Gulf News

Posted by Gulf News on July 30, 2014 in News Clips

It is a routine performance by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whenever he comes to Washington and appears on American television or is interviewed from occupied Jerusalem — as it happened last Sunday. He lashes out at Palestinians and their fighter organisations, particularly Hamas, the Islamist group that he has labelled as a “terrorist” outfit. It is also rather disappointing that his hosts hardly challenge his claims or cast any doubt over his deplorable intentions, if not dismiss his exaggerated claims outright. What has been especially noticeable is the failure of the Americans to remind their Israeli guest of Tel Aviv’s reprehensible actions of the past.

One prominent example has been the assassination by Palestinian Jewish terrorists of Count Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish nobleman and diplomat who was unanimously chosen in 1947 by the United Nations Security Council to be a mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Bernadotte was chosen because of his prominent credentials in negotiating the release of about 31,000 Jewish prisoners from German concentration camps during the Second World War. However, barely a few months after the UN partitioned Palestine, Bernadotte was assassinated in occupied Jerusalem by a Jewish terrorist group, known as Lehi, because the group regarded Bernadotte as “a stooge of the British and their Arab allies, and therefore (w)as a serious threat to the emerging state of Israel”. The killing was reportedly approved by a three-man committee of the group (later known as Irgun), which included Yitzhak Shamir, who later became an Israeli prime minister.

This event came on the heels of the assassination of my own grandmother, Faridi, in 1937, who was travelling with another distant relative from occupied Jerusalem to Jaffa, when their bus was fired upon by Jewish terrorists. The event devastated the family, especially my father. The bloody massacres that Israel has been inflicting on the besieged 1.82 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been described as the largest open-air concentration camp in the world, has ruined Israel’s reputation, even in the US. As of Tuesday, the death toll in Gaza, now without water or electricity, had crossed 1.060 and more than 6,200 people have been injured. Unicef reported that 218 children have been killed — two thirds of them being under the age of 12. And yet, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, has shockingly advocated the “crushing of Hamas” in an Op-Ed piece published in the Washington Post. The bloody Israeli measures are costing Tel Aviv heavily.

Ron Fournier wrote in the National Journal last Monday: “Netanyahu should be worried. The Israeli public should be worried. All supporters of the Jewish state should be worried — not only about the prospect of current events spiralling out of control, but also about a confluence of demographic and social trends that threat Israel’s ability to manage the war of perceptions.” He added: “In the United States, younger Americans are far less likely to say Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip are justified.” He cited a Gallup poll that stated that just 25 per cent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 supported Israel.

Philip Weiss, co-editor of Mondoweiss.net says: “Pro-Israel advocates are now at war with US media, which is showing a decidedly sceptical tone when it comes to Israeli claims in Gaza.” He added, “More and more Arab-Americans are showing up to make a case we haven’t heard before.” He went on: “Last night, Erin Burnett of CNN continued to express smouldering doubt about Israel’s claims to be protecting civilians: ‘They don’t have anywhere to go’ — and when James Zogby (president of the Arab American Institute) said that Israel had no plan to deal with Hamas except to “mow the lawn” in Gaza every few years, Burnett nodded and said, ‘Powerful, powerful case’. Given that CNN’s Karl Penhaul was also stressing that the civilians have nowhere to go to escape the missiles, and former National Security adviser Stephen Hadley — the opposition voice — was agreeing with Burnett that the number of civilian deaths was “unseemly”, the Israel lobby might just have felt left out of the panel.

But this does not necessarily mean that all is rosy. For instance, Democratic and Republican Congressmen, the Associated Press reported, “scrambled (last) Tuesday to seal a $225 million [Dh827.55 million] boost to Israel’s Drone missile system before they break this week for a month-long recess.” It continued: “As the Gaza war escalates, Israel is proving to be among the few subjects uniting lawmakers.”

In other words, money still talks since the US is in the middle of a mid-term Congressional election later this year.

George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at ghishmeh@gulfnews.com

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