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Declaration of Independence From Israel

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    A Declaration of Independence From Israel Written by Chris Hedges Truthdig Wednesday, 04 July 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2007
      A Declaration of Independence From Israel
      Written by Chris Hedges
      Wednesday, 04 July 2007

      AP Photo/Hatem Moussa
      Armed Palestinian women burn Israeli and U.S. flags during a protest
      against Israel's operations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

      Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The
      country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973
      war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the
      Suez and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American
      military transport planes came to the rescue. They began landing
      every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost
      most of its heavy armor. By the time the war was over, the United
      States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid.

      The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil
      embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was
      perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system
      the United States has provided to the Jewish state.

      Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. recognized the new
      state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a
      deadly embrace ever since.

      Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a
      moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and
      got Israel's withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956.
      During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS
      Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. flag and stationed 15 miles off
      the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic
      communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S.
      sailors and wounded 171. The deliberate attack froze, for a while,
      Washington's enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved
      to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated
      and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israeli and
      American foreign policy in the Middle East.

      Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been
      given more than $140 billion in U.S. direct economic and military
      assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance
      annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget. Although
      most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military
      purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to
      use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and
      profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from
      accounting for how it spends the aid money. And funds are routinely
      siphoned off to build new Jewish settlements, bolster the Israeli
      occupation in the Palestinian territories and construct the security
      barrier, which costs an estimated $1 million a mile.

      The barrier weaves its way through the West Bank, creating isolated
      pockets of impoverished Palestinians in ringed ghettos. By the time
      the barrier is finished it will probably in effect seize up to 40
      percent of Palestinian land. This is the largest land grab by Israel
      since the 1967 war. And although the United States officially opposes
      settlement expansion and the barrier, it also funds them.

      The U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons
      systems and given Israel access to some of the most sophisticated
      items in its own military arsenal, including Blackhawk attack
      helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. The United States also gives
      Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies. And when
      Israel refused to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the United
      States stood by without a word of protest as the Israelis built the
      region's first nuclear weapons program.

      U.S. foreign policy, especially under the current Bush administration,
      has become little more than an extension of Israeli foreign policy.
      The United States since 1982 has vetoed 32 Security Council
      resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes
      cast by all the other Security Council members. It refuses to enforce
      the Security Council resolutions it claims to support. These
      resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

      There is now volcanic anger and revulsion by Arabs at this blatant
      favoritism. Few in the Middle East see any distinction between
      Israeli and American policies, nor should they. And when the Islamic
      radicals speak of U.S. support of Israel as a prime reason for their
      hatred of the United States, we should listen. The consequences of
      this one-sided relationship are being played out in the disastrous war
      in Iraq, growing tension with Iran, and the humanitarian and political
      crisis in Gaza. It is being played out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is
      gearing up for another war with Israel, one most Middle East analysts
      say is inevitable. The U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is
      unraveling. And it is doing so because of this special relationship.
      The eruption of a regional conflict would usher in a nightmare of
      catastrophic proportions.

      There were many in the American foreign policy establishment and State
      Department who saw this situation coming. The decision to throw our
      lot in with Israel in the Middle East was not initially a popular one
      with an array of foreign policy experts, including President Harry
      Truman's secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall. They warned there
      would be a backlash. They knew the cost the United States would pay
      in the oil-rich region for this decision, which they feared would be
      one of the greatest strategic blunders of the postwar era. And they
      were right. The decision has jeopardized American and Israeli
      security and created the kindling for a regional conflagration.

      The alliance, which makes no sense in geopolitical terms, does makes
      sense when seen through the lens of domestic politics. The Israel
      lobby has become a potent force in the American political system. No
      major candidate, Democrat or Republican, dares to challenge it. The
      lobby successfully purged the State Department of Arab experts who
      challenged the notion that Israeli and American interests were
      identical. Backers of Israel have doled out hundreds of millions of
      dollars to support U.S. political candidates deemed favorable to
      Israel. They have brutally punished those who strayed, including the
      first President Bush, who they said was not vigorous enough in his
      defense of Israeli interests. This was a lesson the next Bush White
      House did not forget. George W. Bush did not want to be a one-term
      president like his father.

      Israel advocated removing Saddam Hussein from power and currently
      advocates striking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
      Direct Israeli involvement in American military operations in the
      Middle East is impossible. It would reignite a war between Arab
      states and Israel. The United States, which during the Cold War
      avoided direct military involvement in the region, now does the direct
      bidding of Israel while Israel watches from the sidelines. During the
      1991 Gulf War, Israel was a spectator, just as it is in the war with

      President Bush, facing dwindling support for the war in Iraq, publicly
      holds Israel up as a model for what he would like Iraq to become.
      Imagine how this idea plays out on the Arab street, which views Israel
      as the Algerians viewed the French colonizers during the war of

      "In Israel," Bush said recently, "terrorists have taken innocent human
      life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a
      functioning democracy and it's not prevented from carrying out its
      responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're
      looking for in Iraq."

      Americans are increasingly isolated and reviled in the world. They
      remain blissfully ignorant of their own culpability for this
      isolation. U.S. "spin" paints the rest of the world as unreasonable,
      but Israel, Americans are assured, will always be on our side.

      Israel is reaping economic as well as political rewards from its
      lock-down apartheid state. In the "gated community" market it has
      begun to sell systems and techniques that allow the nation to cope
      with terrorism. Israel, in 2006, exported $3.4 billion in defense
      products—well over a billion dollars more than it received in American
      military aid. Israel has grown into the fourth largest arms dealer in
      the world. Most of this growth has come in the so-called homeland
      security sector.

      "The key products and services," as Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation,
      "are hi-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio
      surveillance gear, air passenger profiling and prisoner interrogation
      systems—precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock
      in the occupied territories. And that is why the chaos in Gaza and
      the rest of the region doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv,
      and may actually boost it. Israel has learned to turn endless war
      into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment
      of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the `global
      war on terror.' "

      The United States, at least officially, does not support the
      occupation and calls for a viable Palestinian state. It is a global
      player, with interests that stretch well beyond the boundaries of the
      Middle East, and the equation that Israel's enemies are our enemies is
      not that simple.

      "Terrorism is not a single adversary," John Mearsheimer and Stephen
      Walt wrote in The London Review of Books, "but a tactic employed by a
      wide array of political groups. The terrorist organizations that
      threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it
      intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover,
      Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel
      or `the West'; it is largely a response to Israel's prolonged campaign
      to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More important, saying that
      Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the
      causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good
      part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way

      Middle Eastern policy is shaped in the United States by those with
      very close ties to the Israel lobby. Those who attempt to counter the
      virulent Israeli position, such as former Secretary of State Colin
      Powell, are ruthlessly slapped down. This alliance was true also
      during the Clinton administration, with its array of Israel-first
      Middle East experts, including special Middle East coordinator Dennis
      Ross and Martin Indyk, the former deputy director of the American
      Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, one of the most powerful
      Israel lobbying groups in Washington. But at least people like Indyk
      and Ross are sane, willing to consider a Palestinian state, however
      unviable, as long as it is palatable to Israel. The Bush
      administration turned to the far-right wing of the Israel lobby, those
      who have not a shred of compassion for the Palestinians or a word of
      criticism for Israel. These new Middle East experts include Elliott
      Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, the disgraced I. Lewis "Scooter"
      Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and David Wurmser.

      Washington was once willing to stay Israel's hand. It intervened to
      thwart some of its most extreme violations of human rights. This
      administration, however, has signed on for every disastrous Israeli
      blunder, from building the security barrier in the West Bank, to
      sealing off Gaza and triggering a humanitarian crisis, to the ruinous
      invasion and saturation bombing of Lebanon.

      The few tepid attempts by the Bush White House to criticize Israeli
      actions have all ended in hasty and humiliating retreats in the face
      of Israeli pressure. When the Israel Defense Forces in April 2002
      reoccupied the West Bank, President Bush called on then-Prime Minister
      Ariel Sharon to "halt the incursions and begin withdrawal." It never
      happened. After a week of heavy pressure from the Israel lobby and
      Israel's allies in Congress, meaning just about everyone in Congress,
      the president gave up, calling Sharon "a man of peace." It was a
      humiliating moment for the United States, a clear sign of who pulled
      the strings.

      There were several reasons for the war in Iraq. The desire for
      American control of oil, the belief that Washington could build puppet
      states in the region, and a real, if misplaced, fear of Saddam Hussein
      played a part in the current disaster. But it was also strongly
      shaped by the notion that what is good for Israel is good for the
      United States. Israel wanted Iraq neutralized. Israeli intelligence,
      in the lead-up to the war, gave faulty information to the U.S. about
      Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And when
      Baghdad was taken in April 2003, the Israeli government immediately
      began to push for an attack on Syria. The lust for this attack has
      waned, in no small part because the Americans don't have enough troops
      to hang on in Iraq, much less launch a new occupation.

      Israel is currently lobbying the United States to launch aerial
      strikes on Iran, despite the debacle in Lebanon. Israel's iron
      determination to forcibly prevent a nuclear Iran makes it probable
      that before the end of the Bush administration an attack on Iran will
      take place. The efforts to halt nuclear development through
      diplomatic means have failed. It does not matter that Iran poses no
      threat to the United States. It does not matter that it does not even
      pose a threat to Israel, which has several hundred nuclear weapons in
      its arsenal. It matters only that Israel demands total military
      domination of the Middle East.

      The alliance between Israel and the United States has culminated after
      50 years in direct U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. This
      involvement, which is not furthering American interests, is unleashing
      a geopolitical nightmare. American soldiers and Marines are dying in
      droves in a useless war. The impotence of the United States in the
      face of Israeli pressure is complete. The White House and the
      Congress have become, for perhaps the first time, a direct extension
      of Israeli interests. There is no longer any debate within the United
      States. This is evidenced by the obsequious nods to Israel by all the
      current presidential candidates with the exception of Dennis Kucinich.
      The political cost for those who challenge Israel is too high.

      This means there will be no peaceful resolution of the
      Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It means the incidents of Islamic
      terrorism against the U.S. and Israel will grow. It means that
      American power and prestige are on a steep, irreversible decline. And
      I fear it also means the ultimate end of the Jewish experiment in the
      Middle East.

      The weakening of the United States, economically and militarily, is
      giving rise to new centers of power. The U.S. economy, mismanaged and
      drained by the Iraq war, is increasingly dependent on Chinese trade
      imports and on Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. China
      holds dollar reserves worth $825 billion. If Beijing decides to
      abandon the U.S. bond market, even in part, it would cause a free fall
      by the dollar. It would lead to the collapse of the $7-trillion U.S.
      real estate market. There would be a wave of U.S. bank failures and
      huge unemployment. The growing dependence on China has been
      accompanied by aggressive work by the Chinese to build alliances with
      many of the world's major exporters of oil, such as Iran, Nigeria,
      Sudan and Venezuela. The Chinese are preparing for the looming
      worldwide clash over dwindling resources.

      The future is ominous. Not only do Israel's foreign policy objectives
      not coincide with American interests, they actively hurt them. The
      growing belligerence in the Middle East, the calls for an attack
      against Iran, the collapse of the imperial project in Iraq have all
      given an opening, where there was none before, to America's rivals.
      It is not in Israel's interests to ignite a regional conflict. It is
      not in ours. But those who have their hands on the wheel seem
      determined, in the name of freedom and democracy, to keep the American
      ship of state headed at breakneck speed into the cliffs before us.



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