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Levy - "America, Stop Sucking Up To Israel"
By John Whitbeck
In the extraordinarily honest column transmitted below, HAARETZ columnist Gideon Levy tells it like it is in a manner inconceivable in the American press.
This column appears to have been written a few hours before Hillary Clinton, on her arrival in Israel, dropped to her knees before a grinning Bibi Netanyahu and licked her master's shoes. As a New York politician, Clinton no doubt found the posture familiar and comfortable, and it was always to be expected that the curtain would eventually ring down on the new administation's highly theatrical stage-play "Pressure on Israel" after a final act along these lines. Still, even if predictable, the spectacle was enough to make decent people anywhere wish to throw up.
No better on Palestine... No better on Iraq... No better on Iran... Worse on Afghanistan... Worse on Pakistan... It would be difficult now to find more than a handful of people in this region who still hold out any hope for positive change from this administration ... or, in light of the expectations briefly aroused, from the United States of America, ever.
America, Stop Sucking Up To Israel
By Gideon Levy
Nov 1, 2009
Barack Obama has been busy - offering the Jewish People blessings for Rosh Hashanah, and recording a flattering video for the President's Conference inJerusalemand another for Yitzhak Rabin's memorial rally. Only Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah surpasses him in terms of sheer output of recorded remarks.
In all the videos, Obama heaps sticky-sweet praise on Israel, even though he has spent nearly a year fruitlessly lobbying for Israel to be so kind as to do something, anything - even just a temporary freeze on settlement building - to advance the peace process.
The president's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, has also been busy, shuttling between a funeral (for IDF soldier Asaf Ramon, the son ofIsrael's first astronaut Ilan Ramon) and a memorial (for Rabin, though it was postponed until next week due to rain), in order to find favor with Israelis. Polls have shown that Obama is increasingly unpopular here, with an approval rating of only 6 to 10 percent.
He decided to address Israelis by video, but a persuasive speech won't persuade anyone to end the occupation. He simply should have told the Israeli people the truth. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived here last night, will certainly express similar sentiments: "commitment toIsrael's security," "strategic alliance," "the need for peace," and so on .
Before no other country on the planet does theUnited Stateskneel and plead like this. In other trouble spots,Americatakes a different tone. It bombs inAfghanistan, invadesIraqand threatens sanctions againstIranandNorth Korea. Did anyone inWashingtonconsider begging Saddam Hussein to withdraw from occupied territory inKuwait?
ButIsraelthe occupier, the stubborn contrarian that continues to mockAmericaand the world by building settlements and abusing the Palestinians, receives different treatment. Another massage to the national ego in one video, more embarrassing praise in another.
Now is the time to say to theUnited States: Enough flattery. If you don't change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels the United States is in its pocket, and that America's automatic veto will save it from condemnations and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world's policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways.
Illegal acts like the occupation and settlement expansion, and offensives that may have involved war crimes, as inGaza, deserve a different approach. IfAmericaand the world had issued condemnations after Operation Summer Rains in 2006 - which left 400 Palestinians dead and severe infrastructure damage in the first major operation in Gazasince the disengagement - then Operation Cast Lead never would have been launched.
It is true that unlike all the world's other troublemakers,Israel is viewed as a Western democracy, butIsrael of 2009 is a country whose language is force. Anwar Sadat may have been the last leader to win our hearts with optimistic, hope-igniting speeches. If he were to visitIsraeltoday, he would be jeered off the stage. The Syrian president pleads for peace andIsraelcallously dismisses him, theUnited Statesbegs for a settlement freeze andIsraelturns up its nose. This is what happens when there are no consequences forIsrael's inaction.
WhenClintonreturns toWashington, she should advocate a sharp policy change towardIsrael. Israeli hearts can no longer be won with hope, promises of a better future or sweet talk, for this is no longerIsrael's language. For something to change,Israelmust understand that perpetuating the status quo will exact a painful price.
Israel of 2009 is a spoiled country, arrogant and condescending, convinced that it deserves everything and that it has the power to make a fool ofAmericaand the world. TheUnited Stateshas engendered this situation, which endangers the entire Mideast andIsraelitself. That is why there needs to be a turning point in the coming year -Washingtonneeds to finally say no to Israeland the occupation. An unambiguous, presidential no.
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