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Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in International | 10 comments

How Quick They Forget: A Short History of U.S. Policy and Israeli Construction in East Jerusalem (Guest Voice)

How Quick They Forget: A Short History of U.S. Policy and Israeli Construction in East Jerusalem
by Barry Rubin

For more than four months the U.S. government has been celebrating Israel agreeing to stop construction on settlements in the West Bank while continuing building in east Jerusalem as a great step forward and Israeli concession deserving a reward. Suddenly, all of this is forgotten to say that Israel building in east Jerusalem is some kind of terrible deed which deserves punishment.

Israelis are used to this pattern: give a big concession and a few months later that step is forgotten as Israel is portrayed as intransigent and more concessions are demanded with nothing in return. Here is a short history of this round:

October 31, 2009: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lavishly praises Israel as making “unprecedented” concessions in stopping construction on West Bank settlements while it is still going to build in east Jerusalem.

November 1, 2009: The U.S. State Department cheers Israel’s announcement that it will stop construction on West Bank settlements but not in east Jerusalem: “Today’s announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

March 12, 2010: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says that Israel building in east Jerusalem is an “insult” to the United States, jeopardizes the bilateral relationship, and damages the cause of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, even though the Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate for 14 months; made President Brack Obama look very foolish after destroying his publicly announced September plan to have negotiations in two months; and broke its promise not to sponsor the Goldstone report in the UN, no word of criticism has ever been offered by any administration official regarding the PA’s continuous and very public sabotage of peace process efforts.

Can people please point out that there’s a bit of a contradiction here?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

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Copyright 2010 The Moderate Voice
  • rudi

    How may Palestinian settlements on Jewish holy land? I could hear the slap to Biden’s face all the way here in the US…

  • DLS

    I view Israel’s latest settlement decision as either posturing strongly before sitting down to negotiate again with the Arabs, or a test of Obama.

    I hope Obama and his team stop overreacting, or threatening to be worse, far-left anti-Israel (from older leftist pro-USSR, anti-USA and anti-Israel days), possibly exploiting like-minded liberals in the State Department and friendly encouragement from other liberals such as in the media. I also hope this isn’t an example of poor foreign policy, possibly compounded by being excessively lenient (naive is bad enough) with Iran.

    • TheMagicalSkyFather

      When you are speaking of far -left anti-Israeli thinking I assume you also know of the far right variety that is more of the racist type correct? I mean to say if we want to label peoples views and opinions by the fringes everyone can play that game and no one wins.

      Can you answer why we should so slavishly continue to ignore Israel’s versions of incitement while only attacking the Palestinians actions which makes the US look like Israel’s regional strong man? The US has historically taken Israel’s side no matter the incident, the USS Liberty for instance, including our media. So why is it bad to call them out when they are again doing not only what torpedo’s the peace process from their side but also the exact kind of action that makes the US look like their collaborator in the region which is one of the many reasons we were attacked on 911 and SA is another and SA and Israel often work in concert regardless of what they like appearances to be.

      We can’t afford this game anymore, not militarily and definitely not financially not to mention the amount of money every citizen of this nation has paid for oil since the 1970’s. At some point Israel will have to start playing ball or we are going to have to start backing out of their fights and region or we will do so when we are bankrupt for continuing this idiocy. The largest imports we have are fuel based and if we pay larger amounts for those due to our alliances and regional stances that is a policy sure to bankrupt a nation wouldn’t ya think? One would hope Israel could play nice for just a decade or two until we could build alternative fuel sources up so we could utterly ignore Arab interests but of course Israel knows when that happens we won’t care about them either. They will no longer be in a strategic area of interest so much like the Arabs they feel they have a short window of opportunity for our attention and therefore act like children because they know time is quickly running out. Once the stockpiles dwindle Israel will be treated like Australia or any other nation, “you want me to do what? Well what are you going to give me?” instead of this insane semi-religous end world nonsense that has passed for Israeli foreign policy within the US political culture since the 1970’s when…we ran low on oil and began net importing lol. From my view the WH is being the best friend that Israel has in a dark time, they are telling their friend to sit down and shut up before they find themselves hung by their own hands because the truth is the US will stop caring once we no longer need the regions oil or once its all gone which is a time approaching in the next few decades. In short they need to check themselves before the wreck themselves and they have been ignoring it when it was said by anyone else.

  • Zzzzz

    Whatever. Building in the territories is incitement. It has always been incitement, the Israeli government knows that, and it continues one of the biggest barriers to the peace process (from the Israeli side). Of course, the Palestinians also frequently sabotage the peace process. Frankly, our involvement in that region is a waste of resources that we certainly can not afford. We have no business nosing in other people’s civil wars.

  • DLS

    “When you are speaking of far -left anti-Israeli thinking I assume you also know of the far right variety that is more of the racist type correct?”

    Do you mean some kind of far-righter who hates Arabs and Muslims? (“ragheads”)

    I think instead of “far right” evangelical Christians who view Israel’s life story as part of Revelations or otherwise have “adopted” Israel but might want to get the Jews there to convert to Christianity.

  • DLS

    “The US has historically taken Israel’s side no matter the incident, the USS Liberty for instance, including our media.”

    Not true. Since the USSR involved the Middle East in the Cold War, and Israel successfully defended itself against attacks, the lefties have been anti-Israel (perhaps due to nothing more than its survival, i.e., success).

  • DLS

    “We can’t afford this game anymore, not militarily and definitely not financially not to mention the amount of money every citizen of this nation has paid for oil since the 1970’s.”

    To date there is no economic, practical alternative to oil, especially for transportation (same as there being no serious alternative yet to coal and nuclear for base load electricity generation).

    • TheMagicalSkyFather

      So why is it wise foreign policy to ensure sky high prices by taking unpopular stances against many of our suppliers of this resource?

      From a practical business perspective how can this be explained? I ask from a business perspective because contrary to popular belief the US is not a nation but a business, a corporation of states tied together to serve their business interests best interests and therefore feed an ever expanding prosperity in this country. Stop me when I am off the mark but this is the version of the US I have had sold to me from the right for a very long time but they will not see their irrationality on this issue for some unknown reason, likely as you noted the evangelicals.

      I have a hunch though, the GOP is also the big oil party and regardless of where you are pumping that oil out of the ground if the price is higher you get more money for selling less and less on a dwindling reserve which is a pretty sweet deal. This is also why SA loves the GOP and also owns stakes in Fox which is kinda the GOP’s channel if you will. It’s actually pretty obvious what the reason is as well. SA is the prime funder of Islamic extremists, the best way to recruit is through incitement and the best way to incite Muslims is to have a bunch of people talking like Christian warriors ready to relive the crusades again and invade and conquer them. Then those videos can be shown to SA school kids that then run off to Paki for training and then go attack us in Afgh. where the preferred on base news station is Fox partially owned by SA interests, its freakin hilarious but sadly this is our real lives.

      Then once the US goes away SA plans on turning those forces on Iran in a final duel to the death between Sunni and Shite at which point they will have a “pure Muslim empire” again, whatever that means. I know we are supposed to act like this isn’t so because they are currently our “ally” but I think the quotation marks are needed. They are not our allies, they are just the owners of the Bush dynasty, the investors if you will. What is in this nations interest at this point with the cold war over is to #1 stop giving any of them any money and #2 become the yankee traders of old that make the capitalist in me love this country. Sell to all sides buy from all sides and let god sort them out, national debt bye bye.

      • DLS

        “So why is it wise foreign policy to ensure sky high prices by taking unpopular stances against many of our suppliers of this resource?  ”

        We have more than one interest at stake in the Middle East.

        I’m not going to deny that our government has often behaved in ways to benefit the oil companies.  I remember when there was a glut and the equivalent of a price war and what did George (the Elder) Bush do, but jet over to Saudi Arabia, and when asked by the media what he was doing, or why, he said “We have to have stability,” meaning “we” needed to prevent prices from being “too low,” if this was possible.

        (To this day, I don’t know about an additional thing that probably doesn’t matter to you any more than it does to me — to what extent Bush had the Oil Patch in mind [Texas real estate, and Texas and its economy] along with his oil companies when he did this.  It may have been a risk because I believe he did this before the 1992 elections.  It may have spared Texas, and his prospects in Texas, but not in the rest of the country!  I was in LA at the time.  High oil and gasoline prices are detested in LA.)

  • DLS

    “Building in the territories is incitement.”

    No argument here. Anything in the Territories is provocative, and in East Jerusalem is notably so.

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