america's 'good friend' in the middle east

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    Washington's support for Israel is a diplomatic phenomenon. Successive US administrations have armed, financed and trained their Middle Eastern ally’s armed forces, regularly fed them key electronic intelligence while throwing an all-embracing protective diplomatic arm around the country. In return, Israel has meddled in the US political process, killed 34 US citizens when it attacked the spy ship the USS Liberty in international waters in 1967, routinely ignored even the mildest US requests and perhaps worst of all, regularly spied upon its faithful sponsor.

    The nuclear weaponry that Israel developed at Dimona was very probably completed with secrets stolen from the Americans. It had long been suspected that Israel has abused its status as a friendly ally to plunder Washington’s secrets. Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy who by 1987 had plundered of US intelligence secrets is widely thought to be only the tip of an iceberg of Zionist penetration of America’s secret corridors of power. Even though US administrations have often been openhanded with their confidences, while many pro-Israeli statesmen have been happy to brief Tel Aviv’s diplomats and politicians on US thinking and intelligence, the Israelis have clearly felt it wiser to maintain their own secret sources of information. The thinking is clear. The time may come, incredible though it may seem to Israel’s supporters, when a US president is finally going to have had enough of seeing America being treated as a dupe and led around by the ring that has been put through its nose.

    The latest example of Israeli disregard for Washington’s own policies and interests has come with industrial espionage and the sale of sensitive weapons technology to the Chinese. The matter is still murky but it is known that a weapons system sold to Beijing in the 1990s was returned to Israel for repair. It is said that the US was prepared to allow this. However, it is now furious to discover that far from being repaired, the weaponry has been upgraded with what Washington considers to be sensitive technology — either given to the Israelis or stolen by their spies.

    Such is the mood in the Bush administration that it has reportedly called for the dismissal of the Israeli official responsible for the Chinese “repair” deal. Characteristically the demand has been rejected. It looks as if Washington is heading for a further humiliation at the hands of its good friend. It remains to be seen if the Bush administration is able to join up all the dots to see the full picture. It is angry because what the Israelis have done clearly affects the US military position with China. If President Bush’s pencil travels all the way to the end of the puzzle, he will see that Israel’s selfish behavior also affects the US military position with the Middle East, most particularly with Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Americans may still believe that they have a plucky little ally out there in the Middle East, who deserves their unwavering support, but the truth is that while with one hand Israel welcomes US support, with the other it picks its ally’s pockets.

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