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Mazel Not: Israel and the United States, Married on the Wrong Side of History

| December 2, 2012

palestinian statehood israel

It’s about time. (Rusty Stewart)

One looks at the recent past and wonders if there is an acceleration, like the universe’s expanding rush to extinction, of occasions when the United States places itself abjectly on the wrong side of history. The invasion of Iraq, the concentration camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, torture during the Bush years and assassinations by drone during the Obama years, are examples (just overseas).

pierre tristam column flaglerlive On Thursday, the United States added another when it voted against Palestinian statehood. Not counting four stamp-size Pacific islands that always follow American orders, just four other nations opposed statehood: Israel of course, Canada, Panama and the Czech Republic. One hundred and thirty eight nations approved. In essence, the United States is more alone on this one than when it illegally invaded Iraq.

It’s been embarrassing to hear innumerable American politicians with anything like a Jewish or evangelical constituency echo Hillary Clinton’s verbal contortions: that Palestinian statehood doesn’t advance and may even retard the cause of peace, as if the right to nationhood and self-determination have suddenly become vile concepts to Thomas Jefferson’s descendants. Then again, even Mount Rushmore wasn’t big enough for Jefferson’s hypocrisy, and Hillary Clinton’s nullity as a secretary of state has nowhere so tediously complemented the landscape’s aridity than in the Middle East.

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But American isolation on Israel is nothing new. It’s one of the reasons a breakthrough to a Palestinian state has been impossible. America submits to no one’s will anywhere on the planet. Except Israel’s. As Aaron David Miller, a veteran of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, reminds us in The Much-Too Promised Land, his book on his years at the State Department, it’s been American policy since Henry Kissinger and the Nixon years never to put forth any initiative regarding Palestinians without getting Israel’s approval first. Palestinian approval, or trust, has been an afterthought.  That’s why Qatar, Turkey and Egypt have had more clout mediating the Palestinian-Israeli march of folly lately than has the United States.

Israel approved the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1993. That was supposed to be the first step toward a Palestinian state. There here hasn’t been another step since, except backward.

There was the second Palestinian Uprising of 2000. There’s been two crushing assaults on Gaza (2008, 2012), supposedly because Israel would not tolerate attacks from Hamas, though that’s part of the crock of Israeli propaganda. Just 47 Israelis have been killed by fire from Gaza in the last six years, and only one had been killed this year until November. Not negligible, but not worth a war.  In comparison, almost 3,000 Palestinians have been killed in the same period, just in Gaza, which has been under siege all those years.

Palestinians aren’t blameless. But they’re not the only terrorists in the equation, and Palestinian suffering overwhelms its equivalent across the border. Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Gaza. It’s an area one quarter the size of Flagler County (one of Florida’s smallest coastal counties). It’s jammed with 1.7 million people. Those people aren’t allowed to fish. They’re not allowed to trade with the outside world. They’re not allowed to work across the border, and of course they’re not allowed to have a state of their own, even though they elected their government democratically. It’s a wonder there hasn’t been an uprising every year. There may yet be.

Especially with Israel’s latest jackboot to Palestinians’ solar plexus: immediately after the UN vote, Israel revealed plans to build colonies (still euphemistically known as “settlements”) in a section of Arab Jerusalem that will ensure that a contiguous Palestinian state between Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank is never possible. It was another disproportionate, cynical Israeli punishment for a Palestinian act in no way different from Israel’s own unilateral declaration of statehood in 1948. But Israel has never learned how to exist without denying that right to Palestine, thrive though it does on the sadism of denying it.

Israel likes to claim that Palestinians deny Israel’s right to exist. And Palestinians, especially of the Hamas variety, do so in word and bluster. But the reality is the opposite. Israel not only exists. It’s impregnable. Nothing, not even the 1967 Arab-Israel War, has threatened its existence since 1947.

But Israel has spent the last six decades denying Palestinians the right to exist in fact—denying them a state, denying them land as it devours it settlement by settlement, denying them their dignity under illegal occupation, denying them their history, and denying them their identity. One of Israel’s most demeaning but powerful propaganda tool is to claim that the Palestinian people really don’t exist. They’re just Arabs who might as well lose themselves in Jordan. American-Indians know the trick. It goes beyond denying a nation its existence. It’s a form of retroactive ethnic cleansing.

In 1948, Harry Truman recognized Israel exactly 11 minutes after Israel declared its independence. Palestinians have been waiting 64 years for a similar recognition. They’ve waited long enough. Thursday’s U.N. vote made Palestinians more relevant. It made the United States less so.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter.

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46 Responses for “Mazel Not: Israel and the United States, Married on the Wrong Side of History”

  1. confidential says:

    I respect your words here. But I can reassure you that your sense of smell (whiff) is failing as some of my best friends are jewish. Will be sad to see you also falling into the typical excuse that most use, against those of us that dare to disagree with Israels policies and or their control of our country.
    The reminder of Rachel Corrie murder in 2003, still unpunished, was not to change any subect but a very important proof on the same issue. The recent court rule was just a charade, ask her parents.
    Continuing with your requested answer, I never said that the named jewish billionare and millionaires not paying taxes here, are war mongers….but instead they should help and fund Israels war conflicts other than us forced to do so.
    Regarding the Koch brothers religious affiliation the reports are many depending the eye of the beholder.
    If you have further proof of your conviction feel free to copy us. We all really need to be informed.


  2. Dorothea says:


    I don’t always agree with Israel, nor do I particularly agree with Netanyahu on most issues. If you think that Iran is only an Israeli problem, than you aren’t following the news very closely. I have read through your comments and I have already provided links this disprove almost all your allegations. Just take the time to click on those links and you read.

    I am glad to know that you are not an anti-semite, but don’t accuse me of not separating most Jewish-Americans from zealous Zionists. I know the difference. The signs of a bigot are not usually overt, but come in subtle comments like “some of my best friends are _____” You fill in the blanks.


  3. confidential says:

    @Dorothea. Unfortunately you insist in the generalized slogan “to complete the blanks” when we disagree..I believe the scars that you still have from the tragedy you endure during WWII for the murder of your family, affect you deeply in the present and is understandable. Maybe yes, the USA should have intervened earlier and save millions of innocent lives, but nevertheless our boys by the thousands gave theirs on the Normandy beaches and beyond to save thousands or millions prisoners of the nazis .
    I agree with most of your thoughts materialized here and I see you are a compassionate woman. As humans that we are, can’t agree in everything. We can agree to disagree,don’t we?
    Regarding the treat of Iran …I regarded as the treat and same noise made when Russia, China, India and Pakistan achieved nuclear power, remember? Even North Korea now. They were to attack us any day then….did they till now..? These countries want to have the same power that we and our allies have, so we all respect them. I am glad you don’t always agree with Israel.
    Maybe I am pacifist here, but lets do not start another war (Iran), when there is no need for it and we can’t afford it! We leave in a different world and era than the one that preceded WWII. Lets follow Eisenhower’s advise not making a business of starting wars.
    By the way I am not accusing you of anything or labeling you much less a …bigot. To the contrary I admire your support for the one cause we have in common….if you noticed. And yes some of my best admired, honest intelligent friends are Jewish and we learn from each other as we have much in common. Also my beloved late younger sisters name was Dorys…


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