Av Bruce Bawer, HRS
En interessant artikkel i Middle East Quarterly (høst 2010) poengterer at forsøk på å mobilisere arabiske amerikanere mot Israel og til støtte for PLO, Hezbollah og lignende grupper har mislykket. Hvorfor? Fordi de fleste arabere i USA er libanesiske og syriske kristne, og er derfor ikke særlig fiendtlige mot Israel. De er derimot kritiske til de islamske ekstremistene og terroristene som har forgrepet seg på kristne og ødelagt Libanon. På grunn av dette, forklarer Steven J. Rosen, har arabiskamerikanske organisasjoner som støtter PLO og som forsøker å utfordre USAs støtte til Israel, ikke vært vellykket. Heller ikke har oljeselskap eller saudiske aktører hatt stor effekt på forholdet mellom USA og den jødiske staten.
Men, som Rosen understreker, er det likevel en mektig pro-arabisk, anti-israelsk lobby som truer med en uheldig påvirkning av amerikansk politikk i forhold til Israel. Ifølge ham er den sterkeste ytre kraften som presser USA til å ta avstand fra Israel faktisk europeiske regjeringer og EU:
…it is the Europeans, especially the British, French, and Germans, that are the most influential Arab lobby to the U.S. government. The Arabs know this, so their preferred road to Washington often runs through Brussels or London or Paris. Nabil Shaath, then Palestinian Authority «foreign minister,» said in 2004 that the European Union is «the ally of our choice.»
The Arabs consider Europe to be the soft underbelly of the U.S. alliance with Israel and the best way to drive a wedge between the two historic allies.
Europeerne, skriver Rosen, har fire sterke fordeler når det gjelder innflytelsen sin over USAs politikk i forhold til Midtøsten:
First, although there exist subtle differences, many European leaders share a broad set of common beliefs about Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world, and the Middle East conflict that are considerably closer to the Arab perspective than to Jerusalem’s point of view, and closer to the Arab end of the spectrum than the prevailing views of U.S. policymakers.
Second, they—especially representatives of Britain, Germany, and France—have easier and closer access to U.S. officials up to and including the president than do either the Arabs or the Israelis.
Third, the Europeans couch their presentations within a wider framework of shared values and interests and mutual trust with the United States, so the message is taken more seriously than if it came from an unelected leader of an Arab society vastly different from the United States.
Fourth, U.S. officials believe that it is in the national interest to keep the European allies happy, lest they change to an independent European policy toward the Middle East…
I tillegg nyter Storbritannias statsminister, Frankrikes president og Tyskland kansler direkte tilgang til USAs president. USA kan neppe ignorere disse tre landenes synspunkter:; de har tre av verdens seks største økonomier og seks mektigste militære, og har stor innflytelse over EUs utenrikspolitikk. Frankrike og Storbritannia er faste medlemmer av FNs sikkerhetsråd og tilhører G8. USA og Europa deler en lang historie av felles verdier og interesser. Så er det NATO-samarbeidet. En annen viktig faktor er at europeiske diplomaters tone er moderate og sivile:
Their opinions are stated in a moderate tone and are deemed to be more reasonable than the majority of Arab countries. There is a presumption on both sides that they are America’s principal partners, the ones whose interests Washington must always take into account, and who can be expected to give greater deference to America’s own needs.
This presumption of shared interests also gives European counterparts privileged access and enhanced credibility with senior members of the U.S. bureaucracy at the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Pentagon, and within the intelligence community and other agencies. Assistant secretaries, office directors, and senior advisers give special weight to the opinions of their French, German, and British counterparts and spend more time with them than they do with the Arabs. These Europeans also have easy access to members of Congress and their senior staffs.
Rosen gir et eksempel på hvordan europeisk intervensjon kan forårsake brudd mellom USA og Israel. Året var 1991, og USA hadde garantert for et lån til Israel som skulle hjelpe med flyttingen av jøder fra Sovjetunionen til Israel. Så kom UKs daværende statsminister, John Major, og hans kone til USA, hvor de tilbrakte tid med president George H. W. Bush på familiens sommerhus i Kennebunkport i Maine. Under det besøket klarte Major å forandre presidentens synspunkt:
Bush returned from Kennebunkport with his mind changed according to subsequent reports from U.S. officials. To [utenriksminister James A.] Baker’s surprise, the president rejected the package of assurances the secretary had carefully assembled and decided to throw down the gauntlet to Israel and its supporters….
Six days later, Bush went a step further. On September 12, more than 1,000 Jewish leaders from around the country descended on Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers for the loan guarantees. President Bush responded by calling a news conference the same day to warn that he would veto loan guarantees if Congress insisted on approving them…
Aldri før har Majors rolle i denne saken blitt avdekket. Det var ett av de verste kapitlene i forholdet mellom USA og Israel. Episoden viser hvordan én europeisk leder kan endre USAs sympati fra Israel til araberne. Og den illustrerer at innflytelsen hovedsakelig skjer bak kulissene:
This kind of European influence is difficult to track because it occurs behind-the-scenes, invisible to the public. It covers a wide range of Middle East issues: pushing Washington to pressure the Israelis to make concessions to the Palestinians; urging engagement with terrorist organizations such as Hamas on the theory that it will moderate them; getting Washington to restrain Israeli security measures such as the «fence,» targeted killings, the blockade of Gaza, and allegedly excessive use of force; and provoking intensified opposition to Israeli settlement activity, especially in Jerusalem.
There are many suppositions why Europeans tilt against Israel and toward the Arabs. For one thing, the Middle East is a place where Europeans can flaunt their foreign policy independence from the United States without responsibility for causing catastrophic results because they assume that the United States will protect Israel from any dire consequences such may produce. For another, Europe depends more heavily on trade with the Arab world and on Arab oil exports than does the United States.
…Europe may also have a desire to appease the «strong horse» in the region (e.g., Israel has but one vote in the U.N.; the Arabs have twenty-five votes, the Muslim nations, fifty votes). Then there is the guilt among many Europeans over their discredited imperial past, leading them to falsely view Israelis as oppressing Third World peoples. Then, again, it may be the growing influence of Europe’s own Muslim populations (e.g., Arabs in France, Turks in Germany, South Asians in Britain) and their need to keep such segments of their domestic populations as quiescent as possible. Some analysts suggest that there may also be an element of satisfaction at being free to censure Jews in Israel, relieving European guilt over responsibility for the Holocaust. Finally, it may be that the Europeans simply do not understand that Israel is a democracy at war, living in a mortally dangerous neighborhood, which must act in self-defense in ways that may seem excessive to onlookers in a benign environment such as twenty-first-century western Europe (even though the Western democracies and the United States have used harsher means than Israel in wars far removed from their own territory).
Rosen bemerker at én vesentlig side av europeisk politikk i denne sammenheng er at USA blir presset til å forholde seg til terroristiske organisasjoner ut fra ideen om at slikt engasjement kommer til å moderere deres atferd. I flere år nektet USA å forhandle med PLO med mindre PLO avviste terror. Men europeerne hadde et annet synspunkt. I dag er det en lignende forskjell mellom europeiske og amerikanske ledere i forhold til Hezbollah og Hamas. Hvis USA endrer sin politikk i forhold til disse terrororganisasjoner, så vil det være på grunn av europeisk innflytelse, antyder Rosen.
Så er det Israels sikkerhetstiltak.
A third continuing theme of the Europeans is that many of the measures that Israel employs to assure its security are excessive and disproportionate if not actual violations of international law. This is how Europe sees Israel’s security barrier, its targeted killings of known terrorists, its blockade of Gaza, its campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its settlements in the West Bank. Europeans are constantly urging Washington to restrain Israel.
Israel’s security fence against terrorist infiltration, under construction since 2003, has strong support among the Israeli public because the barrier has been effective in preventing suicide attacks. A recent public opinion poll finds that «it is hard to find any issue in Israel about which there is so wide a consensus.» When there was no fence, during the first three years after the launch of Arafat’s al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000, Israel suffered ninety-three suicide attacks that left 447 Israelis dead and 4,343 Israeli civilians wounded. In the most recent four years, since most of the fence has been completed, the number of attacks has declined to fewer than five a year, and the number of Israelis killed by terrorists has averaged fewer than ten per year….
Europe affected U.S. policy on the fence by funding a sophisticated PLO diplomatic team, the elite Palestinian unit known as the Negotiation Support Unit of the PLO (NSU), headed by Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat. The NSU is funded by Britain’s Department for International Development and has also received financial support from the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. It consists of more than twenty professionals who periodically lobby Washington policymakers on behalf of the PLO with the participation of Palestinian advisers including Diana Buttu (Canadian-Palestinian), Michael Tarazi (American-Palestinian), Omar Dajani, and Amjad Atallah. A high point in the work of the NSU was a dramatic PowerPoint presentation on Israel’s security fence given to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice by the NSU’s Stephanie Koury (a Lebanese American from Texas) during a visit to the West Bank on June 28, 2003. Hours later, Rice shocked and angered members of the Israeli cabinet when she asked them to «reconsider» the fence. Koury’s presentation caused the Bush administration to become much more critical of the security fence. A few days after the Koury briefing, an AIPAC colleague and I met with Rice privately and heard an unfiltered expression of her reaction to Koury. Three weeks later, the NSU team flew to Washington to make the presentation to other U.S. officials and members of Congress. Rice’s anger over the fence was the low point of relations between Washington and Jerusalem during the George W. Bush years, and Palestinian lobbying funded by the Europeans achieved it.
Rosen nevner at Europa, mer enn USA, har fordømt Israels målrettede drap på terrorister – selv om mange europeiske land har utført slike handlinger selv. Og han utdyper om Europas hyklerske stilling til Israels Gaza-blokade:
From 1993 to 1996, twelve European navies participated in a NATO-Western European Union blockade known as «Sharp Guard,» enforcing both an arms embargo and economic sanctions on the former Yugoslavia. This involved the navies of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K. Some 74,000 ships were challenged; almost 6,000 were inspected at sea, and more than 1,400 were diverted and inspected in port. Had there been violent resistance to this blockade, all the parties enforcing it were committed to the use of force. The fact that no one dared to challenge this powerful blockade prevented violence from occurring, not any principled objection to the use of force. Nonetheless, the Europeans at the U.N. Security Council continue to put Israel on the defensive about its Gaza blockade, making it more difficult for Washington to support Israel’s right to self-defense under article 51 of the United Nations charter.
The Europeans evidenced a similar attitude in July 2006 when Israel went into Lebanon in response to Hezbollah attacks. An agreed statement by the EU presidency stated, «The European Union is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hezbollah on Israel.» French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy agreed that Israel’s strikes were «a disproportionate act of war» and said that the French government supported «Lebanon’s demand for a referral to the United Nations Security Council as soon as possible.»
Og hva med Israels bosettinger på Vestbredden? Siden 1981 har USA hevdet at de er provoserende og utilrådelige, men ikke nødvendigvis ulovlige, mens EU har argumentert for at de krenker folkeretten – en stilling som europeiske tjenestemenn har presset USA til å ta opp. Rosen konkluderer som følgende:
European leaders are the most effective external force urging the U.S. government to move away from Israel and closer to the Arabs. Europe is not hostile to Israel on every issue, and not every European intervention with U.S. officials is meant to move U.S. policy in the Arab direction. But, on the whole, the Arab road to Washington runs through Paris, London, and Berlin.