Obama’s Failed ‘Hope’ in Gaza

Eight years ago, President Obama offered “hope” for change in the world, but politics and pressures won out, with his failure nowhere more obvious than in Gaza, as Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer explains in this open letter.

By Mohammed Omer

To President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

As president of the most powerful country on the planet; the loving and protective father of two children; and a man fully aware of the human struggles of so many in the down-trodden communities of many lands, including your own, your eyes must have been opened during the last three — of many — Israeli assaults on besieged Gaza, where I live with my wife and young son.

I recall being in the Netherlands when you were first elected president. Like so many millions around the world, I cheered loudly for you, believing that a fresh wind was blowing through the narrow halls of U.S. politics. I dared to hope that a brave man — a champion of good people who were neglected and abused — had arrived to stand up and ease the pain and injustice inflicted on so many, including my people in Palestine, long tormented and driven from their ancient land, deprived of their human dignity.

Sadly, however, I perhaps dared to believe too much. As I look around Gaza today and see only the aftermath of more Israeli cruelty and evidence of ever more bloodshed, pain, sadness and destruction, the words “Yes, we can” now drift away with the dust, carried by the winds of despair.

This despair has hung over our heads for at least the past 10 years, the result of Israel’s harsh collective punishment of the 1.9 million human beings who struggle to survive in Gaza. Half of them are children younger than your Sasha and Malia; many are babies, like mine, held in their parents’ arms.

Perhaps, being so far removed from it, you cannot empathize with the effects of collective punishment. Having studied law and worked closely in community projects, however, you surely have an intellectual and historical understanding. I think you know that Israel’s intentions extend beyond removing Hamas — or any other group that would resist an occupier’s expansion and invasion of their homes and leaders.

The U.S. Constitution does not call for the punishment of an entire population simply for voting for the “wrong party.” It and the Bill of Rights guarantee Americans the freedom to express themselves freely and the right to struggle and defend their inalienable rights. The American Revolution was an act of rebellion against oppression and the denial of “self-evident” rights and freedoms.

In Gaza, we are struggling against similar oppression. Israel increasingly confines and punishes us for our struggle, as we use whatever meager means we have to attain the same freedom and human dignity your forbearers fought for.

“Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

What is the bond that binds U.S. politics and power to Israel’s ongoing cruel oppression? How can the U.S. justify its unconditional patronage of Israel escalating infliction of pain upon innocent others? What satisfaction and reward does Israel gain for punishing every aspect of human life for nearly two million good Palestinian people in Gaza, who just want their freedom again?

Three recent wars have whipped, beaten and left homeless many families who are still waiting for short- and long-term protection from cruelty. I met with Ahmed Al Kafarneh, an elderly man of dignity, living with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Before the 51-day war in 2014, he, like 100,000 other Palestinians, had built a beautiful home after 20 years of working in Israel — no easy task indeed. Now everything is gone, and he lives with his extended family in a rusty metal shipping container.

Mr. President, it is a cold and wet winter here — the coldest in years. Try to imagine yourself, Michelle, Sasha and Malia sitting on cold metal floors with rain dripping in from more holes in the container roof than you can count.

Are you not the same president who, when proclaiming Israel’s right to defend itself, vowed that you would do everything to protect your children? Does that same determination to protect not apply to our Palestinian children?

It seems you have forgotten our right — not only as Palestinians, but as human beings — to exist in freedom and safety from oppression and disproportionately heavy attacks from the Israeli military. In Gaza, our youngest generation knows only war, displacement, loss, trauma and pain. It faces even more obstacles in the path of “Yes we can” in the form of massive unemployment, repression and isolation caused by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned economic blockade, denying an entire people free movement and a normal life of choices.

Does that not sound like slavery, Mr. President?

We are locked behind walls, contained like cattle, spied on by armed drones, with Israeli-army snipers patrolling barbed-wire fences, and placed on a “diet” meted out by occupiers and thieves. Is that not extremism? Would you not resist it?

A few days ago, I met with 13 brave and dedicated U.S. doctors who came here to assist the local hospitals — a rare occasion when American doctors get to meet face to face with our own courageous doctors and Hippocratic Oath colleagues. A 24-year-old Palestinian fine arts student paused when she heard of the delegation and asked, “Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

This is why I am writing this open letter to you, Mr. President.

Human beings, of all generations, live here in Gaza, waiting for your replies to these questions. “Change we can believe in,” Mr.President — but it must include our freedom of choice.

Gaza is the size of Manhattan Island. We are human beings like you and your fellow Americans — but we are trapped behind walls and fences we have never lived behind before and don’t want to wake up to tomorrow. Our southern borders are now fenced off by Egypt, locking down Rafah crossing. To the west, our beaches — frequented by children, families and fishermen — are threatened by Israeli naval vessels armed with missiles and water cannons. They confine our fishing boats to 6 nautical miles offshore instead of the designated 20 nautical miles.

Are you aware that 73 Palestinian fishermen were fired upon and arrested in 2015? Or that 55 percent of Gazans suffer from clinical depression, that 43 percent are unemployed, 40 percent fall below the poverty line, and 60 percent are food insecure? Do you know how few hours of electricity we are allowed in 24 hours, with no power for 12 to 16 hours?

The same shortage applies to water, cooking gas and many other basic essentials. As you are served your meal this evening, remember we have half a million gas cylinders waiting to be filled before we can cook or boil water for washing and drinking (a human right).

This is all the more tragic because Gaza could be the perfect neighbor for Israel, living in peace and harmony and sharing mutually beneficial economic and trade relationships. We have many skilled workers and a well-educated young generation. Palestine has always been progressive. The only thing we need is a chance to grow, develop and contribute with dignity and equality.

We want to build bridges of understanding, instead of separation walls of bigotry and hatred. We don’t want Israel experimenting with its new hi-tech weapons on the children of Gaza. Your American-made missiles have been used to attack U.N. schools and shelters — the very schools which offer quality education and steer our children away from extremism. This is usually something to be applauded, not targeted.

You have not seen Khuza’a and the massive destruction that Israel’s war machine left behind. Its children’s feet are cold this frigid winter because water continues to drip from their shell-pocked ceilings onto their beds. You are welcome to visit us at any time, should you choose to place humanitarian considerations over political ones.

It is time for you, Mr. President, to provide the children and youth of Gaza with hope they can believe in. You can do it before you leave office, and all your promises, behind. You can reignite the enthusiasm we felt when you stepped up to address the world, and strengthen your legacy for promoting peace after you leave the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, you are among the very few people on earth who could influence Israel and Egypt to open borders and end the collective blockade. Is not a decade enough? Especially when we know that the ones who suffer from the siege are ordinary people, not political groups such as Hamas. If the aim is for people to look beyond Hamas, they must be given options for the future.

The children and parents of Gaza are waiting for a solution, and you can revitalize the positive energy that came with you and your speeches early in your presidency. Make all people proud — including Americans — of your long-lasting achievements.

Stand up for Gaza, as you always do for Israel, regardless of how badly they treat their fellow man (including yourself). We don’t want or need extremism in any form. We want stability, peace and to live in our homes without drones and tanks threatening us day and night. The young people of Gaza are seeking a better future.

Can we do this? Yes, we can! Step up Mr. President—please.

Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. [This letter was adapted from an article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.]




A Media Unmoored from Facts

Exclusive: Mainstream U.S. journalism has completely lost its way, especially in dealing with foreign policy issues where bias now overwhelms any commitment to facts, a dangerous development, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who had seen one of my recent stories about Syria and wanted to commiserate over the state of modern journalism. Hersh’s primary question regarding reporters and editors at major news outlets these days was: “Do they care what the facts are?”

Hersh noted that in the past – in the 1970s when he worked at The New York Times – even executive editor Abe Rosenthal, who was a hard-line cold warrior with strong ideological biases, still wanted to know what was really going on.

My experience was similar at The Associated Press. Among the older editors, there was still a pride in getting the facts right – and not getting misled by some politician or spun by some government flack.

That journalistic code, however, no longer exists – at least not on foreign policy and national security issues. The major newspapers and TV networks are staffed largely by careerists who uncritically accept what they are fed by U.S. government officials or what they get from think-tank experts who are essentially in the pay of special interests.

For a variety of reasons – from the draconian staff cuts among foreign correspondents to the career fear of challenging some widely held “group think” – many journalists have simply become stenographers, taking down what the Important People say is true, not necessarily what is true.

It’s especially easy to go with the flow when writing about some demonized foreign leader. Then, no editor apparently expects anything approaching balance or objectivity, supposedly key principles of journalism. Indeed, if a reporter gave one of these hated figures a fair shake, there might be grumblings about whether the reporter was a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.” The safe play is to pile on.

This dishonesty – or lack of any commitment to the truth – is even worse among editorialists and columnists. Having discovered that there was virtually no cost for being catastrophically wrong about the facts leading into the Iraq invasion in 2003, these writers must feel so immune from accountability that they can safely ignore reality.

But – for some of us old-timers – it’s still unnerving to read the work of these “highly respected” journalists who simply don’t care what the facts are.

For instance, the establishment media has been striking back ferociously against President Barack Obama’s apostasy in a series of interviews published in The Atlantic, in which he defends his decision not to bomb the Syrian government in reaction to a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Though The Atlantic article was posted a month ago, the media fury is still resonating and reverberating around Official Washington, with Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt penning the latest condemnation of Obama’s supposed fecklessness for not enforcing his “red line” on chemical-weapon use in Syria by bombing the Syrian military.

Remember that in 2002-03, Hiatt penned Post editorials that reported, as “flat fact,” that Iraq possessed hidden stockpiles of WMD – and he suffered not a whit for being horribly wrong. More than a dozen years later, Hiatt is still the Post’s editorial-page editor – one of the most influential jobs in American journalism.

On Thursday, Hiatt reported as flat fact that Syria’s “dictator, Bashar al-Assad, killed 1,400 or more people in a chemical gas attack,” a reference to the 2013 sarin atrocity. Hiatt then lashed out at President Obama for not punishing Assad and – even worse – for showing satisfaction over that restraint.

Citing The Atlantic interviews, Hiatt wrote that Obama “said he had been criticized because he refused to follow the ‘playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment,’ which would have counseled greater U.S. intervention.” Hiatt was clearly disgusted with Obama’s pusillanimous choice.

The No ‘Slam Dunk’ Warning

But what Hiatt and other neocon columnists consistently ignore from The Atlantic article is the disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed Obama that U.S. intelligence analysts doubted that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.

Clapper even used the phrase “slam dunk,” which is associated with the infamous 2002 pledge from then-CIA Director George Tenet to President George W. Bush about how “slam dunk” easy it would be to make the case that Iraq was hiding WMD. More than a decade later, brandishing that disgraced phrase, Clapper told Obama that it was not a “slam dunk” that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.

In other words, Obama’s decision not to bomb Assad’s military was driven, in part, by the intelligence community’s advice that he might end up bombing the wrong people. Since then, evidence has built up that radical jihadists opposed to Assad staged the sarin attack as a provocation to trick the U.S. military into entering the war on their side.

But those facts clearly are not convenient to Hiatt’s neocon goal – i.e., how to get the United States into another Mideast “regime change” war – so he simply expunges the “slam dunk” exchange between Clapper and Obama and inserts instead a made-up “fact,” the flat-fact certainty of Assad’s guilt.

Hiatt’s assertion of the death toll – as “1,400 or more people” – is also dubious. Doctors on the ground in Damascus placed the number of dead at several hundred. The 1,400 figure was essentially manufactured by the U.S. government using a dubious methodology of counting bodies shown on “social media,” failing to take into account the question of whether the victims died as a result of the Aug. 21, 2013 incident.

Relying on “social media” for evidence is a notoriously unreliable practice, since pretty much anyone can post anything on the Internet. And, in the case of Syria, there are plenty of interest groups that have a motive to misidentify or even fabricate images for the purpose of influencing public opinion and policy. There is also the Internet’s vulnerability as a devil’s playground for professional intelligence services.

But Hiatt is far from alone in lambasting Obama for failing to do what All the Smart People of Washington knew he should do: bomb, bomb, bomb Assad’s forces in Syria – even if that might have led to the collapse of the army and the takeover of Damascus by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.

Nationally syndicated columnist Richard Cohen, another Iraq War cheerleader who suffered not at all for that catastrophe, accused Obama of “hubris” for taking pride in his decision not to bomb Syria in 2013 and then supposedly basing his foreign policy on that inaction.

“In an odd way, Obama’s failure to intervene in Syria or to enforce his stated ‘red line’ there has become the rationale for an entire foreign policy doctrine – one based more on hubris than success,” wrote Cohen in a column on Tuesday.

Note how Cohen – like Hiatt – fails to mention the relevant fact that DNI Clapper warned the President that the intelligence community was unsure who had unleashed the sarin attack or whether Assad had, in fact, crossed the “red line.”

Cohen also embraces the conventional wisdom that Obama was mistaken not to have intervened in Syria, ignoring the fact that Obama did, in violation of international law, authorize arming and training of thousands of Syrian rebels to violently overthrow the Syrian government, with many of those weapons (and recruits) falling into the hands of terror groups, such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into Bed with Al Qaeda.”]

Neocon Ideologues

So, it appears that these well-regarded geniuses don’t appreciate the idea of ascertaining the facts before charging off to war. And there’s a reason for that: many are neocon ideologues who reached their conclusion about what needs to be done in the Middle East – eliminate governments that are troublesome to Israel – and thus they view information as just something to be manipulated to manipulate the public.

This thinking stems from the 1990s when neocons combined their recognition of America’s unmatched military capabilities – as displayed in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 and made even more unchallengeable with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991– with Israel’s annoyance over inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians and security concerns over Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

The new solution to Israel’s political and security problems would be “regime change” in countries seen as aiding and abetting Israel’s enemies. The strategy came together among prominent U.S. neocons working on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister.

Rather than continuing those annoying negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers — including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser — advocated a new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

The “clean break” sought “regime change” in countries supporting Israel’s close-in enemies, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century called for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

After George W. Bush became president and the 9/11 attacks left the American people lusting for revenge, the pathway was cleared for implementing the “regime change” agenda, with Iraq still at the top of the list although it had nothing to do with 9/11. Again, the last thing the neocons wanted was to inform the American people of the real facts about Iraq because that might have sunk the plans for this war of choice.

Thus, the American public was consistently misled by both the Bush administration and the neocon-dominated mainstream media. The Post’s Hiatt, for instance, was out there regularly reporting Iraq’s WMD threat as “flat fact.”

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and months of fruitless searching for the promised WMD caches, Hiatt finally acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its confident claims about the WMD. “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]

Yet, Hiatt’s supposed remorse didn’t stop him and the Post editorial page from continuing its single-minded support for the Iraq War — and heaping abuse on war critics, such as former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson who challenged President Bush’s claims about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from NIger.

The degree to which the neocons continue to dominate the major news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, is demonstrated by the lack of virtually any accountability on the journalists who misinformed their readers about an issue as consequential as the war in Iraq.

And, despite the disaster in Iraq, the neocons never cast aside their “clean break” playbook. After Iraq, the “regime change” strategy listed Syria next and then Iran. Although the neocons suffered a setback in 2008 with the election of Iraq War opponent Barack Obama, they never gave up their dreams.

The neocons worked through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Iraq War supporters who managed to survive and even move up through the government ranks despite Obama’s distaste for their military solutions.

While in office, Clinton sabotaged chances to get Iran to surrender much of its nuclear material – all the better to keep the “regime change” option in play – and she lobbied for a covert military intervention to oust Syria’s Assad. (She also tipped the balance in favor of another “regime change” war in Libya that has created one more failed state in the volatile region.)

But the most disturbing fact is that these war promoters – both in politics and the press – continue to be rewarded for their warmongering. Hiatt retains his gilded perch as the Post’s editorial-page editor (setting Official Washington’s agenda); Cohen remains one of America’s leading national columnists; and Hillary Clinton is favored to become the next President.

So, the answer to Sy Hersh’s question – “Do they care what the facts are?” – is, it appears, no. There is just too much money and power involved in influencing and controlling Washington and – through those levers of finance, diplomacy and war – controlling the world. When that’s at stake, real facts can become troublesome things. For the people who wield this influence and control, it is better for them to manufacture their own.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).




How Israeli Propaganda Succeeds

Pervasive Israeli propaganda has blinded many Americans to the injustice meted out to Palestinians, a “group think” that a new documentary calls “The Occupation of the American Mind,” reviewed by Abba A. Solomon.

By Abba A. Solomon

Harriet Beecher Stowe is reputed — in Stowe family legend at least — to have been greeted by President Abraham Lincoln with, “Is this the little woman who made this great war?” Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe’s novel that dramatized government-sanctioned human bondage, is credited, somewhat fancifully, with moving American public opinion about slavery and helping start the U.S. Civil War.

The documentary film — The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States — aims to explain why U.S. media, in contrast to most of the world’s, omits the Palestinian story, and thus why U.S. public opinion favors Israel so markedly. The film organizes the evidence in plain sight of the unnatural situation that has been maintained in U.S. news reporting — the tropes that reinforce Zionist ideology, and recognize only Jewish Israeli life as imperiled.

Roger Waters narrates that during the July 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, lasting 51 days — using 20,000 tons of explosives — “The sheer scale of the attack provoked outrage and condemnation around the world. But in the United States the story was different. Polls showed the American people holding firm in their support for Israel.”

Aerial surveys of Gaza now show vast wastelands and ruins of that urban area, holding more than 1.8 million people, the majority exiles from present-day Israel. The film’s title, “The Occupation of the American Mind” communicates the hope that once the mechanisms are seen, they can’t be unseen.

During Israel’s operation Protective Shield (summer 2014), as during Operation Cast Lead (2008-09), the plea that “Israel has the right to defend itself” dominated American reporting. With deft editing, the film shows a risible sequence of Israeli spokesmen, American politicians (up to President Obama) and U.S. newscasters all repeating the same lines of Israeli vulnerability and Arab menace.

We can presume that by understanding the highly calculated effort of American public relations experts and Israeli officials to “explain” the asymmetry of power and suffering between Jewish nationalist forces and Arab civilians, inexorably losing homes and homeland — a passion for justice in Americans will be excited.

The United States is one gentile culture where the Zionist narrative dominates. Key to this is control of language, controlling thought. U.S. pollster Frank Luntz was commissioned to maintain this, producing a “dictionary” of language to use — a playbook for shading domination as defense.

“When a narrative is so dominant, without any visible dissent or complication, it’s extremely difficult to make clear to people that it is basically a propaganda story.  How do you make that clear when the spectacle is so unrelenting and total?” asks New York University scholar Mark Crispin Miller, one of the film’s media studies experts.

What would break the spell?  The New York Times made a baby step with its concession in an editorial January 2016 that the “Two-state solution” is “fading.” In a masterwork of understatement, an American official is quoted by the Times, saying of the settlements that began in late 1967 and continue in 2016, “It is starting to look like a de facto annexation.”

(Israel has moved 3/4 million Jews into the captured territories, including a surprisingly large proportion who’ve moved from the United States).

The argument that the occupied Palestinian territories are held by Israel for “security reasons” serves to screen territorial expansion, the film argues. “If you buy that (security) argument, then it’s a license to occupy indefinitely,” media and militarism critic Norman Solomon explains in the film. (Disclosure: Norman Solomon is my brother.)

The film reports the overwhelming financial contributions to American politicians advocating the Jewish nationalist narrative in Palestine, and shows clips from the many public devotionals that congressmen, cabinet members and presidents attend, to pledge what can fairly be described as Zionist allegiance.

Historian Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University says that American media provides “no sense of how this started, where the animus comes from. It’s completely inexplicable in the way it’s generally presented — these people (Palestinians) kill because they hate, and they hate because they’re irrational Muslim fanatics, or whatever.”

In American politics on this issue, we can notice things that don’t happen, as Sherlock Holmes noted the dog that didn’t bark. When American Jewish legislators speak of their devotion to Israel, no fuss follows, and brilliant non-Jewish politicians like Joe Biden have made careers steeped in American Zionism and mirroring that loyalty.

A Jan.6 article by Hillary Clinton for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles is an example of the predominant way of relating to Israel/Palestine by centrist U.S. politicians. Her alignment with Israel is slavish, with a promise to raise the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level.” Clinton proclaims her “deep emotional connection with Israel.”

The procession of American presidential candidates at last week’s American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington (except for Sen. Bernie Sanders) gave a graphic demonstration of the place of Israel as something like an honorary U.S. state.

I hypothesize one contributing reason for the American atmosphere: for some American Jews, Jewish statehood is integral to their Jewish identity. Most Americans have not known Palestinians or Arabs, so making sense of the situation requires relating to what they do know — fellow Americans who are Jews. From that perspective, Americans can imagine Israel as just like the American Jews who are their neighbors, friends, and associates, with no idea of the complexities.

American demographic changes require that Arab-Americans remain a dangerous Other, for the phenomenon of Israeli-American “twinning” to continue. Otherwise, countervailing sympathy and empathy with Arabs will operate. For Israel’s purposes, Syria’s chaos and evisceration is a godsend, associating Arabs with danger.

With more exposure, the Ku Klux Klan-like behavior of settlers in the occupied Judea and Samaria and the Klan-like blending of religious identity and bigotry in Jewish supremacism may repulse Americans. However, for Americans to understand the Israeli violence systematically unleashed on captive Palestinians would be to sense a hint of the violence that the United States unleashed methodically in achievement of its North American empire.

That, and much of America’s direct and proxy military adventurism abroad since, has been invisible to the public, much as Israel’s infliction of death and suffering is invisible as precursor to “unprovoked” Arab attacks. Will Americans become conversant with Israeli, Zionist and Palestinian history, if their own is hidden from them?

One difference from the North American settler-colonialism is the Jewish claim of indigeneity, with accusations that Arabs are settlers in Palestine who should by rights move or be expelled from “the state of the Jewish people.”

A film of this sort can only review so much Zionist and Palestine history to set the scene.  The producers did a nice job fitting in a lot of content, selectively, in the time. (The U.S. organization Jewish Voice for Peace made an animated short, “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict 101,”that shows the challenge of compressing facts and sequences of events of Zionism and Palestine. Their summary is 6.5 minutes.)

Intended as an educational film to join the Media Education Foundation’s strong list, “The Occupation of the American Mind,” the work of writer/producers Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, is invaluable as a contrast to Israel’s fantasy world in media. (The film is not about an allied subject, the Zionist Occupation of the American Jewish Mind, where another fantasy world operates, where Jews heroically rebuild Jewish sovereignty.)

The film concentrates on American media dating from the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the formalization of Israel’s Western-media Hasbara/PR institutions in reaction to horror at consequences of Israel’s Lebanon occupation.  (Bombardment and siege of Beirut, and massacre at Sabra and Shatilla)

The film’s coda surveys pro-Palestinian campus activism and alliance-building with African-American and other groups locked out of the American narrative, younger Americans awakening to the Palestinian perception of events. A series of Pew polls show that among American young people, Democrats, and independents, sympathy for Palestinian Arabs is growing, and the Republican Party is becoming the repository of unconditional Israel advocacy.

Among developed nations, the United States has an unusually high proportion of religious believers, and more Christian Zionists than U.S. Jews figure in the Republican Party’s embrace of militant Zionism. In the film, executive producer Sut Jhally makes that point: “In fact, it’s not accurate to call it the Jewish lobby. It is the Israel lobby,” not consistent with the views of most American Jews.

It is difficult to imagine that Americans will become conversant with subtleties of Zionist and Jewish history.  One might expect revulsion as the system of political contributions and targeted propaganda to ensure and manipulate American support is illustrated. Film clips of Israeli violence at checkpoints and demonstrations are followed by Media Education Foundation founder Jhally commenting:

“The more Americans are able to see realities of the occupation with their own eyes, to see routine daily violence, to see repression and humiliation that never make it into mainstream news, the more they will question the image of Israel as this tiny little David up against this bullying Arab goliath, and start to wonder if it’s the outgunned Palestinians who are the Davids here.

“When that starts to become the dominant perception here in the U.S., all bets are off.  It all comes down to American popular perception.”

Noam Chomsky ends the film saying, “The U.S. government will support it as long as the U.S. population tolerates it.”

If the image of Israel becomes that of a cruel oppressor, may the shift be as consequential as when Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel (and its depiction of slavery) became part of a march to the Civil War? For Jews, what might a shift of U.S. public opinion about Israel mean? To the extent Israel is identified, naturally, as an indivisibly “Jewish” project — dismounting this tiger isn’t going to be graceful. Injury to Arabs in Palestine, and the manipulation of the United States, in the past Zionist century, will be reckoned.

Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.’” The film is available via streaming and DVD at www.occupationmovie.com . The documentary premieres in Massachusetts next month. [This article first appeared at Mondoweiss as http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/the-occupation-of-the-american-mind-documented/#sthash.eovxdIin.dpuf ]




Selling Out Palestinian Rights

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have led the way in abandoning principles of human rights, democracy and rule of law by pandering to Israel and its powerful lobby, explains Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

In early March, Professor Richard Falk, former United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, wrote an essay explaining that American foreign policy generated by Democratic Party presidents has been much to blame for the disastrous fate of the Palestinians.

The Democrats have allowed themselves to be suborned by Zionist special interests for reasons we will explore below. It is Democratic officials who also verbally attack any American who stands up for the rights of Palestinians, and do so, if anything, more strongly than their Republican competitors.

Falk worked tirelessly from 2008 to 2014 to bring about justice for the Palestinian people – something that, if achieved, would have raised the esteem of both the U.N. and the U.S. among millions of Arabs. Officials appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, including National Security Advisor Susan Rice and current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, repaid Falk for his efforts with insulting ad hominem attacks.

For instance, Power celebrated Falk’s departure from his post by asserting that, “his publication of bizarre and insulting material has tarnished the U.N.’s reputation and undermined the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council. The United States welcomes Mr. Falk’s departure, which is long overdue.”

It is to be noted that at no time did Professor Falk issue a report, or even make a public statement, that was not based on documented fact and a clear understanding of international law. One suspects that Ambassador Power knew this to be so and that her vitriol against Falk was the act of an amoral political agent of an amoral government.

Professor Falk sees much of the U.S. government’s policy in the Middle East as a consequence of a State Department long populated by Zionists along with the power and influence of an Israeli-directed bloc of special interests.

President Obama’s own efforts at Middle East policy formulation began, according to Falk, with the rhetorical assertion that the United States is “different because we adhere to the rule of law and act in accord with our values in foreign policy.” Yet this claim has always been false, and very quickly, the President’s words lost meaning as lobby pressure bent policy (with the singular exception of the Iran nuclear deal) to the will of the Zionist cause.

Hillary Clinton

Watching the distressing kowtowing this past week to that same lobby by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has proven Richard Falk undeniably correct. In her speech to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an organization which, in truth, functions in the U.S. as the agent of a foreign power (Israel), Clinton proclaimed the following:

–That as president she will take the U.S.- Israeli relationship “to the next level,” which entails lavishing on that state most of America’s latest defensive and offensive weaponry and the negotiating of yet another defense treaty – a “ten-year defense memorandum of understanding.”

–This is allegedly necessary because, Israel “faces three evolving threats – Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to delegitimize Israel on the world stage.” Here she refers to the boycott or BDS movement. These threats make “the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever.”

Juan Cole’s rebuttal to Clinton’s assertions is particularly good. He points out that when the situation is looked at soberly, Israel has no conventional security threats, including from Iran, that necessitates billions of dollars of American weapons and a binding defense memorandum. Cole accurately points out that the “rising tide of extremism” is, to a good extent, a function of the U.S. invasion of Iraq (which both Clinton and the Israelis supported), and the dissolution of Syria (which has become a national security goal of Israel). Finally, by describing BDS as a movement that must be suppressed, she is endangering U.S. constitutional rights.

–Clinton extols the U.S.-Israel alliance as one of “shared values.” She describes Israel as “a bastion of liberty.” This is de rigueur propaganda and, for the Palestinians, has no convincing connection to reality.

Clinton then qualifies her dubious assertion by asking, “will we, as Americans and as Israelis, stay true to the shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship.” She is no doubt including “America” in this question as a reference to the problematic behavior of Donald Trump and his supporters. However, her question, as it applies to Israel, has already been answered.

Gideon Levy

The well-known Israeli journalist Gideon Levy was in Washington, D.C. last week and had an interview with Max Blumenthal. In it he warned of just how far Israel has drifted from “democratic values” as well as how complicit American liberals, such as Hillary Clinton, are in the process of Israeli moral and political corruption.

Levy tells us that “American liberals should know … that they are supporting the first sign of fascism in Israel. I don’t call it yet fascism, but [the] first signs [are] very clear.And America keeps financing it. This should be known and should be recognized by any American, mainly the liberals, who care where their taxpayer money goes, and so much of it.

“I mean, there is no source of hope right now. There’s no alternative to Netanyahu. … The atmosphere, as I said, is becoming less and less tolerant, and the standing of democracy is minimal and many times very twisted.”

Levy then takes particular aim at the substantial, if unofficial, U.S. support for Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights:

“Occupation is American values? Occupation serves the American interest? Doesn’t America see that it pays a hell of a price for this automatic and blind support of Israel and of the occupation project? Is it reasonable that in the 21st century, the United States will finance an apartheid regime in the occupied territories? All those questions should be raised.”

Levy is by no means alone at raising the alarm about where Zionism has led Israeli society. For a more detailed treatment of the intolerance and nascent fascism showing its face, the reader can take a look at Israeli Professor David Schulman’s “Israel: The Broken Silence,” a review of six exposes on Israeli society and behavior. This has just been published in the April 7 edition of New York Review of Books.

Schulman concludes that “The far right in Israel very readily opts for totalitarian modes of thinking and acting, and it’s not clear who is left to stop it.” It certainly will not be Hillary Clinton.

Who raises objections to the consequences of U.S. complicity in Israel’s political disaster? People such as Richard Falk and Gideon Levy do and thereby keep alive some semblance of rational discourse about the place of democratic values in U.S. foreign policy formulation. However, despite their rhetoric, liberal politicians like Hillary Clinton have clearly abandoned those values when it comes to any reference to Israel and its behavior.

What this means is that the substance of Clinton’s speech at the AIPAC convention was mere propaganda – an effort to rationalize, or perhaps simply to cover up, deeper and more base motives. Therefore, if supporting “shared democratic values” is not what motivates Clinton’s kowtowing, what does?

The answer is naked political opportunism. Here is the formula: (1) American politics runs on domestically garnered money, and lots of it: running for office, just about any office from dog catcher to president, requires constant financial solicitation; (2) special interests, be they economic concerns, professional organizations, or ideologically motivated groups are a major source of these funds; (3) in exchange for their largesse, such interests require political support for their causes.

Here enters, among others, the Zionists, whose deep pockets, ability to shape media messages, and rally voters, both Jewish and Christian, are well known. An alliance with the Zionists is politically profitable while incurring their anger is sometimes politically fatal.

Of course, such an alliance means the abandonment of any objective or even rational consideration of U.S. policy toward Israel and much of the rest of the Middle East. And indeed, the national interest relating to this increasingly dangerous part of the world has long ago been tossed overboard. It has been replaced by the parochial interests of wealthy, well-organized and influential ideologues.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism




Groveling Before AIPAC

The recent AIPAC meeting brought four of the five remaining presidential candidates – all except Bernie Sanders – to Washington to grovel at the feet of the Israel lobby, a depressing scene, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

A depressing sameness characterized the speeches of presidential candidates to the recently concluded exercise in fervid conformity that is called the AIPAC annual meeting. Although the event and the organization ostensibly are dedicated to support for, and friendship with, the state of Israel, in practice the dedication was instead to the policies of the right-wing government that currently holds power in Israel, which is something different.

There was nothing approaching a free and open discussion of what policies would be in the interest of the peace and security of Israel and that a true friend of Israel would support. There was no mention of the occupation that, in the course of nearly half a century, has become Israel’s defining characteristic and the single biggest barrier to Israel being able to enjoy a future as a democratic and Jewish state.

The Republican candidates all found somewhat different ways to say they would destroy the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program. Such destruction would, of course, serve the purpose of the Netanyahu government in helping it to fulminate endlessly about Iran as the “real problem” in the Middle East, taking attention away from every other problem; maybe we would even see a return of cartoon bombs to the rostrum of the United Nations.

But the candidates did not explain how destroying the agreement, which would mean the Iranians could spin as many centrifuges as they want, enrich as much uranium as they want to whatever level they want, and kick out all of the extra international inspectors provided for in the agreement, would somehow be in the interest of Israeli security. As leading Israelis who have dedicated careers to their nation’s security recognize, it would not be.

Perhaps one question of interest regarding the candidates’ otherwise drearily similar speeches to the AIPAC meeting was who, in this contest in pandering, could out-pander the rest. Donald Trump made a go of it, evidently erasing some of the suspicions he had aroused among this constituency with earlier sinful suggestions such as that a posture of neutrality would be needed for the United States to do something about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No such lines were crossed in Trump’s speech at AIPAC, and he got a positive reception that would remind some observers of how earlier notorious demagogues could whip up frenzy in a crowd.

But the prize for out-pandering the others should go to Ted Cruz’s speech, as measured by sheer shamelessness in using extreme and outright deceitful rhetoric. Speaking after Trump, Cruz made sure that no one would ever suspect him of falling into that disgraceful state known as neutrality or to do anything that might lead to creation of a Palestinian state.

To make doubly sure no one missed the point, in the second sentence of his speech, right after saying “God bless AIPAC” and stating how thrilled he was to be there, Cruz declared that “Palestine has not existed since 1948.” And if any resolution on Palestinian statehood were to come to a vote at the United Nations, said Cruz, “I will fly to New York to personally veto it myself.”

The thesaurus of extreme terminology at Cruz headquarters must be terribly dog-eared after preparing this speech, including, among much else, the portions about the Iran nuclear agreement. According to Cruz, the agreement “is Munich in 1938” and risks “catastrophic consequences” by “allowing a homicidal maniac to acquire the tools to murder millions” — never mind that the agreement is all about taking tools away from the Iranians.

Among the cascade of deceitful references throughout the speech is a bizarre comparison in which Cruz says that the nuclear agreement “gives over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” and that this “dwarfs the $3 billion we give each year to the nation of Israel,” a difference that is “unconscionable” and “fundamentally immoral.”

No attention is paid to the fact that U.S. aid to Israel comes straight out of the pockets of American taxpayers whereas frozen assets that have been unfrozen under the nuclear agreement already belonged to the Iranians and the United States is not “giving” Iran any of this, that the amount of unfrozen assets not already spoken for to settle existing accounts is far less than $100 billion, and that Ayatollah Khomeini has been dead for 26 years.

The one remaining presidential candidate who did not speak to the AIPAC meeting was Bernie Sanders. Sanders, campaigning elsewhere, instead submitted a written statement that addresses important issues involving Israel. Sanders, who happens to be the only Jew in the presidential race, notes at the outset of his statement that he is the only candidate with personal ties to Israel, having spent time there on a kibbutz as a young man.

The leading issue that Sanders addresses in the statement is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What he says about it is vastly different from what the other candidates, and especially the Republicans, said about it in their speeches. What he says also should be seen as eminently reasonable by those who genuinely want peace to replace that conflict and by those who are true friends of Israel.

It is a well-balanced statement that recognizes that peace “will require compromises on both sides” and will mean “security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism” as well as “security for every Palestinian.” Sanders does not shy away from using the word “occupation,” and he notes that “it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of suffering among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.”

The depressing sameness of speeches at the AIPAC meeting suggests that with the election of anyone other than Sanders, there will be a depressing sameness in U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict beginning next January. That will mean Israel continuing down the path of apartheid and isolation, with more endless conflict and more shedding of blood of Israelis as well as Palestinians, and Israel moving farther away from ever being a peaceful, democratic, Jewish state.

Barack Obama still has almost ten months to shift that momentum at least somewhat. He already has shown a willingness and ability to defy the rightist Israeli government and the lobby that works on its behalf when he waged the political battle needed to bring the Iran nuclear agreement into existence.

He has given ample indication that he fully understands the underlying issues. He has given other indications of being able and willing to set some new directions notwithstanding the longevity of old, stale, and destructive directions — notably with his changing of U.S. policy toward Cuba. And he never needs to run in any election again, not even for dog-catcher.

Mr. Obama should, sometime before the end of summer, give a major speech that lays out the main terms of what knowledgeable observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have long understood to be necessary parts of any final settlement of that conflict. This would not preclude necessary negotiation of details between the parties, but would lay out the framework for a two-state solution that has been clear for some time.

You might call this an updated version of the Clinton parameters. Then in the autumn the United States should not just not veto, and not just accept, but should sponsor and promote a resolution of the United Nations Security Council that incorporates this framework.

Mr. Obama would be able to do this secure in the knowledge that he can make a case that is strong and truthful on multiple grounds. This step certainly would be very much in U.S. interests, given the damage to those interests of being associated with the continued occupation. It would be in the interests of justice and self-determination for the Palestinian people. And it would be in the interests of Israel, by helping to pull Israel off its current self-destructive path.

The rightist government in Israel would scream, as would the U.S. lobby that works on its behalf. Until and unless there is significant political change in Israel, the combination of religious rationalization, economic greed, and government-stoked fear that has powered the tenacious clinging to conquered territory will still be a major barrier to a peaceful path.

But a change in U.S. direction — if speeches and resolutions are backed up with corresponding use of material U.S. leverage — might at least lead Israeli voters and true friends of Israel elsewhere to see that the days of U.S. abetting of the self-destructive behavior are over, and to acknowledge that the conflict with the Palestinians over land and sovereignty cannot indefinitely be wished or bludgeoned away. And that would mean the new U.S. president, whoever he or she is, would be facing a new situation and new possibilities, different from the one that persists today.

To return in the end to the United States’ own interests — as we always should — the slogan that the Trump campaign uses, about making America great again, has some relevance. A really great nation does not display the obsequiousness toward another government that was on display in the arena where AIPAC met, and people who want to lead a great nation should not display it either.

We should ask, as President Bill Clinton did after his first meeting with a bullying Benjamin Netanyahu, “Who’s the [expletive deleted] superpower here?”

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)




Sanders Tip-toes in Criticizing Israel

Exclusive: Sen. Sanders ventured hesitantly down the scary path of criticizing Israel, but even his timid approach looked heroic compared to the pro-Israel pandering from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, says Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria

Bernie Sanders supporters appeared thrilled when they learned he’d turned down an invitation to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday. By contrast, Donald Trump passed up a debate appearance and Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and John Kasich cleared their schedules to speak to 18,000 people inside Washington’s Verizon Center.

Snubbing AIPAC requires a degree of courage in American presidential politics and almost no one dares do anything but pander to the hardest-line Israeli partisans. But Sanders, who is fighting for his political life in the campaign, hasn’t taken money from the kind of large donors that AIPAC coordinates. Plus, he could never match the other candidates’ fervor for Israel.

So perhaps Sanders felt he could afford not to go to AIPAC’s gathering, which sent a symbolic message to Americans who feel the U.S. government goes overboard in its favoritism toward Israel. Sanders delivered his views (in a speech in Salt Lake City, Utah) after the conference organizers wouldn’t allow a video hook-up.

A Sanders supporter who is also critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine might have been disappointed in what the Vermont senator said. He wouldn’t even bluntly call Israel’s presence on Palestinian land an occupation, instead describing it as “what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory.”

What amounts to? In other words, Israel really doesn’t mean to occupy this land. This just happened on its way to building ever-increasing settlements. Sanders also takes the very safe line of calling for both an Israeli and a Palestinian state, the so-called “two-state solution.”

Sanders castigated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for threatening to leave the Oslo Accords, which prescribes the two-state idea. Abbas made this threat last September at the U.N. General Assembly, but no serious analyst thinks Abbas meant it.

But the reality is that Oslo is already dead, as dead as the two-state solution. It died in May 1999, when its five-year interim period ended, after which Israel should have withdrawn and a Palestinian state should have been created.

The continuation of this interim period, having now lasted another 17 years, has led to charges by Palestinians and others that Abbas and his Palestinian Authority are mere collaborators with Israel’s continuing occupation.

Pulling out of Oslo now would blow up the Palestinian Authority, cost Abbas his job and throw security fully into Israel’s hands. But such a move would be the necessary first step toward creating a single, democratic state, which is the only solution left. Everything else at this point, including defending Oslo and the “two-state solution,” is hot air that supports the status quo allowing Israel to continue the piecemeal conquest of the West Bank.

Sanders did call for an end to Israeli “disproportionate responses to being attacked.” But he didn’t condemn the two massacres in Gaza in the past seven years as he condemned Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

Syria and the Gulf

On Syria, Sanders appears to accept the Western claim that Russia wasn’t really hitting the Islamic State, but only anti-Assad groups. (It should be noted that Russian leaders never promised to strike only at ISIS, as the U.S. press corps widely reported, but rather the Russians vowed to attack ISIS and other terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.)

Yes, Russia did hit other rebel groups, including some that fight alongside Nusra, but did so to bolster the Syrian army as the major ground force (with the Kurds) to defeat ISIS and Nusra.

Sanders repeated his refrain that the Gulf Arabs need to do more to defeat the Islamic State. But somebody must have gotten to him because he added the line that he’s not asking Saudi Arabia to “invade” Syria, which is exactly what Sanders seemed to be advocating.

The reality is that Saudi Arabia has already been too involved in Syria, sending in well-armed jihadists to overthrow the government which the Saudis view as dominated by the Shiite and Alawite faiths whereas Saudi Arabia favors the fanatical Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. But military reversals by the Saudi-backed rebels over the past several months prompted Saudi Arabia last month to threaten an outright invasion of Syria, along with Turkey.

President Barack Obama reportedly tamped down the heated war threats from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, heading off what would have threatened a much wider war.

But Sanders – for mildly supporting Palestinian rights and offering muted criticism of Israel – would have been savaged by the feisty AIPAC crowd which expects to hear only encouraging words and reciprocated with love toward Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as they avoided any criticism of Israel and showed no sympathy for the Palestinians.

The packed arena in downtown Washington had a circular stage set up in the middle that appeared to purposely mimic the major parties’ nominating conventions. It was as if AIPAC was saying that it was doing the real nominating.

Pumping Up the Crowd

Both Trump and Clinton mounted the stage to express fierce loyalty to an Israel that they essentially said could do no wrong. Their talking points could have been written by Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Clinton lashed out at critics of Israel who promote boycotting Israeli goods as a peaceful way to pressure Israel to make concessions. Instead, she promised to increase military aid to Israel, which already stands at $3 billion a year and more than $100 billion since 1962. She vowed to stop a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set a deadline for the end of Israel’s West Bank occupation — something the Oslo Accords already did.

In a half-hour speech, Clinton only uttered the word “Palestinian” ten times, and mostly in connection with “terrorism.” She briefly called for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Clinton mentioned “settlements” only once, in a passing reference, saying, “Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements.” Nothing more was said.

With his typical bombast, Trump said no one had studied the Iran nuclear deal as he had, and that his “number one priority” would be to dismantle it. He also said he would not allow the Security Council to impose a settlement in Palestine.

“An agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster,” he said. “The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent.”

Trump only used bellicose language toward Palestinians. He cited the killing last week of an American in Israel by “a knife-wielding Palestinian.”

“You don’t reward behavior like that. You cannot do it,” he said. “There’s only one way you treat that kind of behavior. You have to confront it.”

That sounds like a recipe for more bloodshed. Compared to this rhetoric, Sanders’ speech was reasonable. He called on Israel, for instance, to stop stealing Palestinian water. Perhaps Sanders is holding back his real views on Israel and Palestine, fearful that he could not withstand the attacks of the Israel Lobby and a pro-Israel corporate media.

But, in the meantime, his prescription for peace did go not far enough. Once again AIPAC’s apparent stranglehold on U.S.-Middle East policy and on its political candidates seems to snuff out any realistic dream for a resolution of the conflict.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.




The Clinton/Trump AIPAC ‘Pander-Off’

Exclusive: While Sen. Sanders stressed the need for a nuanced approach to the Middle East, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump competed to see who could avow their love for Israel more ardently, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

At the annual AIPAC convention, the Democratic and Republican front-runners engaged in what might be called a “pander-off” as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tried to outdo the other in declaring their love and devotion to Israel.

Yet, what was perhaps most troubling about the two dueling speeches was the absence of any significant sympathy for the Palestinian people or any substantive criticism of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By contrast, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who did not attend the AIPAC convention, delivered a foreign policy speech in Salt Lake City, Utah, that struck a more balanced tone and placed part of the blame for the Mideast problems on the policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

However, in Washington before thousands of cheering attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention on Monday, Clinton, Trump and two other Republican candidates, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, were in full pander mode.

For instance, former Secretary of State Clinton depicted Israel as entirely an innocent victim in the Mideast conflicts. “As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever,” she declared.

“The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values. … This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear.”

Yet, Clinton made no reference to Palestinian parents who worry about their children walking down the street or playing on a beach and facing the possibility of sudden death from an Israeli drone or warplane. Instead, she scolded Palestinian adults. “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families,” she said.

Then, Clinton promised to put her future administration at the service of the Israeli government, asking: “The first choice is this: are we prepared to take the U.S./Israel alliance to the next level?”

Clinton said, “One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security.”

Clinton lashed out at the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which has sought to convince Israel to respect the human and political rights of Palestinians by applying economic and moral pressure on Israeli businesses. Yet, instead of a non-violent movement to achieve change in the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic, Clinton saw anti-Semitism.

“Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people,” she said, adding: “we have to be united in fighting back against BDS.”

Clinton also indirectly criticized Trump for having said earlier in the campaign that the United States should be “neutral” in its handling of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Yes, we need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything’s negotiable,” Clinton declared.

Trump’s No-Pander Pander

Speaking after Clinton’s appearance, Trump asserted that “I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That’s what politicians do: all talk, no action. Believe me.”

Trump then took on the challenge of out-pandering Clinton. Trump pandered to Israel’s hatred of Iran, vowing “to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran” restraining its nuclear program. He also pandered about Iran’s role in terrorism.

“They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the Western Hemisphere, very close to home,” Trump said. “Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world. And we will work to dismantle that reach, believe me, believe me.”

However, in the real world, Iran has actually assisted the governments of Iraq and Syria in battling the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and – to a lesser degree – Israel have provided help to Sunni jihadists, especially in Syria, to counter what the Sunni-led states and Israel see as excessive Shiite influence in the Middle East.

In his pandering, Trump also exposed his ignorance about Israeli-Palestinian history. He asserted, “There is no moral equivalency [between the Israelis and the Palestinians]. Israel does not name public squares after terrorists.”

But that’s not exactly true. The most revered Israeli leader, in terms of having his name attached to streets, squares and parks, is Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder and leader of the Irgun, a terror group that fought for the founding of Israel. Jabotinsky has some 57 sites named for him.

One of his Irgun followers, Menachem Begin, has his name commemorated in at least 43 communities. Similarly, Yitzhak Shamir, a leader of Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang), a terror group that joined with the Irgun in carrying out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians including the infamous Deir Yassin massacre, has his name attached to a Jerusalem highway.

But more significant than the honorific naming of public sites is the fact that Begin and Shamir were elected as Israeli prime ministers. In other words, Israel doesn’t just honor its terrorists by naming public squares after them; it gave them the power to direct military actions against Palestinians and other people in the region, including Begin’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which led to the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinians.

But Trump’s pandering even extended to mentioning his and his family’s longtime devotion to Israel, including a reference to his daughter marrying an Orthodox Jew, converting to Judaism and now pregnant: “I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel. I’ve been with Israel so long in terms of I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel, my father before me, incredible. My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.”

Respecting the Palestinians

By contrast, Sanders, the only Jewish candidate and someone who lived on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man, did not attend the AIPAC conference, citing a scheduling conflict for his campaign which was hoping to close Clinton’s formidable delegate lead with strong showings in Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

Instead, Sanders gave a foreign policy speech that he claimed he would have given if he had addressed the AIPAC convention. While critical of Iranian and Palestinian leaders, Sanders offered a much more evenhanded assessment of the reasons for the troubled Middle East.

Sanders stressed that his overall approach to the region would be to emphasize diplomacy among the Mideast countries instead of concentrating on threats and the use of force. He also called for a recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

“To be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high,” the Vermont senator said. “You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.”

While insisting on security for Israel, Sanders said, “peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people. Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank. … It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence.”

Sanders also touched on other sensitive issues that Clinton and Trump avoided. Sanders said, “Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.

“Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.”

Sanders continued, “Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israel ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.”

While condemning rocket fire from Gaza into Israel in 2014, Sanders added, “let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover.”

Regarding his earlier comments about wealthy Sunni-led oil states taking on a greater regional role in fighting jihadist extremism, such as Islamic State terrorists, Sanders clarified, “Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or any other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.

“What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS. … What I am also saying is that other countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the fourth largest defense budget in the world – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen.”

Sanders also distanced himself from Hillary Clinton who has urged a U.S. military bombing campaign against the Syrian government, or as she tries to sell the idea as a “safe zone” or a “no-fly zone” though U.S. military officials say either idea would require a major aerial assault on Syria’s air force and air defenses.

In contrast, Sanders said, “After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria will be, in my view, a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it.”

Sanders even envisioned working with Russia and Iran to stabilize Syria, defeat ISIS and arrange a transitional government, adding:

“I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. Diplomacy in this instance has had some real success.”

Overall, Sanders advocated less reliance on “regime change” strategies that require military force, saying: “In my view, the military option for a powerful nation like ours – the most powerful nation in the world – should always be on the table. That’s why we have the most powerful military in the world. But it should always be the last resort not the first resort. …

“You know it is very easy for politicians to go before the people and talk about how tough we are, and we want to wipe out everybody else. But I think if we have learned anything from history is that we pursue every diplomatic option before we resort to military intervention. And interestingly enough, more often than not, diplomacy can achieve goals that military intervention cannot achieve.”

Sanders may have waited too long to give a detailed foreign policy speech, letting Clinton mostly off the hook for her neoconservative tendencies and her support for “regime change” wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Most political analysts say he is too far behind in the delegate count to catch up even if his campaign catches on fire in the later primary states, such as California and New York.

Only now has Sanders explained in detail his more nuanced approach toward the Israel-Palestine conflict and his more dovish attitude toward using American military force, in contrast to Clinton’s one-sided attitude toward Israel and her hawkish talk about exerting U.S. power.

Indeed, Clinton’s neocon-style speech to AIPAC could be the first sign of her long-awaited “pivot to the center,” now that she has amassed such a strong lead that she feels she no longer has to worry about the Democratic Party’s liberal base.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).




An Ugly Smear Campaign

Exclusive: A Zionist group bought a full-page New York Times ad to demonize Sidney and Max Blumenthal as “anti-Semites” and to demand that Hillary Clinton renounce them, a revival of a crude McCarthyism, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

An ugly feature of life in modern Washington is that anyone who dares criticize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians can expect to be subjected to nasty accusations of “anti-Semitism” and other attacks that are meant to make the target politically untouchable.

For example, The New York Times published a full-page ad on Saturday paid for by a pro-Zionist group called The World Values Network featuring a grainy graphic of Sidney Blumenthal and his son Max Blumenthal along with a demand that “Hillary Clinton must disavow her anti-Israel advisors.”

The text accuses Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s longtime personal friend and adviser, of sending the Secretary of State emails in which “he was obsessed with painting the Jewish state in the most unflattering light.”

The ad cites Blumenthal writing on March 20, 2010, that “The policy of the present Israeli government is endangering the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Blumenthal is also attacked for noting Israeli “settlers’ theft of water from Palestinian towns” and, according to the ad, sending Clinton an article “claiming Israel was pursuing goals contrary to U.S. interests, while ‘starting a rebellion’ against the United States.”

Though such comments might seem like no-brainers to anyone who has followed Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and how that behavior has inspired Islamic extremism, The World Values Network views the comments as evidence of anti-Semitism.

The ad then denounces Blumenthal’s son, Max, saying “Even more shocking still were Sid Blumenthal’s attempts to feed Hillary Clinton toxic analysis from his son Max, a self-declared ‘anti-Zionist’ and fanatical Israel-hater. This rotten apple did not fall far from the tree.”

The World Values Network is headed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who likes to go by the nickname “America’s Rabbi.” The group is one of many that has sought to scar any political figure who won’t toe the line of Israel’s right-wing government as it rejects any reasonable peace agreement with the Palestinians and periodically “mows the grass” by launching bloody attacks on Gaza and the West Bank.

Typically, the way this Zionist political strategy works is to demonize individuals, like Blumenthal or his son, and then demand that an ally must disassociate from them or face political reprisals. The approach is a form of McCarthyism. In this case, The World Values Network makes clear what Clinton must do if she wishes to receive Jewish support in her presidential campaign. She must publicly renounce the Blumenthals.

The ad says: “Hillary Clinton is running for President. She’s asking friends of Israel to count on her support of the always-vulnerable Jewish State. If she won’t disassociate herself from her discredited advisor Sid Blumenthal and his rabid, Israel-hating son Max, how can we?”

Pressuring Branson

In a similar attack, the same group has sought to drive a wedge between businessman Richard Branson and both former President Jimmy Carter and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu for their offense of criticizing Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.

“But a little known and unfortunate fact about Branson is his strange, anti-Israel opinions and activities that are beneath a man known for having a good and kind heart,” The World Values Network states at its Web site. “In 2007, Branson founded an organization called ‘The Elders’ which was made up of a council of twelve elder statesmen who would serve as ‘independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights.’ …

“Unfortunately among the elders that Branson selected for his new group are a Who’s who of some of the most tenacious, anti-Israel public figures in the world today. The Elders’ anti-Israel statements and press releases condemning the Jewish state are a sad testament to this fact.

“Topping the Elders’ list is former President Jimmy Carter, a man dedicated to the disgustingly fraudulent and anti-Semitic proposition that Israel is an apartheid State. Carter’s defamatory fabrications about the Jewish State include the lie not only that Israel is like apartheid South Africa but that ‘voices from Jerusalem dominate our media.’ Last year he claimed [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu wasn’t interested in making peace…

“Other ‘elders’ in Branson’s organization include the notoriously anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Bishop Desmond Tutu, … Tutu is a supporter of the BDS movement, calling for an economic and cultural boycott of Israel. His bigoted views have surfaced with statements such as, ‘The Jewish lobby is powerful — very powerful,’ while accusing Jews of ‘an arrogance — the arrogance of power because Jews are a powerful lobby in this land and all kinds of people woo their support.’

“Tutu has stated that Zionism has ‘very many parallels with racism,’ and has accused the Jewish state of subjecting the Palestinians to ‘Israeli Apartheid.’”

Again, you might say that little of what Carter and Tutu have said is controversial — at least in the sense of what is empirically true. After all, Netanyahu himself vowed during his last campaign that he would not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and there is no doubt that the Israelis treat the Palestinians as inferior beings who are sharply restricted in where they can and cannot go.

But the goal of attacks like the ones from The World Values Network is to use “guilt by association” to marginalize anyone who criticizes Israel by trying to scare a Clinton or a Branson into renouncing the Blumenthals or Carter or Tutu. If that wedge can be driven, then the repudiation itself can be waved about as an example of what happens to some public figure who dares fault the Israeli government.

As the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee holds its annual convention in Washington – and U.S. political leaders from all political persuasions troop across the stage to express their devotion and dedication to Israel – The New York Times ad is a reminder of what’s in store for anyone who deviates.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).




Censoring Palestinian Maps

When Zionists denounced a text book with maps showing historical Palestine, McGraw-Hill quickly caved, even destroying the copies in inventory, a victory for ideological censorship, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

What is the difference between a textbook publisher giving into pressure from Christian fundamentalists seeking to censor the teaching of evolution, and a publisher giving into Zionists seeking to censor awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? Neither phenomenon is a matter of opinion or perspective.

One act of censorship denies facts established by scientific research. The other denies the documented violation of international law (for instance, the Fourth Geneva Convention) and multiple United Nations resolutions. So the answer to the question just asked is – there is no difference.

In early March 2016, executives at McGraw-Hill took the extreme step of withdrawing from the market a published text, Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World, and then proceeded to destroy all the remaining books held in inventory. (Did they burn them?)

Global Politics, which had been on the market since 2012, was a text designed by its authors to “offer students a number of lenses through which to view the world around them.” Why did McGraw-Hill do this?

Apparently the book was obliterated (this seems to be an accurate description of the publisher’s actions) because, like a biology text that describes the established facts of evolution, Global Politics offered a “lens to view the world” that was judged blasphemous by a powerful, influential and ideologically driven element of the community.

Of course, that is not how McGraw-Hill rationalized its action. Instead, the publisher claimed that a serious inaccuracy in the text was belatedly discovered. This took the form of a series of four maps  that show “Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to 2000.” The maps (see also attachment) are the first set which can be seen at the following link: http://www.thetower.org/3027ez-mcgraw-hill-publishes-college-textbook-with-mendacious-anti-israel-maps/

The maps in question are not new or novel. Nor are they historically inaccurate, despite Zionists’ claims to the contrary. They can be seen individually and in different forms on websites of the BBC and Mondoweiss and are published in a number of history books, such as Mark Tessler’s well-received A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Perhaps what the Zionists can’t abide is lining up the maps together in chronological order.

In truth, the objections reported to have been used by those who pressured McGraw-Hill are historically perverse – the sort of grasping at straws that reflects a biased and strained rewriting of history. For instance, an objection was made to the labeling of public land in pre-1948 Palestine as “Palestinian.” Why? Because the Zionist claim is that Palestine before 1948 was a British mandate and so the land was British and not Palestinian.

As their argument goes, “no one called the Arabs [of this area] Palestinians.” Of course, prior to 1948, no one called the East European Jews pouring in at this time “Israelis.” Further, according to those taking these maps to task, the West Bank at this time was controlled by Jordan and so it too was not Palestinian.

Obviously, no one brought up the fact that in September of 1922 the British had divided Palestine in two in order to artificially create what is now Jordan. The period after World War I was one of territorial transition, however, in Palestine, the one constant was the persistent presence of the Arab Palestinians.

The Zionists offered many other dubious objections to the maps, which seem to have sent the publisher into something of a panic. It would certainly appear that no one at McGraw-Hill knew enough relevant history to make an accurate judgment on the complaints.

Running Scared

McGraw-Hill’s response was to “immediately initiate an academic review,” which determined that the maps in question “did not meet our academic standards.” Who carried out the review? Well, McGraw-Hill won’t say, but insists those who did so were “independent academics.” Just what are McGraw-Hill’s “academic standards”? Well, those haven’t been articulated either. The publisher’s reluctance to elaborate its claims makes their actions suspicious at best.

As Rania Khalek noted in an March 11 article on the incident in Electronic Intifada, these particular maps, showing the loss of Palestinian land over decades of Israeli expansion, “have the ability to cut through Israeli propaganda that portrays Palestinian anger and violence as rooted in religious intolerance and irrational hatred rather than a natural reaction to Israel’s colonial expansionism, land theft and ethnic cleansing, all of which continue today.”

This gives insight into the strenuous efforts made by Zionists to keep the sequenced maps away from any mass market distribution. As it is, they seem to have overlooked this textbook source for some four years. However, once they spotted it, and began “flooding” McGraw-Hill with complaints from “multiple sources,” it took the publisher only about a week to suspend sales of the book.

The next obvious question is why didn’t McGraw-Hill move to change the maps or just remove them? Why destroy the entire inventory? The extreme nature of the publisher’s response remains unexplained but may stand as a testimony to the fact that the Zionist lobby has the same power within the corporate ranks of this textbook publisher as the anti-evolution fundamentalists have over most biology textbooks.

The Zionists’ Maps

The Zionists who made the claim that the Global Politics maps are “mendacious” do so from a starting assumption that all the land from the Suez Canal to Golan Heights and Jordan River has always been Hebrew-Israeli.

On this basis they posit their own maps  (see also attachment) to make the claim that modern Israel, at least since 1967 and “in the pursuit of peace,” has voluntarily relinquished land rather than illegally taken it. These maps are the second set seen at http://www.thetower.org/3027ez-mcgraw-hill-publishes-college-textbook-with-mendacious-anti-israel-maps/

It is significant that the Zionist maps begin in 1967, a year of major Israeli expansion through conquest. And, of course, the only land concession of any consequence since then is the Sinai Desert. The Zionist cartographical suggestion that Israel has given up Gaza and West Bank land is just a sleight of hand, given Israel’s use of Gaza as a prison colony and continued military control of every inch of the West Bank.

Finally, it is important to note that Israeli school maps are often pure propaganda. For instance, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently carried a story about a map used to teach seventh graders about the country’s geography. The map omits the “green line,” which is recognized internationally as Israel’s eastern border, as well as the majority of the nation’s Arab-Israeli communities. Maybe the Israeli Ministry of Education used McGraw-Hill’s “academic standards” to create this map.

Within academia there is the belief that textbooks are not to be subject to ideological censorship. This is a rather naive, but important, ideal. If such texts cannot maintain this level of integrity, the entire educational exercise becomes open to propaganda.

Unless McGraw-Hill becomes transparent about its “independent academic review” and offers an explanation as to why it went to the extreme of destroying its inventory of Global Politics, one can only assume that the publisher has no objection to censoring its products in the face of pressure from an ideologically driven group.

No doubt the motivation here is fear of controversy and subsequent market losses. In the absence of substantiating information, the whole story of an independent review and academic standards must be dismissed as a cover-up.

The sad truth is that the suborning of textbooks addressing culturally sensitive subjects has become a standard practice. Thus, the process of education is indeed threatened by incessant propaganda. This includes the culture war that swirls around American biology textbooks. It also includes the powerful Zionist drive to literally wipe the Palestinians off the map.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

 




Netanyahu’s Loosening Grip

Pandering to Israel has been a long-revered rule of U.S. politics, but Donald Trump’s refusal has shown that Israel’s grip on American policymaking is weakening, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

On March 3, Chemi Shaley, the U.S. correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote an interesting piece on what the Donald Trump phenomenon means for U.S.-Israeli relations. Here are some of his points:

  1. Trump’s insistence on staying “neutral” when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has not cost him any popular support. Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have “sneeringly lambasted” Trump for not supporting Israel, but to no avail. Trump just “laughed all the way to the top of the Republican presidential field.”
  2. Republican evangelicals are paying no mind to Trump’s equivocations about Israel. They vote for Trump despite this. “Evangelical leaders … are heartbroken that so many Believers are flocking after the thrice married, dirty-talking reality star. They are less perturbed by his deviation from the strict pro-Israel party line, however, and more by the sinful ways for which he has not asked forgiveness.”
  3. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy decision to “put all of Israel’s eggs in the GOP basket” – a decision confirmed when he appeared before Congress in 2015 to denounce the Iran nuclear agreement – has turned into a political disaster.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Gentiles)

The rise of Donald Trump certainly suggests that the right-wing Israeli politicians badly misread the Republican political scene. Trump has tapped into a large and growing stratum of citizens who never cared very much about foreign policy, much less Israel-Palestine specifically.

And, now that that indifference has been plainly revealed on the Republican side of the ledger, it may not be long before Democratic voters also start to say, loud enough for their leaders to hear, that Israel isn’t important to them either. As Shaley suggests, what is happening here is the exposure of Israel’s weakness in the United States.

Thus, for the first time it is becoming publicly noticeable that a lot of voters don’t regard Israel as a linchpin ally upholding democracy in the Middle East. In fact, Israel simply is not a priority as far as they are concerned. However, start emphasizing to this largely isolationist-minded crowd the huge amount of their tax money that goes to Israel, and not caring might quickly turn to hostility. Mr. Trump is certainly not above providing the little push necessary for this to happen. How might this scenario play itself out?

If Trump becomes president and, like most of his predecessors, tries to settle the Israel-Palestine problem, he will no doubt be met with not only the usual Israeli stonewalling, but outright hostility. After all, Trump as president will have to deal with Netanyahu as prime minister and they are alike in that both tend to “shoot from the lip.”

As Shaley points out, “Trump refuses to acknowledge United Jerusalem [and] wants to remain neutral so that he can broker a peace deal with the Palestinians, which is a challenge worthy of a master dealmaker like him.”

Netanyahu will loudly express his opposition. Perhaps he will refuse to deal with Trump at all. But Trump, unlike Obama, will not respond to Netanyahu’s insults with discretion. He will readily blame Israel for any failure and do it loudly and disparagingly. Then he might start to publicly question why the U.S. should be wasting vast amounts of treasure on such an unthankful nation as Israel. This could be a public relations disaster from which the Israelis will not be able to recover.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Jews)

As an Israeli born and bred to the perennial fear of anti-Semitism, Shaley senses a danger in Trump not only to Israel but to Jews in general:

“The Jews will run away from Trump because he scares them. Because his demagoguery is ominous, his willingness to slash and burn anyone standing in his way is disturbing, his tendency to incite his supporters against other ethnic groups … is a source of deep anxiety.”

All of this may be true, but so is the important point Shaley makes that “the Jews won’t be fleeing Trump because of his policies toward Israel.” In other words, increasing numbers of U.S. Jews are losing patience in the ever stubborn shenanigans of the Zionist state. And as they do so, Israel loses their support.

The truth is that today’s Zionists have bought a U.S. political elite and not much more. Right now they can rely on a thin veneer of politicos who are in the process of losing influence with an alienated citizenry.

When the politicians make their adjustments to this new environment, one of the casualties may well be the U.S. alliance with Israel. Hillary, Bernie, Ted and Marco may be the last generation of American politicians who will give Benjamin Netanyahu and his ilk the time of day.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.