Pandering to Israel as part of the political process in the United States has become part of the DNA of both major parties.
The job of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations must have some kind of curse on it as it seems to attract a type of woman who seeks to prove her suitability by running up a tally of how many wars she can start and how many people she can kill. One recalls fondly Bill Clinton’s monstrous Madeleine Albright, who famously declared the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as “worth it” due to the sanctions that Washington had imposed and enforced. And then there was Barack Obama’s darling Samantha Power, who was the spokesperson for the completely unnecessary slaughter of Syrians and Libyans to bring them democracy. And, most recently, we have had Nikki Haley, who didn’t start her own war but kept the ones ongoing during her watch on the boil while also taking on the task of being the most strident defender of Israel’s war crimes.
And now we have Honest Joe Biden’s nominee to be the U.N. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She is predictably black and is a career diplomat who ended up as head of the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. Upon retirement in 2017, she took a position, predictably, with the Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington. The Albright in the name comes from Madeleine and the Group is where many Democratic Party establishment foreign policy types wind up. Thomas-Greenfield might not be a drama queen like Nikki Haley or evil incarnate like Albright or Samantha Power, but she demonstrated in her confirmation hearing before the Senate that she knows the lines she has to speak as well as anyone in Washington.
Thomas-Greenfield dutifully spouted the usual cant relating to the Palestinians, which means that she did not mention them at all and is completely indifferent to the gross violations of their human rights by Israel. In response to several queries from legislators about how she would work to fend off international criticism against Israeli policies, she unleashed an attack against the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement which criticizes Israel’s human rights record and urges people to support Palestinian rights by pressuring Israel’s economy through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. It deliberately eschews violence or punishing ordinary Israelis for the actions of their government and it’s economic approach is a tactic that was used successfully against the apartheid South African regime in the 1980s.
One assumes that Thomas-Greenfield, as a black American diplomat who was active when South Africa adopted majority rule, is fully aware of the fact that Israeli apartheid backed by an army of occupation that does not hesitate to shoot to kill is more pervasive than the South African version ever was. She may even be aware that what Israel does is driven by racism and amounts to genocide. Nevertheless, she told the Senators “[B.D.S.] verges on anti-Semitic, and it’s important that they not be allowed to have a voice at the U.N., and I intend to work against that… I look forward to standing with Israel, standing against the unfair targeting of Israel, the relentless resolutions proposed against Israel unfairly.” In short, Thomas-Greenfield sounded more than a little like Nikki Haley, who used to amuse the U.N. General Assembly with her homilies in defense of the Jewish state that culminated in U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, refugee agency (UNRWA), and its cultural organization (UNESCO) over claims that they all had an anti-Israel bias.
There should be no question but that the friends of Israel constitute the most powerful foreign policy lobby. It’s ability to shift policy in its favor in unmatched by any other organization that promotes the interests of a foreign nation at the expense of the United States itself. No other nation comes close to having the power to actually write legislation that is then approved by Congress while also influencing decision making in the White House. No other country avoids accountability for its actions either among politicians or in the media to anywhere near the same extent as Israel. If anyone doubts that that is true, it is only necessary to review the recent confirmation hearings of Biden appointees, where foreign policy discussions are limited to bashing China and Russia followed almost immediately by the question “And what have you done for Israel lately?”
Politicians are quite aware that giving the wrong answer on Israel can be fatal for one’s career. In many congressional districts the training of lawmakers begins early, with representatives of the hundreds of Israel Lobby affiliates interviewing potential candidates on their views relating to the Jewish state. In many cases, attempts are made to get possible candidates to sign statements affirming that they hold the correct views on Israel versus its neighbors. The sensitivity towards Israeli and Jewish issues must continue after one is elected, resulting in questions in public fora like confirmation hearings. It never hurts to advertise one’s loyalty to Israel early and often.
Questions about Israel inevitably also came up in the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Blinken is Jewish, a confirmed Zionist, and now heads a State Department where his deputy and political affairs chief are both Jewish women hardliners who basically share his views. Biden, Blinken and company advocate policies in the Middle East that are definitely pleasing to the Israeli government, such as de facto continuing a hard line with Iran.
In a press statement last year Blinken confirmed the outlines of the Biden Administration relationship with Israel as follows: “You can count on Joe Biden to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, to honor the bipartisanship traditions of U.S. support for Israel, to safeguard, not put at risk, Israel’s future as a Jewish, and democratic state. Joe Biden has spoken out strongly and stood strongly against the B.D.S. movement. He’s also been very clear that he would not tie military assistance to Israel to things like annexation or other decisions by the Israeli government with which we might disagree.”
In other words, Israel has a free hand to do whatever it wants and there will be no pushback from the Biden White House in terms of the only thing that matters – the billions of dollars in “military assistance” the Jewish state receives each year. Oh, and Blinken surely realizes that while Israel is Jewish by law it is ipso facto hardly democratic.
Blinken’s apparent first telephone call to a Foreign Secretary counterpart was to Gabi Ashkenazi of Israel. Their warm and fuzzy exchange was tweeted, with Blinken enthusing “Great speaking with @Gabi_Ashkenazi today to discuss the steadfast partnership between the U.S. and Israel. Our commitment to Israel’s security is sacrosanct, and I look forward to working with the Foreign Minister and others toward our common goals.” Ashkenazi replied “I had a warm call with @secBlinken & affirmed Israel’s commitment to the robust Israeli-US strategic partnership. I welcomed very much the POTUS commitment to IL security.”
The point is that pandering to Israel as part of the political process in the United States has become part of the DNA of both major parties. Trump was shameless in his gifts to the Jewish state all through his four years and Biden promises to deliver more of the same. But the really bad news for Americans is the fact that the wag the dog relationship with Israel ties the United States into failed policies in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. It is time for the federal government to stop focusing on doing favors for Israel and instead start talking about how the policies that mandate force projection in the Middle East to protect the Jewish state are not really working out very well for the American people. When that becomes clear to the public, change will come.