It never ceases to amaze just how willing the American public is to be duped by their politicians and media that never stop grovelling before a tiny Middle Eastern country with a population of less than eight million—often in detriment to their own national interests. On issues unconnected with Israel, the American people are generally fair-minded. So it is difficult not to conclude that the masses are victims of state indoctrination when the majority has no clue that Israel is an illegal occupier of Palestinian land.
A survey conducted by the Arab American Institute shows that up to 58 per cent of Americans are either unsure or have no opinion on the topic. “Americans across all demographics express growing ambiguity or unfamiliarity with the issues: Half have no opinion on the Right of Return, the final status of [occupied] Jerusalem or the appropriate US response to settlements [colonies]”—double the 2010 figures for some questions—goes the pollster’s summing-up.
Despite an educated population with unimpeded access to the Internet, most Americans are unaware that 1,476 Palestinian children and 6,568 Palestinian adults have been killed by Israel or that 59,575 have been wounded by Israelis since September 2000. They don’t know that there are currently 236 Jewish-only colonies and outposts on Palestinian land or that, in 2011, the US gave Israel $8.2 million (Dh30.15 million) per day in military aid. And they are blissfully ignorant that they may be dragged into yet another major war, this time with Iran—on Israel’s behalf.
Whereas, UK polls—including a 2011 BBC poll—show most Britons support the UN recognition of a Palestinian state, US Gallop polls consistently prove overwhelming and unconditional American backing for the Jewish state, which is contrary to world opinion.
Why is this? Are Americans naturally incurious or has there been a decades-long loose conspiracy between the government and media to pull the wool over their eyes, similar to that which had Americans blindly cheering George W. Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq?
In a recent column, headlined ‘The message from both parties is that Americans are disposable,’ former assistant secretary of the US Treasury, Paul Craig Roberts, asks: “Have any people in human history ever been less represented by their government and political parties than Americans? He maintains that “the US government represents Israel and the one to ten percent” while “everyone else is disposable.” “Neither party asked why the US is at wars with Muslims for Israel,” he writes, asking: “Why should Americans be losing lives and limbs for Israel, while going broke and running up enormous war debts for our children and grandchildren?” “Regardless of the political party whose lever is pulled in November, every American who votes will be voting for Israel . . .” he ominously notes. Is he right?
When the US is drowning in debt and losing its global military and economic hegemony to competitors such as China, India, Brazil and a resurgent Russia, one must wonder why US presidential candidates and parties are so keen to prostrate themselves before Israel rather than firm-up relationships with post-Arab Spring allies, as yet undecided on which side they should jump.
Israel has rarely been as globally isolated in its history, yet, despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s fraught relations with President Barack Obama over the impasse in the peace process and Israel’s chest-thumping on Iran, it still enjoys a congressional love-fest. For example, you have probably never heard about H.R. 4133, designating the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 which passed virtually unreported by the mainstream media. It was stealthily pushed through the House of Representatives under a provision called “Suspension of the Rules,” allowing for minimum debate, by a vote of 411–2.
Said to have been drafted in cooperation with AIPAC, H.R. 4133’s provisions include the reaffirmation of the “enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state,” the provision to Israel “of the military capabilities necessary to deter and defend itself by itself against any threats,” the vetoing of “any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council” and to ensure that Israel has a “qualitative military edge.”
Republican sycophancy towards Israel is well known and was reflected by the Republican candidate’s messages to Israelis during his recent tour of the country when he raised eyebrows by characterising the Palestinians’ poor economy as a result of their “inferior culture” and controversially vowed to move the US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem. For that, he was broadly criticised by the international community, but notwithstanding, the Democrats have leapt on the same bandwagon.
Reportedly, with President Obama’s blessings, the Democratic Party has amended its platform to include recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. How that move—that would no doubt be interpreted as a poke in the eye by America’s Arab and Muslim allies—could benefit the great American public is a mystery to anyone with an iota of intelligence. I certainly don’t know the answer and I suspect that’s a question Americans should start loudly asking.
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.