As the boycott/sanctions discussion begins in earnest, it’s important to consider that at the highest level, the U.S. does not treat Israel as just another country, but our BFF (best friends forever). Two statements from the Obama administration, today and yesterday, underline the very special place of Israel in the American government. First, from the White House:
On Monday, March 3, President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The President looks forward to discussing with the Prime Minister progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, developments in Iran, and other regional priorities. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues.
Second, from Ambassador Samantha Power:
February 11, 2014
Today, for the first time, Israel participated in one of the core coordinating groups focused on human rights and social policy at the United Nations. Israel’s participation in the “JUSCANZ” caucus in the United Nation’s Third Committee is an important step toward securing Israel’s full participation across the UN system.
The United States has long been a tireless advocate for Israel’s full participation and inclusion at the UN. Today’s inclusion, coupled with our successful efforts to secure Israel’s membership in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) last November in Geneva, are important steps in the right direction. Israel is now able to fully participate in the main regional and core coordinating groups in New York and Geneva where much of the behind-the-scenes work at the UN gets done.
While more work remains, the United States will combat every effort to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a full and equal member of the community of nations, including by ending the various forms of structural discrimination against Israel throughout the UN system.
This seems an important difference between Israel and South Africa. South Africa was not joined at the hip to the United States, or embedded in the U.S. political structure to this degree. No, as Samantha Power makes clear, we keep taking Israel to parties even though nobody is crazy about the country. And trying to square that craven support with her support for inspiring, trailblazing Americans, Jason Collins formerly of the NBA and Michael Sam, who will soon be in the NFL.
The Israel lobby is clearly helping to enforce this pattern. Yesterday Roger Cohen did a fearful piece about BDS in the New York Times, portraying it as destructive– and so very unlike the equal rights movement in South Africa that everyone supported.
As Diana Shaw Clark, an activist on behalf of a two-state solution, wrote to me in an email, “People affiliated with divestment in South Africa had no agenda other than the liberation and enfranchisement of an oppressed majority.”
I don’t agree with Clark; I want to liberate an oppressed people. But Clark counts! If you look her up, you find that she is a British Zionist who has raised a ton of money for Obama from overseas, who was then named to a Holocaust board by Obama. Here it is reported she raised $50,000 for Obama as his chief bundler in England.
So Clark is hardly just some activist who loves equal rights, as Roger Cohen knows. BDS is taking on very powerful forces inside the American establishment.
Thanks to Peter Voskamp.