Some of the most astute analysts of American Middle East policy astonishingly enough still reject the notion that Israel receives massive military, economic and political support to a great extent because of the immense influence wielded by the Israeli lobby. It is true that corporate interests like “big oil” and the arms industry are significant driving forces behind America’s peculiar support for every Arab monarchy and non-democratic institution in the Middle East, including Israel’s military occupation and its appalling treatment of the Palestinians. But, it is also necessary to afford appropriate recognition to the rapidly growing fringe of super-rejectionist neo-conservative Republicans and to elaborate on the implications of their openly declared, if not new, alliance with the most powerful and intimidating political tour de force in America — the Israeli lobby. Co-opted in the extremist Zionist camp are Jewish organizations of great influence that in the past referred to themselves as “liberal,” making them strange bed-fellows with the Christian Coalition on the neo-conservative side of this bizarre union.
Even the most stalwart “defenders” of American “sovereignty” have agreed that a multilateral approach to its hegemonic interests, where America plays the role of master in a lopsided “partnership” with accommodating third-world clients, is the way to bestow upon it international legitimacy. Iraq is a good example of this multilateral model. While no one doubts that the United States can obliterate an already prostrate Iraq in an all out military assault, post-war governance, occupation and the installation of a “free and democratic” (read: puppet) regime will require the assistance of others, the Arabs and “Arabist” Europeans in particular. However, our Arab client-regimes in the Gulf, and in Egypt and Jordan are too intimidated, too weak and too unstable to risk joining an American assault on Iraq while Arabs continue to be savaged in an Israeli war of terror in occupied Palestine, to say nothing of how American credibility among our frustrated European allies has eroded.
Last month, Secretary of State Colin Powell was dispatched to Israel to arrange a cease-fire with all these realities acting as a backdrop. He was to deliver a strong message to Ariel Sharon in person: End your incursions into Palestinian territory and withdraw now! Of course, “now” was delayed by a week as Powell took the scenic route to Israel to give Sharon time to wreak sufficient devastation on the Palestinians. But that was not good enough for Sharon, who discarded Powell like yesterday’s trash and put President Bush in the uncomfortable position of having to put his foot down with Israel — if only for a daring second or two. “I meant what I said,” Bush cried. That’s when the Israeli/neo-con juggernaut really turned up the heat, forcing the president to cower to their threats of withdrawing support for him if he continues to “pressure Israel.”
In a remarkable metamorphosis, Bush was transformed from The Gorilla of Ground Zero, who intimidated the world with veiled threats of what will happen to anyone who is not “with us,” to a caged parrot who dutifully sang the praises of the “Butcher of Beirut” as a “man of peace.” Withdraw “now” turned into withdraw “without delay” — in other words, without delay after Israel determines that they are done killing enough Palestinians.
Nearly 7 weeks have passed and the Israeli army is still rampaging, obliterating the Palestinian civilian infrastructure, killing and maiming civilians at will, demolishing homes by the hundreds, looting and engaging in daily human rights abuses.
Although Powell had his legs cut out from under him, he was kindly left with enough to tuck his tail between them when the Israelis were done humiliating him. He came to impose his “vision” on Sharon, but instead got his eyes poked by a one-two lobby/neo-con jab and pitifully returned to Washington delivering Sharon’s demands. While in the Middle East, his boss made him look like an impotent fool; leading members of his own party attended a pro-Israel rally which denounced him as an “appeaser;” and a few senators invited Benjamin Netanyahu to lecture the senate and gloat over how Powell was going to fail in his mission.
Meanwhile, pounding Iraq is put on hold — ironically, something the neo-cons and the Israeli lobby are relentlessly pursuing; the stunned Europeans are scratching their heads in dumb amazement; Arab and Muslim anger at America and its client regimes is boiling; (mostly) Arab civilians continue being killed; and the entire world has just had its suspicion that pro-Israel forces run Washington cemented in their minds.
Mr. Victor Lama is a freelance writer and commentator . He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from New York, USA.