Israel and the U.S.: A Unique
17 January, 2002
U.S.-Israel relations have been described in a variety of
ways. Politicians refer to Israel as the U.S.'s most reliable
ally in the Middle East, if not the world. Others speak of Israel
as a strategic ally. Some speak of Israel and the U.S. sharing
common democratic values in the war against terrorism. On the
Left, critics speak of Israel as a tool of U.S. imperialism for
undermining Arab nationalism, and a bulwark against fundamentalist
Islamic terrorism. A few writers point to the "excess influence"
which the Israeli governments exercise on U.S. government policy
via powerful Jewish lobbies and individuals in media, financial
and governmental circles.
While there is a grain of truth in much of the above there
is a unique aspect in this relationship between an imperial power
like the U.S. and regional power such as Israel. Unlike Washington's
relation with the EU, Japan and Oceana, it is Israel which pressures
and secures vast transfer of financial resources ($2.8 billion
per year, $84 billion over 30 years). Israel secures the latest
arms and technology transfers, unrestrictive entry into U.S.
markets, free entry of immigrants, unconditional commitment of
U.S. support in case of war and repression of colonized people
and guaranteed U.S. vetoes against any UN resolutions.
From the angle of inter-state relations, it is the lesser
regional power which exacts a tribute from the Empire, a seeming
unique or paradoxical outcome. The explanation for this paradox
is found in the powerful and influential role of pro-Israeli
Jews in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, political parties,
Congress and Executive Branch. The closest equivalent to past
empires is that of influential white settlers in the colonies,
who through their overseas linkages were able to secure subsidies
and special trading relations.
The Israeli "colons" in the U.S. have invested and
donated billions of dollars to Israel, in some cases diverting
funds from union dues of low paid workers to purchase Israel
bonds used to finance new colonial settlements in the occupied
territories. In other cases Jewish fugitives from the U.S. justice
system have been protected by the Israeli state, especially super
rich financial swindlers like Mark Rich and even gangsters and
murderers. Occasional official demands of extradition from the
U.S. Justice Department have been pointedly ignored.
The colonized Empire has gone out of its way to cover up its
subservience to its supposed ally, but in fact hegemonic power.
The U.S.-Israeli relationship is the first in modern history
in which the imperial country covers up a deliberate major military
assault by a supposed ally. In 1967, the U.S. Liberty a communications
and reconnaissance ship was bombed and strafed by Israeli fighter
planes in international waters for nearly an hour, killing and
wounding hundreds of seaman and officers . Intercepted Israeli
messages as well as the clearly displayed U.S. flag demonstrates
that this was a deliberate act of aggression. Washington acted
as any Third World leader would faced with an embarrassing attack
by its hegemon: it silenced its naval officers who witnessed
the attack and quietly received a compensation and pro-forma
apology. Apart from the fact this was an unprecedented action
in U.S. military and diplomatic relations with an ally, there
is no case in record of an imperial country covering up for an
assault by a regional ally. On the contrary, similar circumstances
have been followed by diplomatic and bellicose responses. This
apparent anomaly cannot in any way be explained by military weakness
or diplomatic failures: Washington has far superior armaments
and its diplomats are capable of forceful representation to allies
or adversaries, when the political will is present. The Jewish-American
lobby, Congress people, media and Wall Street moguls strategically
located in the U.S. political economic system ensured that President
Johnson would act as a docile subject . No direct pressures
were necessary, for a hegemonized political leadership, acts,
seemingly on its own beliefs, having learned the rules of the
political game. Israel-U.S. is a unique relationship, that not
even an unprovoked military attack should call into question.
Like all hegemonized powers, Washington threatened the U.S.
Naval witnesses with a court marital if they spoke out, while
they coddled their attackers in Tel Aviv.
Another illustration of the asymmetrical relation is found
in one of the most important espionage cases during the Cold
War involving an Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard and the Pentagon.
Over several years Pollard stole and duplicated bagfuls of top
secret documents about U.S. Intelligence, counter-intelligence,
strategic plans, military weaponry and turned them over to his
Israeli handlers. This was the biggest case of espionage carried
out against the U.S. by any ally in recent history. Pollard
and his wife were convicted. The U.S. Government privately protested
to the Israeli government. The Israeli's on the other hand,
through their Jewish-American allies organized a lobby to propagandize
in his favor. Eventually all top Israeli leaders and Jewish-American
lobbyists campaigned for his pardon, and almost succeeded with
The unequal relation is clearly evident in the case of a major
fugitive from justice, Marc Rich. A financier and trader, he
was indicted in the U.S. federal court on several counts of swindling
and defrauding clients. He fled to Switzerland and subsequently
obtained an Israeli passport and citizenship, investing hefty
sums of his ill begotten wealth into Israeli industries and charities.
Despite the seriousness of his offense, Rich hobnobbed with
top political leaders in Israel and its economic elite. In the
year 2000, the Prime Minister of Israel and numerous pro-Israeli
Jewish personalities, including Rich's ex-wife convinced Clinton
to pardon him. While an outcry was raised about a linkup between
the Rich pardon, and his wife's $100,000 plus contribution to
the Democratic Party, the underlying relationship of subordination
to Israeli influence and the power of the Israeli lobby in the
U.S. was clearly more important. It is worth noting that it
is extraordinarily unusual for a U.S. President to consult with
a foreign ruler (as Clinton consulted with Barak) in dealing
with an accused swindler. It is unprecedented to pardon an indicted
fugitive who fled his trial and never served any sentence.
The power of Israel is manifested in the numerous annual pilgrimages
which influential U.S. politicians make to Israel to declare
their loyalty to the Israeli state, even during periods of intensive
repression of rebellious subject people. On the contrary, U.S.
satraps of the Israeli's mini-empire applauded the Jewish state's
invasion of Lebanon, its bloody repression of the Intifada I
and II and opposed any international mediation to prevent further
Israeli massacres, sacrificing any credibility in the United
In votes in the United Nations, even in the Security Council,
despite overwhelming evidence of human rights violations presented
by EU allies, Washington has toiled in the service of its hegemon.
Sacrificing international credibility and deliberately alienating
150 other nations Washington labeled criticisms of Israeli racism
as "anti-Semitism". This does not mark the high point
of Washington's servility to Israel.
The most recent and perhaps the most important instance of
U.S. servility occurred in the months preceding and following
the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
On December 12, 2001 Fox news learned from U.S. Intelligence
sources and federal investigators that 60 Israelis engaged in
a long-running effort to spy on U.S. government officials were
detained since 9/11. Many of those arrested are active Israeli
military or intelligence operatives. They were arrested under
the Patriot Anti-Terrorism Law. Many failed polygraph questions
dealing with surveillance activities against and in the United
States. More seriously federal investigators have reason to
believe that the Israeli operatives gathered intelligence about
the September 11 attacks in advance and did not share it with
its Washington ally. The degree of Israeli involvement in September
11 is a tightly guarded secret. A highly placed federal investigator
told Fox news there are "tie-ins". When asked to provide
details, the federal investigator refused "Evidence linking
these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about
evidence that has been gathered. It is classified information."
Nothing exemplifies the power of Israel over Washington as
this case of Israeli espionage. Even in the case of the worse
bombing in U.S. history, Washington suppresses federally collected
evidence linking known Israeli spies to possible evidence about
prior knowledge. Clearly this evidence might raise questions
about the links and ties between political and economic elites
as well as undermining strategic relations in the Middle East.
More important it would pit the Bush Administration against
the Jewish American lobby and its powerful informal and formal
networks in the media, finance, and in government. Fox News
obtained numerous classified documents from federal investigators
probably frustrated by the coverups of Israeli espionage by political
leaders in Washington. These documents reveal that even before
September 11, as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained
or arrested in a secret investigation of large scale, long term
Israeli espionage in the United States. Not one of the major
print or electronic media reported on these arrests. Neither
the President nor any Congressional leaders spoke out on Israeli's
pervasive and sustained effort to obtain key U.S. military and
The classified documents detail "hundreds of incidents
in cities and towns across the country," that investigators
claim could be an Israeli organized intelligence gathering activity.
Israeli agents targeted and penetrated military bases, the Drug
Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
and dozens of government facilities and even secret office and
unlisted private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel
according to the Federal documents, cited by Fox News. The General
Accounting Office (an investigatory arm of the U.S. Congress)
document referred to Israel as "Country A"; it said
"the government of Country A conducts the most aggressive
espionage operation against the U.S. of any U.S. ally."
A Defense Intelligence report said Israel has "voracious
appetite for information...It aggressively collects military
and industrial technology and the U.S. is a high priority."
The Fox News Report written by Carl Cameron appeared on the
inter-net one day (Dec. 12, 2001) and then disappeared - there
was no follow up. None of the other mass media picked up on
this major espionage report. No doubt the powerful pro-Israeli
influentials in the mass media played a role. More significantly
than direct "pressure" Israeli hegemony "persuades",
"intimidates", the media establishment and political
leaders to operate with maximum discretion in limiting Israel's
appropriation of strategic information.
While the web of Israeli agents are sometimes subject to arrest,
interrogation and expulsion, the Israeli state and the ministers
in charge are never publically condemned, nor are there any official
diplomatic riposte such as the symbolic temporary withdrawal
of the U.S. Ambassador.
The closest parallel to U.S. behavior toward Israeli spies
is the response of poor, dependant Third World countries to U.S.
espionage. In that context docile rulers quietly ask the Ambassador
to rein in some of the more aggressive agents.
Unanswered Question: September 11
and the Israelis
Following September rumors circulated throughout the Arab
East that the bombing was an Israeli plot to incite Washington
to attack Muslim-Arab adversaries. These stories and their authors
provided nothing more than circumstantial evidence, namely that
Bush's anti-terrorism campaign legitimated Sharon's "anti-terrorist"
repression of Palestinians. The stories implicating Israel were
completely dismissed by all the media and political leaders across
the spectrum. Now U.S. federal investigators reveals that the
Israeli's may have known about the attack before it occurred
and not shared it.
This raises the question of the relationships between the
Arab terrorists and the Israeli secret police. Did the Israelis
penetrate the group or pick up information about them? Federal
investigators' confidential information could probably clarify
these vital questions. But will the confidential information
ever become public? Most likely not. For the very reason that
it would expose Israeli influence in the U.S. via its secret
agents and more importantly via its powerful overseas lobby and
allies in government and finance. The lack of any public statement
concerning Israel's possible knowledge of 9/11 is indicative
of the vast, ubiquitous and aggressive nature of its powerful
diaspora supporters. Given the enormous political and economic
importance which the mass media have given to 9/11, and the sweeping
powers, funding and institutions created around the issue of
national security, it is astonishing that no mention has been
made about Israel's spy networks operating in the U.S.'s most
delicate spheres of counter-terrorism.
Of course it is not astonishing if we understand properly
the "unique relationship" between the U.S. empire and
Israel, a regional power.
The relationship between the U.S. - a global imperial power
- and Israel, a regional power provides us with a unique model
of inter-state relations. In this case the regional power exacts
tribute ($2.8 billion annually in direct contributions from the
U.S. Congress), free access to U.S. markets, protection overseas
felonious Jews from prosecution or extradition to the U.S., while
engaging in pervasive espionage and money laundering. Moreover
Israel establishes limits on U.S.-Middle Eastern policy, in
the international forums. Israel's hegemonic position has endured
under both Democratic and Republican presidencies for almost
half a century. In other words it is a structural historical
relation, not one based on personalities, or particular transitory
Several hypothesis emerge from an examination of this unique
The first stems from the fact that the territorial Israeli
state has little power of persuasion, economic reach or military
clout in comparison to the major powers (Europe and the U.S.).
The power of Israel is based on the diaspora, the highly structured
and politically and economically powerful Jewish networks which
have direct and indirect access to the centers of power and propaganda
in the most powerful imperial country in the world. Tribute
is exacted via the influence of these "internal colonialists"
who operate at the level of mass media opinion makers and via
Congress and the Presidency. Close to 50% of the funding of
the Democratic Party comes from pro-Israeli Jews. For every
dollar spent by the Jewish networks in influencing voting outcomes,
the Israeli state receives $50 in aid to finance the building
and arming of colonial settlement in the Occupied Territories
complete with swimming pools, Rumanian gardeners and Filipino
Through the overseas networks the Israeli state can directly
intervene and set the parameters to U.S. foreign aid in the Middle
The overseas networks play a major role in shaping the internal
debate on U.S. policy toward Israel. Propaganda associating
Israeli repression of Palestinians as the righteous response
of the victims of the Holocaust has been repeated and circulated
throughout the mass media. From the heights of the network to
the lawyers boardroom, and the doctor's lounge the supporters
of the network aggressively attack as "anti-Semites"
any critical voices. Through local intimidation and malicious
intervention in the professions, the zealots defend Israeli policy
and leaders and contribute money, organize voters and run for
office. Once in office they tune in to Israeli policy needs.
The phenomena of overseas expatriates attempting to influence
an imperial power is not an exclusively Jewish phenomena. But
in no other case has linkage led to the establishment of an enduring
hegemonic relationship: empire colonized by a regional power,
the U.S. paying tribute to Israel and subject to the ideological
blinders of its overseas colons.
Many questions remain to be answered as the Empire aggressively
pursues its military expansion and the internal voices of repression
narrow the terms of public debate.
As the colons extend their influence throughout the political
and intellectual spheres, they feel more confident in asserting
Israel's superiority to the U.S. particularly in the areas of
political coercion and war. They brazenly boast of Israel's
superior security system, its methods of interrogation including
its techniques of torture and demand the U.S. follow Israel's
war agenda in the Middle East.
Seymour Hersch urges the U.S. FBI and Intelligence Agencies
to follow the Israeli secret police's use or threat of torture
of relatives including parents of terror suspects. Richard Perle,
highly influential in Rumsfeld's Defense Department, advocates
the Israeli tactics of offensive bombing of adversaries. "In
1981 the Israelis faced an urgent choice: should they allow Saddam
Hussein to fuel a French built nuclear reactor near Baghdad or
destroy it?. The Israelis decided to strike pre-emptively.
Everything we know (sic) about Saddam Hussein forces (sic)
President Bush to make a similar choice: to take a pre-emptive
action or wait, possibly until it is too late." .
Another prominent colon, Senator Joseph Lieberman called on the
U.S. to bomb Syria, Iraq and Iran after 9/11, echoing Primes
Minister Sharon's policy advice to President Bush. Alan Dershowitz,
Harvard Law professor, publically endorsed repressive legislation
in the U.S. - modeled on the Israeli system of unlimited detention
The colon's subordinate U.S. policy to Israel's foreign policy
needs, independent of circumstances and the extremities to which
Israel's colonial policies push it. Moreover as representatives
of the hegemonic power in the U.S., they even try to micro manage
security measures - torture in interrogation - as well as becoming
vociferous advocates of a generalized Middle East war. The colons
have successfully influenced the U.S. government to block any
EU initiatives toward international mediation, as well as the
U.S. sponsored Mitchell Plan, advocating peace observers. In
a word, the U.S., despite its occasional inconsequential criticism
of Israel's excesses, has not only been an unconditional supporter
of Israel, but it has done so, in the context of a prolonged
bloody, repression and occupation of Palestinian territories,
to which Washington is a party to securing. Israeli hegemony
over the U.S. via its colons is a formidable weapon for neutralizing
the U.S.'s NATO allies. Arab petroleum clients, the vast majority
of the general Assembly in the United Nations and even its own
public on certain Middle Eastern issues.
Even more dangerous is the irrational paranoia which the colons
transfer from Israeli politics to the U.S. All Arabs are suspect.
Middle Eastern adversaries should be threatened if not bombed.
Secret military tribunals and summary justice should be meted
out to suspected terrorists. The mass media is especially tuned
to pick up the Israeli paranoid syndrome: magnifying every threat,
featuring Israeli resolution and efficiency against Arab terrorists.
The paranoid style of politics had led to Israel's attacks on
Arab countries in the Middle East, espionage on the U.S., illegal
purchase of nuclear devices in the U.S. and unremitting violence
against Palestinians and Lebanese. The danger is that the assimilation
of the paranoid style by the U.S. has vast consequences not only
for the Mid-East but for the rest of the world and to democratic
freedom in the U.S.
What the intellectual colons and other Israeli publicists
forget to mention is that Israeli security policy is a total
disaster: bus stations, public malls, five star hotels, pizzerias
and all of its frontiers have been attacked and hundreds of Israeli
citizens have been killed and injured. Tens of thousands of
educated Israelis flee the country precisely because of insecurity
and the proximity of violence, which neither the Shin Ben, the
Army or the settlers are capable of preventing.
Blind to Israel's security failure, the colons insist on creating
conditions for internal repression and external war. Given their
influential role in the mass media, their prominence in the editorial
and opinion pages of the most prestigious newspapers, the colons
message reaches far beyond their limited numbers and the mediocrity
of their intellect. Location and money can make up for their
psychological and political pathologies as well as override any
qualms about dual loyalties.
1. James Bamford, Body of Secrets. Doubleday: New York
2001, pp. 187-239.
2. Many Jews disagree with particular Israeli policies and do
not support the Jewish-American lobby's unconditional support
for Israel. Yet their voices are not heard and in most cases
they have little or no political clout in politics, the media
and in the economy.
3. NY Times, December 28, 2001, p. 19.