Stephen Zunes : Israel and Palestine
There is increasing evidence that Israel instigated a disastrous war on Lebanon largely at the behest of the United States. The Bush administration was set on crippling Hezbollah, the radical Shiite political movement that maintains a sizable block of seats in the Lebanese parliament. Taking advantage of the country’s democratic opening after the forced departure of Syrian troops last year, Hezbollah defied U.S. efforts to democratize the region on American terms. The populist party’s unwillingness to disarm its militia as required by UN resolution?and the inability of the pro-Western Lebanese government to force them to do so?led the Bush administration to push Israel to take military action.
The Bush administration and an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress have gone on record defending Israel’s assault on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure as a means of attacking Hezbollah “terrorists.” Unlike the major Palestinian Islamist groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah forces haven’t killed any Israeli civilians for more than a decade. Indeed, a 2002 Congressional Research Service report noted, in its analysis of Hezbollah, that “no major terrorist attacks have been attributed to it since 1994.” The most recent State Department report on international terrorism also fails to note any acts of terrorism by Hezbollah since that time except for unsubstantiated claims that a Hezbollah member was a participant in a June 1996 attack on the U.S. Air Force dormitory at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Since the Palestinian Legislative Council elections earlier this year, in which the Islamist group Hamas captured a majority of seats, the Bush administration has suspended U.S. economic assistance to the Palestine Authority (PA) and has led an international effort to impose sanctions against the Palestinians. This has meant enormous hardship for ordinary Palestinians, with reports that hospitals in Gaza have difficulty providing immunizations for children or dialysis machines for kidney patients. The World Health Organization warns of a “rapid decline of the public health system … toward a possible collapse.”
Since its publication in the London Review of Books in March, John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt’s article “The Israel Lobby”—and the longer version published as a working paper for Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government—has received widespread attention from across the political spectrum. These noted professors put forward two major arguments: the first is the very legitimate and widely acknowledged (outside of official Washington) concern that U.S. Middle East policy, particularly U.S. support for the more controversial policies of the Israeli government, is contrary to the long-term strategic interests of the United States. Their second, and far more questionable, argument is that most of the blame for this misguided policy rests with the “ Israel lobby” rather than with the more powerful interests that actually drive U.S. foreign policy.
With even mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post and The New Yorker publishing credible stories that the United States is seriously planning a military attack on Iran, increasing numbers of Americans are expressing concerns about the consequences of the United States launching another war that would once again place the United States in direct contravention of international law.
The origins of the March 14 Israeli raid of a Palestinian prison in Jericho are rooted in another Israeli raid on a Palestinian city in 2001.
On August 27 of that year, Israeli occupation forces assaulted the offices of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) with a U.S.-supplied helicopter gunship and missiles. Their target was PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa, who was killed instantly. The PFLP vowed to retaliate.
Lost amidst the predictably negative reaction to the victory by Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections is the crucial role that the U.S. government had in bringing the radical Islamist group to power.
The official rationales for the U.S. invasion of Iraq are now widely acknowledged to have been fabricated: that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction threatening the national security of the United States and that the Iraqi government had operational ties to al Quaida. As the backup rationalization — bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq — loses credibility, increasing attention is being given as to why the U.S. government, with broad bipartisan support, made such a fateful decision.
At a time of year when Jews and Christians are celebrating the spirit of justice and peace inspired by events in the Holy Land many centuries ago, Congress has been working to insure that the Holy Land of today experiences neither. Just prior to the Christmas recess, a bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives […]