14
   

Would you support suspending aid to Israel and Palestine?

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 02:47 pm
This is something that I've wanted to see many times in recent history. Israeli and Palestinian leaders persist in such stupidity, and stupidity that is against their own self-interests (not to mention America's) that I have long wished that we'd cut them both off and put real pressure on them to find a viable solution. I always saw it as a non-starter though, what with the very strong Israeli lobby in Washington, but recently more prominent journalists have been calling for it and I think the current economic climate might actually bring it within the realm of possibility.

Abbas' ridiculous posturing about refusing to negotiate has a legitimate gripe behind it: Israel currently has no real intention of making a real peace, but at the same time the Palestinian position does nothing at all to advance their interests. It is in their interest more so than Israel's to advance the negotiations.

And as for Israel it is in their interest to push back against their zealots who dream of "Greater Israel" and who would prolong this conflict in order to systemically settle more Palestinian land. But Israeli leaders are not yet ready to spend the political capital on fighting their own extremists.

As Friedman notes:

Quote:
Today, the Arabs, Israel and the Palestinians are clearly not feeling enough pain to do anything hard for peace with each other " a mood best summed up by a phrase making the rounds at the State Department: The Palestinian leadership “wants a deal with Israel without any negotiations” and Israel’s leadership “wants negotiations with the Palestinians without any deal.”

It is obvious that this Israeli government believes it can have peace with the Palestinians and keep the West Bank, this Palestinian Authority still can’t decide whether to reconcile with the Jewish state or criminalize it and this Hamas leadership would rather let Palestinians live forever in the hellish squalor that is Gaza than give up its crazy fantasy of an Islamic Republic in Palestine.

If we are still begging Israel to stop building settlements, which is so manifestly idiotic, and the Palestinians to come to negotiations, which is so manifestly in their interest, and the Saudis to just give Israel a wink, which is so manifestly pathetic, we are in the wrong place. It’s time to call a halt to this dysfunctional “peace process,” which is only damaging the Obama team’s credibility.

If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I just don’t want to subsidize it or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America. If and when they get serious, they’ll find us. And when they do, we should put a detailed U.S. plan for a two-state solution, with borders, on the table. Let’s fight about something big.


Joe Klein takes it further:

Quote:
It is in the best interests of the United States for the Israelis to make this deal. It is also in the best interests of the Israelis. The Neocon-Likudniks have neither Israel's nor our best interests at heart. Boot is right: The Obama Administration may have to be a bit less "grandiose" in dealing with Netanyahu's irredentist government. It should start by putting a hold on all economic and military aid to Israel; the aid should not be discontinued, just held, for a nice long review until the Netanyahu government comes to understand that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine, and that if you actually want peace, you don't build illegal settlement colonies in the Palestinian capital.


And Glenn Greenwald comments that maybe if these two broach this political taboo we may be getting somewhere:

Quote:
When is the last time there were serious discussions like this in the establishment media about cutting off aid to Israel if they refused to cease taking actions that harmed American interests? That was probably 1992, when then-Secretary of State Jim Baker repeatedly tried to link continued American aid and loan guarantees to Israeli cessation of settlement expansions and increased good faith in negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians -- which caused a major political backlash in the U.S., fueled by what then-NYT-reporter Tom Friedman described as "a number of pro-Israeli Senators." It's amazing how little has changed vis-a-vis American debates over Israel in the 17 years since then.

In countless ways, our foreign policy has long and directly violated George Washington's 1796 warning that "nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded"; that "the nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave"; and that "a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils." The typical justification for violating those warnings is that our interests are served by maintaining and steadfastly supporting permanent alliances of this sort.

Yet here is one such nation that receives more American support than any other, stubbornly refusing to cease conduct which our government officially proclaims to be deeply harmful to our interests, and the notion of using our vast leverage to make them change behavior is decreed to be one of the most impenetrable taboos (even the Executive Director of the ostensibly orthodoxy-fighting J Street recently demanded that such a step not even be entertained). For so long, it's been an unchallengeable given that we are required to continue to lavish Israel with aid and diplomatic protection even if they do things that our own government believes (or at least claims to believe) is directly harming the United States. Perhaps Friedman's implicit (if unintended) call for that to change -- and Klein's explicit call that it change -- signals a long-overdue erosion of that taboo.


Now that the Obama administration has backtracked on their demand for Israel to halt all settlement activity Abbas has hinted at resignation, which would be a disaster for Palestinians but may well just be the sad reality they must face. Tony Karon writes:

Quote:
For the Palestinians, however, the settlement-freeze demand was a test of Mr Obama’s willingness to pressure the Israelis into taking steps they won’t take by choice. Mr Abbas knows that Mr Netanyahu, if it were up to him, would not yield to a viable, independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. If the US is not prepared to pressure Israel, negotiations would not only be fruitless, they would actually help sustain a reality that is relatively comfortable for the Israelis but intolerable for the Palestinians…

…The sad truth dawning on Ramallah, now, is that there will be no salvation from Washington. Not now, possibly not ever.


Things really do look grim for peace in the middle east under Israel's current leadership. Israel looks willing to endure the status quo indefinitely instead of allowing Palestinians to have a viable state. And Palestinians aren't going far enough to make that politically costly for Israel at all. Hamas has said they'd accept a long term truce (a generational truce) with Israel for a Palestinian state, Abbas has done whatever the West wanted for years and has nothing to show for it. But Hamas not being willing to declare a permanent truce, saying that it is for future generations to decide, lets Israel portray their current position as just another step in the conflict to eradicate Israel. And Abbas' threat to resign over his frustrations lets Israel pretend that they are not holding back the peace process and that they have no Palestinian partner to negotiate with.

Israel is willing to negotiate but not make a deal, and Palestine is not willing to negotiate without a realistic prospect of a deal. And America must stop its hand wringing in response and put real pressure on the two parties or cut our losses and let it be their own problem.

It is time to suspend American aid to both Israel and Palestine until they are willing to work towards peace in a meaningful way. If the Palestinians aren't going to act in their self-interest when we are trying to help them then they need help seeing the reality of their situation. And if Israel is not willing to make peace (which is also in their own interest) they are an "ally" that we just don't need. They cause us nothing but trouble and we certainly don't get our money's worth.

Whether our leaders can afford the political capital it would take to even suggest this remains to be seen, but I think the current economic situation gives it better chances. Would you support suspension of aid to Israel and Palestine till they negotiate a final status?
 
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 03:28 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I have been in favor of this for some time. Israel will never achieve peace if they continue to allow settlements to grow and the radicals in Israel will not allow settlement growth to stop unless their government makes a firm committment and sticks to it. Palestine will never know peace if it continues to demand a right of return (not going to happen) and if it continues to allow extremists to drive policy. Abbas represents moderate Palestine. If Israel does not help him to succeed, they have only themselves to blame for the next administration. The best interests of the US (and both combatants) are best served by leaning on them hard to make common sense concessions.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 04:00 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I think I'd support it.....not that makes any difference since I am not American...with two concerns.

1. I am not sure what aid exactly the US sends to Israel...but my sense is that a suspension of aid would have a far more deleterious effect upon Palestinians?????


2. Given what I understand of Israel's "psychology" if you will, I am wondering if such a move might not, at least for a time, cement in a stronger siege mentality that would favour their extremists???


Other than that...given the strength of the Israel lobby.....do you see such a move as a real possibility within the next twenty years?
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 04:06 pm
I would begin cutting aid in stages and let them begin to feel the pinch. In the end, no peace, no help.
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 04:09 pm
Yes.

As for the "mentality" of the Israelis, these people commit gross acts of espionage against the United States, as well as all of our NATO partners. I cannot think that their arrogance and paranoia can get any worse.

As for the Palestinians, the Arab nations need to step up and support these people. Certainly they have the resources, and certainly they have fomented rebellion among them--let them act responsibility on this occasion.

Our national interests are not served here, and the interests of the middle east could be well served by the suspension of the influx of American dollars to two intransigent camps.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 04:10 pm
@dlowan,
I guess the other concern would be that Israel, in the grip of the far right, and without the balancing fear of having US support to lose, might just go in and massacre the Palestinians....



But....it's not like anything else is working.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 04:12 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:
I would begin cutting aid in stages and let them begin to feel the pinch. In the end, no peace, no help.


Jimmy Carter, whom the conservatives hysterically and consistently malign, will be remembered in history for bringing the Israelis and Egyptians to Camp David, and working out a cessation of hostilities between Israel and the world's most populous Arabic-speaking nation.

What EB describes is exactly what Carter did to Israel and Egypt to effect his plan.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 05:16 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
1. I am not sure what aid exactly the US sends to Israel...but my sense is that a suspension of aid would have a far more deleterious effect upon Palestinians?????


I was waiting for this one to come up. The answer for this is that the EU could easily pick up their already substantial aid to Palestinians to prevent that (their whole government can be run for a figure in the low millions). The Palestinians already have pressure applied by Israel, and don't really need their aid cut but doing it to both would take some of the wind out of a lot of the ways such a move would be attacked.

Quote:
2. Given what I understand of Israel's "psychology" if you will, I am wondering if such a move might not, at least for a time, cement in a stronger siege mentality that would favour their extremists???


It certainly runs that risk, but at the same time it would remove a huge impediment to real pressure on Israel if the US were to stop vetoing UN resolutions on Israel and were to support economic sanctions on Israel instead.

Israel's persecution complex might get worse but the truth is that they know very well how much the US does for them, and if our leaders had the balls to put economic pressure on them it could be very significant pressure. They've long been a pariah without that having any real consequence for them and the main reason for that is the US.

Quote:
Other than that...given the strength of the Israel lobby.....do you see such a move as a real possibility within the next twenty years?


Things can change pretty quickly and 20 years is a long time so it's always possible, but in the short term there's no chance of this happening. The political costs would be huge George Bush the 1st is convinced that he lost his reelection bid (and there's actually more than a bit of truth to that) for a lot less pressure than that on Israel than it would take for their current administration to implement a real two-state solution.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 06:49 pm
One thing that not enough people realize is that the settlements are a way to create the "facts on the ground" that would undermine any possible negotiations over borders. Here are settlers appropriating houses in East Jerusalem.

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 06:52 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
The political costs would be huge George Bush the 1st is convinced that he lost his reelection bid (and there's actually more than a bit of truth to that) for a lot less pressure than that on Israel than it would take for their current administration to implement a real two-state solution.


This is bogus. I don't deny that Pappy Bush says as much, and he may even believe it. But Bush torpedoed his own reelection prospects in two ways. The first was when he acknowledged that there was a recession, and agreed to a tax increase. The Clinton campaign gleefully aired campaign ads with Bush's 1988 "read my lips" speech, inferentially impugning his honesty. The other event was the sound bite from Hell, when Bush couldn't keep his mouth shut, and expressed all too obviously his mystification with a supermarket scanner, showing himself to be completely out of touch with the day to day life of almost all Americans. His liability was well summed up in the "it's the economy, stupid" mantra of the Democrats. Exit polls in 1992 showed that 75% of voters thought the economy was in bad shape. Bush was seen as a hypocrite, too, for his "lawyers in tasseled loafers" remark, when the supermarket scanner debacle showed that he was obviously no more in touch with, and very likely not as in touch with the lives of ordinary Americans.

In 1992, Bush got 11% of the Jewish vote, and Clinton got 80%. But Clinton got 78% in 1996, and Bob Dole got only 16%, and certainly no grudge against Dole by the Israel lobby can reasonably be alleged. And in 1988, Pappy Bush got less than 20% of the Jewish vote. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Republican presidential candidates traditionally get about 18% of the Jewish vote (the younger Bush got 19% in 2000), with Ronald Reagan being the only Republican candidate to break the mold--and he only got 38%. The same source says that 73% of Americans Jews identify themselves as moderate or liberal.

The Yom Kippur War and the Camp David accord bracket the period in which the influence of the situation with Israel began to wane. Simply put, Jews in America vote Democratic. From the 1860 election until FDR ran, they voted Republican, which is unsurprising because of the Lincoln legacy, and the fact that (incredible to contemporary Americans) Republicans were seen as more progressive and less corrupt than Democrats. That changed in the early 20th century, and Democratic presidential candidates have consistently polled 75% to even as high as 90% of the Jewish vote (once again, Reagan providing the only exception which serves to prove the rule). American Jews simply don't vote because of the policies of the state of Israel, any more than American Catholics vote the way the Pope wants them to vote. Evangelical Christians are more likely to be swayed in their voting by the situation in Israel than are American Jews.

So i would disagree that such a policy would be likely to bring about serious electoral repercussions for this administration.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 07:44 pm
Am I mistaken, or does Egypt get an equal amount of shekels as Israel does, from the U.S.? In other words, I believe, to prevent actual armies from waging a real war, that can escalate with other nations getting involved, Israel and Egypt get a proverbial annual allowance. I believe that only because Egypt has been persuaded to accept Israel's existence, as a neighbor, has the Palestinean petulance towards Israel become newsworthy. Plus, the media continues to feed the Israel/Palestinean situation to the world, since Israel's existence offends more than just Arabs: some of the political left, some devout Christians of the replacement theology belief, some of the usual run of the mill anti-Semites/Judeophobics, and some of those that are concerned that any time Israel takes a military action their heating oil or gasoline may be in jeopardy. I would guess there are other esoteric reasons beyond my ken.

So, I just believe that much "deep" analysis, that results in finding Israel too recalcitrant in its efforts to survive, are just self-serving by those that to me seem just similar, of the historical attitude, that Jews are expendable.

And to all a good night!
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 07:48 pm
@Foofie,
I take it you don't think jews are expendable?
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 07:52 pm
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

I take it you don't think jews are expendable?


Since I am one myself, I do not. Nor, do I think Protestants are expendable, based on the history of the U.S.A. I do not think of myself as anti-Catholic, but as a student of American history, I do not want to trivialize who made this a great nation.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 08:43 pm
@Foofie,
yeah I don't think jews are expendable either.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 11:20 pm
@Setanta,
Both Bush and Carter are said to have suffered politically from pressuring Israel and I do agree with you in that they would have lost anyway without the difference it made, however the lobby's influence is a lot greater than the figures you cite portray. First of all, the effect is not restricted to Jews. It's an Israel lobby, not a Jewish lobby and Christian Zionists are, as you noted, in the mix. So the lobbying just can't just be measured by Jewish voters, the Israel lobby can have a greater influence by spending money for the candidates of their choice than by merely locking up the Jewish vote.

Secondly, with legislative districting smaller groups can have outsized power and as the Washington Post notes, Bush "got crushed in a small group of heavily Jewish precincts in states such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida". I agree that this wasn't a kingmaker but it did have an impact. And as the Observer notes, that a president believes this may be enough of a demonstration of the lobby on the presidential stage, writing, "Yes, the Jewish vote turned against Bush. He had won 27 percent of it in '88, only 15 percent in '92. And the turn may well have cost him New Jersey and Ohio, states he had won by big margins four years earlier (and lost narrowly to Clinton). But Clinton won the presidency in '92 by a resounding electoral margin, 370 to 168, and Bush's gaining N.J. and Ohio wouldn't have changed the outcome. Maybe there's a more extended analysis of how AIPAC and pro-Israel money changed the '92 race, but I haven't seen it... But let's focus on what matters here. A former President believes that the pro-Israel lobby cost him his job. His son runs for President and is far more responsive than his father was to the Israel lobby. Right there you have a good indication of the power of the lobby."

And there's plenty of evidence of the power of their lobby even in the current administration. Not just in his meetings with AIPAC while campaigning, his campaign stop in Israel, or his open letter calling for "unshakable" support for Israel (PDF file from AIPAC site) but by events like him backpedaling on settlements, and even more clearly how Charles Freeman's criticism of Israel made him unacceptable for the intelligence post he was nominated for. The NY Times writes, "The lobbying campaign against Mr. Freeman included telephone calls to the White House from prominent lawmakers, including Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat. It appears to have been kicked off three weeks ago in a blog post by Steven J. Rosen, a former top official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group."

This lobby has undeniable influence in the executive branch, and this is even from an administration that is more willing than typical to push back against it.

Lastly, The Israel lobby doesn't just attempt to sway Americans to vote pro-Israel (general presidential elections isn't their main battle ground) but mainly to get congress to and they make large political contributions that just aren't matched by any competing pro-Palestinian lobby. The largest of these lobbies, AIPAC, is a legendary Washington lobby. Fortune magazine ran a poll of members of Congress, staffers and aides to rank the most powerful lobbies in America and AIPAC finished 2nd, ahead of the NRA and the Christian Coalition. All the last two administrations had both president and vice president attend their conferences and that they are Washington heavyweights is simply no secret.

The Israel lobby is changing, with newcomers like J Street challenging the right-wing representation and there is talk of resentment in Congress of AIPAC these days but this is no slouch of a lobby by any stretch of the imagination, and taking them on directly will cost any politician significant political capital right now.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 11:29 pm
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:
So, I just believe that much "deep" analysis, that results in finding Israel too recalcitrant in its efforts to survive, are just self-serving by those that to me seem just similar, of the historical attitude, that Jews are expendable.


This isn't about any negative attitude towards Jews Foofie, and the ole knee-jerk antisemitism charge just won't stick for me. I find it critical to the continuing existence of Israel as a democratic Jewish state that she change course and cease to pursue her own destruction by catering to the "Greater Israel" nuts.

Instead of Likud driving Israel off a cliff I'd like to see Kadima. Instead of doing everything she can to preserve the status quo and build "facts on the ground" I want to see her embrace a real two-state status and define her borders.

This dance with expansionism has gone on long enough. Israel needs her borders defined soon or it runs the risk of losing its identity. There is no clean way for Israel to realize "Greater Israel", it's a fantasy whose zealots must be defeated.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 11:47 pm
@Robert Gentel,
You know, it'd be a damn fine thing if the US parties decided the hell to have a bilateral policy on this.

Australia actually has a history of bilateral policies on certain foreign policy issues, so it is not impossible, even in a two-party strongly adversarial system.

This issue begs for it.

I wonder if that would be a medium term aim to be really active about?


It's ridiculous that this crucial issue is subject to political point-scoring.

Interesting re the aid.

I am VERY aware about what the goddam settlements are about...though the Arabs seem to be out-flanking the Israelis by having lots of kids!


The ANC were strongly supportive of sanctions, even though they suffered from them.

I wonder what the street view from Palestinians would be about that?

roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 12:00 am
@dlowan,
What do you mean by 'bilateral policy'. If I ever heard the term, it was in a different context.
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 12:25 am
@Foofie,
Quote:
Am I mistaken, or does Egypt get an equal amount of shekels as Israel does, from the U.S.? In other words, I believe, to prevent actual armies from waging a real war, that can escalate with other nations getting involved, Israel and Egypt get a proverbial annual allowance. I believe that only because Egypt has been persuaded to accept Israel's existence, as a neighbor, has the Palestinean petulance towards Israel become newsworthy. Plus, the media continues to feed the Israel/Palestinean situation to the world, since Israel's existence offends more than just Arabs: some of the political left, some devout Christians of the replacement theology belief, some of the usual run of the mill anti-Semites/Judeophobics, and some of those that are concerned that any time Israel takes a military action their heating oil or gasoline may be in jeopardy. I would guess there are other esoteric reasons beyond my ken.


Yeah, but that also explains why the US has such a subjective and confused stance on the issue- it's heart (if it has one) is with Israel but in it's head (and pocket book) its vested interest lies firmly with the Arab states.
What to do in a situation like that?

I would support suspending aid to Israel and Palestine to put pressure on them to work out their differences and I would be able to say that almost unequivocally and without hesitation if it hadn't been for last year's Israeli bombing of Palestine. That sort of thing gives me pause in advocating forcing a settlement between the two nation/states - because I don't think it's possible without barebones hate and violence being employed on either side- and I'd hate to have to watch what unfolds when the involvement of other outside governmental entities and agencies is withdrawn and they're left to fight it out in their own way with their own devices without outside influence of any kind.




dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:37 am
@roger,
roger wrote:

What do you mean by 'bilateral policy'. If I ever heard the term, it was in a different context.


A policy agreed to by both major parties.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Israel's Reality - Discussion by Miller
THE WAR IN GAZA - Discussion by Advocate
Israel's Shame - Discussion by BigEgo
Eye On Israel/Palestine - Discussion by IronLionZion
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Would you support suspending aid to Israel and Palestine?
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 08/18/2019 at 01:14:33