Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dangerous Bedfellows

Ever since the end of World War II, during which time the United States left a lot of European Jews to die in Nazi concentration camps, this country has been trying to make up for the anti-Semitism that dictated that decision by supporting the State of Israel, founded so that Jews would never again be victims.

For decades, this support has been justified on the grounds that Israel was the only democratic state in the Middle East. As the years went by, Israel became less and less a shining example of democracy and human rights, but the American government could not afford to nuance its support because Israel is at the forefront in the development of the sophisticated weaponry and intelligence technology and practices that serve us so well.

As Israel increasingly abused its occupier status in the West Bank and Gaza - and increasingly curtailed the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel proper - it became more and more difficult for American diplomacy to reiterate an unqualified commitment to Israel’s security. With last year’s invasion of Gaza, in which 1400 Palestinians were killed while 14 Israelis died of rockets fired into Israel by Palestinians, Israel slid further and further down the slope of apartheid and away from decisions that would lead to a Palestinian state.

With the publication of the Goldstone report on the Gaza incursion, Israel literally turned its back on the international community, personified by a United Nations that it has for decades considered its enemy.

Now comes Vice-President Joe ‘Goodfella’ Biden to give a presidential impetus to a peace process that special envoy George Mitchell has been unable to advance: But lo, on the day of his arrival in the Holy Land, an Israeli spokesman announces that the Israeli government plans to build 1600 more apartments for Israeli settlers (sic) in East Jerusalem, which is the Arab part of Jerusalem that Palestinians hope will be their capital (the rest of Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital).

Biden, having repeatedly been warned of his tendency to say too much, was impeccably reserved. But the President, apparently, and notwith-standing Israeli hawk senior advisor Rahm Emanuel, directed Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, not to mince words. She came out and said it was a slap in the face, breaking with decades of mealy-mouthed acquiescence to Israel’s refusal to abide by U.N. resolutions to end its occupation of Palestinian territories, not to mention its unique interpretation of the occupiers’ duties under international law.

With our troops mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, a nuclear-armed Israel is ratcheting up alarm over Iran’s nuclear activities, forcing the United States to speak even louder in order to forestall Israeli action that would leave us with no alternative but to follow in what one Arab leader has called a regional conflagration.

It will be for historians and psychologists to speculate on what pushes Israel deeper and deeper into the abyss of self-destruction. But it has just given the United States an opening that will enable it to throw off the shackles it wound around itself at the close of the Second World War: that part of “never again” that pertains to the Holocaust.

There have been so many holocausts and genocides since then, that we no longer have to justify sleeping with its longest perpetrator.

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