Click here to go to the Home Page The United States, Israel & Very Little of the Rest of the World, United - Left Margin - By Carl Bloice - Editorial Board

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There have been a lot of foreign guests in Israel recently. Many of them had their way paid. The list includes a lot of notables or wannabe notables, including about 20 percent of the members of the United States Congress. BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?One visitor who received major attention during his late summer junket has been none other than our own rightwing preacher – broadcaster Glenn Beck. He was accompanied by “personages identified with the Republican Party’s extreme right and a group of Christian Zionist evangelical leaders,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

“Beck never misses an opportunity to speak ill of U.S. President Barack Obama and to challenge his leadership,” said the Post, editorially. “His television program fell out of favor even with rightist Fox Broadcasting, which took Beck off the air. A few weeks ago, Beck received publicity for comparing the young Norwegians who were killed by an extreme right-winger to the Hitler Youth. Hundreds of rabbis in the United States, from all streams of Judaism, have expressed disgust with Beck’s incitement on the air against Jewish financier George Soros and Jewish intellectuals ‘accused’ of harboring liberal, leftist views.”

The newspaper noted that, “people from Israel’s ruling party, Likud, foremost among them Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon” and members of the Israeli parliament “have joined the circle of Beck’s fans.” Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat was among the speakers at Beck’s “support event” rally in that city.

Caroline Glick, a former assistant foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, with numerous ties to neo-conservative circles in the US, and now deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, labored mightily to convince readers of Back’s importance: “Unlike the leftist public intellectuals such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who are celebrated and obsessively covered by the Israeli media, Beck exerts real influence on public opinion in the US. His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the US has such influence.” Wow.

Meanwhile, 81 congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, traveled to Israel last month. Most were new to Congress, including half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office last year.

On August 22, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a separate meeting with the delegation of visiting GOP Congressmembers, headed by Cantor and Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price.

“The timing of the visits by the GOP contingent and an even larger number of Democratic legislators could not have been better for the Netanyahu government,” said the Post, which said attention was drawn to the recent conflict on the Israel-Egyptian border that “highlighted for the Congressmen the dangers of an independent Palestinian Authority.”

Of course, that’s wrong. There already is an independent Palestinian authority. What is meant here is the intention of the Palestinians to take the ongoing conflict to the United Nations. That’s what the Netanyahu regime sees as a threat.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is slated to present the Palestinian bid for UN membership in person to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the opening of the 66th session of the General Assembly September 20 in New York. The Palestinian statehood proposal has the full backing of the Arab League.

There has been scant notice of the U.S. politicians’ pilgrimage to Tel Aviv in the major U.S. media. Not surprising; the whole affair is diplomatically unprecedented and politically a bit unseemly.

The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which is linked to the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), the major pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington, picked up the tab for the visits. “This is an extraordinary situation, wrote Alison Weir on last week. “No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to its favorite country.”

In a related development, according to the Jerusalem Post:

“The Israel Project will be bringing a group of 18 Washington-based ambassadors from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America to Israel on Monday for a weeklong tour and high-level meetings. Like the congressmen, they will also go to Ramallah, for a meeting with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.”

Among the countries represented on the trip are Albania, Barbados, Belize, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Macedonia, St. Lucia and Uganda.

“Some of these countries have been mentioned by officials in Jerusalem as likely candidates to either vote against, or at least abstain, when the vote on Palestinian statehood comes before the UN in September,” said the newspaper.

Behind all the seeming bravado coming out of Tel Aviv these days one senses desperation rather than confidence. The Netanyahu government and its allies at home and abroad are certainly pulling out all stops to try to prevent something their supporters are trying to convince the world won’t change anything at all. But it will.

The moment of truth approaches. The Palestinians are going to the UN seeking recognition. There was a time when the Israeli government could count on an overwhelmingly vote against their policies on resolutions vetoed by Washington and a few client states in Latin America. Gone are the days. Last week, Honduras and El Salvador endorsed Palestinian statehood and said they support the PA’s bid at the United Nations. European governments are divided and wavering. Perhaps the most the Israeli expansionists can hope for is unwavering support from the U.S. joined by one or two small indebted Pacific islands.

The reason for the alarm in Tel Aviv and Washington is simple. If the U.S. votes no in the General Assembly, or exercises its veto in the Security Council, the two countries will stand sharply isolated amongst the nations of the world. This will be particularly vexing against the backdrop of the popular, democratically oriented uprisings sweeping the Middle East and Africa.

The U.S. could and should vote with the rest of the world to support the Palestinians and thus signal agreement with the long-standing international consensus regarding Palestinian statehood. But it won’t.

It’s an election year here and those politicians being charmed on their trip to Israel are intending to make certain that such remains the case. Worse than that, one of the Obama’s Administration’s chief diplomats, Daniel Rubinstein, the US consul general in Jerusalem, last week warned of “punitive measures” should the Palestinians go ahead with the statehood bid at the General Assembly. That threat was openly reiterated by the visiting U.S. politicians. (In a truly strange development, a deputy spokesman for the consulate confirmed that he told Israeli media August 28 that Rubinstein’s reported comments are “not an accurate portrayal of the U.S. position”).

However, the expansionist forces in Israeli want much more from Washington, including its use of diplomatic and economic force to persuade other governments to oppose the statehood bid, forthright support for the Netanyahu government’s stance, and an end to criticism of settlement expansion. They also want the U.S. President to take back his suggestion that an eventual peace accord be based on the 1967 armistice lines.

Just in case the White House didn’t get the message, the website Politico noted that the visit to Israel by the 81 Congressmembers “offers a glimpse into a simmering foreign policy fight that could unify the two parties and cause headaches for the White House.”

Meanwhile, rightwing Israeli attacks on President Obama have, in recent weeks, become ferocious.

“Barack Obama is solidifying his status as the worst president in American history,” wrote Yigal Walt an editor at “The leader who promised us a bright future of peace and fraternity is leading the American empire – and the rest of the world with it – into a dark abyss. Ever since he settled into the Oval Office, Obama has been hopping from one disaster to the next, making every possible mistake, boosting enemies and disregarding allies while ruining everything he touches in the process. To our regret, the heaviest price – for the time being at least – is being paid by residents of the Middle East.”

After attacking Obama, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein” and “a living and breathing nightmare” for failure to act correctly as regards Iran, and accusing him of cozying up to “a new buddy, Bashar Assad,” Walt struck a chord frequently sounded these days in the rightwing media: “So when did Obama act? Mubarak! The Egyptian ruler, possibly the wisest, most moderate Mideastern leader safeguarded the peace treaty with Israel, hunted down Islamic radicals, counter-balanced the Shiite Iran, steadfastly maintained his ties with the US, and turned our crazed region into a slightly saner place,” he wrote. “He was no angel, certainly not towards his own people, but was, or is there, a better realistic option?

“Yet, there of all places, Obama the brilliant diplomat opted to intervene aggressively, openly humiliated Mubarak and ultimately presented him with an explicit threat while the latter was struggling to maintain his rule.”

“And we haven’t even mentioned the economy yet, where Obama appears poised to lead his country into what appears to be a devastating recession. Only recently he won the dubious honor of being the first president to see America’s credit rating lowered while in office,” wrote Walt.

Walt’s commentary was reprinted far and wide last week by numerous rightwing internet outlets in the U.S.

The Netanyahu government refuses to end the occupation of Palestinian land seized in war and held in defiance of international law. That still lies at the heart of the conflict in the region and Israeli opposition to any form of Palestinian statehood. Now, the U.S. appears to be engaged in a full court press to head it off. “Washington and Tel Aviv are putting pressure to hamper the Arab-Palestinian effort (to seek UN recognition), without coming up with a serious alternative,” an unnamed Arab diplomat told AFP last week.

Early last month, a “senior Western diplomat” held a special briefing for Israeli journalists in Tel Aviv. According to the newspaper Haaretz, “the diplomat” told them “Cooperation between the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority will be harmed if the PA goes through with its plan to seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.”

“If the PA will go to the UN in September, it will make it harder for us to have the same relations with them as we had before when it comes to aid and security training,” the diplomat said. “We want that to continue that cooperation but it will make it harder for us. It is easier to work together as partners.”

No one from the European Union would ever make such a statement.

Last December, the EU foreign policy council expressed disappointment that Israel was proceeding with territorial expansion, saying, “Our views on settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.” The council said it “reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state.”

China’s Foreign Ministry said two weeks ago that country’s special envoy on the Middle East, had informed Palestinian leaders in a meeting in Ramallah that Beijing will support the proposed UN recognition.

The Spanish government also recently expressed support for an independent Palestinian state, saying it hopes a meeting of European Union foreign ministers this Friday and Saturday in Sopot, Poland will bring progress toward its recognition. The EU’s Ashton will meet with Netanyahu the previous day. Israeli sources now say they expect no more than four European countries to vote with Washington and Tel Aviv. This probably explains the hurried phone consult between Obama and Chancellor Merkel August 27 when the President had interrupted his vacation because of hurricane Irene.

Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Trinidad Jimenez told the newspaper El Pais, “There’s the feeling that now is the time to do something, to give the Palestinians the hope that a state could become reality,” Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a healthcare union. Click here to contact Mr. Bloice.

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Sept 8, 2011 - Issue 440
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