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Israel-US: an alliance of shared values
By: Shmuel Amir
Hagada Hasmalit
19 November 2014 (English translation 2 February 2015)

Original Hebrew:

“There is no new thing under the sun,” says Ecclesiastes. “The thing that hath
been, is that which shall be.” Reading the Israeli press these days, one
cannot avoid concluding that that sage, who lived (or not) over two thousand
years ago, was apparently right. We read that the USA has strongly rebuked
Israel over its policy towards the Palestinians. They arranged a humiliating
hazing for the Israeli defence minister during his visit to the US, when most
American leaders did not want to meet with him. A high-ranking official in the
American Administration (reportedly the President himself) called Netanyahu
“chickenshit”. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “Our view on
construction in East Jerusalem is clear – we will continue to express our
views on this issue.” She added also added that “Israel cares about their
place in the world – if they want to achieve peace there are actions they will
have to do.” Sharp words indeed!

Before our moderate “responsible” centre-left, that is, all the Bujis and Uzi
Barams, manage to exploit the mayhem properly to sound the alarm that this
time the grave crisis in Israeli-US relations is at the gate, very soon a
chasm will open between us and the American Administration, and all because of
Netanyahu (who according to them invented the settlements, the military
administration and all of Israel’s wars, especially “Solid Cliff” [called
“Protective Edge” in English]; wars that all of them supported), here is the
President again, without “chickenshit”, with the good news of commitment to
the security of Israel on his lips. Everything goes back to the way it was
before – the thing that hath been is that which shall be and there is nothing
new under the sun. After a sermon about the values shared by the US and
Israel, the President once again emphasizes America’s commitment to Israel’s
security. Those shared values are not so cheap, the Israeli Occupation must be
paid for, and the price is another squadron of F-35s, courtesy of the Obama

President Obama is a rhetorical giant, but apparently there are several
tongues in his mouth – you can hear from him what you want to hear. Did he not
say at the beginning of his presidency that the settlements would have to end?
But then he immediately added that the US would guarantee Israel’s security.
What part are we to believe?

Obama very much wants to be seen as a man of principle and ideals, and so he
never misses an opportunity to speak of the values that are shared by the US
and Israel. And maybe the time has come to examine just what those shared
values are. They are anchored, as we all know, in the American Declaration of
Independence and in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. In the American
one we read:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And here are the values of Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“The State of Israel […] will foster the development of the country for the
benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace
as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of
social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion,
race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language,
education and culture.”

Lofty declarations, to be sure. Children learn them at school and are
convinced that they are the foundations on which their countries act. The two
declarations are similar in that they have both been put in the display
window, but the shops do not actually sell the values that stand behind them,
and evidently there will not be many buyers either. Most unfortunately, just
as with other sublime texts, the principles that stand behind those
declarations were not exactly meant for use. The Founding Fathers of the USA
understood that very well, so they wrote a constitution in which the words of
the Declaration do not appear. In Israel there has been no need at all for
defence against the lofty words because there is no constitution, and the
Declaration of Independence is not a law. Which already brings us to a value
shared by Israel and the US: high-minded declarations are “outside the law”.
And indeed they never acted on basis of them, not internally and certainly not

The values of liberty and equality feature in both declarations. Let us
examine American liberty a little bit. When the Declaration of Independence
was written, slavery was an integral part of the economy in the American
colonies, more widespread even than it was in the Roman Empire. George
Washington himself was a big slave-owner (even if he did free them in his
will). Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence,
was, as was acceptable in those days, a big racist (the Blacks, he wrote, are
a race that is good at music, but less so at thinking and logic. And due to
their tendency to sweat they emit an unpleasant odour).

Slavery was instituted in the 13 founding colonies when the Declaration of
Independence was written, and the American economy thrived on the basis of
slavery. The horrors of slavery are well-known; woe betide the slave who ran
away, and woe betide the slave who did not run away. Families of slaves were
separated when they were sold. Women were separated from their husbands,
parents from their children. And yet at the time when those horrors were a
reality the Founding Fathers could write in the Declaration of Independence
about “the pursuit of happiness.” Only complete blindness to the suffering of
other human beings, or utter cynicism, could have moved their pens when they
committed those words to paper. And how can a president, whose own skin is
dark, quote that Declaration – and more than once?

You will say: but slavery disappeared from the world a long time ago. Let us
but recall the worlds of the great fighter for Black rights, Malcolm X: “If
you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there`s
no progress.” Legal slavery is indeed over, but the influence of slavery
exists to this very day in the US, and is deeply rooted in the US
consciousness. There are large disparities in the standard of living between
the Blacks and the Whites in by every measure: housing, income, education,
health and longevity. Blacks constitute about 40% of the prison population,
but only 12% of the general population. Twenty-eight percent of Black men will
spend part of their lives in prison. And the police have a light finger on the
trigger with Blacks, as we saw not long ago in Ferguson, when a policeman shot
to death an African American youth. The subsequent demonstrations, which
turned into riots because of police oppression, lasted for many days. What
wonder then, that in such a social situation, in a country whose propagandists
represent it as “the land of the free” the prisons are full to bursting? It is
estimated that about two million people are in prison in the US. The death
penalty is still legal in 23 states. A hundred and fifty-two people were
executed in Texas while George W. Bush was governor there. Similar to the ease
with which Palestinians are killed here in Israel. This trigger-happiness
towards the Blacks, and here in Israel us towards the Palestinians, can
certainly be considered a “value” shared by the US and Israel. True, there is
no death penalty here in Israel, but a great many Palestinians are languishing
in our prisons, the vast majority of them Palestinian freedom fighters. Or, in
the Israeli jargon, “terrorists”.

Another shared value is social inequality. In both countries the gap between
the rich and the poor is the biggest in the developed countries. Free
capitalism, without restraints, is definitely a value shared by our two
countries. And the social inequalities also have an impact on the quality of
our democracy. The poor apparently agree to this situation of their own free
will. Every election they return the representatives of wealth and authority
to power. Is this evidence of a government shared by rich and poor? Anyone
dares to cast doubt on this state of affairs is immediately thought to be a
deluded person: he evidently wants a North Korean-style regime, maybe he’s a
Bolshevik, or even a potential terrorist. In any case if he is Israeli he
clearly does not understand dangers that lie in wait for the homeland from the
Arabs or the Iranians, and if he is American he does not understand the great
danger from North Korea (That’s no joke, mighty America has announced that
North Korea constitutes a danger to it). Without a doubt, the ongoing campaign
to scare the citizenry and the ongoing incitement against all who do not agree
with “us” are also most definitely values we share.

We definitely have shared values in matters of war and the military. Faced
with danger, apply the infamous Hannibal Procedure from Operation Solid Cliff
(called “Protective Edge” in English). From our aircraft thousands of feet in
the air we bomb and dismember everything that moves down below. Indeed we take
pride in our ability to distinguish from a great distance every leader of our
enemies and to “eliminate” him alone; but in fact we do not distinguish
between combatants and the civilians we cut down without mercy (We “feel only
a slight jolt on the wing of the aircraft”). We and the US both love wars from
afar, which do not endanger the soldiers. Wars from aircraft, and recently
from drones. This kind of warfare, we read in the press, is very much favoured
by the President. “Wars from a distance” and a huge advantage in weapons are
the kind of war that we love. Accordingly, whereas in Vietnam the Americans
lost fifty-eight thousand soldiers, the Vietnamese died in their millions –
most of them civilians. Here in Israel, in “Operation Solid Cliff” we lost
about 60 soldiers and a few civilians. The Palestinians lost over 2,000
people, most of them civilians, including 500 children. We, like the
Americans, are always the victims of attack and our victims are always the
aggressors. On our side there are soldiers, usually referred to as “war-
fighters” (Hebrew: “lohamim”), on their side there are only terrorists. A
terrorist is anyone who defends himself against us, and anyone who fights

And democracy in the US is quite a joke too. In the US plutocracy has been the
sad reality for generations now. Barely half the population turns out to vote
in elections; the other half is apathetic, knowing that elections do not
change anything. Despite the fiery rhetoric of the campaigns of the opposing
presidential candidates, everybody knows that it makes no difference who will
be or will not be the next president, Republican or Democrat. Policies,
foreign and domestic, do not change except in accordance with the interests of
capital and its extensions. Candidates need vast sums of money in order to get
elected – sums that only the wealthy can provide. Obama no less than the
Republicans is supported by the usual sources of money. Franklin Delano
Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was the great social and democratic milestone in
US history, was implemented after the onset of the Great Depression of the
1930s. The plan was realized due to great pressure from unions, and strikes
and demonstrations in which dozens of people were killed. On today’s political
map of America on the other hand, most if not all the radical movements are
outside and/or opposed to the traditional ruling parties.

Obama presents US democracy as a model for the free world. But how is it
possible to describe a great empire that rules over or tries to rule over the
entire world as a democracy? Obama and the presidents before him claimed to
support freedom and human rights all over the world. But has there been, at
least since the end of the Second World War, a single reactionary leader that
rose to power without the help of the US? From Suharto in Indonesia to
Pinochet in Chile, from Batista in Cuba and Mubarak in Egypt to all the
dictators in the banana republics in Latin America – they all received US aid
and support. On the other hand a great popular leader like Fidel Castro, who
deposed Batista, got nothing but three attempts on his life by the CIA and an
invasion attempt (the Bay of Pigs). Patrice Lumumba, the first elected
president of Congo, was murdered by fighters trained and led by the CIA and
the British and Belgian intelligence services. (Wikipedia) Mohammad Mossadegh,
the elected president of Iran, who dared to nationalize the oil from an Anglo-
American company, was deposed and imprisoned with the cooperation of the UK
and the US; Salvador Allende, the first elected socialist president in Latin
America, was deposed and murdered by the Chilean army with the help of the
CIA. The number of US invasions of and interventions in countries worldwide
reaches many dozens. Thus does the US protect liberty and civil rights

And we have not yet spoken about the main common denominator between us and
the US. We, like the Americans, have built a state with the help of expulsion,
shoving aside, and even eradication (in the US) of the local population. Like
the Americans, we Jews too are famous for our egalitarian treatment of the
Palestinians, from the beginning of our arrival here to this very day. Indeed
here in Israel our Declaration of Independence is not lacking in beautiful
words. In it we read that the State of Israel “will foster the development of
the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on
freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will
ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants
irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion,
conscience, language, education and culture.” Reading this today, one does not
know whether to laugh or cry. Suffice to say that even as those words were
being written the Arabs of Israel were under military government. Even back
then no one seriously thought of applying to them all those beautiful
principles. The cherry on the cake of the Declaration of Independence is the
use of the word, “complete”. Equality of social and political rights will be
“complete”, not just equality, but “complete” … looks like all that was
complete was the hypocrisy.

Obama, like the presidents before him, finds Israel deserving of the large
amount of aid he gives it. Unlike our Centre-Left he understands very well and
thanks Israel for the assistance it gives him in enhancing US influence and
control in the Middle East: Israel will fight against any anti-American force
and any threat to American hegemony in the region. There is no American
interest in weakening or harming Israel’s strength, and so the American
support will continue. Israel remains the most loyal and stable pro-American
ally, while Turkey and Egypt have turned out to be not so secure or stable,
and so Obama sees in Israel a faithful political partner. That is what he
means when he calls Israel, in his words, “a partner in shared values and

Can the Palestinian state, when it is born, fulfill such a role? Is there not
a danger or chance (depends on who’s looking) that an independent Palestine
will join the global front of states that are fighting US imperialism? Concern
for the security of Israel, therefore, also includes concern for the
continuation of the Occupation. And without US support, there is no

The only chance for the Palestinian struggle is the consolidation of all the
forces against the Occupation – read Marwan Barghouti’s recent appeal.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent.

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