Post-Imperium Pax Americana: a desperate Israel scours for allies
By Rafe MAIR
The recent lopsided vote in the UN General Assembly to admit Palestine as a non-member state observer is a sure indication that in a post-imperial American world, Israel’s ability to secure allies is becoming more difficult. With the decreasing diplomatic and economic clout of the United States, those who govern from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv found it more difficult than ever to cajole, browbeat, or woo nations to vote against the Palestine statehood resolution.
In the end, all Israel could muster in the way of «No» votes on Palestine were the Czech Republic, the foreign policy of which is in the hands of a royal pretender to a non-existent throne who pines for the days of monarchical Europe where European serfs had the same political rights that Palestinians have today, that is, none and a Canadian government that has as its political base an odd combination of Christian Right extremists and affluent homosexuals in Toronto and Ottawa. Also supporting Israel was a corrupt president of Panama who believes Israel is the «Guardian of the Holy Land,» three former UN «trust territories» – Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau -- that are in «compacts of free association» with the United States and have no more actual independence from Washington than the Cold War-era Ukrainian and Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republics had from the Kremlin; and Nauru, a dot in the Pacific Ocean that markets its UN vote to the highest bidder. And, of course, as usual, the United States voted «no» along with Israel, an unsurprising move when one considers the two political bases for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – Chicago and New York – are in the hands of ardent Zionist mayors, Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg, who can both cause political trouble for the incumbent president and an aspirant president if they even as much thought about a U.S. abstention on Palestine.
Israel tried to prevent a total rout, where only it and the United States would have voted «no» on Palestine, by calling on some foreign leaders who have been carefully cultivated by Israel and Jewish lobbies. In seven cases, these friends of Israel ensured that their nations voted to reject the Palestinian status upgrade resolution. In others, the Israeli allies could only muster an abstention on the resolution…
Perhaps no one was as more forceful, even arrogant, on Israel’s behalf than Canadian External Affairs Minister John Baird.
Baird is the most pro-Israeli member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s already fervently pro-Israeli Conservative Party cabinet. Baird is a self-proclaimed supporter of Zionism, having told the Jewish National Fund banquet in Ottawa a little over a week from the vote on Palestine: «After 2,000 years of bitter exile, Zionism — the national expression of the Jewish people gave voice and shape to a dream that never left the Jewish conscience: the return of world Jewry to its ancestral homeland . . . It is quite simply breathtaking to behold what people like Theodor Herzl, Eliezer Ben- Yehuda and Chaim Weizmann accomplished against all odds. It's simply a miracle to behold." Baird flew to New York so he could personally cast Canada’s «no» vote on Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamn Netanyahu called Harper to thank him for Canada’s support.
Another Israel supporter who ensured one of the seven «no» vote was Czech Foreign Minister Karl Schwarzenberg, or to be correct, Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Mena Fürst zu Schwarzenberg, the 12th Prince of Schwarzenberg. This third cousin of Prince Albert I of Monaco - which may help to explain that tiny principality’s abstention on Palestine -- has long been a right-wing politician, first with the conservative Austrian People’s Party during the communist rule of Czechoslovakia, and later as a member of the Czech Green Party, further proof of the rightist and Zionist tendencies of many «Greens». Schwarzenberg found it important in 2005 to travel to Cuba to stir up opposition to Fidel Castro, an act for which he was expelled from the island nation, but remains opposed to the plight of the Palestinians. For Schwarzenberg and the Czech Republic, Netanyahu had the following comment: «Israel has no better friend in Europe than the Czech Republic», which Thursday was the only European country to vote no». Unfortunately for Israel, the Prince of Schwarzenberg’s vote was canceled out by another European prince, Hans Adam II, whose Principality of Liechtenstein voted for Palestine.
Panama’s President, Ricardo Martinelli, the owner of a chain of supermarkets, has long been in Israel’s court. Like Baird, Martinelli has been overly-effusive in his praise for Israel and the Zionist cause. During a trip to Israel in 2010, Martinelli stated: «The Jewish heart is the same as Panama's heart... I say with great honor and joy: I will always support Israel, guardian of the world's capital, Jerusalem...» Martinelli praised the presence in his Cabinet of Jewish ministers, including Minister of Commerce and Industry Roberto Henriquez and Tourism Minister Salomon Shamah, the latter believed to be highly-connected to drug money laundering. Martinelli told his Israeli hosts, «I am sure Israel and Panama have a strong and bright future in all our joint efforts». Like Baird, Martinelli has been a frequent guest of Jewish organizations’ meetings in Washington.
As for the American version of the former Soviet Union’s «SSR» UN members, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau, Israel supported their questionable membership in the UN after the fall of the Soviet Union when a rush of new members joined the world body and the two SSR’s became independent members. Israel has also invited their leaders on red carpet trips to the Jewish state, where they have received lavish spa treatments on the shores of the Dead Sea and left for home with generous «swag bags» of Dead Sea salts skin and hair care products. Also invited to Israel has been the President of tiny Nauru, which is largely composed of bird droppings which provided the island, before over-mining, valuable phosphate deposits. Israel has promised technical assistance on agriculture and water resources to the island states.
In 2010, Micronesian President Emanuel Mori was greeted by Israeli President Shimon Peres as «one of Israel’s greatest friends». In 2009, Mori and Nauruan President Marcus Stephen visited Israel under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange in a joint deal with the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Although Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing, unlike his predecessor Kessai Note, has not yet visited Israel he received a visit in early 2012 from Ran Rahav, the honorary consul for the Marshall Islands in Israel. Rahav, wearing a t-shirt in a display of contempt for the island republic, presented President Tomeing with two books as gifts, one written by Peres and the other by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The President and First Lady of Palau, Johnson and Valeria Toribiong, visited Israel in late 2011.
In the end, Israel did not receive the «respectable» minority of votes it had hoped for. Many countries that normally vote for Israel abstained and the abstentions of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy stung hard. In July, Israel’s bellicose and openly racist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, became the first Israeli foreign minister to visit tiny San Marino inside Italy. His «charm» offensive to secure a «no» vote on Palestine apparently was unsuccessful. San Marino’s State Secretary for Foreign and Political Affairs, Antonella Mularoni, instructed her nation’s delegation in New York to abstain on the Palestine resolution. Italy, also visited by Lieberman, voted for Palestine. The boorish Lieberman likely yearns for the good old days of his ill-mannered doppelganger, Silvio Berlusconi.
Israel will likely not learn from an old lesson, «bullies are unpopular in their own backyard and other neighborhoods». Israel is discovering that finding diplomatic allies is as difficult as trying to find a ham sandwich on a kibbutz.