The Israelisation of America
The US's unqualified backing of Israel goes back a long way, but, writes Ahdaf Soueif*, 9/11 was the neo-cons' chance to take it one step further: full identification
Once again it's funny mirrors time. The world watches the events taking place in Palestine, and Western media see one process taking place while the Arabs generally see another.
Interpreting these events is largely a matter of how you view the relationship between the USA and Israel. A few weeks ago I heard a well-known British columnist say he was sick of being told that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict was the 'litmus test' for how people can expect the American Imperium to influence the world. Yet "Freedom for Palestine" was the demand on millions of the banners in the anti-war demonstrations that swept the world last February.
America's support for Israel dates to the beginning of the Zionist project in the late 19th century and grew stronger throughout the 20th. From 1949 to the present, for every dollar the US spent on an African, it spent $250.65 on an Israeli, and for every dollar it spent on someone from the Western Hemisphere outside the US, it spent $214 on an Israeli. As Israel grows stronger the support becomes more solid. According to Stephen Zunes, chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Programme at San Francisco University, "99 per cent of all US aid to Israel took place after the 1967 War."
In the United Nations the US has used its veto against 34 resolutions related to the Arab/Israeli conflict.
US support for Israel has involved turning a blind eye not only to Israeli flouting of international law, but to Israeli anti- American activities such as: spying (Jonathan Jay Pollard 1985 and David Tenenbaum 1997), selling arms to China (1990 onwards), espionage against American companies (cited in the Wall Street Journal, 1992) and attacks on the dignity and the lives of American subjects as in the bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967, the beating by Israeli police of David Muirhead who was working on an American- financed project to restore the main street in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1997, the turning back of a US Congressional delegation from the Allenby Bridge in August 2002 and, in April, the Israeli army's shooting of peace activist Brian Avery in Jenin and its killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah.
Washington matches actions with words. On 18 May 2000, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, Al Gore, addressing the powerful pro-Israeli Washington lobby, AIPAC, was able to say: "The United States has an absolute, uncompromising commitment to Israel's security and an absolute conviction that Israel alone must decide the steps necessary to ensure that security. That is Israel's prerogative. We accept that. We endorse that. Whatever Israel decides cannot, will not, will never, not ever, alter our fundamental commitment to her security."
You might have thought support couldn't come much stronger. But the group now known as the 'neo-cons', who became established in George W Bush's administration, were waiting for a chance to demonstrate higher levels of commitment. The policies they dreamed of before coming to power are well-documented. They were handed the opportunity to leverage these policies into action by the murderous attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on the morning of 11 September 2001. That day four major Israeli politicians, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak and Benyamin Netanyahu, took to the TV screens to assert that the terror just suffered by the Americans was the identical terror endured by Israel since its establishment -- to drive home the point Israel had been pushing for years: that Israel's enemies were America's enemies.
But this was not always the case. Arabs (and some Israelis) believe that without American support Israel would have had to reach a just accommodation with the Palestinians. But since the '60s at least the yardstick used by the US to measure the acceptability/goodness of an Arab country has been its government's stance towards Israel. The softer the stance the more 'moderate' or 'friendly' the country has been considered. It therefore came as a shock to the US public that the 19 hijackers who crashed aeroplanes into the Trade Towers and the Pentagon with such deadly results were from Egypt and Saudi-Arabia: countries regarded as 'moderate'. The true albeit unpopular answer to this puzzle is that the more friendly, (ie subservient) a regime is to an America which so identifies itself with (an intransigent) Israel the harder that regime has had to oppress its own people and to close off all their legitimate means of political opposition. This is possibly one of the most terrible effects the American- Israeli alliance has had on the Arab world: that most of the Arab men and women who could have played important roles in developing their countries' civil and political institutions have been de-activated. Some have ended up feeling that the only path left open to them is the path of extremism clothed in the robes of what is now called 'militant Islam'.
These processes are absent from any discussion of America's relationship with the Arabs. So, in the New Yorker, for example, Seymour Hersch can give a detailed analysis of the internal problems of Saudi Arabia without ever touching on why a 'nationalist' government in Saudi might be unenthusiastic about selling oil to America. This holds for practically all the mainstream media in the US. The support of America for Israel has been likened to the elephant in the drawing-room; everybody sees it but nobody mentions it.
Any discussion of America's relationship with the Arabs therefore has an elephant- sized hole at its heart. And pundits come forward to fill the hole with chatter about the 'innate hostility' of the Arabs to the US or the 'nihilism' of the terrorists or the 'fanatical nature' of Islam. Debate is reduced to 'they hate us because we are rich/free/ democratic/unveiled.'
2 ธ.ค. 46 15:34:51