Tag Archives: Hypocrisy

Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”

It is a rare day that some member of Congress doesn’t expose him or herself as a hypocrite of the first order. This week, we have seen this done in spades.

On February 10, Representative Ilhan Omar (D- MN) said that U.S. Congressional support for Israel is “…all about the Benjamins…”, a reference to the U.S. denomination, $100.00 bills, that sport a picture of Benjamin Franklin. One would think that stating the obvious would not be met with such umbrage.

But no! Democratic leadership (how’s that for an oxymoron?) issued a statement condemning Omar’s “…use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters…’, and declaring her words ‘deeply offensive’.

Really? Was this, indeed, an ‘anti-Semitic trope’? Was it a ‘prejudicial accusation’? This writer, as is his custom, will attempt to make some sense of all this, a challenging undertaking, undeniably. We will do so first by looking at some of the members of Congress who voiced their objection.

+ Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who issued the statement condemning Omar’s remarks, has benefited from pro-Israel campaign contributions to the tune of $514,449.00.

+ Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) issued a concise statement to Omar: ‘STOP IT!”. Ms. Schakowsky has received $552,624.00 in campaign contributions from pro-Israel lobbies during her career.

+ Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) praised Pelosi’s condemnation of Omar’s statement. His career take from pro-Israel lobbies: $804,215.00.

+ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who just last year suggested that wealthy Jews were trying to buy the mid-term elections, vowed that Republicans would “… take action this week to ensure the House speaks out against this hatred.” The hypocrisy of that statement, based on his own words of just a few months ago, is obvious. During his Congressional career, he has received $174,625.00 in contributions from pro-Israel groups.

These are just four examples; four members of Congress, whose total cash haul from pro-Israel lobbies equals $2,045,913.00, condemning Omar’s words. That is a significant number of ‘Benjamins’.

We will now move onto the pro-Israel attempt to conflate criticism of the apartheid state of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Currently, the Yellow-Vest protests continue in France. If one condemns the French austerity measures that have triggered them, and the brutal force that the French government is using to oppress those protests, does that mean that one hates all things French? Does it suggest that the person condemning these actions attributes repression and brutality to being inherent in the French persona? Does it suggest that, if one has French neighbors, one will take frozen French fries and fling them into one’s neighbor’s yard, all the while chanting ‘go home French person’?

No; it means that one disagrees with the policies of the French government. That’s it.

Let us look beyond all this, and review the reasons that so many august politicians in the U.S. proclaim their support of the apartheid, Zionist regime of Israel: shared values.

In Israel, there are separate laws for Israelis and everyone else. A crime committed by an Arab will received a far harsher sentence than the same crime committed by an Israeli. One supposes that is, indeed, a shared value, since in the U.S., crimes committed by people of color generally receive far harsher penalties than those committed by whites.

Throughout the illegally occupied West Bank, Israel has housed over 500,000 settlers, all of them living there in violation of international law. The U.S. has violated international law countless times, including by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). So again, disdain for the rule of law is a value shared by the U.S. and Israel.

Israel periodically bombs the Gaza Strip, an action that is routinely condemned by the United Nations. The U.S. bombs multiple countries on a nearly-constant basis. We see yet another commonality between the two nations.

During the 2014 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel bombed homes, houses of worship, hospitals, U.N. refugee centers and press offices. The U.S. said that Israel probably shouldn’t have bombed those refugee centers. Not what one would call an effective criticism for such barbaric actions.

While Israel was busy with active genocide in Gaza (in addition to its ongoing genocidal practices), some of its soldiers targeted four young Palestinian boys playing on a beach. Apparently sensing mortal danger from unarmed 10-year-olds kicking around a soccer ball, the soldiers shot and killed them. More recently, the U.S.’s other great ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, dropped a U.S.-made bomb on a school bus carrying 40 boys ranging in age from 8 – 12. The U.S. and Israel apparently hold the slaughter of innocent children as a ‘shared value’.

But what is any of this? U.S. spokespeople are forever asserting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and since these same people also proclaim that the U.S. is a model democracy, that, they say, is the true shared value.

One must point out that democracy means more than allowing many citizens to vote. Yes, both Israel and the U.S. have periodic elections, but in both countries, voter suppression is actively practiced, effectively ensuring that potential voters who actually want change are ignored. And doesn’t democracy also include equal rights under the law? Israel had codified separate rights, and the U.S. Constitution, that document so revered by so many members of Congress, provided ‘equal’ rights for wealthy, white, landowning males; all other need not apply. There have been some changes in 200 years, but equality is still a dream for women, people of color, the poor, gays, etc.

Representative Omar, bowing to the weight of pressure from so many Israeli representatives in Congress, apologized for offending any Jewish people. She need not have done so. A spokesman for J Street, another pro-Israel organization in the U.S., while criticizing Omar’s words, further said that “…elected officials should also refrain from labeling all criticism of Israeli actions or policies as ‘anti-Semitic’”.

Might Pelosi, McCarthy, et al take some advice from these words? No, probably not. With all those ‘Benjamins’ at stake, why risk rocking the campaign-contributions boat? Better to hysterically shout ‘anti-Semitism!’ any time anyone criticizes Israel’s cruel, barbaric, inhumane and illegal actions.

It’s interesting to note that polls consistently show that younger Americans support Palestine over Israel, and these people are, of course, the future of the country. If and when the current crop of elected officials ever decides to actually represent their constituencies remains to be seen, but this writer is not optimistic. But things are changing and Palestinians are finally being seen as human beings with the same right to self-determination as everyone else. We have people like Representative Ilhan Omar to thank for that progress, and we look to her and other young and truly progressive officials to continue this trend.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Venezuela, the United States and Hypocrisy

United States hypocrisy, thy name is legion.

The number of examples of this are truly stunning, and this writer has commented on them more than once. He will take this opportunity to shine his spotlight on yet another one that is currently prominent in the news.

In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro was elected president, in an election generally thought to have been fair. He is, horror of horrors, a leftist, much to the chagrin of that mighty moral arbiter of world values, the U.S. So what did President Donald Trump and his minions do, which was followed quickly by many other world leaders who march in lock-step with the U.S? They recognized his opponent, one Juan Guaido, as the president of Venezuela.

This brings up so many questions, that one almost hesitates to count them. But we will ask just one:

What right does the U.S. have to determine who is the leader of any other nation on the planet?

Let us consider a hypothetical situation. We will ask the reader to think back to the U.S. presidential election of November, 2016, when the county was faced with a choice between a vile, corporate-owned elitist candidate, and one that was even, incredibly, worse. The hapless voters selected the former, who won the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes, yet the bizarre Electoral College installed the latter in the White House.

Now we will get to the hypothetical part. Imagine, if you will, the U.S. response if Russian’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Elizabeth May all declared that they recognized Hillary Clinton as U.S. president. What then-outgoing president Barack Obama would have said would have been nothing compared to the bellicose, belligerent Twitter storm that would sure have been unleashed by then president-elect Donald Trump.

The U.S. has, for months, been watching the Robert Mueller investigation into possible Trump collusion with Russia during the campaign; imagine the horror of a foreign nation attempting to influence the outcome of a U.S. election! How could such a thing possibly have happened?

Yet the U.S. is happy to recognize people other than duly-elected candidates as another nation’s leader. And if we are going to discuss foreign interference in U.S. elections, might we consider the millions upon millions of dollars donated to the campaigns of U.S. candidates and officials by pro-Israel groups? Is it mere coincidence that, once these candidates are elected, pro-Israel lobbies actually write legislation for them to introduce? The U.S. senate recently voted overwhelming for just such a bill that would make boycotting Israel illegal. These same senators proclaim their reverence for the U.S. constitution, but ignore Supreme Court rulings that clearly state that boycotts are protected by the constitution. What is that, when campaign contributions must be considered? The U.S. constitution? Who needs that old thing!

But let us return for a moment to Venezuela. The U.S. is concerned about ‘irregularities’ in the election that maintained Maduro in power. We have already mentioned that curious U.S. electoral ‘irregularity’, the Electoral College. However, that is just one of many.

In the U.S., in some states, government-issued photo identification is required in order to vote.

Despite what Trump says, U.S. citizens are not required to present photo identification when grocery shopping. One understands that preventing voter fraud is important, but, again despite the pronouncements of the raving lunatic in the White House, there is no evidence whatsoever of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the United States.

Where, one might ask, is photo identification most likely to be required for voting? This is a requirement in some states that have large minority (read: generally vote Democratic) populations, which include states with significant voters of African or Hispanic descent. Also, some university students study in states with such a requirement. Is it a simple coincidence that they, too, tend to vote for Democratic candidates?

A common form of photo identification is a driver’s license, which not every person of voting age has. One can get a government-issued photo identification card, but one must travel to a government office that provides them. Without a driver’s license, getting there is often a challenge.

In Canada, the nation to which this writer fled following the 2004 election of George Bush, everyone has medical coverage (which U.S. government officials seem to believe is Satan’s finest achievement), with an accompanying photo-identification card. We must present that when visiting a doctor, but it is not asked for when one presents oneself at one’s voting place. One states one’s name, the voting official looks it up on the list, and one signs that list, and then votes. If this writer, for example, returned later that same day to the polling place and attempted to vote a second time, the poll worker would note that his signature had already been placed on the appropriate line, and he would be prevented from voting a second time.

Some U.S. officials decry the large number of deceased people whose names appear on voting records. Yes, it is true that there are many such names. But this writer’s experience in this context may not be uncommon. When his parents died several months apart in 2016 and 2017, his first thought was not to contact the voting board, and remove their names. It was also not his second thought. He must confess that the thought never occurred to him. Is there a possibility that, in a future election, someone will go to the local polling place, give their name as that of his late mother or father, and vote? Yes, that is possible. Is it likely? When pigs fly.

Can voter repression, which is part of the U.S. electoral system, be seen as an ‘irregularity’? Can the Electoral College, which defeats the will of the people who actually vote, also be so seen? And we have not even mentioned the fact that, without being independently wealthy, it is almost impossible to run an effective campaign for public office (for exceptions, see Alexandra Ocasio Cortez). What has Venezuela done to deserve the wrath of the U.S., that is so much worse than what the U.S. routinely does?

While the U.S. condemns injustices around the world, it perpetrates its own that are usually far worse than those it criticizes. It also overlooks major violations of international law and human rights (see Israel; Saudi Arabia) if those countries provide it with some benefits.

The people of Venezuela do not need to be schooled in the art of democracy by a country whose government doesn’t know the meaning of the word. U.S. hypocrisy must be understood for what it is, and that country’s official pronouncements must be held up for ridicule. It is tempting to then ignore them; unfortunately, with the most powerful military on the planet, and leaders not hesitant to use it to force their will on other nations, ignoring the U.S. is not an option.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Are the Iranians Actually ‘Acting’ against Their Government?

In the last few days, the corporate-owned news has been filled with information about unrest in Iran. United States President Donald Trump is gleeful, pointing out that the U.S. government has named Iran a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’, and criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for releasing to Iran money that was being withheld, prior to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015.

Trump made several bizarre statements in reference to the unrest in Iran. We will look at a two of them, to determine if his hypocrisy knows any boundaries at all.

  • “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” In the U.S., many mainly white police officers receive training by the most brutal military organization in the world, that of Israel. Those police officers routinely shoot and kill unarmed men, women and children, usually people of color, with nearly complete impunity. Is this not government-sponsored brutality?

Recently, the U.S. passed historic tax reform. At a meeting with his wealthy friends shortly after signing that bill into law, Trump told them, “I just made you all a lot richer”.  Members of Congress routinely pass laws that further enrich the wealthiest citizens, while doing nothing for the middle class and the poor. Is this not government corruption?

Congress members accept huge campaign contributions from lobbyists, including those representing foreign governments, which causes the elected U.S. officials to overlook unspeakable human rights violations perpetrated by those countries. Israel is a case in point. More corruption.

At present, the U.S. is bombing seven countries. More brutality.

And are the people of Iran actually ‘acting’ against the Iranian government? Or is the U.S., as it has done so often in the past, fomenting insurrection for its own purposes? It would greatly surprise this writer if it were found that the U.S. is not behind the current unrest in Iran. It has worked repeatedly over the decades to destabilize governments that displease it; Syria was the nation most recently so victimized, but with assistance from Russia and Iran, it was able to defeat U.S.-sponsored terrorists.

Does not all this not make the U.S. a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’?

So before Trump criticizes Iran or any other nation for corruption and brutality, he should look at the horrendous crimes his own country is committing.

  • “All the money that President Obama so foolishly gave to them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets’.” Obama didn’t ‘give’ Iran any money; it released to Iran money belonging to Iran that the U.S. had ordered ‘frozen’ in various international accounts. Some of that money was released as part of the JCPOA.

The ‘terrorism’ that Trump refers to is unclear, but he probably means Iranian support for the government of Syria, which spent years fighting U.S.-supported terrorists. Iran has diplomatic relations with Syria, and it is appropriate that it assisted that nation in preserving its government.

Regarding money going into anyone’s pockets, again, what Trump is referring to is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he objects to it going to the people to whom it rightly belongs.

It is no secret that President Obama had a highly conflicted relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or that Trump all but worships the ground on which the savage Netanyahu walks. Israel fears Iran’s increasing power and influence in the Middle East, and that is enough to alarm U.S. government officials who rely on pro-Israeli lobbies to fund their campaigns. The U.S. was successful in destroying and/or destabilizing Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, less so in Lebanon due to the continued strength of Hezbollah there, and failed in Syria. The fact that millions of innocent people died, and millions more continue to suffer because of U.S. interference to please Israel is of no concern to U.S. government officials.

If the United States government wants to target a ‘brutal and corrupt regime’, it might start with Israel. That rogue, apartheid nation has been censured by the United Nations more often than all other nations combined. It illegally occupies Palestine, kills unarmed Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity (a lesson, as mentioned above, that it teaches to U.S. polices forces), and yet it receives $4 billion annually from the U.S., as cities in the U.S. declare bankruptcy, and the infrastructure falls apart. U.S. tax dollars at work, but not for U.S. citizens.

It is highly possible that the U.S. has, with its interference in Iran, opened a situation beyond its ability to control. Iran is a powerful nation, with strong international alliances, a large population, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is not to be trifled with. Yet it seems that that is exactly what the U.S. government is doing.

U.S. support for rebels in Iran will not topple the government. It was almost 40 years ago that the people of Iran defeated a brutal, U.S.-supported dictator, and the U.S. has done nothing to gain the trust of the Iranian people since then. Hopefully, more sensible people in Washington, D.C. will prevent Trump from making the colossal mistake of invading Iran. If not, the U.S. will suffer far more than any nation in the Middle East.

Originally published in American Herald Tribune.

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Why Every President Since Truman Has Been An Israel Hawk

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.

Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.

In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:

“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”

This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.

 

Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel

Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”

Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”

These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion’. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the president into strange contradictions: ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”

If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.

 

Truman, Eisenhower

Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.

It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.

By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.

Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.

Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.

 

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter

Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”

Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.

Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.

Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”

Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.

The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”

Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.

When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

 

Reagan, Bush

After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”

Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel and accelerating the delivery of 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”

When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”

 

Clinton, another Bush, Obama

Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.

In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.

The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:\

“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we [the United States] say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”

Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:

”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”

Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.

This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.

 

Change that can’t come soon enough

Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.

It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.

Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.

Originally published by Mint Press News.

 

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