In order to solve problems of any kind, one must first identify them. I identify United States problems in the Middle East as: (1) the Israeli occupation of Palestine, (2) the American occupation of Iraq, (3) the American occupation of Afghanistan; and (4) the American hostility toward Iran. All four issues are interrelated, but each must be understood separately in order to solve each problem. The word "problem" is defined as " a question or situation that presents uncertainty, perplexity, or difficulty".
ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE
THE CREATION OF "ISRAEL"
The creation of "Israel" caused the "Palestine problem". Ever since the Romans destroyed the Judean state centuries ago, Orthodox Jews continued to hold spiritual claims to the Holy Land. Over the centuries a desire for a Jewish homeland grew, and Jews migrated to Palestine. In the 1870s, a wave of anti-Semitism spurred a new migration from central Europe, and in 1898, Theodore Hertzl organized a Zionist international movement to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish People secured by public law. The only problem with Hertzls plan was that thousands of Palestinians were already living in Palestine and their descendants had done so for centuries.
In about 1900 there were about 40,000 Jews in Palestine. In a 1922 census there were about 591,000 Muslims, 73,000 Christians, 9500 "others", and 84,000 Jews populating Palestine. The Balfour Declaration pledged Englands support of Zionist goals in order to win support of international, especially American, Jews to the Allies during World War I. In 1916, one year prior to the Balfour Declaration, a secret agreement was made between the British War Cabinet and Zionist leaders promising the latter a "national home" in Palestine in consideration of their efforts to bring the United States into World War I on the side of Great Britain.
The Paris Peace Conference and subsequent conferences made Palestine become a British mandate. The League of Nations approved, and more Jews entered Palestine. Palestine Arabs resented this "invasion" or "immigration" (however one looks at it) into their homeland. In 1920 Arabs and Jews fought over land disputes. In 1929, an anti-Jewish nationalist, the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, incited attacks against Jews.
The British tried to maintain a precarious peace, but Hitlers anti-Semitic policy increased the influx of Jews into Palestine and caused further Arab resentment. The Jewish population continued to rise to nearly half a million in 1935. The Arab rebellion started in 1936 and continued to expand until a major British Military effort suppressed it two years later.
Various commissions studied the problem and usually recommended partitionthe creation of a small, separate Jewish state. Arab countries objected; and because of their perceived importance to the forthcoming world war, Britain supported them. When war broke out, the international Zionist organization and its executive, the Jewish Agency, supported Britain. So did the Jews in Palestine.
During the Arab rebellion in 1936-39 the Jews had a voluntary militia organized in local units primarily for local defensethe Haganah. In 1941 the British allowed the Haganah to organize full-time guerrilla shock units for the fighting in Syria; but the British policy discouraged a separate Jewish military force.
In 1942, Zionist leaders met in New Yorks Biltmore Hotel to devise the Biltmore Program, which called for unlimited immigration of Jews to Palestine, which, after the war, would become a Jewish commonwealth state. The war strengthened the Haganahs military arm. Thirty-two thousand Palestine Jews served in British forces, and in 1944 the British authorized a separate Jewish Brigade Group. The Group dissolved at the end of the war, but an underground Haganah army continued to exist. A cadre of four hundred professional soldiers commanded it; it had Palmach guerrilla units of about twenty-one hundred men and women, backed by a ready reserve; and it had widespread territorial militia of about thirty thousand with many thousands of covert supporters.
In 1935, militant Zionists, who had formed the Revisionist Party in 1925, splintered from the World Zionist Organization. Two years later, younger Revisionists formed a militant force, the Irgun. The Irgun concentrated first on smuggling illegal refugees into Palestine. Arab attacks on Jews in 1939 caused the Irgun to open a terrorist campaign against the general Arab population. The Chamberlain White Paper of 1939, which greatly restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine, prompted the Irgun to target the British for murder. David Raziel and Abraham Stern, Irgun members, were arrested by the British and later released although they were terrorists.
Stern disagreed with Raziels wartime policy of truce with the British, so in 1940 he split from the Irgun and formed the Lokhammei Kherut Israel (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), or FFIalso known as the Stern Gang. The Stern Gang, who were clearly "terrorists", by anyones definition, fought the British by eliminating some Jewish moderates and gentiles; and anyone who opposed creation of a Jewish state became fair game. Police bullets killed Stern in 1942. A year later, another fanatic believer in a Jewish state, Menachem Begin, took command of the Irgun. From 1939 to 1943 the Stern Gang continued a policy of indiscriminate terror.
In 1944, the continued British refusal to accept the Biltmore Program caused the Irgun to renounce its truce with the British and to form a loose, sometimes uneasy, alliance with the Stern Gang in a new "war" for the Jewish state. By early autumn, the Stern Gang had murdered fifteen men, mostly moderate Jews, and destroyed several important government installations, including four police stations. A great many Jews, in and out of Palestine, disagreed with the terrorism of the Irgun and Stern Gang on humanitarian grounds and out of concern for reprisals. The Jewish Agencys security forces had to even wage war against the Irgun.
In May 1945, after the German surrender, the Jewish Agency wrote Prime Minister Churchill demanding the full and immediate implementation of the Biltmore resolution, the cancellation of the White Paper, the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish state, Jewish immigration to be an Agency responsibility, and reparation to be made by Germany in kind beginning with all German property in Palestine. The Palestinians had no say in any of this.
The British stalled, and the Haganah engaged in extensive smuggling. In October 1945, Haganahs clandestine radio station, Kol Israel, declared the beginning of "The Jewish Resistance Movement". On October 31, 1945 the Jews in Palestine attacked three small naval craft, wrecked railway lines, attacked a railway station and an oil refinery. In June 1946, Jewish terrorists destroyed twenty-two RAF planes at one airfield. The Haganah agreed to an Irgun attack on British headquarters in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The bombings killed ninety-one British, Arab, and Jewish people and wounded forty-five. The British retaliated by raiding the Irgun headquarters in Tel Aviv. By the end of 1946 the Irgun-Sternist groups had killed 373 persons. The Haganah had supposedly disassociated itself from the terrorists, but the terrorists continued to operate with at least tacit support of a large part of the citizenry.
The British still continued efforts toward a political compromise. The UN appointed a special committee, UNSCOP, to investigate the situation and recommend a solution. Meanwhile a reign of terror and counter-terror dominated Palestine. The British execution of Dov Gruner, a popular young terrorist who murdered a policeman, caused widespread Irgun reprisals. The Jewish terrorists attacked British installations and in one day killed eighty British soldiers. The British replied by declaring martial law, which infuriated the civilian population but did not halt Irgun operations. In July 1947, the refugee ship Exodus 1947 arrived with forty-five hundred Jews aboard, only to be sent back to Europe. This event gave militant Jews an enormous propaganda victory further exploited by Leon Uris best-selling novelExodus.
The terrorism and counter-terrorism continued, and the UN committee worked throughout the summer and autumn and ultimately recommended an end to the British mandate in favor of another partition plan. The Jewish Agency reluctantly adopted the plan when the British made it clear that they intended to yield the mandate and withdraw troops in the near future. In late November 1947, the UN accepted the plan. The Arab League responded by ordering attacks against Jewish settlements in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. In December 1947, Great Britain announced that it would terminate its mandate on May 15, 1948. The Arab-Israeli war had begun. The Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the Arab world were not happy with the theft of Palestine by the (Zionists) Jews with the complicity of Great Britain and the United States.
Even as the United Nations recognized Israel as a nation-state, there was conflict between the indigenous Palestinians and Israel. Palestinians were dispossessed of their homes, lands, other property; and many were forced to flee to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. The repatriation (right of return) of thousands of Palestinians to the land of their fathers and their fathers fathers going back centuries is still one of the difficult issues to resolve in any peace process. In the war of 1967, Israel acquired land other than what the original mandate had given it, and Israel still occupies these territories.
(Note: the source of the aforementioned information is War In The Shadows, The Guerrilla In History, by Robert B. Asprey, p. 551, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1994).
EFFECTS OF ISRAELS OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE
U.N. RESOLUTION 242
Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 expressed its desire that Israel "withdraw armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict".
To date, Israel has not withdrawn from the occupied territories as the UN Security Council decreed. Instead, Israel built settlements in the occupied territories in violation of international law and UN resolutions.
The United Nations has been considering Israel's transgressions for decades, but the United States has constantly protected Israel, and as a result the US has incurred the criticism and ire of much of the world community.
Over the years the UN has dealt with issues about Israel relating to torture, aggression in Lebanon and Tunisia, nuclear armament, and racism, but the most apparent and continuous wrongs that Israel commits relate to the Palestinians. The rest of the whole world knows about Israel's crimes against humanity, but the United States condones Israel's crimes and thereby loses its credibility with the international community.
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
In a UN Commission on Human Rights report dated 21 March 2001, paragraph 8 states:
The "Israeli military have continued to use excessive force in the form of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas against civilian demonstrators and bystanders. This disproportionate and unrestrained use of force has increased the Palestinian civilian death toll and injuries dramatically, reportedly killing some 400 Palestinians since 28 September 2000 and injuring as many as 14,000." (Emphasis added).
At paragraph 35, the report says:
"The Special Rapporteur remains convinced that the current conflict is rooted in accumulated grievances and resentment at the continuing violations of human rights and humanitarian norms under Israeli occupationIndeed, the Special Rapporteur stresses, once again, that international law should be respected not only for obvious juridical and ethical reasons, but in the interest of the parties themselves. In fact, international law and, in particular, human rights and humanitarian norms form the indispensable foundation of any just and lasting solution." (Emphasis added). (UN Commission on Human Rights).
REPORT ON ISRAELI PRACTICES AND HUMAN RIGHTS OF PALESTINIANS-2001
In a UN General Assembly Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, dated 26 October 2001, articles and reports received during the period from May to August 2001 were considered. Thus, the reported incidents occurred shortly before September 11, 2001"9-11".
The report discussed the aggression of the IDF, how the IDF destroyed houses and property, how work permits were issued to Palestinians age 35 or older and who were not related to any of the victims of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, how the IDF barred any Palestinians from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip from entering Israel, how medical staff living in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority were prevented from going to work at hospitals in East Jerusalem, placed restrictions such as curfews on the Palestinians so they could not get food, milk, or other humanitarian supplies, how the IDF set up checkpoints restricting movement including ambulances with sick and injured or others who needed vital medical attention, how construction continued in the settlements which are prohibited by international law, and numerous illegal acts committed by the occupying Israeli Defense Force.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT
The Amnesty International Report 2002, which covered the period January to December 2001 stated that more than 460 Palestinians were killed during 2001 by Israeli security forces; most were unlawfully killed. Among the victims were 79 children and 32 individuals targeted for assassination. More than 2,000 Palestinians were arrested for security reasons. There were widespread reports of police brutality. Palestinian detainees frequently reported that they were tortured or ill treated during interrogation. At the end of the year at least 40 people were under administrative detention. At least 33 conscientious objectors were imprisoned during 2001.
Hundreds of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories were tried before military courts in trials whose procedures fell short of international standards. Collective punishments against Palestinians included closures of towns and villages, demolition of more than 350 Palestinian homes and prolonged curfews. Palestinian armed groups killed 187 Israelis, including 154 civilians.
The Report further stated that Palestinian houses, especially those close to borders or settlements, were frequently destroyed without warning, and orchards and agricultural or industrial installations were destroyed. Most of the towns and villages in the Occupied Territories were closed by physical barriers or by army checkpoints during 2001. The IDF used heavy weaponry, including tanks, F16 fighter aircraft and naval gun-ships to shell, randomly, Palestinian areas from where Palestinians had opened fire. Palestinians were killed unlawfully by Israeli security forces. Israeli security forces killed some Palestinians during gun battles. Palestinian armed groups killed Israeli security force personnel and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians.
In a press release, Amnesty International said:
"Israel/Occupied Territories: Israeli Defense Force war crimes must be investigated.
Jerusalemat the launch of a report into the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Jenin and Nablus in March and April 2002, Amnesty International said today that there is clear evidence that some of the acts committed by IDF during Operation Defensive Shield were war crimesShielded from scrutiny-IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus, documents serious human rights violations by Israeli forcesunlawful killings; torture and ill-treatment of prisoners; wanton destruction of hundreds of homes sometimes with the residents still inside; the blocking of ambulances and denial of humanitarian assistance; and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields". (Emphasis added)"Israel has the right to take measures to prevent unlawful violence, but in doing so they must not violate international law. In Jenin and Nablus, the IDF blocked access for days to ambulances, humanitarian aid and the outside world while the dead and wounded lay in streets or houses. In Jenin a whole residential quarter of the refugee camp was demolished leaving 4,000 people homeless."
Amnesty International further stated:
"There will be no peace or security in the region until human rights are respected. All attempts to end human rights violations and install a system of international protection in Israel and the Occupied Territories, in particular by introducing monitors with a clear human rights mandate, have been undermined by the refusal of the government of Israel. This refusal has been supported by the USA." (Amnesty International Press Release, 04/11/2002). (Emphasis added).
It is clear that the Zionist invasion, occupation, and genocide of the Palestinians has prompted the suicide bombers to resist their occupation as they have. The United Nations and the rest of the world have often condemned the actions of the Israelis against an occupied people, and the United States has turned a blind eye to the injustice. The American media despises a "suicide bomber" who kills innocent people on a bus or in a caf, but an Israeli pilot who drops bombs on apartment complexes and kills innocent people is hailed as a hero. The Palestinian is a "terrorist" while the pilot is a defender of Israel. The only difference in either of the terrorist acts is technology.
For the past several decades, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracy throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and has jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?
The thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the Israel Lobby. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of another country in this case, Israel are essentially identical.
AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) itself, however, forms the core of the Lobbys influence in Congress. Its success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it.
Money is critical to US elections (as the scandal over the lobbyist Jack Abramoffs shady dealings reminds us), and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the many pro-Israel political action committees. Anyone who is seen as hostile to Israel can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to his or her political opponents. AIPAC also organizes letter-writing campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates.
The Israeli lobby has used its power and resources to squelch debate and discussion on these issues. Perhaps its greatest weapon against anyone who criticizes its actions or its influence over US Middle East policy is the charge of anti-Semitism.
SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR ISRAEL
Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two--well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.
Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidize its own defense industry. It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. Moreover, the US has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the US gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye to Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israels nuclear arsenal on the IAEAs agenda. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israels side when negotiating peace. The Nixon administration protected it from the threat of Soviet intervention and re supplied it during the October War. Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war, as well as in the lengthy step-by-step process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords. In each case there was occasional friction between US and Israeli officials, but the US consistently supported the Israeli position. One American participant at Camp David in 2000 later said: Far too often, we functioned . . . as Israels lawyer. Finally, the Bush administrations ambition to transform the Middle East is at least partly aimed at improving Israel's strategic situation.
ISRAEL IS NOT A VITAL STRATEGIC ASSET
One might argue that Israel was an asset during the Cold War. By serving as Americas proxy after 1967, it helped contain Soviet expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like Egypt and Syria. It occasionally helped protect other US allies (like King Hussein of Jordan) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more on backing its own client states. It also provided useful intelligence about Soviet capabilities.
Backing Israel complicated Americas relations with the Arab world. For example, the decision to give $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an OPEC oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies. Yet, Israels armed forces were not in a position to protect US interests in the region. The US could not, for example, rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised concerns about the security of oil supplies, and had to create its own Rapid Deployment Force instead.
The first Gulf War revealed the extent to which Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The US could not use Israeli bases without rupturing the anti-Iraq coalition, and had to divert resources (e.g., Patriot missile batteries) to prevent Tel Aviv doing anything that might harm the alliance against Saddam Hussein. History repeated itself in 2003: although Israel was eager for the US to attack Iraq, Bush could not ask it to help without triggering Arab opposition. So Israel stayed on the sidelines once again.
Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, US support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world, and by rogue states that back these groups and seek weapons of mass destruction. This is taken to mean not only that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press it to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead, and that the US should go after countries like Iran and Syria. Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are Americas enemies. But in fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.
Terrorism is not a single adversary, but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups. The terrorist organizations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or the West; it is largely a response to Israels prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israels presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits.
As for so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital US interests, except inasmuch as they are a threat to Israel. Even if these states acquire nuclear weapons which is obviously undesirable neither America nor Israel could be blackmailed, because the blackmailer could not carry out the threat without suffering overwhelming retaliation. The danger of a nuclear handover to terrorists is equally remote, because a rogue state could not be sure the transfer would go undetected or that it would not be blamed and punished afterwards. The relationship with Israel actually makes it harder for the US to deal with these states. Israel's nuclear arsenal is one reason some of its neighbors want nuclear weapons, and threatening them with regime change merely increases that desire.
A final reason to question Israels strategic value is that it does not behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders). Israel has provided sensitive military technology to potential rivals like China, in what the State Department inspector-general called a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers. According to the General Accounting Office, Israel also conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any ally. In addition to the case of Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s (which it reportedly passed on to the Soviet Union in return for more exit visas for Soviet Jews), a new controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official called Larry Franklin had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the US, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.
NO MORAL BASIS FOR GIVING ISRAEL SPECIAL PRIVILEGES
Israels backers also argue that it deserves unqualified support because it is weak and surrounded by enemies; it is a democracy; the Jewish people have suffered from past crimes and therefore deserve special treatment; and Israels conduct has been morally superior to that of its adversaries. On close inspection, none of these arguments is persuasive. Viewed objectively, its past and present conduct offers no moral basis for privileging it over the Palestinians.
Israel is often portrayed as David confronted by Goliath, but the converse is closer to the truth. Contrary to popular belief, the Zionists had larger, better equipped and better led forces during the 1947-49 War of Independence, and the Israel Defense Forces won quick and easy victories against Egypt in 1956 and against Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967-- all of this before large-scale US aid began flowing. Today, Israel is the strongest military power in the Middle East. Its conventional forces are far superior to those of its neighbors and it is the only state in the region with nuclear weapons. Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with it, and Saudi Arabia has offered to do so. Syria has lost its Soviet patron, Iraq has been devastated by three disastrous wars and Iran is hundreds of miles away. The Palestinians barely have an effective police force, let alone an army that could pose a threat to Israel.
That Israel is a fellow democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships cannot account for the current level of aid: there are many democracies around the world, but none receives the same lavish support. The US has overthrown democratic governments in the past and supported dictators when this was thought to advance its interests it has good relations with a number of dictatorships today.
Some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values. Unlike the US, where people are supposed to enjoy equal rights irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship. Given this, it is not surprising that its 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens, or that a recent Israeli government commission found that Israel behaves in a neglectful and discriminatory manner towards them. Its democratic status is also undermined by its refusal to grant the Palestinians a viable state of their own or full political rights.
A third justification is the history of Jewish suffering in the Christian West, especially during the Holocaust. Because Jews were persecuted for centuries and could feel safe only in a Jewish homeland, many people now believe that Israel deserves special treatment from the United States. The country's creation was undoubtedly an appropriate response to the long record of crimes against Jews, but it also brought about fresh crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians.
This was well understood by Israel's early leaders. David Ben-Gurion told Nahum Goldmann, the president of the World Jewish Congress:
If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country . . . We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? Since then, Israeli leaders have repeatedly sought to deny the Palestinians national ambitions.
Israel's backers also portray it as a country that has sought peace at every turn and shown great restraint even when provoked. The Arabs, by contrast, are said to have acted with great wickedness. Yet on the ground, Israels record is not distinguishable from that of its opponents. Ben-Gurion acknowledged that the early Zionists were far from benevolent towards the Palestinian Arabs, who resisted their encroachments which is hardly surprising, given that the Zionists were trying to create their own state on Arab land. In the same way, the creation of Israel in 1947-48 involved acts of ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres and rapes by Jews, and Israels subsequent conduct has often been brutal, belying any claim to moral superiority. Between 1949 and 1956, for example, Israeli security forces killed between 2700 and 5000 Arab infiltrators, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed. The IDF murdered hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in both the 1956 and 1967 wars, while in 1967, it expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly conquered West Bank, and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights.
During the first intifada, the IDF distributed truncheons to its troops and encouraged them to break the bones of Palestinian protesters. The Swedish branch of Save the Children estimated that 23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada. Nearly a third of them were aged ten or under. The response to the second intifada has been even more violent, leading Haaretz to declare that the IDF . . . is turning into a killing machine whose efficiency is awe-inspiring, yet shocking. The IDF fired one million bullets in the first days of the uprising. Since then, for every Israeli lost, Israel has killed 3.4 Palestinians, the majority of whom have been innocent bystanders; the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli children killed is even higher (5.7:1). It is also worth bearing in mind that the Zionists relied on terrorist bombs to drive the British from Palestine, and that Yitzhak Shamir, once a terrorist and later prime minister, declared that neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat.
The Palestinian resort to terrorism is wrong but it isnt surprising. The Palestinians believe they have no other way to force Israeli concessions.
IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, AND IRAN~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It seems that every day we find some new revelation about how the US got involved in its occupation of Iraq, and the more we learn the more odious our actions appear. The initial lie to conduct a massive bombardment of populated areas of Iraqis who never harmed us was the threat of weapons of mass destruction. That lie was compounded with the "yellow cake" from Niger lie and the Downing Street memo which advocated that the US and Britain falsify intelligence info regarding WMDs and Iraq. President Bush and his staff even blew the cover of a CIA operative in retaliation to criticism of their ruse with intelligence information.
The lies were flagrant-- Saddam Hussein was tied to 911 and al Qaeda; the war would be quick and the Iraqis would greet the US forces with flowers and sweets; the torturing of "enemy combatants" in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib was not condoned at high levels politically and militarily; there would be a new democratic government in Iraq as soon as it could let the people vote; and the US invasion of Iraq was done for the reason of national security of the US and not Israel.
In reality, Iraq is a mess with no chance of success irrespective of how anyone measures it. Iraq has become a symbol for people to rally around to ward off invaders into their part of the world. It is as simple as that. The majority of the people the US forces are fighting in Iraq are Iraqisthe very people the US is supposed to be protecting. They want the US out of their country NOW.
Afghanistan is another problem, which gets less attention in the media. One might recall that the stated US purpose for invading Afghanistan was in retaliation for the 911 attacks on the Twin Towers. We were going to show those people who attacked us that they could not get away with it. We were going after the "evil doers", and you were either with us or with the "terrorists". The only problem was that Saudi Arabians--not Afghanis--attacked the US. At least we could go after Osama bin Laden. But we took the vast majority of those resources to invade Iraq, and bin Laden is still free.
Is the US in Afghanistan to fight a war on terrorism, or for other less noble reasons? Two of the geological basins in northern Afghanistan hold 18 times the oil and triple the natural gas resources previously thought. (Associated Press, March 14, 2006). Are our troops merely acting as security forces for oil interests? Things are not going as well for the US in Afghanistan as some would have the American public believe. Bin Laden is still at large; the current Afghan parliament includes warlords and drug lords; Amnesty International stated that in 2005 violence against women and girls in Afghanistan was pervasive; Human Rights Watch has accused US and coalition forces of using excessive force and arbitrary detention in Afghanistan; and since the US-led war began, Afghanistan has become increasingly dependent on opium poppies and heroin for its economic survival.
Iran is widely seen as Israels most dangerous enemy because it is the most likely to acquire nuclear weapons. Virtually all Israelis regard an Islamic country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons as a threat to their existence. Sharon began pushing the US to confront Iran in November 2002, in an interview in the Times. Describing Iran as the centre of world terror, and bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, he declared that the Bush administration should put the strong arm on Iran the day after it conquered Iraq. In late April 2003, Haaretz reported that the Israeli ambassador in Washington was calling for regime change in Iran. In late April 2003, Haaretz reported that the Israeli ambassador in Washington was calling for regime change in Iran. The overthrow of Saddam, he noted, was not enough. In his words, America has to follow through. We still have great threats of that magnitude coming from Syria, coming from Iran.
The neo-conservatives, too, lost no time in making the case for regime change in Tehran. On 6 May 2003, the AEI co-sponsored an all-day conference on Iran with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute, both champions of Israel. The speakers were all strongly pro-Israel, and many called for the US to replace the Iranian regime with a democracy. As usual, a bevy of articles by prominent neo-conservatives made the case for going after Iran. The liberation of Iraq was the first great battle for the future of the Middle East . . . But the next great battle not, we hope, a military battle will be for Iran, William Kristol wrote in the Weekly Standard on 12 May 2003.
The administration has responded to the Lobbys pressure by working overtime to shut down Irans nuclear program. But Washington has had little success, and Iran seems determined to create a nuclear arsenal. As a result, the Lobby has intensified its pressure. Op-eds and other articles now warn of imminent dangers from a nuclear Iran, caution against any appeasement of a terrorist regime, and hint darkly of preventive action should diplomacy fail. The Lobby is pushing Congress to approve the Iran Freedom Support Act, which would expand existing sanctions. Israeli officials also warn they may take pre-emptive action should Iran continue its nuclear development. These threats are to keep Washington's attention on the issue.
One might argue that Israel and the Lobby have not had much influence on policy towards Iran because the US has its own reasons for keeping Iran from going nuclear; but Irans nuclear ambitions do not pose a direct threat to the US. If Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China or even a nuclear North Korea, it can live with a nuclear Iran. And that is why the Lobby must keep up constant pressure on politicians to confront Tehran. Iran and the US would hardly be allies if the Lobby did not exist, but US policy would be more temperate and preventive war would not be a serious option.
It is clear that Israel and its American supporters want the US to deal with any and all threats to Israels security. If their efforts to shape US policy succeed, Israels enemies will be weakened or overthrown; Israel will get a free hand with the Palestinians; and the US will do most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding and paying. But even if the US fails to transform the Middle East and finds itself in conflict with an increasingly radicalized Arab and Islamic world, Israel will end up protected by the worlds only superpower. This is not a perfect outcome from the Lobby's point of view, but it is obviously preferable to Washington distancing itself, or using its leverage to force Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.
CONSEQUENCES OF AIPACS INFLUENCE
The Lobby's influence causes trouble on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face including Americas European allies. It has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a situation that gives extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the pool of potential terrorists and sympathizers, and contributes to Islamic radicalism in Europe and Asia.
The Lobbys campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could lead the US to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous effects. We dont need another Iraq. At a minimum, the Lobby's hostility towards Syria and Iran makes it almost impossible for Washington to enlist them in the struggle against al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency, where their help is badly needed.
The Lobby has caused the United States to become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the Occupied Territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians. This situation undercuts Washington's efforts to promote democracy abroad and makes it look hypocritical when it presses other states to respect human rights. US efforts to limit nuclear proliferation appear equally hypocritical given its willingness to accept Israel's nuclear arsenal, which only encourages Iran and others to seek a similar capability.
The Lobbys campaign to quash debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycottsor by suggesting that critics are anti-Semitesviolates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends. The inability of Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these important issues paralyses the entire process of democratic deliberation. Israel's backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them, but efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must be roundly condemned.
Finally, the Lobbys influence has been bad for Israel. Its ability to persuade Washington to support an expansionist agenda has discouraged Israel from seizing opportunities including a peace treaty with Syria and a prompt and full implementation of the Oslo Accordsthat would have saved Israeli lives and shrunk the ranks of Palestinian extremists. Denying the Palestinians their legitimate political rights certainly has not made Israel more secure, and the long campaign to kill or marginalize a generation of Palestinian leaders has empowered extremist groups like Hamas, and reduced the number of Palestinian leaders who would be willing to accept a fair settlement and able to make it work. Israel itself would probably be better off if the Lobby were less powerful and US policy more even-handed.
(Note: The source of the aforementioned information relating to AIPAC is Faculty Research Working Papers Series, THE ISRAELI LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY, by John J Mearsheimer, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago and Stephan M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University).
It is crystal clear that the Israeli Lobby and its influence on US policy in the Middle East is why the US has problems in the Middle East, and the Lobby has stifled free speech on the issues. What is needed is a candid discussion of the Lobbys influence and a more open debate about US interests in this vital region without fear of reprisaleconomic, political, physical, etc. Israels wellbeing is one of those interests, but its continued occupation of the West Bank and its broader regional agenda are not. Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for US one-sided support and could move the US to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel's long-term interests as well.
The US also needs to withdraw from Iraq immediately stating that it desires to let the Iraqi people handle their own affairs however they see fit. US presence only fosters more death and destruction in Iraq and helps to recruit "terrorists". The US can never "win" in Iraq because it does not have justice on its side, and the Iraqis do not want the US there.
US military resources could be diverted from Iraq to seek Al Qaeda and Bin Laden in Afghanistan if used properly. If the US is seeking to neutralize al Qaeda, then it should do so vigorously. But if Bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, as many suspect, and if we do not desire to start a war with Pakistanthe only Muslim country with nuclear weaponsthen the US should withdraw from Afghanistan. Let the warlords and drug lords have their country.
As for Iran, leave Iran alone. Iran is no threat to the US. Its population is young and likes the people of the United States. Once the US acts as a strong, honest broker with the Palestinians and the Israelistreating each side fairlythe major US problems in the Middle East will go away. When there is justice, there will be peace.
The real challenge for the US is get some courage to stand up to the Israeli lobby, which has corrupted our political system and jeopardized our national security. It is essential that people speak out and emphasize political action on behalf of Americas national security. Write your Congressman, write the newspapers, talk about it on the radio talk shows, and if the talk show hosts dont talk about the issues, you talk about it and tell the hosts they are not telling the truth. Americas national security and our freedoms are at stake.