I know this is going to earn me the ire of lots of people who insist that Israel can do no wrong, and that Jews must support Israel no matter what it does, but I find Israel’s continued building and/or expanding settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and its slap in the face to Vice President Joe Biden infuriating.
Israel isn’t a stupid country, or a country of stupid people. Things don’t just happen. The announcement of the Israeli decision to build hundreds of new apartments for Jews in Arab East Jerusalem on the day of Vice President Biden’s arrival in Israel to promote peace talks between Israel and Palestine was a deliberate act. Whether it was perpetrated by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu or by one of his enemies in the government hoping to embarrass him, I can’t say and I don’t care. Israel seems to assume it can do what it wants and America will simply fall in line. And they may be right.
Diplomacy aside, if I had been Joe Biden, I would have cancelled all talks with Israeli government officials, and met exclusively with Palestinian leaders and those Israelis from the human rights and peace ends of the political spectrum. And, if I were President Obama I would have sent the Israeli Prime Minister a note saying that the United States is done playing games with Israel, that we are putting a freeze on all aid monies until real progress has been made in bringing Israeli policy into alignment with the US position on settlements. Why should the United States fund policies we consider antithetical to our own interests and the interests of peace in the Middle East?
Yes I know Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. So what? And what kind of democracy is it? The theocratic nature of Israeli democracy is troubling; the second-class status of Israel’s Arab citizens is troubling; and the very idea that there are roads for Jews only and buses in which women must ride in the back smack of anything but democracy. And even if Israel were perfectly democratic, the US makes friends with lots of anti-democratic countries. It isn’t a country’s political system that matters to us, but whether or not it can serve our over-all strategic objectives. This is how politics works: you pay off your friends as long as they do what you want them to do, and threaten your enemies until they are willing to be bought off as friends. Or, if that doesn’t work, you bomb the shit out of them.
On a similar note: sometimes politically correct is simply politically stupid. Case in point: the decision by the US government not to fly the US flag over US compounds providing aid to Haiti so as not to drag up anti-American sentiment by reminding Haitians of all the times we actually invaded their country. Look, if the Haitians don’t want our help, fine. We can take our 12,000 troops home. If they do want it, then we have the right to fly our flag.
The same thing happened in Kuwait in 1991 when we agreed to cover up all images of the US flag. We were just a bunch of people armed to the teeth risking our lives for the sake of Kuwaitis who could have hired Blackwater to defend them against Saddam Hussein.
Come on. I have no problem saying when the US is wrong—in Afghanistan and Iraq for example, but this doesn’t mean I should sit back and ignore it when we are being insulted.