Colonial settler regime demands tribute from vassal state

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!


  1. Liam said,

    March 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I’m shocked and stunned by this Jew-baiting tirade.

  2. James Connolly said,

    March 29, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Impeccably reasearched it may be, but I think it’s undeniable that the Mearsheimer/Walsh analysis of the Lobby (though not a conspiracy theory nor anti-semitic) veers dangerously close to an unpleasant historical trope; ie. the nonsense idea that a politically motivated coterie of, largely, Jewish people is able to manipulate the actions of an uber-powerful nation state to act against its own interests and in favour of theirs. It’s a fairly typical liberal attempt to exculpate or externalise American wrongdoing; because, fundamentally, they cannot see America for what it is – if it does something wrong it just must be because some biggger boys made them.

    Had it been an analysis of the undeniable cultural power of the lobby and its impact on political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic it would have been an interesting and welcome study. As it is, it’s largely worthless.

    • weserei said,

      March 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm

      “Had it been an analysis of the undeniable cultural power of the lobby and its impact on political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic it would have been an interesting and welcome study.”

      Wasn’t that precisely what it was? It’s been a while since I read it, and I don;t remember there being anything in it about the UK, but otherwise this seems like a decent elevator pitch for what the book’s about.

  3. Captain Rock said,

    March 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I think the argument is whether the ‘Lobby’ has such power because its ‘the Lobby’ or because a large section of American politics, the military and business actually agree with them. The AFL-CIO wouldn’t be big on anti-Zionism for instance. Lots of liberals would support Israel because they see it as kind of like America, with some imperfections. Hard to understand over here, not so much when you’ve been there and met people who love the Zapitistas, but are very wary of Fatah (never mind Hamas!). The conservative right also think it makes perfect sense to support Israel and in effect let them do what they want.

    • weserei said,

      March 31, 2010 at 12:15 am

      “I think the argument is whether the ‘Lobby’ has such power because its ‘the Lobby’ or because a large section of American politics, the military and business actually agree with them.”

      They do, but why? Why should most Americans have any opinion at all on the Israel-Palestine conflict, when almost none of us have even heard of, for instance, the Congo conflict?

    • Tom Griffin said,

      April 3, 2010 at 3:36 am

      The AFL-CIO has a very conservative history when it comes to foreign policy generally. In fact, a lot of the roots of the neoconservative movement lie in the kind of cold war labor anticommunism practiced by the AFL.

      I wonder at what point Zionism became hegemonic within this tradition? It certainly seems to have been true by the 1970s, but I’m not sure how much earlier.

  4. robert said,

    March 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    If there’s one thing worse than anti semitism it’s false accusations of anti semitism by the Israel lovers. The Lobby does have such a grip on Congress that Israel’s interests are put ahead of those of the United States. Just ask General Petraeus.

    This is not an historical trope unpleasant or otherwise. It’s present day reality. Nor is there anything surprising about it – there are many other Lobbies in Washington pursuing their interest at the expense of the national interest. The private insurance lobby that ensures that America will never have a national health service is another example. As long as DC polities requires vast amounts of money lobbies of various kinds will be king.

    • James Connolly said,

      March 31, 2010 at 10:02 am

      Sorry, possibly incorrect accusations of racism (and I made it pretty explicit that I didn’t think it was anti-semitic) are worse than actual racism? Righty-ho.

      There is no dichotomy whatsoever between the American national interest and that of a Netanyahu brand of Zionism. The claim that a smallish lobby group is able to manipulate the might of American capital is fucking insane.

      Weserei: No I don’t think so, a large portion of it is given over to the ludicrous notion that the invasion of Iraq was largely driven by a protection of Israeli interests.

      • weserei said,

        April 2, 2010 at 4:22 am

        I must have missed the part where they claimed that the groups they were talking about were motivated by a rational understanding of Israeli interests.

        But I think it’s hard to deny that a) anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in the US made it much easier for the Bush administration to invade Iraq and b) anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment have been encouraged by the distortion of perceived American interests that W&M were writing about.

  5. robert said,

    March 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Not only is there a dichotomy between the interests of the US and those of Israel but Israel is a total liability to the United States. The US interest is to have good relations with oil producing states so as to keep oil priced in dollars and at a reasonable price.

    US support for Israel arouses hatred for America across a large section of the Arab and Muslim world. The religious signficance of Jerusalem makes the Palestine-Israel conflict toxic in a way other turf wars are not. Bin Laden himself named support for Israel as a key reason for the Al Qaida campaign, along with the presence of US troops in Saudi and US support for apostate dictators.

    Egypt has no oil but the Mubarak regime is bankrolled by the US. Could it be because a democratic Egypt with a Muslim Brotherhood government might lift the blockade of Gaza and show solidarity with Hamas?

    A former CIA chief heading the Bin Laden unit, Micheal Scheuer has come out against the Lobby for being Israel firsters – ie putting Israel’s interests ahead of their own country, the United States.

    You might say that the defence of “the only democracy in the Middle East” is worth the cost but that is a separate argument.

  6. johng said,

    April 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    It may be in the interest of the US to have good relations with oil producing states but its also true that even states armed to the teeth to defend their power against their own people can be overthrown (like the Shah of Iran). Hence the US’s interest in shaping the politics of the region and the need for both carrots…and sticks.

    The debate inside the US ruling class between the ‘Zionists’ and the ‘Arabists’ is an internal debate about how best to exploit and dominate the region. Nobody involved in these arguments is a friend of the Palestinians and it would be extremely foolish to think so.

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