By selling China one plane fitted with the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems), Israel is breaking no rules. In fact, the US is the one who is breaking the rules in its relationship with Israel by lightly pressuring the Jewish state to halt the deal. Some might perceive such a proclamation with disagreement and disbelief. But those who think so, must have forgotten that Israel is a special nation, that is without a dispute the only country in the world that can bluntly harm the United States' interests with little or no retaliation. No, Israel is not pushing its luck. It is simply aware of its potential and tremendous influence on the US government. Based on that awareness, its not surprising that the small nation receives $3 billion in US aid money each year (plus large sums of uncounted money for military and other forms of aid), and occasionally lands a $2 billion deal with China or any other interested customer.
Let us retrieve Israel's military sales records. Israel's defense industry, its largest industry, as a matter of fact, exports over 80 percent of its production. Not too bad for a relatively small country that is perceived by many as a helpless victim. But aside from the moral dilemmas that are stirred by the sale of weapons, Israel provokes many more ethical issues for which she may never be held accountable. When South Africa's former leader, Nelson Mandela recently made a trip to the Middle East, no questions were raised regarding Israel's abundant arms sales to South Africa during the Apartheid era. Well, since these weapons were were used to kill blacks and to silence the oppressed nation's struggle for freedom, and since Africa and Africans have no advocates in the West to stand for their rights and aspirations, Israel's immoral conduct was another disregarded chapter in its long volume of human rights violations. The same disregard of Israel's disrespect of international values was put into practice as Israel sold weapons to various Latin American militias, fueling and prolonging military conflicts in already devastated parts of the world.
With that said, what makes the AWACS sale to China any different? Before proceeding with an answer to this question, it must be mentioned that Israel refuses to even acknowledge the fact that the technology employed with the American made AWACS system is Israeli technology. In what appears to be a minor alternation in AWACS, so it is fitted to suit Russian aircraft, Israel's military industry has renamed the system, PHALCON, and has urgently declared that it contains no American technology. But it's not the copyright issue that agitates President Clifton. Instead, its Israel's insensitivity to one of the United States' greatest foreign policy concerns, the China-Taiwan dispute. It it vital to note that the US administration is utterly agitated by the Israel-China deal.
In Ehud Barak's latest visit to the US, President Clinton informed him that Israel would face problems and discomfort if the deal went through. Yet when "problems and discomforts" for Iraq mean deadly sanctions, for Cuba an embargo, for Russia, an exhausted cold war, and for others military coups and military intervention, one must wonder what should Israel expect? While the answer is by now a predictable one, its interesting to see dissatisfied Clinton, vowing during Barak's visit to aid Israel "as much as we can" to finance the cost of any pullout as a result of peace accords foreseen to signed in the near future.
What kind of a magic spell did Israel cast on the United States government? Is it the powerful lobby, AIPAC and others, the manipulative usage of the Holocaust, the Jewish influence over the the US media, the shared Judeo-Christian heritage? Perhaps all of the above. Although Israel has cleverly used all means necessary to exploit the power of a county as small and young as it is, I resent the idea of crediting it for a job well done. And I resent using it as a model to follow, even if the purpose is an honorable one, such as motivating minorities around the the US to follow in Israel's footsteps as a method of acquiring respect and power. Israel is indeed influential, yet its unethical, manipulative schemes are by no means a sound example to follow, though they may appear an attractive and a successful method.
Israel as always remains the US rule breaker, but rather than expecting the wrath of the United States' anger, a slap on Israel's hand might be all that it will take for the Chinese weapons sale chapter to be completely closed. In the meantime, US aid to Israel will flow as generously as it always has.But this time, rather than asking what Israel did to attain this mammoth level of influence, I would rather to ask, where did we go wrong, Arabs, and Muslims and other undermined minority groups in the United States, to sink to new lows and to slip into further fragmentation?
It is unfair to overlook the fact that a greater sense of responsibility and awareness is growing among the US Muslim community, thanks to the efforts of Muslim organizations and activists. But even with that growth in responsibility, the odds are too many to conquer without a very united front of the six million Muslims living in the US. For those who argue that our different backgrounds and countries of origins make such unity a difficult endeavor, "Rules of Engagement" sounds like a good case study to consider how Arabs and Muslims are demonized as one entity. If we fail to unify, so as to advance our just causes (without having to resort to Israel's unethical schemes), let us remember that at least we are a common enemy to those who fail to see us as civilized and worthy human beings. I refrain from applauding Israel for its ability to accumulate billions of dollars in weapons sales to the US's enemy without much disturbance in its harmonious relationship with the US. Yet we must be wary that if Muslims in the United States and abroad fail to develop their own unique political style to enforce their rights and demand justice for themselves and others, our influence will regress even more, and powers like Disney, Paramount, or even a meager restaurant food chain will continue to push us around for years to come.