Friends Don't Let Friends Violate International Law

Only America has the power to grab Israel's car keys.

Photo Courtesy of the White House

What do you do when your friend is blind drunk, slurring, staggering and boisterous as they fumble for their car keys? Do you cheer them on, slap them on their back and hand them another shot of whiskey? Of course not, no matter how much they may protest. And when it comes to America's friendship with Israel, what is true for the ethics of bars holds true for international politics as well.

Israel is America's obnoxious drunk friend. And for over half a century, America has been Israel's bartender and enabler: each year dumping billions of dollars in military aid that is used to oppress Palestinians, handing out bribe money to Arab tyrants in exchange for the suppression of their people's outrage and, most importantly, protecting Israel from the UN Security Council despite repeated, flagrant violations of international law. On Friday, America did it again by vetoing a Security Council resolution that would have declared Israel's settlements illegal... all other members of the council, longstanding friends of Israel included, had voted in favor of the reprimand.

In the last thirty days, the power dynamics of the Middle East have changed irrevocably. Israel's biggest ally in the region has been toppled, popular movements are sweeping neighboring countries and a new mood of self-governance has captured the imagination of the world's citizens. It is time for Israel to sober up and face the reality that their aggressive militarism won't work any more. Only America has the power to grab Israel's car keys.

Early in his presidential term, Obama told a cheering audience that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop." It may be that Obama is not a hypocrite, but it is undeniable that he is being a poor friend.

This is the moment when the American government must change its relationship with Israel or watch its ally swerve into the oncoming train of history.


On Friday, Palestinians are calling for a Day of Rage that wakes up America and Israel. Join the effort to take away Israel's car keys by tweeting the following Guardian article with the hashtag: