The US and Israel: ‘An integrated political system’

US Politics
on 42 Comments

Since the end of the Cold War, more than 25 years ago, the United States has undermined the prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians argues Rashid Khalidi in his book Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (2013). Dahlia Scheindlin interviewed him in New York this week for the Tel Aviv Review. Successive American administrations, says Khalidi, have been unable and unwilling to force Israel to make the concessions necessary to implement the peace proposal on the table: a two state solution.

Menachem Begin laid down the template for Israeli resistance during the Camp David negotiations with Egypt, says Khalidi.  He figured out that the formula for not being forced to make concessions is to defer action forever. The ’79 peace treaty with Egypt permitted Israel to continue settlement in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli Sovereignty over the West Bank was not touched.

How much does the Israel lobby, both Jewish and fundamentalist Christian, explain why negotiations have failed to bear fruit for the past 25 years, asked Scheindlin. “It’s beyond the Lobby,” said Khalidi. Israeli and American politicians get funding from the same people. Important industries, like high tech and defense, are integrated in the U.S. and in Israel at the highest levels. As a result the U.S. and Israeli political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, says Khalidi.

And when he says the U.S. and Israel should be thought of as an integrated political system, he means  Zionist Israel. Zionist Israel is the idea of Israel as the state of the Jews for the Jews of the world. It is the idea that the state belongs to a Jew born in Argentina, or Bolivia, or the United States who has never set foot in Israel; and it belongs to this Jew who has never set foot in Israel somehow more than it does to an Arab Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem but forced out by war in 1948 or 1967; that, in a fundamental way, it belongs to this Argentinian, Bolivian, or U.S. Jew more than it does to a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

Zionism grew organically out of Western culture, says Khalidi. He points to the affinity of Zionists with the West. Zionism was a movement born in Basel and at the Biltmore Hotel. These people were at home in the West. Chaim Waizmann and David Ben-Gurion, were Europeans. Ben-Gurion lived in the United States for two years, organizing. He spoke English fluently and naturally. Golda Meir grew up in the United States, as did Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, Michael Oren (ambassador to U.S. 2009-13), and Ron Dermer (the current ambassador) all had American citizenship.

Since 1967, the American Jewish community (~7 million strong) has embraced Zionist Israel. And this community  has been established for five generations in the U.S. It is hugely influential in politics, law, business, and entertainment. There is a deep affinity between Zionism and the United States through its frontier culture, the idea of exceptionalism, and through the bible, says Khalidi. This affinity, and the Holocaust, have enabled the establishment of a pro-Zionist narrative that has whitewashed what is fundamentally a colonialist enterprise of dispossession. And it has enabled this narrative to be portrayed in an entirely positive context.

In this contest of ideas, suggests Khalidi, Palestinians have been hopelessly outmatched. They are monoglot. They speak Arabic. They have no connections to the West. They are not at home with English or French. There is no affinity between Palestinians and the West. The Arab community in the United States (~1.7 million) is much smaller and consists of more recent arrivals.  They are discriminated against in the U.S. today. Meanwhile, their potential patrons, the leaders of the Arab Gulf States, are autocratic powers of reaction. They are repressive, they are exporters of extreme forms of Islam. They have no natural affinity with Western values.

Today, the white nationalist political narratives in the West are aligned with the Zionist idea. Fighting white nationalism in the West, and fighting Jewish nationalism (as opposed to Israeli nationalism), are related. To the extent that Khalidi is right and the U.S. and the Israeli polity are an integrated political system, fighting White nationalism and fighting Zionism are part of the same fight.

Listen to the program HERE.

This post first appeared on Roland Nikles’s website here.

About Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: rolandnikles.blogspot.com. And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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42 Responses

  1. JosephA
    May 19, 2017, 12:39 pm

    I certainly agree with what Rashid Khalidi has correctly identified: the military-industrial complex is a major factor that influences or prevents peace in modern day Israel/historic Palestine because they profit handsomely from war and conflict.

  2. Keith
    May 19, 2017, 3:02 pm

    ROLAND NIKLES- “As a result the U.S. and American political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, says Khalidi.”

    Assuming you meant to say the U.S. and Israeli political systems, I agree and them some. I would maintain that Israeli political economy is integrated within the American led, imperial global political economy. Jewish Zionist elites, particularly American Jewish Zionists, are firmly imbedded within the global 1% which calls the shots.

    ROLAND NIKLES- “Since 1967, the American Jewish community (~7 million strong) has embraced Zionist Israel.”

    This is why I have come to believe that Zionism, originally a form of blood and soil nationalism, has changed into Judeo-Zionism, a merger of Judaism and Zionism which unites secular Jews with religious Jews in common cause.

    ROLAND NIKLES- “To the extent that Khalidi is right and the U.S. and the Israeli polity are an integrated political system, fighting White nationalism and fighting Zionism are part of the same fight.”

    Rubbish, and sneaky at that! “White nationalism” is the label which folks like you try to pin on those of the 99% who oppose neoliberal globalization. Folks like me. Jewish Zionists are an integral part of the global elites who are pushing for neoliberal globalization, the Wall Street wrecking crew smashing national sovereignty to permit total financial control. So, no Roland, fighting against those fighting against neoliberal globalization is not the same as fighting Zionism. Actually, just the opposite. Those who oppose neoliberal globalization generally oppose foreign interventions, including support for Israel. Those who support empire support Zionist Israel. Israel wouldn’t exist in its present form without massive imperial support. So, the reality is that fighting empire and neoliberal globalization and fighting Zionism are part of the same fight.

    • Mooser
      May 19, 2017, 6:02 pm

      “White nationalism” is the label which folks like you try to pin on those of the 99% who oppose neoliberal globalization. Folks like me”

      Yup, folks like you. That 1% of minorities better watch out. Sneaking over here and foisting neoliberal globalization on the 99%

    • Roland Nikles
      May 19, 2017, 6:05 pm

      Thank you for noticing the typo. This should be fixed. Regarding White nationalism, I’m thinking of Richard Spencer and what he stands for–that America should be a country for those of white northern European descent and culture. You a fan of Richard Spencer?

      • Keith
        May 19, 2017, 8:18 pm

        ROLAND NIKLES- “You a fan of Richard Spencer?”

        No, in fact I had to look him up to be reminded that he compared his version of white nationalism to Jewish peoplehood.

        The fact remains that “liberal” imperialists continue to describe opponents of neoliberal globalization as “white nationalists”, or the alt-right, or the basket of deplorables, etc. I mostly agree with Rashid Khalidi’s views as depicted in your article, however, it was your last paragraph where you stopped presenting Khalidi’s views to present your own where you conflate fighting Jewish nationalism with fighting white nationalism, an extremely dubious conflation in my view. Since I view the alt-right as having been blown way out of proportion in order to demonize Trump and others who say they oppose globalization (Trump lied), I can only assume that you are setting the stage for tarring opponents of interventions and globalization as white nationalists. Am I wrong? Are you not for globalization? Do you not view those who oppose globalization and empire as white nationalists? Should be easy enough to clarify your views without attempting to tar me with Richard Spencer.

      • RoHa
        May 20, 2017, 2:45 am

        “Regarding White nationalism, I’m thinking of Richard Spencer and what he stands for–that America should be a country for those of white northern European descent and culture. ”

        That’s just the USA, not the West.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 20, 2017, 12:57 pm

        This should be fixed

        Roland, fixed it. thanks for picking that up keith..

    • john douglas
      May 20, 2017, 4:33 pm

      Keith has a point about language that deserves more attention. What is now called non-interventionist used to be called isolationist. But to be an isolationist is bad or stupid or means that the US should have no commerce with other nations. How did isolationist get all those associations. “America First” may mean fix US schools rather than building a school system in Iraq or stop meddling in every corner of the world. But no. It means one is an anti-Semite because someone who once used the term was an anti-Semite. Nationalist could mean someone who stands straight during the “national” anthem. But no, it’s now associated with racism and Xenophobia. Populist could mean working to have government serve the people rather than the rich. But it’s now pejorative, though I’m not sure what its crime is. Then there is “anarchist” and “communist” and (before Bernie) “socialist”. Terrible things all. These meaning manipulations have in common that they are employed to put down attempts to curb the power of elites, including the backers of globalization. The MSM is rife with this.

    • ToivoS
      May 21, 2017, 1:16 am

      I have to agree with Keith here. This jumped out at me also: fighting White nationalism and fighting Zionism are part of the same fight [copied
      at 10:00 pm PST May 19].

      I am not sure what was corrected in the original article (as annie mentioned ) but this quote is absolutely wrong. It is wrong for political reasons. “White nationalism” has become a buzz word for the deplorables as Keith pointed out. I am quite agreeable to oppose racism in the US but will not equate that issue with opposition to Zionism. The reason is very simple — all the Zionist have to do is oppose white nationalism and, ipso facto, they belong to the side of progressive leftism. From there it is a small rhetorical step to equate opposition to Zionism as support for white nationalism.

      Folks do not be deceived by this slight of hand. Accepting Nikles argument will put those of us opposed to Zionism at a political disadvantage.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2017, 1:49 am

        I am not sure what was corrected in the original article (as annie mentioned)

        toivo, keith quoted roland: “As a result the U.S. and American political systems are on the same page ” and then keith commented “Assuming you meant to say the U.S. and Israeli political systems” to which roland responded “Thank you for noticing the typo. This should be fixed.” .. now the main text reads:

        Important industries, like high tech and defense, are integrated in the U.S. and in Israel at the highest levels. As a result the U.S. and Israeli political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, says Khalidi.

        hope that clears it up (and hope that was what keith referenced that roland affirmed was a typo).

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2017, 3:27 am

        “White nationalism” has become a buzz word for the deplorables as Keith pointed out. I am quite agreeable to oppose racism in the US but will not equate that issue with opposition to Zionism. The reason is very simple — all the Zionist have to do is oppose white nationalism and, ipso facto, they belong to the side of progressive leftism.

        i’m not an expert on the way these terms are used in the current political discourse but my understanding of white nationalism is, like zionism, ethnic nationalism. it’s the idea white people should have a right to be self determined as white people, for the preservation of race and culture as white. white nationalism inherently, like zionism, implies support for a viable inclusive white-only (or white privileged) space which excludes POC (except perhaps marginally as guests, visitors, or servants or something). i don’t perceive white nationalism as american nationalism, i am not anti nationalism per se, but i am not an ethnic nationalist, i am a civic nationalist (the american gov is supposed to function as the gov of a civil nationalist state). white nationalists and zionists are both ethnic nationalists. and yes, zionists, for the most part, support neoliberal globalization. i am not sure if the same can be said for white nationalist, who are isolationists.

        as it pertains to american politics, i am an isolationist, a non interventionist. mostly i identify as a global citizen. but as an american i don’t think we should be imposing our beliefs or anything else on others, including democracy or regime change. i believe societies can best govern themselves, or at least do it better than american intervention which i mostly consider invasive and detrimental due to our history.

        that said, i do think fighting white nationalism is the same as fighting zionism in terms of them both being supporters of ethnic nationalist states and the idea of states rights being afforded based on ethnicity is anathema to my beliefs. Zionist saying they oppose white nationalism is hypocritical. while they can claim to oppose white nationalists, in principle they seem one in the same as it pertains to their ethnic nationalism. however, white nationalist are not uniform in their support for neoliberalism — or as embedded as zionists are in globalization.

        these are just my impressions. but the idea all the Zionist have to do is oppose white nationalism and, ipso facto, they belong to the side of progressive leftism, seems completely absurd. this is the tightwire liberal zionists have to walk in their claim to be viably leftists. but what is zionism if not support for an ethnic national state? it’s not some pie in the sky idealist thing it was so last last century, in [only] theory . it has a track record, it has never existed sans its suppression of another people and imposition on those outside their ethnic status who live in the same space. in today’s world, i am not clear how zionism or white nationalism could thrive if not on the backs of others. if a zionist merely claims to oppose `white nationalism, ask them how their form of nationalism (ethnic vs civil) is any different. what can they say? “i am not a neoliberal?” seems like a weak argument. and i do equate opposing racism in the US with opposition to Zionism. because there’s no viable zionism in existence that does not require the suppression of palestinians. as long as zionism intrinsically requires palestinian land sans palestinian equality, i can’t understand how it does not exists as a racist entity. ideologically i can understand (they do not want to be racist), but practically speaking, it’s a colonial enterprise requiring the dispossession of another people and has never existed otherwise. it requires oppression and surrender of another people to exist.

      • ToivoS
        May 21, 2017, 2:26 pm

        annie

        I agree with most of what you are saying from a moral and logical point. My objection is a political one. The basic fact is that White nationalism in the US has zero chance of achieving its political objective of separating the “races”. This country is just too diverse and its multicultural tradition too strong. Is racism a problem in the US? Of course it is but the fringey White nationalist groups simply exploit racism as an issue and in no way are close to leading racism’s important manifestations. The fact that some of the more extreme US racists rally to Israel as a model for separation has its political uses — namely as a political tool to discredit Zionism in the eyes of multicultural America. But it would useless to expend any energy fighting them directly — the White nationalist are politically irrelevant.

        I feel strongly about this because I see many signs that liberal democrats are dismissing Trump’s electoral support among the white working class as a manifestation of white racism. This is wrong. That part of the working class used to be the foundation of the Democratic Party. If democrats want to win again they should be trying to come up with programs that address those people’s legitimate needs.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2017, 3:35 pm

        toivo, i agree (whole heartedly) with your last paragraph. it’s absurd to think swaths of america who voted for obama switched to trump because of racist reasons. the party failed those people and trump picked up sanders populist messaging, rudely dismissed by the dnc, and rode to victory on it. now, they are trying to blame (collectively) white people who didn’t vote for clinton (in particular sanders supporters, who for the most part didn’t vote for trump anyway, but he would have picked up all those working class voters).

        anyway, hunches over failed dem strategizing aside, my point about white nationalism and zionism still stands. philosophically, the “basic fact” (assuming that’s correct which i believe it is) that white nationalism has zero chance of achieving its political objective of separating races here in the US, is irrelevant to the argument about these 2 ethnic nationalisms, as it pertains to their inherent structural similarities.

        the sentiment that “all the Zionist have to do is oppose white nationalism and, ipso facto, they belong to the side of progressive leftism” reminds me of an article i wrote last fall called “There’s no room on campus to be progressive and pro-Israel” http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/theres-progressive-israel/#sthash.WV17myO8.dpuf

        understanding zionism as ethnic nationalism and a colonial project is the way to expose it for what it is. in fighting the smearing of middle class, go after the accusation at it’s core. honestly expose why dems failed their constituents. i’m not going to be bullied into voting for a war monger — they keep browbeating the left as they consistently move towards the right and shovel our money into wars. and then they wonder why we are bailing in droves. they are two separate arguments.

      • ToivoS
        May 21, 2017, 10:57 pm

        annie

        Thanks for the exchange. We are on the same page (which I never doubted) but differences in political tactics can be a bitch.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 22, 2017, 2:22 pm

        agreed, thank you toivo.

  3. broadside
    May 19, 2017, 3:16 pm

    ‘“It’s beyond the Lobby,” said Khalidi. Israeli and American politicians get funding from the same people. Important industries, like high tech and defense, are integrated in the U.S. and in Israel at the highest levels. As a result the U.S. and American political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, says Khalidi.’

    Yes. That is more intractable than Congress’s support for Israel, though could also be seen as one and the same.

    Excellent piece — but is the author sure Netanyahu was an American citizen? The others I knew.

  4. Rusty Pipes
    May 19, 2017, 4:04 pm

    Israeli Military and Intelligence has become progressively intertwined with the US MIC through decades of diligent shaping of Congressional legislation by the Israel Lobby and by monitoring and unauthorized obtaining US weapons and industry technology and assets by Israeli intelligence. For years, Israel has been one of the top foreign countries that have spied on American industries. Netanyahu helped pilfer nuclear triggers in the 80s. Congress has passed exceptions for Israeli companies to allow them to produce components for US military hardware that is supposed to be produced only by US companies. Israel has marketed itself as the “start-up nation” and lobbied states, like California, to sign technology deals. Just because the Lobby does not have to try as hard to maintain this state of affairs does not mean that they have not been instrumental in our country’s having gotten to this point.

  5. oldgeezer
    May 19, 2017, 9:53 pm

    “To the extent that Khalidi is right and the U.S. and the Israeli polity are an integrated political system, – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/05/israel-integrated-political/#comment-177113

    Are they not part of the same fight insofar but are supremacist belief systems which are equally vile? Is integration necessary to make it the same fight?

  6. Citizen
    May 20, 2017, 4:24 am

    Israel, the de facto most recent US state, with not 2, but 100 senators.

  7. irmep
    May 20, 2017, 9:08 am

    “Ben-Gurion lived in the United States for two years, organizing.” Right. “Organizing.”

    He came in as the head of the Jewish Agency, met with Zionist business leaders (the so-called Sonneborn group), and set up a network to smuggle WWII weapons to Palestine. The Jewish Agency also set up AIPAC.

    So organic. But the lobby will be relieved that Khalidi points to the MIC and Western Values as the keys to the “special relationship.”

    That’s their argument.

    • jon s
      May 20, 2017, 10:43 am

      “Ben Gurion lived in the US…” probably refers to his years in the US during WW1.
      The Turkish authorities expelled him in 1915, he came to the US,continued his Zionist activism (and met Paula and got married) and returned in 1918 as a member of one of the Jewish battalions in the British Army.

      • irmep
        May 20, 2017, 12:27 pm

        Yup, mentioned in the interview.

        But Ben-Gurion’s signed foreign agent registration form as head of the Jewish Agency is on file at the National Archives, for his later entry into the US, on false pretenses, as instigator of an arms smuggling campaign.

  8. Boomer
    May 20, 2017, 9:09 am

    Well, we certainly have integrated elites.

  9. CitizenC
    May 20, 2017, 12:23 pm

    I haven’t listened to the interview but the claim that the MIC is a major reason for US support for Israel is simply wrong. The US-Israel relationship began in the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed military and diplomatic opposition to US support for Zionism and forced support for partition and a Jewish state on the US govt. The MIC was nowhere to be seen, as far as Israel was concerned. Arms sales to Israel were considered a strategic liability into the 1960s.

    The “strategic asset” school on the left have ignored this chapter, until one of them, Irene Gendzier, tried to impose the asset argument on the 1940s, in a crudely dishonest book. See my review at

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/22/dying-to-forget-the-israel-lobby/

    Beyond that, even after the June, 1967 war, the State Dept, the Defense Intel Agency and the SecDef declined to sell Israel the F-4 Phantom on the grounds it would encourage Israel’s offensive proclivity. President Johnson overruled them and the deep penetration bombing of Egypt, and the massive Soviet missile defense, which grounded the Phantoms, and eventually a cease fire, in summer, 1970, followed.

    Among other observations. Israel’s military aid to Israel is relatively small, and Israel is allowed to spend funds on its own industries and to compete with the US MIC

    The US MIC doesn’t spend time and money lobbying mainly for foreign policy, but for arms programs. Profiting from military budgets is not the same as initiating wars. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the culmination of a 25-yr design of the Israel Lobby and above all the neocons, not of the MIC. Etc etc.

    • Citizen
      May 20, 2017, 5:03 pm

      But the US MIC surely saw the profit in Zionist agenda?

      • CitizenC
        May 20, 2017, 11:52 pm

        The MIC saw profit in selling arms to the Shah of Iran and would gladly have supplied Iran, after the Iran-Iraq war. Not only the MIC but a substantial business lobby had an interest in reviving Iranian markets that had existed under the Shah. They were prevented from exploiting it by the Israel Lobby, which imposed “dual containment” in the 1990s

  10. James Canning
    May 20, 2017, 1:10 pm

    There seems to be no reason to doubt the effectiveness of efforts by the Israel lobby to coerce the American people into backing Israel “right or wrong”.

    • Citizen
      May 20, 2017, 5:04 pm

      You can’t really coerce a US public who has no clue, thanks to to the US MSM.

  11. Maghlawatan
    May 20, 2017, 4:59 pm

    If you took away the lobby would Israel be of interest to the US? I doubt it. Israel is poor at strategy and becoming poorer economically. It is too paranoid to be a useful ally and cannot be relied on. It’s not a member of the 5 eyes intelligence grouping, for example .
    The US is due a new economic system. When it emerges the US won’t need pointless middle eastern wars as much. And the billionaire class will be deflated. Israel is overexposed to neoliberalism. And most people in DC privately hate it. Joe Kennedy called Zionists ambitious, vindictive and self pitying.

    • yonah fredman
      May 20, 2017, 5:29 pm

      Which Joe Kennedy and please link to the quote.

      • Maghlawatan
        May 21, 2017, 10:26 am

        Economic growth last year was less than population growth, Habibi. YESHA grows at 9% per year meanwhile. Neoliberalism is dying. I presume G-d will pay for everything. LOLZ

        PS I know this is hard for history teachers

      • MHughes976
        May 21, 2017, 1:24 pm

        I had a look at the IMF projections for Israeli GDP per capita up to 2022 which, for whatever they are worth, are quite rosy.

      • Maghlawatan
        May 21, 2017, 11:23 pm

        @Mhughes

        The IMF has been having difficulty with projections recently. It has been predicting 3% growth for the US for a few years and the country can’t do better than 2% because of structural issues . Even the Fed (the US central bank) is struggling . It has models that consistently predict 3%. The most recent measure turned out to be 0.7%. The models don’t include the impact of debt.
        Israel has one of the most neoliberal economies in the world which means the richest 1% control most of the wealth. When this happens ordinary people don’t have as much money to spend to drive growth. The UK is in a similar boat BTW. The Tories are similar to Likud. They made their own reality in the.80s. They are struggling to impose it now.

        The 2 defining moments in ancient Jewish history involved the destruction of the Temple. Both followed economic crashes.

      • jon s
        May 22, 2017, 4:03 am
      • Maghlawatan
        May 22, 2017, 4:34 pm

        Tourism is around 6% of GDP. It can’t compensate for the number of ignorant haredim joining the Shatnez industry every year.

  12. Maghlawatan
    May 21, 2017, 6:09 am

    There is a photo at this link of Israeli goons arresting a Palestinian kid. The kid is obviously Palestinian. You can tell by his skin tone and the eyes. The goons are as pale as snow. And the goons have what link to the Middle East exactly ?

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.790526

    • jon s
      May 21, 2017, 10:04 am

      Maghlawatan,
      “Skin tone” ? Are you serious?

      • Maghlawatan
        May 21, 2017, 10:28 am

        I looked at sales of sun tan lotion in Ashkenazi areas of Israel as well. Tsk Tsk. The fraud is revealed.

  13. amigo
    May 21, 2017, 1:41 pm

    Off topiic.

    I was in Dublin yesterday and made a point of going along to the offices of the Dublin city Council to view the Palestinian flag flying gloriously at full mast atop that landmark Building.

    I sat on a bench across from the building and and remained there for the guts of an hour marveling at the sight before my eyes.I have seen Dublin on some of it,s best days.This was right up there with the best.

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