Sunday, June 06, 2010

pariah nation


Video - Obama rained out....,

Counterpunch | In the opinion of much of the world, Israel is descending to the status of South Africa in the final years of apartheid (in which period, it has just emerged, Israel was trying to sell South Africa nuclear weapons) – a pariah nation.

In February the Tel Aviv–based Reut Institute presented a big report to the Israeli cabinet, long in the making, called “The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall.” It has sinister recommendations for a strategy of “offense.” Israel’s government is embarking on a methodical assault on human rights groups and kindred NGOs seen as delegitimizers. It’s not paranoid to expect COINTELPRO-type black-bag jobs sponsored by Israel on solidarity groups here and around the world.

Israel is plunging into deeper darkness. As the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently told one interviewer: “In the last year there have been real cracks in the democratic system of Israel.… It’s systematic—it’s not here and there. Things are becoming much harder.” And Levy also wrote in Ha’aretz, “When Israel closes its gates to anyone who doesn’t fall in line with our official positions, we are quickly becoming similar to North Korea. When right-wing parties increase their number of anti-democratic bills, and from all sides there are calls to make certain groups illegal, we must worry, of course. But when all this is engulfed in silence, and when even academia is increasingly falling in line with dangerous and dark views…the situation is apparently far beyond desperate.”

A year ago Obama gave his famous speech in Cairo, addressing the Muslim World in a constructive manner. He vowed “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”, declaring, “Islam is a part of America” and “is an important part of promoting peace.”

It was a great act, but one utterly disconnected from the realities of American politics. Wimps love to be crowd-pleasers. But a year later the crowd – world opinion, in this instance – is remembering the speech as one betrayed commitment after another.

It’s clear enough the White House knew of the impending Israeli attack on the relief flotilla and contented itself with a private, purely pro forma call for restraint. In other words, a green light. It may even encouraged the lethal violence, as its own signal to Turkey that its initiative with Brazil to defuse the Iran crisis had not found favor with the US government.

The public White House response to Israel’s international piracy was comical in its wimpishness. “The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton demurely declared in Chicago.

A friend of mine gave a good parody of the servile posture of the US government and press: “I think,” he wrote to me, “that matters are close to the point where if Hillary Clinton and a group of senior American officials were meeting the Israeli leaders for negotiations, and Netanyahu expressed his displeasure at the American positions by pulling out a gun and shooting her dead, then having the entire American delegation beaten to death by his security guards, there would probably be a small item buried in the next days' American newspapers that due to conflict with the Israelis, Obama had decided to nominate a new Secretary of State.”

There’s a political price to be paid for manifest wimpery. Obama is running up a hefty bill.