NEW YORK – In 1956, Britain and France were convinced that Egypt’s charismatic nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was threatening what was left of their Mideast and African colonial empires. London branded Nasser, “Hitler on the Nile.”
So the British and French governments secretly enlisted Israel to invade and annex Egypt’s Sinai. British and French troops were to seize the Canal Zone in a supposed “peacekeeping mission,” march on Cairo, and install a puppet government there. Israel would keep the entire Sinai Peninsula.
The infamous Suez invasion turned into a humiliating debacle for the bungling British and French; Nasser became a hero to the entire Third World. But Israel tenaciously hung on to Sinai, claiming it needed the peninsula “for security.”
When US President Dwight Eisenhower learned of the UK-French-Israeli plan to grab the Suez Canal and march on Cairo, he was furious. Ike ordered the British and French out of Egypt under threat of collapsing their weak currencies. Eisenhower told Israel to get out of Sinai – or else. Israel got out.
This event is worth recalling as we today watch US President Barack Obama and his hapless Secretary of State John Kerry plead with Israel to stop massacring Palestinians in Gaza.
What could be more pitiful than two of the world’s most supposedly powerful men imploring Israel to stop killing Palestinians with US-supplied weapons like F-16 warplanes and heavy 155mm self-propelled guns – which violates the US Arms Export Act, though no one in Washington dares to admit this? Or resuming military payoffs to Egypt’s brutish military dictatorship to keep Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Ghetto?
Instead, Washington is steadily raising the risks of a totally unnecessary war with Russia over Ukraine by arming and financing Kiev’s military forces and waging a massive anti-Russian propaganda war. Welcome back to the Cold War. Last time around men of skill and character conducted US foreign affairs; today, we have midgets.
As recounted in my book American Raj – How the US Rules the Mideast, after Israel was forced out of Sinai in 1956 its American supporters determined that no US president would again be able to order about Israel.
After five decades of patient work, the pro-Israel lobby now gives the US Congress its marching orders on the Mideast. The media in the US and Canada have largely adopted Israel’s narrative about the Mideast and Gaza.
Here in New York City, watching the TV news, one would think Gaza is a nest of demented terrorists threatening Israel’s very existence with “terror tunnels” and “terror rockets.” Hamas, which Israel helped create to split Palestinians, is a “terror organization.” Palestinian children are running in front of Israeli 155mm heavy artillery shells to give Israel a bad name. Interestingly, one of the best source for real news on what’s going on is Israel’s excellent newspaper, “Ha’aretz.”
There is growing anger around the globe over Israel’s savaging of Palestinians, but Americans don’t see this. As the Arab death toll heads tops 1,000, the world is calling for an imposed cease fire and an end to Israel’s and Egypt’s cruel siege of Gaza. America is getting blamed for the horrors of Gaza.
Washington should be able to demand that Israel, which is due to receive over $30 billion in US aid in the next decade, cease fire and open Gaza’s gates. Of all the vetoes cast since 1950 in the UN Security Council, the majority have been by the US to protect Israel from censure.
Can Washington act to enforce America’s national interests and common humanity? Not likely.
Israel has long timed its punitive assaults to sync with the US elections cycle. We are now in the penumbra of America’s upcoming November elections, and Israel knows it. Now’s the time, in Israel’s view, to crush Hamas into dust and tell foreign critics to go to Hell.
In fact, the Arab and greater Muslim world’s silence and inaction over the massacre in Gaza suggests that the Greater Israel expansionists may be right. 5.5 million Palestinians remain after all these years sand in the eye of the Mideast.