As conservative Israelis and their leaders (with John Boehner and the Republicans in tow) charge ahead to finalize a Greater Israel and exclusive Jewish state at the expense of its professed democratic values and the basic human and civil rights of Palestinians and other non-Jews living within its pre- and post-1967 borders, now is the time to get vocal, very vocal. Now is the time to push congressional Democrats (and cheer on the Obama administration which seems to have found its voice), to stop writing Israel a blank check.
We need to tell our Democratic representatives (and Republicans if any are listening) that the US can no longer support the collective insanity that is Israel’s plan for the Palestinians, which is unending violence until they give up almost all their land to Jews.
My own modest (really) effort to influence the debate is contained in the below “correspondence” with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D.) My other congressional representatives, Rep. Jim Himes (D) and Senator Chris Murphy (D), all of whom ignored my admonishments not to attend Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress, can expect to receive similar letters. But here’s the one to Blumenthal.
Dear Senator Blumenthal:
Except for the dreadful content, I appreciated you responding to my February e-mail urging you not to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Because your response (copied below for your convenience) is based on assumptions that can charitably be called myths, especially in light of some of Netanyahu’s recent campaign statements, I am writing you again, this times to voice my concerns with your Feb. 7th reply to me. Obviously, your decision to attend the speech was a poor one.
The most egregiously misinformed myths about Israel that I would like to address appear in the second paragraph of your reply, wherein you say: “Israel is a crucial ally of the United States and a successful democratic state in the Middle East.” Here’s what you need to know.
1. With Allies Like This Who Needs Enemies:
At the end of February, prior to Netanyahu’s speech, US Secretary of State John Kerry in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee observed that Netanyahu was “profoundly forward leaning and outspoken” in his push to get the US into war with Iraq. “We all know,” Kerry said, “what happened with that decision.”
Netanyahu’s blatant use of US domestic partisan politics to interfere with our President’s stated and reasonable policy to negotiate with Iran over its potential to develop nuclear weapons (Israel is said to have 80 warheads) is outrageous and you need to know that and act accordingly. Netanyahu’s rejection of negotiation and incessant warmongering is both wrong and motivated by Israeli, not US interests. President Obama’s distaste for sending our troops to war is generally commendable: and the risk of war only increases if we don’t negotiate with Iran on this and other issues. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, you will have noticed, proposed no alternative to negotiation. And just a few days ago the NYT published a piece by John Bolton, who by now should have been thoroughly discredited, advocating that the United States, yes, the United States, should bomb Iran.
In the last days of his campaign, a panicky Netanyahu revealed that there would be no Palestinian state, i.e., “two state solution,” while he was Prime Minister, a statement that he is now vigorously backpedaling on. This backpedaling, of course, is just a ruse by an untrustworthy head of state that this administration is unlikely to fall for, and neither should you.
What kind of ally permits its most generous supporter (@$3.5 billion a year and counting) to spin its wheels in countless hours of negotiations for a two state solution knowing full well it has no intention of ever permitting a Palestinian state? It’s just outrageous and you need to know that and start acting accordingly.
And what kind of ally meddles in another ally’s domestic political process using cash and influence peddling to achieve foreign policy goals solely in its own (Israeli) interest and frequently antithetical to the well being of its benefactor (the US), examples of which abound in John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s landmark paper on the Israel lobby and US foreign policy published in 2006 in the London Review of Books, which you need to read (and act on accordingly). Churchill might have advocated for United States involvement in World War II prior to Pearl Harbor, but Bibi is no Churchill and Iran is not Germany circa 1941. ( I’d be interested in what evidence you have that Israel is a good ally of the U.S.)
In sum, Israel may be a United States ally, but it is not a good one and cannot be trusted.
2. Israeli “Democracy”
In your response to my e-mail, you refer to Israel as “a successful democratic state.”
Are you joking? Israel is about as “successful” a democracy as South Africa was before 1994 when Nelson Mandela forced F. W. de Klerk to accept universal suffrage and the right of all races to vote.
A country that deprives over a third of its population of basic civil rights, including the right to vote, for nearly half a century cannot be called a democracy. Now that Israel’s Prime Minister (and electorate) have publicly repudiated the “two state” solution, comparison to recent South African history is inevitable and more appropriate than ever. Israel has now condemned itself and the Palestinians to a continuation and intensification of violence and repression through the inhuman and immoral apparatus of apartheid. That’s what Netanyahu and his supporters want but cannot be permitted to have. Like South Africa, the only moral solution to the conflict and violence is one person, one vote, regardless of race. But first there will be violence and lots of it (just think back to this past summer and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the Hamas missiles reigning down on Israel), because Israel is not even close to a democracy and you need to know that and act accordingly, which means acting in the interest of the U.S. first and not just Israel.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians violates basic standard of human decency and international law and must be stopped now. Only the US has the power to influence the outcome and we can do without even going to war.
March 28, 2015
P.S. To better understand Israel, I recommend you (and relevant staff members) read Max Blumenthal’s, “Goliath, Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” (Nation Books 2012). Are you and Max by any chance related?
Feb. 9, 2015 letter from Senator Blumenthal of CT to me.
Dear Mr. Fearey,
Thank you for your message regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu and his invitation to address Congress on Iran. I appreciate hearing from you.
I share your concerns over the Speaker of the House’s decision to invite a foreign head of state without consulting the White House. The relationship between the United States and Israel is simply too important to be used for partisan advantages. Israel is a crucial ally of the United States and a successful democratic state in the Middle East. Recent turmoil in the region adds urgency and importance to ensuring that Israel remains a secure, stable, and independent state.
At the same time, addressing the Iranian nuclear program should remain a bipartisan priority in Congress. I was pleased to be an original cosponsor of S. 269, legislation introduced by Senators Kirk and Menendez that would expand sanctions imposed with respect to Iran if a comprehensive agreement is not reached. I additionally signed onto a letter with my Senate colleagues vowing to withhold support for sanctions legislation until March 24, 2015 in order to allow the President time to continue negotiations. I encourage the President to pursue a final deal that will successfully prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
I hope that President Obama’s continued efforts lead to a permanent agreement that brings Iran into full compliance with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions and under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Thank you again for your message. Please feel free to contact me in the future with any additional questions or concerns.
United States Senate