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Israel Slaps Obama

Joe Biden went to Israel, and effusively praised our allies for their commitment to peace and prosperity for all. In preparation for the upcoming indirect peace talks, he said that the relationship between Israel and the U.S. has always been a “centerpiece of American policy.” “Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel,” he said. This all to comfort the Israelis, who are feeling a little left out of the Obama love fest. They look back fondly to the “amen-corner” days of strong pro-Israel neocons in the white house. Polls show that Israelis have come to see Obama as less sympathetic to Israel than previous presidents. Biden’s comments appeared aimed at softening the administration’s image both among Israelis and their American supporters, whose backing is seen as crucial ahead of November’s congressional elections. So Obama sends his most trusted lieutenant over there to assure them of our undying love and affection.

Trouble is, they really didn’t seem disposed to accept Biden’s bouquet. Shortly after he shows up, Israel announced the construction of 1,600 homes in a settlement block in mostly Arab East Jerusalem, an open rebuff that led Biden to issue a sharply worded condemnation. “I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. Wow! From,  “gee, you guys are just the best, “to “you suck,” in less than 24 hours. The anointed one repeatedly had demanded a halt in settlement construction in order to revive the moribund peace negotiations. Pay close attention to this next bit. Biden said his visit was meant to highlight the “unbreakable” bond between Israel and the U.S., especially on issues of security.

And of course, officials from the Palestinian Authority said the Israeli decision to approve 1,600 new settler homes could torpedo the talks before they have even begun.

“This is a dangerous decision and will hinder the negotiations,” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina. “We consider the decision to build in East Jerusalem to be a judgment that the American efforts have failed before the indirect negotiations have even begun.” Apparently, the only things the Jews and Arabs can agree on is that Obama is a failure, at least as far as mideast peace goes.

Israeli and Palestinian officials already had expressed doubt about the indirect talks, calling them a step backward after 17 years of direct negotiations between the parties. One wonders whether the Palestinians will treat him any better during his visit to Ramallah.

The real question is about our unquestioned and uncritical allegiance to a country that has had, at best, a spotty record with regard to our security. It has even, at times, displayed an amazing callousness towards American lives. Starting in 1947 with activities by the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), Israel has never had any problem with spying on America, or American interests. A cursory search of public records turns up at least 32 incidents of Israeli espionage directed against America, or directed at disrupting American interests. Think “The Lavon Affair.”

Jonathan Pollard spied on the US for years and stole nuclear secrets for Israel. Israel then sold those nuclear secrets to Russia in order to procure more exit visas for Russian Jews. Remember, this was at the height of the cold war.

According to Carl Cameron, Fox News correspondent, since Sept. 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are “tie-ins.” But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, “evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.”

I think merely mentioning the USS Liberty incident will suffice. Those who are interested in more details can certainly find a slew of them without breaking a sweat.

Now, all of this is not to suggest that Israel is necessarily worse than most countries in hurting America. China spies on us, so do many countries. During the Cold War, one almost needed a scorecard to keep track of the spies and whom they were spying for. The difference is, we didn’t go out of our way to make spying on us an inconsequential activity. We jailed Russians, Chinese, and other communist bloc spies with some regularity. We just as regularly traded their spies for ours. With the Israelis, we don’t even make the pretext of objecting!

What it does suggest, however, is that we need to re-examine our allegiances. There is absolutely no reason to assume, pari passu, that Israel’s interests and ours are always identical. We need to remember that countries don’t have friends, they have interests. If we are so needy that we just must have a buddy in that part of the world, I nominate Morocco. They were the first country to recognize the U.S. after the revolution, and they have been an ally of ours since then. And, to the best of my knowledge, they have never engaged in a pattern of widespread spying on us, nor have they acted in a manner directly opposed to our interests.

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