- By Stephen M. WaltStephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
Back in 2007, we wrote that AIPAC has an “almost unchallenged hold on Congress.” Little has happened since then to alter that conclusion, and we will probably get another demonstration of Congressional spinelessness this week. On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 867, an AIPAC-sponsored resolution denouncing the recent Goldstone Report on possible war crimes by Hamas and Israel during the Gaza War last year. You can read the resolution here. You should then read Judge Goldstone’s response here, which points out the errors in the House resolution. And then read historian Tony Judt’s eloquent statement here. If you’re convinced that the resolution makes a mockery of America’s professed commitment to justice and human rights, then you might express that sentiment here or here. Or just call your Congressman’s office and tell him/her to grow a backbone and vote against it.
Meanwhile, over in Israel itself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is completing the Obama administration’s humiliating retreat from the principles set forth in the president’s Cairo speech of less than five months ago. In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton did not criticize continued Israeli home demolitions in East Jerusalem (a practice she had previously denounced), and praised Netanyahu for making “unprecedented concessions” on settlement expansion. Huh? This is Clintonian double-talk worthy of her husband. Netanyahu’s “concession” was to insist that Israel would keep building whatever and wherever it wished in East Jerusalem, and would also continue the “natural growth” of settlements in the West Bank, but would not start any completely new settlements for awhile. Bear in mind that virtually every country in the world regards all of the settlements — both the unauthorized outposts and the vast neighborhoods built by the Israeli government — as illegal under international law, and the United States used to say this too. And for this “concession” the Palestinians are supposed to enter into another meaningless round of discussions, while the bulldozers and construction crews continue to eat away at the land on which they hope to establish a state of their own. To praise Netanyahu’s position as an “unprecedented concession” is like discovering someone is robbing your house, and then expressing gratitude when they offer to do it a bit more slowly.
The two-state solution was on life-support when Obama took office, and at first it appeared he might make a serious effort to nurse it back to health and make it a reality. At least, that’s what he said he was going to do. Instead, he and his Secretary of State are in the process of pulling out the plug. But what will they do when “two states for two peoples” isn’t an option and everybody finally admits it, and the Palestinians begin to demand equal rights in “greater Israel?” Will the United States support their claims for equality, democracy, and individual rights, or will it continue to defend and subsidize what will then be an apartheid state? Well, if it’s up to our courageous reps in Congress, you know what the answer will be.
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