SHAFAQNA – If you’ve seen the final episodes of either ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,’ ‘Survivor,’ or even ‘Big Brother,’ you’ve pretty much seen the most recent installment of the Republican Party’s presidential debate.
Barbs were exchanged with insults, and civility was traded for mud slinging. From healthcare to immigration; from job creation to spending cuts the five remaining candidates found reason to attack their opponent’s positions.
Where candidates shared a myopic view, however, were the three pillars of modern day US conservatism: God, guns, and Israel.
Three pillars of modern day US conservatism: God, guns, and Israel.
While God and guns have always been inextricably tied to the very definition of conservatism itself – undying lust for Israel is a 21st century add-on, and Thursday’s debate demonstrated once again how perversely infatuated the GOP is with the Apartheid State of Israel.
When the debate flowed into the inevitable ten-minute segment on Israel, I tweeted at the time, and you can check my timeline, “I will donate $500 to charity if the words ‘occupation,’ ‘apartheid,’ and ‘colonization’ are mentioned even once.”
Given the debate stage contained five right wing Americans, and amoderator who was once the public relations spokesperson for the Israel Lobby, no charitable organization really expected to see a donation from that particular wager.
Each candidate spoke in a way that presented Palestinian violence in a vacuum. “They launch rocket attacks and terrorist attacks on an ongoing basis,” thundered US Senator Marco Rubio. “I have over and over again led the fight to defend Israel, to fight for Israel,” screamed US Senator Ted Cruz.
When the Palestinians were mentioned, they were mentioned only as terrorists and deranged religious fanatics at worst, and “neighbors” as best. Yes, “neighbors” is a quaint way of pretending the conflict is some kind of border dispute and not a conflict between the occupied and the occupier.
No mention was made of the fact Palestinians do not possess an army, navy, or air force – much less one that is backed by the world’s dominant military superpower. No mention was made of the fact nearly 2 million Palestinians are caged in what is the world’s largest concentration camp – Gaza, and another 2 million separated by the apartheid barrier that runs hundreds of miles into and around the West Bank. And no mention was made either of the fact Palestinians are the possibly the first occupied people to be held responsible for the welfare of their occupier.
While each candidate trotted out well-worn, well-tested pro-Israel propagandized talking points, Rubio was by far the worst offender. No surprise given Rubio is the front-runner in the all-important Sheldon Adelson Primary – the race to secure the Jewish American casino and media mogul’s mega sized campaign donation.
Prolific Middle East commentator Juan Cole observes that one of the reasons New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no longer in the race is because “he in advertently offended Adelson by referring to the Occupied West Bank and Gaza as Occupied by the Israelis, which they have been since 1967…One of the propaganda ploys of the Zionist right wing is to go into high dudgeon if someone so much as speaks this simple truth publicly.”
Chris Christie is no longer in the race is because he in advertently offended Adelson by referring to the Occupied West Bank and Gaza as Occupied by the Israelis.
Rubio was almost hyperventilating in his excitement to cram as many pro-Israel propaganda talking points into his allotment of spoken time. When Donald Trump suggested he’d be an “honest broker” in negotiating a peace settlement, Rubio pounced with, “I don’t know if Donald realizes this. I’m sure it’s not his intent perhaps. But the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith.”
To accuse the Palestinians of acting in “bad faith” is so absurd it makes a mockery of not only reality but also history. When in the history of mankind has an invader and occupier acted in good faith? When the French Resistance fought back to resist and repel Nazi Germany’s occupation, no one accused them of acting in “bad faith.”
One can write a 500-page book that documents a history of Israel acting in bad faith against the very people they occupy and colonize – and many have done so – but Cole reminds his readers that it was Netanyahu who bragged about acting in bad faith – once even boasting, “I deceived the US to destroy Oslo Accords.”
Israel has always used failed peace agreements as a weapon to delegitimize Palestinian resistance, and one of the most well worn pro-Israel tropes posits Palestinians as unreasonable partners – a theme Rubio carried during the debate when he said, “The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israelis.”
This Israeli narrative is often wrapped up with the failed 2000 Camp David peace talks, which falsely accuses Yasser Arafat of walking away from a deal that offered Palestinians 90 percent of what they want. “It is a terrible myth that Arafat and only Arafat caused this catastrophic failure. All three parties made mistakes, and in such complex negotiations everyone is bound to…No one is to blame,” a US special envoy to Jerusalem told The New York Times.
Even Israel’s lead negotiator, Shlomo Ben-Ami, remarked, “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well.”
Moreover, were the Israelis ever serious about the creation of an independent and autonomous Palestinian state, Israel would cease its colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by putting a halt to settlement construction. But settlement expansion continues at a clip.
Israel uses the threat of Palestinian violence as a fig leaf to expand its colonization of the occupied territories. To that end, Rubio predictably thrust forth the false notions that Palestinian school curriculums teach Palestinian kids how to kill Israelis, and that Hamas constantly launches rockets at Israel from Gaza.
Not only is there zero evidence of the former, but also Hamas is an elected political party that governs a caged population – one that is routinely bombed by Israeli fighter jets, artillery, and drones – resulting in the deaths of more than five-thousand civilians in the past decade alone. When Hamas does respond with rockets, Cole reminds us that these home-made rockets are no more sophisticated than a “high school science project” and that many of the rockets set-off during US Fourth of July celebrations are, in fact, more powerful than the rockets fired by Hamas.
Given more than 30 million Americans tuned into the debate, with millions of others exposed to cable news sound bites, Rubio’s lies about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict serve only to perpetuate the conflict, resulting in even more bloodshed and further damage to America’s global reputation.
By CJ Werleman – This article was first published in the American Herald Tribune