Did anyone really expect Israel would lose?
The Republican party’s gain of 60 plus House Seats (10 seats, all held by
Democrats, are still undecided at press time) and six Senate seats, is the
largest Congressional increase for either party since 1948 when the
Democrats gained 75 seats in the lower chamber and Harry Truman won the
White House. Prior to this week, it was in 1938 that American voters, tiring
of the great depression and some of Roosevelt’s expensive new deal
initiatives plus unease over FDR’s “Supreme Court packing scheme’ as more
than Republicans labeled it, allowed the Grand Old Party to pick up an all
time record 80 seats in that year’s midterm elections.
Next January’s 112th Congress is already receiving rave advance reviews.
Some coming from the more than half a million settlers in more than 100
illegal colonies in occupied Palestine who are pleased to see President Obama
emasculated and the sentiments expressed in his June 2008 Cairo speech
long forgotten. Many are hoping he will be replaced by likes of Hillary
Clinton, Sarah Palin, or a Mike Huckabee in 2012.
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish settlers in
the West Bank, and whose representatives are increasingly on the rampage,
by word and by deed, spoke for many when he told a post election news
conference that he expected the new Congress “will facilitate a more
open-minded approach to Israel’s needs (yet more Palestinian land – author)
than what we’ve experienced over the last two years.”
AIPAC, as it does after every Congressional election, offered pro forma
congratulations to the winners: “It is abundantly clear that the 112th
Congress will continue America’s long tradition of staunch support for a
strong, safe and secure Israel and an abiding friendship between the United
States and our most reliable ally in the Middle East.”
No sooner had the election results been declared than key winners received
what for decades has been a post election ritual, bestowed on new Members
of Congress. That would be the delivery of US taxpayer subsidized
invitations for all expense paid junkets to Israel. Of this year’s batch,
Florida’s new Senator, Marco Rubio, who considers himself a Tea Party leader
and who has been called “America’s great Right hope’ will lead the flock
and arrive in Israel on Sunday 11/7/10. As Rubio and other members
of Congress board planes to fly to Israel they may actually near-miss Israeli
officials, including PM Netanyahu, who will be coming the opposite
direction for a five day US visit to meet with his personal choice to replace
Obama for US President in 2012, Hilary Clinton. Netanyahu will also talk
Congressional strategy with key Israeli lobby agents. Those listed on the
various passenger manifests between the US and Israel will share the
common objective of making sure Israel’s interests are preserved and “remain
eternally paramount” to borrow a phrase from VP Joe Biden. They will also
try to assure and that the 112th Congress brooks no Obama administration
unpleasantness such as increased demands for a broader freeze on Jewish
The post Congressional election euphoria has not extended to
Lebanon and this region.
This is because over here it is widely believed that the new Congress, with
respect to Lebanon’s arch foe Israel which has committed serial aggressions
against it for half a century, will pick up right where the old Congress
left off without missing a beat. Many Lebanese expect the result to be the
same as if it had been the Democrats who had collected such a treasure trove
of Congressional seats . The unquestioning and blind support for Israel is
expected to result in severely curtailing Obama’s pledged drawdown of US
troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as Senator McCain is again demanding.
Many in Lebanon view Obama’s repudiation in the polls as a sign that he
will be unable to pressure Israel into concessions in stalled peace talks. They
expect the Congressional drum beat for war with Iran, pressure on Syria,
deference to Netanyahu-Lieberman, and interference in Lebanon’s internal
affairs including the targeting of the national Lebanese Resistance led by
Hezbollah to increase.
To many foreigners, Lebanese appear gifted in many ways including their
insights into American and Middle East politics even though they seem
incapable of doing much about their own. The morning after the US election,
at the open-air Café Younnes Coffee Shop off Hamra Street, some Lebanese
students were explaining to foreigners, with remarkable grasp of the
electoral details, their take on the US midterm election results.
One student explained that she expects the soon to be Speaker of the House,
staunchly pro-Israel John Boehner (R-Ohio), with Eric Cantor as Majority
Leaders and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)* Chair of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, will anchor Israel’s Congressional rule.
Ros-Lehtinen, the all time Congressional record holder for all manner of
anti-Arab congressional initiatives’ over the past two decades. Yesterday she
called for all Members of Congress to sign her latest letter to President
Obama opposing his administration’s proposed $60 billion arms deal to Saudi
Arabia, by the end of business on 11/6/10. Ros-Lehtinen is also expected
to renew her call to cut off all aid to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
She has also expressed her intention to maintain what are essentially US
sanctions against Lebanon by extending her predecessor Howard Berman’s
ban on grants to the Lebanese Armed Forces until Hezbollah is disarmed
to prevent it from benefiting from the military aid.
Other key committees chairmanships held by Israel loyalists are believed
here to mean an even stronger choke hold on the US government starting
One Palestinian student who used to live in Nahr al Bared Camp near Tripoli
before it was destroyed in 2007, explained how Cantor has already drawn
pro-Israel skeptical reaction with his proposal that American assistance
to Israel be taken out of the annual foreign aid bill and be passed separately,
on its own. Cantor’s thinking is that, given his party’s intention to heavily
cut foreign aid, he wants Israel’s annual $ 3 billion US taxpayer gift to remain
untouched even as foreign aid to other nations get slashed. Some pro-Israel
lobbyists worry that Cantor’s “going public” with his plan may result in the
American public noticing how much aid Israel gets and begin to wonder
why Israel’s aid is so sacrosanct. Voters might notice that Israel has received
more foreign aid from the United States than any other country since World
War II, according to a recent report compiled by the Congressional Research
Voters may begin to learn about and perhaps even question the fact that over
the years, multiple lobbying efforts have added countless perks to Israel’s
special aid package such that Israel is the only recipient allowed to spend a
portion of its military aid on purchases within Israel itself. Usually this
kind of aid is designed for procurement of American-made weapon systems.
Israel also receives its aid in the first month of the fiscal year as a deposit
in an interest-bearing account. Aid to all other recipients is spread out
throughout the year.
The Lebanese students verdict on the 2010 US midterm election:
Netanyahu and Israel won again.
Obama and America lost again.