BY Jeremy Salt
Hubris grips Israel. Absolute power has had its usual effect of absolute corruption, of morality, legality, and justice as well as the money deals that have enriched corrupt Israeli politicians.
No one dares stop Israel. Not the UN and not western governments. They can but they don’t or they won’t. Israel can kill Palestinians on the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza, without any meaningful intervention by the ‘international community.’
On the West Bank, a corrupt Palestinian Authority has done much of its dirty work, administering the occupied territory on behalf of the occupier, not the occupied. In East Jerusalem, it has acted as the conduit for the sale of Jerusalem properties to Zionist settlers, with straw men, Palestinians, and bogus companies set up to transfer properties without owners knowing that the real purchasers are Zionist settlers.
Most of the money for these purchases comes from the US, where Donald Trump has now followed up his “recognition” of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with his “recognition” of the occupied Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.
He did this in a tweet, without telling the relevant arms of his own administration beforehand. The State Department was taken by surprise and so was everyone else, except the Israeli government. It knew because Trump had passed on the word. Behind the scenes, John Bolton and the US ambassador to Israel, David Freedman, effectively Israel’s American ambassador to Israel, worked to set this up.
The parallel to Trump’s unilateral White House action is US recognition of Israel in 1948. Because of the probability of extreme bloodshed, early in 1948 the US had backed away from the 1947 partition plan and was seeking a UN trusteeship over Palestine. That was the policy followed until Truman upended it on May 14 by recognizing Israel de facto, without informing the State Department or the US delegation at the UN.
The UN Secretary-General had been informed, and it was in the wastepaper basket in his office that the screwed-up ticker tape message sent to him was found. The US delegation ’s head, Warren Austin, was so disgusted he walked out of the UN building and left it to his deputy to make the formal announcement of recognition. The enraged Cuban delegation threatened to pull Cuba out of the UN.
The US has never been an honest broker but at least in the 1940s and 1950s, there were sensible people who recognized the great dangers for the US in supporting Zionism and the state of Israel.
Loy Henderson, a senior State Department official, responsible for Middle Eastern policy, wrote that support for a Jewish state would violate US policy of allowing a majority vote by the population of any territory to determine its form of government.
He warned that support for Israel would involve the US “in international difficulties of so grave a character that the reaction throughout the world as well as in this country will be very strong.”
Secretary of State George Marshall opposed partition and wrote that if Truman recognized Israel, he would vote against him in the next elections.
Truman’s double-dealing was to repeated by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s when he told the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin, that he need not worry about being forced into signing the nuclear-non proliferation treaty in return for the supply of US planes and tanks.
Johnson would make sure they would be provided without any conditions, blindsiding his own officials, who thought they were going into negotiations with a strong hand, only to be treated with discourtesy by Rabin.
Israel got the lot then, the tanks and the planes and the freedom to develop nuclear weapons without having to sign the NPT, and it has got the lot ever since. Military and economic grants have now reached unprecedented levels. On top of the $3.8 billion aid, Israel will receive for 2019 it is now the beneficiary of a ten-year $38 billion ‘defense’ package, signed into law in August 2018.
These sums of money, enabling the occupation of Palestine and the killing of Palestinians, are augmented by smaller grants, $50 million here or $50 million there, the icing on an enormous and very tasty cake. Israel still has the freedom to develop nuclear weapons without US interference.
In December 2017, Donald Trump “recognized” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on the same day that Zionist snipers were killing unarmed Palestinians along the Gaza fence line. He has now followed this by “recognizing” the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.
The banality of the man is summed up in the means of communication, not a White House press conference, not a State Department communique, but a tweet, the same conduit he uses for talking about his children or abusing his political opponents or telling the world how great the Mexican wall will be.
Of course, there can be no “recognition” because both East Jerusalem (‘at least’ as there is no good reason to separate the occupation of the east in 1967 from the occupation of the west in 1948) and the Golan Heights are occupied territories in fact and under international law.
With these two announcements, the US has finally ruled itself out as any kind of honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. It never has been, of course. Some presidents tried hard to bring balance into the relationship – Jimmy Carter for example – but all eventually caved in.
The Golan Heights is part of Syria. In 1967 it was seized by Israel during its war against Egypt and Syria. This was no “pre-emptive” attack as the Zionists have claimed ever since but a blitzkrieg aimed at destroying Arab military capacity, destroying Egypt’s leader, Gamal Abd al Nasser and seizing the rest of Palestine.
The seizure of the Golan involved the expulsion of 90,000-130,000 Syrians and Palestinians. Some fled, others were driven out but, just like 1948, no one was allowed back. About 100 villages were destroyed and ploughed over.
In 1974, after a war which Egypt and Syria would have won on the battlefield had not Anwar al Sadat betrayed the Syrian president, Hafez al Assad, new lines of demarcation were drawn up on the Golan, leaving about 70 percent in the hands of the Zionists.
Before withdrawing from some of the territories they had occupied, Zionist units deliberately destroyed the city of Quneitra. It was never rebuilt, the ruins standing as testimony to the complete bastardry of the army which had occupied it.
Since that time Israel has filled the occupied Golan with about 30 settlements and 25,000 settlers. Archaeological relics are plundered, the Golan’s vital water resources are drained off and Israeli and foreign tourists contribute to the economy of occupation. In recent years the occupied Syrian communities, mainly Druze, have had to put up with wounded terrorists being transported across their land from Syria to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. On occasion, they have attacked these convoys. Most Druze remain committed to their Syrian identity.
In his tweet, Trump wrote that the “recognition” of the occupied Golan as Israeli is important to “regional stability.” The opposite is true, of course. ‘Regional stability’ is even more seriously threatened. With these announcements, Trump has put his administration entirely in Israel’s pocket.
Trump may well give Netanyahu’s election prospects a boost by turning his tweeted intention into a formal policy statement before the Israeli elections in early April. Both the Jerusalem and the Golan declarations, however, are a sign that Israel and its lobbyists in the US have seriously overplayed their hand and that in buckling to their pressure, Trump has worsened Israel’s standing in the US.
The US groveling to Israel over many decades would now seem to have reached its apogee. All that remains is the plan being cooked up by Trump, John Bolton, Jared Kushner, and David Freedman, in continuous consultation with the Israeli government, to bury the Palestinian question forever.
Americans are aware more than ever of how Israel dictates US foreign policy. Jewish Americans know it in increasing numbers, especially on university campuses. They have the same moral consciousness as anyone else and are appalled by Israel’s atrocious record over many decades. They are distancing themselves both from Israel and Zionism and of course, they completely abhor the Netanyahu government and Israel’s even more openly racist and fascist parties.
Two Muslim members of Congress have recently sharpened the debate with exposure of the lobby’s vote-buying political influence. Senior Democrats, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have declared they will not be attending the annual AIPAC conference in Washington on March 24-26. In years gone by, such defiance by a US politician would be regarded as suicidal but not now. This is partly the measure of how the wind is blowing in the US.
Trump’s two declarations end all illusions. Even in the minds and the hearts of those who desperately cling to the hope of a genuine peace process, there can surely be no hope left. One would have to be completely deluded to see something in nothing. What is left is surrender or resistance. Either you or us. Not a peace of the brave as pronounced on the White House lawns in 1993 but a peace of the grave.
Many Palestinians never thought peace with Israel was possible. They have been proven right. Those who continued to place their trust in the “international community” or in the application of international law or the bona fides of the Israeli government have been proven wrong. George Habash read the situation correctly back in the 1950s and 1960s. Hasan Nasrallah reads it correctly now.
The abandonment by the US of the remnants of a peace process that was never a peace process in the first place creates grave dangers, not regional stability, especially when taken in the context of a possible Israeli war with Hizbullah or Iran or on both of them.
The US has left the supporters of a genuine peace process with nothing in their hands. There is no two-state solution in sight, only a bogus one-state ‘solution’ which turns all of Palestine into Netanyahu’s apartheid Jewish state.
If Palestine, any part of it, is to be redeemed, only the option of force seems left for those who will not surrender. After more than seven decades of chicanery, lies, and brutality from Israeli governments, this conclusion would be self-evident.
It is not a question of wanting it or wishing for it. Force is abhorrent but there has never been a time in history when an occupied people have not resisted the occupier to the utmost limits of their endurance.
Both the Palestinians and the Zionists conform to the historical pattern, one as the occupied and the second as the occupier. Israel thinks it can break the Palestinians down by the application of brute force but after more than seven decades it has still not succeeded. Instead, in the minds of many, it has only strengthened the lesson that what has been taken by force, ultimately can only be taken back by force.
When there is no peace, no remote possibility of peace, the pendulum must swing back to war. When it comes, and sooner or later it will come, Israel is going to take such punishment that it might finally see reason, if by then it is not too late to see reason. It would be better to see reason before the event but that is not going to happen.
Hizbullah has the capacity to inflict great damage on Israel. The Iron Dome and the Arrow anti-missile ‘defense’ systems will stop only a fraction of the volume of missiles that will pour into Israel in the event of war with Hizbullah or the war with Iran which Netanyahu has wanted for years. Even Hamas now says it has rockets that can reach any part of Israeli territory. Even if Israel ‘wins’, a nebulous concept in the context of such a destructive war, it will be seriously wounded.
Israel’s greatest defense system would have been to reach a generous settlement with the Palestinians long ago but what it has actually settled for is ideology, the fulfillment of the Zionist dream that is a Palestinian nightmare, and the continued theft of Palestinian land over the security of its Jewish citizens.
They are in the Middle East and want to stay there. They want a future for their children, but what kind of future is on offer from Israel’s racist politicians, settlers and rabbis? The answer? The same kind of violent future that is on offer for the Palestinians. Is this the choice any sane person would want to make?