On December 8 the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, tweeted that Washington “will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly” which was an insulting rejection of international reaction to Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. She did not mention the unpalatable fact, reported by the New York Times, that the UN Security Council “has adopted a number of resolutions, dating back 50 years, aimed in part at preventing Israel from claiming sovereignty over all of the holy city.”
In 1968 the world instructed Israel, by UNSC Resolution 252, to annul actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem, “including expropriation of land and properties thereon” and to “rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action” in regard to the city. It could not be more clear that Israel’s current actions continue to add to its flagrant illegalities of decades.
Exactly a year ago, the Security Council’s Resolution 2334 unequivocally condemned Israel for building yet more settlements in Jerusalem and other occupied territories because construction “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution.”
Only a few minutes after this Resolution, President-elect Trump, due to enter the White House a month later, angrily tweeted that “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.” We had been given fair warning that the new American President would ensure that the Middle East policy of the United States, always pro-Israel, would crash into top gear and destroy all hopes that a peaceful solution could be reached about the appalling situation in Israel’s colonies. Trump would declare Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.
Trump at the Wall in Jerusalem on 22 May 2017
As with so many important matters of international policy, Trump rode roughshod over the hopes and aspirations of yet more millions of people and scornfully ignored the entire world, with the exception of one country. He told Netanyahu in February that “I’d like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit,” which was an absurd and meaningless statement. He knew perfectly well that Netanyahu and the Zionists would continue their policy of illegal occupation and persecution, and now they’re going to go at full speed.
As noted by the analyst Jonathan Freedland, “The Old City of Jerusalem contains the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest mosque in Islam, to say nothing of its enormous significance to Christians, meaning that even the slightest move there is felt by billions.”
The only people who support Trump’s deliberately disruptive decision are, as described by the Washington Post, “mostly anti-Islam European leaders holding little political power.” They include the president of the Czech Republic and two of Europe’s most rabidly bigoted right-wing extremists, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands and Hans-Christian Strache of Austria’s Freedom Party.
Trump’s malevolent provocation has been condemned most forcefully, including in the United Nations where Britain, France, Sweden, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement outside the council’s chambers condemning their American ally’s change of position, saying it was “not in line with Security Council resolutions and was unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”
Jerusalem December 8, 2017
The strange thing, however, is lack of condemnation within the United States, especially as a Brookings Institution survey released on 1 December found that 63 per cent of Americans are against the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem and only 31 per cent in favour. A handful of legislators criticised Trump, but as reported by Israelʼs Haaretz newspaper, although there some Democrats disagreed, it was apparent that “members of the Republican Party overwhelmingly expressed support for the move”. Brookings, moreover, found that only 34 per cent of Americans thought their government should “lean towards Israel” in “mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Which leads to the matter of Israeli influence in the United States. If over 60 per cent of American citizens are opposed to the Trump decision, how can it be that their elected legislators are so much in favour?
The answer lies in the money.
Open Secrets records that “The Republican Jewish Coalition spent $80,000 lobbying in 2016, and J Street [an Israel lobby] spent $400,000. But topping them both was the longtime giant in the arena, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], which poured more than $3.6 million into lobbying efforts for the year.” The amounts of money donated by pro-Israeli groups and individuals to politicians seeking election are immense. Legislators have been bought by people supporting Israel, and they are not going to raise any questions about Israel’s blatant violations of UN Security Council resolutions. Of equal significance, these pro-Israeli proxies were interfering with the electoral process of the United States.
During presidential and Congressional election campaigns, AIPAC and other agents working on behalf of Israel were attempting to influence candidates at the behest of a foreign power. And they succeeded — as demonstrated by the lack of protest in Washington about Israel’s flagrant violations of international law.
It is therefore not surprising that in January it was reported that “the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan measure that rebukes the United Nations for criticising Israeli settlements.” The House resolution “declares unwavering support for Israel and insists that the United States reject any future UN actions that are similarly ‘one-sided and anti-Israel’.”
But little critical is said in the US mainstream media about reasons for the unconditional support for Israel on the part of the legislators in Washington. And it is not only Congress and Trump who so ardently support Israel, for, as the Jerusalem Post reported on December 12, Vice President Pence was “one of the most enthused advocates of the [Jerusalem decision] — one warmly welcomed by the Israeli government. His trip there [from 20-23 December] will be a triumphant tour and defence of the policy from a true believer who has supported recognition of Jerusalem for many years.” Before becoming vice president, as a Republican representative for Indiana, the true believer Congressman Pence scored $206,192 in donations from pro-Israel sources.
As reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in March 2017, when Vice President Pence spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual convention, attended by 18,000 AIPAC activists, he was lavish in his praise of Israel. Not only that, but he recognised the massive influence that Israel had exercised over the 2016 elections and declared “Thanks to the support of so many in this room, President Trump won a historic victory. . . The United States will no longer allow the United Nations to be used as a forum for invective against Israel.”
America’s mainstream media has been devoting enormous energy and time into examining alleged interference in the 2016 elections by other countries. But it is intriguing that it doesn’t inquire into the impact that Israel has had and continues to have on the democratic processes of the United States. It seems that unconditional support can be purchased.