Oped article in Aftenposten: the USA is run by the Israeli lobby

Here we go again, its the Israeli lobby that blocks Obama from doing what the Europeans want. Isn’t it strange how, in an article that purportedly is about the boycott-act in Israel, bases its argumentation on how the Israeli lobby in the USA can influence Obama?

Over an beyond this, as freelance journalist Karin Abrahams points out in one feedback, why is there no mention of the fact that this particular law is now being studied by the Israeli Supreme Court for a ruling on whether or not this law is constitutional or not. For an article that is very well written, with many excellent observations, failing to also mention this somehow detracts from the overall sober tone of this paper.

Another puzzling aspect is why Israel should have to ask the US for permission to do whatever they want to do in their own house? The Patriot Act should be more than enough for the North Americans to review, which is why the US has kept elegantly out of the fray on this one.

But Norway too bans boycott of Israel -this was the outcome when, in 2005, the South Trondelag county council adopted a decision to unilaterally boycott Israel – a move that was promptly struck down by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by referring to International Law, Norwegian Law, the European Economic Area Agreement and the WTO agreement.  I wonder how we can tie all of the above to the “Israeli lobby” in Norway?

BEST FRIENDS IN A MIFF

Aftenposten 2011 08 29, Martin Rehman Gaarder


Ominous: When US Jewish organizations gather in protest against totalitarian tendencies in Israel, it is a rather bad omen.

Nowhere else place in the world can Israel be criticized so crassly as in Israel. Freely and legally.

Ultraorthodox Jews, like the Neturei Karta group, proclaimed the Holocaust to be a well deserved punishment by God over the Jewish people. This punishment was over following the political plan over a Jewish state, Zionism, and not God’s plans for the Holy land.

Israel does not punish its citizens for dispersing a message over the Holocaust being well deserved. So highly is free speech estimated in Israel.

The free exchange of opinions and the respect over the individual  freedoms has always been Israel’s strongest card in relations with the democratic world.

Israel is a military community, yet she never became a military state. And the country is often referred to as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Democratic foundations.

In particular, the democratic foundations of Israel have been important in its relations regarding to the vital support by the USA. The American people would never have placed itself in such solidarity behind Israel in fair weather or foul; if not for the freedom and democratic rights most Israelis enjoy.

Therefore, it is an ominous sign for the Israeli government when leading Jewish organizations in the USA now gathers in protest over what they define as totalitarian tendencies in Israel. Also, the US government has found reasons to remind Israel over what democracy actually is.

Anti Boycott Act.

The reason over this is the Israeli national assembly Knesset’s vote on the 11th of July on a piece of legislation proposed by the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Anti-Boycott Act, as it is being referred to, makes it possible for Israeli settlers engaged in commercial activities on occupied land to sue co-citizens who are unwilling to buy their goods and services for reasons of conscience; recommending others to act in the same way.

The peace movement in Israel has encouraged such a “boycott from within”, as this action is referred to, and which now is in risk over going to the courts.

Basic right.

The right to act for a boycott is as basic as the right to freely express oneself, to organize and to go on strike. Therefore, politically committed Pink Floyd grounder Roger Waters is fulminating against this act, stating in a YouTube video over this distancing the Israeli legislators from any freely thinking and compassionate people in the world.

“I cannot point out strongly enough how I distance myself from this”, the rock legend, listened to by millions, states. He underlines how a boycott is a peaceful weapon in the struggle for democracy; used among things, to subvert the South African Apartheid regime. This parallel is hardly useful in enticing the Israeli government to a dialogue.

Protests.

In USA, Jewish groups both on the left, in the center and on the right wing are protesting. They state they are working to make the Netanyahu government abolish this legislation. So do several members of the Knesset. Also, the US groups are talking on coordinated efforts. Daniel Sokatch, the President of New York based New Israel fund tells the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).  The fund is financing several Israeli human rights organizations. Even the right wing Zionist Organization of America states it is opposed to such legislation of grounds of principle.

If all this combined leads to a weakening of the Israeli lobby in USA, PM Netanyahu has some reason to shiver his knees. The unconditional support of Israel in Congress is a result of the efforts of the Israeli lobby. And this May, we observed Benjamin Netanyahu, popularly referred to as Bibi, harvest ovations as he spoke in Congress. Just before this he had met with Obama in the White House, overbearingly refuted, even ignoring the US Presidents appeal to Israel over withdrawing to the “green line” sometime in the future, the border drawn up by the UN for Israel.

Lame duck Obama.

Obama was left as surly, and  as a lame duck; with Bibi demonstrating to the whole world how he have no need over having the US president as his team-mate, for a long as Israel “owns” the congress. No US president can survive politically without dancing to the tune of the Israel lobby and the Congress in questions concerning Israel. Bibi knew, Obama knew.

This unabashed demonstration of power by the Israeli PM made me think of a t-shirt being sold in Israel, with the text: “Don’t worry, USA, Israel is behind you”. This is a humorous version of what in Hebrew is referred to as Chutzpah; and which to an ever greater degree has put its stamp on Israeli foreign policy. Chutzpah is a central concept in Jewish culture and individual expression; being about demanding one’s place, putting your case forward, even arrogantly and shameless, with no regards for others. The great thing about Chutzpah is accepting Chutzpah in return. Obama has something to learn about this.

Shameless.

On the other hand: neither PM Netanyahu (Likud right wing party) nor Minister of Defense Ehud Barak (independence party) was present in the Knesset as the anti-boycott act was voted over. Many commenters’s interpreted this absence as a wish to distance them from a problematic decision. If some lack of shame has its limitations. And perhaps the extensive US opposition to the anti-boycott act may put a damper on Netanyahu’s chutzpah in his next meeting with the US president.

Safeguarding the settlements.

The act against boycotting settlers will make it even more difficult to negotiate with the Palestinians. Palestinian leaders have already made this clear. The act is a signal over Israel intending to go very far in order to safeguard the growth and future of the settlements. Yes, it even expresses to many a plan to make the settlements on occupied land permanent. This is contrary to international law, and it will make it impossible to establish a peace accord with the Palestinians, experiencing being robbed of land by the more than 500 000 Israeli settlers in the PA.

However, the anti-boycott act can backfire. Protests against this act in Israel are loud, also by the political and cultural elite. Controversies can entice more Israelis to safeguard the rights to take action against the Israeli power apparatus. And it can lead to president Obama’s pressure on Israel receiving greater acceptance within the US people. Giving his words more power and Chutzpah.

Talkbacks to this article are truly grim, check out  http://www.facebook.com/people/Demos-Demoso/630016931 to get a gist of the style.