Last week Egypt's Al Ahram
weekly (weekly.ahram.org) published an article titled Bias Breeds Disillusionment
by a Palestinian writer Khaled Amayreh. The main thrust of this article
was that US pro-Israel bias has become so pronounced that Palestinian
leadership is thinking of "ditching the two-state solution". In case
readers might have trouble understanding this decision, the problem
lies with long-standing and absolutely one-sided support of Israel on
all matters of concern to the Palestinian people. The straw that broke
the camel's back this time was a lone US vote last week against a resolution
of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland
to investigate Jewish settlements in the areas of Palestinian Jerusalem
and the West Bank of the Jordan River. The resolution also demanded
reversal of the Israeli settlements policy which includes not only establishing
new settlements but expanding existing ones.
Palestinians are very realistic in their appraisal of the long range
purposes of the Israeli settlements policy. The Israeli Zionist dream
is to achieve a Jewish state free of all Palestinians that extends from
the shores of the Mediterranean to the banks of the Jordan River. In
pursuit of that goal, settlements now dominate many once Palestinian
areas of East Jerusalem; settlements are carefully positioned along
the Jordan River and on good building sites near ancient cities and
elsewhere in the West Bank, and they dot attractive farming or touristic
areas of the Golan Heights region that is being confiscated by Israel
from Syria. As of December 2010, these settlements contained an estimated
540,000 Israelis. Thus Israel now has upward of 10% of its Jewish
population in settlements, including government officials such as the
Defense Minister. In short, the message of Israeli intentions is absolutely
clear to all Palestinians.
The situation, however, is not a mere product of the political clout
of the Zionists. There simply is no other place on the planet where
the lands of a neighboring state (that is Palestine as recognized by
the great majority of the world's nation states) could be grabbed, literally
confiscated, without dire legal consequences. All major world governments
publicly oppose the Israeli settlements policy, but none of them actively
fight to get that policy overturned. However, the United States
regularly vetoes any United Nations effort to deal with the problem.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) resolution illustrates
this problem. The resolution was passed by the UNHCR by a vote of 36
affirmatives, 10 abstentions, and one negative vote by the United States.
In short, while saying that it opposes the Israeli settlement policy,
the United States routinely vetoes UN resolutions that are in any way
critical of Israel or which seek to bring Israeli behavior in line with
the Geneva Convention or other international norms. The ten abstainers
are not much better than the United States; their goal was most likely
to avoid going on the record against the Israelis.
In his article Amayreh takes the position that the bias of American
leadership toward Israel is sustained by a preoccupation with the power-and
the money-of the Jewish/pro-Israeli groups in the United States. Some
may think of that in terms of the Jewish vote and Jewish political contributions
to political campaigns, but that is, to say the least, an incomplete
picture. Putting aside the money contributions-which from a few at least
are quite substantial-Jewish voters are not single issue voters any
more than many other Americans. And they do not by any means all
support Israeli policy. If they did, their vote would indeed be
a possible swing vote measuring about 2% of the voting population of
the country. It would be substantially larger than that in some key
states such as California and New York.
But the much larger pro-Israel vote lies with America's fundamentalist
Christians, many of whom are avid supporters of Israel because of its
role in the biblically prophesied End of Days. More than that, however,
is the view of many Christians, as once characterized by Jerry Falwell,
that "to stand against Israel is to stand against God." There
are other ways to define the Christian view of Israel, but the summary
judgment is that support for Israel is broadly based in American culture
and that support is largely blind to the extremes of Israeli policy,
specifically their abuse of the Palestinian people.
For the American politician the patterns and depth of support for Israel
present awkward challenges. There is one truth about the Middle East
that is virtually tattooed on the wrist of every practicing politician:
"Criticism of Israel is a way to get yourself politically skewered."
Only part of the weight of that dictum is supplied directly by the Israeli
public or government. Most of it is sustained by the work of the
powerful lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
A substantial piece of that dictum is serviced by actions of the US
Congress whose members virtually jump through hoops to demonstrate fidelity
to Israel. However, a significant and relatively invisible service of
that dictum is provided by the so-called Christian Right. This
is a virtually US-wide cadre of voters whose weight in any US election
can be decisively for or against any political career.
This is the political truth that holds the fate of the Palestinian people
hostage to the realities of American domestic politics. Israeli politicians
and Zionist practitioners know this all too well. They do not
have to press the point to exert enormous influence on American Middle
East policies. They succeed, even at the expense of severe damage to
American interests in the region. Thus Palestinians increasingly see
the Two State option as dead. Many are now looking to a One State solution
as a way to share their native land with the invasive Central European
Jews who dominate modern Israel.
Terrell E. Arnold is the author of Palestine: In Need of a Just God
that is now available on Amazon.com in print and Kindle editions, as
well as in a lending library for Amazon Prime members. He is author,
co-author and editor of five additional books mainly on politically
motivated violence. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer with
experience in Egypt, Syria, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Brazil.
He also served as Chairman of the Department of International Studies
of the National War College. Following retirement he served as a Senior
Associate of Booz Allen Hamilton and as a consultant to State, FEMA,
the US Navy and the White House on program management issues.
He will take comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.