Why Deal When Israel Holds All the Cards?
Did anyone really think that John Kerry’s nine-month effort to produce a Palestinian mini-state would ever work? If so, they were either ignorant of the Mideast, naïve, or deeply cynical.
The best one could say about Kerry’s fiasco was that it was a charade designed to show America’s Arab allies that Washington was really making an effort to resolve the nearly seven-decade suffering of the 5 million homeless Palestinians.
In 2002, I wrote that the latest Arab-Israel peace initiative – called “the roadmap to peace” – would be a dead end in the desert. So it was, and so was each ensuing peace spasm as Washington beseeched, begged , implored, cajoled and pleaded with Israel to allow creation of a small, semi-independent Palestinian state on the Israel-occupied West Bank.
Oooops! New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the Republican frontrunner for president, went to Las Vegas to lick the hand of Uber Zionist media mogul billionaire Sheldon Adelson. While kow-towing to Adelson, who made his billions by exploiting poor people’s addiction to gambling, Christie made what could be a fatal faux pas.
The New Jersey governor referred to what the United Nations terms the “Israeli-occupied West Bank” as the “Israeli-occupied West Bank.” Adelson, a chief financier of militant Jewish settlers on the West Bank and Golan, went ballistic. No, no, no! It’s Judea and Samaria, thundered the casino mogul, given to the chosen people by God himself!
Poor Christie slunk back to New Jersey. His plain speaking may cost him the presidential nomination. Adelson repeated his offer to give a sufficiently pro-Greater Israel Republican candidate $100 million.
This sickening tale of dirty money and an American political process totally corrupted by now unlimited money explains why Israel has no intention of signing a peace deal with the Palestinians. Why should it?
First, Israel’s ruling Likud Party and its even more extreme allies have vowed there will never be a Palestinian state. Period. In their view, all of Palestine belongs to the Jews, even if they hail from Russia, Morocco, Poland or Lithuania. As the late Gen. Ariel Sharon so often proclaimed, the true Palestinian state is Jordan. There will be no return to pre-1967 borders.
Second, Palestinians don’t exist, as the late Israeli PM Golda Meir was so fond of saying: they are merely landless Bedouin. How ironic that the Jewish thinker Arthur Koestler wrote much the same about the Jews, calling them descendants of nomadic Khazars.
Third, as Sharon used to boast, “don’t worry about the US. I control the US!” Israel’s right wing has turned the US Congress into performing seals. Any US official or politician deemed insufficiently pro-Israel has a short career. Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu even humiliated President Obama and VP Joe Biden – and was cheered by Congress.
Fourth, Israel holds all the cards. US Mideast policy is determined by the potent Israel lobby. Israel grows rich from US aid ($3-5 billion annually) and new energy discoveries. Its economy thrives and its tech sector is a world leader. Israel has annexed the region’s key water sources.
Militarily, Israel could conquer much of the Mideast in mere days. Israel’s American allies, known as neocons, engineered the Iraq war that destroyed Israel’s most capable Arab enemy. Now, thanks again to the neocons, the other serious enemy, Syria, lies in ruins.
Egypt, the Arab world’s leading power, is now run by a brutal fascist regime that is secretly allied with Israel. Distant Iran offers no current military challenge to Israel. Besides, nuclear-armed Israel has unlimited American military and financial backing.
Palestinians are split between the useless PLO – a sock puppet for the US and Israel – and Hamas, locked up in Gaza. They pose only nuisance value to Israel. The only serious remaining Arab fighting force is Lebanon’s Hezbollah – but it is only effective when fighting at home.
Israel’s right is quite prepared to enforce an apartheid state where Arabs have few rights and no political power. It’s no coincidence that Israel and apartheid South Africa were the closest of allies.
Finally, Israel’s Zionist hard right has always been reluctant to fix the nation’s borders with Syria and Lebanon. Who knows what Israel’s final borders will look like. Some on Israel’s hard right see golden opportunities in a collapsing, fragmented Arab world.
© 2014 Eric Margolis