One of the central claims of Israel’s advocates is that supporting Israel is in the U.S. interest. There can be no greater farce today, when our country has bombed yet another Arab country to support Israel’s war on Gaza, and people are burning the American flag at demonstrations.
Our support for Israel is plainly isolating the U.S. World opinion despises the Israeli genocide and wants it to end. South Africa’s argument at the Hague that never before have people live-streamed their own extermination resonates with anybody of conscience anywhere. Yemen’s Ansar Allah (commonly known as the “Houthis”) speak for a great swath of humanity when they demand: End the assault on Gaza and deliver medicine to Palestinians.
And while establishment U.S. columnists argue that Antony Blinken’s pathetic efforts to hold the Israelis back expose the limits of American power, the world knows better: the feeble lip service by a superpower exposes the utter subservience of America to a brutal racist regime. (And yes, world opinion deplores the Hamas atrocities of October 7 — but they ended after a day).
“[T]he majority of the world is calling for an end to the violence and mass human suffering, and the need for accountability,” Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib said two days ago. “As one of the countries that has agreed to the Genocide Convention, the U.S. must stop trying to discredit and undermine this case and the international legal system it claims to support.”
It was possible to argue that American “interests” — in the cold realist meaning of world power and material gain, interests that even progressive Americans invoke — were served by Israel in the past. This was the big argument of Israel supporters during the Cold War. Israel was our supposed aircraft carrier in the Middle East. It was on our side in the geopolitical struggle between the Soviet Union and the U.S. for material influence.
But the Cold War ended, and no interests are served today by aligning with Israel. There is no U.S. interest in having a world war — which is now threatened by a crazed and militant nation with nuclear weapons that wants a confrontation with Iran. There is no U.S. interest in seeing the Middle East turned into a broad battle zone and countries being destabilized as they were during the American invasions of post-9/11 (which also did not serve U.S. interest). There is no U.S. interest in backing an apartheid state, as countless human rights groups have labeled Israel. There’s no U.S. interest in having our claims to support human rights made a complete mockery — in the extermination of Palestinian families and children without a peep of protest from our leaders, just hypocritical comments by the State Department. Who can denounce the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs or the Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians with a straight face today?
No, Gaza is a shambles for American power. American power is serving one aim right now: to prop up Israel as it ethnically cleanses Gaza. This hateful legacy goes right on Blinken’s tombstone.
Even the Saudis are angry at the United States, the dictatorship that we had on board for normalization with Israel just a few months ago, in our purported goal of stabilizing the Middle East.
That normalization campaign was itself a farce, which Hamas exposed: normalization violated U.S. policy of a two-state solution. Whatever you think of the two-state solution — and I have said it was a cruel joke for many years — it was avowed U.S. policy. The Palestinians were to get a state, on just 22 percent of their historical land, but a state with sovereignty and rights. There was a big ceremony at the White House 30 years ago. People won Nobel Prizes. It was a solemn vow. And for decades, the United States did absolutely nothing to follow through on the promise even as it acted as Israel’s lawyer, and Israel did all it could to eliminate the possibility of a Palestinian state. Destroying Palestinian rights and property. Pushing Palestinians into cantons. Transferring more and more Jews into Palestinian territory. All this went on with the support of the United States.
U.S. backing of occupation made Americans unsafe by sowing violent hatred. Osama Bin Laden’s number-two reason for his attacks in 2001 was our support for Israeli occupation, though officials and the Israel lobby denied it.
Lately, that same foreign-policy establishment has sought to brush the problem under the rug by bribing Arab dictators to make peace for Israel and overlook Palestinian demands. That worked until Hamas acted on October 7 — and Arab leaders have again called for Palestinian freedom.
The two-state solution was hardly the first broken promise to the Palestinians by the world. As South Africa reminds us at the International Court of Justice, Palestinians were promised a state, an even bigger one, back in 1947. And the world did nothing to follow through on partition (even as many other peoples were granted self-determination).
No wonder the Middle East has been a “dangerous neighborhood” for 75 years, as Israeli propaganda puts it. Not because Muslims and Arabs are any different from any other neighbors. No, because Palestinians have been forced out of their homes for generation after generation without any compensation, and massacred repeatedly, and that persecution is not acceptable to the Palestinians and to their many friends. The Middle East will always be a dangerous neighborhood — Ansar Allah and the Iranians and South Africans and Irish all tell us — until Palestinians have dignity and freedom. All the bunkerbusters and tank missiles and white phosphorus shells and New York Times pundits who extol Israel cannot end this problem. Only Palestinian freedom from occupation, persecution, and massacre will do that.
It has never been in the U.S. interest for Palestinians to be oppressed. The State Department said so in 1947: We will see generations of unrest if the U.S. recognizes a Jewish state on Arab lands. We will reverse FDR’s promise to King Abdul Aziz not to establish a Jewish state, we will lose access to Arab oil, which is crucial to the U.S. economy. George Marshall, Truman’s secretary of state, threatened to resign over that recognition.
The warnings came to pass: There have been decades of unrest. The two-state solution was the great compromise that was supposed to end that turmoil. A tremendous concession by the Palestinians that Edward Said and Ali Abunimah wept over — Said, who was ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, Abunimah, whose family was ethnically cleansed from south of Jerusalem. But the Israelis were against the two-state solution even more than Said and Abunimah, and they had the power to destroy it — and did. Till Hamas broke out in violent protest on October 7.
And the U.S., in utter subservience to the Israelis, has supported the genocide since and made a joke of the U.S. image, and of democracy, too. Because Americans overwhelmingly support a ceasefire. But our leaders refuse to.
In 2015, Obama said only Israel was against the Iran deal, and it would be an abrogation of his constitutional duty to side with Israel. Obama said the Iran deal was in the U.S. interest and the interest of world peace. But since then, Trump and Biden have abrogated their constitutional duty in service of Israel. Trump destroyed the Iran deal, and Biden did nothing to revive it. They have sided with Israel in all its local and regional battles — against the Palestinians and the Iranians. Rather than being a superpower balancing a local conflict, the U.S. has thrown in with a racist, murderous state that all the world can see is racist and murderous.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem caused massive violence. Efforts at Saudi normalization caused massive violence, too.
And now the U.S. is risking world war to support a genocide by a deranged nuclear power. Anybody can see this. The South Africans. Ansar Allah. American progressives and conservatives.
There is no U.S. interest in supporting racist genocide. Let us celebrate the American leaders who speak the truth at this moment, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush, to begin with. Ceasefire now.