The Toughest job in Washington: Explaining U.S. policy toward Israel

I had to feel sorry for State Department spokesperson Marie Harf trying to explain U.S. reaction toward Israel’s in-your-face announcement of thousands of new housing units on the West Bank on the eve of the Israeli-Palestinian talks. The U.S. expressed its “serious concerns” and labeled the settlements “illegitimate” — at the same time claiming that Israel was negotiating in good faith.

In the first 20 minutes of this video Herf does her best to dodge the difficult questions and promises to get more information on issues like whether the U.S. considers settlements since 1967 illegitimate or just the recent ones.

The good news is that the atmosphere of the briefing was definitely hostile to Israel and to U.S. complicity in the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians. Matthew Lee of the Associated Press was particularly incisive in his questioning.  Another reporter, Rosalind Jordan of Al Jazeera mentioned proposed train lines between Israeli settlements that would be closed to the Palestinians.

When you have talk of train lines being brought through to connect one settlement with another and not allowing people who live in between to board them, it… makes it more difficult for the Palestinians to say to their side you have to be patient, we’re trying to make this work– (see Philip Weiss, “Palestinians have to suck it up for segregated train lines and 4000 new settlements –reporters grill State Dep’t

Apartheid by any other name, but not at all the first example of Israeli apartheid.

All this is topped off with an announcement by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office that DNA testing will be required of some Russians who claim to be Jews if they want to emigrate to Israel (Times of Israel: “Russian-speakers who want to make aliya could need DNA test“)

A number of people from the former Soviet Union wishing to immigrate to Israel could be subjected to DNA testing to prove their Jewishness, the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday. The policy was reported in Maariv on Monday, one day after the Israeli paper revealed that a19-year-old woman from the former Soviet Union was required to take the test to qualify for a Birthright Israel trip.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that many Jews from the FSU who were born out-of-wedlock can be required to bring DNA confirmation of Jewish heritage in order to be allowed to immigrate as a Jew.

A source in the PMO told Maariv that the consul’s procedure, approved by the legal department of the Interior Ministry, states that a Russian-speaking child born out-of-wedlock is eligible to receive an Israeli immigration visa if the birth was registered before the child turned 3. Otherwise a DNA test to prove Jewish parentage is necessary. …

Hmmm, I thought that race and ethnicity were social constructs. At least that’s what our leftist elites keep telling us in the U.S. But of course an aggressive racialism has been characteristic of Zionism from the beginning. Indeed, a major motive for early Zionists was to create a state where Jews would marry Jews. Netanyahu’s directive is entirely within this tradition. U.S. Jews happily support Israel as a racialist, apartheid ethnostate while conceptualizing the U.S. and other Western societies as nothing  more than proposition nations dedicated to democracy and human rights, with no privileging of their White, Christian foundations.

Pure ethnic hardball.

So we have the bizarre spectacle of the U.S. government, which is actively promoting diversity in all its forms (and even making gay rights [see also here] a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy), going to bat for an avowedly racialist, apartheid state that stands for everything the U.S. is officially opposed to.

Another lesson in the extraordinary power of the Israel Lobby in the U.S.

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