Did I just mention the Phoenix? Page 9 of the current issue has a long and interesting article on the diplomatic fallout from the use of forged Irish passports by Mossad assassins. Which is to say, although Micheál Martin remonstrated with the Israeli government in rather strong terms, the DFA has no plans to tighten up of Section 10 of the Passports Act 2008, where you will find the loophole whereby intelligence operatives of “friendly” states (Brits, Yanks, Israelis) use Irish passports to go about their dodgy business, and the Dublin government doesn’t make things difficult for them. The quid pro quo is that a small state without much in the way of an intelligence-gathering operation gets to piggyback on intel gathered by the CIA, MI6, Mossad et al.
And therefore Minister Martin’s outrage is entirely without consequences, much like David Miliband’s expulsion of a solitary Israeli diplomat. Israel-firster commentator Stephen Pollard said on News 24 that this was just a bit of pro forma stuff, and I suspect he was right. Sending the Israelis to the naughty step doesn’t work, because sooner rather than later they’ll be back doing the same thing. Six years ago, when Mossad were caught doing the same thing with New Zealand passports, the Kiwi government actually did take tough action, and eventually got a clenched-teeth apology, and if Mossad have tried it on with NZ passports since, they’ve been extremely discreet about it.
Anyway, talking of Ireland and Israel, in the last couple of weeks we’ve had a good illustration of who has diplomatic clout and who doesn’t. As usual, almost the entire Irish political class, north and south, headed over to Washington for St Drunkard’s Day with the aim of sucking up to Barack O’Bama. In fact, a couple of minor party leaders from the north (Margaret Ritchie and Reg Empey) were extremely miffed at not being invited into an Teach Bán so they could suck up to the Emperor in person. Theoretically, the enormous Irish diaspora plus the purchase of Irish culture (well all right, kitsch paddywhackery) could afford an Irish government with a bit of diplomatic zing some opportunities to advance its interests. And this might be a possibility, if you had a government with a few ideas and a positive foreign policy, such as we had under de Valera. But no, for as long as anyone can remember it’s all been about sucking up. That’s a clear example of the dog wagging the tail.
For an example of the opposite, you just had to take a look at last week’s Aipac conference, one of the main events of the Washington political calendar, when administration officials and most of the membership of Congress compete with each other in vigorously sucking up to the Zios. And not without reason – when you look at the way Cynthia McKinney was done over, it’s not surprising that few elected officials have the balls to stand up to the Lobby. Aipac, by the way, is completely unabashed about this – shit, they’re proud of it. I don’t understand how anyone could dismiss as a conspiracy theory Mearsheimer and Walt’s impeccably researched book on the power of the Israel Lobby, because there very obviously is an Israel Lobby, and moreover one that actively boasts about its political clout.
And into this jamboree strides none other than Bibi Netanyahu, with his grisly sidekick Ehud Barak in tow. And lo, to look at Bibi swanking about Washington as if he owned the place, you would wonder who exactly the Emperor was. Then you got to Bibi’s speech, which was delivered with all the high-octane bullshit quotient you would expect from an insurance salesman, which is what Bibi used to be.
Milking the memory of the Holocaust? Check. Banging the drum for war with Iran? Check. Criticism of Israel the same as anti-Semitism? Check. Double standards applied to Israel? Check. Our 4000-year attachment to Eretz Israel? Check. I call on Abbas to come to the negotiating table? Check. The living standards of Palestinians thriving under the occupation? Check. The Goldstone Report equivalent to blood libel? Check.
God, it’s wearying stuff, and you could write it yourself. Although to be fair, it was slightly less bellicose than what the AWL puts out.
Meanwhile, relations between Washington and Israel are said to be at a low ebb. Why is this? Well, Joe Biden was recently in Israel promoting Washington’s peace plan, which involves a freeze in settlement building. Bibi announced more construction while Biden was in the country, which can only be interpreted as holding up two fingers to the Yanks. Biden was miffed, and said so; the Israelis waxed wroth about Biden daring to be miffed.
So, how bad are those relations?
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel’s defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.
According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million.
The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel’s defense industry. The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds.
Yeah, Bibi, how do you like that wrath? Ain’t no way you’re going to have business as usual after snubbing the Yanks like that!