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October 1998 
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MER EDITORIAL:THE MIDDLE EAST "STING"

STINGING THE ARABS AND SCREWING THE PALESTINIANS

MER - WASHINGTON - 15 Oct:

Arafat and company have been given an ultimatum by the Americans --agree to another elaborate White House signing ceremony by Monday or the huge flow of money, guns, CIA-help, etc, will reduce to a trickle and the Americans will demote the Arafat crowd to a much lesser priority.

In short, do what we tell you or stew alone in the crazy-quilt situation you got yourself into since Oslo. Now this is not just an American ultimatum. It's a joint U.S.-Israeli ultimatum no matter how much public theatrics the American and Israeli p.r. machines bring to all this. For all practical purposes think of the U.S. and Israel using the "Good Cops/Bad Cops" paradigm, for they are practically interchangeably at this point in history when dealing with the misnomered "Peace Process".

Nearly the entire American "negotiating team" is composed of Jewish graduates of the powerful Israeli lobby in Washington. In fact, the Israeli lobby's think-tank -- started by the man who is today Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East -- was itself scheduled to be meeting at the WYE Conference Center this week but eagerly adjusted its plans.

If only Sadat had had the guts to walk away from Camp David in 1978...A much better and sounder deal could have followed down the road. If only the Palestinians were properly represented today...rather than so terribly by Arafat and company. The following was first published by MER in May forseeing where we are today:

MER EDITORIAL - (12 May):

Bottom Line: The Israelis could now agree to every word the Americans are proposing in the "negotiations" and they would be the big winners, the Palestinians the big losers. It's just the Middle East diplomacy version of the old "Sting". And if you don't know what this is all about, head on over to Blockbuster's and get Robert Redford's classic movie of the same name.

Politics in America is a most convoluted thing these days; and MiddleEast diplomacy is indeed the hall of distorted mirrors as we haverepeatedly pointed out.

The notion, propagated widely these days for transparently self-servingreasons, that Washington is now on the side of the Palestinians -- after half a century of severe anti-Palestinian policies and at a time when more Israeli/Jewish lobby officials are in leading positions in the U.S. government than in all previous American governments combined -- is simply preposterous.

But just pick up the main newspapers and switch on the regular TV programs and one would be inclined toward believing this ludicrous notion. The major media have transformed Middle East affairs into a kind of fairy tale disneyland -- something more fit for children's consumption than for serious people who know history and want to understand contemporary affairs.

Lesson #1 these days: Always remember that imagery has replaced reality, posturing has replaced substance, expediency has replaced principles.

Lesson #2 these days: The everyday media is much more an appendage ofgovernments and associated interests groups than an independent source of information, not to mention critical analysis. Especially when it comes to foreign policy, and especially when the foreign policy relates to matters Middle Eastern, much of the press has become a complicitous agent working in tandem with think-tanks, lobbying groups, and on-board "experts" and "scholars", nearly all of whom are associated with governments or their funded associations in one way or another.

Though these lessons apply nearly universally in our modern world, thesituation in the U.S. regarding matters Middle Eastern is the worst ofall. For even a glimpse at reality, rather than hype and deception, one has to at least turn to the foreign media (especially the English-language U.K. press), better yet to the major academics (such as Chomsky and Said) who rarely (and never consistently) are allowed to appear in the daily media on these subjects.

Bottom Line: The very notion that the U.S. is an "honest broker" and that the Americans are pushing hard for a real "peace" is patently ridiculous. The historical facts are so much otherwise that the whole discussion about these matters has become rhetorically surrealistic.

Bottom Line: Both the President and the Secretary of State are in bed with and yet politically afraid of the Israeli/Jewish lobby at the same time; and Al Gore is downright petrified. This is the case even though Bill Clinton has appointed more Israeli/Jewish lobby officials to his Administration than all other Presidents combined; despite the fact that Madeleine Albright appointed a leading official of the Israeli/Israeli lobby to be the Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East; and despite the fact that quite literally all the major persons in Dennis Ross's negotiating team are religious Jews all with past close past ties to this same lobby!

Bottom Line: The international version of the Good Cop/Bad Cop game isclearly at work here. The Americans now pretend to be on the side of the Palestinians, when in fact they are more than ever on the side of the Israelis who continue to receive billions of dollars yearly, continue to expand their settlements, continue to swallow Jerusalem and surrounding areas in gulps, continue to enhance their military technological advantages along with their weapons of mass destruction. And all this is done while the Americans keep everyone else in check, veto U.N. resolutions and involvement, pay Israel's bills, and provide Israel ever greater arms and "strategic alliance". Some "even-handedness"!

True, the Americans make continual noises to deflect serious scrutiny and to allow for the pretense that things are other than they are; butWashington is more Kosher today than at any other time in history, andthis whole "peace process" is very much a joint American/Israeli concoction.

Bottom Line: No matter which of the now discussed steps in the "peaceprocess" are taken, the Israelis are the big winners, the Palestinians the big losers, the Arabs the big patsies. As usual, the Americans will sooner or later proclaim another "deal", and as always it will be a deal that tremendously benefits Israel no matter what is actually said at the time, no matter what kinds of colorful packaging it is all presented in. After all, if you intend to sell someone something they don't want, and for a very inflated price, you've got to to trick the buyer into believing they not only want it but are getting a good deal when they buy it -- even if they really are getting taken to the cleaners!

Bottom Line: The Israelis could switch public gears and now agree to every word the Americans are proposing and they would be getting nearly all that they have previously demanded. Despite Olso they have given up little land; and that which is now "autonomous" -- the Palestinian population centers -- is completely surrounded by electrified fences and Israeli army checkpoints. For ordinary Palestinians things were better, much better in fact, when Israeli directly occupied them and before the Intifada ever began!

Bottom Line: Today's "Peace Plan" is little more than the "Allon Plan" of the late 1960s, the Begin/Sharon "autonomy" plan of the late 1970s, or the Reagan plan of the 1980s. Actually, its considerable worse because there are far more settlers now, because Jewish Jerusalem has been expanded far more than was the case then, and because even the notion of territorial contiguity for the Palestinians has been signed away by Arafat in order to get the considerable guns and money he has been provided to keep the Palestinians "under control".

Bottom Line: Bibi, and Rabin/Peres before him, has been getting most of what he has demanded, regardless of how the diplomats have been speaking on TV. "Final Status Negotiations" are to be pushed forward -- accelerated" says Madeleine -- just as Bibi has insisted all along, but with the Palestinians having nearly nothing when they start. At best about 10% of the occupied territories are actually "autonomous" with another 10% "dually administered". Furthermore, while we're at it, let's not loose sight of the fact that the "occupied territories" themselves are but 23% of 1948 Palestine, and that 1948 map was already less than 50% of previously Mandate Palestine).

Furthermore, Israeli settlement constructions has not ended, it hasactually escalated! Not to mention the greatly expanded Apartheid-Style "by-pass roads" designed to totally dissect the Palestinian areas from each other while providing "safe-passage" routes for Israeli settlers. Not to mention the growing and smothering restrictions Palestinians are everywhere subjected to -- now by what has become essentially a double-occupation (with Israelis always in control of course even if hidden behind one-way mirrors). Not to mention the severe forms of intimidation and repression used by the "Palestinian Authority" -- considerably worse than when the Israelis directly administered the occupation on their own.

Bottom Bottom Line: The occupation has been colorfully and confusinglyrepackaged, but inside the box things are actually considerable worse than they were before. What's been underway for many years now is a kind of international "sting" operation with the Arab "client regimes", Arafat now among them, being used, manipulated, and taken for a ride time after time. Actually its even worse as many of these regimes -- especially the Hashemite's in Jordan and the al-Sauds in Saudi Arabia -- are actually working ever more closely with the Americans, and in many cases with the Israelis, desperate to pull off this historic charade.

True, it is a charade likely to have dire consequences in the years ahead; but the politicians of the day are not thinking of history nor of justice, they are only poking their fingers in the tremoring dikes thinking of the moment and thinking of themselves.

And if anyone doesn't understand all this imagery and illusion -- just head on over to BlockBusters (or the international equivalent where ever you might be) and rent Robert Redford's classic "The Sting"!


 

 

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