Israel’s Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
By Juan Cole
The ability of an al-Qaeda offshoot, the so-called “Islamic State,” to take substantial territory in Syria and northern Iraq has alarmed Washington. The US embassy in Baghdad is in as much danger as the capital itself from IS violence. IS recruiting, and the radicalization of Muslim youth, is given enormous help by the scenes of Israeli munitions killing Palestinian civilians.
Even long-term allies of the US in the region are disturbed by the Israeli campaign. Turkey is a member of NATO, which the US is actually pledged to defend from attack. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been scathing about the Israeli attack on Gaza, calling it a “genocide.” There is even a possibility that Turkey will send another Mavi Marmara-style aid ship to Gaza, this time flanked by Turkish destroyers. For the US, few dilemmas are more foreboding than a military conflict between its two most important Middle East allies.
There have been big pro-Gaza demonstrations in Afghanistan, where the US is trying to draw down its troops. But as the US contingent there shrinks, it because more vulnerable to attack. The Taliban are making a comeback, and public anger over Gaza helps Taliban recruiting and esprit de corps.America has already suffered serious blowback from the excesses of Israel's hard line leaders. In 1982 Menachem Begin's attacked Beirut, bombing residential urban neighborhoods and their civilian populations with 100% support from the US. That gave the IDF's war crimes a US imprimatur that Bin Laden was able to seize on in Al Qaeda's propaganda.
In many parts of the Middle East, Israel’s war on Gaza’s non-combatants could easily provoke an anti-American reaction. In some places, including Iraq and Afghanistan, it could result in American troop deaths. Even in countries allied to the US, the public anger over American backing for Israel is palpable.
Global jihad benefits from Gaza crisisYou'd think the US would have second thoughts about endorsing another Israeli hard-liner's excessive assault on a densely populated urban area, as something that's likely to negatively impact America's own national security.
Since bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri founded al-Qaeda in the 1990s, their propaganda and recruitment drives have featured the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the premier example of the West's "war against Islam." Images of American-built jets and attack helicopters dropping American-built bombs on refugee camps from Gaza to Beirut feature in the video messages of the al-Qaeda propaganda machine. Bin Laden spoke of how watching Israel's 1982 siege of Beirut radicalized him to target America.
It is high time we start safeguarding our own National Security by not giving Israel's extremist leaders a blank check to abuse. Behaving like there's no daylight between the US and Israeli interests needs to stop.