Friday, March 12, 2010

Israel "embarrasses" Biden

The truth is that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is an American occupation

"After spending most of Tuesday celebrating what he called the "unshakable" bond between the United States and Israel, Vice President Biden ended the day strongly condemning the longtime U.S. ally for approving 1,600 new housing units in disputed east Jerusalem -- an awkwardly timed move that threatened to kill a new push for Mideast peace by the Obama administration," wrote Washington Post reprorter Janine Zacharia, yesterday (find the story here). Reportedly, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu,were "embarassed" by the timing of the announcement, occurring during Biden's visit.

But the drama implied here is mere kabuki. The notion that Israel is a free and independent actor that must be assiduously courted as part of a peace process brokered by an earnest U.S. is part of the make-believe that thwarts peace.

In substantial ways, beginning with economic and military aid, the U.S. has established itself as Israel's godfather. Barring U.S. foreign aid to Israel, which by conservative estimates totaled almost $120 billion from 1948, the year of Israel's founding, through 2009, the Israeli economy would be bankrupt. A portion of U.S. aid has been invested each year in the development of an Israeli defense industry, which sells arms worth more than $4 billion annually to foreign countries. The sales account for 2.5 percent of Israel's gross domestic product. It is very likely that private American Jewish charitable giving to Israel exceeds $1 billion annually.

Further, U.S. government and private aid played a key role in resettling Soviet Jews in Israel, providing the largest number of Jewish immigrants to Israel since its founding, and replacing Palestinian workers from the West Bank and Gaza, who have largely been barred from employment in Israel. Thus, Vice-President Biden reaffirms "U.S. support for Israel's security," while plaintively urging Israeli concessions to advance a "peace" process. The terrible truth is that calls for concessions from Israel while the United States is also subsidizing the Israeli economy and the occupation of Palestinian territory are part of the play that hides the reality; the United States is directly responsible for Palestinian suffering.

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