A week ago, Gen David Petraeus referred to “a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel” that fuels anti-American sentiment across the Middle East.
He knows — as does anyone else who is even marginally aware of the issues — that this is not simply a matter of perception.
The United States does not merely exhibit favoritism towards Israel. Its political leaders express a level of loyalty towards the Jewish state that should be regarded as unseemly by any patriotic American.
Last week, right on the heels of receiving what was widely regarded as a monumental insult, Joe Biden said: “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States.”
On Friday, Hillary Clinton spoke of US relations with Israel as “deep and broad, strong and enduring,” and today at the AIPAC conference in Washington said that America’s future is “bound up with the future of Israel.”
This is the status quo that should be changed but shows every sign of being thoroughly sustainable. It is one in which American politicians shamelessly pander to Israel’s wealthy supporters and cast aside any semblance of dignity in their efforts to display their unfailing devotion to the Jewish state.
The obsequious nature of these flourishes of unvarnished affection is further reinforced by the fact that neither on a political level nor a popular level are such feelings reciprocated from the other side.
As Chris McGreal wrote yesterday:
In a country permeated by fear and insecurity, Israelis define the rest of the world not by loyalties but by varying degrees of distrust. You can hear it among residents of Jewish settlements deep in the occupied territories and in the cafes of liberal Tel Aviv: angst over the perception of a new wave of antisemitism gripping Europe, the incomprehension over foreign condemnation of Israel’s crimes in Gaza, the common agreement that the United Nations is a conspiracy against the Jewish state.
In all of this, the US emerges as the least distrusted country by far… . Israelis recognise that they have long counted on Washington to pay a good chunk of their military budget and provide diplomatic cover for the illegalities of occupation.
Israel depends on defense and political aid from Washington and Washington dances to the tune of the Israel lobby.
Those who now hold on to the notion that this administration is intent on shifting the political dynamic simply because it proclaims that the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is unsustainable are paying attention to the wrong status quo.