The New York Times is reporting that Israel asked the U.S. for special munitions and overflight privileges over Iraq last year in either an effort to launch its own raid against Iranian nuclear sites or to goad the Bush Administration in taking an offensive action against Iran before the expiration of George W. Bush’s term. According to the Times report, the Israelis were refused on both accounts, but an increase in intelligence has begun with respect to Iran.
At some point, perhaps in the near future, a U.S. president will have to make the decision on whether or not to take out Iranian nuclear sites. Let’s say it’s a given that a nuclear-armed Iran is untenable. If the U.S. is to be involved at all in removing such a capability were it to exist, the worst thing we could do is to aid any Israeli effort to take out Iranian nuclear sites. If and when action is taken it needs to be either the Americans or the Israelis, preferably the Americans who make the move.
The Middle East is enflamed enough with anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiments that we don’t need to tie ourselves any more than necessary to the Israeli millstone.
Whether we completely deserve it or not, our country is seen as the enabler for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians. As we are in a tense period with respect to the situation in Gaza, I want to point out that by mistreatment of the Palestinians I do not mean that Israel should not be carrying out its current operation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and its supporters in Gaza and elsewhere are twisted, religious zealots who would force their worldview upon others through violence. Their rocket attacks on Israel must stop.
Palestinians are mistreated however on a daily basis through illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, the summary appropriation of Palestinian property by Israelis over the years and countless other economic indignities meant to make life hard for any Arab who has the misfortune of being born in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. Arab nationlists around the Middle East and Islamic rabble rousers around the world have used the failed Israeli-Palestinian relationship as a rallying point for hatred of the U.S. and the West in general.
The world has gotten much smaller since 1948 and it is not in the interest of the U.S. to come down on the side of the Israeli police state, without thought or fail, on every Middle Eastern geopolitical issue. We’ve got our own screw ups to overcome.
It’s my hope that in the next few weeks Israel can secure her Gazan border and remove the Hamas terrorist threat. With their withdrawal, it would be refreshing to see them help rebuild the infrastructure they’ve destroyed in Gaza and help the Palestinians build an enclave that can function economically and peacefully in the modern world. They may also want to consider some sense of proportionality in their use of force now and in the future.
This is a blog and what began as a short post has turned into a rambler. The reader will excuse me if he or she is still around for this last paragraph. When I was younger I was quite passionate about these issues. I spent some time in the Middle East, I’ve had friends who are Palestinian and Americans who are part-time Israelis. The only energy I have left for this mess, is to hope that the U.S. will demand as much from Israel as it demands of her Arab neighbors. The best book I’ve ever read that brought these issues home in a way that touched both heart and mind was a book by an Israeli writer, David Grossman. It’s called The Yellow Wind and as I remember was a collection of stories from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In one story about Israeli settlers, Grossman said of the particular group about which he was writing, that see the Bible “as an operations order.” This is really the root of the problem on both sides. Religion becomes reason for conquest. Books – although divinely inspired – were written by people who were shaped by their far different times. The progressive or liberal movement in this country gives the Fundie nuts no quarter on their narrow view of the world. Why do we keep enabling Israel?