What do Syria, New Jersey, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson have in common?
Besides sounding like the introduction to a wince-worthy conspiracy quip, the most elementary answer is also nauseatingly cliche as an explanation for the penchant the U.S. government displays for inserting itself in the domestic affairs of nearly every country in the Middle East:
Afek, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy, Ltd., announced the discovery of a large liquid oil reservoir and requested an extension of its exploration license for areas in“Northern Israel.”
After having spent over three years in active exploration from the time initial hydrocarbon measurements and geological tests hinted at the presence of such a reserve, Afek’s discovery might have been welcome news all around — were it not contentiously located within Israeli-occupied Syria, in the region known as the Golan Heights.
“Initial findings from the drilling confirm the discovery of an oil reservoir in the Golan and further justifies continuing the exploration program,”stated Afek’s request. “We need more time for this.”
While Israel and Afek might dismissively refer to Syria’s Golan Heights as Northern Israel in documentation, international law definitively marks the region as occupied by foreign forces — making the U.S. company’s controversial oil exploration arrogantly hegemonic, as well as illegal.
Taking full advantage of the public announcement about the findings, the next day Genie Oil and Gas proceeded to publicize the names of new appointees who will join the eyebrow-raising Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, and Lord Jacob Rothschild on the Strategic Advisory Board (SAB). Those members are:
Dr. Lawrence Summers, 71st Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and Director of the National Economic Council under Pres. Obama; former Louisiana SenatorMary Landrieu, who is credited with helping pass the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill while she chaired the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, who became an industry insider after serving as the Clinton administration’s Energy Secretary; and former Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, who co-founded the U.S. Energy Security Council.
Still more controversially, Chairman of Genie Israel Holdings, Ltd. — former Knesset member Efraim “Effie” Eitam, who served as minister of both National Infrastructure as well as Housing and Construction — wouldn’t seem to be a desirable associate. His opinion on Israel’s imperative mission — delivered during a soldier’s memorial service in 2006 — drew the ire of thousands. He asserted Israel would have to:
“Expel most of the Judea and Samaria Arabs from here. We cannot be with all these Arabs and we cannot give up the land, because we have already seen what they do there. Some of them may be able to stay under certain conditions, but most of them will have to go. We will have to make another decision, to remove the Israeli Arabs from the political system. Also here things are clear and simple: We have raised a fifth column, a group of traitors of the first degree, and therefore we cannot continue to approve such a hostile and great presence inside Israel’s political system.”
Israel might have garnered the support and sympathy befitting outside perception of the manufactured nation as an ostensible underdog intent only on survival — at least at one time. Patience and tolerance for Israel’s self-interested actions — the latest being the nation’s refusal of assistance in the Syrian refugee crisis — are wearing thin, even among its staunchest backers.
Considering Israel’s well-documented human rights abuses and hegemonic tendencies, that it has escaped sanctions thus far seems inexplicable.
In the meantime, an effective movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction) — called for in 2005 by Palestinians determined to see Israel held accountable to international law and basic human rights — has rapidly gained momentum worldwide. Continuing to do business as usual with Israel might leave the U.S. holding a hot potato.