Understanding Israel’s Corrosive Influence On Western Democracy

John Chuckman

Something troubling is quietly underway in the Western world, that portion of the world’s governments who style themselves as liberal democracies and free societies. Through a number of avenues, people’s assumptions about the role of government are being undermined as their governments evolve towards a pattern established in the United States. No, I do not mean in building a neo-Roman marble repository of sacred founding writ and adopting three wrangling branches of government with empty slogans about freedom and justice for all. I do mean in the way governments, however elected and organized, regard their responsibilities towards their citizens and the world community.

Of course, the United States in many matters often prods, cajoles, or threatens other states to follow where it leads, such as with votes at the U. N. or whether a country should send at least token forces for one of America’s colonial wars to lend appearances of international effort. Despite America’s poor economy and declining relative future prospects, it still has many resources for pushing others, much like the profligate grandson of a magnate whose once great family fortune is in decline but still large. Still, a good deal of what is happening results from new forces which only reinforce America’s imperial tendencies.

People in the West often elect governments who turn around to do things voters did not want done, and they realize they being lied to by their governments and corporate press, but they pretty much feel helpless to remedy the situation. London saw the largest peace march in history just before Tony Blair secretly threw in his lot with the criminals who hit Iraq with the equivalent in deaths and destruction of a thermonuclear bomb on a large city. Special interests increasingly dominate the interests of government because they increasingly pay its campaign costs and extend other important favors. Citizens in many places feel the meaning of casting a ballot has been diminished as they watch their governments ignore extreme injustice, hear their governments make demands and threats over matters which do not warrant threats, see themselves become ensnared in wars and violence they never wanted, and generally feel their governments are concerned with matters of little concern to them. That, if it needs to be said, is not what democracy is about. And where do we see governments making reforms to remedy the situation threatening democracy? Almost nowhere.

It might at first seem an odd thing to write – considering the
influence Israel exerts in the Western world (what other country of 7 million
is in the press virtually each day?) and all the favorable press it receives
(every major newspaper and broadcaster having several writers or commentators who
see their duty as influencing public opinion on Israel’s behalf, and The New
York Times submits all stories about Israel to Israeli censors before
publishing) – but Israel is an inherently unstable state. No matter how much
money is poured into it for arms and force-fed economic development, it cannot
be otherwise. Its population is hostile to the people with whom it is
surrounded and intermixed, living something of a fantasy which shares in equal
parts ancient myths and superstitions and white-picket-fence notions of community
with no neighbors who do not resemble each other. Its founding stories also
have a fairy tale quality, heroic with a mythical division of good and evil, always
ignoring the violence and brutality which cannot be forgotten so easily by its
victims and the manipulation of imperial powers which defrauded others as
surely as any phony mining stock promotion. Its official views and the very language
in which they are expressed are artificial constructs which do not accurately
describe what they name, words like “militant” or “terrorist” or “existential.”
Its official policy towards neighbors and the people it displaced has been one
of unrelenting hostility. Its leaders in business and government almost all securely
hold dual passports, hedging their bets. Its average citizens face a hard time
in an economy shaped, not for opportunity and economic freedom, but for war and
the policing of millions of captives and unwelcome residents. None of this is
indefinitely sustainable, and modern Israel is a highly artificial construct, one
neither suited to its regional environment nor amenable to all the powerful trends
shaping the modern world: globalization, free movement of peoples,
multiculturalism in immigration, and genuine democratic principles, not the
oxymoron of democracy for one group only.

It is the many desperate efforts to work against these hard
realities, almost like someone screaming against a storm, which have unleashed
the forces now at work on the Western world. Israel, as just one example, against
the best judgment of many statesmen, was permitted and even assisted to become
a nuclear power. The thinking being that only with such weapons can Israel feel
secure and be ready to defend Jews abroad from a new Gotterdammerung. The truth
is, as is the case with all nuclear weapons, Israel’s arsenal is virtually unusable,
except, that is, as a powerful tool for blackmail. Israel has blackmailed the
United States several times, the latest instance being over Iran’s nuclear
program, a program which every reliable intelligence source agrees is not aimed
at producing weapons. More than one Israeli source has suggested that low-yield
nuclear weapons are the best way of destroying Iran’s technology, buried deeply
underground, a suggestive whisper in American ears to do what Israel wants, or

Analysis suggests that what Israel truly wants is the
suppression of Iran as a burgeoning regional power so that Israel can continue
to perform the powerful and lucrative role as the United States’ surrogate in
Western Asia along with its always-held-quiet, numerous dealings with that other
great bastion of democracy and human rights, Saudi Arabia.

There have been many unanticipated, and extremely
unpleasant, results from just this one matter of Israel’s nuclear weapons. Take
Israel’s relationship with the former South African government and that
country’s own drive decades ago to achieve status as a nuclear power. We do not
know all the details, but we know from now-published documents that Israel once
offered literally to sell nuclear warheads and compatible missiles to apartheid
South Africa. We know further that South Africa did achieve its goal, there
having been a rush, secret program to remove its weapons when the apartheid
government fell, Britain’s late weapons expert, Dr. Kelly, possibly having been
murdered for the detailed information he possessed on the disposition of South
Africa’s fissile material. We know further that there was a nuclear device
tested at sea, likely a joint Israeli-South African test, its unmistakable
flash having been recorded by an American satellite. Just this one aspect of
Israel’s behavior worked directly against the aims and wishes of many in the
West, supporting both apartheid and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Further,
in order to accomplish these things, large efforts had to be made at deception
and secret dealing with a number of governments whose intelligence services
would certainly have come across trails of evidence. Those are rather weighty
matters for governments to decide without the knowledge of voters.

Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons acts both as a threat
and a stimulus to other states in the region to obtain their own. Iraq tried to
do so and was stopped, twice. Finally, America used, as a pretext for a bloody
invasion which killed at least half a million, Iraq’s nuclear weapons when it
was clear to all experts by that time that Iraq no longer had any working
facilities for producing them. It violently swept Iraq off the region’s chess
board to please Israel, much as today Israel wants it to do with Iran. Countries
which have seriously considered, or once actually started, working towards
nuclear weapons in the region include Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Libya, and
in all cases their motives involved, at least in part, Israel’s arsenal. The
United States today is in the midst of a massive, years-long campaign to
cleanse the Middle East of what its rulers regard as undesirable elements. What
determined these undesirable elements? The chief characteristic was whether
they respect the general foreign policy aims of the United States, including,
importantly, the concept of Israel as favored son of the United States in the
region with all the privileges and powers accorded that status.

Certainly the selection had nothing to do with whether the
countries were democracies, and certainly it had nothing to do with whether the
countries recognized and respected human rights, John Kerry’s pandering or Hillary
Clinton’s histrionics to the contrary. America pays no attention to such
niceties when it comes to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, and many other
places of strategic interest to it, including Israel. The values given lip
service in the American Constitution and at Fourth of July picnics have as much
to do with foreign policy as they do with the muffled screams from Guantanamo and
the rest of the CIA’s torture gulag or the horrific invasion of Iraq and the
systematic, large-scale use of extrajudicial killing.

There is elaborate machinery which has grown up around the
relationship between America and Israel since 1948, when President Truman made
the fateful decision, reportedly against his own best private judgement, to
quickly recognize the government of Israel and extend to it the then-immense
prestige of the United States in the immediate postwar period. That machinery —
its chief features being highly-organized and well-funded special interest
campaign financing, assays of every elected or appointed American official for
his or her friendliness to Israel as with regular junkets for new Congressmen,
and the most intimate and regular access by both lobbyists and Israeli
officials to the highest officials in Washington – is now part of the political
landscape of the United States, taken for granted as though it were the most
natural thing in the world. But it is not natural, and, over the long term, it
is not even in keeping with the interests of the United States.

Being enmeshed in that decision-distorting machinery, rather
than simply demanding Israel return to the Green Line and support a reasonable
settlement, is what ultimately produced 9/11, the war on terror, the invasion
of Iraq, systematic extrajudicial killing, the consignment of tens of millions
of people to tyranny, including the people of Egypt and Palestine, the dirty
business of the engineered civil war inflicted upon Syria, and swallowing America’s
national pride many times as with the Israeli attack on an American spy ship,
Israel’s seizure of neighboring land, and Israel’s incessant espionage on its
greatest benefactor. And some of these avoidable disasters had further internal
effects in rationalizing the establishment of many elements of an American
police state.

The nature of this relationship itself demonstrates
something about the unstable nature of Israel. America has many allies and
friends who do not behave in these ways because it is simply not necessary, but
Israel is constantly reaching, trying to improve or enhance or consolidate its
situation, trying to seek some greater advantage. It assumes in its external
affairs what appears a completely amoral, results-at-any-cost approach, from
stealing farms and homes and water to stealing secrets, playing a long series
of dirty tricks on the world along the way, as it did at Entebbe or in the Six
Day War or in helping South Africa or in releasing horrible malware like
Stuxnet or in abusing the passports of other nations to carry out ugly
assassinations — all secure in the knowledge that the world’s most influential
nation is captive to the machinery, unable to criticise or punish. The trouble
is that such acts endlessly generate new hostilities every place they touch. It
cannot be otherwise, yet Israel and its apologists speak only in terms of
rising anti-Semitism to shut critics up, a practice which generates still more
since most people don’t like being called names and the act of doing so only
increases awareness of the many dishonesties employed to keep Israel afloat.

The nature of the American-relationship machinery has proved
so successful in shaping policy towards Israel that it has been replicated in
other Western countries. Only recently, we read the words of a former
Australian Prime Minister warning his people of the machinery there now
influencing government unduly. In Canada, traditionally one of the fairest-minded
of nations towards the Middle East, our current, extremist prime minister (an
democratic deficit in Canada making it possible to win a majority government
with 39% of the vote) has trashed Canada’s traditional and respected position
and worked steadily towards establishing the same backroom-influence machinery.
So now we experience such bizarre events as a federal Minister suddenly, much like
Saul struck along the road to Damascus, blurting out some sentence about Israel,
unrelated to anything else he was saying or being asked by reporters present.
Our 39% Prime Minister himself has assumed the exalted role of Canada’s Don
Quixote in the fight against Anti-Semitism, despite the fact that genuine
anti-Semitism almost does not exist in our tolerant country. But prominent
apologists for Israel have in the past complained of Canada’s balanced policies
not favoring Israel enough, and our Don Quixote has ridden to their rescue. Of
course, along the way, his party will enjoy a new source of campaign funding,
adding yet a new burden to Canada’s existing democratic deficit.

No one I think entirely planned from the beginning this set
of outcomes. It really has been a matter of innumerable adjustments,
accommodations, and opportunistic maneuvers which no one might have predicted
in 1948, those days which were, at one and the same time, joyful for many Jews
staring back into the utter darkness of the Holocaust and tragic to a people
having nothing to do with those murderous events, who were stripped of property
and rights and dignity, a situation which has only become worse since what they
quite understandably call Nakba. But the corrosion of democracy in Western
governments afraid of ever saying no to Israel and too willing to add to party
coffers in exchange for favorable words and acts is real and palpable, and it
is going to do nothing but become worse. The situation is best characterized as
a race for the bottom.