More on Abbas, Clinton, Hamas, Goldstone, and the US Jewish Lobby
In early November, I posted an article titled “Abbas, Clinton, Hamas, Goldstone, and the US Jewish Lobby” – http://www.morssglobalfinance.com/abbas-clinton-hamas-goldstone-and-the-us-jewish-lobby/. To my mind, it presented an objective picture of the Middle East situation. A number of people agreed with me. But a number of Jewish friends felt is was badly biased. Eliott Doxer (firstname.lastname@example.org) took the time to respond in detail. So instead of posting his response as a long comment, I decided it would be more constructive to engage him in a dialogue. In what follows, Eliott’s intial comments are numbered. I responded to them in CAPS. He then responded to my comments. I hope you find the dialogue interesting.
1. Israel and the US are strong allies that share fundamental western values such as democracy and freedom. Why and how exactly should things be different under Obama? Should we be allies with democratic nations who share our values or should we prefer to be friends with repressive authoritarian regimes like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria who sponsor terrorism and actively work against our interests in the world?
EVERY NATION HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE INTERESTS AND OBJECTIVES. SOMETIMES THEY ALIGN WITH THE INTERESTS AND OBJECTIVES OF OTHER COUNTRIES AND SOMETIMES THEY DO NOT. DIPLOMACY IS THE ART OF FINDING DIFFERENT COUNTRIES TO WORK WITH ON DIFFERENT ISSUES. THE FUNDAMENTAL POINT IN THE WALT-MEIRSHEIMER PIECE IS THAT BECAUSE OF THE US JEWISH LOBBY, THE US ALWAYS SUPPORTED ISRAEL AND THAT WAS NOT CONSISTENT WITH ITS NATIONAL INTEREST.
WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT UNDER OBAMA? I HOPE THAT HE WILL NOT TELL NATIONS TO EITHER TOTALLY SUPPORT THE US OR BE ITS ENEMY.
2. A little history is in order here and who better than a history teacher to teach an economist history! Firstly, there has been a continual Jewish presence in the land of Israel since the time of the King David and his son Solomon who built the first Temple. At times, due to historical circumstances, the amount of Jews allowed to live in the Holy Land has been limited, but that doesn’t mean that the Jews did not have ties that bound them to that small piece of desert. Zionism, the founding ideology of the State of Israel, began in the late 1800’s and this ideology stated that a Jewish homeland should be created in the historical homeland of the people of Israel. Thus began the first waves of immigration to the land which was under Ottoman control. At times throughout history there were large Jewish populations in different cities in the land today called Israel. This land was not and has never been devoid of Jews who, according to the article, suddenly resurfaced in 1948 to claim another peoples land. From the very beginning, no other people ever had a claim to this land but the Jews. The fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I led to British control of the area and this was known as the British Mandate. During this time immigration continued and Jews began legally buying land and settling there and founding cities, towns and villages. They found an arid land that was mostly desert and waste and swamps (see Mark Twain’s account of his visit there in the late 1800’s). They began draining swamps and irrigating the land to make the desert bloom. (The local population was never able to do this and they are still not able). The British White Paper supported Jewish immigration and a Jewish homeland in the Mandate. Subsequent to World War II, more Jews, especially survivors of the death camps, began to immigrate to Palestine and the British then stopped supporting immigration and even actively prevented it (see Exodus – novel by Leon Uris
or movie with Paul Newman). Jews began subverting the British to actively help other Jews settle in the land and the local Arabs revolted many times and there were many massacres in the period between WWI and the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. The British could no longer control both local populations (Jews & Arabs) and decided that it would pull out of the land in spring 1948. The United Nations took up the issue, which most people don’t realize, and decided to divide the land in two – two states for two peoples! The Arabs were allocated all the best parts of the land and this can be easily seen online. Neither party was thrilled about this but the Jews believed some land for a state was better than no land and no state. The Arabs rejected this proposal (the first of countless rejections of peace and / or accommodation with the burgeoning Jewish state). In May 1948, the Jews declared their independence as soon as the British departed and the 5 Arabs nations invaded simultaneously. After 2 years the war was won by Israel, and its territory increased in size and an armistice was signed by all sides in 1949.
3. No western nations helped the nascent Jewish state. Israel was helped by Jews all over the world who went there to fight or Jews who donated money and weapons and ships and planes. The young nation obtained weapons where ever they could in such places as Czechoslovakia – the US didn’t help. And where do you propose that Israel should have been located – Madagascar or Ethiopia as some people had suggested? Why didn’t the Jews have the right to return to the ancient homeland? After all, the city of Jerusalem is mentioned countless times in the Jewish liturgy and the Jewish holy books and Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran. The Jews claim to the land is based on historical fact – i.e. all the archeological finds all over the land that prove the Jews once lived there.
I MAKE NO CLAIMS ABOUT WHERE ISRAEL SHOULD BE LOCATED. I TAKE IT AS GIVEN AS AN ESTABLISHED STATE. OF COURSE WESTERN NATIONS HELPED ISRAEL AND CONTINUE DO SO UNDER THE UN CHARTER. THE UN CHARTER GUARANTEES THE SOVEREIGNTY OF RECOGNIZED NATIONS.
4. Israel’s scientists and intelligence agencies obtained nuclear weapons without the help of the US. The US had agreed to help Israel with a non-military nuclear plant but Israel secretly constructed their own weapons grade plant to the dismay of the US and other world powers. When did the US proclaim that Israel would be its policeman in the Middle East? I am interested to know where you gleaned this historical fact.
The US didn’t create the Jewish state and nobody helped Israel obtain illicit nuclear weapons and certainly nobody ever made Israel the policeman of the Middle East.
WHEN ISRAEL OBTAINED NUCLEAR WEAPONS, THE US WAS THE ONLY WORLD POWER, AND IT LOOKED THE OTHER WAY. ALLOWING INDIA AND PAKISTAN TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS WAS PART OF SOME MISGUIDED COLD WAR STRATEGY. BUT THAT WAS NOT THE CASE FOR ALLOWING ISRAEL TO OBTAIN/DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
I AM NOT THE FIRST ONE TO USE THE “POLICEMAN IN THE MIDDLE EAST” TERM. WHAT DOCUMENTATION CAN I OFFER? THE ECONOMIC AND MILTARY ASSISTANCE THE US HAS GIVEN ISRAEL SINCE ITS ESTABLISHMENT DWARFS THE ECONOMIC AND MILITARY AID GIVEN TO ALL OTHER MIDDLE EAST NATIONS.
The US did not stat supporting Israel economically and militarily until the Nixon administration. The Eisenhower Administration initially helped develop a non-military grade nuclear plant but support dwindled after Israel went nuclear
Also, since the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt, Egypt and Israel both receive 3 billion a year in aid – the exact same amount. These two countries receive more aid from the US than any other country in the world. But please note that Egypt receives as much aid as Israel.
5. Israel has done what is absolutely necessary to insure its own survival – all other interests are, and will always be, secondary to this categorical imperative.
THE UN CHARTER PROTECTS THE INTEGRITY OF ALL NATIONS. WHEN A NATION IS INVADED, THE UN ACTS, AS IT DID IN THE CASE OF IRAQ INVADING KUWAIT, TO REMOVE THE AGGRESSIVE NATION. THE REASON THE UN CONDEMNED ISRAEL SO MANY TIMES IS BECAUSE IT TOOK MATTERS INTO ITS OWN HANDS AND INVADED OTHER NATIONS.
Here I take issue with your remarks. Israel cannot rely on any nation or diplomatic body to support it and come to its rescue. When Israel was invaded in 1948 no country came to its assistance. When Israel was threatened with war and annihilation in 1967 no county came to Israel’s aid. In 1973, when the Arab armies invaded Israel the US reluctantly and after a long delay decided to send arms because there was the real possibility that Israel would lose the war and be annihilated. Israel has been invaded in 1948 and again in 1973 and would have been attacked in 1967 if it did not make a pre-emptive strike. Facts are important here to show an historical context.
6. More history…. Leading up to the 1967 war, Egypt closed the Red Sea to Israeli shipping, and said its stated intention was to strangle and destroy the Jewish State. Egypt and Jordan and Syria all moved into battle position months before the war began as they prepared to invade and destroy the state of Israel. They all agreed to attack Israel together. This was quite clear to the whole world as well as to Israel. Israel therefore could not wait for a numerically superior enemy to initiate the war which led to an Israeli pre-emptive strike in May 1967. Within three hours all of the air forces of all the Arab states were destroyed and Israel gained substantially more land as they defeated three Arab armies in 6 days but also found themselves ruling a population that they did not want to control. Within days after the end of the war, the Israeli government offered to return all lands seized in exchange for peace. This offer was rejected by all Arab governments. In the 1967 Khartoum conference, the Islamic world again said No – the famous three No’s – “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”. These lands will be returned, like Sinai was, upon a final status agreement that ends all claims on the other side.
PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE IN MAY 1967.
Yes – but only because Egypt, Jordan and Syria were about to invade and they promised to destroy Israel. They planned together to jointly invade and destroy Israel. Israel had no choice but to attack first to ensure its survival
7. I think you are referring to the 1978 invasion of Lebanon. Israel invaded because the PLO had created a mini terrorist state in southern Lebanon and was perpetrating terrorist attacks in Israel using Lebanon as a staging ground. They also used to lob missiles daily and until Israel decided to end this. There are countless examples of terrorist action on the part of the PLO at this time including all the hijackings and airport massacres around the world. This invasion was justified and helped put a temporary halt to terrorist activity.
Invaded with just cause. What other country would allow itself to be continuously attacked and not strike back?
8. Israel invaded this time to drive the PLO out of Lebanon completely and in this way the war was successful. Unfortunately they occupied Southern Lebanon for 18 years which was a tragedy for all parties. True fact that you cite above is that Hezbollah was formed at this time. Hezbollah gave the world the gift of suicide bombings and destroyed the Marine barracks and the French embassy in Beirut
Invaded with just cause. What other country would allow itself to be continuously attacked and not strike back?
9. This claim needs balance. The UN has never been a forum where one can expect justice or even even–handedness, and if Israel needed UN support or counted on it for anything, then Israel would no longer exist. Places like Sudan and other repressive regimes are not censured by the UN even one tenth of the times that Israel is, while countries like Syria and Libya gain acceptance to the Security Council.
Sudan has not invaded other nations. Israel has been condemned by the un for invading other nations.
Were the Arab countries condemned for invading Israel in 48 and 73 and for closing the Red Sea in 67 to Israeli shipping which was an act of war? No they were not and why the double standard?
10. There is no need for pre-conditions for resuming a dialogue between the warring parties. Settlements are a problem but they are not a hindrance to peace, Settlements will be negotiated in a final agreement. When Israel and Egypt made peace, Israel withdrew to the last centimeter of Egyptian land and destroyed all settlements. When Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza, it uprooted all of its citizens and destroyed all settlements there as well. In return they received rocket fire and terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas including the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier who languishes still in a dungeon in Gaza.
11. Sadly it’s the UN again. Goldstone should accuse Israel of war crimes because it refused to cooperate with a UN investigation that was bound to be biased even before it began? And what of the history that led to the Gaza invasion? Since 2001, more than 12,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel – no other nation on earth lives with that reality nor even understands what such a reality is like but apparently that is not a war crime. And to the point of more deaths on the Palestinian side, that is a sad fact but it was a justifiable war and it will not be the last war in Gaza.
WHY WAS THE STUDY BOUND TO BE BIASED? WHY WOULD ISRAEL NOT COOPERATE WITH THE STUDY? YOU SAY 12,000 ROCKETS HAVE BEEN FIRED. THAT IS A TRAGEDY. IT IS ALSO A TRAGEDY THAT ISRAELI TANKS HAVE KILLED FOUR TIMES AS MANY PALESTINIANS AS ISRAELIS KILLED BY ROCKETS.
If the death toll was equal between the two sides would that make a difference? The tanks comment is not accurate but the amount of deaths is accurate.
12. I have not read this report but have read many articles and listened to many people discuss it including the two authors. To many Jews, this report is nothing more than anti-Israelism which is a more subtle and insidious way for anti-Semites to be anti-Semitic but not appear so. The whole concept behind this claim smacks of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
I AM TROUBLED THAT YOU HAVE NOT READ THE MEARSHEIMER/WALT REPORT. I URGE EVERYONE INTERESTED IN THESE ISSUES TO READ IT. IT CAN BE FOUND AT http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby. I QUOTE BRIEFLY FROM THAT ARTICLE:
“For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history…. the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”
13. Would the situation be better if the US withdrew the “nearly unqualified support for Israel?” If so, I am interested to hear how.
SO MUCH DAMAGE HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE. THERE IS SO MUCH HATRED, SO MUCH RESENTMENT OF THE US IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME TO STRAIGHTEN THINGS OUT. I BELIEVE THE HATRED OF THE US IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE RESULTING TERRORISM STEMS PRIMARILY FROM EXCESSIVE US SUPPORT OF ISRAEL.
To paraphrase Voltaire, if Israel did not exist then the Arabs would invent an enemy. I find this comment to be wholly incorrect. The US did not start supporting Israel until 1973 – what then do you make of all the Arab terrorist attacks and hatred prior to 1973?