Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. — Einstein
U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel is summed up in one word. Carrots.
U.S. Presidents, Secretaries of State, diplomats, and members of Congress have been wooing Israeli leaders for years . . . decades . . . hoping to coax them into abiding by international law and into a peace agreement with their neighbors and, specifically, with the Palestinians.
For as far back as I’ve been following developments in the Middle East, we’ve seen good intentions but no agreement. The Camp David Accords (1978), the Reagan Plan (1982), the Baker Plan (1989), the Madrid Conference (1991), the Oslo Proposals (1993-1999), the Clinton Parameters (2000), the Quartet’s Roadmap (2003), and the Olmert Plan (2008) to name but a few. (Thanks to Tessa Tompkins for sharing her excellent research with me.)
There are surely many reasons for these failures but what has the U.S. been doing consistently throughout the past 30-40 years?
- American taxpayers have forked over Billion$ each year to Israel.
- The US has shielded Israel from international scorn by casting the lone veto in the United Nations Security Council year after year on resolutions, such as S/2011/24 condemning the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories. Just look at this list of US vetoes and cringe.
- The US has turned a blind eye, or at most, given a mild slap on Israel’s wrist, when that nation commits outrageous crimes in violation of international law, such as Israel’s attack against an aid ship in international waters four years ago and Israel’s 22-day bloodbath in Gaza five years ago which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, women and children.
- The U.S. has threatened the PLO with sanctions, and has labeled Hamas a foreign terrorist organization (refusing to even talk with Hamas leaders) while treating Israel’s Knesset and Likud Party with kid gloves.
- The U.S. government has not held the Israeli government accountable for the intentional killing of an American peace activist in Gaza in 2004. (Imagine how the U.S. would have responded if the PLO had crushed a peace activist with a Caterpillar!)
Time to put the carrots away and bring out the sticks. What sticks does the U.S. government have which might lead to a different, more constructive, result in the Middle East?
- No more money.
- No more vetoes at the Security Council.
- No more preferential trade agreements with Israel.
- Join the EU in boycotting Israeli business and goods from the occupied territories.
- No more joint military exercises.
- Support Palestine’s bid for ICC jurisdiction.
When Israel joins the community of nations and abides by international law, the U.S. President and members of Congress can debate the pros and cons of extending carrots to Israel. Until then, it’s insanity to maintain the status quo.