Power Suits 11 June 2019
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, has asserted that Israel has the right to annex West Bank land.
“Under certain circumstances,” Friedman told The New York Times, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
He put it differently in his 2017 Senate confirmation hearing when he declared he did not personally support Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
At the time, Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s chair, called Friedman out for changing positions leading the nominee to “recant every strongly held belief that you’ve expressed, almost.”
Yet it should come as no surprise to the US Senate that Friedman was not honest with them after years of fundraising to advance the Israeli settlement enterprise.
Friedman’s comment comes two months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced just prior to the April Israeli election that he intended to annex parts of the West Bank.
Flawed Democratic response
Senate Democrats, unnerved at the impending Netanyahu and Trump-led foreclosing on the two-state solution, have pushed forward a resolution this month “noting that Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank would undermine peace.”
Co-sponsors include presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The resolution, however, is deeply flawed. Democrats are rightly expressing alarm at the prospect of annexation, but they embrace Israeli propaganda in noting that annexation would undermine “Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Such language is overtly racist and echoes the commonly expressed view in Israel that Palestinians, if given full rights, would constitute a “demographic threat” to Israel merely for being born and existing.
Indeed, Warren warned in February that “realities are bearing down on Israel, demographic realities, births and deaths.”
If Warren uttered the same words about, say, Latinos, in the US context, she would be rightly lambasted for Trump-like nativism and white supremacism.
Yet Warren, like other liberals, views segregating Palestinians and Israelis into separate entities – a “two-state solution” in which Israel would inevitably maintain all the real power – as the best way to solve what she sees as the problem of there being too many Palestinians.
The insistence on maintaining a Jewish majority – and therefore Israeli Jewish political power – at the expense of Palestinian rights is no different in principle than if Democrats, or Republicans, supported a white and Christian “democratic” United States of America.
Yet most 21st century Democrats would see such a “white and Christian democracy” as a farce, antithetical to bedrock Democratic principles.
But when it comes to Israel they fail to grasp the import of their own words and how a “Jewish and democratic state” is totally incompatible with the rights of Palestinians.
A similar resolution introduced in the House claims that “the United States has long sought a just and stable future for Palestinians, and an end to the occupation, including opposing settlement activity and moves toward unilateral annexation in Palestinian territory.”
Setting aside Democratic mythmaking that the US has seriously sought an end to the occupation and justice for Palestinians – when it has long helped finance the occupation and armed Israel during horrific military attacks on Palestinian civilians, while denying Palestinian refugees’ right of return – the House resolution has similar problems to the one in the Senate.
Representative Alan Lowenthal’s resolution, with its 122 Democratic co-sponsors, resolves to “ensure the State of Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state.”
There is nothing there about a state for all its people.
Israel has effectively imposed an undemocratic one-state solution – in other words apartheid – and is on the path to formalizing it.
But members of Congress are still insisting on a two-state solution – without calling for any effective measures to hold Israel accountable for blocking it – rather than demanding that everyone living in the territories currently under Israeli rule be granted full and equal rights.
They are late to understand what is happening, indeed, they still do not even understand Netanyahu, President Donald Trump and Friedman are changing the fundamental realities on the ground toward entrenching the system of apartheid Israel has spent decades creating without anything more than verbal opposition from the United States and the so-called international community.
Partial annexation would leave Palestinians in their truncated and disconnected bantustans, but would kill the pretense that Israel ever intends to leave the West Bank. And it may well prove to be only another step towards a future Israeli goal: full annexation of all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Yet even partial annexation may leave Democrats slumbering and oblivious that Israel is hewing closely to South Africa’s bantustan model. In fact, members of Congress and some in the international community may be more likely to accept partial annexation because it would permit Palestinian municipal government over remaining Palestinian cantons.
Only one sitting member of Congress, Minnesota’s Betty McCollum, has had the courage to name the system Israel has created as apartheid. Her name is on the House resolution as well.
Trump and Netanyahu’s trial run with the Golan Heights certainly gives no reason to think that Democrats will rise to the occasion when it comes to similar moves against the West Bank.
- David Friedman
- The New York Times
- Bob Corker
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Donald Trump
- two-state solution
- one-state solution
- Bernie Sanders
- Elizabeth Warren
- Alan Lowenthal
- Betty McCollum
- Golan Heights
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