My book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict makes “a convincing case that the American government has routinely collaborated with Israel to block a genuine peace process”, writes L. Michael Hager in a new review published in Counterpunch. He elaborates:
In its detailed review of America’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obstacle to Peace convincingly exposes USG [US Government] complicity with Israel in blocking the peace process, undercutting a two-state solution (despite pious words to the contrary), resisting the demands of international law, disregarding war crimes, endorsing the Gaza blockade and opposing Palestinian statehood. The book also offers abundant evidence of pro-Israel bias in the mainstream media, the result of which has kept most Americans in the dark.
The book, he concludes, is “a valuable record of a U.S. collusion with Israel”.
Although I’m of course very happy to receive a positive review, I wish to clarify a few things I feel Hager mischaracterizes about the book. After a brief introduction, Hager states, “The following are the book’s significant conclusions”, and proceeds to list five items. I must strongly object to the suggestion that there are no other significant conclusions in the book beyond the five he lists. My objection is all the more strongly made since a couple of his five points are not even ones I consider significant conclusions.
For example, in the book, I conclude that Israel’s acceptance as a UN member state was illegal. That to me seems a significant conclusion, yet is not on his list. I feel I offer countless other highly significant conclusions, far too many to list.
One of Hager’s five points is that the US and Israel have refused to negotiate with Hamas. But I don’t feel this is a conclusion at all. It’s just an observation. The significance lies in why this is so, which I illustrate in great detail. In sum, Israel needs Hamas to sustain its policy of oppressing the Palestinians.
This leads into another of Hager’s points that is not even a conclusion of mine, just an observation, which is that the US and Israel oppose Palestinian statehood. Sure, I demonstrate that this is so in the book, but this is no secret, and, again, the question is why, which I of course explain in the book. In sum, Israel’s lust for more land and fewer Palestinians in it necessitates their occupation regime, which in turn necessitates their rejection of international law, which in turn necessitates their opposition to the two-state solution.
Also, I do not write in the book that the US merely “tolerates” or merely has “failed to condemn” Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Rather, as Hager hints at by noting how I write about how “American-made arms devastated Gaza”, I document how the US has been the critical enabler of Israel’s war crimes. The US doesn’t merely look the other way, but is an active participant in oppressing the Palestinians. The US militarily, financially, and diplomatically supports Israel’s crimes. I feel characterizing the US as merely looking away unfortunately detracts from particular emphasis I placed throughout the book on the US’s role as one of full complicity in Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law.
Another of Hager’s points is that the US has collaborated with Israel to “co-opt the mainstream media”. This characterization suggests to me direct government control of or influence on the media, as though it was state-owned media rather than a free press. To be sure, the press is free to report what they will, yet still choose to fulfill the role of the government’s very own Ministry of Propaganda. So how can this be? I offer insights to answer that in the book; but in sum, the influence of the “state religion” is pervasive.
To learn more about that, read “The Role of the US Media in the Palestine Conflict“, adapted from a talk I gave via Skype to the “100 Global Thinkers in Palestine” conference in September 2016. That talk was in turn adapted from Obstacle to Peace, so also get your hands on a copy from ObstacleToPeace.com.
Finally, Hager writes:
What the book doesn’t do is explain why Israel has continued to earn the unquestioning support of the American Congress and why the mainstream media has acted as an echo chamber for Israeli spokespersons. Is it only the backing of Zionist or Evangelical Christian constituents that fuels pro-Israel policies? Or could it be the money that flows from the lobbyists of AIPAC-affiliated organizations to fund political campaigns, reward elected officials and offer lawmakers all-expense junkets to Israel? Perhaps the author’s next volume will answer those questions.
I have to respectfully object to this, as well, as I feel I do answer these questions. I’ve already touched on how I do answer the question regarding the media’s role. Likewise, with respect to the role of organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is part of what is broadly described by many as the “Israel lobby”, Hager implies that I don’t discuss it. In fact, I provide examples of the lobby’s influence. The answer, obviously, is that it is not only Christian Zionism, but also lobbies like AIPAC that influence US policy. The suggestion that I do not note this latter influence in the book is especially puzzling to me since the example Hager provides of “lawmakers all-expense junkets to Israel” is one pulled straight from Obstacle to Peace!
I urge you to discover for yourself what Obstacle to Peace has to offer and what its significant conclusions are. Signed copies are available exclusively through the book’s official website, ObstacleToPeace.com.