Israel: Shopping for Friends in the Middle East

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was in the words of former CIA director, John Brennan, an "act of state-sponsored terrorism and a flagrant violation of international law." This is one of many such acts carried out by Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. It is yet another example of Israel’s malign behavior in the Middle East since its establishment in Palestine in the early 1900s.

Israel’s acts of terrorism against the Palestinians during their 53-year long illegal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip have received immunity in Washington and little scrutiny in the mainstream media.

From its earliest days, Zionist leaders grappled with how they would create a Jewish state on land where Palestinian Arabs were the majority population.

According to Zionist leaders, solutions had to be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. Infiltration had to be slow and covert, beginning with small land acquisitions. In the words of one of Israel’s founders, Chaim Weizmann, "another acre, another goat." Creeping annexation soon gave way to land acquisition by force.

Israel’s ultimate goal is to possess all of Palestine, with force as its building block. Expropriation and forcible removal of Palestinians from their land to make way for Israeli settlements began in 1947. To this day, Israel refuses to define its borders and territorial limits.

Israel’s settler-colonialist strategies have evolved over time, but U.S support has never waned. The Israeli government has depended on the United States for legitimacy; and with US backing, has had carte blanche in the region.

For decades, Israel’s leaders have labored to insure America’s commitment to the country’s survival and to their expansionist objectives. After 72 years, it has become seemingly impossible for Washington’s political leaders to imagine a regional reality other than that proffered by Israel.

The United States and Israel have become symmetrical in their pursuit of absolute control over the Middle East and punishing of countries that do not truckle. Iran, Lebanon and Syria, aligned with the Palestinians and refusing to kowtow, are suffering from devastating military and economic assaults from the United States and Israel.

For decades, Israel has used Iran as a foil to distract from its predatory policies.

Israel’s latest objective is to transform the Palestine-Israel "conflict" into an Iran-Arab "conflict." Israel’s annexation plan is no longer "another goat," it is instead, "another acre, another Arab dictator." Capitalizing on their hostility toward Iran, the Trump team and Israel have crafted a transactional strategy to normalize relations between Israel and compliant Arab states.

The goal of Israel’s founders from the beginning has been to alter the regional balance of power, transforming it into the major force in the Middle East. The once influential Pan-Arab national movement has long since been replaced with unpopular autocratic regimes, fearful of their own polities, and willing to do the biding of the United States and Israel.

In September 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain formally established diplomatic relations with Israel. The U.S.-brokered agreement is essentially a military alliance between Gulf Sunni monarchs, Israel and the United States against Iran.

By signing the agreement, Emirati and Bahraini rulers made years of secret economic and military cooperation with Israel and their betrayal of the Palestinians official. The bargain confirmed, as brazenly stated by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel does not need to withdraw from the West Bank in order to normalize relations with Arab states.

The deal included a commitment to sell the UAE – one of the most oppressive regimes in the Gulf – $23 billion in advanced weaponry, including 50 F-35 stealth fighter jets and armed Reaper drones. The Israeli government gave the White House "permission" to go ahead with the controversial sale if it promised to further enhance Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.

With the Trump administration’s promise to remove Sudan from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, the unelected, transitional Sudanese government agreed to normalize relations with Israel on October 23, 2020.

On December 10, Morocco joined fellow Arab dictators to formally recognize Israel. In return, the United States, alone among the major countries, sanctioned Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara. The Trump administration’s announcement was followed by notification of its intent to sell Morocco $1 billion worth of arms, including sophisticated aerial drones and precision-guided weapons.

In a 1937 letter to his son, Amos, in which he outlined the blueprint for the emergence of a Jewish state, David Ben Gurion, a Polish émigré to Palestine and Israel’s first prime minister, wrote, "…once we are numerous and powerful in the country, the Arabs will realize that it is better for them to become our allies….They will derive benefits from our assistance if they…give us the opportunity to settle all parts of the country." In the same letter, Ben Gurion argued that allocation of the Negev to the Arab state rather than the Jewish state would ensure it remained barren because the Arabs lacked creative initiative and "…have neither the competence nor the need to develop it or to make it prosper."

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, along with Egypt and Jordan, are wittingly or unwittingly, advancing the expansionist vision of Israel’s founders. And in their collaboration, have sanctioned Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands.

For decades Israel has acted as a military outpost for the United States, and for that it has been generously rewarded. The quid pro quo bargains Arab regimes have made with Israel reveal their powerlessness. In strategic partnership with the United States and with little opposition, Israel has increasingly assumed the dangerous role of the Goliath of the Persian Gulf.

(c) 2020, Dr. M. Reza Behnam

M. Reza Behnam, Ph.D., is a political scientist specializing in the politics, history and governments of the Middle East.