The other day I shared an article on my Facebook page which described how U.S and Israeli officials had openly admitted to the New York Times that much of the excessive force deployed by the Israelis during their latest scuffle with Gaza was essentially a dry run for a future clash with Iran. Considering that more than 160 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians (some estimates put the number of non-combatant fatalities in Gaza over 100) were killed in this incredibly lopsided miniature war (only 6 Israelis were killed), the idea that the Israeli ambassador would essentially admit to Israel using the residents of the Gaza Strip as guinea pigs for some of their latest weaponry is kind of horrifying. Needless to say, not long after I shared said link I received an influx of messages accusing me of being insensitive and supporting a radical terrorist state by implying that the people of Gaza were getting royally fucked by Israel.
For some reason people here in America really love the shit out of Israel, which is funny because we tend to despise anyone else inhabiting the sandbox. We are told over and over again that Israel is our greatest ally in the region, that they are our closest friends and that the United States will stand by them no matter what wars they irreverently incite. You hear these time honored truths repeatedly endlessly by the talking heads of all the major networks, by the mass of pundits lurking around the AM frequencies, and by politicians positioned in every nook and cranny of the government including President Obama himself, so really it should come as no surprise that so many people are quick to jump to Israel’s defense whenever the subject of Palestine comes up.
And yet, I cannot for the life of me understand how Israel came to be our greatest ally in the Middle East. We are not particularly close trading partners with them; Israel ranks a paltry 24th on the list of our most important economic relationships throughout the world. And though we pledge to vicariously support the Israelis through any military conflict they may find themselves in, they clearly have no intention of returning the favor. Outside of surveillance and logistical support, Israel saw virtually zero physical contribution (troops, tanks, etc) to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will likely continue this trend of inaction should we become violently entangled with any other Middle Eastern nation not named Iran. Israel is not a NATO member, yet when the Israeli Navy illegally attacked a Turkish flotilla attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza (the raid resulted in the deaths of 9 activists), the United States largely refused to condemn the actions of our beloved allies in Israel. In fact, the 87 of the 100 members of the US Senate actually signed a letter in defense of the Israeli response, much to the outrage of Turkey, a valuable NATO member. And of course there was that one time the Israeli military aggressively tried to destroy a US Naval Cruiser. We still don’t really know how or why that happened.
So it would seem to me that when it comes to the US-Israeli relationship, we kind of get the raw end of that deal. After all our special bond with Israel allows them to enjoy an unwavering alliance with the most powerful military force in the world (on top of already having the most powerful military force in the region, which the United States is directly responsible for the creation of), the assurance that the US will veto any bid for Palestinian statehood in the UN, and massive support from both the American media and public, to the point that it’s pretty much political suicide for a politician to suggest anything that could be considered anti-Israel. In return Israel occasionally bombs places we don’t like and provides intelligence for America’s ongoing wars in the Middle East, though it should be noted that said wars are far more popular in Israel than in the United States. Either way, it doesn’t really sound like the healthiest relationship to me, and certainly not fitting of a nation that is supposed to be one of our greatest allies in the world.
Talk to any conspiracy theorist and they will tell you that the reason America is so buddy-buddy with Israel is because the Jews secretly control our media and government. They might even try and tell you that the Jews orchestrated 9/11 and that America is just a puppet state controlled by Israel. In reality, the reasons for our complicated love affair with Israel are not nearly as frightening or relating to the Illuminati or the Knights Templar as such conspiracies may lead you to believe, however the real reasons are probably just a dastardly… because without Israel, the United States would have a much harder time justifying its own illegal shenanigans in the Middle East.
At the moment both the United States and Israel are waging complex and illegal wars in the Middle East: the Drone War in Pakistan and the ongoing clashes with the Occupied Palestinian Territories, most notably the Gaza Strip. As the name suggests, the Drone War is an extremely sketchy conflict characterized primarily by the use unmanned aerial drones which roam the Pakistani countryside and obliterate suspected terrorists with “surgical precision” that also tends to obliterate anything within the immediate vicinity of the target, usually civilians. Needless to say, the use of drones is extremely unpopular in Pakistan and has left much of the rural population there completely terrorized, which is ironic considering we are supposed to be using the drones to hunt terrorists. And while the Pakistani government has never actually consented to the use of the drones (which is generally required when one nation wants to go on a murderous bombing spree within another nation’s borders) and has on multiple occasions vocally opposed such actions, the United States maintains that Pakistan effectively consents by not shooting down any of the drones. This rationale is totally fair and makes sense because obviously if the United States is already illegally bombing the shit out of your people and you want them to stop then the most logical course of action would be to shoot down one of their aircraft and piss them off even more.
Israel employs similar tomfoolery to fuel its own illicit drama with the Gaza Strip (and to a lesser extent the West Bank). Under international law as set forth by the Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupational power to wage war against any territory it controls, which means no things like arbitrary air strikes or shooting civilians who get too close to the border. Technically this would make Israeli provocation (like the November 14th airstrike which killed a top Hamas military official and set off the most recent clash) in Gaza illegal. Israel, however, asserts that it does not occupy the Gaza Strip despite the fact that the Israeli military controls the flow of all goods and services into the territory as well as employing a naval blockade along the coast and maintaining strict control of Gaza airspace. By this logic, military action by Israel in the Gaza Strip is perfectly legal and usually in the form of massive airstrikes against members of Hamas, the democratically elected ruling party in the territory and considered a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States.
It should be noted that there is another layer to the conflict incurred by militants in the Gaza Strip regularly launching missiles into Israel. These use of these missiles, which often target civilian centers, serve as justifiable grounds for Israeli military action in Gaza. However one must also consider the use of excessive force by Israel in retaliation to these attacks. The vast majority of the missiles fire from the Gaza Strip are either intercepted by the Israel’s hi-tech Dome missile defense system or simply miss their targets, landing harmlessly outside of population centers. This stands in stark contrast to the Israeli military, who generally strike back with massive (and often indiscriminate) airstrikes which decimate Palestinian infrastructure and annihilate civilians and combatants alike. Furthermore, the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention allows for people fighting against colonial domination, alien occupation, and racist regimes to use armed force to defend themselves, which would legitimatize any attacks made against Israel by the militants in Gaza. Of course, both Israel and the United States have refused to sign the protocol, which is again is ironic considering how the Jews have been the victims of extreme racism and subjugation throughout history, and how the United States would not exist if they had not been able resist colonial domination. Naturally, in keeping with modern diplomatic standards and indicative of the general failure of the UN to accomplish anything useful, by not signing the protocol Israel and United States are somehow exempt from its conditions.
So what is my point? It’s simple really: the United States supports Israel and their war crimes because if we don’t, if our politicians and leaders start criticizing Israel and calling them out on their shit, well then how does that make us look when we go into Pakistan or wherever and start pulling similar shit of our own? By condoning Israeli behavior when they violate international law, the United States sets a precedent that allows for the circumnavigation of protocol set forth by the UN and the blatant use of illegal warfare to promote political agendas which are often shrouded under the guise of self-defense and preemptive action. As Daniel Reisner, a former Israeli military lawyer puts it, “International law progresses through violations,” a chilling reminder that the United Nations is more likely to adapt to the repeated abuses carried out by a superpower than to actually put an end to said abuses and prevent future crimes from happening. We support Israel, Israel supports us, and together we joyously hold hands while playing in the sand, free to carry out human rights violations at leisure without fear of reprisal.
Israel’s status as our most valuable ally in the Middle East cements the reality that our government is about as committed to peace in the region as a shifty meth-head who talks about going clean while he dials up his dealer. Our foreign policy has gotten us completely addicted to playing in the sandbox, and if we keep it up Israel is going to drag us straight into their increasingly inevitable conflict with Iran, and even if the press releases from Washington contains words like “reluctantly” and “unfortunately,” our leaders will in actuality be more than happy to jump right into another war, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence in the Middle East. Who knows what country we’ll end up invading after the war in Iran comes to a close? Who will become the next terrifying threat to Israel/America/Democracy/Freedom? What pit in the desert will we start pouring taxpayer dollars into next? The future of the Middle East is riddled with uncertainty, though we can be sure that the United States will still be chasing “terrorists” around out there for many years to come, with all the illegal drone strikes and secret ground invasions that hunting terrorists entails. And chances are the UN will probably still be too busy trying to decide on Syria to even say anything about it.