Friday, January 16, 2009

Anti-Semintism is too polite a term . . .

Mr friend, Jeff Hendrix, writes me with this question:
In light of the mounting "protests" by Muslims and mob-supporters of Israel's move on Gaza, I wonder why the silence regarding what is obvious, to me, at least, that the right to legitimate defense by Israel as a nation is seen as another trip-wire to scapegoat Jews world-wide?
I cannot speak for all "Girardians" of course. Those influenced by Girard's work have widely varying opinions about many things. I would hope that few, if any, would defend Hamas, which after all expresses its genocidal intentions explicitly and emphatically. I would also hope that few would be playing the moral-equivalency game so lately fashionable, a fashion that allows one to strike a moral pose without having to take a moral stand.

As one who has tried to incorporate Girard's work in both my personal life and in my political and moral assessments, and at Jeff's urging, here are a few thoughts. (I wish I had more time to substantiate them and nuance them, but I am in the midst of the Emmaus Road Initiative cycle of talks and have only limited time available for blogging.)

The new European amalgamation is short on glue, on something that binds peoples together. Economic self-interest is not sufficient. Having declined to even mention Europe's Christian foundations in the E.U. constitution, something had to be found on which European's could agree, and, as any Girardian can tell you, the easiest and cheapest form of social glue is a shared contempt for something or someone on whom collective animosities and frustrations could be safely vented, with no fear of reprisals. For the last few years, George W. Bush filled this role, and he saved Europe from confronting its rudderlessness by serving as its piƱata. But, alas, he is leaving office, to be replaced by a man for whom Europe has unbounded affection.

In such an emergency, a new repository for European animosities and anxieties must be found. As fate would have it, at the appointed hour the Israelis finally decided to dismantle the Hamas deathworks and, in doing so, they gave Islamic fanatics and their enablers and assorted antisemites a familiar scapegoat: the Jews.

The word "antisemitism" is too venerable a term for what is happening today throughout the Middle East and -- more alarmingly -- throughout Europe and other once healthy strongholds of Western Civilization. Many have observed that the question about the future of Europe is whether what will emerge is a Europeanized Islam (that is the optimistic scenario) or an Islamicized Europe. In light of these "peace demonstrations" and the reaction to them by politicians and the press, the latter outcome seems increasingly more likely.

In the aftermath of the Israeli assault on Hamas -- a long-overdue response to incessant attacks intentionally aimed at Israeli civilians -- what we are seeing is Jew-hated pure and simple. It is driven by Islamic radicals who have made no effort whatsoever to disguise their genocidal intentions. But the "Heil Hitler!" salutes, the chants about finishing what Hitler began, the placards urging the rebuilding of the gas ovens -- these little pieces of madness have been able to magically assimilate the hard-right and the hard-left in Europe and elsewhere, including here in the U. S.

Here, for example, is a comment left on the PBS website expressing agreement with Bill Moyers' condemnation of Israel for its incursion into Gaza:
"The irony of it all is the Jews who believe they are ‘chosen'...better than anyone else, and entitled by God to kill and steal homes and land...are shooting themselves in the foot. Madoff, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, all Jewish American companies and investors, lied to the American people about their true financial status, and have sunk us all..."
Examples abound, most discretely ignored by the liberal media, but documented in irrefutable detail on countless blogs and new-media outlets. Sanity on this controversial topic can also be found, but not often in the places once thought to be its natural repository. Here are a few places where I found it: here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Decent people must repudiate this madness without equivocation.

Examples abound, most discretely ignored by the liberal media, but documented in irrefutable detail on countless blogs and new-media outlets. Sanity on this controversial topic can also be found, but not often in the places once thought to be its natural repository. Here are a few places where I found it: here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Decent people must repudiate this madness without equivocation.


Athos said...

Many thanks for your forthright sharing of an answer to my question, Gil. The West had best understand something else about the flames being stoked.

The recent gathering of 5,000 Muslims before the cathedral in Milan was, IMO, the Scimitar's equivalent of Chekhov's gun - if you can't find Jews, then Christians will do.

This is structural Girardian understanding, pure and simple. The Scimitar functions as the primitive sacred, its ostensible themes of 'monotheism' notwithstanding. Am I tarring with too broad a brush, including peace-loving followers of the Prophet? Perhaps.

But until voices that also gather under the shadow of the Scimitar speak as loudly and recognizably in protest against those crying,"Back to the ovens" - then I must discern the Scimitar is one with the primitive sacred. Qui tacet consentit.

Pelican said...

Mr. Bailie:

I'd appreciate knowing what you make of the Vatican's view of the Gaza situation when it described Gaza as a concentration camp. Doesn't this comment suggest that the scapegoating mechanism may be going the other way as well, with Israelis scapegoating Palestinians? Here are some links I found of Catholics and Christians who express this alternative view on Gaza and the Israeli/Palestinian issue in general. Would you mind looking at these and saying if you think they are antisemitic positions? Thank you.

Pelican said...

One more question. In this article, the facts he narrates about the lead up to the Gaza war conflict with the assumptions and implications of your account on your blog. Is this article one of propaganda, and if so, might you point it out to me? Thanks.

Another War, Another Defeat

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

John J. Mearsheimer

Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.

The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.”

This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.”

Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”

In January 2006, five months after the Israelis pulled their settlers out of Gaza, Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in the Palestinian legislative elections. This meant trouble for Israel’s strategy because Hamas was democratically elected, well organized, not corrupt like Fatah, and unwilling to accept Israel’s existence. Israel responded by ratcheting up economic pressure on the Palestinians, but it did not work. In fact, the situation took another turn for the worse in March 2007, when Fatah and Hamas came together to form a national unity government. Hamas’s stature and political power were growing, and Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy was unraveling.

To make matters worse, the national unity government began pushing for a long-term ceasefire. The Palestinians would end all missile attacks on Israel if the Israelis would stop arresting and assassinating Palestinians and end their economic stranglehold, opening the border crossings into Gaza.

Israel rejected that offer and with American backing set out to foment a civil war between Fatah and Hamas that would wreck the national unity government and put Fatah in charge. The plan backfired when Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge there and the more pliant Fatah in control of the West Bank. Israel then tightened the screws on the blockade around Gaza, causing even greater hardship and suffering among the Palestinians living there.

Hamas responded by continuing to fire rockets and mortars into Israel, while emphasizing that they still sought a long-term ceasefire, perhaps lasting ten years or more. This was not a noble gesture on Hamas’s part: they sought a ceasefire because the balance of power heavily favored Israel. The Israelis had no interest in a ceasefire and merely intensified the economic pressure on Gaza. But in the late spring of 2008, pressure from Israelis living under the rocket attacks led the government to agree to a six-month ceasefire starting on June 19. That agreement, which formally ended on Dec. 19, immediately preceded the present war, which began on Dec. 27.

The official Israeli position blames Hamas for undermining the ceasefire. This view is widely accepted in the United States, but it is not true. Israeli leaders disliked the ceasefire from the start, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to begin preparing for the present war while the ceasefire was being negotiated in June 2008. Furthermore, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, reports that Jerusalem began to prepare the propaganda campaign to sell the present war months before the conflict began. For its part, Hamas drastically reduced the number of missile attacks during the first five months of the ceasefire. A total of two rockets were fired into Israel during September and October, none by Hamas.

How did Israel behave during this same period? It continued arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank, and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians—who had been “careful to maintain the ceasefire,” according to Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center—responded by resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the launching of the war on Dec. 27.

As the violence increased, Hamas made clear that it had no interest in extending the ceasefire beyond Dec. 19, which is hardly surprising, since it had not worked as intended. In mid-December, however, Hamas informed Israel that it was still willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire if it included an end to the arrests and assassinations as well as the lifting of the blockade. But the Israelis, having used the ceasefire to prepare for war against Hamas, rejected this overture. The bombing of Gaza commenced eight days after the failed ceasefire formally ended.

If Israel wanted to stop missile attacks from Gaza, it could have done so by arranging a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the national unity government to implement a meaningful ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless subjects of a Greater Israel.

This brutal policy is clearly reflected in Israel’s conduct of the Gaza War. Israel and its supporters claim that the IDF is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, in some cases taking risks that put Israeli soldiers in jeopardy. Hardly. One reason to doubt these claims is that Israel refuses to allow reporters into the war zone: it does not want the world to see what its soldiers and bombs are doing inside Gaza. At the same time, Israel has launched a massive propaganda campaign to put a positive spin on the horror stories that do emerge.

The best evidence, however, that Israel is deliberately seeking to punish the broader population in Gaza is the death and destruction the IDF has wrought on that small piece of real estate. Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 4,000. Over half of the casualties are civilians, and many are children. The IDF’s opening salvo on Dec. 27 took place as children were leaving school, and one of its primary targets that day was a large group of graduating police cadets, who hardly qualified as terrorists. In what Ehud Barak called “an all-out war against Hamas,” Israel has targeted a university, schools, mosques, homes, apartment buildings, government offices, and even ambulances. A senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, explained the logic behind Israel’s expansive target set: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.” In other words, everyone is a terrorist and everything is a legitimate target.

Israelis tend to be blunt, and they occasionally say what they are really doing. After the IDF killed 40 Palestinian civilians in a UN school on Jan. 6, Ha’aretz reported that “senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower.” One officer explained, “For us, being cautious means being aggressive. From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock.”

One might accept that Israel is waging “a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians,” as Ha’aretz put it in an editorial, but argue that it will eventually achieve its war aims and the rest of the world will quickly forget the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza.

This is wishful thinking. For starters, Israel is unlikely to stop the rocket fire for any appreciable period of time unless it agrees to open Gaza’s borders and stop arresting and killing Palestinians. Israelis talk about cutting off the supply of rockets and mortars into Gaza, but weapons will continue to come in via secret tunnels and ships that sneak through Israel’s naval blockade. It will also be impossible to police all of the goods sent into Gaza through legitimate channels.

Israel could try to conquer all of Gaza and lock the place down. That would probably stop the rocket attacks if Israel deployed a large enough force. But then the IDF would be bogged down in a costly occupation against a deeply hostile population. They would eventually have to leave, and the rocket fire would resume. And if Israel fails to stop the rocket fire and keep it stopped, as seems likely, its deterrent will be diminished, not strengthened.

More importantly, there is little reason to think that the Israelis can beat Hamas into submission and get the Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing them. Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems to lend credence to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

But even if the unexpected happens and the Palestinians cave, Israel would still lose because it will become an apartheid state. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently said, Israel will “face a South African-style struggle” if the Palestinians do not get a viable state of their own. “As soon as that happens,” he argued, “the state of Israel is finished.” Yet Olmert has done nothing to stop settlement expansion and create a viable Palestinian state, relying instead on the Iron Wall strategy to deal with the Palestinians.

There is also little chance that people around the world who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will soon forget the appalling punishment that Israel is meting out in Gaza. The destruction is just too obvious to miss, and too many people—especially in the Arab and Islamic world—care about the Palestinians’ fate. Moreover, discourse about this longstanding conflict has undergone a sea change in the West in recent years, and many of us who were once wholly sympathetic to Israel now see that the Israelis are the victimizers and the Palestinians are the victims. What is happening in Gaza will accelerate that changing picture of the conflict and long be seen as a dark stain on Israel’s reputation.

The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the battlefield, Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term future at risk. __________________________________________

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Pelican said...

What is exactly is anti-semitic and/or inaccurate about this?

"The irony of it all is the Jews who believe they are ‘chosen'...better than anyone else, and entitled by God to kill and steal homes and land...are shooting themselves in the foot. Madoff, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, all Jewish American companies and investors, lied to the American people about their true financial status, and have sunk us all..."

Based upon the evidence of Israeli's deliberate targeting of civilians in gaza, which is objectively indubitable, and Mearsheimer's article, this seems like it could be an accurate depiction of Zionist ideology as it manifest itself in Israeli statecraft.

Allen Johnson said...

Mr. Bailie,
Inasmuch as you messed me up by introducing me to the work of Rene Girard (actually, thank you!) in Violence Unveiled, let's look at sacred violence in terms of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Here's my take on sacred violence. Fundamentalist Islam cannnot stand up to Western postmodernist culture. Simply, bluejeans, coca cola, and Hollywood are overpowering. (as are women's emancipation in both benign and virulent forms, and economic, military, and political, influence). Scapegoating violence against the western powers serves to reconstitute Islamic culture, to purify it and strengthen it.

As a subset, Hamas is stuck in the ghetto of Gaza, under tight blockade, and treated as an international pariah. How can it possibly hold the respect and authority over the Gaza populace if it just lays down sheepishly before Israel's might? Disarm, submit to Israel's takeover of the West Bank, become a puppet of Israel, accept living in a Bantustan? Such castration would be the destruction of its culture, its identity. Fighting back with violence, bloodletting,is a desperate attempt to maintain Islamic culture and identity. Martyrdom, even the wholesale destruction of Gaza by Israeli military force, simply accentuate the horror of generative violence that just might stay the culture.

Ok, fundamentalist Judaism in both its secular zionist ethnic forms and its religious fanaticisms is also trying to maintain its identity. For centuries the pogroms and ghettos provided the bloody glue of identity. Now in much of the world, certainly the US and most of Europe, Jews can live freely and successfully. They intermarry outside their ethnicity and religion. They meld into secular society. Will Jews disappear not from a new Hitler but from simply enculturation and assimilation? Embattled Israel provides the violent, sacrificial context to maintain Jewish identity.

Both groups play the victim role to their specified audiences. The Palestinians to the Arab world, the Israelis especially to the US.

I realize there are nuances to the above. Sacred violence is by no means the all and all of the conflict.

One last note. Having been in the occupied territories several times for weeks on end, I have witnessed brutality and terrorism inflicted upon the Palestinian population by radical Jewish settlers. This is rampant. Any YouTube search will find hundreds of video clips. I know from first hand experience. The hypocrisy of the Gaza situation is that Israel justifies its military incursion into Gaza on the basis of protecting Israeli citizens in the Negev. Yet Israel does nothing to stop its own Israeli citizens who constantly terrorize Palestinians who are under its security authority. The terrorizing settlers are well-known to Israeli authorities, and their atrocities are well-documented, but again, rarely anything is done to stop the violence.

Ok, the last note. The occupation in and of itself is at the root of the problem. All the settlements are illegal under international law. All of them. The territories are operated under a system akin to apartheid. Different roads, water rights, building permissions, etc., always denied or inferior for Palestinians. However, these issues are ALWAYS sidestepped when making peace is brought up.

I am reminded of the settling of the west, and the cowboy-Indian movies I watched as a kid. The Indians were the villains. And as any historian knows, they indeed did perpetrate some horrific atrocities....but. But that is not the whole story, as we now know. Of course, the Indians were finally conquered, domiciled on reservations, and destroyed as cultures. (and few have become Christians).

Thank you for allowing me space.

Pelican said...

Allen Johnson's comment is well-balanced and accurate. Thank you, Miss Johnson for your courageous defense of victims. Hamas have done evil too, of course, but one cannot excuse, condone, and justify the evils of Israel!, especially Girardian Catholics who understand the scapegoating nature of violence! Israel is behaving, in both its actions and in its rationalization of its actions that others are imitating mindlessly, as a textbook scapegoater!

I am afraid that for all Mr. Bailie's genius in understanding violence, he has come under the spell of Israeli and U.S. propaganda when it comes to understanding the violence in the Middle East. He is imitating the accusers, but not the right ones! How can he think of Israelis as the only victims here when over 500 Palestinian children have been killed, and many deliberately, by Israel? Doesn't he realize that Israelis have been taught to hate the "other" as much as Muslims have? Modern Talmudic Judaism teaches the racial superiority of the Jew, and the less-than-human status of Gentiles. The evidence is out there--this is not gnostic.

To blame Hamas only, and only Hamas, for the violence, totally ignoring, or at least not being capable of seeing, due to ideological blindness, the Israeli culpability, especially its policy of murdering Palestinian children and other innocents, deliberately as the evidence now shows, is as unGirardian as one can get! THIS IS NOT "HAMAS PROPAGANDA" FOR GOD'S SAKE! The Church Herself as called Gaza a concentration camp, and this deplorable state of affairs is not due to Hamas!

Mr. Bailie, I fear that you threaten the integrity and effectiveness of your wonderful ministry by continuing to permit yourself to be compromised by ideology on this issue. I have learned much from you, and I feel obligated to give back by alerting you, as one Catholic to another, to what, by the grace of God, I have been alerted to.

It will not do to tar Miss Johnson and me as antisemites for alerting you to the existence of an extremely subtle yet effective anti-truth propaganda campaign. Such tarring would be proof of the poisonous propaganda in your own soul. Don't do it! Please see that you, by putting all the blame on Hamas when Israel has done graver evils, have been tricked into scapegoating, the precise evil of which you of all the people in the world right now understand with the most profundity. The devil has really scored a triumph here! Resist him by realizing the truth about Israel and Zionist Judaism!

I think you have been hoodwinked by this propaganda into scapegoating those who should not be scapegoated right now, and this is, of course, the ultimate hypocrisy, Mr. Bailie, even though I am confident that you are completely unaware of it.

The neocon Catholics will reward you for scapegoating, giving you money, venues, prestige, etc. But you of all people know that truth gets persecuted, not rewarded, by the established powers.

E. Michael Jones is no antisemite, and he has done the Church a service by reexpressing the traditional Church teaching on Judaism. I would begin here: The best commentator is Paul Craig Roberts. Also see Ted Pike's work, and websites such as "Information Clearing House" and "Moral Philosophy and Current Events." If these are too radical for you, then just take a look at the American Conservative, founded by the great Catholic Pat Buchanan. Here's an article by an Israeli from its issue about Gaza:

J a n u a r y 2 6 , 2 0 0 9 T h e A m e r i c a n C o n s e r v a t i v e 9
THE ONLY WAY to make sense of
Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is
through historical context. Establishing
the state of Israel in May 1948
involved a monumental injustice to the
Palestinians. British officials bitterly
resented American partisanship on
behalf of the infant state. On June 2,
1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to Foreign
Secretary Ernest Bevin that the
Americans were responsible for the
creation of a gangster state headed by
“an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.”
I used to think that this judgment
was too harsh, but Israel’s assault on
Gaza and the Bush administration’s
complicity have reopened the question.
I served loyally in the Israeli army in
the 1960s and have never questioned
the legitimacy of the state of Israel
within its pre-1967 borders. What I
reject is the Zionist colonial project
beyond the Green Line. The occupation
of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in
the aftermath of the 1967 War had little
to do with security and everything to
do with territorial expansionism. The
aim was to establish Greater Israel
through permanent political, economic,
and military control over the
Palestinian territories.
With a population of refugees
crammed into a tiny strip of land with
no infrastructure or natural resources,
Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Yet
this is not an instance of economic
underdevelopment but a uniquely cruel
case of deliberate de-development. To
use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned
the people of Gaza into hewers of wood
and the drawers of water—a source of
cheap labor and a captive market for
Israeli goods. Local industry was
actively impeded so as to make it
impossible for the Palestinians to end
their subordination and establish the
economic underpinnings essential for
In 2005, Jewish settlers numbered
only 8,000 compared with 1.4 million
local residents. Yet the settlers controlled
25 percent of the territory, 40
percent of the arable land, and the
lion’s share of scarce water resources.
Cheek by jowl with these foreign
intruders, the majority of the local population
lived in unimaginable misery.
Eighty percent still subsist on less than
$2 per day. Living conditions remain an
affront to civilized values, a powerful
precipitant to resistance, and a breeding
ground for extremism.
In August 2005, a Likud government
headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral
Israeli pullout, withdrawing settlers
and destroying the houses they
left behind. Sharon presented the withdrawal
as a contribution to peace
based on a two-state solution. But the
year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled
on the West Bank, further reducing
the scope for an independent Palestinian
state. Land-grabbing and peacemaking
are simply incompatible.
The real purpose behind the move
was to redraw the borders of Greater
Israel by incorporating the main settlement
blocs on the West Bank to the
state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza
was thus not a prelude to peace but to
further Zionist expansion on the West
Bank. It was a unilateral move undertaken
in what was seen as the Israeli
national interest.
Israel’s settlers were withdrawn,
but Israeli soldiers continued to control
all access to the Gaza Strip. The
Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted
freedom to drop bombs, make sonic
booms by flying low and breaking the
sound barrier, and terrorize the hapless
Israel portrays itself as an island of
democracy in a sea of authoritarianism.
Yet Israel has never done anything
to promote democracy on the Arab
side and has done a great deal to
undermine it. Israel has a long history
of secret collaboration with reactionary
Arab regimes to suppress
Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the
handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded
in building the only democracy
in the Arab world with the possible
exception of Lebanon. In January 2006,
free and fair elections brought to
power a Hamas-led government.
Israel, however, refused to recognize
the democratically elected government,
claiming that Hamas is purely a
terrorist organization.
America and the EU joined Israel in
demonizing the Hamas government
and trying to bring it down. A surreal
situation thus developed with a significant
part of the international community
imposing sanctions not against the
occupier but against the occupied.
Israel’s propaganda machine purveys
the notion that the Palestinians
are terrorists, that they reject coexistence
with the Jewish state, that their
nationalism is little more than anti-
Semitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of
religious fanatics. But the truth is that
the Palestinians are a normal people
with normal aspirations. They want a
piece of land on which to live in freedom
and dignity.
Captive Nation
How Gaza became a Palestinian prison
By Avi Shlaim

Pelican said...

The Passionate Attachment:

U.S. Support for Aggressive Zionism, the Real Problem in the Middle East

By Albert Doyle, LL.B., LL.M.

“So likewise a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. . . .

“Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and con- fidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”— Washington’s Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

04/03/06 "ICH" -- -- -- The Bush administration would have Americans believe that the problems in the Middle East are caused by Saddam Hussein, Muslim fundamentalism and mindless terrorism. Increasingly Bush & Co. see all foreign policy matters through the distorting lens of their own “war on terrorism” vision. In fact, a principal if not the main cause of conflict in the Middle East is another “ism,” namely Zionism and the blind support given it by the United States.

The latest confusions, reversals and failures of U.S. policy in the Middle East all trace back to long-standing U.S. support for Zionism. Increasingly, as Bush ties himself ever tighter to the policies of Ariel Sharon, it comes down to Israel and the United States against the world, the recent administration claims of a right of “preemptive attack” on Iraq being just the latest example. Americans must examine closely to what they are being tied and where we are going, morally as well as politically.

Zionism is essentially Jewish nationalism rooted in 19th century racist, colonialist thinking gilded over with a “religious” patina. The earliest Zionists saw security for persecuted Jews in a “return” to Palestine and those early leaders were clear if circumspect to the point of deceit about having to displace the Arab inhabitants of Palestine to secure their goals.1 Zionism became serious about a century ago as east European Jews emerged from their village religious culture, although many early Zionist leaders were not religious Jews. The early Zionist movement was vigorously opposed by more assimilated western European Jews as well as most Jewish religious leaders; it gained support, although still a minority, on the break up of the Ottoman Empire and really got off the ground with the World War I British Balfour Declaration which promised Zionists a homeland in Palestine in exchange for certain services to the British. Palestinian Arabs, Muslim and Christian, were at the time the large majority in Palestine and the famous declaration contained the cynical and impossible condition (now forgotten) that the Jewish homeland was not to be at the expense of the majority Arab population of Palestine. In fact, the Zionist state which came into being was precisely at the cost of that majority of Palestinian Arabs. Today we are expected to forget this but not surprisingly the victims have had trouble with the idea and still do. Ariel Sharon intends to bludgeon them into submission to virtual slave status, at best, and “ethnic cleansing” at worst. The question is whether America should support this. Few want to face this question, least of all our political leaders.

The actual Zionist state came into being when authorized by the United Nations at the end of World War II, fueled by western sympathy for European Jews persecuted by the Nazis and a deeper traditional Biblical-based belief in the “right” of a Jewish “return” to the Holy Land. The subsequent hallmark characteristics of that state have been the accelerating “ethnic cleansing” of the majority Arab population, open defiance of many United Nations criticisms of its abuses of Palestinians, occupation of territory beyond its internationally mandated borders by violence (Israel has never defined its own borders), the utter destruction of large numbers of Arab villages within Israel2 and the planting of its own citizens in occupied territory in violation of international law. These actions are justified by Zionist claims of aggression by the Arabs who indeed initially did resist the Zionist takeover. As in British-ruled Ireland of past centuries this resistance to occupation became “disloyalty,” or in this case “terrorism,” and serves to excuse further dispossession. The British of course no longer rule in Ireland which may be instructive about the longer term effectiveness of such policies.

Such acts would certainly justify the label of “rogue state” if pursued by any other country. Shockingly, they have been supported by successive U.S. administrations and Congresses blinded by “passionate attachment” to the Zionist state. What has caused this to come to pass? The current rhetoric about the “war on terrorism” certainly doesn‘t explain it. The passionate attachment long predated the current intifada and the suicide bombers. The intifada and suicide bombings have of course provided a handy excuse for posturing about “wars on terrorism” by Zionists and their supporters, while ignoring the real causes of conflict.

A serious if often hidden factor in this long-standing support of Zionist goals in Palestine is the strain of Biblical fundamentalist religious belief running deep in the American Protestant tradition, the dominant religious tradition in the United States. As just one example of many which could be given, we note Woodrow Wilson (the selfproclaimed “son of the manse” in this case) promising to deliver Palestine to Jewish Zionist leaders after World War I when Jews constituted a small minority in that country and as an exception to his “crusade for democracy” elsewhere. His position was based on his religious beliefs and he was not alone. Similar views were held by many U.S. politicians and are still held by many. These views also had an ugly negative side of serious bias against Muslims, Arabs and specifically Palestinians, who were widely perceived as inferior, backward people, obstacles to Jewish inspired progress in the Middle East. Ludicrous though it may seem today in the light of current events, many thought that the Palestinians would benefit by the Jewish domination in Palestine and the Zionists who had no such intentions allowed this view to continue.3

Certainly a major factor in the passionate attachment was also sympathy for the Jews because of their mistreatment by the Nazis, the well known and constantly promoted “Holocaust.” The Holocaust is still used to justify violations of Palestinian rights — even though the Arabs had no part in the Nazi mistreatment of the Jews. Jews, mostly from Eastern Europe initially, flooded into Palestine after World War II although at the time they were still a small minority in Palestine and owned little of the land.4 Alarmed Palestinian Arabs did not accept this invasion, protested and resisted (sometimes with violence) but obtained little sympathy from the victorious allies and they were overcome by the superior armed forces of the Zionists who also engaged in widespread terrorism, deliberately encouraged Arabs to flee, as modern revisionist Israeli historians now concede. Nevertheless, to this day the Zionist lies told at the time are often repeated; that the Arab states caused the exodus. Although this propaganda lie is now discredited in Israel,5 it is still often heard in the United States from Israel’s passionate defenders. Palestinian expellees in 1948 constituted 54% of the then Arab population of Palestine. Several years ago the U.N. estimated that there were 4.6 million displaced Arabs in camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and a total of 5.4 million “refugees.” All Palestinian Arabs are estimated to total 8.5 million, greatly outnumbering Israeli Jews (see Prior 1).

Many Palestinians were driven out of their homes, farms and businesses into refugee status and to this day are denied the right to return, against all rules of international law. Their properties were seized without compensation by a variety of means, ranging from crude to devious (e.g., from outright violent military expulsion to “legal” seizure of “abandoned property,” claims of state security needs, etc.) all of which come down to one unpleasant description — seizure or theft.6 When forced to explain this many Zionists fall back on comparison with past colonialist usurpations by others, for example the treatment of the American Indians. Modern humanitarian consensus, international agreements and treaties, painfully worked out by the nations of the world in the aftermath of bloody modern wars, are simply ignored — or it is boldly claimed that they don’t apply to Jews who see themselves as unique victims in world history and thus presumably entitled to oppress others. Some even claim divine authority for these acts and support of fundamentalist American Christians is important in this evil.

The Palestinian refugees, most of whom trace back their history in the land thousands of years, are denied the right of return to their homes, while any Jew, however remote his connection (if any) with Palestine, is entitled to enter Israel under the Laws of Return, usually with significant financial subsidies. This racist and illegal system is supported financially by the United States taxpayer who has given Israel financial and military hardware support now totaling about $100 billion, far more than any aid to any country, including the Marshall Plan aid to all of Europe after World War II. Americans so concerned about the financial health of the U.S. Social Security and Medicare systems ignore this huge outflow and it is seldom mentioned in the media.

All of this was accomplished under cover of a palisade of outright lies that continue to this day — that the refugees had left voluntarily, that the land was a desert before the Jews came, that there were few Palestinians, and other similar nonsense still widely supported by American Jews and many others.7 Some of the worst falsehoods are now recognized and discreetly ignored in Israel today but amazingly still appear routinely in the U.S. media and Zionist propaganda in America. “National security” lies are practiced from time to time in all countries but Israel surely leads the league in volume, crassness and external support! Many brazen examples can be given but some of the worst were the barefaced lies told by Abba Eban to the world and to his sympathetic American government contacts at the beginning of the 1967 war when he denied flatly that Israel had started the war, a fact now conceded by everyone, including most scholars in Israel. (The back-up lie is that it was all justified because of impending Arab attacks — another falsehood, itself now being slowly exposed in turn.)

The bottom line: the Zionist state was created at the cost of a huge historic and human injustice to the Palestinian Arabs, while western governments and the U.S. in particular averted their gaze. Political Zionism was not supported by most religious and secular Jews at the time of its development and this still holds true today among a minority of Jews worldwide who see Judaism as a religion not as a political movement.

The shocking fact is that all of this is known to many of the people in responsible places in our government. Nevertheless they try to avoid thinking about it and do not dare to mention any matter reflecting badly on Zionism because, in the case of the non-Jews in particular, they covet their positions and fear the consequences of incurring the wrath of the Zionist lobby. That lobby is very powerful in this country. It can and does unleash a highly effective intellectual and economic reign of terror against any public figure who dares speak out against Zionist injustices. Criticism of Israel is now routinely claimed by the Zionist lobby to be evidence of “anti-semitism” and no politician dares risk that accusation. The politically dead bodies of the few Congressmen and Senators who dared to question the Zionist steamroller litter the ground in Washington as a reminder.8 Every Washington politician knows this. And they also know there is no U.S. political downside for following the Zionist line. For this reason, with cause, Congress has been called “Israel occupied territory.” Billions in “aid” flow yearly without a murmur.

Seldom discussed but also very important, Christian Biblical fundamentalism is still a major factor in U.S. attitudes. Fundamentalist American Christians in the millions now constitute the blindest of Zionist true believers, outnumbering by far the Jewish Zionists in America. The seriousness of this is illustrated by a recent example: a prominent U.S. political leader, Congressman Dick Armey, apparently a Protestant fundamentalist, recently called openly for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Palestine and it passed virtually without comment in the U.S. media. Can you imagine what would have been the reaction if he called for the removal of the Jews from Palestine? The motive of these Christian Zionists is mainly a primitive, literalist interpretation of certain parts of the Old Testament which causes them to believe that God is on the side of the Zionists in the Holy Land no matter what they do. Many Protestant Christian fundamentalists also expect the conversion of a remnant of the Jews to Christianity as a prelude to the return of the Messiah and the end of the world, a belief quietly ignored by Zionists who take what they can get from whatever source.

Finally, the American public is traditionally and tragically ignorant about foreign countries in general and little interested in foreign events, as often noted by outsiders who visit our shores. This ignorance and lack of interest makes it easy to propagandize Americans about foreign affairs. The Bush administration has benefitted from this in that its inept foreign policy seldom comes under serious criticism and blind, jingoistic support for anything claimed to relate to “the war on terrorism” is now the order of the day. Zionists have exploited this crude ignorance, never more than now. Ignoring their own long-term abuses and world condemnation, they claim to be motivated in their recent brutalities only by the new Bushian “war on terrorism.” They have also recently become quite concerned to “reform” the Palestinian leadership, a hypocritical stance which impresses only the U.S. administration.

The result of this background of ignorance, religious fundamentalist dogma and lies is that successive U.S. administrations continue to support Israel with an almost hypnotic devotion — a startling modern example of George Washington’s warning about “passionate attachment” to foreign countries. No other nation benefits from this extreme emotionalism. Not even Britain. A gigantic transfer of wealth from the United States to Israel occurs with virtually no Congressional oversight. The result has been the creation of a powerful Zionist military machine in the Middle East which bullies its enemies and creates new enemies for the sponsor of that machine, the United States. The constant wailing of the Zionist lobby that Israel is in danger of being “driven into the sea” by militarily powerful surrounding nations is regarded as somewhat of a joke in Israel, but not here it seems. The reality is that it is the Palestinians who are in danger of being driven out of their country — into the sea so to speak! The current Arab intifada, created by desperation, with its suicide bombings provides a convenient cover for the Israelis and the Bush administration to avoid dealing with the cause of this conflict — aggressive Zionism — and to shift public attention to “terrorism” which after all is the result of the problem, not the cause.

Many United Nations Security Council Resolutions critical of Israeli actions over the years have been blocked by the United States veto or are opposed by the U.S. in the General Assembly in ludicrous votes of 120 or so to 2, 3 or 4 with the three of four being the U.S., Israel and sometimes one of our puppets like Micronesia or the Marshall Islands. We have become a world laughing stock for these votes but few Americans know or care. It is in the United Nations that the “passionate attachment” is most apparent but unnoticed by the American public. At home the huge annual “aid” passes silently. Recently in the United Nations things reached a ludicrous stage when the United States reversed the position on a peace-seeking resolution it had sponsored originally when the Israelis decided they didn’t like it. The U.S. also blocked a move to send U.N. peacekeepers to Palestine after the recent Jenin massacres, a move supported by virtually the entire world and one which would have saved many lives. The passionate attachment has a cost and it is the blood of innocent people, Arabs, Jews and others.

Our leaders often say that Israel must be supported because it is a democracy and an ally. We’ve heard a lot of that recently. Indeed Israel has many structures of a democracy: political parties, elections, a somewhat free press, etc., but on even cursory examination it is a democracy only for Jews. Legal and extralegal discrimination of various kinds against non-Jews is an accepted part of the system of that country, very much like the former South African regime.9 These include inability of non-Jews to own property, to move freely, and many others. Arabs inparticular are regularly subject to abusive, humiliating restrictions in their own land — not to mention the continued seizure of their property, deprivation of water, etc. These things are mostly ignored in our media, but when mentioned are excused on grounds that they are necessary for Israel’s security. In fact they trace back to fundamental Zionist policies long predating the Arab intifada, etc. The reality is that “Israel’s security” means that discriminatory rules are necessary to insure a xenophobic, racist state — a state in reality “for Jews only.” The security of the majority is not a factor. Can you imagine the outcry if Ireland or Poland excluded minority non-Catholics who were formerly a majority but had been dispossessed, from ownership of property on grounds that this was needed to ensure state security and religious or national purity! Nor need we compare the similar racial policies of National Socialist (Nazi) Germany, a comparison by the way often made by dissenting Jews in Israel. To the credit of Jews there is a vigorous dissent to Israel’s immoral policies within Israel — but not in the United States!

All this leads one to ask: so some people think there are special rules for Jews? The answer seems to be yes, and many Jews and some non-Jews see nothing wrong with this although they prefer that the issue not be discussed as it is morally rather difficult to defend — unless of course one is a fanatical Christian or Jewish Zionist. Those folks are embarrassingly rather open about it as we hear from various famous television preachers.

The “alliance” is a one-way street. Israel is of little practical value as an ally and provides almost nothing in return. It used to be loudly claimed that they were a bulwark against Soviet penetration of the Middle East. They never were, quite the opposite, but in any case that excuse faded with the end of Soviet communism. And the promotion of Israel as bulwark against aggression by Iraq or Iran won’t fly. As for the “war on terrorism,” they are a handicap. One of the restraints on Bush’s desired war on Iraq is fear of Israeli participation and its consequences. No use of bases in Israel is possible for obvious reasons and our blind support of Israel “right or wrong” causes many others increasingly to be wary of American “friendship.” In the real world Israel has repaid our support with spying efforts against us, transfers of forbidden military technology to the Chinese communists, a murderous assault on a U.S. Navy vessel, “Liberty” (falsely claimed to be an error — a claim which no American military expert supports — one more lie in a long train of lies) and other examples. Because of U.S. ineptitude in foreign intelligence matters we have even become dangerously reliant on Israel for many such information in the Middle East where their interests manifestly are not ours.

How did this ridiculous “passionate attachment” to an alien, racist, aggressive and habitually lying nation come about? The long-standing bias based on Biblical fundamentalist views and its anti-Arab, anti-Muslim counterpoint is a deep factor.

As mentioned, a major factor is also “Holocaust” propaganda. Americans have been inundated with propaganda about this historic event for many years, mostly post-1967. Much of it is exaggerated if not outright false.10 Sixty years after the events we are flooded with “commemorations,” government supported “museums” (actually propaganda vehicles) and other daily reminders of the supposedly unique victimhood of Jews. None of this is spontaneous from the American people. It is a skillful and devious manipulation of public consciousness by people with an agenda, that is the continued support of the Zionist state of Israel, come hell or high water!

The Holocaust has become for Jews and some others a quasi-religious dogma.11 As such it simply cannot be questioned even when false stories about it are revealed and faux-religious belief in it is used to stifle criticism of Israel. In many European countries it is a criminal offense to question any aspect of the Holocaust stories, no matter how far-fetched or untrue. Few Americans are aware of this offense against freedom of speech because the subject is studiously avoided by the U.S. media. These laws are no joke. Many have been jailed or fined under them and some Zionist supporters have called for such laws here. The Holocaust is indeed a potent weapon in the hands of Zionists.

When President Harry Truman gave the green light for Zionists to take over Palestine at the expense of its thenconstituted majority, the Palestinian Arabs (the current Bush green light to the evil Sharon shows how little things have changed), his most knowledgeable and objective advisors warned that it would lead to unending conflict in the area and would be to the long-term disadvantage of U.S. interests. In fact, this has come about. Truman candidly admitted that his decision was based on pedestrian domestic political considerations involving the support of U.S. Jews in elections and his personal religious beliefs. Is it possible to redeem this error and put the U.S. back on a course of supporting justice rather than money or power? The answer is of course, yes, but it is unlikely that those presently in power have the wisdom and courage to do so. However, there are signs that many Americans are waking up to the evil of our “passionate attachment” for Zionism. It can only be hoped that their voices will be heard. The wisdom of George Washington must prevail in this for the good of Jews, Arabs and Americans.

* * * * * *

If a reader feels that this article paints too negative a picture of Zionism and Israel as a brutal, devious and unjust group I can only plead that it is the conclusion I have reached only after long and thoughtful study and analysis. I didn’t always have these views. I once followed the herd and didn’t look too hard for the truth and justice in the Palestine disputes. I do not deal here with the undoubted evil and tragedy of the Palestine suicide bombings, etc. These are certainly adequately covered in the daily media in the U.S., although the things mentioned above are certainly not so covered. Consider this an attempt to restore some balance.

Notes, Doyle

1. Michael Prior, Zionism and the State of Israel (London & New York: Routledge, 1999), particularly comments on The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzel, ed. Raphael Patai (New York: Herzl Press, 1960). Prior’s book is one of the best studies of the subjects dealt with here including biblical analysis of Zionist claims.

2. Rashid Khalidi, Palestine Reborn (London & New York: Taurus, 1992). Khalidi estimates the utter destruction and plowing under of over 400 villages. Israeli sources reluctantly now admit this after concealing it for years. See also Khalidi, All that Remains: The Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 (Washington: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992).

3. Lawrence Davidson, America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood (University of Florida Press, 2001).

4. Rashid Khalidi, op. cit. In 1939 Jews were 30% of the population of Palestine but held 5.7% of the land. In 1948 Arabs still far out-numbered Jews and still held a large majority of the land. This changed rapidly.

5. Benny Morris, “Falsifying the Record: A Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948,” Journal of Palestine Studies, 24:44–62.

6. Prior, op. cit. 30. Today 92% of the State of Israel is totally closed “legally” to non-Jews.

7. Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (New York: Harper and Row, 1984). Peters’ book, long exposed as fraudulent (see Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestini Conflict [London & New York: Verso, 1995]) is still cited by American Zionist apologist.

8. Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out; People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby (Lawrence Hill & Co., 1985). The recent defeat of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia is just the latest example of many.

9. Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (London & Chicago: Pluto Press, 1984). See also Edward W. Said et al., “A Profile of the Palestinian People” in Blaming the Victims, ed. by Said and Christopher Hitchens (London & New York: Verso, 1988).

10. Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry (London & New York: Verso, 2000): “Articulating the key Holocaust dogmas, much of the literature on Hitler’s Final Solution is worthless as scholarship. Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud.”

11. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1999).

MR. DOYLE, a lawyer from New York, now resides in Florida. He is married and has five children. Most of his work was as General Tax Attorney in the international area which led him to visit many countries.

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