After 75 years of occupation, Palestinian frustration finally spilled over in the commando-style assault on Israel on October 7.
The same frustration was put before the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September by Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, when he asked why Israel has never been held accountable for its illegal occupation, countless violations of human rights and international resolutions.
President Abbas can find the answer to his questions in the comment President Joe Biden made to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting on the sidelines of the 78th UNGA, “Were there no Israel, we’d have to invent one.”
Israel has become America without the return address. The United States has been willing to turn a blind eye to decades of Israeli terrorism to build Israel into a regional power.
With Tel Aviv guarding US interests in the Middle East, Washington has been set free to redirect its hegemony over other parts of the globe—in Africa, Asia and currently in Europe.
US President Biden articulated that very sentiment in his 14 April 2021 “way forward” speech in the Treaty Room of the White House, when he announced his intent to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan; he stated:
“You know, we’ll be much more formidable to our adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20.”
To fight its “future battles” for global hegemony, Washington has essentially handed the US portfolio in the Middle East to Tel Aviv.
It is worth noting that there was no discussion of or plans for peace in Biden’s 2021 “way forward” prepared remarks. He did emphasize, however, that ending the war in Afghanistan would unleash the resources America would need to fight future battles—proxy battles that are currently being fought in Syria and against Russia in Ukraine, as well as planning for potential military battles with China. Peace seems to have no place in US foreign policy.
Biden also told his audience that he carries a card that reminds him of the exact number of American troops who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq because “every one of the dead are sacred human beings.”
Strikingly absent was any reference to the estimated 900,000 sacred Afghans and Iraqis killed by US wars, and the estimated 5 million direct and indirect deaths caused by America’s “war on terror.”
While employing the rhetoric of peace, the United States continues to arm, train and gear up Israel and Arab Gulf autocrats for war, with Iran as the target. To consolidate its satrapy, America has helped Israel build one of the strongest militaries in the world—fourth behind the United States, China and Russia.
Washington has also shielded Israel as it has developed its nuclear arsenal. Estimates of its nuclear stockpile range from 80 and 400 deliverable warheads. Its program is without any international safeguards or inspections. Israel is the world’s only unacknowledged nuclear power.
In 1987, Congress granted Israel the status of a major non-NATO ally, providing it with access to the most advanced weapons systems. Israel currently possesses 75 US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets (costing an estimated $100 million each).
The purchases have been financed largely through the defense aid it receives annually from the United States (over $3.8 billion). Tel Aviv is also allowed access to American weapons that Washington has stockpiled and stored in the country—US munitions that Israel is using in its proclaimed war on Gaza.
To further fortify Israel, Congress passed legislation in 2008 requiring that arms sales to countries in the region, other than Israel, must not adversely affect its military superiority, or what is known as the country’s “qualitative military edge.”
In addition to insuring Israel’s military supremacy, Washington has been actively engaged in developing ways to firmly integrate Israel into the region. It has been pressuring Arab states to formally establish ties with Tel Aviv, with the goal of legitimizing and normalizing its presence.
The United States has brokered an assortment of accords dressed up as “peace” agreements—Camp David, 1978; Oslo, 1993; and the Abraham Accords, 2020. Instead of peace, they have further systematized Israel’s control of Palestine and brought more of what Amnesty International described in its February 2022 report as Israel’s cruel system of domination and crimes against humanity.
The Biden administration needs Saudi Arabia to accomplish its integration strategy. They have been trying to broker what they describe as a “transformative” agreement to establish diplomatic ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
To complete the transaction, Biden has been willing to sweep aside Riyadh’s complicity in the assassination of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Türkiye, in October 2018, as well as the human rights abuses against its own citizens.
Hamas’s recent military operation in Israel was a major blow to Biden’s efforts to forge new regional security alignments and to push for Saudi-Israeli normalization.
The attack was intended to send a message to the Arab states, particularly to Riyadh, to the Americans and Israel that the Palestinian cause is alive and that there will be no security in the whole region as long as Palestinian aspirations are not met.
In a statement on 22 September 2023 to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Palestinian presidential spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeina made it clear that, “Peace begins with Palestine, and stability begins with the Palestinian people obtaining their legitimate national rights….Without that, there is no peace, no security and no stability in the region.”
While some Arab autocrats may favor establishing official ties with Israel, the Arab public has a different opinion. According to the Arab Opinion Index 2022, 84 percent of the 33,000 respondents surveyed (in 14 Arab countries) would disapprove of their countries’ recognition of Israel.
The violent protests that broke out on 27 August 2023 in Libya are also reflective of that disapproval. Public anger erupted following reports of secret meetings in Rome between the foreign minister of the Tripoli-based government and her Israeli counterpart to discuss normalization.
Instead of an agreement, US-Israeli attempts to forge ties led to angry demonstrations and with the dismissed foreign minister fleeing Libya for her life. (A historical note: Libya passed a law in 1957 making it illegal to normalize ties with Israel.)
Washington may wish to dispense with America’s painful history in Libya, but Libyans, who live daily with the instability and chaos caused by that history, cannot.
In the name of “peace” the US bombed Libya in 1986 and 2011. In 1986, US warplanes dropped 60 tons of munitions on Libya in an attempt to assassinate the then-Libyan president, Muammar Qaddafi.
In October 2011, under the guise of “protecting” Libyan civilians, the Obama administration and NATO began their regime change war; successfully bombing Libya into the failed state it is today.
Following the NATO bombing campaign, anti-Qaddafi militias brutally beat and executed Qaddafi. After learning of his murder, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared callously, “We came, we saw, he died;” a distortion of the Latin phrase “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I won) attributed to a swift conclusive victory.
In yet another attempt to integrate Israel into the regional fold and to checkmate China’s growing influence in the Middle East and its global infrastructure building project, the Belt and Road Initiative, the Biden administration has been pushing plans to build an infrastructure network called the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC). According to U.S. planners, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel and Jordan will be the only countries in the Middle East to participate.
The rail-shipping corridors and communications links would make Israel an important hub, connecting India and Europe through Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the transportation project a breakthrough that would transform the region; saying: “It’s a day of good news for all citizens of Israel, good news that leads us to a new era of regional integration and cooperation.”
The stated objective of Biden’s IMEC project is to create a stable, prosperous, integrated and transformed region. His “corridor accord” is hardly a blueprint for prosperity and stability since it excludes occupied Palestine and the other 13 countries of the Middle East.
There were some who grasped early on the intent of the imperial powers to construct the garrison state of Israel in the heart of the Middle East to maintain power.
In his essay “Zionist Logic” in the Egyptian Gazette on September 17, 1964, Black nationalist and civil rights activist, Malcolm X, judiciously observed:
“The ever scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world….Zionist Israel’s occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab world to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments, making it impossible…to concentrate on strengthening the economies of their countries and elevate the living standard of their people.”
Israel will continue as a rogue state and there will be no security as long as discerning voices like that of Malcolm X go unheeded and questions go unanswered.
– Dr. M. Reza Behnam is a political scientist specializing in the history, politics and governments of the Middle East. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.
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