Watching Hollywood movies and reading popular American fiction, you would be forgiven to think the US always stands with the weak and aids the underdog against the powerful and unjust. Growing up on the staple diet of westerns and later picking American literature as my major at university, I took this utopian view of the ‘land of the free’ rather seriously.
Although I am cured of that heady, hopeless idealism now, I still tend to believe America isn’t entirely a lost cause. The Americans as a people have many redeeming qualities and are largely fair, reasonable and believe in a just world. This is why the blind, unquestioning US support for Israel consistently ignoring its crimes and injustices against a long enslaved and persecuted people seems so absurd to the rest of the world.
With the battle for the White House being less than two months away and stakes getting ever higher, the Republicans and Democrats are once again outdoing each other in grovelling and demonstrating their fealty to Israel.
If Mitt Romney became the first candidate to hold a fundraiser in a foreign country openly seeking financial support from Israeli moneybags while badmouthing Palestinians and promising to hit Iran, the Democrats took the jockeying for the Zionist support to a whole new level by declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at its national convention where Barack Obama was formally nominated to rerun for the top job.
For the uninitiated, the wording that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” which had been part of the 2008 party platform was initially dropped, raising the hackles of Israel’s friends in the party. Already living with the slur of being a ‘closet Muslim’, Obama quietly acquiesced to restore the wording that goes against Washington’s stated official position and the UN resolutions promising a negotiated settlement of the Jerusalem question.
Interestingly, the convention chairman put the motion on Jerusalem to a voice vote thrice, every time coming up with a divided house with many delegates voting against the move. Clearly, the majority support needed to pass the motion wasn’t there. Yet the motion was declared ‘passed’.
While the move is another example of the Israeli stranglehold over the US establishment, the fact that the Jerusalem resolution wasn’t unanimously adopted by the Democratic Party members is significant.
It shows that ordinary Americans are no longer comfortable and willing to go along the totally one-sided support to Israel overlooking its continuing occupation and subjugation of the Palestinians. The tide is clearly turning against Israel. Indeed, it turned long ago in the rest of the world, including in Europe. Repelled by the Israeli atrocities and intransigence over the past several decades and the matching helplessness of its victims, the world has been rallying behind the Palestinians like never before.
The movement against the Israeli Apartheid is now a global phenomenon, like the agitation against the South African Apartheid had become in its twilight years. The signs of this change are apparent now even in North America. The recent dramatic decision by the United Church of Canada to boycott the Israeli products and services has been followed by a similar move by the Presbyterian Church at its Pittsburgh convention. The age of Israel’s total impunity has come to an end, as Ramzy Baroud puts it.
These are unprecedented and heartening developments even though it may be a while before they turn into an American spring. Nevertheless, American politicians and the two leading parties cannot afford to ignore these signs.
And it’s not just on the question of Palestine that the ground is shifting. More and more voices are being raised against the way Israel has come to dominate, dictate and drive the US policies and agenda, practically making the reigning superpower fight its wars.
In recent days and weeks, as Israel turns the heat on Obama pushing him to take out Iran – just as it drove his predecessor to take out Iraq for the same disingenuous reasons – or pay the price in the November polls in the form of Jewish votes, thinking Americans on the left and right are coming forward to protest these cheap theatrics of America’s so-called ally and friend.
These include respectable voices such as former Republican presidential candidates Patrick Buchanan, Ron Paul and numerous others. Even Jewish columnists of the New York Times Tom Friedman and Roger Cohen are finding it difficult to defend the indefensible.
And it’s not just these opinion leaders; an overwhelming majority of Americans, as much as 70 percent, according to a new poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is against attacking Iran or joining an Israeli war on Tehran. Yet Netanyahu wants a US attack on Iran and he wants it now at the expense of America’s own security and interests!
As Buchanan puts it, “Bibi wants Tehran’s nuclear facilities obliterated. And he wants us to do it. How has Bibi gone about getting America to fight Israel’s war? He is warning, indeed threatening, that if we do not set a certain date for Iran to end enrichment of uranium, and assure Israel that we will attack Iran if it rejects our ultimatum, Israel will bomb Iran and start the war itself. Fail to give us assurances that you will attack Iran if Iran refuses to surrender its nuclear ‘capability’ Bibi is warning, and we will attack Iran, with all the consequences that will have for you, for us and for the Middle East. This is diplomatic extortion.”
It’s indeed more than diplomatic extortion. It’s old-fashioned blackmail and hijacking of the US foreign policy. Thanks to Israeli threats and pressure, Iran is already reeling under severe international sanctions on all fronts, resulting in the crippling of its trade and financial system and unprecedented hardship for its people.
Yet nothing short of total destruction of Iran, a la Iraq, would satisfy Israel. And Obama’s refusal to play the ball and his repeated warnings against a ‘unilateral’ Israeli strike coupled with the growing dissenting voices inside Israel including in his own cabinet are adding to Bibi’s frustration.
His outburst on Tuesday blasting Washington for refusing to set a deadline for Iran ‘action’ is unprecedented: “The world tells Israel: ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Truth be told, for all its bluff and bluster, if Israel were capable of taking out Tehran on its own, it would have done so long ago. Hence, the desperation to drag Washington into another catastrophic showdown with another Muslim nation.
No one should live under the illusion that this war of nerves will end if tomorrow Iran’s ayatollahs decide to scrap their nuclear programme and become good, peace-loving neighbours of Israel. This has nothing to do with Iran or its nuclear ambitions. It never had. The real issue at the heart of this whole circus is Israel’s own agenda and determination to perpetuate its hegemony, ruling the Middle East from the river to the sea.
Sitting over its mountain of nukes and other toys of mass destruction gifted by you know who, only Israel has the right to lord over the land that is home to three faiths and most of the world’s energy resources. It won’t tolerate anyone coming even remotely close to challenging its hegemony and brute power.
The question is: how long will the world remain hostage to Israel’s terror tactics? The US and Western powers that have pampered and protected it all these years owe an answer to the world community. For the Frankenstein that they created and fed all these years has become too powerful for their own good.
The writer is a commentator on Middle East and South Asian affairs. Email: aijaz.syed@hotmail. com