Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just concluded a visit to Egypt and Israel which highlights for me how far the US policy has shifted from the early days of the Obama Administration.
In the early days of his Administration, and as a new recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama boldly showed some real leadership in breaking the status quo in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In June 2009, the Administration stepped up pressure on Israel to ease its blockade on Gaza, as reported here. And that same month, President Obama delivered his Cairo speech in which he used strong language to tell Israel to stop building settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Three years later, what has changed? The Huffington Post reports on Clinton’s recent visit to Israel, it’s worth a read.
Israel has defied Obama’s call to halt settlement construction in occupied lands, and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has refused to resume negotiations, leaving peace hopes in a tense status quo with no breakthrough in sight.
Both Israelis and Palestinians are frustrated with one another and with Obama’s peace efforts so far.
Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said Obama’s Mideast policy has been a “disaster.”
“The American standing and credibility have never been worse than now,” she said. “A major power is being constantly humiliated by Israel, and they put up with it and they take it.”
So I’m left wondering — why do U.S. Administrations (Republicans and Democrats) do Israel’s bidding even when it appears to be against U.S. interests?
The obvious answer might be the impact of the powerful Israeli lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Congress. When Netanyahu received 25 standing ovations during his address t0 Congress in May 2011, I wondered who are members of Congress working for — Americans or Israelis?
Israel even has a Republican Israel caucus in the U.S. Congress! Is there anything similar for France, Germany, China, etc? Just imagine – a Republican China caucus!*!
The fact that Israel has special standing in the U.S. government should alarm Americans of all stripes, but no one seems to take much notice.
And that is the reason why U.S. Administrations do Israel’s bidding. Americans don’t demand otherwise. We turn a blind eye towards the $3 Billion annual expenditure to Israel even when we’re closing schools at home.
We are deaf, dumb and blind to the atrocities occurring in the Middle East. We are not pushing back against AIPAC and not demanding that our elected representatives make demands on Israel.
What has changed between 2009 and 2012? The answer: not much.