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http://orlandosentinel.com/automagic/columnists/2000-02-17/OPEDreese217021700.html

Turning blind eye to Israel damages U.S. credibility

by Charley Reese, Orlando Sentinel, 02/17/2000

Last week, Israel bombed power plants in Lebanon and threatened further attacks against Lebanon's civilian infrastructure. Did the United States protest this attack against Lebanese civilians?

No.

There you have a clear, explicit example of the U.S. government's double standard, a double standard that destroys the credibility of the United States among the people of the world. What Israel did is called a war crime, but the United States could not bring itself to utter even the mildest criticism. Instead, it blamed the victims -- the Lebanese.

The Hezbollah guerrillas in Southern Lebanon attacked the Israeli occupation forces and killed seven soldiers. This prompted Israel's retaliation. But the Lebanese have every legal and moral right to attack foreign soldiers illegally occupying their country. Furthermore, Hezbollah sent its military forces against Israel's military forces. Israel responded by attacking civilian targets. It has done this repeatedly, by the way.

Israel has illegally occupied a strip of Southern Lebanon since 1979. The United Nations has condemned it, but the United States has prevented any attempt to enforce the U.N. resolution, as it has consistently done with all U.N. resolutions directed at Israel's aggression against its Arab neighbors. There are more than 60 such resolutions, the same kind of resolutions that the U.S. government said, when they applied to Iraq, were so important that Americans must die to enforce them.

What is important for Americans to understand is how this double standard harms the legitimate national interests of the American people. Because of America's double standard in regard to Israel, whenever an American president or his representative speaks on any international topic, the words are discounted. The world knows that we have a double standard. The world knows that our word is no good.

The world knows, for example, how we bully countries into signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while remaining dead silent on Israel's refusal to sign the treaty. Israel acquired nuclear weapons and, according to a member of the Israeli Knesset (its parliament), has a stockpile of 300 nuclear warheads.

The world knows how we brand countries as state sponsors of terrorism if some of their agents assassinate their political enemies, but we say nothing about Israel, which has sent its assassins all over the world to kill its political opponents. Israel's assassination programs have been so successful that those programs have been celebrated in books, novels and movies. But, of course, Israel is not a state sponsor of terrorism.

One day Americans will realize what a price they will have paid for having America's foreign policy hijacked by the agents of a foreign power. We have allowed that foreign power to put us into a position in which people, who would otherwise be our allies, must necessarily view us as enemies. It is clear that the Israeli government has no intention of pursuing a real peace with its Arab neighbors. It seems to be choosing the path, to quote the words of a former head of Israeli military intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, "of committing national suicide."

That's what it is doing if it rejects peace, because people should not confuse the survival of Jews with the survival of a Jewish state. Jews have survived and will survive, but, throughout history, the lifespan of an independent Jewish state always has been short. Palestinians, and even the Syrians, have made a good-faith offer of peace, but Israel's response has been rhetoric and delays.

President Clinton can add to his record of utter failure a blown opportunity to pressure the Israelis into making a peace with their neighbors.

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on February 17, 2000.


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