Who is indeed running US Foreign Policy in the Middle East?


Master-Blaster is an extraordinarily apt personification of the bizarre relationship between Israel and the United States in recent decades. This is particularly the case under the current Sharon-Bush regime. Encouragingly, even the ‘mainstream’ press in the USA has started, albeit hesitantly and delicately, to focus on who is doing the thinking behind current American foreign policy and (with the case of a few brave ones) for whose benefits they are doing this thinking.

So writes John V Whitbeck, an international lawyer who writes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He describes “Master” as a brilliant midget who does Master Blaster’s thinking and harnesses Blaster’s brute force to achieve wildly disproportionate terror for a midget.

Master seems to be getting so certain of his dominant position wrapped around Blaster’s head that he no longer even exercises due care in hiding himself under the helmet. Whitbeck says that Arial Sharon has been famously quoted as telling Shimon Peres, while the latter was serving as his figleaf foreign minister, that Israel has no reason to worry about American ‘pressure’, because “Israel controls the United States.”

Promptly after the fall of Baghdad, an interview in the Tel Aviv daily newspaper “Ma’ariv” quoted Israeli Defence minister Shoul Mofaz as saying, “We have a long line of issues we are thinking of demanding of the Syrians, and it would be best done through the Americans” – who, of course, promptly did so. “Sharon’s government now hopes to ride the emerging American imperium to regional reconstruction along Israeli lines”, says Robert Novak (a nationally syndicated columnist). Now, the latest Master’s Voice, through Bush, says that Hamas and Islamic Jihad (seen by many as legitimate resistance movements) are “terrorists”.

Margaret Thatcher and Lt. Paul Bremer, (head of ‘reconstruction’ efforts in Iraq) who was the ‘counter-terrorism’ ambassador under Clinton, advised the US to bomb Libya. He also named Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress as a “terrorist” organization, implicitly legitimizing South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Anne Joyce, editor of the Washington quarterly Middle East Policy, has courageously written in the current issue of this journal that the war on Iraq was “planned, not to protect the American homeland from the weak Saddam Hussein, but to consolidate an American hegemony in the Middle East that will permit Israeli settlers to keep the land they are stealing from the Palestinians.” The latest gift to Israel is the “Israeli Apartheid wall”, paid by US taxpayers – which amounts in total to $3 trillion since the creation of Israel.

Former Congressman, Paul Findley, quoted an opinion he said he shares with renowned Israeli writer and peace activist Uri Avnery, that while America controls the world, Israel controls America. “George Bush is a total captive of the Israeli lobby”, Findley stated. Trusted advisors in the Bush administration “advanced the interests of the state of Israel against the interests of the US. Every document in the Defense department is screened by someone with intense loyalty to Israel”, he charged.

Ann Pettifer, a freelance writer and publisher of Common Sense, writes that “while the US is the only country with the authority to reign in Sharon, it is unlikely to oblige now that powerful Zionists are shaping George Bush’s policy in the Middle East – and critics are too easily silenced when opposition to the Israeli government is equated with anti Semitism.”

Anyone challenging the prevailing orthodoxy in the US Congress in an effective manner can expect to be hit with the epithet of mass destruction “anti Semite”, which in America is more intimidating than “anti America”, says Whitbeck.

In an article “You ain’t seen nothing yet … why is there such deep distrust between the United States and the rest of the world”, (Sunday Times, 22/06/03) Graham Turner writes, referring to the Iraq invasion, “The other thing was the Sharon lobby – one Congressman, Jamie Morgan said that if it were not for Israel, we wouldn’t have been going to war, and he was accused of anti Semitism. Because of the atmosphere of war, deference to the president and the huge power of the Israeli lobby, we did not even have a debate about whether we should go to war. We imply jumped into it.”

What is the solution? In his new book “Israel and Palestine: Out of the Ashes; the search for Jewish identity in the 21st century”, Mark Ellis wrestles with the meaning for Jews of a Jewish state that has become an idol, pursuing policies that were “in another age and in different circumstances carried out against us. Ghettoisation of an entire people, collective punishment for the resistance of a few.”

Ellis expresses disappointment with American Jewish leaders who call only “for unity against an uncivilized foe and for loving rather than criticizing the state of Israel.” Ellis wants Jews everywhere to stop taking refuge in narratives of themselves as the suffering innocent; “It is hypocritical”, he says, “when victims now empowered claim victimhood”. He exhorts them to return to the prophetic tradition that was Judaism’s unique gift to history. At the core of this tradition is the requirement to act justly. Only this, he believes, could break the political impasse in Israel/Palestine: “Without the prophetic, the world collapses upon itself.”

A greater Israel he says, purged of Palestinians – would be a barren achievement, a far cry from what the prophet Isaiah hoped would be “a light unto the nations.”

Oh yes, what happens to Master-Blaster in the film’s (Thunderdome) revolutionary climax? Master is knocked off Blaster’s shoulders and drowns in a vat of liquefied power, while Blaster, suddenly his own man, finds his voice and, finally, speaks for himself.

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