Jim Crow is alive and well in Israel

{Originally published March 1, 2017 at Al Jazeera}

Jim Crow is alive and well in Israel
Long before Israel erected separate communities, the United States perfected the art of the artificial divide.

by Stanley L Cohen

For years, Israel has sold, and we in the United States have bought, the cheap peel-away sticker that it is the “lone democracy” in the Middle East.

It has a nice, assuring ring to it, sort of like “opportunity” or “peace”, whatever these chants may, in practice, mean. But, like beauty, it remains very much in the eye of the beholder, and like reality, sooner or later the truth surfaces, no matter how well its fiction is packaged.

We in the US are damn good at packaging ourselves, and our charade of equality and justice is second to none. We sell stuff; lots of it. Much of it false. Very much like a willing stepchild, Israel has learned from us that if you say something long enough with vigour, power and money to back it, it begins to take on a surreal life of its own, no matter how much reality puts the lie to its embroidery. Indeed, we are quite accomplished at obfuscation. We know it all too well. We’ve hidden behind the fog of it for so long that, even today, those who remind us that the earth is, in fact, not flat, remain heretics to be scorned. Have we found the weapons of mass destruction yet?

Long before Israel erected separate communities divided by will of law to segregate its Jewish citizens from its almost two million Palestinian Arab ones, the US perfected the art of artificial divide.

With the accuracy of delusion, from coast to coast, could be heard the refrain that race-based segregation was lawful as long as the facilities provided to each race were equal.

For decades, the legal fiction of “separate but equal” was the mantra that state and local governments, throughout the US, held out to justify the artificial, indeed lawful, separation of tens of millions of Americans on the basis of race and nothing more.

Whether in services, facilities, public accommodations, transportation, medical care, employment, voting booths or in schools, black and white were segregated under the cheap shibboleth that artificial isolation of the races insured equality, as long as the conditions of their separation were legally equal.

These laws came to be known simply as Jim Crow.

Enter Jim Crow

Indeed, the idea that race or religious separation was not only preferable, but helpful to one another’s ability to chart their own separate but equal course, became a perverse intellectual exercise which fundamentally did nothing more than exalt the supremacy of one race at the expense of another.

Putting aside, for the moment, the reality that facilities and services offered to African Americans were almost always of lower quality than those available to their counterpart white Americans, eventually the US Supreme Court had had enough. It held that separate could never be equal, even where there was a match in opportunity and facilities.

As noted in the seminal 1954 case of Brown v Board of Education, a school-based challenge to the notion of equal segregation, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

In words that eventually took hold first in education, then elsewhere throughout the US, the unanimous court noted:

“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society … It is the very foundation of good citizenship … Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms …

“Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system.”

These words were penned but six years after Israel was granted statehood by the United Nations. Nevertheless, some 62 years later, Brown’s command remains a linchpin of any meaningful democratic ideal and, yet, evermore elusive in Israel, which takes pride in the falsehood of the same supremacist claptrap rejected long ago.

Separate schools

In Israel, Palestinian schoolchildren account for about 25 percent, or about 480,000 pupils, of the state’s total student population. Palestinian and Jewish students, from elementary to high school, learn in separate institutions.

As noted in Brown v. Board of Education, institutionalised discrimination in the education system impedes the ability of students to develop the skills and awareness to participate on an equal footing, as individuals, in a free society.

In Israel, this is no accident. It is very much the result of a conscious effort to build a permanent educational, social and political advantage of Jews over their Palestinian counterparts.

In 1969, the state passed a law that gave statutory recognition to cultural and educational institutions and defined their aims as the development and fulfilment of Zionist goals in order to promote Jewish culture and education.

In that light, in Israel, Palestinian children receive an education that is inferior in nearly every respect when compared with that for Jewish children.

Palestinian schools receive far less state funding than Jewish ones – three times less, according to official state data from 2004. In Jerusalem, it is half the funding.

This underfunding is reflected in many areas; including relatively large class sizes and poor infrastructure and facilities. Many communities have no kindergartens for three and four-year-olds. Some schools lack libraries, counsellors, and recreation facilities. Their students get fewer enrichment and remedial programmes and special education services than do Jewish children.

Palestinian students are also underrepresented in Israel’s universities and higher education institutions.

Recent studies indicate that only 10 percent of Palestinian citizens were attending undergraduate programmes, and 7.3 percent and 4 percent were pursuing masters’ and doctoral degrees respectively.

Palestinian academics account for just about 1.2 percent of all tenured and tenure track positions in Israel’s universities.

Like a full range of public spending policies that privilege the Jewish majority, government support for student tuition fees, subsidised housing and employment opportunities is available only for those who serve in the Israeli army which, as a practical matter, excludes Palestinians.

No less pernicious, for Palestinian citizens of Israel, is their inability to live and work where they choose.

Community segregation

In 1952, the Israeli state authorised the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency to function as quasi-governmental entities in order to further advance the goals of the Zionist vision, to the detriment of minorities including those with Israeli citizenship.

Under the Land Acquisition Law of 1953, the land of 349 Palestinian towns and villages, approximately 1,212 square kilometres, was transferred to the state to be used preferentially for the Jewish majority.

In 1953, the Knesset bestowed governmental authorities on the Jewish National Fund to purchase land exclusively for Jewish use. The state granted financial advantages, including tax relief, to facilitate such purchases.

Today, 12.5 percent of Israeli land is owned by the Fund, which bans the sale or lease of it to non-Jews under the admitted premise that it’s a “danger” for non-Jews to own land in Israel.

In 1960, the state passed a law stipulating that ownership of “Israeli lands”, namely the 93 percent of land under the control of the state and the Fund, cannot be transferred in any manner.

In practice, this means that in some 700 agricultural and community towns throughout Israel, housing applicants are screened by Jewish boards with the ultimate power to accept or reject applications to settle in these locales.

These boards, which include representatives from the World Zionist Organization and the Fund, consider a range of criteria such as “suitability to the community’s social life” and the town’s “social and cultural fabric”.

The admission process all but guarantees that almost all Israeli towns and villages will remain Jewish enclaves, and are but a tease to those Palestinian citizens who desire to live in equality in fully integrated communities.

Is it any wonder then, that today, in Jim Crow Israel, few Palestinian citizens have been found to be suitable for these communities?

By virtue of state control over the racial makeup of municipalities throughout Israel, most Palestinian citizens are limited to residence and employment in the acutely overcrowded Palestinian towns and villages.

In fact, since 1948, the State of Israel has established hundreds of additional Jewish communities, without permitting the construction of any new Palestinian municipality whatsoever. Indeed, of Israel’s total area, just 2.5 percent comes under Palestinian municipal jurisdiction.

Of Israel’s 40 towns with the highest unemployment rates, 36 are Palestinian and the average employed Palestinian citizens of Israel makes just 58.6 percent of what a Jewish Israeli makes. About 53 percent of the impoverished families in Israel are Palestinian.

Inequality from the Israeli Parliament

Over the years, the Knesset has used the veneer of democracy while acting arbitrarily to ensure that demographic and political control remains exclusively in the hands of the state’s Jewish citizenry and parliamentarians.

For example, in an effort to maintain a Jewish demographic majority, the Family Unification Law of 2003 prohibits Palestinian citizens of Israel from reuniting with their spouses who live in the West Bank or Gaza. As a result, more than 150,000 children born of these so-called mixed marriages are denied the most elementary rights and privileges attendant to Israeli citizenship.

In a series of other laws, the Knesset has not only imposed a broad range of limitations on freedom of movement, speech and access to the political system for Palestinian citizens, but imposed ideological boundaries on the platforms of political parties to which they may belong.

By design, such laws thwart the ability of Palestinians to impact upon a political process which, daily, dictates every phase of their lives, but yet leaves them essentially powerless to bring about any fundamental change in the system itself. These restrictions necessarily deny Palestinian citizens an equal opportunity to play a meaningful role in the political life of Israel, otherwise available to their Jewish counterparts.

Under its most recent attempt to stifle its Palestinian minority, the Knesset proposed legislation that would enable the suspension of elected representatives of the public not because of criminal wrongdoing on their part, or even because of a breach of settled legislative protocol, but simply because their political agenda is objectionable to the Jewish majority.

Under other legislation, Knesset members may strip Palestinian MKs from their elected seats if they voice opposition to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Indeed, recently a Palestinian MK, Haneen Zoabi, was suspended from parliamentary debates for six months when, on the floor of the Knesset, she called Israeli soldiers “murderers” for their role in the Mavi Marmara incident that took the lives of nine pro-Palestinian activists.

On other occasions, the Knesset has imposed severe restrictions on travel by Palestinian MKs, both domestically and abroad.

Currently, there is a law that bans any political party which challenges the existence of Israel as a “Jewish” state or which advocates equal rights for all of its citizens irrespective of ethnicity. Another law empowers the interior minister to revoke citizenship of people who violate “allegiance” to the state.

An elusive pursuit for justice

That Israel has become a land where laws are enacted to obstruct the free exercise of core political rights of its Palestinian citizens is beyond dispute.

Ultimately, in any truly “democratic” society, citizens are able to seek redress for institutional or private injuries through an independent judicial system wed to no result but equal protection and justice for all, no matter the race, creed or religion of those who seek its protection.

It’s hard to imagine a more fundamental or essential arbiter of the rights of all than a judiciary that operates under no obligation but to see that justice be done without consideration of the ethnicity of those who come before it.

Yet, by design, in Israel, the pursuit of justice by Palestinian citizens is an elusive chase indeed; one calculated to perpetuate second-class citizenship very much the way African Americans were long held in the US under the arcane practice of separate but equal.

For example, more than 200 major rulings issued by the Supreme Court of Israel have been translated into English and published on the court’s website along with the original Hebrew decisions. Although the majority of these pronouncements are relevant to Palestinian citizens of Israel, none has been translated into Arabic.

In the history of Israel’s Supreme Court, there have been but two Palestinian male justices.

Currently, all but one of its 15 members is Jewish. No Palestinian woman has ever served on the Israeli Supreme Court. At the district and magistrates court level, Palestinian judges make up less than 5 percent of those who occupy a judicial position, and even fewer who preside over labour courts.

Historically, the Israeli Supreme Court has sided with majoritarian values in what can only be described as a wholesale abdication of its responsibility to see that justice be done for Palestinian and Jew alike.

Thus the Supreme Court has upheld the restrictions of the 1950 Law of Return which permits every Jewish person to immigrate to Israel and obtain citizenship, yet denies the same protection to Palestinians, even those who were born in the area that is now the State of Israel.

Likewise, the Court has upheld the legality of the January 2003 family unification ban that bars a Palestinian citizen from raising a family in Israel with a Palestinian spouse from the Occupied Territories. The controversial law was introduced as an amendment to the 1952 Citizenship Law, which determines citizenship for non-Jews.

In 2014, the Court dismissed a petition by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel challenging the continued Judaisation of Palestinian-owned land originally confiscated largely from Palestinian refugees inside Israel. According to Adalah, the court’s decision “entrenches racial segregation” and, writes Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large Annie Robbins, “will result in the continued concentration and containment of the Palestinian population in Israel”.

These are but a few of the many decisions of the Supreme Court that have adversely affected Palestinian citizens of Israel on the basis of their second-class status and little else.

The definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish one makes inequality and discrimination against its Palestinian citizens a political goal.

The marriage of “Jewish” and “democratic” ensures discrimination against non-Jewish citizens and necessarily impedes the realisation of full equality for all citizens of Israel.

Israel has become better at this “subtle” nuanced sale of an imaginary narrative than we in the US ever dared dream.

What, however, the “Jewish” state has not yet come to grips with, is that eventually myths about equal opportunity and justice for some 20 percent of its population prove specious and that, ultimately, time swallows all such fallacy, whether by operation of law or, tragically, all too often, through violence.

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Move the Embassy: End the Charade

Originally published January 31, 2017 in CounterPunch

 

Move the Embassy: End the Charade

Among Donald Trump’s first acts as President was suspending Barack Obama’s last – a grant of 221 million dollars in discretionary humanitarian aid to Palestine.

But why pause before the next move against Palestine? Move the US Embassy to East Jerusalem right now and end this charade once and for all.

Politics

US politicians like to preach from on high about justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike… as if the pathway of pain for occupied and occupier is one-in-the same… as if these two dramatically different ends of the scales of justice can, indeed should, be balanced.

When it comes to Palestine, for decades the United States has hidden behind a cheap frilly veneer of neutrality all the while subsidizing, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, a vicious, often deadly, criminal occupation that has used impediment and stalling tactics to re-sculpt a landscape that has been home to Palestinians for the millennium.

How often do we hear from US politicians that Palestine is a complex issue? In point of fact, Palestine is very complicated only when confusion provides opportune cover for delay. Of course, ethnic cleansing knows no better cover than delay.

The debate about the whens, wheres and whys can go on and on as not much more than the allure of excuse. There are, however, certain fundamental truths about Palestine that cannot be denied even by those largely European immigrants who have become expert at rewriting history to suit a land grab of epic and on-going proportion.

Population

While figures vary from source to source, in 1914, Palestine had a population of between 600-738,000 Palestinians (Muslim & Christian Arabs as well as other religions) and 59-94,000 Jews. In 1922, the census showed some 660-725,000 Palestinians and 84-89,000 Jews. In 1931, it is recorded that 4,075 Jews immigrated to Palestine while 1245 Christians and 213 Muslims immigrated there. In 1935 it was 61,854 Jews, 903 Arabs and 1390 Christians and others. In 1937 it was 10,500 Jews, 743 Arabs and 1196 Christians and others. By the end of 1944, the Jewish population had increased to 528,702 of which 117,226 were natural and 327,686 were immigrants. The Arab population had increased to 1,061,277 of which 453,405 were natural and 18,695 were immigrants. Christians and others increased to 149,645 of which 51,616 were natural and 18,948 were immigrant.

Four years later, in 1948, when land designated as Israel was ripped from the heartland of Palestine by UN political fiat, the two sides were ill-matched. The Jewish community in Palestine was much smaller: approximately 608-630,000 to the Arab, Christian and others 1.3-1.7 million… roughly 30 or so percent of the overall population. In spite of all Israel’s efforts, the Jewish population remains in the minority (as it has since at least the 5th century).

Land

As of 1922 Jews owned roughly 3% of the land in Palestine which increased to some 7% of its total over the next decade. When the State of Israel was established, Jewish ownership of land stood at 8.6%, with 3.3% owned by those who were to become known as Israeli-Arabs while another 16.9% of land was abandoned by Palestinian owners who fled in advance of the war that was to come.

Following the UN pronouncement, some 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their farms and villages with estimates running as high as 20,000 civilians killed, twice as many injured and hundreds of rapes carried out by marauding terrorists from the Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah. Hundreds of villages and towns were eradicated.

In the war that followed, another 400 to 600 Palestinian villages were sacked while urban Palestine was almost entirely extinguished. Out of about 400 Jewish settlements built post 1948, 350 were fabricated on Palestinian refugee property. Between 1948 and 1950 some 369 Palestinian villages were erased and replaced by 161 new Jewish settlements. During that same period, Israel seized two-thirds of all cultivated land which had been owned by Palestinians who were forced to flee.

Reliable estimates indicate that ultimately 80% of the Arab inhabitants, in what became Israel, left or were expelled from their homes, swept out by a colonial design that has run unabated since 1948… one in which the US has been very much a willing partner, indeed, enabler of the ethnic cleansing that has ensued.

Fast Forward 1993- The Wasted Talks

The Oslo Peace Process of 1993 was intended to lead to a final negotiated settlement between the parties within five years. Among other things, it divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B, and C. The first two were the smallest and were to be home to just Palestinians subject to varying degrees of Palestinian oversight. Area C, the largest at approximately 75% of the West Bank, was “gradually” to be transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. It also led to the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA) with responsibility for the administration of territory under its control.

Oslo I was signed in Washington D.C., followed by Oslo II in 1995. Among other things, this agreement, also known as the Taba Agreement, called for prompt Israeli withdrawals from various Palestinian areas and expanded Palestinian self-rule.

Following Oslo I, in rapid order, came: The Gaza-Jerico Agreement also known as the Cairo Agreement (1994);The Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities Between Israel and the PLO ( August 1994); The Protocol on Further Transfers of Powers and Responsibilities (August 1995); The Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron (January 1997); The Wye River Memorandum (October 1998); The Sharm el-Sheik Memorandum (September 1999); The Camp David Meetings in (July, 2000); The Agreement on Movement and Access (November 2005); and, most recently, during 2013-2014, the unsuccessful attempt by now former Secretary of State Kerry to restart the so-called peace process.

Although these dozen or so hollow agreements, protocols and meetings made for powerful photo ops and fine dining, in practice they provided little more than cover… cover for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land and moral cover for the US to speak of justice while, in reality, stoking the flames of racial and religious hatred through billions of dollars for Israeli settlements and weapons.

The Growth of Settlements

To some degree, the Oslo Accords are based upon the 1978 Camp David Agreement that resulted in a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. At the time of the agreement, there lived some 7,400 settlers in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), and 500 in Gaza.
Fifteen years later, at the time of the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were some 262,500 settlers in the West Bank.

Seven years later, at the Camp David Summit of 2000, there were a total of 362,945 settlers in the West bank with 169,969 in East Jerusalem.

By 2013, some 20 years after the Oslo Accords, the number of settlers grew to 520,000, across the West Bank,including 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

Today, there are approximately 250 settlements and “outposts” in the West Bank… home to some 800,000 illegal settlers… constituting approximately 13% of Israel’s population.
Among them are 13 settlements and 12 solely Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem where 200,000 Israelis live. The population of East Jerusalem is now down to 37% Palestinian. Area C of the West Bank is now 99% settler occupied.

Empowered by the election of Donald Trump and his nomination of David M. Friedman, long aligned with its settler far right, as Ambassador to Israel, it has approved more than 3,000 new units in the occupied West Bank, and signaled a green light to take what little else remains.

The Bleeding Hearts of the Whitehouse

One need not be a soothsayer to note a steady unbroken pattern of Israel swallowing more and more of the occupied West Bank even as US politicians, republican and democrats alike, convene feel good peace conferences or wax on about the need for justice for Palestinians.

As then President, Jimmy Carter noted “There has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years.” Ronald Reagan, spoke of “autonomy talks to pave the way for permitting the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights.”

George H.W. Bush criticized the presence of illegal settlements in the West Bank noting “Outposts, yeah, they ought to go.”

President Clinton opined about the need for the creation of a new Palestinian State based on the idea of self-determination for the Palestinian people.

George W. Bush called for a halt to Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands needed for a state.

Several years ago Barrack Obama decried…“more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time.”

Though these sentiments have been echoed by each occupant of the White House over the last 40 years, in reality they’ve reflected little more than a conspicuous political subterfuge to garner votes while providing Israel unlimited funds to support its endless aggression.

The cold hard reality is US politicians care far more about the domestic political mileage and influence of American Zionists than they do abstract notions of international law or justice for Palestinians.

One simply can’t have it both ways… calling out for justice while subsidizing Israeli hatred and violence with an open checkbook and empty rhetoric. It’s just not possible to be a neutral and detached arbiter at the same time courting votes.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Israel simply does not care. 68 years of its history, and counting, has shown that it has and will continue to do whatever it wishes to Palestinians unless and until the United States holds it accountable by ripping up the blank check or until the pain and suffering of its colonial enterprise becomes just too much for Israelis to bear.

Enter Donald Trump

Donald trump is a simple man with a simple mind. It’s his way or none. He loves the challenge of being the smartest, toughest and most creative thinker in the room even when he knows he’s far from it. To Trump there’s nothing like the grand dare, even when he knows he’s not up to it. And when all else fails, he simply makes up the narrative to suit his view. In Trump’s world honesty is for the weak, reality for those who can’t lie and then simply move on.

For decades presidents have determined that they could pontificate to the world about justice for Palestinians but finance Israel in its drive to purge them from the river to the sea without costs that they were unwilling to bear.

However, these same presidents discerned a bright red line beyond which they could not cross without unleashing consequences far too explosive to contemplate… namely, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital of Palestine in Jerusalem.

Apparently Donald Trump does not care.

To the politically naive, such a move would be of little practical consequence… a mere symbolic gesture. To millions of Palestinians, indeed hundreds of millions of Arabs, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem without their specific invitation would constitute a point of no return… a veritable disaster in waiting.

In one fell swoop, it would signal an end to two separate yet related fictions that, since Oslo, have helped to enable a relative calm in Palestine even in the presence of the loss of much of it to settlers: 1) that the United States was interested in even the semblance of neutrality and 2) that the PA has the ability to represent the traditions and aspirations of the Palestinian people with meaningful capability and authority.

So, Mr. Trump, proceed at your own peril. If you feel, as Ambassador-to-be Friedman does, that Jerusalem is “Israel’s eternal capital”… proceed with your folly. Move the Embassy.

To millions of Palestinians, the only answer will be militant and fierce resistance, and it will come… as sure as the early morning call to prayer.

November 8, 2016 Offers No Relief For Palestine

STANLEY L. COHEN New York, 9 September 2016

As Hillary Clinton approaches the final weeks of her climb to the apex of American public life and power, the breadth and scope of her many years operating at the highest levels of our ideological system cannot be denied. Unlike her clownish, “reality-television”opponent—who has never served in government, and on his best days, appears to possess less maturity and intelligence than a three-year old child—Ms. Clinton, the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, has an ample record of positions, official acts and personal opinions, for better or worse. Trump’s autocratic personal style and retro “strong-man” orientation—flouting his deep ignorance on any topic, and avowed intention to “bomb to hell” every problem—suggests the real estate blowhard will be a great friend to Israeli militarism and the ever-expanding occupation of Palestine. Yet, in fact, keen observers with more memory than perhaps the current Selfie Age requires, know well that it is Ms. Clinton who has proven herself for over two decades to be among the most hawkish, pro-Israel figures in modern official US history.

Truly, have the Palestinians ever faced a worse pair of prospects in the American electoral season? A psychopathic, New York real estate narcissist vs. a hardline, party Zionist: whoever wins (and anything can happen in this unlikely election), we know it won’t be good for Palestine.

The ironies run deep with the Democratic candidate. Ms. Clinton holds the unprecedented distinction of being the first major party nominee for U.S. president, man or woman, ever to have actually visited the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank—a trip she made at her husband’s side in the final weeks of 1998, when President Bill Clinton faced impeachment at home over his marital infidelities. Together, they attended the ribbon-cutting on the new Gaza airport, observed a signing of a new Palestine National Charter, and met frantically to shore up the Wye River Accords among its signatories, signed earlier that fall. Ms. Clinton’s meeting and embrace of Suha Arafat, of course, became the stuff of New York City tabloid newspaper legend, with the New York Post and the Daily News screaming in Zionist unison as if the First Lady had, by touching a Muslim woman, given herself and the White House ideological leprosy.

I recall a pleasant day, months after her visit, walking around the new $83 million airport in the summer of 1999, with local Rafah friends—not a single commercial flight had been permitted, and the complex stood shimmering and empty in the blazing midday heat, almost a mirage. The paint on the walls still smelled new, and for kicks, we rode fast in a civil defense jeep down one of the empty runways, past the control tower and the main terminal. The next year, the whole place would be blown to bits by Israeli warplanes, the tower a smoking ruin, the runways full of bomb craters. The Clintons were long-gone by then, of course, and no one in the U.S. government raised a bit of objection to what was both the symbolic and the practical demolition of Palestinian’s aspirations to fly free of the occupation—after all, it was Gulf State and German money that built the place, who cared if the Israelis wanted it destroyed?

But I remember just as well, that very same year, how Ms. Clinton traveled again to Israel in her effort to win the US senate seat for New York held by Daniel Moynihan—himself a staunch protector of Zionism. It needs explaining, for foreign readers, that Israel is like the “sixth borough” of New York City—a required campaign stop for any politician hoping to win election in this town, and every congressman makes a necessary pilgrimage there to genuflect before the power of the Israel lobby, and to assure New Yorkers that they love Israel more than the next candidate. It is a sloppy mess—US politicians competing for AIPAC help in getting elected, kneeling to kiss the ring of a foreign power every two years—but an enduring, illustrative spectacle of our ideological truth.

Yet that summer, Hillary Clinton out-did any other Democratic politician in her craven fawning, when she gratuitously included the Zionist formula for subjugating Jerusalem in an official letter to an Orthodox Jewish union, writing that she believed the city to be “the eternal and indivisible capital” of Israel, and promising to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The verbal formula, of course, has long been a shibboleth of hard-core Zionist plans, and her adoption of it was deliberate and not accidental. A few years prior, Republican Zionists in the Congress passed a bill (the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995) ordering President Clinton to move the embassy, or face consequences—however, the language of the law contained a presidential waiver, and Clinton invoked his waiver to get out of complying, preserving the status quo. This grotesque pantomime has continued every year for the last twenty years, as Congress renews the law, and each president opts out on the implementation, and the embassy remains in Tel Aviv.

At the time, many of us in the anti-Zionist cause wondered if the First Lady had been naïve, or manipulated, in her clumsy ploy to pick up AIPAC support—after all, her adoption of the outrageous language of Israeli conquest and annexation stood in sharp contrast to both her party and her husband’s official position (not to mention international law), and contradicted the U.S. State Department’s policy. If she did not understand the dangerous implications of the language, then her competency was in question; if she did, then her politics represented a shift for the party. There was simply no version of the fabled “two-state solution” that did not include half of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Thus, any politician advocating the language of the Zionists on an “indivisible” Jerusalem essentially says, “the Palestinians don’t matter,” and their national aspirations will not be honored. As it happened, even George W. Bush’s White House kept invoking the waiver on the renewed law, and Senator Clinton never had to account for her earlier campaign trail Zionism.

But from her years toiling in the White House, the Senate, and the State Department— a rigorous education unmatched by few in our political history—we might wonder, without irony, if Ms. Clinton has undergone any transformation since that summer, and where that process has brought her today.

Sadly, her years of experience have made her more canny about the workings of power, but do not appear to have changed her mind—she remains the greatest Israel hawk on the Democrat side. While she backed away from the language of the embassy move as Secretary of State—an idea in contravention of State Department policy—her Zionist ethos has remained strong. As a senator, she has visited the illegal wall destroying Palestinian life, and praised it for its guarantee of Israeli security; she has at times visited Jerusalem, and called it “Israel;” and as a presidential candidate, her campaign took up the hated formula again, extolling Israel’s “right” to an “undivided Jerusalem as its capital” in a position paper (“Standing with Israel Against Terrorism”) available on the Hillary website as late as 2010, but now apparently scrubbed away.

Just as alarming for Palestinians is the candidate’s language today, on her official campaign site. A quick perusal of her current Israel page, “Hillary Clinton and Israel: a 30-Year Record of Friendship, Leadership and Strength,” gives the general drift of her Zionism—record-breaking military budget increases for the Israeli war-making machine; opposing the Goldstone Report; criticizing the U.N. for its bias against Israel; intelligence sharing initiatives with the Mossad; and so on. In her promises for the future, when she is president, she vows to “defend Israel on the world stage,” by opposing “anti-Israel bias” in international forums (by this, we understand, the International Criminal Court and human rights venues); and to “stand up against” the BDS movement, while cutting off efforts to recognize Palestinian statehood.

The past years of Democratic rule have not been kind to the Palestinians—while President Obama’s pronounced personal dislike for the racist Netanyahu has at least dialed-back the most egregious Israelophilia, the fact remains that this president has presided over the biggest run-up in Israeli military aid in American history. Despite what Likud hawks think about Obama, he has been their best friend ever, accounting strictly by the dollar. And a Hillary Clinton presidency promises more of the same—but with the added concern that in her past record, she has shown a shocking disregard for, and fundamental disinterest in the Palestinians, their hopes and aspirations. Ms. Clinton will not—as Obama did upon election—be visiting any Arab capital with a proffered fig leaf. If, as Shakespeare warns us, “What’s past is prologue,” Ms. Clinton can be expected as president to mount the ramparts of Fortress Israel, and vigorously wave the flag—perhaps more aggressively than Bush or Reagan, or any president before her, portending grave trouble ahead for Palestine.

hill-bibi-abbas

“Partners in Crime”