Thursday, September 24, 2009

Who Is In Charge of US Israel Policy?

Letter to the Washington Post

By my count, I've written 24 letters to the Post, one has been published so far. This is letter #23:

I know people who believe that US foreign policy is substantially determined by Zionists. I don’t share their opinion and frequently argue that it is counter-productive to focus on a Zionist “cabal” as the driver of American policy.

But two articles in Saturday’s Post provide substantial basis for argument that our Middle East policy is in the hands of people who are exceedingly deferential to Israeli wishes. “Israel Finds Strength in Its Missile Defenses” outlines the way advanced US military technologies are made available to Israel. In addition, the two countries conduct joint military exercises focused largely on Israeli needs and US readiness to “...stand behind Israel if it came under attack.”

All of this aid is only a small portion of the billions of dollars Israel (the number one US foreign aid recipient) receives annually in the form of grants and loan guarantees. It also occurs in the context of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the relentless Israeli annexation, in the form of settlements, of Palestinian land. As “Envoy’s Mideast Trip Ends Without Accord” reports, George Mitchell’s recent diplomatic visit ended “…without reaching an agreement with Israel over limits on Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”

The spectacle of the world’s sole superpower giving Israel billions of dollars a year while begging fruitlessly that Israel end its occupation of Palestine, end its annexations, and end its violations of international law, inevitably raises questions about who is in charge of US foreign policy. It should come as no surprise that the easy answer for some is “Zionists.”

Jeff Epton

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