In 2013, Trump’s Defense Nominee Compared Israeli Occupation With Apartheid

By Juan Cole,
Truth Dig, 3 December 2016.

The interview of Gen. James
Mattis by Wolf Blitzer at Aspen in 2013, in which the recently-retired former
CENTCOM commander spoke freely on Middle East policy, has come back to haunt
him now that Donald Trump has put him forward as the next Secretary of Defense.
At a time when the US has ground troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan,
however, it is not his position on those conflicts that is controversial. It is
his remarks on Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts at peace talks between
Israel and Palestine. Alternet quoted him as saying:

So we’ve got to work on [peace
talks] with a sense of urgency. I paid a military security price every day as a
commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of
Israel, and [because of this] moderate Arabs couldn’t be with us because they
couldn’t publicly support those who don’t show respect for Arab Palestinians.
Everybody involved in US foreign
policy and security knows that aggressive Israeli colonization of the
Palestinian West Bank and siege of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip is a
major cause of terrorism against the United States, since Washington is blamed
for it, and is a major security problem because it makes the US a pariah in the
Muslim world. One of the reasons Osama Bin Laden gave for
attacking the US was the Israeli mistreatment of stateless Palestinians:
Third, if the Americans’ aims
behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the
Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and
murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy
Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all
the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into
paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival
and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.
As I’ve said before, if it were a
matter of taking a hit to defend Israel on its people’s right to live in
safety, then the US will always step up. But to take a hit to defend Israeli
wanton war crimes and disregard of international law is unacceptable.
In his Aspen interview in 2013,
Mattis went on to use the “A” word:
I’ll tell you, the current
situation is unsustainable … We’ve got to find a way to make work the
two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have
supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For
example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s
ten thousand Arabs already there, and if we draw the border to include them,
either [Israel] ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to
vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced
in a country.
Jimmy Carter was treated
shamefully by Alan Dershowitz and Brandeis University and the entire
Israel-Lobby Establishment for voicing precisely the same warning, and was
excluded by their pressure from speaking at the Obama Democratic National
Conventions. Watchlists have been made of academics who dare critize Israeli
squatting on Palestinian-owned land.
And let us remember how poor Chuck Hagel was
, a distinguished Vietnam War vet with two purple hearts
and a senator, during the hearing to confirm him as Secretary of Defense, at
the behest of Neocon chicken hawks:
Ah, and then there is Lindsey
Graham, the Red Queen of the Senate (who is the essence of the pedantic
governess and asks through-the-looking-glass questions like: “Divide a loaf by
a knife: what’s the answer to that?”) …
Then the Red Queen went after Hagel
for having said that the “Jewish lobby” intimidates people. He demanded, “Name
one person here who’s been intimidated by the Jewish lobby . . . Name one dumb
thing we’ve been goaded into doing due to pressure by the Israeli or Jewish
Hagel said he didn’t have anyone
in mind.
The irony, of course, is that
Graham is himself part of the Israel lobby, and there he was intimidating Hagel
for complaining about having been intimidated!
All the congressmen and senators
know that the Israel lobby intimidates them or tries to, on a daily basis.
Ernst Hollings complained, “you can’t have an Israeli policy other than what
AIPAC gives you around here.” AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee, the de facto foreign agent of the Israeli government in the United
States, which gets away with not having to register as such because it has
bought off or intimidated Congress.
So let’s see if Senator Graham
treats Gen. Mattis the same way (I wouldn’t advise it; he is called “Mad Dog”
for a reason), or whether the Israel lobbies will just have to swallow this
So can the sensible observers of
the Middle East now be invited to dinner again and the Israel-Lobby
blackballing of them be lifted?
By the way, the rest of Mattis’s
interview in 2013 was likewise informed and usually sensible. He was against
getting involved in Syria, and warned that military action couldn’t resolve the
issue of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.