THANK YOU AMERICA FOR THE OCCUPATION

Israel’s guilty but America made it possible: Thanks to the U.S., we’re celebrating the first 50 years of the occupation – and probably not the last

Israeli forces detain a Palestinian during clashes following a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, West Bank, May 19, 2017. AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Thank You, America
Gideon Levy

Thank you, America, for all of the good things that you have showered us with. Thanks for the money, the weapons and the support. Thanks also for the damage, the rot and the denial. Another American president will be arriving in Israel on Monday, one who is different and peculiar compared to his predecessors. But on one score, he won’t be any different. Donald Trump will continue to heap all of these good things upon us.

America will continue to be the senior partner in one of the basest of enterprises in the world at the moment: the Israeli occupation. Trump will provide financing and arms and defend Israel. Thank-you in advance, Mr. President, for all of these good things.

It is thanks to America that we have come this far, that we are celebrating the first 50 years of the occupation, and probably not the last 50. Israel is guilty but America has made it possible. It’s not just the money, the arms and the support. There is something else, something unforgivable overshadowing everything.

In a brilliant essay by the American intellectual Nathan Thrall that appeared last week on the website of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, (“Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s no peace”) and that is excerpted from Thrall’s new book “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine,” the author puts his finger on the root of all of the reasons that there is no peace: The alternative to peace isn’t worth it for Israel.

The country has no rational reason to come to a peace agreement because the price that Israel will have to pay is higher than the cost of the occupation. And when it comes to that, America is a guilty party. The United States and its associate, Europe, are the ones that enable Israel to maintain the occupation at a bargain price.

America hasn’t lifted a finger to render the status quo intolerable for Israel, and as a result, Israel has no incentive to reach a peace agreement. So there won’t be a peace agreement, or even a “deal.” The only way to get to an agreement is by upping the cost of the existing situation, so that the status quo become too costly for Israel. Even the cliché that time has been working against Israel has not stood the test of reality, Thrall states. When the potential threats actually come to pass, Israel will always be able to end the occupation. Until then, it has no reason to rush into things.

America has repeatedly tried the “carrot” approach, without any results. Only on one occasion has an American president applied real pressure – and the results were immediate. In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower threatened economic sanctions against Israel unless it withdrew from Sinai, which it did within days. The last time that the United States attempted to apply any kind of pressure was in 1991, when Secretary of State James Baker pushed Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir into agreeing to the Madrid Peace Conference by withholding $10 billion in loan guarantees. Since then, although it’s hard to believe, more than 25 years have passed and the Americans haven’t even made another attempt.

 
On the contrary, the United States is doing everything to make the occupation more comfortable for Israel. It has funded and trained the Palestinian Authority’s security forces – Israel’s security subcontractors. The United States has also defended Israel in the UN Security Council; it has blocked debate on regional nuclear disarmament; and has maintained Israel’s total military superiority. At the same time, the Americans have paid hollow lip service in their criticism of the settlements — “a façade of opposition,” as Thrall calls it — a façade that has become a bulwark of defense for the settlements. With the appearance of being “punitive,” the regular condemnations have let off steam and have taken the place of genuine pressure. And of course, the settlement enterprise has not stopped its advance.

 
Even the artificial distinction between Israel and the settlements, an approach that the United States has led, has freed Israel of its responsibility for the occupation. As a result, one can currently be a liberal, enlightened American (or European) and oppose the occupation and support Israel. The settlements and Israel welcome that and continue on their way.

 
Washington has never attached conditions, amazingly enough, on its financial aid. “Listening to [the Americans] discuss how to devise an end to occupation is like listening to the operator of a bulldozer ask how to demolish a building with a hammer,” Thrall writes. “The former Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan once said: ‘Our American friends offer us money, arms and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.’”

 
Nothing has changed since and apparently nothing will change in the future. Thank you, America.

 

 

From Ha’Aretz

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