U.S.-Israel relations have been described in a variety of ways. Politicians refer to Israel as the U.S.\’s most reliable ally in the Middle East, if not the world.
Others speak of Israel as a strategic ally. Some speak of Israel and the U.S. sharing common democratic values in the war against terrorism. On the Left, critics speak of Israel as a tool of U.S. imperialism for undermining Arab nationalism, and a bulwark against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. A few writers point to the “excess influence” which the Israeli governments exercise on U.S. government policy via powerful Jewish lobbies and individuals in media, financial and governmental circles.
While there is a grain of truth in much of the above there is a unique aspect in this relationship between an imperial power like the U.S. and regional power such as Israel. Unlike Washington’s relation with the EU, Japan and Oceana, it is Israel which pressures and secures vast transfer of financial resources ($2.8 billion per year, $84 billion over 30 years). Israel secures the latest arms and technology transfers, unrestrictive entry into U.S. markets, free entry of immigrants, unconditional commitment of U.S. support in case of war and repression of colonized people and guaranteed U.S. vetoes against any UN resolutions.
From the angle of inter-state relations, it is the lesser regional power which exacts a tribute from the Empire, a seeming unique or paradoxical outcome. The explanation for this paradox is found in the powerful and influential role of pro-Israeli Jews in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, political parties, Congress and Executive Branch. The closest equivalent to past empires is that of influential white settlers in the colonies, who through their overseas linkages were able to secure subsidies and special trading relations.
The Israeli “colons” in the U.S. have invested and donated billions of dollars to Israel, in some cases diverting funds from union dues of low paid workers to purchase Israel bonds used to finance new colonial settlements in the occupied territories. In other cases Jewish fugitives from the U.S. justice system have been protected by the Israeli state, especially super rich financial swindlers like Mark Rich and even gangsters and murderers. Occasional official demands of extradition from the U.S. Justice Department have been pointedly ignored.
The colonized Empire has gone out of its way to cover up its subservience to its supposed ally, but in fact hegemonic power.
The U.S.-Israeli relationship is the first in modern history in which the imperial country covers up a deliberate major military assault by a supposed ally. In 1967, the U.S. Liberty a communications and reconnaissance ship was bombed and strafed by Israeli fighter planes in international waters for nearly an hour, killing and wounding hundreds of seaman and officers. Intercepted Israeli messages as well as the clearly displayed U.S. flag demonstrates that this was a deliberate act of aggression. Washington acted as any Third World leader would faced with an embarrassing attack by its hegemon: it silenced its naval officers who witnessed the attack and quietly received a compensation and pro-forma apology. Apart from the fact this was an unprecedented action in U.S. military and diplomatic relations with an ally, there is no case in record of an imperial country covering up for an assault by a regional ally. On the contrary, similar circumstances have been followed by diplomatic and bellicose responses. This apparent anomaly cannot in any way be explained by military weakness or diplomatic failures: Washington has far superior armaments and its diplomats are capable of forceful representation to allies or adversaries, when the political will is present. The Jewish-American lobby, Congress people, media and Wall Street moguls strategically located in the U.S. political economic system ensured that President Johnson would act as a docile subject. No direct pressures were necessary, for a hegemonized political leadership, acts, seemingly on its own beliefs, having learned the rules of the political game. Israel-U.S. is a unique relationship, that not even an unprovoked military attack should call into question. Like all hegemonized powers, Washington threatened the U.S. Naval witnesses with a court marital if they spoke out, while they coddled their attackers in Tel Aviv.
Another illustration of the asymmetrical relation is found in one of the most important espionage cases during the Cold War involving an Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard and the Pentagon. Over several years Pollard stole and duplicated bagfuls of top secret documents about U.S. Intelligence, counter-intelligence, strategic plans, military weaponry and turned them over to his Israeli handlers. This was the biggest case of espionage carried out against the U.S. by any ally in recent history. Pollard and his wife were convicted. The U.S. Government privately protested to the Israeli government. The Israeli’s on the other hand, through their Jewish-American allies organized a lobby to propagandize in his favor. Eventually all top Israeli leaders and Jewish-American lobbyists campaigned for his pardon, and almost succeeded with President Clinton.
The unequal relation is clearly evident in the case of a major fugitive from justice, Marc Rich. A financier and trader, he was indicted in the U.S. federal court on several counts of swindling and defrauding clients. He fled to Switzerland and subsequently obtained an Israeli passport and citizenship, investing hefty sums of his ill begotten wealth into Israeli industries and charities. Despite the seriousness of his offense, Rich hobnobbed with top political leaders in Israel and its economic elite. In the year 2000, the Prime Minister of Israel and numerous pro- Israeli Jewish personalities, including Rich’s ex-wife convinced Clinton to pardon him. While an outcry was raised about a linkup between the Rich pardon, and his wife’s $100,000 plus contribution to the Democratic Party, the underlying relationship of subordination to Israeli influence and the power of the Israeli lobby in the U.S. was clearly more important. It is worth noting that it is extraordinarily unusual for a U.S. President to consult with a foreign ruler (as Clinton consulted with Barak) in dealing with an accused swindler. It is unprecedented to pardon an indicted fugitive who fled his trial and never served any sentence.
The power of Israel is manifested in the numerous annual pilgrimages which influential U.S. politicians make to Israel to declare their loyalty to the Israeli state, even during periods of intensive repression of rebellious subject people. On the contrary, U.S. satraps of the Israeli’s mini-empire applauded the Jewish state’s invasion of Lebanon, its bloody repression of the Intifada I and II and opposed any international mediation to prevent further Israeli massacres, sacrificing any credibility in the United Nations.
In votes in the United Nations, even in the Security Council, despite overwhelming evidence of human rights violations presented by EU allies, Washington has toiled in the service of its hegemon. Sacrificing international credibility and deliberately alienating 150 other nations Washington labeled criticisms of Israeli racism as “anti-Semitism”. This does not mark the high point of Washington’s servility to Israel.
The most recent and perhaps the most important instance of U.S. servility occurred in the months preceding and following the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On December 12, 2001 Fox news learned from U.S. Intelligence sources and federal investigators that 60 Israelis engaged in a long-running effort to spy on U.S. government officials were detained since 9/11. Many of those arrested are active Israeli military or intelligence operatives. They were arrested under the Patriot Anti-Terrorism Law. Many failed polygraph questions dealing with surveillance activities against and in the United States. More seriously federal investigators have reason to believe that the Israeli operatives gathered intelligence about the September 11 attacks in advance and did not share it with its Washington ally. The degree of Israeli involvement in September 11 is a tightly guarded secret. A highly placed federal investigator told Fox news there are “tie-ins”. When asked to provide details, the federal investigator refused “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It is classified information.”