Signing the Act, Obama said:
[W]hat this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security.The Enhanced Cooperation Act passed the Senate (voice vote) and House in June and July, respectively, with Reps. Ron Paul and John Dingell as the only opponents.
The Act pledges “To help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.” Bear in the mind the context. Israel already possesses by far unparalleled military power in the region, although we live in an era where victory is not guaranteed to the militarily superior. Israel did not prevail when it attacked and devastated Lebanon in 2006. We must bear in mind, also, that Israel has a nuclear arsenal estimated at 200-300 warheads, some of them submarine mounted. This puts the faux alarm over Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program in perspective. (Both U.S. and Israeli intelligence say that Iran is not building a weapon and has not even decided to do so. Since 2007, the U.S. intelligence complex has concluded that whatever program Iran might have had was scrapped in 2003, when the U.S. military invaded Iranian nemesis Iraq and topped its president, Saddam Hussein.)
The Act details the ways in which the U.S. government will “assist in the defense of Israel.” One should note that there has never been a treaty of alliance between the United States and Israel.
For example, the Act mandates that the U.S government “Provide the Government of Israel defense articles and defense services through such mechanisms as appropriate, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.” Some of this equipment has never been provided to Israel before. Ynet, the Israeli news service, reported, “The legislation, which provides for special aerial armament, is also likely to allow Israel to acquire bunker buster bombs, a privilege previously denied by the Bush Administration.” (Obama provided bunker buster bombs last year.)
The word defense is repeated often Act--rather defensively--but it should be noted that no weapons system is purely defensive; or to put it another way, defensive systems are just as useful for offensive operations as they are for pure defense. A shield can protect the one who is attacking. Given Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians and Arab neighbors since 1948, there is no reason to be confident that defensive systems will be use exclusively for defense.
Keep in mind that the U.S. government already gives Israel $3 billion a year in military aid under the most favorable terms. Obama also announced a $70 billion grant for the Iron Dome rocket defense system. Now Israel will have less reason to turn to a peaceful resolution of the horrendous situation in the Gaza Strip.
As Ynet states, “It must be noted that the Obama Administration has been unprecedentedly responsive to Israel's acquisition requests across the board, even prior to the latest legislation.”
One provision of the Act in particular is rather curious: “Work to encourage an expanded role for Israel with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.” NATO was created in 1949 ostensibly to discourage a Soviet invasion of western Europe. Even if one regards the coalition as having been legitimate then, it should have disbanded in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved. Instead it found new missions never even alluded to in the treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate, meaning that the American people have been victims of a monumental bait and switch. NATO has become the U.S.-led police force available to enter civil wars and other conflicts anywhere in the world. Libya and and now Syria are the latest locations. Moreover, NATO has been used provocatively against Russia, paving the way for the admission of states on the Russian doorstep.
What possible role could Israel have in NATO? This is clearly a bid to expand U.S. policing of the world, which makes other powers, such as Russian and China, apprehensive—justifiably so.
Another provision of the Act pledges “To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.” Of course, U.S. presidents have done this right along. Apparently AIPAC sought specific assurance in writing that this one-sided policy will continue. In U.S.-Israeli parlance, an “anti-Israeli resolution” is one that in any way implies that the Palestinians have rights in what was once Palestine.
The biggest howler in the Act is this:
To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.Israel is not, and never has been, interested in such efforts. and the U.S government has not been an honest broker for peace. Israel claims to want a two-state solution with the Palestinians, but all the while it seizes land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the exclusive use of Jews. It has built a wall that surrounds Palestinian towns and separates Palestinian homes from farmland. The situation has been likened to two people “negotiating” to divide a pizza while one of them eats it.
Perhaps most egregious of all, the Act’s first provision is to “To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state” (emphasis added). Thus Congress, speaking for the American people, has put in writing its commitment to a state based on ethno-racial considerations. Would we tolerate that here? As pointed out before, Israel is the only country in the world that even in theory does not belong to all its citizens. It is said to belong to The Jewish People, no matter where individuals Jews lives. Jews from around the world can move to Israel and quickly become citizens and be provided subsidized housing. Yet a Palestinian born in Palestine and driven out by Zionist militias may not return. Since “Jew” is clearly not a religious category (most Israelis are nonreligious and even atheist), it must instead be ethno-racial. (Though this does not mean that Jews actually belong to a single race or ethnic group.)
This insistence on Israel’s remaining forever a Jewish state gives the lie to Israeli claims to being a democratic country. Palestinian “citizens” of Israel are third-class citizens who would never be permitted to become the majority and change the country’s basic, ethno-racial law. (In Israel citizenship is not as important as nationality, the two major categories of which are “Jew” and “Arab.”) In this light, look more closely at Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s repeated statements that Israel and the United States are a partnership of “shared values.”
To this commitment, Rep. Paul objected that the U.S. government should “not guarantee the religious ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country.”
The day after Obama signed this Act, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Israel, where he declared:
It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance [what alliance?] based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.Thus no matter who wins the election, the American people are joined at the hip with Israel, which means they are at the mercy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is either itching for war with Iran--a war that would have disastrous consequences for the people of the region, as well as most Americans--or is blackmailing Obama to get additional favors between now and election day.
(A shorter version of this article appears at Mondoweiss.)