A toothless tiger

At the ongoing annual Hail to Israel (aka AIPAC Policy Conference) event, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the recent U.S. criticisms of Israel’s Jews-only housing plan in the occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem. During her address, Clinton also declared America’s support for Israel was “rock solid, unwavering, enduring, and forever.” In addition, she emphatically stated that the “United States would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, which Israel views as a threat to its existence,” vowing to impose “biting” new sanctions against the Iranian government.

Israel’s goal since it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 has been to empty it of its original inhabitants, that is its non-Jewish residents. The Israelis have been bulldozing Palestinian homes with the dubious reason of them being illegally built or expanded without permits – permits that are never issued to Palestinians – while simultaneously constructing houses for Jews only. The only reason why the Obama administration made a bigger deal out of this was that Vice President Biden was embarrassed by the pie-to-his-face Israeli housing announcement. Otherwise, it probably would have been a business-as-usual response issued by the State Department that “it is not helping” on the Israeli land theft which has continued unabated.

So Secretary Clinton defended the Obama administration’s criticism of the latest Israeli actions and yet in the same breath, she vowed “unwavering” and “enduring” support for Israel. In order to change an undesirable behavior, a verbal rebuke has to have some teeth. There should be a threat that follows the rebuke, for example, threatening to withhold the $3 billion dollars a year aid to Israel, for it to be effective. By proclaiming unwavering and enduring support for Israel, why should the Israelis be doing anything different from what they have been doing, since they are fully aware of the “rock solid” and “forever” support? This is like telling your child that he should not be bullying his playmates but then immediately give him a lollipop and tell him no matter what he does, he will always be rewarded with candies. It is this unwavering and enduring support we have provided Israel for so long that have directly resulted in the stalemate we have today.

The only way for us to make Israel change its destructive policies, which are not only detrimental to the Israelis but are also endangering the lives of our servicemen and women serving in the Middle East, is to threaten to withhold $3 billion dollars aid. Or better still, threaten to be fair. Secretary Clinton stated that “our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don’t agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally,” but to say and not act on it is like a toothless tiger. Being fair to both sides will go a long way to restoring whatever that is left of our credibility and removing the anything but perceived favoritism for Israel.

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