By Jeff Gates
Unless President Barack Obama resolves to expunge ‘special’ from the U.S.-Israeli ‘special relationship,’ this entangled alliance will continue to ensure that the U.S. is portrayed as guilty by its association with Tel Aviv’s thuggish behavior in Palestine and elsewhere. And by the U.S. insistence that Israel not be held accountable under international law.
On July 3rd, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren claimed “Iran nuke could wipe Israel off the map in seconds.” An accurate translation reveals that what the president of Iran proposes is that Zionism be “erased from the pages of history.” But why quibble over words and their intent when Israel’s intent is to create a consensus that ensures war with Iran?
Two days after Oren’s saber-rattling speech, Vice-President Joe Biden was asked in a televised interview whether the Obama Administration would restrain Israeli military action against Iran. President Obama was then out of the country. A self-proclaimed Zionist, Biden responded, “Israel can determine for itself—it’s a sovereign nation—what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.”
Unfamiliar with the refrain, “loose lips sink ships,” Biden’s cavalier comment evoked memories of Vice President Dick Cheney who routinely waited until his boss was out of town to make bellicose remarks that moved the U.S. steadily closer to war in Iraq.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, scrambled to offset the impression left by Biden’s comment. Astute strategists know it is the small impressions that, step-by-step, form the consensus beliefs that shape policy-making. It was the gradual drip, drip, drip of such impressions that created the (false) consensus belief that Iraq had WMD, ties to Al Qaeda and mobile biological weapons laboratories.
Pro-Israeli pundits quickly claimed that, with Biden’s comment, Washington had given Tel Aviv the green light to attack Iran. Mullen grabbed media attention to reconfirm the obvious: an attack on Iran could have “grave and unpredictable consequences.”
Arrogant, Aggressive & Above the Law
What has Israel done to quell these global jitters? Tel Aviv ordered a long-range Air Force exercise covering the same distance as from Israel to Iran. It dispatched through the Suez Canal a Dolphin class submarine, three of which are widely believed capable of launching a nuclear missile attack. And it sent a “message” to Iran by sailing two Saar class missile ships through the canal into the Red Sea, putting them within striking distance of Tehran.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News played its usual supporting role by announcing Israeli Navy Prepares for Potential Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities. To date, Barack Obama has shown little inclination to say no to Tel Aviv and show he means it. Instead, his administration has staffed up with advisers who are disproportionately pro-Israeli—more so even than the Bush and Clinton presidencies.
When in February he failed to support the nomination of Ambassador Charles Freeman as Director of the National Intelligence Council, Obama served global notice of just how much influence Israel wields over U.S. foreign policy. Opposition to Freeman was led by Steven Rosen, a former executive of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Though you would never know it from reports in mainstream media, Rosen had been indicted under the Espionage Act for transferring to the Israeli embassy classified Pentagon intelligence on Iran.
Adding insult to the Freeman injury, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder approved the withdrawal of charges against Rosen and co-conspirator Keith Weissman, another AIPAC executive. After receiving a 12-year sentence for conceding his complicity, Pentagon Iran analyst Lawrence Franklin saw his sentence reduced to time served under house arrest and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. So much for accountability.
Just as he said not a word on Gaza, Obama remained silent on Freeman. Left to twist in the wind by the commander in chief, Freeman withdrew his nomination. When he vowed not to remain silent in his critique of the Israel lobby, Washington Post editors denied there was such a lobby, dismissed his critique as a “conspiracy theory” and attacked his comments as a “crackpot tirade.”
Though AIPAC avowed it took no stand on the appointment, reports confirm it leaned on key senators and later boasted that Obama was a “pushover.” In a fiery rejoinder to his critics, Freeman noted, “This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.”
Palestinians are correct to wonder how Americans could be so unresponsive to their abuse at the hands of a U.S. ally. What those in the Middle East fail to grasp is that Americans do not know. How could they? Mainstream media is dominated by pro-Israelis and the Israel lobby politically dominates U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Freeman was correct in the mid-1990s when he described the lobby’s “virtual hammerlock on American foreign policy.” The only difference now is that Israeli influence has grown far more systemic. An admirer of Israel, Freeman cautions: “Right now it is doing itself in and taking us with it.” By seeking to induce the U.S. to wage war in Iran, Tel Aviv confirms its agenda has little to do with U.S. interests and everything to do with its expansionist goals for the region.
Self-censorship in both politics and media precludes Americans from knowing the perils that accompany the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Nor do Americans know the horrors that this alliance has imposed on Palestinians. Activist Alison Weir dedicated an aptly named website to educating Americans: If Americans Knew.
Those who know are rarities. Those who know and criticize Israeli policy are routinely smeared with the toxic charge of anti-Semitism. Following Israel’s assault on Gaza, a high profile intimidation campaign against an academic critic at the University of California worked its intended silencing effect on academic critics nationwide.
The behavior of this extremist nationalist enclave thrives in darkness, a condition that aptly describes U.S. media coverage of conditions in Palestine. Steadily more Americans are working to make Israel’s thuggish conduct transparent but the numbers are few and the challenges great.
The U.S. is branded abroad as a nation governed on the basis of informed consent. Yet pro-Israelis maintain a virtual lockdown on information and debate on Israel. The fight for Palestine must be waged and won in the U.S. where the appeasement of Israel relies on a lack of knowledge. If Americans knew, their support would be withdrawn. The U.S.-Israeli relationship will remain “special” only so long as Zionism can continue to operate in the shadows.
– An attorney, educator and former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Jeff Gates has advised governments of 35 nations. He is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.criminalstate.com.