In soccer, an “own goal” is when you screw up royally and kick the ball into your own net. It is the height of embarrassment to lose a game on an own goal. A “hat trick” is when a player scores three goals. No one has ever lost a soccer game on a hat trick of three own goals — at least not until recent developments in Washington.
Own goal one took place when the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Shapiro, met with Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Oct. 26 to warn him that the plan to add 1,100 housing units in a Jerusalem suburb widely considered to be part of the West Bank would make it harder to stop the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. Before registering his protest, Shapiro advised Yishai that the United States would vote against the Palestinian attempt no matter what Israel does or does not do on settlements. Yishai obliged by refusing to consider any stop in building. On Nov. 1, one day after the Palestinians succeeded in joining the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by a 107–14 vote, the Israeli government announced that it would accelerate construction of 2,000 housing units in Arab East Jerusalem and on the West Bank. An Associated Press story on the new housing described the U.S. government as “vexed” and reported that the State Department would express “disappointment” at the Israeli move. As the U.S. interest clearly consists of stopping the proliferating settlements, the result was an own goal by Washington. Advising Israel that it should not do something without exerting any pressure to encourage compliance just does not work.
Own goal two was set up when, during the 1990s, the United States Congress passed into law the proposition that any international organization that recognizes Palestinian statehood should not receive any funds from the U.S. government. There is no way to circumvent the law’s provisions. When UNESCO accepted Palestinian membership, the new law kicked in. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has introduced a bill that will complete the process by compelling the United States to withdraw from any such organization. Graham explains why punishing organizations for recognizing Palestine makes sense: “If the U.N. is going to be a body that buys into Palestinian statehood … then they suffer. It’s a decision they make.”
As the Palestinians are likely to make a bid to join as many as 16 other U.N. and non-U.N. international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Postal Union, the International Telecommunications Union, the World Bank, the IMF, the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the International Criminal Court, the action by Congress creates some interesting possibilities. The Palestinians will likely receive overwhelming support from voting members, just as they did at UNESCO, and be certified as members of the various organizations. Washington will be obliged to defund all those organizations and possibly cease participating in them, thereby losing any say in a number of critical organizations that, inter alia, regulate international mail service, commerce, and travel.
One can reasonably argue that the United Nations is not worth the time, effort, and money that it consumes, but there is a disturbing willingness on the part of Washington to abandon any pretense of an independent foreign policy where Israel is concerned. The United States has absolutely no national interest that compels it to deny Palestinian statehood, and it is only making itself even more ridiculous, irrelevant, and isolated internationally by inflicting massive and disproportionate punishment on most of the world over an issue that should not even be in dispute. Washington’s withdrawal from the rest of the world will admittedly be welcomed by many, though it only means that we Americans will be further down the road in the transition to rogue-state status. Own goal two.
Own goal three is admittedly a group effort, and the credit goes to Congress and all but one of the Republican aspirants to the presidential nomination. Michele Bachmann was the front-runner when she informed Americans that “If we don’t completely support Israel, God will curse us.” Herman Cain seemed primed to kick the ball into his own net with his comment that he would not allow a Muslim to serve in his Cabinet, followed up by his statement that it is only alleged that the Palestinian people actually exist, but presumptive leader of the pack Mitt Romney took charge when he revealed a key element in his foreign policy: “The actions that I will take will be actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders. I don’t seek to take actions independent of what our allies think is best, and if Israel’s leaders thought that a move of that nature would be helpful, then that’s something I’ll be inclined to do. But again, that’s a decision which I would look to the Israeli leadership to guide. I don’t think America should play the role of the leader of the peace process. Instead, we should stand by our ally. Again, my inclination is to stand by our ally Israel.” The “move” that Romney was referring to was moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where no other country currently maintains its embassy. In other words, Romney is abdicating U.S. control over U.S. foreign policy and is intent on letting Israel call the shots whenever it feels necessary to do so.
On Nov. 5, Congress sealed the deal on whose tail is wagging whose dog by moving out of committee for a floor vote the AIPAC-promoted Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011, which sanctions any company or government that does business with Iran, a complete sellout of the U.S. national interest to placate what is clearly perceived as an Israeli interest. As Rep. Ron Paul has noted, the bill would mean that the sale of a single Mercedes-Benz truck to Iran would result in a ban on all Mercedes sales in the United States, shutting the company’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and adding its thousands of workers to the unemployment rolls. The act will almost certainly pass the full Congress by a nearly unanimous vote, moving the United States one step closer to war with Iran. Own goal three.
The domination of Washington by a postage stamp–sized country in the Middle East never ceases to astonish. No matter what Tel Aviv does, Washington will always side with Israel. And there should be no question but that blind support of Israel has severely damaged other national interests in the Middle East region and has trashed the international reputation of the United States of America. Now Washington will be crippling itself with a series of self-inflicted wounds before withdrawing into a bunker because it is unable to get its way in terms of how the rest of the world should regard Israel and its policies. It is mind-numbing to contemplate, and every American should be shamed by the spectacle that is taking place, particularly given the issue that is behind most of the sound and fury — statehood and some measure of dignity for a people that has been sorely abused and all but destroyed through Israeli cruelty and American indifference. What does Ambassador Shapiro think when he exits from a session in which he has to first apologize before crawling in front of a puffed-up Israeli government minister? What do Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland really think when they defend the indefensible? Do they care about the damage that they are doing to the United States, its interests, and its people? I fear they do not, but this seemingly endless parade of those in public life prostrating themselves before Israel cannot end until we the people demand that it should be so. May that come soon.