One of the special privileges the State Department extends to Israel is a choice of who should serve as American Ambassador in Tel Aviv. When Barak was elected Prime Minister, his first request to the Clinton Administration was to appoint Martin Indyk for his second tour as the ‘American’ envoy to Israel. Clinton had appointed the Australian born Indyk to his first tour as U.S. ambassador in 1995. In what amounted to a direct transfer from the Israeli Lobby, where he labored as executive director of the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he was put in a position where he could monitor and mold America’s foreign policy to suit Barak’s tastes.
As he leaves Tel Aviv to resume his work as an Israeli lobbyist in Washington, Indyk has been taking full advantage of his position as ‘American’ ambassador to do some public relations work for the Israelis. In A Washington Post article (7/15/2001), Lee Hockstader put it this way: “A pro-Israeli tilt has been a fixture of U.S. policy for years, and Indyk has been its firm defender. By standing behind Israel, and by ensuring its security, he believed the United States could coax the Jewish state to take risks for peaceé. To the Palestinians, Indyk — who last month told an Israeli audience he hoped the Jewish state would triumph over its “enemies” — was a supporter of Israel masquerading as an impartial mediator.”
Indyk has now set for himself the task to “apportion guilt among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.” In Middle East parlance it is called ‘Indyking the Palestinians’, who are blamed for the failure of Oslo and the ‘violence’ Arafat supposedly initiated “when he couldn’t get his way or found himself in a tight corner”. Now if that sounds like the official Israeli line, it is simply because Indyking the Palestinians is all about marketing Israeli policies.
The performance of Indyk is as predictable as the stance taken by the other pro-Israeli lobbyist turned mid-east ‘American’ diplomat, Dennis Ross. Both men had built a career on pressuring Congress and the American government to go along with every Israeli whim. If Clinton expected them to miraculously transform themselves into neutral mediators, he was deluded. But what he certainly must have expected was that the Israeli Lobby would show appropriate generosity by financing the political campaigns of Bill and Hill. Indyking the Palestinians turned out to be a major cash cow that financed Clinton’s ambitions and got him out of some serious Lewinsky troubles.
The problem with American foreign policy in the Middle East is that it is not very American. It is twisted out of shape by powerful men, in and out of government, whose main concern is marketing the Israeli Agenda. What ever America’s policy is towards Bulgaria, it is not made by Bulgarian-Americans to suit the interests of Bulgaria. America’s policy towards granting the Palestinians their most basic rights is determined by a powerful Jewish Lobby that supports whatever policy is in vogue in Tel Aviv. If Israel wants to demolish Palestinian homes, that is OK by the lobby. If they lay siege to Palestinian towns and villages, virtually crippling them economically, the Lobby will make sure America ‘understands’. Killing hundreds of demonstrators, many of them children, is something they have no problem with. If Israel elects a war criminal as Prime Minister, he is quickly sanitized and adopted as favorite son of the Jewish people.
Martin Indyk was not in Tel Aviv to serve American interests, but to continue his work of supporting the Israeli occupation and the creeping annexation of Palestinian real estate. The United States has no vital interest in repressing the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people or any other people. If it was not for folks like Indyk and Ross, constantly pressing Israel’s expansionist policies, there is not the slightest chance that America would be subsidizing the construction of settlements that can only impede the prospects of Israeli/Palestinian peace. No decent American would support the concept of collective punishment. The constant violations of basic Palestinian human rights has nothing to do with ‘American Values’.
Indyking the Palestinians is about hijacking the making of America’s foreign policy. It has already done enormous damage to America’s prestige in the region. Many Arabs are now convinced that America is a racist country out to inflict permanent harm out of sheer contempt for their culture. It has left Arab-Americans with deep suspicions about the morals and integrity of senior government officials. Extrapolating from American foreign policy, they can only conclude that bigots not only infest the State Department, but every other Federal office.
It is time to permanently usher the Israeli Lobby out of the State Department and demand that they appropriately register themselves as agents of a foreign state. Hiring these lobbyists as United States ambassadors is criminally negligent. It is one thing to give an ear to foreign lobbyists and quite another to hand them the keys to an American Embassy.
Who doubts that Israeli concerns will always be well represented in Washington and the media? Having The New York Times as a powerful advocate would be enough to delight most governments, including the United States government. Most Presidents would love to be able to influence Congress with the persuasive talent of the Israeli Lobby. Enough already with Indyking the Palestinians. Show martin the door to the lobby.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)