Today viceprez Biden declared that US ties to Israel are “unshakeable.”
What does he mean though by unshakeable? Perhaps he means that America will “unshakably” support Israel no matter what, because America has faith in Israel like one has a faith in a God, and enjoys a similar presumed status of moral infallibility, no matter how many it kills, maims, malnourishes, tortures, or dispossesses.
Vice President Joseph Biden has opened talks with Israeli leaders ahead of the restart of indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In his first trip to Israel as vice president, Biden said Washington’s ties to Israel are “unshakable.” Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders are condemning Israel for approving 112 new units in an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the occupied West Bank.<http://www.democracynow.org/2010/3/9/headlines#5>
The NYTimes reports it like this:
Mr. Biden came to Jerusalem largely to assure the Israelis of Washington’s commitment to its security and to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.
He began the day on a note of support, asserting the Obama administration’s “absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”
But by the end of the day, Mr. Biden’s tone had a very different quality. He issued a statement condemning “the substance and timing of the announcement” of the housing, and adding: “Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues.” He said the announcement “runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.” <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/world/middleeast/10biden.html?hp>
But are we really supposed to understand that the US or Israel genuinely has any commitment to peace when it’s actions are precisely the opposite of what would be needed for peace to come about?
What matters is actual, material movements.
Whatever the rhetoric being floated, what is actually happening speaks loud and clear about the intentions of both Israel and the US. What is actually happening is that Israel is building cities on other people’s land, erecting walls on other people’s territory, demolishing other people’s homes, and in utter violation of a UN security resolution calling for it to promptly remove itself from all land violently occupied after the 1967 war.
Sadly, we can assume that no one has any commitment to anything other than the status quo of Palestinian suffering and Israeli exceptionalism from all manner of international law.
More from the NYTimes:
Last spring, the Obama administration tried to get Israel to stop all settlement building in order to get peace talks going again and hoped Arab states would promise confidence building measures in exchange. No such measures were forthcoming and the Israelis rejected the freeze.
After much haggling, in November the Israelis announced a 10-month partial freeze on new settlement building in the West Bank. But they specifically exempted Jerusalem from the moratorium, because Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and considers it part of its united capital, something the rest of the world rejects. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/world/middleeast/10biden.html?hp>
Much has been made about this “partial freeze,” but it, like all of Israel’s and America’s rhetoric about peacemaking, is a joke, though a very sad one for Palestinians being dispossessed daily of their property. Construction cannot be “partially” stopped; either it is ongoing or it is halted. If it is not halted, it is ongoing, which is precisely the case.
But by calling it a “partial freeze,” Israel gets it both ways. It can lay claim to peace gestures, however vapid their actual content, and simultaneously cater to the Israeli right, which wants to continue the violence (this land is our land, fuck the people already living there, God’s just not on their side).