Belaboring the Obvious

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maybe a bit difficult to reconcile...

... given the current state of affairs between Israel and the U.S., but, shit, guys, give us a break here.

Let's just lay out some facts, just to keep things from getting far off-kilter.

First, Israel is the fourth or fifth largest nuclear power in the world. If we have any worries about a nuclear Middle East, it's because of Israel, not Iran.

The reason why Israel so desperately wants U.S. help in bombing Iran is because Israel doesn't want to be seen as an aggressor in the matter, and hopes that the U.S. won't be accused of aggression because it's reputedly defending the NNPT (or, simply doesn't care if the flak is directed at the U.S.

This is rank bullshit, first, because Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons, isn't a member of the NPT, won't admit to inspections and, most importantly, wants to maintain--at all costs--its nuclear hegemony in the region.

The U.S. knows this. The Israelis know this. The rest of the Middle East, including Iran, knows this.

Iran is a particular problem for Israel, because it supports, either through small arms or money, the two groups most determined to prevent Israel from achieving its "Greater Israel" program, which is to expand Israel's borders far beyond its 1948, or, even, its 1967 borders. If one looks at Israel's actions related to war, it's all about fulfilling David Ben-Gurion's pre-1948 mandate--that Israel's borders must be "natural." By that, Ben-Gurion meant north to the Litani River, east to the Jordan River, west to the Mediterranean, and as far south into the Sinai along the Red Sea as would be possible.

Every military action of Israel since 1948 can be seen as furthering that mandate. Jimmy Carter's peace agreement between Israel and Egypt interfered with that edict, but, it didn't stop the Israel government occupying southern Lebanon all the way up to the Litani, did it?

This mandate is now known as the "Greater Israel" project, and the governments of Israel have continued to use military force to achieve that end.

Under ordinary conditions, it would make no U.S. foreign policy difference that Israel did these things, lied about their intentions, and went on behaving exactly like the very enemy that decimated their numbers in Europe in WWII. But, these are not ordinary conditions. For more than forty years, Israel's successive governments have been lying about their intentions, have carried out a systematic program of ethnic cleansing over the last sixty or more years, and have used both its military and its status with U.S. politicians to do whatever the hell it liked, regardless of how badly it has behaved toward Palestinians.

The truth is that most of the so-called pro-Israel groups--with extraordinary lobbying power in Congress--are not American groups. They're, more specifically, lobbyists for a foreign power, i.e., Israel. Even more specifically, these groups are the interface between the right wing in Israel and the right wing in this country. Most of these groups maintain political positions that don't reflect the views of most Jews in this country. A poll done years ago by The Forward pretty much nailed down the facts--2.2% of voters in this country are Jewish. Of those, fully 70% are liberal, ostensibly Democrats, or small-d democrats in general, while only 0.7% of respondents are right-wing Israel-first-and-always fanatics.

So, it's not a stretch to say that our foreign policy with regard to the Middle East is dominated by a very vocal 0.7% of the entire electorate of the United States. What's wrong with this picture? Well, maybe nothing, except that 0.7% represents an extreme minority of the country, and there's absolutely no good reason why that tiniest part of the electorate should determine how Congress votes, and what our foreign policy should be.

Every time one tries to make sense of this, the slightest suggestion that the government of Israel might be massively fucked up and is imitating its worst enemies in order to achieve its arbitrary ends invites a torrent of abuse in the form of complaints about anti-Semitism, and that if one doesn't reflexively defend Israel, no matter how badly the country behaves, one is for Hitler and against freedom.

Horseshit. Ever since the 1967 war, Israel's governments and its military have been pursuing the same aims with Arabs as the Germans did with Jews in Europe in the years encompassing WWII. Sorry, guys, but, you've been behaving like a bunch of right-wing, fascist assholes.

Never again? Hell, you've been repeating history since 1946. The only difference is that you're the oppressors, not the Germans, and the Arabs under your administration are treated just like the Jews were in Berlin, Romania, France, Poland and throughout Europe and Eastern Europe.

What's worse than that? You don't care what the international community thinks. You don't respect international law. You don't give a shit. How is that different from Hitler's Germany? No difference at all. Hitler said he was defending Germany. You say you're defending Israel. Neither of you have one whit of respect for the rule of law.

Yes, a lot of this is the fault of the United States. We gave you too much money, money which you used to further the arms trade and your own military. And we keep on giving you money and arms, even when you behave very, very badly. Some of that is the result of the lobbying groups you maintain to influence Congress, and some of it is the result of Jewish Senators and Congressmen and women who cannot admit--because of the Holocaust--that you're now controlled by a bunch of right-wing assholes who will not give up until "Greater Israel" is a reality, even if making that goal a reality destroys your national character, your people's ambitions, your lives and your livelihoods.

That's what this missive is about--your destruction. No matter how much you fuck with our Congress, no matter how much money you devote to our electoral process, you will fail, and you will destroy yourselves in the process. You were off on the wrong foot in 1947, and you're still on the wrong foot. Nationally, you no longer represent the Zionism that Albert Einstein envisioned in 1920. You're no longer representative of the pensive, contemplative, complicated Jews that tried to explain the complexities of life and human affairs to those of us in this country that never endured similar suffering and ostracism, and learned from such grand and great human beings as Isaac Bashevis Singer, or Sholem Aleichem. Or E.L. Doctorow, or Allen Ginsburg, or Eugene Ionesco, Joseph Heller, Franz Kafka, Clifford Odets, Grace Paley, Nathanael West, or Morris Rosenfeld, the best of the "sweatshop" poets.

With so much to teach, why have you learned so little in the last sixty years? Why have you become a nation of loud-mouthed, arrogant, half-assed warmongering liars that, behaving too stupidly for just an afternoon, could create events that would wipe you out in moments? Why is it that you revere petty tyrants such as Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman? Because they make you feel strong? Truly, I can't guess. You will have to tell me why these tin-pot dictators make you feel better about yourselves after you've stolen so much from others, and, in return, given the world so little since 1948, except more arms and more strife.

Israel, since its statehood, has given so very little to the world, and taken so very much. Perhaps the Holocaust created in Israel's citizens a sense of disproportionate entitlement, a sense that nothing--no matter how violent or perverse--was, as was said in earlier times, beyond the pale.

More likely, I think, is that the right wing in Israel has chosen, deliberately, to create a siege mentality in its citizens, to make them fearful of everything, and everyone not themselves, to despise an "other," exactly as their ancestors were described by the Nazis. Israel's right wing has done this to maintain power, to achieve ends that are meaningless in comparison to the blood shed, and to obtain goals that are just as inhumane as those historically inflicted on Jews by their various tormentors.

I am ashamed that my government has largely acquiesced in this process over these last many decades. It has done so out of imperial ambitions of its own, believing that Israel is a client state of the U.S., and out of a peculiar kind of cowardice, a cowardice that comes from the unwillingness to risk a tenuous alliance which, for a long, long time, has been predicated on mutual exploitation, rather than true friendship.

The proof of that, I think, is that the Israeli government--along with its elite business, intellectual and military classes--continues to use its disproportionate political influence in this country to obtain its own ends without suffering direct consequences itself, and this is no more apparent than in the current campaign to convince the American public to wage war on Iran, which is a stupidly aggressive intention. I think it obvious that America's foreign policy elite want to undo the revolution in Iran of 1979, but, hardly for altruistic purposes. Iran was once a reliable client state, just like Israel, until the Islamic revolution there. Since the time of that revolution, Iran has materially or symbolically aided the two groups, Hamas and Hizbollah, which have as their primary purpose resistance against Israeli territorial expansion via a disproportionate advantage in military force, backed up by a corrupt court system aiding an illegal occupation, in order to fulfill David Ben-Gurion's dictum. That is the "greater Israel project."

That gives both the U.S. and the Israeli governments equivalent motives for attacking Iran. But, both motives are aggressive and wildly ill-advised. Such an attack would, if anything, spur Iran to precisely the nuclear programs it has consistently denied pursuing and which the IAEA has confirmed it is not now pursuing, and would push Iranians toward a virulently nationalistic response, simply because the Islamic government there would rightly perceive both Israel and the U.S. as existential threats to its existence.

In other words, it's an exceedingly dumb move on multiple counts, and one in which the Israeli government should not attempt to engage the U.S.

Israel is now like a spoiled child with an allowance so large that it guarantees it will get into trouble, trouble from which the parent may be hard-pressed to extricate himself, let alone the child. We sometimes forget that Israel is a nation of barely 7 million people, about 30% of which live in contested territories that require constant military support or intervention, surrounded by perhaps 4 million Palestinians who have been denied their rights, had their land stolen from them and have suffered for more than forty years the daily indignities and pains of military occupation.

There are a good many people in Israel who are fervent and dedicated advocates for a just peace, and I salute those many people and I applaud and support their efforts. But, the majority in Israel has lost its collective mind, and has, after decades of brutalizing others, become what it has most hated in its history. Until Israel regains its sanity, I will mourn its moral decay and hope for the day when it comes to its senses. If it does not regain its sanity, it will destroy itself from within, or, others, either in desperation or frustration, will destroy it from without.

I am the avowed enemy of anyone in this country who continues to advocate for Israel's current leadership and policies, because those advocates wish for, whether they realize it or not, the inevitable destruction of Israel's neighbors, and, in the process, Israel, as well.

One day, and I hope sooner than later, Israelis will cast off the right wing's mantle of fear and xenophobia and violence, and finally fulfill the destiny set out for them by gentler, kinder, smarter Jews in earlier times.


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