The Israeli lobby groups in Washington will continue to make the rules. That’s what politics is all about.
The phrase “rules-based international order” is being used a lot by Washington’s representatives who wish to make clear, as indicated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that they consider the alternative “is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.”
No doubt his statement attracted adverse reaction among those in the many countries that have suffered from the crushing effects of U.S. military might, and where violence and instability are now prevalent (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya), but there is no possibility that President Biden will cease his push for the exercise of “global power”, which he has declared to be the “grounding wire of our global policy.”
Mr Biden continued that “we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values : defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity,” but demonstrated reluctance to uphold universal rights by refusing to endorse a UN Security Council Resolution that called for observation of his “most cherished democratic values.” On May 17, as reported by the Times of Israel, fourteen of the Council’s fifteen members expressed “grave concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties, and called for de-escalation of the situation, cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, especially children.”
Rejection of a resolution calling for “respect for international humanitarian law” is not consistent with Washington’s intention to abide by the “rules-based international order” which is apparently the solution to all the world’s problems — providing the rules are not applied to Israel.
According to the United Nations, in half-a-century the United States has vetoed over fifty draft Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, thus ensuring that there is a far more violent and unstable Middle East than there otherwise would have been. Yet on May 7 Secretary Blinken gave a speech at the Security Council in which he said that “human rights and dignity must stay at the core of the international order.” He emphasised that “there are certain rights to which every person, everywhere, is entitled” and that “domestic jurisdiction doesn’t give any state a blank check to enslave, torture, disappear, ethnically cleanse their people, or violate their human rights in any other way.” All of these sentiments are laudable, but the U.S. government is selective in endorsing and applying international law, and Mr Blinken actually admitted that “some of our actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based order and led others to question whether we are still committed to it. Rather than take our word for it, we ask the world to judge our commitment by our actions.”
The Palestinians are indeed questioning Washington’s commitment to the rules-based order, and they and much of the rest of the world (including all fifteen other members of the Security Council) are judging the Biden Administration accordingly.
It is regrettably apparent that President Biden and his appointees and associates are unrelentingly opposed to criticism of Israel for its violations of human rights and dignity. There is no possibility that Mr Biden will take firm action to prevent Israel from taking whatever action it wishes in order to subjugate the Palestinians. To be sure, the random rocketing of southern Israel by the Hamas organisation is reprehensible in the extreme, and even though it has done little damage and caused a tiny number of fatalities (12, compared with 248 Palestinian deaths), it can in no way be recognised as legal.
The Palestinians of Gaza and in all the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands are subjected to repression and their overall treatment is entirely inconsistent with Mr Biden’s no doubt sincere desire to spread Washington’s “most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.” Even if he wanted to endorse Security Council draft Resolutions that are critical of Israel it would be difficult to do so after Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, declared on May 19 that he “especially appreciated the support of the President of the United States, our friend Joe Biden, for the right of self-defence of the State of Israel.”
In the 2020 election cycle, Mr Biden received political donations totalling $3,249,542 from pro-Israeli groups which gave $17,883,553 to the Democratic Party as a whole, including such amounts as $701,688 to Senator Jon Ossoff and $648,957 to Senator Antone Melton-Meaux. It is difficult to see how any legislator who received such generous contributions could be critical of the country in whose cause the money was provided — and the supporters of Israel in the U.S. are open about their objectives.
The Mission Statement of the organisation Pro-Israel America includes the aim of “Promoting and supporting the election of pro-Israel candidates to federal office, regardless of party” and it is interesting to consider what indignation would be expressed if supporters of some other countries had made a similar pronouncement. In a piece about allegations of Russian “interference” in the 2020 elections in the New York Times of March 16, it was stated that “Besides Russia, Iran and other countries also sought to sway the election, the [official intelligence] report said.” But there isn’t a word about Israel’s meddling by money.
The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, issued a statement declaring that “Foreign malign influence is an enduring challenge facing our country. These efforts by U.S. adversaries seek to exacerbate divisions and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.” But the Pro-Israel America grouping does exactly this, and announced that it had had an “outsized impact in the 2020 Congressional elections, securing a strong base of support on both sides of the aisle for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” being instrumental in sending “70 pro-Israel champions” to Congress.
There are no rules and order detectable in that example of dabbling in U.S. politics, but the Director of National Intelligence obviously does not consider that the Pro-Israel America organisation — which is only one of twenty such Israel-supporting political pressure groups — is obviously intent on “exacerbating divisions… in our democratic institutions.”
On May 22 the situation in occupied Palestine was well-described in the New York Times whose reporters wrote that “Palestinians from all walks of life routinely experience exasperating impossibilities and petty humiliations, bureaucratic controls that force agonizing choices, and the fragility and cruelty of life under military rule, now in its second half-century.” And when the cruelty surges, and the Palestinians are goaded to retaliation, there is all-out violence as there has been recently. As one Palestinian told the Times, “We can’t take an M-16 and go kill every settler. All we have are those stones. A bullet can kill you instantly. A little stone won’t do much. But at least I’m sending a message.”
The message to President Biden is that there must be rules and order in Israel and its illegally occupied Palestinian territories and that his statements and policies are not consistent with establishment of justice. It cannot be forgotten that he once declared “I am a Zionist” and that, as noted above, he got over three million dollars from U.S. supporters of Israel and its policies as regards the persecution of Palestinians.
Mr Biden says he is intent on “defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity,” but as Stratfor noted on May 22, “President Biden has chosen not to prioritize the decades-long struggle that has defied multiple attempts by his predecessors to bring about peace.” So Washington is sitting on the fence, which isn’t a good posture from which to try to demonstrate affinity for a “rules-based international order.” Israel-Palestine will again erupt in savagery and more innocent lives will be destroyed. But the Israeli lobby groups in Washington will continue to make the rules. That’s what politics is all about.