Politics

Walking J Street: Obama, Netanyahu, Chuck Hagel and Israel’s dominance of Western politics.

The White House has recently let slip that Obama is expected to name Chuck Hagel, prominent and experienced Republican ex-senator from Nebraska, as his new Secretary of Defense (http://t.co/hd5tf4bK).
Of course, not even a gesture as sensible and pragmatic as appointing a colleague from across the aisle will come without criticism for the President; and the most damning indictments for Mr. Hagel seem to be from his own side of the chamber.
Influential Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, despite “personally liking Mr. Hagel”, has stated that his nomination is an “in your face… to all of us who are supportive of Israel.”
Now I’m not an American citizen, and have not been a resident at any point… but surely Republicans, with their endlessly bullish declarations of Obama’s lack of concern for his own country, should be more worried about how supportive Mr. Hagel is of his own country than of one less than a century old, located thousands of miles away? He has served in the military, completing a tour of Vietnam, and been described by the President himself as a “patriot”. Why should his supposed opinions on another state disqualify him from serving the one he has defended?
Of course, the answer is that the state in question is Israel. Typically a very standard left-right issue in global politics, with the conservatives for and the liberals/socialists against, when we move to the west, particularly the Anglosphere, the statehood, defense and prominence of Israel suddenly becomes an unquestionable constant. Even Ed Miliband, easily to the left of Barack Obama and arguably the furthest left at Labour’s helm since John Smith has stated (in a display of unusual certainty) that there is “no space for questioning the existence of the state of Israel.”
Of course, nobody is going to question the current existence of the state of Israel. It does exist. And it is protected by international law. But whether its current state is right, or deserved, does warrant questioning; and much more than that, whether its influence in the politics of other nations is justifiable is a debate which needs to be had.
One doesn’t have to venture very far into this topic to hear the name AIPAC (The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the USA’s biggest and most influential pro-Israel lobby group.) And with a little more digging, you can hear the words of their charming former President, David Steiner:
“I met with (then Bush U.S. Secretary of State) Jim Baker and I cut a deal with him. I got, besides the $3 billion, you know they’re looking for the Jewish votes, and I’ll tell him whatever he wants to hear … Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about.[35]
Of course, he was forced to resign after this. But it’s a sterling example of Israel’s rather worrying dominance in American politics, one which has thankfully receded from the UK in the past two decades. By promising themselves to be America’s unwavering strategic ally in a region slowly becoming more and more theocratic and anti-Western by the day, David’s state have guaranteed themselves the support of the world’s only remaining superpower. And sadly, they see the primary benefit of this as the ability to commit human rights violations which beggar belief with impunity.
Operation Pillar of Defense, carried out by the Israeli Defense Force in November 2012 following their assassination of Ahmed Jabari, chief of Hamas’ military wing in Gaza, resulted in approximately 160 Palestinian deaths to four Israeli deaths. Four. This is the seven-day operation as defined by the IDF, not counting the rocket fire before and after. When peace accords between Israel and Palestine have been reached, they have not, as Israeli critics say, been rejected by Palestine, but have been rejected by Gaza specifically, as it is controlled by Hamas, orthodox Islamists and in some cases extremists, as opposed to Fatah, who still control the rest of the Palestinian National Authority. Perhaps the reason Hamas controls the legislature in the Gaza Strip is because Benjamin Netanyahu constantly legislates the further construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land and turns a blind eye to the IDF’s abuses of Palestinian civilians? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_of_the_Gaza_Strip)
Between the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, AIPAC’s board donated an approximate $3.5mil to political action committees and campaigns. In that time, America launched a war in Iraq with the support and service of Israeli interests, negotiated the Taba Summit to form a peace deal favourable to Israel which was then turned down by the newly-elected Zionist Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon, and ignored the rapidly accelerating illegal Israeli settlement of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a situation even Britain’s Foreign Office called the “greatest obstacle” in reaching a viable two-state solution to the conflict. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing that Chuck Hagel sees himself as a US senator, “not an Israeli Senator.”
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