Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.
Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.
The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.
Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.
But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.
Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.
She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”
The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”
Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”
These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.
I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.
Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”
Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.
Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.
Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.
Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.
Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.
As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.
Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.
Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.
That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.
It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.
This post was first published by The Huffington Post.
[IRecent years have seen the insertion of imperialist forces and inter-imperialist hegemonic claims into every corner of the world, under the guise of “humanitarianism” or “disaster capitalism.” The US has been most prominently displayed in this practice, having honed the method as a public doctrine after failing the “winning hearts and minds” test in the Vietnam war, and then doing medical rescues in the period of recovering from the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” (ie, reversing the functional anger and opposition to imperialist wars). In recent years, as the world imperialist system has become more crisis-ridden and internally contentious, other imperial powers have entered the “humanitarian imperialist” contest as well. Today, the new “scramble for Africa” is focused on the struggle to rescue the Nigerian girls abducted by the diabolical and malevolent “Boko Haram” gang which grew in the vacuum of elite corruption and sectarian power, and mass poverty in Nigeria, which are the fruits of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and of a regime that cannot or will not keep Nigerian people out of harms way. The US has drones from its nearby drone base in Niger, and some troops and “advisors” from AFRICOM; France has some forces on the ground, a legacy from the French colonial (and more recent neo-colonial) wars in neighboring countries; Britain has some surveillance planes; Israel has sent Special Forces commandos/shock troops, at Goodluck Jonathon’s invitation; and China, not one to be left out or to forget their massive recent Nigerian investments, has sent a PLA frigate, and given a new satellite to Nigeria to run their media and tele-communications and surveillance ops. See the 4 articles below for more self-determination-breaking-news on these opportunist/imperialist relief efforts from the US, China, Israel. — Frontlines ed.]
Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa
by Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford
The “humanitarian” U.S. military occupation of Africa has been very successful, thus far. “The Chibok abductions have served the same U.S. foreign policy purposes as Joseph Kony sightings in central Africa.” Imagine: the superpower that financed the genocide of six million in Congo, claims to be a defender of teenage girls and human rights on the continent. If you believe that, then you are probably a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The Boko Haram, like other jihadists, had become more dangerous in a post-Gaddafi Africa – thus justifying a larger military presence for the Americans.”A chorus of outraged public opinion demands that the “international community” and the Nigerian military “Do something!” about the abduction by Boko Haram of 280 teenage girls. It is difficult to fault the average U.S. consumer of packaged “news” products for knowing next to nothing about what the Nigerian army has actually been “doing” to suppress the Muslim fundamentalist rebels since, as senior columnist Margaret Kimberley  pointed out in these pages, last week, the three U.S. broadcast networks carried “not a single television news story about Boko Haram” in all of 2013. (Nor did the misinformation corporations provide a nanosecond of coverage of the bloodshed in the Central African Republic, where thousands died and a million were made homeless by communal fighting over the past year.) But, that doesn’t mean the Nigerian army hasn’t been bombing, strafing, and indiscriminately slaughtering thousands of, mainly, young men in the country’s mostly Muslim north. Continue reading
[Since World War 2, imperialism has cynically promoted itself as the advocate of international human rights law, even while trampling human rights in its wars, interventions, and other pursuits of domination and control and suppression of people’s struggles all over the world. But, again and again, the truth of human rights violations has surfaced, and imperialism has created exemption after exemption to human rights law. Several years ago, the blocked prosecutions of Pinochet of Chile and of Henry Kissinger are two examples of such imperialist shielding of its own. Now, the immunity and impunity given imperialism’s criminals has been formally extended to Zionist war criminals. The Israel press YNet reported, “The (British) law that allows issuing arrest warrants against foreign nationals (had) not been amended since the Second World War, and has prevented several IDF officers, including former Southern District Commander Major General (res.) Doron Almog and Head of the Intelligence Corps Major General Aviv Kochavi (who was the former commander of the Gaza Division) from entering Britain…Last May, Major-General Yohanan Locker, the military secretary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had to cancel his trip to Britain due to his role in Operation Cast Lead, where he served as the head of the IAF’s Air Division.” When even the superficial appearance of justice is discarded by imperialists, the people will, inevitably, take matters into their own hands. — Frontlines ed.]
Former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni to visit UK after change in arrest law
Critics claim change in law governing arrest warrants for war crimes is motivated by political pressure from Israel
Westminster magistrates court issued an unprecedented arrest warrant for Livni in 2009 – a move that led to an review of the issuing of such warrants.
Israel’s foreign ministry condemned it at the time, describing it as a “cynical” move.
Livni, who is the current Israeli opposition leader, had been due to attend a conference in London in 2009 but cancelled two weeks before the warrant was issued. Palestinian sources claimed to have seen her at the event and alerted lawyers. Continue reading