Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israel, America's tragic looking glass: some notes

John Ging is an ex-Army officer who worked in Rwanda during the genocide and was in the Balkans when ethnic cleansing took place. As one of the UN’s main men on the ground in Gaza, he says the current Palestinian situation is the worst he has ever encountered... Irish Times (hat to P. Weiss)
David Seaton's News Links
As the waters of this unspeakably criminal tsunami momentarily recede and we can briefly assess the damage, push aside some smoking rubble, count the victims and simmer in our impotent rage, I'd like to share with you some of the material I have collected during these few days during which we have had our noses rubbed in so much, and such indigestible, horror.

When I began to work with the Internet in the mid 90s, I soon discovered the beauties of the collage of illustrative quotes from authoritative voices, complete with links.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were, I even made a modest little business out of sending these collages to corporate clients with my comments attached and the buzz the comments produced led to my writing a weekly column in a major Spanish newspaper. I guess I'm another one of those little Internet stories.

So instead of pontificating about the horror of Middle East, today I'll take a step back, revert to default mode and do a collage with minimalist comments of mine own attached.

Except for China Matters and the clipping from the Irish Times, which I found on Philip Weiss's invaluable blog, all the commentators quoted are Jewish. For one of the most heartening developments in all this retched horror is the reaction of so many Jewish people in Israel, America and around the world, whose principals are principals no matter whose tribe is involved.
It was always clear that Israel was going to take advantage of the post-Bush/pre-anybody interregnum to attack one of its enemies. Remember when the possibility of an attack on Iran or Lebanon 2.0 were being chewed over? It turned out badly for the people of Gaza, but Iran & Syria are probably noting that all Israel could do in the end was beat up the little guy on its doorstep. China Matters

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Avi Shlaim - Guardian
It is important that Jewish people are at the cutting edge of world outrage because Israel's still being admitted into civilized company after what has been perpetrated in Gaza is enough to fuel a hundred and one conspiracy theories no matter how far fetched and outre they might be.

Apartheid South Africa was never cut so much slack... Serbia was bombed into submission and Milosevic brought to trial, but it is hard to imagine that any Israeli will ever have to stand trial in The Hague, for what the entire world has witnessed.

But as Abba Eban was fond of saying about the Palestinians, the Israelis never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. As Immanuel Wallerstein points out:
Had Israel been serious about a two-state solution based on the so-called Green Line - the line of division at the end of the 1948-1949 war - it probably would have achieved a settlement.

Israel however was always one step behind. When it could have negotiated with Nasser, it wouldn't. When it could have negotiated with Arafat, it wouldn't. When Arafat died and was succeeded by the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas, the more militant Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Israel refused to talk to Hamas.

Time has finally run out on the "two state solution" and what might have been, will never now be. Israel has painted itself and the USA into a corner, from which it seems almost impossible for America to escape.

In my opinion only the reaction of America's Jewish community can save us from this nauseating Albatross without a tragic fracturing of our political culture.

Sadly, you see, Israelis see their Jewish state as a bone in the throat of Palestinians, not just historically, but still. They feel themselves, increasingly, in a desperate “existential” fight where no holds are barred now, because no holds will be barred later. Show weakness about what is yours, and you are a baby-step away from Bosnia. Which is, of course, what Serbians thought, and how "Bosnia" began. Bernard Avishai (hat to P. Weiss)

Throughout the Arab world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan Nasrallah: The leaders of Egypt are accomplices to the crime, they are collaborating with the “Zionist enemy” in trying to break the Palestinian people. It can be assumed that he did not mean only Mubarak, but also all the other leaders, from the king of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian President. Seeing the demonstrations throughout the Arab world and listening to the slogans, one gets the impression that their leaders seem to many Arabs pathetic at best, and miserable collaborators at worst.

This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage. In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

This war is a writing on the wall: Israel is missing the historic chance of making peace with secular Arab nationalism. Tomorrow, It may be faced with a uniformly fundamentalist Arab world, Hamas multiplied by a thousand. Uri Avnery

If Israel's goose isn't yet cooked, it is certainly ready to be tested with a fork. Here is how Professor Immanuel Wallerstein analyzes the resulting juices in an article entitled, "Chronicle of a Suicide Foretold: The Case of Israel".

Now, Israel has invaded Gaza, seeking to destroy Hamas. If it succeeds, what organization will come next? If, as is more probable, it fails to destroy Hamas, is a two-state solution now possible? Both Palestinian and world public opinion is moving towards the one-state solution. And this is of course the end of the Zionist project.

The three-element strategy of Israel is decomposing. The iron fist no longer succeeds, much as it didn't for George Bush in Iraq. Will the United States link remain firm? I doubt it. And will world public opinion continue to look sympathetically on Israel? It seems not. Can Israel now switch to an alternative strategy, of negotiating with the militant representatives of the Arab Palestinians, as an integral constituent of the Middle East, and not as an outpost of Europe? It seems quite late for that, quite possibly too late. Hence, the chronicle of a suicide foretold. Immanuel Wallerstein

The United States is well caught between a horrid rock and a tragic hard place. If America's most valued allies in the Middle East, the tushy licking Arab "moderate" regimes collapse and are replaced by Islamic republics, which is where Israel's hysterical barbarity is inevitably taking them, this will have a massively detrimental effect on America's standing in the world and might even collapse the dollar; however, if any US government attempts to pressure Israel meaningfully, then AIPAC and all it represents will surely pull out all the stops and use any tool that comes to their hands to destabilize that government... in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression.

That is the dilemma that President Obama will be facing by tomorrow evening. DS


Anonymous said...

"...Israel's still being admitted into civilized company after what has been perpetrated in Gaza" is what I find so unfathomable.

Naively, after the horrors in Lebanon in 2006 I assumed scales would fall from eyes and Israel would finally begin to face the sort of pressure the apartheid-era SA regime did.

I know better now and fully expect collective amnesia about the massacre of the Gazans to begin a few days ago.

We may all deserve catastrophic climate change. It certainly won't make things any worse for the Palestinians.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Nice. The craft of artful juxtaposition.

However, comma:"...whose principals are principals no matter whose tribe is involved."

Ermmmm. Inveterate, indefatigable grammar nazi here, with an

Edit: (how about?)

whose principles are principles no matter the principals ("whose tribe") is involved....


principals = concrete: people (duels, school), money, order...

principles = abstract: ideas, faiths, etc...

Jis' cain't hep m'seff...

Great blog...i'm adding you to my list.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seaton,

The situation is Gaza is obvious horrible and I hope and pray that the solution of these issues becomes one of the top priorities for the new American administration. That being said, to begin your post with a quote that Gaza is worse than Rwanda during the genocide of 1994 removes all credibility from your post. The 1994 genocide took the lives of at least 500,000, and most likely 800,000 to 1 million souls. Rwanda was a months long process of indiscriminate slaughter against an entirely civilian population. Are you suggesting by your quote that, as tragic as the 1000+ lives lost in Gaza is, that this is WORSE than the Rwanda genocide? Hamas regularly places their military machinery in civilian populated areas, this is not a disputed fact. Israel's operation was against Hamas and had a tragic civilian toll. All of these realities are worth huge amounts of conversation -- but again -- to begin your post with such a statement? Such a comparison? How is this rational or reasonable in any way?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Ging served in all those places and that is his opinion. It is perfectly possible to cause more damage in proportion to the size of the population and the use of weapons such as white phosphorus.

Surely that such a serious person of great experience as Ging should compare the Tsahal with a mob of machete wielding savages should give you some pause.

This time Israel has gone beyond what any of your "hasbara" can fix.