On January 8, a resolution was placed before the United Nations Security Council calling for a ceasefire to the Gaza conflict. Fourteen of 15 members had already voted in favor of the resolution, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was set to do the same. But at the last second, the United States abstained.

The reason became clear in the hours following the event. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, went on Israeli television and boasted that he made a phone call to President Bush, telling him that the U.S. must not vote in favor of the resolution.

[Olmert:] “It transpired all of a sudden that a vote would be held in 10 minutes’ time. I tried to find President Bush, and I was told he was attending an event in Philadelphia.

“I know that if somebody tried to find me on the phone right now, it would have to be something unusual and extraordinary for them to say: Leave it all and go to some room to talk to me. In this case, I said: I don’t care, I have to talk to him right now.

“He [Bush] was taken off the podium and brought to a side room. I spoke with him; I told him: You can’t vote for this proposal.

“He said: Listen, I don’t know, I didn’t see, don’t know what it says.

“I [Olmert] told him: I know, and you can’t vote for it!

“He [Bush] then instructed the secretary of state [Rice], and she did not vote for it.”

Although the U.S. officially denies this version of events, those are the words of the Israeli Prime Minister broadcast on Israeli television. As an American, I am ashamed that our president is taking orders from the prime minister of Israel, a man who has been under criminal investigation for the last two years and who is set to be indicted on corruption charges.

Since when is it the place of Israel to tell the United States how to vote in the Security Council? Rice had already promised her Arab counterparts that the United States would vote in favor of the resolution, only to snub them all at the request of Olmert. This is an embarrassment to the United States and hurts our credibility in a region where we are already regarded with little esteem. To governments like Egypt, which stood by us in the War on Terror often against the will of their own citizens, is a mistake.

And why should we suck up to Israel? We give them an average of $3 billion a year in aid when their per capita GDP is greater than either Portugal or South Korea. What do we get from them? An “ally in the Middle East”? Our unwavering support for Israel has won us many more enemies, and is a top reason cited by terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, for their anti-American activities.

And Israel doesn’t seem to care what the U.S. thinks. Before sending troops into Gaza, they did not seek permission, and in November, a top Israeli Defense Ministry official hinted at the possibility of a strike on Iran regardless of U.S. wishes. The instability that would result from such an action can only be guessed — and you would be the one paying higher gas prices when speculators panic in the wake of such a conflict. You already did because of the Gazan incursion.

In the last three weeks of fighting, Israel has shown its disregard for the international community. Israel shelled numerous U.N. schools and the headquarters in Gaza. It even saw fit to blast the Associated Press headquarters.

It is no secret that Israel likes to play dirty. The Israeli arms industry took in about $4.7 billion in 2007. In the 1980’s, they armed the death squads of Guatemala and did the same for apartheid South Africa’s brutal police, who suppressed and murdered black activists. More recently, destabilizing Israeli arms found their way into the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict, and Israel attempted to sell advanced weapons to China.

In the late 1980’s, Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel, having passed thousands of classified documents to the country. Then in 2006, Lawrence Franklin was found guilty of espionage against the U.S., for passing classified information to Israeli lobbyists. The documents presumably found their way to Israel.

Sadly, in January 2008, Ehud Olmert asked Bush to consider pardoning Pollard. Numerous lobbyists and Jewish groups, including congressmen with affiliations to these religious groups, have also taken up Pollard’s cause.

Since when do American congressmen lobby for spies? Since when does the U.S. consider releasing traitors? Since when does our country embarrass itself in front of its allies and support attacks on the international community?

Since Israel and its lobbyists asked for it.

Ibrahim Kakwan can be reached at ijameel@umich.edu.

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