At about the same time, as part of its strategy to defeat the Second Intifada, Israel built the apartheid Wall cutting through the West Bank, and it pulled the Jewish settlements out of Gaza while sealing it from outside contacts. By stopping the suicide-bombers, the Wall gave Israel time to complete the creation of Gaza-like enclaves in the West Bank. In consequence, ‘peace’ talks with Palestinians lost their urgency and were shelved. This made the pro-US Arab regimes a bit nervous: they needed the charade of ‘peace’ talks to shore up what little legitimacy they had with their home audience.
The Egyptian-Israeli siege of Gaza brought Iranian influence to Israel’s southern border. The siege has stopped Hamas from become another Hizbullah, but their homemade rockets reminded Israel that its native problem had not gone away – that it would continue to haunt them.
In the 1990s, the Zionist logic had spawned al-Qaida, a group that would use terror to lure the US to wage war against the Middle East. After the Cold War, the Zionists too – led by the Neocons – pursued the same goal. Using the absurd thesis of the ‘clash of civilizations,’ they began to promote a Western war against the Islamicate. They urged the US to take out Iran, Syria and Iraq.
This was a departure from Israel’s long-standing war strategy. Israel took US money and weapons, but fought its own wars. This had several advantages. It built Israel’s military strength and prestige; it kept the US military out of Israel’s path to hegemony over the Middle East. Also, American support for Israel might wear thin if they saw their troops dying in Israel’s wars. If Israel was ready to abandon this strategy in the 1990s, that is because it could not take on Iran, Iraq and Syria on its own.
And so the die was cast. When al-Qaida struck on 9-11, Israel saw opportunity. The Zionists began to press full steam for the US to invade Iraq – and succeeded. Few Israelis worried that the chickens would come home to roost. In April 2008, Netanyahu said, “We are benefiting from…the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”
Now, some ten years later, the chickens are coming home to roost. The Iraq War has achieved little for Israel. It removed a defanged Saddam Hussein, but extended Iran’s influence into Iraq and it has brought Iranian proxies to its northern and southern borders. Iran now uses Palestine to undermine pro-US Arab regimes.
More ominously, the US military has now spoken. It has warned that Israeli policy raises tensions in the Middle East and endangers US troops on the ground. It will not be easy for Israel and its backers to shout down US generals with charges of anti-Semitism. That is why so many Zionist commentators look alarmed. One Israeli commentator warns that “Obama and Netanyahu are at point of no return.” Others are saying worse.
It appear unlikely that this ‘flap’ between the US and Israel will blow over soon. If it does not, attacks by Jewish groups – inside and outside Israel – against Obama will become more frequent and nastier. The loyalty of some Americans, both inside and outside the Congress, will be tested. It is hard to predict where this will go.
However, this much should be clear. Even if US-Israeli differences over the Middle East are finessed for now, that will not be the end of it. The pressures that have persuaded the US to insist on a ‘solution’ to the Palestinian problem will persist. The realities that have produced the present ‘flap’ are not going away.