Saturday, June 12, 2010

Isreal Has a Way of Giving Me Some Temporary Conservative Allies

It is always an interesting experience when Israel does something horrific to Palestinians.

My usual imagined political allies in the American landscape ends up being on the opposite side of this issue. I follow liberal-Democratic American politics, the way someone enthusiastically supports a powerful sports team as opposed to an underdog, because they secretly fear that their side will never win. So I'm not someone who disengages from those things, or who only wants to be involved in an issue if its sufficiently radical enough or subversive enough. This side of the American political discourse is interesting to feel a part of, to watch, observe and engage in, but whenever something happens over Israel, I am reminded that it is not truly my home. That while I may cheer for that side in the finals, my heart is always actually with some smaller team, which less people support or understand how anyone could support. It was truly fascinating to watch, after months of the Israeli government basically telling the US, to "go screw themselves" that politicians on both the Democratic and Republic side of the isle in Washington were still finding ways to bend over backwards in order to defend Israel and give it the right to act with impunity.

Israel commits some horrible humanitarian crime, lays bare again the fangs of its colonization and oppression of the people in the occupied territories, and I have to endure a wave of posts, emails, articles which all talk about how Israel is being treated unfairly and how everyone just uses these sorts of incidents to attack them again. Everytime there are critiques against Israel because of the sort of everyday, banal evil of its policies (the way it has normalized and justified its continual displacement and oppression of millions of people), we hear the usual line from politicians, that Israel and the United States have a "special relationship."

While Palestinians are dying or starving, all I hear are defenses that imbue into the Israeli people a curious message of being a special type of people, who should be allowed to act in such ways because they are a white race surrounded by enemies (like Samson in the Bible), because they are the only real chance for democracy in the Middle East, or because their nation and its iron will was created out of the horrors committed against them in World War II. Part of the Israeli-Palestine issue is that we can see the relationship between race and trauma. Trauma, as an ethical thing, is something which is delegated for First World and white subjects alone. It is something which, when they feel, we are supposed to recognize it and understand its depths. So while Palestinians die and starve, we are supposed to identify with the trauma that Israelis experience by being surrounded by all those enemies and not feeling they can trust the world since it doesn't understand their pain.

It is times like this that of course I turn to more reliable political allies, voices which are not so immersed or invested in that stupid and special relationship or the exceptional nature of Israeli identity and defense, that they are willing to excuse Israeli's current actions. I go to websites or look for the articles of those who I know won't make any excuses for Israeli. Interestingly enough this usually means that, on a temporary basis, some very conservative thinkers or pundits, end up being on my side of the issue for once. Such was the case this week, when I found so many Democrats and liberals make pathetic excuses for Israel, playing things objectively in the middle by saying that, there was violence on both sides, and that an independent inquiry was needed in order to determine what happened. That is the refuge for an otherwise critical person who knows in their heart that Israel is absolutely in the wrong and out of control, but can't bring themselves to admit it.

I've pasted two such articles below, one from the always insightful neo-conservative Justin Raimondo, and the other, from the eternally annoying angry old white dude Pat Buchanan. Both of them were found on the website Antiwar.com. If you like me cherish critical commentary or coverage of war and violence, without so much of the nationalism or imperial spin, then Antiwar.com is a site I highly recommend.

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Our Enemies, The Israelis
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com
6/7/10

One of my readers, in the comments section below, wrote the following in response to my last column on Israel’s hijacking of the Gaza flotilla:

“Again I ask the question: What do the Israelis have on our politicians that makes them such whores? Dirty pictures? Threats of withholding campaign contributions? It’s really embarrassing as well as infuriating to see congress with its collective pants down around their legislative ankles just waiting for Israel to do it again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that …

Well, actually, there is a lot wrong with that, but, in any case, what’s the answer to this question? Again and again Israel has outraged the world, and even many of its most dedicated supporters, by its actions: multiple invasions of Lebanon, “incursions” into Gaza and the West Bank, the ever-expanding settlements, the vicious racism and tribalism that characterizes the present ultra-rightist government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which includes the openly racist and fascist party of the thuggish Avigdor Lieberman – the list of Israel’s sins is a long one, and that’s going back but a few years.

Even when the Israelis blew up a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, a military reconnaissance vessel that was monitoring Israeli troops movements prior to the Six Day War, Washington went along – in public – with Tel Aviv’s fairy tale claiming it was an “accident.” This disgrace is repeated, today, as the beaten and battered Americans who lived to tell the tale of what happened aboard the flotilla return to bear witness to Israeli brutality. An American citizen is killed, and Washington looks the other way. The ghost of Rachel Corrie is not surprised. Nor am I. Because the Israelis, after all, are our enemies.

Forget the fact that without aid from the US the Israeli settler colony would sink like a stone. Ignore the ritualistic paeans to the “special relationship,” regularly mouthed by politicians in both countries who know their lines by heart. And pay no attention to the propaganda that regularly depicts US-Israeli relations as a mutual admiration society founded on “shared values” and the love of liberal democracy.

Established in the wake of the Holocaust, and created by survivors of that horrific orgy of mass murder, the basis of Israel’s founding was and is the idea that Jews are not safe in this world. Not anywhere: no, not even in the United States. The premise behind this view is that everyone is a potential enemy, to be kept at arm’s length, at best, and to be crushed underfoot, at worst.

The lawlessness and brutality that we saw in the attack on the flotilla is inherent in the nature of Zionism, which, after all, came to birth at a time when the world was rife with nationalism of the most virulent sort. Liberal friends of Israel look on in horror as the Jewish state evolves into a combination of South Africa under apartheid and the new North Korea. Yet ideology has its own inexorable logic: it’s hardly an anomaly that the early followers of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leading figure in what is today the ruling party in Israel, were attracted to and full of praise for the “blood and iron” doctrine of Mussolini – and the feeling was mutual. Not for nothing did Il Duce allow Jabotinsky’s “revisionist” faction to set up a training camp in Italy for its naval fighters in the Irgun, the forerunner of today’s IDF.

We’re shocked when survivors of the flotilla attack testify to what happened, and the autopsy reports are coming in: one shot four times in the head, others shot and killed at very close range, execution-style. Yet Israel has shown what it is capable of many times: the hijacking of the Gaza flotilla was just the most recent occurrence in a string of incidents stretching back years: the kidnapping of Mordecai Vanunu, the assassination squads that roam the world in search of Israel’s enemies, the bombing of Western diplomatic and cultural facilities in Egypt to make it look as though the Arabs were responsible (the Lavon incident), not to mention the long history of Israeli aggression against its neighbors and its indigenous Arab population.

These are not the actions of a Western liberal democracy, but of a frenetic and fanatic regime that resembles nothing so much as the legendary Order of Assassins, the 12th century adherents of the Nizari Ismaili Shiite sect whose leaders sent out their murderous minions to dispose of enemies with such deadly effectiveness that their name became synonymous with violent death. Netanyahu is the modern day Old Man of the Mountain.

This role increasingly puts the Israelis at odds with their chief benefactors, the US government, and the political elites of Western Europe. While generally kept under wraps, this mutual antipathy has been on the increase, lately, as the Israelis drop their “Western” mask. The result has been a series of confrontations: the Israeli insistence on building new settlements in defiance of an American-sponsored peace plan, the ambushing of an American Vice President as he visited the Jewish state, the very real hatred for President Obama exhibited by the growing far-right in Israeli politics, and a series of high-profile attempts to penetrate America’s security firewall. To say nothing of the Israeli “art students” who flooded the US in the months prior to 9/11, and the post-9/11 revelation by Fox News – hardly the American al-Jazeera – that, as Carl Cameron put it:

“Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’”

If the Israelis are capable of this – standing pat while information they held could have prevented the worst terrorist attack in American history – then they’re capable of anything. And the US government knows it, which is one good reason why we don’t dare cross them, at least openly, unless it can’t be avoided. They can kill Americans, steal our biggest secrets, and laugh in our faces without fear of retaliation – because we’ve nurtured a Frankenstein monster that is perfectly capable of turning on its creator, and doing considerable damage in the process.

Another good reason why we literally let them get away with murder is their political power in this country: the soft underbelly of America’s defenses against foreign incursions is the ability of foreign-backed lobbyists to undermine – and shape – US policy. A long and dedicated state-sponsored campaign to embed their agents of influence at the center of American political and social life has paid off quite handsomely. On the left as well as the right, their partisans tirelessly promote the Israeli government line – and don’t hesitate to rebuke their own political leaders whenever they show signs of straying from the narrow path of righteousness.

And who can blame them? After all, their physical existence, as well as their political independence as a nation-state, depends wholly on the lifeline of American subsidies (a little detail fake “libertarian” Rand Paul seems to have left out of his statement on Israel.)

The martial spirit that infuses Israel’s myrmidons with such passion is born of a sense of embattled isolation pulsing at the heart of the Zionist project. Surrounded by enemies, perpetually in “existential” danger, the Jewish state exists simultaneously as a consummate bully and a helpless victim: thus the odd argument coming out of Tel Aviv that their commandos were brutalized by those nasty, stick-wielding Turkish “terrorists,” who had the temerity to fight back. The Israelis released a video, which dominated the Western media coverage, of those awful Turkish “terrorists” beating commandos, omitting what happened in the moments before – live fire coming from helicopters – and after (nine execution-style deaths, and many injuries.)

To the hard line Israeli nationalist – a disagreeable species firmly in control of the government in Tel Aviv, now and for the foreseeable future – everyone is an enemy, but especially the Americans, who, to be sure, hold the fate of the Jewish state in their unreliable hands. What if, some day, we elect a President with some balls, one unafraid of the Lobby and willing to stand up for America? What if we elect a Congress that isn’t nearly as eager as this one is to kowtow to AIPAC and apologize for Israeli state terrorism? What if, one day, the aid spigot is turned off?

Israel’s national paranoia is not limited to the Israelis, per se, but also afflicts their American amen corner to such an extent that every criticism of Israel is portrayed as an anti-Semitic plot. For example, the above-cited Fox News story is never disputed, or even quoted: it is simply dismissed as vile “anti-Semitism.” Is Carl Cameron – a Fox News reporter once considered friendly to the Bush White House – an anti-Semite? Is Fox News “anti-Israel”? And what about the rest of Cameron’s fascinating and detailed four-part report, which not only avers the Israelis were watching and aware of the 9/11 hijackers, but also exposes an extensive spy operation and systematic industrial espionage in the US?

Disguised as ill feelings toward Barack Obama, the rabid anti-Americanism on the rise in Israel may seem bizarre, on the surface: why hate your best friend? Yet this development is perfectly understandable. How would you like it if your “best friend” supported you, protected you, succored you, and gave you everything you needed and wanted, so that eventually you were lost in his all-encompassing embrace? At some point, if you had any kind of character, you’d come to resent it – and even hate it, whilst hating yourself for allowing it.

The “special relationship” is a poisonous and deeply dysfunctional relationship, which benefits one party at the growing expense of the other. Sooner or later it will end, but how? With an open break, perhaps even a violent conflict – remember how Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen refused to rule out shooting down an Israeli jet crossing Iraqi airspace en route to Iran? Or, more probably, with a covert Israeli action of some sinister sort? In any event, you can be sure that Washington greatly fears the answer to that question.

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Lift the Siege of Gaza
Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com
June 04, 2010

In June 1948, our wartime ally imposed a blockade on Berlin, cutting off and condemning to death or Stalinist domination 2 million Germans, most of whom, not long before, had cheered Adolf Hitler.

Harry Truman responded with the Berlin airlift, in perhaps the most magnanimous act of the Cold War.

For nine months, U.S. pilots flew into Tempelhof, carrying everything from candy to coal, saving a city and earning the eternal gratitude of the people of Berlin, and admiration everywhere that moral courage is admired.

That was an America that lived its values.

And today, President Obama should end his and his country’s shameful silence over the inhumane blockade of Gaza that is denying 1.5 million beleaguered people the basic necessities of a decent life.

Time to start acting like America again.

That bloody debacle in the Eastern Mediterranean last Sunday was an inevitable result of Israel doing what it always seems to do: going beyond what is essential to her security, to impose collective punishment upon any and all it regards as hostile to Israel.

Israel claims, and film confirms, that its commandos rappelling down onto the Turkish ship were attacked with sticks and metal rods. One was tossed off a deck, another tossed overboard into a lifeboat.

But that 2 a.m. boarding of an unarmed ship with an unarmed crew, carrying no munitions or weapons, 65 miles at sea, was an act of piracy. What the Israeli commandos got is what any armed hijacker should expect who tries to steal a car from a driver who keeps a tire iron under the front seat.

And the response of these highly trained naval commandos to the resistance they encountered? They shot and killed nine passengers, and wounded many more.

But we have a blockade of Gaza, say the Israelis, and this flotilla was a provocation. Indeed, it was. And Selma was a provocation. The marchers at Edmund Pettus Bridge were disobeying orders of the governor of Alabama and state police not to march.

Yet, today, liberal Democrats who regard Martin Luther King as a moral hero for championing nonviolent civil disobedience to protest injustice are cheering not the unarmed passengers trying to break the Gaza blockade, but the Israelis enforcing the blockade.

Where were these fellows when "Bull" Connor really needed them?

Comes the retort: Israel is a friend and ally, and we stand with our friends.

But is not Turkey a friend and ally of 50 years, whose soldiers died alongside ours in Korea and who accepted Jupiter missiles targeted on Russia, even before the Cuban missile crisis? Was it not Turkey whose citizens were wounded and killed in the bloody debacle?

Why are we not at least even-handed between our friends?

On the trip to Israel where he was blindsided by news that Israel would build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, Joe Biden told Shimon Peres, "There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security."

And that is the problem.

America is a superpower with interests in an Arab world of 300 million and an Islamic world of 1.5 billion — interests Israel treats with indifference if not contempt when it comes to doing what she regards as necessary for her security.

While Israel had a right to build a wall to protect her people from terror attack, did she have a right to build it on Palestinian land?

While Israel had a right to go after Hezbollah when her soldiers were shot on the border and several kidnapped, did Israel have a right to conduct a five-week bombing campaign that smashed Lebanon, killing hundreds of civilians and creating upward of a million refugees?

While Israel had a right to go into Gaza to stop the firing of crude rockets on Sderot, did she have a right to smash utilities and public buildings and kill 1,400 people, most of them civilians?

Is whatever Israel decides to do in the name of her security fine with us, because there is "absolutely no space" between our interests and hers, our values and Israel’s values?

Even with Winston Churchill’s Britain, there was "space" between us on strategic goals and national policies.

Israel has a right to secure Gaza to deny Hamas access to weapons, especially rockets that could reach Israel. But that does not justify denying 1.5 million people what they need to live in decency.

According to The Washington Post, "80 percent of the population (of Gaza) depends on charity. Hospitals, schools, electricity systems and sewage treatment facilities are all in deep disrepair."

With our silence, we support this. And we wonder why they hate us.

Obama should tell the Israelis that Joe got it wrong. There is space between us. The Gaza siege must end. And America will herself be sending aid, but will also support Israel’s right to inspect trucks and ships to see to it no weapons get through to Gaza.

Let’s start behaving like who we once were.

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1 comment:

sdas said...

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person. ....................................................

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