups and individuals exert on the US policy makers is within the traditions of US foreign policies where ethnic politics and ethnic concerns have certain legitimacy.
The US will continue to support Israel and Israel will be promoted by the US policy makers as the regional watchdog of the United States. Professor Abramo Organski of the University of Michigan suggested that President Richard Nixon was convinced that most leaders of the Jewish community had opposed him throughout his political career, but he saved Israel from certain defeat in the 1973 War (Yum Kippur War) because it was in the best national interest of the US to help Israel defeat the Arab States. When Egypt destroyed the bulk of the Israeli war machine in the first few days of 1973 War, the US intervened militarily in support of the Israelis. Nixon ordered full scale airlift of military equipment to be delivered in front-line.
In the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli War, Israel carried out air, land and naval strikes against Lebanese targets to punish Lebanon for allowing Hizbullah guerrillas to menace Israel which refuses to withdraw from the occupied Lebanese “Sheba Farms.” The war has been described by Western analysts as a proxy war between the US and Iran.
In his March 2012 speech to AIPAC, President Obama bragged about the US support to Israel against the Palestinians who are under occupation since 1967 or in refugee camps since 1948. He proudly said that “When the Goldstone report [accused Israel of war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza] unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it. When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident [Israeli military killed nine Turks in Gaza relief flotilla], we supported them. When the Durban conference [World Conference against Racism] was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism [as practiced in the occupied Palestinian lands] is racism.”
The AIPAC lobby exists mainly to keep the pressure on US policy makers to support the Israeli government political and military policies. George Ball, a senior member of the State Department under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson said: “Practically every congressman and senator says his prayers to the AIPAC lobby. Oh, they’ve done an enormous job of corrupting the American democratic process.”
At times, it looks as though the Israeli prime minister is personally directing White House policy.
– Hasan Afif El-Hasan is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.