Exit Strategies

The Great Israel Hustle


In last week’s address on U.S. Middle East policy, President Obama finally unveiled his radical plans to betray Israel. Thankfully, Republican leaders and their AIPAC handlers are onto the administration’s game. They’ve sounded the alarm that Obama is throwing “our only democratic ally in the region” under a runaway bus packed with freedom-hating Islamo-Nazis. So what are the details of this malefic design? The president’s speech outlines the main elements:

  • Reaffirmation of “unshakeable” U.S. security guarantees to Israel.
  • Warning the Palestinians against a bid for statehood at the UN General Assembly in September.
  • The two-state solution: “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people”.
  • A challenge to Fatah on bringing Hamas to the negotiating table and White House insistence that the new Palestinian state be non-militarized.

Under these conditions, it’s only a matter of time before Iranian panzers make their final drive to the shores of the Mediterranean! Of course, the greatest point of contention in the matter was Obama’s call for Israel and the Palestinians to establish borders circa 1967. There is nothing terribly new about this demand, as both the Clinton and Bush II administrations conducted talks under the same basic framework. Washington’s support for Israeli-Palestinian frontiers roughly matching those before the Six Day War has merely become more explicit.

Obama issued this requirement not in expectation of immediate Israeli compliance, but as a shift in rhetoric and a way to maintain relevance. U.S. regional strategy is set on harnessing popular unrest in the Arab world, and posing as a fair-minded arbiter between Tel Aviv and the Palestinians is deemed savvy public diplomacy. Washington faces a wide array of challenges from Egypt and Tunisia to Syria and Bahrain, with each situation shaping how its influence will be projected. A superficial toning-down of the relationship with Israel is necessary for a veneer of credibility with the Arab street. U.S. policymakers might even hope that the occasional spat between Benjamin Netanyahu and his American interlocutors shows the Muslim masses how the Empire understands their concerns and aspirations.

Realities on the ground between Israelis and Palestinians will not change because of Obama’s gestures, and Netanyahu has made clear that Israel will continue business as usual with settlement expansion. To neutralize opposition claims that he is jeopardizing the alliance with America, he’ll leverage an extensive and formidable influence network right in Washington. The Likud PM is secure in his freedom of action thanks to the unswerving loyalty of the U.S. Congress, as facilitated by organizations like JINSA and AIPAC[1]. Israel will not only defy its patron, but will likely extract further concessions and technology transfers in addition to the $3 billion in military aid it already receives each year. And Obama will play along to avoid further arousing the wrath of the Lobby- after all, elections are around the corner.

It is Republicans who stand to benefit most from the President’s speech; they immediately sensed an opportunity for new sources of 2012 campaign funds. In their heated denunciations of Obama’s treachery toward Israel, presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich are looking to cash in on disenchanted Jewish donors who would have normally backed the Democratic Party. The neoconservatives will also use this hysteria-for-profit scheme to reassert control over GOP Evangelicals, for whom Zionism is a sacred cause. The enthusiasm of rank-and-file movement conservatives for the State of Israel is matched only by the contempt shown them by Lobby luminaries. It is easy to sympathize with an ordinary Israeli concerned with the security of his home and family. What’s more difficult to fathom is the devotion of so many American Christians to elites bent on destroying every last trace of traditional faith and culture in our land.

Adhering to the custom of his predecessors, Obama presented a roadmap to nowhere disconnected from the realities of both the Levant and Capitol Hill. Yet its entire purpose was not in implementation, but political theatre. The White House plays at balancing between Israel and the Palestinians to exploit and direct Arab revolutionary sentiment, and the Republican opposition chases after money previously unavailable. Both are pledged to upholding the integrity of an ethnically Jewish state, all the while prosecuting wars for universal democracy and presiding over the dissolution of the West. Our imperial sunset is proving far from beautiful, and the tribunes of the people have only shown themselves able practitioners of the world’s oldest profession.

[1] J Street and the ADL approved of Obama’s plan.