About Matthew Williams-Spooner

I'm an Australian. Among many issues I take seriously, I am critical of and oppose capitalism, human trafficking, U.S. global hegemony and imperialism, and Israel's conduct in the Middle East, particularly its ongoing war of dispossession and annihilation against the Palestinians. I promote human rights, equality, and democracy. I believe that moral decency is an intrinsic feature of humankind which has been suppressed by the nature of the societies people have constructed around the world for roughly the last 10-12,000 years. I don't think blogging will change much of anything, but it's the most I can do and I have to do something.

What are free trade agreements and why are they bad?

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

– Abraham Lincoln

There has never been but one question in all civilization – how to keep a few men from saying to many men: you work and earn bread and we will eat it.

– Abraham Lincoln

The price we pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

– Plato

It is not wisdom but authority that makes a law.

– Thomas Hobbes

All warfare is based on deception.

– Sun Tzu

In war, truth is the first casualty.

– Aeschylus, Greek Tragic Dramatist

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are deeply embedded in contemporary economics and politics, and are regularly discussed as a means for increasing growth and making economic relations between countries fairer and more ‘efficient’ (Baker, 2006). However, what they actually entail is rarely discussed, if ever, and any analysis of what FTAs mean for different people in society rarely goes beyond rhetorical flourishes about how wonderful they are and what an amazing world we’ll soon be living in with the arrival of new FTAs.

In reality, FTAs are devices for maintaining, expanding and deepening the economic supremacy of powerful nations and of the elites who dominate them (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009, 2011, 2014; Stiglitz, 2002, 2012; Gilens & Page, 2014; Chomsky, 2005). This post substantiates this claim by doing three things. First, it discusses the propaganda which is often used to vaunt FTAs and pretend that they’re something other than a tool of economic domination used by elites. Second, it dispels these propaganda myths by outlining the way that economics works in the real world, which includes a brief discussion of capitalist (i.e., liberal/neoliberal) economics in general. Third, it ties these two things together by explaining the agenda behind people who use propaganda to cover up the true nature of FTAs – i.e., why they come to be proponents of this economic propaganda.

The purpose of this post is to summarise the facts about FTAs in order to help people to better understand the economic debates and the farcical lies told by proponents of FTAs so that we’ll be better able to resist them and their deleterious consequences. Both the Coalition and the Australian Labour Party (ALP), without at least one whom no federal government can be formed in Australia, support FTAs and subscribe to the propaganda on which they’re based, so understanding the reality of FTAs and what they mean for societies is not a trivial issue.

This post draws on work by economists Ha-Joon Chang, Joseph Stiglitz, Gar Alperovitz and Dean Baker, as well as Noam Chomsky, historian Eric Hobsbawm, and political scientists Larry M. Bartels, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page. For a full list of the works used for this post, as well as further reading on the subject that people can pursue, see the reference list at the end. It should be noted, though, that the best and most concise source, and the one on which this post most heavily draws, is Dean Baker’s (2006) book “The Conservative Nany State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer”. It’s 108 pages long and provides an excellent analysis of how the rich use the government to meet their needs, including, but not limited to, the role of FTAs. The post will now follow the outline given in the paragraph above, and then finish with an example of a free trade agreement relevant to Australia – the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

How do governments lie in order to promote FTAs?

The standard argument for FTAs goes something like this. Trade between nations typically involves barriers (such as tariffs) that make importing and exporting goods more expensive. This is an impediment to trade and a disincentive for the businesses and states that want to trade with each other across borders. This has a negative impact on economies by reducing trade, thus reducing growth. Since growth produces jobs, generates wealth and thereby provides stability, it’s the foundation of a prosperous society, so anything which impairs growth is bad for everyone. Hence, barriers to trade ought to be reduced (or even removed) as much as possible. For this reason, FTAs are economically sound, and should be vigorously pursued for the benefit of all. This is a complete and utter lie (Baker, 2006). It’s much easier to tell lies than to disprove them, so unfortunately the truth about FTAs isn’t quite as concise as the propaganda. However, it’s neither complicated nor laborious to understand – it just takes some time to get acquainted with the facts, to which we now turn.

What are FTAs and what do they really do?

The propaganda argument for FTAs outlined above makes two important assumptions. One, that FTAs do what the argument pretends that they do. Two, that growth provides prosperity. Both are important for advocates of FTAs, as well as for capitalism more generally, which is predicated on endless pursuit of growth and generating wealth (Hobsbawm, 1996). Hence, because of ‘growth’s’ importance to both FTAs and capitalism at large, we should first have a quick look at the argument that growth equals prosperity before we get into the facts about FTAs.

Growth is the capitalist’s answer to the fact that populations grow, their needs expand and we need more material resources in order to sustain ourselves as these things happen. Advocates of growth therefore argue that we need to expand our economy by producing and trading more, both within and outside our borders, in order to create more jobs, generate more wealth and thus achieve a sustainable future. There are many problems with this argument. First and most obviously, growth can’t continue endlessly, so this approach is bound to fail sooner or later (Hobsbawm, 1996).

Second, it assumes that the jobs generated by growth are more or less stable over time, as opposed to temporary jobs which evaporate after a while and don’t provide long-term employment. It’s no secret that this isn’t true, especially in terms of lower-income jobs in construction and agriculture, for example. True, when there’s demand for construction workers due to large (often government-initiated) construction and development programs, like roads, bridges, tunnels, etc., this generates wealth, provides employment, and in the meantime increases prosperity. However, when that demand dries out, issues with employment return, the wealth gained by workers in that period only lasts so long, and the prosperity doesn’t endure for very long unless the demand returns. This is a very tenuous situation, since workers can’t depend on a consistent demand for construction projects. Indeed, demand for such projects is much too unpredictable to provide a serious source of long-term employment and thus stability, unless governments deal with this problem by ensuring a steady demand for construction projects at all times, which experience tells us is simply not the case. The same is also true for the agriculture industry, and other industries like it. Hence, the assumption about growth providing stability via employment sounds nice, but in reality is totally unfounded (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009).

Third, in terms of fairness, the argument for growth assumes that the distribution of the wealth generated by ‘growth’, while of course not equal, is at least not intrinsically unfair. There is a strong element of trickle-down economics to this assumption, which has long been utterly discredited as nothing more than a farce designed to justify policies which make the wealthy wealthier by lying to the public (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009; Stiglitz, 2013; Bartels, 2008). Indeed, even Bill Clinton, who himself legislated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during his time as president of the US, talked about the failure of so-called trickle-down economics when running for president against George H. W. Bush in 1992. In reality, the workers may receive some of the wealth generated by things like construction projects via whatever employment they gain, but, as outlined above, this will be temporary. What’s more enduring is the business that is established by the projects, such as farms, toll roads, electricity grids, and the myriad other infrastructure projects that can be privately funded and then owned, or publicly funded and then privately purchased later on, just as is happening to the electricity networks in NSW at the moment. The people who own the businesses therefore have a lasting supply of wealth being generated, while the wealth that the workers received is temporary (Alperovitz, 2011; Alperovitz, 2013). Incidentally, this is very typical of the way that the capitalist system works in general (Alperovitz, 2011; Alperovitz, 2013).

Furthermore, the wealth gained is radically disproportionate, as the people who own the businesses make tremendously greater fortunes than the people who work for them, even when the workers are paid very handsomely, as is the case with mining enterprises in Australia at present, such as Gina Rinehart’s and Clive Palmer’s, both of whom have deep political influence. Indeed, Clive Palmer even has his own political party – the Palmer United Party – which was important for passing legislation in 2014 to repeal taxes on mining companies that were designed to curb environmental damage and generate revenue for the state to use on behalf of the Australian population. Without dwelling on it, the corruption exposed by this example is jarringly ostentatious, even by the standards of capitalism. Hence, the assumption that the distribution of wealth is imperfect but not inherently unfair is just as unfounded as the assumption that the employment provided by projects designed to increase growth is essentially stable over time.

There are many other issues with the propaganda arguments for growth, but these are particularly significant ones and give a fair indication that the argument for growth as a means of providing long-term prosperity is totally absurd. There are some things which can address these problems and provide a greater degree of fairness, such as using fair tax systems to ensure that wealth doesn’t disproportionately go to the rich, but that’s a different discussion for a later post (Alperovitz, 2011; Alperovitz, 2013). For a more in-depth discussion of the way the system is rigged to provide unequal outcomes that benefit the rich and powerful, please see my prior posts on the origin and evolution of classes and class warfare, and the roots and realities of economic propaganda. They’re long, but if you want to hear more about these issues, they’ll flesh them out for you.

Before going into what FTAs really do, it’s important to briefly note one last thing. Endlessly pursuing growth and the wealth it generates as a means for stability are the only things which advocates of the current capitalist economic system promote, but there’s a much simpler and much more effective way to provide sustainable prosperity. While growth tries to meet increasing demand by increasing wealth, the simpler and more effective thing to do is lower the cost of life so that, as our population and its needs increase, the costs associated with this increase are offset by reductions in the price of products and services, meaning that no additional growth is required in order to sustain ourselves. In other words, reducing the cost of life allows us to be sustainable without us having to endlessly pursue growth, which, as an approach, is inevitably bound to fail, as growth simply can’t continue forever, since markets aren’t infinitely large, and never can be. They depend on workers to produce products and provide services, but there are only so many workers, and they can only produce and provide so much, far from an infinite supply of both.

Clearly, then, endless growth is unsustainable, while finding ways to reduce the cost of life is a much better and viable long-term solution. For example, the three main necessities we currently require are food, water and power. As the population grows, the cost of generating more power, providing more water and producing more food grows with it, the typical response to which is to push for more growth to counteract the increasing costs. However, if instead we invested heavily in renewable energy, which would in turn enable us to provide people with energy more cheaply, this would be another way of counteracting the costs of needing to meet the increasing needs of a growing population.

Furthermore, it would be indefinitely sustainable, meaning that by lowering the cost of power you could provide long-term stability. Indeed, as time went by and technology improved, the cost of obtaining, storing and distributing power would continue to decrease, possibly until it no longer costs anything at all. If you then used that power to run homes, hospitals, street lights, trains, cars, schools, research facilities, trams, irrigation systems, desalination plants, factories, etc., the cost of life in general would also decline, including the cost of providing the other two main basic necessities: food and water. This would fundamentally change the way our economy works, making our society more stable for the foreseeable future. And, what’s more, the technology to do so is right within our grasp, waiting to be used.

This is obviously a much better solution than appealing to endless and inevitably untenable growth to solve our problems with sustainability. Consequently, the fact that this solution isn’t being talked about, particularly since we know that ‘growth’ disproportionately benefits the wealthy, who have by far the most political influence, speaks volumes about the corruption inherent to our political system. Of course, the reason that the wealthy have the most political influence is that we have a political system in which political parties depend on capital to survive, which automatically gives the most political influence to the people with the greatest access to capital – the wealthy, nowadays typically members of the business community. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that we pursue policies that most benefit the rich and don’t even discuss policies that would most benefit everyone else, particularly the poor.

Indeed, since our political system is essentially the same one that every other ‘democratic’ nation in the world also has, this explains why, with very few and extremely limited exceptions, the wealthy are the ones most benefitted by government policies everywhere throughout the world (Gilens & Page, 2014). However, fully discussing this issue and ways to address it is also a different subject which deserves a later post of its own. For now, it’s enough, in summary, to note the discussion above and to understand the reasons why growth is advocated and why much more sensible policies are neglected. With that background covered, we can finally move on to what FTAs really do.

Fundamentally, the role of FTAs is to remove barriers to trade so that businesses, corporations and states can more easily trade with each other across borders (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009). The purpose of this is proclaimed to be to increase growth for the benefit of all, but, as we’ve seen above, this is a complete fabrication. In reality, the point is to do two things. One, to put downward pressure on the wages of low-income people like dishwashers, taxi drivers, and factory and construction workers, and to put upward pressure on the wages of high-income people like lawyers, doctors, university lecturers, economists, and so on (Baker, 2006). Two, to enable businesses in wealthy countries to crush competition in foreign markets so that they, in turn, can increase their share of global markets and increase their profits (Baker, 2006). The next section will explain why FTAs are used in this way, but first we’ll look at how exactly FTAs achieve these two objectives, using NAFTA as an illustration.

Downward and upward pressures on wages are largely determined by supply and demand. When the demand for goods and services exceeds the supply, their value will increase, as sellers don’t need to compete with each other as much and thus don’t need to lower their prices in order to remain competitive. But when the supply exceeds the demand, their value will decrease, as sellers may need to reduce their prices in order to remain competitive, and indeed often do. Hence, in order to put downward pressure on wages for low-income people, FTAs increase the supply of available workers by making it legal and profitable for businesses, corporations and even states to ship their work overseas to take advantage of cheaper foreign labour (Baker, 2006). This of course provides a way to increase profits for the owners and shareholders, but also pits Australian workers in competition against workers in places like India, the Philippines, China, and so on, where workers are willing to accept obscenely low wages. Consequently, the threat of losing their jobs to foreigners weakens workers’ ability to negotiate decent wages, forcing them to accept salaries that they might otherwise flatly reject and resort instead to forms of collective negotiating such as striking and unionising (Baker, 2006). Thus, undermining the ability of workers to unionise and strike is also often stressed in FTAs, as this reduces low-income people’s ability to meaningfully resist these attacks on their livelihoods (Baker, 2006).

This is also particularly important when FTAs include provisions to make it easier for foreigners to come and work in Australia, which is another way of increasing competition and putting downward pressure on low-income wages. Allowing foreigners to come to Australia is of course a totally reasonable thing to do, particularly if they’re asylum seekers and refugees, in which case, as signatories to the UN Refugee Convention, we’re in fact legally obliged to allow them to come – which, incidentally, makes Australia’s barbaric and racist treatment of refugees over the last 10-15 years utterly reprehensible. However, governments dedicate significant resources to racist and xenophobic campaigns designed to vilify and demonise ‘immigrants’ and ‘foreigners’ so that, rather than looking at the government-created FTAs which put downward pressure on low-income wages and thus undermine working people’s financial security, people are encouraged to racistly and prejudicially blame foreigners, however they come to Australia, for the attacks on wages that’re in fact launched by wealthy capitalists in the ruling class. This propaganda tactic is used here and elsewhere all over the world, and continues to be met with overwhelming success.

This is of course done because, if the foreigners came and instead joined unions and got involved in action to prevent attacks on wages, this would be counterproductive for wealthy elites who want to maximise their profits via endless and unsustainable ‘growth’ (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009). Hence, this option has to be closed, which is why savage attacks on, and bitter propaganda campaigns against, unions have been and continue to be a mainstay of contemporary politics, dominated as it is, and in truth has always been, by the ruling class (Chomsky, 2005; Hobsbawm, 1962, 1994, 1996; Bartels, 2008). However, this, too, is another discussion in its own right, with different arguments to refute and solutions to propose, so for now I’ll leave it alone. Suffice it to say that, on the whole, this, in all its cynicism and turpitude, is the way that downward pressure is put on low-income wages.

The way that upward pressure is put on high-income wages is very simple: do the opposite to what you do to put downward pressure on low-income wages. People with high incomes, such as doctors, journalists, economists, university lecturers, etc. are protected by FTAs which ensure that the degree of competition they face from foreigners who share their occupations is as low as possible (Baker, 2006). An obvious example of this is the fact that many people who go to university overseas won’t have their credentials recognised in Australia, meaning that high-income people don’t have to compete with them (Baker, 2006). This is why you get examples of nuclear physicists driving taxis, doctors mopping floors, and so on. Limiting the supply of technical professionals means that their supply is lower than the demand for their services, increasing their value.

This strategy will typically be accompanied by some rhetoric suggesting that educational standards here are superior to those elsewhere, particularly in poorer countries, so the credentials that foreign professionals have simply aren’t valid (Baker, 2006). Setting aside the fact that this argument doesn’t withstand scrutiny when, for example, comparing the quality of scientists from different countries around the world – poor and rich alike – even if this argument were valid the problem could be easily fixed by establishing internationally-recognised tests to verify people’s qualification to do the jobs for which they’re trained (Baker, 2006). The fact that such options, straightforward and commonsensical as they are, either don’t exist or do exist but aren’t taken into account gives a clear indication of how weak this propaganda really is, and what reality truly lies behind its thin veil. Thus, the approach, broadly speaking, is very simple, but extremely effective.

The second objective of FTAs is to enable businesses in wealthy, powerful countries to crush their competitors in weaker, poorer nations in order to expand their international market share and thus increase their own profits (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009; Hobsbawm, 1962, 1994, 1996). NAFTA provides an excellent example of how this works. Among other things, NAFTA allowed US agribusiness to more easily export its products to Mexican markets than had previously been the case. The argument behind this was that US agribusiness was far more developed, wealthy, sophisticated and better subsidised by the state than Mexican agribusiness, meaning that US agribusiness could provide superior products at lower cost, which would benefit Mexican consumers. This would also benefit US agribusiness, since it opened up greater access to markets and provided a greater level of potential profits than was previously possible. Hence, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. However, as you’d expect, all isn’t as it seems, and when you descend beneath this propaganda the situation’s much more cynical and pernicious than advocates of NAFTA, and of FTAs more generally, would suggest.

In reality, this enabled US agribusiness to flood markets such as Mexico with their products. While it’s true that these products were of better quality and lower cost than Mexican products, this meant that, although Mexican consumers could save some money by purchasing US goods, Mexican agribusiness was put under increasing pressure, since it couldn’t compete on an even playing field. This meant that Mexican agribusinesses could be weakened and even forced into insolvency, with serious negative consequences for the people who’d been employed in this industry and the ones relevant for it, including, for example, people involved in transporting, storing and selling Mexican products in their own domestic markets (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009; Stiglitz, 2002). Overall, the significant damage done to Mexico due to this arrangement was far greater than the benefits it received by having cheap US agricultural products to purchase.

This is the standard way in which powerful countries impose FTAs, knowing full well that the businesses in the poorer countries can’t compete on a level playing field, in order to provide their own companies with the opportunity to crush competitors in other nations and seize a share of the market for themselves. Further, once the domestic industries have been sufficiently crushed, and thus opposition to US agribusiness, for example, is too weak to seriously compete, American corporations can ratchet up the prices of US goods and services with total impunity in order to further increase the profits they can generate, and consumers in, say, Mexico have little they can do about it other than suffer and complain in dismal neglect. This is because FTAs typically include rules that states can’t intervene to control prices, usually argued under the cynical guise of fairness by not interfering with ‘free trade’ and the ‘laws of the free market’, which means that the much more powerful American businesses and corporations can’t be held to account (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009). Thus, FTAs are designed to take advantage of the fact that industries in powerful countries tend to be too much for industries in poorer countries to compete with, and therefore devise rules which seem fair on the level of propaganda, but in reality automatically give a deep advantage to wealthy countries and their better-developed, more mature domestic industries. NAFTA is an example involving the US, but the same is true for any powerful state which imposes FTAs on weaker nations.

You might ask why Mexico would possibly accept such a deal if it was going to have such detrimental consequences. The answer is simple – it doesn’t have much of a choice. Especially in situations like Mexico and the US, where a poorer country depends on trade with, and aid from, a wealthier one, the fact is that weak countries aren’t in much of a position to dictate the terms of trade, and must accept deals that they know are unfair. As Thucydides said roughly 2,500 years ago, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Clearly, the reality of power hasn’t changed much, and what is true for Mexico and the US with NAFTA is essentially true for powerful and weak nations in general. That covers the two objectives that truly lie at the heart of FTAs and how they are meant to achieve them. The next section explains what drives governments to pursue this agenda.

Why do governments make FTAs and lie about their actual goals?

The answer to this is simple, and was even touched on briefly above. In any political system like ours, where political parties depend on capital to survive, the greatest amount of political influence is automatically given to the people who have the greatest access to and control over capital. In the past, this would have meant monarchies and the aristocracy more generally. At present, this means wealthy and powerful elites, typically prominent and influential members of the business community. The mechanisms by which they shape and influence government policies is a longer and more complicated discussion than we’ll get into at present. For now, however, it’s enough to point out that, due to the fact that the wealthy are expected to have the most political influence, it’s no surprise that policies such as FTAs, which heavily favour the rich and undermine everyone else, particularly the poor, are enthusiastically pursued in Australia by both the Coalition and the ALP, despite the known and easily-predicted negative consequences they’ll bring upon everyone except the rich.

There’s more to this that a more in-depth discussion would elucidate, but the fundamental question that needs to be answered is this – to what degree are the politicians responsible for FTAs cynical liars, and to what degree are they simply ignorant ideologues? It’s hard to say for sure, and the answer would most likely vary from politician to politician, but in general, at least at the party level, it’s probably a bit of both (Baker, 2006; Chang, 2009; Hobsbawm, 1962, 1994, 1996). For now, setting aside any long analysis of that question, this is probably the best answer we’re going to get, though there’s certainly more to this question that ought to be considered, such as the role that educational institutions and corporate media play in promoting commitment to ideologies such as ‘free trade’ and ‘growth’ (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). These are important considerations, but for now are beyond the scope of this post and have to be left alone. Hence, in summary, governments and politicians make FTAs and lie about their actual goals because it’s in the interests of the wealthy people in society who have real political power and influence (Gilens & Page, 2014; Hobsbawm, 1962, 1994, 1996).

What was AUSFTA and what did it mean for Australia?

To finish this post, we’ll have a brief look at AUSFTA and what consequences it engendered for Australia compared to the US. In the previous example above with NAFTA, the US was the powerful country imposing itself on Mexico. In this example, the US remains the powerful country, though now against Australia, no doubt a weaker country, but one significantly stronger than Mexico. It’s interesting to note that the same relationship between exploiter and exploited remains, but that the consequences of a FTA with the US were not as dire for Australia as they were for Mexico. The information below comes directly from an online article about the AUSFTA, which can be found here. It goes through the history, details and consequences of the AUSFTA, and what follows below is an excerpt from the article, which can be found under the heading “Some impacts of the AUSFTA”. These consequences are meant to capture the fact FTAs are the savage tools that this post has tried to show that they are. Hopefully the following substantiates that.

  1. Australian domestic sugar prices will rise by 13 per cent,[6]while prices to the consumer in the USA will fall.
  2. Australian agriculture would be subjected to potential takeover by US-based agribusiness companies and a systemic challenge to the less intensive farming methods in Australia.
  3. Genetically modified crops will be introduced progressively over the next few years following on from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator’s approval of GM canola on 25 July 2003. To refuse to grow GM crops could be considered a trade barrier under the rules of the WTO.
  4. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is under threat because US drug manufacturers regard the PBS as a trade barrier. The cost of prescriptions for non-concession cardholders could rise from $23.10 on average to a whopping $64.[7]
  5. Women will bear the brunt of free trade especially as care-givers, as cleaners and caterers in hospitals, as teachers and social service providers in the community. In the UK six out of ten of the health workers in the National Health Scheme (NHS) are women; while eight out of ten of the non-medical staff – administrators, clerical staff, cleaners, caterers – are women.[8]Australia’s health system has similar trends.
  6. The cost of higher education will rise. Access to education for women returning to study, for people on low incomes, and for Indigenous peoples will be increasingly more difficult while an excess of ‘choices’ will be available to those with the resources to pay for education.[9]
  7. Indigenous ownership of knowledge of biological resources will be threatened even more than it is now. US-based companies with bioprospecting interests and US-style patents will create profits for US corporations while simultaneously further dispossessing Indigenous peoples. The US National Cancer Institute, the Western Australian state government and the Australian Medical and Research Development Corporation (AMRAD) have been involved in commercialising the Western Australia smokebush.[10]Merck Sharpe and Dohme is among the companies with whom they have entered into exploratory contracts. Merck is a ‘recent new member’ of the American-Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition (AAFTAC).
  8. Australian intellectual property in the arts and culture industries is under threat even if Australia accepts the USA’s standstill position. Such a position means that Australia loses the possibility of setting its own funding agendas according to the needs of the day. Australian content quotas, however, are regarded as a trade barrier.[11]
  9. The weightless economy, an economy based on the appropriation of intellectual property rights, such as patents and copyrights, will be opened up to US entertainment moguls who will buy up cheaply produced great ideas and inventive artistic, scientific or industrial products and sell them at greatest profit to themselves.
  10. Water and other utility services will be increasingly privatised, compromising water quality and the maintenance of utility infrastructures.[12]With the world’s three largest water companies coming out of Europe – Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux and Vivendi Environment both based in France and Britain’s Thames Water owned by German company RWE AG – the battle between the US dollar and the Euro will be fought through Australia’s water utilities.[13] The person needing a free glass of water might not be able to find a place willing to serve it.
  11. Detention centres will become an increasingly lucrative area of investment for US-based correctional services companies. George Wackenhut, owner of Correctional Management Australia who has run Woomera Detention Centre, has been accused of transporting ‘raw materials for chemical weapons to Iraq’.[14]Stricter border controls for people go hand in hand with borderlessness for capital.
  12. Australia’s military security will be increasingly in the hands of the USA. The combination of security issues being tied to trade is a new direction for federal government policy. In a world where the USA is by far the largest military power, intelligence has a high priority and Australia’s location at the base of a potentially volatile part of the world remains crucially important.
  13. USAID in April 2003 was offering web conferences to Australian companies on issues such as ‘primary and secondary education service opportunities ä electricity and water systems ä public health ä local governance ä and seaport and airport administration’.[15]
  14. Finally, the Australian constitution allows, under the foreign affairs power, the Commonwealth parliament to pass laws consistent with a particular treaty – in this case the AUSFTA – which over-rides state powers otherwise protected b y the Australian constitution. One impact of this would be the potential for an agreement resembling the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to be brought in. Such laws could threaten many state-based public services because under the MAI companies can sue for loss of future profits in the event of a trade barrier including such socially beneficial barriers as environmental safeguards, banning of carcinogenic substances, or the non-provision of subsidies for foreign companies on an equal footing.[16]

Indeed, it’s interesting to read this list, compiled in 2003, and to see that many of its predictions have since been proven correct. I thoroughly encourage anyone interested in the details of the AUSFTA to read the article for themselves, which also discusses the role that imperialist wars, like the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, play in promoting the economic agendas of powerful states and the elites who control them. Otherwise, we’ve reached the end of this post. The point of this post was to expose and dismantle the propaganda around FTAs and to show them for what they really are – tools of domination and repression in the hands of presiding economic elites – so that people understand how they ought to regard FTAs and what they therefore ought to do about them. Hopefully it’s achieved these goals. If anyone would like to know more about them, the books included in the reference list below are excellent sources, particularly Dean Baker’s (2006) short book titled “The Conservative Nany State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer”. It also contains other works relevant to FTAs in general but not specifically about them, mostly because they focus on economics, history and politics more generally, and only mention FTAs in that broader context. Thank you for your time and I hope this post was helpful.

References

Alperovitz, G. (2011). America Beyond Capitalism. Takoma Park: Democracy Collaborative Press.

Alperovitz, G. (2013). What Then Must We Do? White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Baker, D. (2006). The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer (1st ed.). Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Bartels, L. M. (2008). Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chang, H.-J. (2009). Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism (1st ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Chang, H.-J. (2011). 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. London: Penguin Books.

Chang, H.-J. (2014). Economics: The User’s Guide. London: Penguin Group.

Chomsky, N. (2005). Government in the Future. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Gilens, M., & Page, B. I. (2014). Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 564-581.

Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Updated ed. of 1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.

Hobsbawm, E. (1962). The Age of Revolution. London: Abacus.

Hobsbawm, E. (1994). The Age of Empire. London: Abacus.

Hobsbawm, E. (1996). The Age of Capital. New York: Vintage Books.

Stiglitz, J. (2002). Globalization and its Discontents. London: Penguin Books.

Stiglitz, J. E. (2013). The Price of Inequality. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict and the true meaning of ‘security’

Governments are not representative. They have their own power, serving segments of the population that are dominant and rich.

– Noam Chomsky

States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions.

– Noam Chomsky

It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion.

– Joseph Goebbels

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

– Sir Winston Churchill

You may deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time.

– Abraham Lincoln

Security’s a term which is bandied about a lot. While security’s important, it has at least two definitions. The one that people are familiar with and you can find in any dictionary, and the one used to describe what ‘security’ means in political discourse. Civil liberties, the core of any free and decent life, are typically counterposed against security needs. Therefore, what security means, and what consequences this meaning entails, are extremely important to understand. This post uses the Israel-Palestine Conflict as a case study to identify the meaning of security and flesh out the ramifications involved. This will hopefully have instructive conclusions for how populations should regard states and, as a result, what actions they should therefore pursue.

Security means protection for, and advancement of, the interests of whoever has the means to influence and utilise states, or equivalent entities. Therefore, this primarily means elite interests, and peripheral, secondary care for the interests of everyone else, with level of attention being more or less commensurate with socioeconomic status. Other elements come into play, such as racism and sexism, but they’re subordinate to the preeminence of material resources and the political power they provide for those who possess them. Indeed, elites often create, or at least take advantage of and manipulate, racist and sexist tendencies in order to meet their own essentially financial objectives. The Israel-Palestine Conflict’s an excellent example of this. The following discusses the history of the conflict, and analyses what so-called ‘security’ means for the three primary actors involved: the US, Israel and the Palestinians.

In the late 19th century, Zionist Jews, mainly from Eastern Europe, began to settle in Palestine with the vision of establishing an exclusively Jewish state in Eretz (Greater) Israel (Pappe, 2006, pp. 10, 282; Finkelstein, 2003, pp. 10-20). By today’s geography, this vision included Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Transjordan (Jordan), though it typically no longer includes Jordan (Finkelstein, 2003, pp. 10-20). Their numbers and lands were small compared to the indigenous Palestinians, making up only 6% of the population in Palestine in 1914 and 16% in 1928, by which time they owned 4% of the land (Pappe, 2006, pp. 282-83). As an early point, it’s worth noting the fact that, in 1947, the Zionists won a state comprising roughly 56% of a region in which they had existed for less than 70 years, were still a minority, and owned a mere 5.8% of the land (Pappe, 2006, pp. 34-5). This illustrates the political favour which the Zionists had curried with the world’s great powers, most significantly Britain, which supports the meaning of security put forward in this post. Not to mention that this was despite the fact that Britain’s own Peel Commission recommended in 1937 that just 33% of Palestine be assigned for a future Jewish state, from which, incidentally, indigenous Palestinians would need to be removed (Pappe, 2006, pp. 284).

Perhaps even more interesting, the US King-Crane Commission noted in 1919 that, although it had “a deep sense of sympathy for the Jewish cause,” to impose a Jewish state on the Palestinian people “would be a gross violation of the principle [of self-determination], and of the people’s rights, though it kept within the forms of law” (Chomsky, 1983, p. 91). Consequently, it recommended that Jewish immigration be limited and the goal of a Jewish state be abandoned (Chomsky, 1983, p. 91). Nevertheless, as British Secretary of State, Lord Arthur Balfour, author of the Balfour Declaration, put it in 1919:

The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land (Chomsky, 1983, p. 90).

Clearly, since they didn’t have the means to influence British policy, the present needs and future hopes of the Palestinians were of little moment against the Zionists. Unsurprisingly, the King-Crane Commission’s conclusion was “disregarded by the great powers, including the US” (Chomsky, 1983, p. 91). This demonstrates that security means serving the interests of those with the ability to influence states, often with scant or no regard for law, morality or justice.

To further substantiate the meaning of security proposed in this post, it’s useful to look at the period 1917-47 to see what the Palestinians and Zionists were doing, and compare how Britain responded to each group’s actions. Indeed, Britain’s responses throughout the period are very telling. Palestinians vociferously protested large-scale Jewish migration to Palestine. Both were engaged in terrorism. In 1931, Zionists formed the Irgun, a terrorist paramilitary organisation founded to support more militancy against Arabs. In 1938, its bombings killed 119 Palestinians. That same year, Palestinian bombs and mines killed 8 Jews. Subsequently, Britain deployed military reinforcements to quell the Palestinian rebellion protesting mass Jewish migration and Britain’s complicity in the events.

Further, as mentioned, the 1937 Peel Commission recommended partitioning Palestine into two states after Britain abandoned proposals for a bi-national state when the Zionists opposed them. That same year, Britain dissolved all Palestinian political organisations. In 1939, Britain approved a White Paper which planned conditional independence for Palestine after 10 years and the immigration of 75,000 more Jews over the next 5 years. And, fatefully, in 1947, being weary and bankrupt after WWII, Britain declared its withdrawal from Palestine, knowingly leaving an enormous power vacuum which resulted in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, in which Zionists received a share of Palestinian lands wildly disproportionate to their population. When you compare the treatment that each group received from Britain, it’s clear that the ability to influence politics was decisive, not justice or law.

This same reality has defined the Israel-Palestine Conflict since 1967-70, with the US replacing Britain as the hegemon providing the support Israel needs to carry out its designs (Chomsky, 2003, p. 161). During 1947-67, however, Israel continued somewhat without the powerful ally to which it’d so far been accustomed. In fact, in this period, the US had, at times, a tenuous, frosty, and even hostile relationship with Israel (Chomsky, 1983, pp. 20-3). For example, in the Suez Crisis in 1956 the US ordered Britain, France and Israel to stop as they invaded Egypt to attack the Suez Canal. However, it must be noted that even prior to 1967, Israel still “received the highest per capita aid from the U.S. of any country”, though this can’t compare to the tremendous, essentially unwavering and consistently increasing support that Israel’s received from the US since 1967-70 (Chomsky, 1983, pp. 9-12). Largely due to this support, Israel’s developed the world’s fourth most powerful military, an advanced industrial economy, and very successfully waged wars and smaller military offensives against its neighbours, including Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, as well, of course, as ongoing domination and subordination of the Palestinians (Chomsky, 1983, pp. 9-10). These include the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the First Lebanon War in 1982, and smaller military incursions into Gaza: Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

To understand why US foreign policy on Israel shifted during 1967-70, we’ll analyse what security means for the US. First, we’ll identify what motivates US foreign policy, why this motivates it, and what this means for US foreign policy on Israel-Palestine. Second, we’ll look at why the US-Israeli relationship became what it is today during 1967-70. This covers two key events which illustrate that the meaning of security in contemporary global politics is indeed as this post proposes.

Mearsheimer and Walt (2006) point out that the US-Israeli relationship is unusual, since it’s not based on a compelling moral case for supporting Israel and doesn’t greatly benefit US strategic interests (p. 2). Indeed, oftentimes it’s detrimental to stated US interests and objectives – and yet:

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel…Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military aid since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion…This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state…Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all other Security Council members. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the IAEA’s agenda. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israel’s side when negotiating peace…One American participant at Camp David in 2000 later said: ‘Far too often, we functioned…as Israel’s lawyer’…This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. But neither explanation is convincing (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, pp. 1-2).

Why are the strategic asset and moral explanations not convincing? As a strategic asset, Israel’s often costly, burdensome and even counterproductive for the US. During the October War in 1973, $2.2 billion in emergency military aid given to Israel triggered an Opec oil embargo which damaged Western economies. This support wasn’t cheap, even for the US, and yet, ironically, Israel was still unable to protect US interests in the region, as the US couldn’t rely on it when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 threatened the security of Middle East oil supplies, having to resort to its own Rapid Deployment Force. Further, Israel couldn’t participate in the Gulf War in 1990 or the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite having the world’s fourth most powerful military, being eager to be involved, and being a close US ally, since its participation would’ve jeopardised the anti-Iraq coalitions the US had developed.

Nor does Israel help to prevent terrorism. Indeed, Israel’s actions generate terrorists who pose threats to the US and other states around the world. In fact, “saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 3). This equally applies to the so-called rogue states in the Middle East, since “they are not a dire threat to US interests, except inasmuch as they are a threat to Israel” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 3). Indeed, “even if these states acquire nuclear weapons…neither America nor Israel could be blackmailed, because the blackmailer could not carry out the threat without suffering overwhelming retaliation” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 3). To make things worse, “[Israel] does not behave as a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from ‘targeted assassinations’ of Palestinian leaders)” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 3). Plainly, the strategic asset case has many weaknesses.

As for the moral case for supporting Israel, some argue that, because of the unique suffering of the Jewish people throughout history, the US, as the world’s supreme economic and military power, ought to support and protect Israel. However, whatever one thinks about the claim that Jews have uniquely suffered more than any other people, the creation of Israel “brought about fresh crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 5). Indeed, even David Ben-Gurion admitted that:

If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country…we come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 5).

Therefore, the moral case for supporting Israel holds no water.

The question then becomes, if these reasons don’t explain why the US supports Israel, what does? Mearsheimer and Walt argue that “the explanation is the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby…the loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006, p. 6). This argument has some merit (Chomsky, 2007, p. 229). However, it mistakenly embellishes the power of the Lobby because it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of so-called ‘US democracy’ (Chomsky, 2007, p. 229-30). If you assume the US is a functioning democracy in which the people decide what policies their state pursues, and yet the US’s foreign policies largely threaten the people’s interests and security, it’s reasonable to deduce that the democratic process must be being manipulated and undermined by some abnormal and powerful force. This reasoning led Mearsheimer and Walt to the Israel Lobby, but this isn’t a novel argument (Chomsky, 1983, p. 13). Indeed, many other people have drawn the same conclusion for more than 30 years, and have all succumbed to the same illusions as Mearsheimer and Walt (Chomsky, 1983, p. 13).

The genuine answer lies in the reality of so-called ‘US democracy’. Despite pronouncements of being the leader of the free world and a paragon of functioning democracy, the US is anything but. In political systems with parties which depend on capital to survive, the people with the greatest access to capital will always have the most political influence – the elites (Baker, 2006, p. v; Chang, 2009, pp. 31-7). Since this is true of the US, and its business community’s exceptionally wealthy and entrenched, this translates to elites with considerable political power, which in turn disenfranchises the majority of the American population (Baker, 2006, p. v; Chang, 2009, pp. 31-7; Herman & Chomsky, 1988). This is what Gilens and Page (2014) found when they analysed American ‘democracy’. They found that the US is best characterised by Economic Elite Domination and Biased Pluralism, both of which involve elites having disproportionate political power that excludes and marginalises the majority of the population (Gilens & Page, 2014, p. 2). Indeed, “economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence” (Gilens & Page, 2014, p. 2). The primary concern for the US is therefore the privileged interests of the American business community, not the people or the state, which is merely a tool in the hands of the elites.

Tying this back to the Israel-Palestine Conflict, the key point is that supporting Israel is in the interests of the elites. For example:

A State Department analysis of 1945 described Saudi Arabia as “…a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” The U.S. was committed to win and keep this prize. Since World War II, it has been virtually an axiom of U.S. foreign policy that these energy reserves should remain under U.S. control. A more recent variant of the same theme is that the flow of petrodollars should be largely funneled to the U.S. through military purchases, construction projects, bank deposits, investment in Treasury securities, etc. It has been necessary to defend this primary interest against various threats (Chomsky, 1983, p. 17).

The material prize, which has since extended from Saudi Arabia to mean Middle East oil reserves more generally, therefore serves the interests of the American business community through revenue for US corporations and strategic power by which the state, animated by elite interests, can force the rest of the world to follow Washington’s orders if it wants access to Middle East oil. That’s the true reason behind US foreign policy on Israel: it acts as a regional Sparta enforcing US control of Middle East oil, and receives support to carry out, and as thanks for, its services. The US was convinced that Israel could play this role during 1967-70, which is why the US and Israel developed, and have since maintained, such a special relationship.

So what happened during 1967-70? On two occasions, Israel displayed its military capabilities and convinced the US that it could act as a regional Sparta enforcing American foreign policy. There’s an important background to these events. Chomsky (1983) points out that independent, secular Arab nationalism is a threat to US control of the Middle East and its oil reserves, since the indigenous people, if given the chance to exert their will democratically, might prefer that they benefit from their own resources, rather than American corporations (pp. 20-1). Incidentally, the US has to subvert democracy in the Middle East and support friendly dictators and monarchs who cooperate with its policies. For example, this is why the US supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq, installed the Shah in Iran, and has long supported the Hashemite Monarchy in Jordan and the King of Saudi Arabia. In this context, the events in 1967 and 1970, to which we now return, explain why the US chose to forge such remarkable and enduring ties with Israel.

In 1967, Nasser in Egypt was the world’s main source of secular Arab nationalism (Chomsky, 1983, pp. 20-1). The potential spread of Nasserite Arab nationalism, especially to the Gulf oil-producing states, was a threat to US interests in the Middle East, against which Israel was seen as a buffer (Chomsky, 1983, pp. 20-1). At the same time, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, perhaps the US’s most valuable ally in the region, were engaged in a proxy war in Yemen (Chomsky, 2007). Thus, when Israel attacked Egypt during the Six-Day War in 1967, it blocked the spread of Arab nationalism and damaged an enemy of Saudi Arabia (Chomsky, 2007). This was an enormous service to Washington. In 1970, Jordan was massacring Palestinians in the West Bank during so-called Black September. For a time, it seemed as though Syria might intervene against Jordan and come to the Palestinians’ defense (Chomsky, 2007). The US was mired in Indochina and couldn’t personally support its Jordanian ally, but, at Washington’s behest, Israel mobilised and Syria backed down (Chomsky, 2007). Again, this won Israel major favour in the halls of American power.

Henceforth, Israel received the lion’s share of US economic and military aid, as well as unparalleled diplomatic support at the UN and passionate ideological support from US media throughout their broad sphere of influence. Since US interests remain the same and Israel remains willing – often enthusiastic – to be America’s private Sparta, the US-Israeli relationship has continued to grow and deepen along those lines up to the present. Thus, the critical factor at play is the ability to gain support from the elites who truly wield American power, as was the case with Britain before the US. Plainly, the particular hegemon involved isn’t important, since the meaning of security and the resulting power relations are exactly the same regardless.

While US interests are therefore the decisive force behind the Israel-Palestine Conflict, the interests that motivate Israel are also worth looking at, since they further corroborate the meaning of security proposed in this post. Israel’s interests are the same ones which Zionist settlers first began to pursue in the late 19th century – an exclusively Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel, from which the indigenous Palestinians must be somehow removed (Finkelstein, 2003, pp. 16-7). Chomsky (2010) substantiates that this is, and always has been, Israel’s ambition:

[Israel’s illegal policies of occupying, settling and annexing Palestinian lands, which have] roots in the pre-state period, trace back to the earliest days of the occupation, when the basic idea was formulated poetically by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who was in charge of the occupied territories: “the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the girl he kidnaps against her will…You Palestinians, as a nation, don’t want us today, but we’ll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you.” You will “live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave,” while we take what we want (p. 103).

This involves ongoing illegal settlement building in the West Bank and periodic incursions into Gaza which are euphemistically referred to in Israel as ‘mowing the lawn’. Israel’s primary interest is therefore Eretz Israel, not the population or the state, both of which are, in fact, needlessly endangered by pursuing this lasting objective when Israel could easily have accepted a two-state settlement with the Palestinians along the internationally recognised pre-June 1967 border anytime since at least 1976 (Chomsky, 1983, p. 67; Hari, 2010). However, because there’s enough money bound up in Israel’s ongoing militancy, the campaign for Eretz Israel continues to be the great interest that shapes the imperatives of Israel and the US (Honig-Parnass & Haddad, 2007, pp. 123-7).

Meanwhile, the Palestinians either suffer in obscurity and neglect, or increasingly resort to radical Islam and terrorism for solace, revenge and in an attempt to make political gains. All terrorism is a crime, to be sure, but it is the inevitable consequence of US-Israeli imperialism. Incidentally, Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress did much the same against the brutal and intransigent South African apartheid regime. The principal objective for the Palestinians is to gain statehood for their rightful land within the pre-June 1967 borders, as defined by UN Resolution 242. This so-called two-state solution has been publicly supported by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for years (Pappe & Chomsky, 2008). However, since the Palestinians don’t have anything to offer the American or Israeli elites who shape their states’ policies, the US remains committed to Israel and Israel remains committed to gradually annexing all Palestinian lands (Finkelstein, 2003, pp. 16-20).

Thus, as a case study, the Israel-Palestine Conflict unambiguously demonstrates that the meaning of security in contemporary global politics is protection for, and advancement of, the interests of whoever has the means to influence and utilise states, or equivalent entities. If we reflect on this conclusion, it has important implications for how we ought to regard the states that presume to act on behalf of the populations from whom they derive legitimacy (at least in the supposedly democratic West), and what actions that regard might justifiably entail.

References

Baker, D., 2006. The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. 1st ed. Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Chang, H.-J., 2009. Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. 1st ed. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Chomsky, N., 1983. Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press.

Chomsky, N., 2007. Beware of State Power [Interview] (1 April 2007).

Finkelstein, N., 2003. Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. 2nd ed. London: Verso.

Gilens, M. & Page, B. I., 2014. Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), pp. 564-581.

Hari, J., 2010. Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/is-gideon-levy-the-most-hated-man-in-israel-or-just-the-most-heroic-2087909.html

Herman, E. S. & Chomsky, N., 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Updated ed. of 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books.

Honig-Parnass, T. & Haddad, T. eds., 2007. Between the Lines: Readings on Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. “War on Terror”. Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Mearsheimer, J. J. & Walt, S. M., 2006. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. London Review of Books, 28(6), pp. 3-12.

Pappe, I., 2006. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. 1st ed. London: Oneworld.

Pappe, I. & Chomsky, N., 2008. On the Future of Israel and Palestine: An Interview With Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky [Interview] (6 June 2008).

The Reality of Israel-Palestine: Part 1

The US-Israeli Relationship

Holding up the supply of shiny new weapons is America’s traditional slap on Israel’s wrist. But an embargo is ineffective unless it is certain to last … Much more effective would be the belief in Israel that this time an American president will stick wit his policy, including if need be a lasting embargo on arms and a rethink of the extent of America’s aid.

 – The Economist, London, September 11, 1982, cited in Noam Chomsky’s “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians”, p. 2

[Menachem Begin, Former Prime Minister of Israel, 1977-83] has shown that whatever protests this or that American administration might make against the expansion of Jewish settlement or the infringement of human rights, in the West Bank, he has been able to strengthen his grip on the area without any diminution of American aid. Indeed, he is even anticipating an increase … Indeed the American Government has been financing the very policies it denounces with such consistency that one doesn’t have to be an Arab to wonder if the denunciations are sincere.

 – Chaim Bermant, “Financial Influence”, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 1982, cited in Noam Chomsky’s “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians”, p.109

This post is the first installment of a three-part series that will describe and explain the history and current reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and what marginal role Australia has played, and continues to play, in the enduring situation. The first installment, this current post, illustrates that the situation in Israel-Palestine is defined by Israel doing whatever it wants because it has the lasting and essentially unwavering support of the US, and has since 1967-70. It goes through the history and causes of the situation in detail to explain why Israel and the US have this special relationship, and why it has meant, and continues to mean, joint Israeli-US repression of, and terror against, the Palestinians. This post also shows how these actions are and have always been in flagrant violation of international law, UN resolutions and sometimes even US law.

The second installment applies the argument from the first post to several wars and conflicts in which Israel has been involved since its formal creation in 1947. In doing so, the post does two things. One, it talks about the propaganda and demagogic myths which surround the wars and conflicts of 1947-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 1987 and 2000, and attempt to hide, transform or completely fabricate Israel’s involvement in the events. This lays out more of the history in closer detail and helps to dispel certain illusions under which people might otherwise be acting. Two, this provides evidence to support the argument from the first installment of the series which then enables us to draw a conclusion about its likely validity. Thus, the second installment expands on and reinforces the line of argument begun by the first.

The third installment of the series applies this broad discussion to a narrower area than the ones prior: Australia’s small, but telling, role in the history discussed in the previous two installments. This focuses solely on some of Australia’s recorded votes in the UN on topics to do with Israel-Palestine and uses these votes to further expound on how the US-Israeli relationship is able to proceed in the way it does despite being patently illegal and despicably heinous. This lends additional support to the argument which broadly connects the three installments and brings the series to a close.

I hope not to make these posts too cumbersome to read, but I won’t sacrifice necessary content for expediency. The things said may resonate with some, polarise others and leave the rest uncertain and/or indifferent. But I encourage everyone reading to read each post as a whole and then make up your mind rather than premeditatedly dismiss the arguments for being too alien or because of some other objection. With that, I’ll begin the first installment of my Israel-Palestine series: the US-Israeli relationship.

When you talk about the US-Israeli relationship from Israel’s creation in 1947 until now, you need to recognise that the relationship was very different during the periods before and after 1967-70. This fact and the circumstances surrounding it are key to understanding the US-Israeli relationship and what outcomes it produces. Therefore, the following covers the periods before and after 1967-70, and explains how and why the US-Israeli relationship has changed from 1947 to the present; what this has meant for the US and Israel; and, broadly speaking, what consequences the US-Israeli relationship has produced.

Below is an excerpt from Noam Chomsky’s (1983) “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians,” which masterfully critiques the interwoven relationship between the US and Israel, and its consequences. The content is exactly the same, but I’ve slightly adjusted the footnoting and deleted the endnotes. If you’re interested, though, you can find the PDF version here. In terms of the PDF, the whole excerpt below comes from Chapter 2: The Origins of the “Special Relationship”, while specifically the first paragraph comes from pages 61-2, and the remainder comes from pages 66-9. Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned intellectual, linguist, activist, author and long-standing professor at MIT. Paul Robinson, writing for The New York Times, February 25, 1979, said that “Judged in terms of the power, range, novelty and influence of his thought, Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” He is also ethnically Jewish, fluent in Hebrew, and, in 1953, lived for a short time on a kibbutz in Israel. Part of his towering account of the US-Israeli relationship now follows.

Despite the remarkable level of U.S. support for Israel, it would be an error to assume that Israel represents the major U.S. interest in the Middle East. Rather, the major interest lies in the energy reserves of the region, primarily in the Arabian peninsula. A State Department analysis of 1945 described Saudi Arabia as “…a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” The U.S. was committed to win and keep this prize. Since World War II, it has been virtually an axiom of U.S. foreign policy that these energy reserves should remain under U.S. control. A more recent variant of the same theme is that the flow of petrodollars should be largely funneled to the U.S. through military purchases, construction projects, bank deposits, investment in Treasury securities, etc. It has been necessary to defend this primary interest against various threats.

A third threat from which the region must be “defended” is the indigenous one: the threat of radical nationalism [independent secular nationalism]. It is in this context that the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” has matured. In the early 1950s, the U.S.-Israel relationship was decidedly uneasy, and it appeared for a time that Washington might cement closer relations with Egyptian President Nasser, who had some CIA support. These prospects appeared sufficiently worrisome so that Israel organized terrorist cells within Egypt to carry out attacks on U.S. installations (also on Egyptian public facilities) in an effort to drive a wedge between Egypt and the U.S.,[1] intending that these acts would be attributed to ultranationalist Egyptian fanatics.

From the late 1950s, however, the U.S. government increasingly came to accept the Israeli thesis that a powerful Israel is a “strategic asset” for the United States, serving as a barrier against indigenous radical nationalist threats to American interests, which might gain support from the USSR. A recently declassified National Security Council memorandum of 1958 noted that a “logical corollary” of opposition to radical Arab nationalism “would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East.” Meanwhile, Israel concluded a secret pact with Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia. According to David Ben-Gurion’s biographer, this “periphery pact” was encouraged by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and was “long-lasting.” Through the 1960s, American intelligence regarded Israel as a barrier to Nasserite pressure on the Gulf oil-producing states, a serious matter at the time, and to Russian influence. This conclusion was reinforced by Israel’s smashing victory in 1967, when Israel quickly conquered the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, the last, after violating the cease-fire in an operation ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan without notifying the Prime Minister or Chief of Staff.

The Israeli thesis that Israel is a “strategic asset” was again confirmed by Israel’s moves to block Syrian efforts to support Palestinians being massacred by Jordan in September 1970, at a time when the U.S. was unable to intervene directly against what was perceived as a threat to U.S. clients in the Arab world. This contribution led to a substantial increase in U.S. aid. In the 1970s, U.S. analysts argued that Israel and Iran under the Shah served to protect U.S. control over the oil-producing regions of the Gulf. After the fall of the Shah, Israel’s role as a Middle East Sparta in the service of American power has evoked increasing American support.

At the same time, Israel aided the U.S. in penetrating Black Africa with substantial secret CIA subsidies—supporting Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Mobutu in Zaire, Bokassa in the Central African Republic, and others at various times—as well as in circumventing the ban on aid to Rhodesia and South Africa,[2] and more recently, in providing military and technological aid, as well as many advisers, for U.S. clients in Central America. An increasingly visible alliance between Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and the military dictatorships of the southern cone in South America has also proven an attractive prospect for major segments of American power. Now, Israel is surely regarded as a crucial part of the elaborate U.S. base and backup system for the Rapid Deployment Force ringing the Middle East oil producing regions. These are highly important matters that deserve much more attention than I can give them here.

Had it not been for Israel’s perceived geopolitical role—primarily in the Middle East, but elsewhere as well—it is doubtful that the various pro-Israeli lobbies in the U.S. would have had much influence in policy formation, or that the climate of opinion deplored by Peled and other Israeli doves could have been constructed and maintained. Correspondingly, it will very likely erode if Israel comes to be seen as a threat rather than a support to the primary U.S. interest in the Middle East region, which is to maintain control over its energy reserves and the flow of petrodollars.

Support for the concept of Israel as a “strategic asset” has, then, been considerable among those who exercise real power in the U.S., and this position has regularly won out in internal policy debate, assisted, to some extent, by domestic political pressures.

But why exactly did the US-Israeli relationship become like it is now during 1967-70? Chomsky answers that too in an interview sourced from http://www.chomsky.info which you can find here. His explanation now follows below.

The US-Israeli relationship in its current form began in 1967. In 1967, Israel performed an enormous service for the US. It destroyed independent secular Arab nationalism, which was considered a major threat. The oldest and most valued US ally is Saudi Arabia — that is where most of the oil is and Saudi is probably the most extreme fundamentalist Islamic tyranny in the world and the main US ally. In fact, most of the time the US is supporting radical Islamists against secular nationalists.

The major centre of Arab nationalism was Nasser’s Egypt – Saudi Arabia and Egypt were fighting a proxy war in Yemen. Israel destroyed Nasser’s secular nationalism, and that’s a tremendous boost to US power. Nasser was considered a great threat and it was feared that Nasser might use the region’s resources for the benefit of its people, rather than to the benefit of the west, and at that point, the relationship was firmed up.

In 1970, something even more important happened. The Palestinians were becoming an organised, secular nationalist movement, which is frightening [to the US]. They were in confrontation with Jordan, a US- British ally. In fact, the Jordanian army was slaughtering [the Palestinians]. It looked briefly as if Syria might intervene to protect Palestinians and that was considered a major threat to the Hashemite monarchy and also to the gulf tyranny in Saudi and the others.

The US could not intervene at the time because it was tied up in Indochina. Israel – at US request – mobilised its forces and Syria had to back off. At that point, US aid to Israel quadrupled. That was essentially the end of secular nationalism in the Arab world. Since then Israel has become a major US strategic asset. It’s a western implant right at the periphery of the energy-producing region.

The US’ second closest ally is Turkey, another part of NATO in this case, but another kind of US base for the control of the energy producing regions and to protect the monarchies against their own populations. Israel has been an important part of that, but it has also provided all kinds of secondary services to the US, which follows from its relationship of dependency.

For example, when the US and Britain wanted to evade sanctions against South Africa as they did, one of the ways they did that was through Israel, which was pleased to have open connections with the apartheid state – they regarded themselves as in a similar situation. That even extends to Southeast Asia when Carter wanted to increase US support for Indonesian aggression in East Timor, which was slaughtering the population. There were congressional barriers, so the US couldn’t support Indonesia directly, so they got Israel to send US jets into Indonesia. In Central America, it’s all over the place. It’s a strategic alliance that has been very valuable to the US.

Okay, so that covers the US-Israeli relationship and why the US supports Israel so assiduously. But what support does Israel actually receive from its relationship with the US? It surely needs support if it’s to hold up its end of the bargain, but what exactly does that involve? To answer this, we again turn to Chomsky’s “Fateful Triangle”. In brief, Chomsky sums up US support for Israel on three levels: diplomatic, material and ideological. However, Chomsky assumes that people already understand that, despite whatever you might believe about the international balance of order, power and democracy, the US is the world’s supreme power.

As by far the world’s leading economic and military power since World War 2, and as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which accords the US veto power over any Security Council Resolutions it doesn’t like, the US is virtually not bound by anything. It obeys the laws which suit it, disregards whatever institutions it doesn’t like, and does whatever it wants because, as the world’s great power, the US doesn’t have anything which can hold it to account, other than its domestic population. Thus, with no one and nothing that can hold the US to account, it acts however it chooses. Since 1967-70, that’s included supporting Israel as a client state which enforces the US’s will and protects its interests in the Middle East, which basically comes down to control of Middle East oil reserves as a source of colossal revenue for the state and US corporations, and a kind of leverage by which to force other states to follow Washington’s orders. As the godfather of the world, the US has no boundaries but what the currently propagandised American public can impose upon it, meaning that right now no boundaries exist.

Fully discussing and proving this point is in itself a long discussion we can’t get into now, but if you’d like to read more about it then “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky gives an excellent analysis and abundant proof of how states use propaganda to do whatever they please and get away with it. For now, though, with the global hegemony of the US established and its consequences laid out, I’ll return to the excerpt from Chomsky’s “Fateful Triangle”, Chapter 2, pages 48-53, which detail the US support that enables Israel to be the regional enforcer which, since 1967-70, it’s been able, obliged and willing to be thanks to its relationship with the US.

The relationship between the United States and Israel has been a curious one in world affairs and in American culture. Its unique character is symbolized by recent votes at the United Nations. For example, on June 26, 1982 the United States stood alone in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling for simultaneous withdrawal of Israeli and Palestinian armed forces from Beirut, on the grounds that this plan “was a transparent attempt to preserve the P.L.O. as a viable political force,” evidently an intolerable prospect for the U.S. government. A few hours later, the U.S. and Israel voted against a General Assembly resolution calling for an end to hostilities in Lebanon and on the Israel-Lebanon border, passed with two “nays” and no abstentions. Earlier, the U.S. had vetoed an otherwise unanimous Security Council resolution condemning Israel for ignoring the earlier demand for withdrawal of Israeli troops. The pattern has, in fact, been a persistent one.

More concretely, the special relationship is expressed in the level of U.S. military and economic aid to Israel over many years. Its exact scale is unknown, since much is concealed in various ways. Prior to 1967, before the “special relationship” had matured, Israel received the highest per capita aid from the U.S. of any country. Commenting on the fact, Harvard Middle East specialist Nadav Safran also notes that this amounts to a substantial part of the unprecedented capital transfer to Israel from abroad that constitutes virtually the whole of Israel’s investment—one reason why Israel’s economic progress offers no meaningful model for underdeveloped countries. It is possible that recent aid amounts to something like $1000 per year for each citizen of Israel when all factors are taken into account. Even the public figures are astounding.[3] For fiscal years 1978 through 1982, Israel received 48% of all U.S. military aid and 35% of U.S. economic aid, worldwide. For FY 1983, the Reagan administration requested almost $2.5 billion for Israel out of a total aid budget of $8.1 billion, including $500 million in outright grants and $1.2 billion in low-interest loans.

In addition, there is a regular pattern of forgiving loans, offering weapons at special discount prices, and a variety of other devices, not to mention the tax deductible “charitable” contributions (in effect, an imposed tax), used in ways to which we return. Not content with this level of assistance from the American taxpayer, one of the Senate’s most prominent liberal Democrats, Alan Cranston of California, “proposed an amendment to the foreign aid bill to establish the principle that American economic assistance to Israel would not be less than the amount of debt Israel repays to the United States,” a commitment to cover “all Israeli debts and future debts,” as Senator Charles Percy commented.

This was before the Lebanon war. The actual vote on foreign aid came after the invasion of Lebanon, after the destruction of much of southern Lebanon, the merciless siege and bombardment of Beirut, the September massacres, and Israel’s rapid expansion of settlement in the occupied territories in response to Reagan’s plea to suspend settlement in accord with his peace proposals, which Israel rejected. In the light of these events, the only issue arising in Congress was whether to “punish” Israel by accepting the President’s proposal for a substantial increase in the already phenomenal level of aid—what is called taking “a get-tough approach with Israel”—or to take a softer line by adding even more to the increases that the President requested, as the Senate and most liberals demanded. Fortunately, the press was sufficiently disciplined so that the comic aspects of this characteristic performance were suppressed. The consequences of this message of approval to Israel for its recent actions on the part of the President and Congress are not at all comic, needless to say.

It should be noted that in theory there are restrictions on the use of American aid (e.g., cluster bombs can be used only in self-defense; development funds cannot be spent beyond Israel’s recognized—i.e., pre-June 1967—borders). But care has been taken to ensure that these restrictions will not be invoked, though the illegal use of weapons occasionally elicits a reprimand or temporary cut-off of shipments when the consequences receive too much publicity. As for the ban on use of U.S. funds for the settlement and development programs that the U.S. has officially regarded as illegal and as a barrier to peace (i.e., beyond the pre-June 1967 borders), this has never been enforced, and the aid program is designed so that it cannot be enforced: “in contrast to most other aid relationships, the projects we fund in Israel are not specified,” Ian Lustick observes, and no official of the State Department or the aid program has “ever been assigned to supervise the use of our funds by the Israeli government.”

For comparison, one may consider the U.S. aid program to Egypt (the largest recipient of non-military U.S. aid since Camp David), which is run by an office of 125 people who supervise it in meticulous detail. Many knowledgeable Egyptians have been highly critical of the aid program, alleging that it reflects American rather than Egyptian priorities, financing U.S. imports which must be brought on American ships and U.S. consultants, when trained personnel are available in Egypt for a fraction of the cost. They also note the emphasis on the private sector, “pay[ing] Mid-west farmers for wheat which could be grown at half the price in Egypt” (according to a former AID director), and in general the infiltration of Egyptian society to the extent that some perceive a threat to Egyptian national security.

These examples illustrate the diplomatic and material support that the U.S. provides for Israel. A concomitant, at the ideological level, is the persistence of considerable illusion about the nature of Israeli society and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since 1967, discussion of these issues has been difficult or impossible in the United States as a result of a remarkably effective campaign of vilification, abuse, and sometimes outright lying directed against those who dared to question received doctrine.[4]

This fact has regularly been deplored by Israeli doves, who have been subjected to similar treatment here. They observe that their own position within Israel suffers because of lack of support within the U.S., where, as General (Res.) Mattityahu Peled observed, the “state of near hysteria” and the “blindly chauvinistic and narrow-minded” support for the most reactionary policies within Israel poses “the danger of prodding Israel once more toward a posture of calloused intransigence.” The well-known Israeli journalist and Zionist historian Simha Flapan describes “the prejudice of American Jewry” as now “the major obstacle to an American-Palestinian and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, without which there is little chance to move forward in the difficult and involved peace process.” In concentrating on the role of American Jewry, these Israeli writers focus much too narrowly, I believe.

To cite one last example, an article in the American Jewish press quotes a staff writer for Ha’aretz (essentially, the Israeli New York Times) who says that “you American Jews, you liberals, you lovers of democracy are supporting its destruction here by not speaking out against the government’s actions,” referring to the wave of repression in the occupied territories under the “civilian administration” of Professor Menachem Milson and General Ariel Sharon introduced in November 1981 (see chapter 5, sections 5-8). He goes on to explain the plans of Begin and Sharon: to drive a large number of Arabs out of the West Bank, specifically, the leaders and those with a potential for leadership, “by every illegal means.” How?

“You activate terrorists to plant bombs in the cars of their elected mayors, you arm the settlers and a few Arab quislings to run rampages through Arab towns, pogroms against property, not against people. A few Arabs have been killed by settlers. The murderers are known, but the police are virtually helpless. They have their orders. What’s your excuse for not speaking out against these violations of Israeli law and Jewish morality?”

The settlers, he adds, are “Religious Jews who follow a higher law and do whatever their rabbis tell them. At least one of the Gush Emunim rabbis has written that it is a mitzvah [religious duty] to destroy Amalek [meaning, the non-Jewish inhabitants], including women and children.” The Ha’aretz journalist adds that his journal has “a file of horror stories reported to us by soldiers returning from occupation duty in the West Bank. We can refer to them in general terms—we can rail against the occupation that destroys the moral fibre and self-respect of our youth—but we can’t print the details because military censorship covers actions by soldiers on active duty.” One can imagine what the file contains, given what has been printed in the Israeli press.

It should be noted, in this connection, that many crucial issues that are freely discussed in the Hebrew press in Israel and much that is documented there are virtually excluded from the American press, so that the people who are expected to pay the bills are kept largely in the dark about what they are financing or about the debates within Israel concerning these matters. Many examples will be given below.

The dangers posed to Israel by its American supporters have consistently been realized, leading to much suffering in the region and repeated threat of a larger, perhaps global war.

The US-Israeli relationship thus emerged and has since continued to grow and deepen along those lines. Essentially, the consequence has been that, as a client state of the US serving as a regional Sparta, Israel can do whatever it pleases. Occasionally, when Israel’s barbarity receives too much publicity, it’ll be chided and tapped on the wrist like a misbehaved child. In extreme cases, like if, perhaps, it snubs US orders (you know, a serious offense), aid will be reduced or cut off temporarily. Fundamentally, though, Israel’s never held to account for what it does, much to the dismay of those beneath the US-Israeli iron boot, including and especially the Palestinians.

That covers Part 1 of my Reality of Israel-Palestine series. It’s not exactly my own work, but even though I could’ve written the explanation myself, I didn’t see the point since I would’ve drawn heavily on “Fateful Triangle” and I have no interest in trying to compete with Chomsky. So even though, unlike my other posts so far, it’s mostly not my original work, I hope you don’t mind and you enjoyed the article. As soon as I can, I’ll post Part 2 of the series: “Israel’s Wars: Realities and Myths,” which will take the US-Israeli relationship and apply it to some of the wars and conflicts which Israel has waged and participated in since it was created in 1947, including the so-called War of Independence during 1947-49, the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, the Six Days War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Lebanon War in 1982, the First Intifada in 1987 and the Second Intifada in 2000. Below are the footnotes which’d be in their proper places above if not for formatting problems. They’re also definitely worth reading.

[1] The official in charge of these operations, Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon, became Secretary-General of the Histadrut (the socialist labor union). According to the respected Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, Lavon gave orders that were “much more severe” than those leading to the terrorist operations in Egypt, including an attempt “to poison the water sources in the Gaza Strip and the demilitarized zones” (Davar, Jan. 26, 1979). He does not indicate whether these alleged orders were executed.

[2] UPI, Boston Globe, May 16, 1982: the item reads, in toto, “American-made helicopters and spare parts went from Israel to Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe—despite a trade embargo during the bitter war against guerrillas, the Commerce Department has disclosed.” The Labor Party journal quotes the head of South Africa’s military industry as saying that Israeli “technological assistance permits South Africa to evade the arms embargo imposed upon it because of its racial policies” (Davar, Dec. 17, 1982). Yediot Ahronot, citing the London Times, reports that “Israeli technicians are helping South Africa evade the French military embargo” by transferring and repairing French armaments in Israeli hands (Oct. 29, 1981). Close relations with South Africa were established by the Rabin Labor government in the mid-1970s and remain warm, because, as Minister of Industry and Commerce Gidon Pat recently stated in Pretoria, “Israel and South Africa are two of the only 30 democracies in the world.” Similarly, Gad Yaakovi of the Labor Party “praised the economic and ‘other’ [i.e., military] relations with South Africa in a television interview” in Israel, Yoav Karni reports, adding that if he had said similar things in Britain, Holland or Sweden he would have lost his membership in the Social Democratic party, though his remarks caused no distress in the Israeli Labor Party.

[3] The General Accounting Office (GAO) has informed Congress that the actual level of U.S. aid may be as much as 60% higher than the publicly available figures. This is the preliminary result of a detailed study of U.S. aid to Israel by the GAO. “A major issue could develop next year [1983] over how much of the GAO study may be made public.” James McCartney. Philadelphia Inquirer, August 25, 1982.

[4] Israeli intelligence apparently contributes to these efforts. According to a CIA study, one of its functions is to acquire “data for use in silencing anti-Israel factions in the West,” along with “sabotage, paramilitary and psychological warfare projects, such as character assassination and black propaganda.” “Within Jewish communities in almost every country of the world, there are Zionists and other sympathizers, who render strong support to the Israeli intelligence effort. Such contacts are carefully nurtured and serve as channels for information, deception material, propaganda and other purposes.” “They also attempt to penetrate anti-Zionist elements in order to neutralize the opposition.”