Leave it to linguist Noam Chomsky to provide a precise description of President Obama’s latest diplomatic failure.
Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month freeze on settlement expansion—excluding Arab East Jerusalem—should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in US diplomatic history.
Few observers were fooled by the “stop the settlements” offer, least of all Noam Chomsky, who can smell a linguistic rat faster than most of us.
Chomsky has been a teacher of linguists since 1955 as the Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT. He is also a consistent critic of American imperialism.
In his analysis of the Obama offer, Chomsky does not limit Zionist influence on US politics to the Israel Lobby. He looks for the money trail.
That gift of $3 billion for fighter jets is “another taxpayer grant to the U.S. arms industry, which gains doubly from programs to expand the militarization of the Middle East.”
Chomsky knows that an American emotional attachment to the state of Israel, while an important factor, is hardly enough to push US foreign policy decisions into two wars and a possible third war against Iran.
U.S. arms manufacturers are subsidized not only to develop and produce advanced equipment for a state that is virtually part of the U.S. military-intelligence establishment but also to provide second-rate military equipment to the Gulf states—currently a precedent-breaking $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which is a transaction that also recycles petrodollars to an ailing U.S. economy.
Israeli and U.S. high-tech civilian industries are closely integrated. It is small wonder that the most fervent support for Israeli actions comes from the business press and the Republican Party, the more extreme of the two business-oriented political parties.
Martin Indyk was born in London, England, but grew up and was educated in Australia. He immigrated to the United States and became an American citizen in 1993.
Recently, he wrote in the Financial Times:
Few seemed to even notice when the Obama administration quietly announced this week that it had ended the effort. Washington’s focus has shifted to a more promising negotiation with Congress over renewing tax cuts.
Israel has moved on to the next crisis – a police sex scandal here, a natural disaster there. In the West Bank, life is good: 11 per cent growth, low unemployment and Palestinian police maintaining order.
Even in Gaza, a new normalcy is taking hold, albeit under repressive Hamas rule. Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran still swear they will liberate Palestine through violence, but in the meantime they do nothing to upset the current calm.
Life in the West Bank “is good” and “normalcy” has returned to Gaza? What would lead an experienced diplomat to reach a conclusion this unrelated to the reality of life in the West Bank and Gaza?
Over the years Indyk has shown a strong affinity for appointed positions that have enabled him to be a good friend to Israel. He served as US ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration.
His Wikipedia entry concludes that Indyk “is arguably best known as one of the lead U.S. negotiators at the Camp David talks.” These were the talks that led to the “generous offer” Israel and the US made to Yasir Arafat, an offer that was neither generous nor an authentic offer.
Indyk has served a deputy research director for AIPAC. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center in Washington.
In his FT analysis, Indyk concluded, “WikiLeaks has now revealed the world’s worst kept secret: Arab leaders care more about Iran’s threat than about the Palestinian cause,” repeating the conventional US-Israel spin that WikiLleaks “proves” the need to attack Iran.
Arab leaders may support such an attack, but the Arab public does not. Chomsky writes:
The Iranian threat is not military, as the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence have emphasized. Were Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capacity, the purpose would be deterrent—presumably to ward off a U.S.-Israeli attack.
The real threat, in Washington’s view, is that Iran is seeking to expand its influence in neighboring countries “stabilized” by U.S. invasion and occupation.
Whatever the ruling dictatorships may prefer, Arabs in a recent Brookings poll rank the major threats to the region as Israel (88 percent), the United States (77 percent) and Iran (10 percent).
Noam Chomsky has written that his goal as a linguist, “is to find the principles common to all languages that enable people to speak creatively and freely”.
He also believes the goal of language is to enable us to find the “human essence” in one another. A worthy goal, of course, but where will we discover sufficient open dialogue among leaders willing to bring “human essence” to our current political situation?
We could begin with those 26 former European Union leaders who have just issued a letter that “urged the union to impose sanctions on Israel for continuing to build settlements on occupied Palestinian territory”.
The former leaders said Israel “like any other state”, should be made to feel “the consequences” and pay a price for breaking international law.
The letter sent to European governments and EU institutions, asks EU foreign ministers to reiterate that they “will not recognise any changes to the June 1967 boundaries and clarify that a Palestinian state should be in sovereign control over territory equivalent to 100% of the territory occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem”.
We may look also to those younger Israelis who no longer want to live in a country that is deliberately isolating itself from the world community.
Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, writes:
Israel’s increased isolation from the world community has begun to lead young Israeli citizens to leave Israel and move to the US and European countries.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of Israelis applying annually for permanent residence in the United States doubled between 2000 and 2009.
Former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak both have adult children living here. And it’s not just the U.S. An Israeli friend recently told me that there are so many young Israelis in Berlin (Berlin!) that when he goes there and runs into acquaintances from Tel Aviv, they don’t even act surprised.
There is also an increasing number of world governments willing to support the formation of a Palestine state unilaterally, unrelated to the “peace talks” that have ended because of Israeli intransigence.
Press-TV reported on the International Middle East Media Center website:
Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, revealed on Tuesday [December 7] that France welcomes the formation of a Palestinian state, becoming the first European country to do so.
Over the past week, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have all announced that they recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
More than 100 countries, mostly from across Asia and Africa, have so far recognized an independent Palestine within its ’67 borders. Other emerging economic powers such as China and India have already done so.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington Friday night, where she called for a “clean start” in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Settlements, she said, should be dealt with as part of efforts to determine the borders of a future Palestinian state. Her remarks, reported by the Palestine Monitor, were not encouraging to Palestinians.
Clinton said that the Obama Administration intends to treat the settlement issue as part of the wider border dispute, which strongly suggests “that certain settlements, and thus large swathes of Palestinian land, will be incorporated into Israel following any future peace deal.”
Also of concern to the Palestinians was Clinton’s comment, “we will deepen our support of the Palestinians’ state-building efforts, because we recognize that a Palestinian state, achieved through negotiations, is inevitable”.
The Palestine Monitor wrote: “If the past 43 years have taught us anything, it is that a Palestinian state through negotiations is anything but inevitable.”
Clinton’s Saban speech is not hopeful. Instead, she is is practicing the anti-freedom George Bush policy which Noam Chomsky exposed in the title of his 1992 book, Deterring Democracy.
The picture at the top is from The Palestine Monitor.