US stance on Israel exposes American democracy

US stance on Israel exposes American democracy
Comment: The nature of the US political system allows those with money - in this example, pro-Zionists - to wield undue influence over policy.
3 min read
08 Apr, 2015
Cotton has been described as one of the most pro-Israel senators in Congress [Getty]
Defining democracy is not easy. It can be a slippery concept, particularly in the hands of those who use the word as a political label to include or exclude other nations under the umbrella of civilisation.

It is probably safe to say that a society that votes for a particular government in an election described by monitors as one of the fairest they have seen, should surely be called democratic? Surely its government should be welcomed into the family of nations? Conversely, a society in which 70 percent of voters disagree with a particular policy and yet the government implements it anyway is surely undemocratic?

My first example refers to the 2006 Palestine election, my second to the US.

In a poll conducted last month, nearly 70 percent of US citizens said the US should not be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But of course, taking sides is what the US has consistently done. The US Congress repeatedly frustrates attempts to be fair in the unequal struggle between mighty Israel and the persecuted Palestinians.

Data from shows that Zionist hasbara (propaganda), although very effective, does not fool all Americans. More US citizens support than oppose an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza: 39 percent to 36 percent, with one in four undecided. In addition, more US citizens think their government support Israel too much rather than too little: 29 percent to 27 percent, with one in three undecided.
     In the US there is no cap on how much electoral candidates can spend on their campaign.

In the US there is no cap on how much electoral candidates can spend on their campaign. The laws on campaign spending have relaxed over the years, so pro-Zionist organisations (or Libertarians, or the oil industry or the private medical system) can achieve their aims by bypassing voters.

For example, Tom Cotton, the youngest member of the US Senate, organised an open letter attacking a nuclear-agreement with Iran that was signed by right-wing Republican legislators. Cotton was elected thanks to the support to the tune of nearly a million dollars from something called the 'Emergency Committee for Israel'. (I'm not sure what emergency Israel is facing. I presume the title refers to the possibility that peace will break out if Iran no longer has nuclear weapons potential, and what will Israel's military-industrial complex do then?).

Cotton has been described as one of the most pro-Israel senators in Congress. If a million dollars can get someone like him elected, it's easy to see how it happens that any candidate who steps out of line on Israel will find himself unseated at the next election. As a result, virtually all Republicans and most Democrats, whatever they think in private, vote for pro-Israel motions.

This unanimous pro-Israel stance reaches a ludicrous level when one of the few Arab-American members of the House of Representatives, Justin Amash, says things like: "Israel is our closest friend in a very troubled region. Our national defense benefits from Israel's ability to defend itself and to serve as a check against neighbouring authoritarian regimes and extremists."

So next time someone talks about the US as a democracy, remember that the only people in the US whose votes count are the members of Congress and the vested interests that control their opinions.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.