Iron and Lyin’ in Zion
The philosopher Carl Jung suggested that mankind enjoys what he called ‘collective unconsciousness’ whereby, to put it simply, we are all one, and what hurts one of us, hurts us all. It’s been hard not to feel an (albeit tiny) fraction of the pain felt in Gaza these last weeks, as the world has watched in horror as the Israeli war machine has bombed schools, infrastructure, kids playing football on a beach. Given that Israel is blessed with unparalleled military backing from the US (and, scandalously, the UK), it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that either their state-of-the-art weaponry is just a bit hard to aim, or they have been deliberate in targeting their sickening sights.
No lobby is more virulent than that that supports Israel, so the lone voices in the mainstream media who have questioned the morality or even efficacy of Israel’s actions are usually drowned out by the kind of ‘how an earth can you be so blind’ kind of argument that in itself is hard to argue with. But soft, let’s take a look at the most prominent of these positions.
“Hamas started this”. Absurdity in extremis, given a conflict that has waged, virtually without cease, since 1948. There is huge amounts of wrong on both sides. Any argument in which both sides won’t stop fighting because ‘he started it’ is destined to end with both sides covered in blood. It doesn’t matter now how it started. Although context is important, what matters here, and today, is how can we possibly end this madness.
“Hamas is launching rockets at us, what would you do?” Well, Israel is launching laser-guided rockets at Gaza, and while we’re at it somehow managing to hit UN compounds filled with children, despite having been given their co-ordinates many times. So, what would you do. Or are we back to ‘they started it’ as a defence for slaughtering children.
“Hamas launches rockets from positions close to civilian facilities”. Given Gaza has nearly two million people crammed into an area that’s less than 20 percent the size of Adelaide, there’s not a vast amount of space that isn’t near civilians. And the headquarters of the IDF? Ah yes, right among schools, hospitals and residential areas….
“Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel”. Well, that bit is true, in terms of the original charter, although much less so in the sometime placatory statements of it’s leaders. And it’s not the whole story – article Thirty-One of Hamas’ Charter states: “Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—to coexist in peace and quiet with each other.” In fact, Hamas constitution, written after it’s formation in 1987, was hardly written in a political vacuum, more like a maelstrom, but let’s be sure they’re not the only one. Oh yes, Zionism, which crudely put postulates the right of Israel to exist, and is regularly used by Israeli politicians to justify continued settlement activity, which eats into the tiny and fragile tract of land occupied by the stateless (and mostly defenceless) Palestinians. One could easily mount the argument that Zionism itself threatens the existence of Palestine (which has not, ahem, even been allowed to exist), and the Palestinians.
So, ‘they’re all as bad as each other’, right? Well, that depends on your perspective. If, like me, you wear rose-tinted glasses, and think that human experience and DNA evidence, proves that we as humans are quite remarkably similar, irrespective of race, creed or colour, then we have a problem. Because one side appears to have ruthlessly punished a cowering, penniless population, killing 1,800 civilians, a third of them children, using laser-guided rockets, shells and missiles, the other has managed to kill two Israeli civilians, using rockets barely more advanced than a sling and a stone. To illustrate this disparity, so far I have written 655 words, so a proportionate response to Israeli casualties is one third of a word for everything you’ve read so far.
Two Israeli deaths are no less tragic than any other. Firing of rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas is a dreadful crime, no matter who is doing the firing. It fits with the commonly accepted definition of ‘war crime’, without any doubt. It’s just that one side has committed a far, far greater war crime than the other.
Not that you would understand this if you watched the world’s leading media sources. Particularly in the US, the coverage has been so one-sided and myopic that I can’t remember any single event in my lifetime that has been so poorly reported and represented. It’s hard to understand why this is, except that the ‘Israel is under Attack’ narrative has been propagated so hard, for so long, that it appears impossible for Western governments and broadcasters to see straight. In the US it is even moreso. Fox News (and all the other networks) make the fight out to be David against Goliath, but with plucky defenceless, nuclear-armed, Iron-dome defended, US military funded Israel cast as, bizarrely, the David figure. Increasingly, the world of Facebook and Twitter presents a completely different viewpoint to that which you see on the telly.
Each morning brings news of another outrage. Ban ki Moon blusters, people march, America defies, England kow-tows, and we all feel awful, cry, and nothing happens. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before – Operation Cast Lead in early 2009 was similar in scope and action. Clear, clear war crimes took place, like the use of white phosphorus as weaponry in civilian areas. Nothing happens. The US doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court (for fear of prosecution), and votes against any kind of UN censure of Israel. Life goes on (for those who survive), war crimes go unpunished because the victors write the rules.
It’s hard to make sense of it all. Surely what both sides want most is peace. Surely it can’t be that difficult. Surely both sides could sit down and work out a way of making this agony end.
That is, unless you see the ongoing conflict for what it is. Because this has nothing to do with the tragic abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, nor is it concerned with Hamas rockets and tunnels. This conflict, like so many before it, is to do with hard Israeli realpolitik, and the stated goals of Zionism which dictates the slow eating into Palestinian territory, like a cancer with murderous intent.
Since the 1967 Yom Kippur war Israel has, year on year, continued to defy world opinion and build on occupied territories. Israel plays the long game – there are families on occupied territories now who can claim to have been there for nearly fifty years – surely the land is theirs. Every country on earth, except the US and UK, have repeatedly passed UN resolutions demanding the end to settlement activity, but Israel has cynically used a strategy of continued border instability and ‘struggles’ with Palestinians to continue to bulldoze, build, annex and fence off new lands as their own. With unquestioning US backing, the cost to Israel has been minimal, and given that Israeli settlers are among the most rabid, right-wing people on earth, who militantly defy even their own government’s feeble attempts at rationalization, it’s almost impossible to imagine the pre-1967 borders ever being re-established. Without that, peace can never be achieved, except perhaps through the genocide of the Palestinians.
And what of America’s bizarre relationship. Like a failed marriage, the years have seen the degeneration of a once respectful and proportionate partnership, to the point now where it resembles an abusive shell. Mighty America seems prepared to take almost any step to avoid displeasing it’s Israeli friends. Run out of ammunition in the middle of this slaughter? We’ll re-arm you without a single dissenting Senate voice. Send us John Kerry as an envoy of piece – we’ll spy on him and bug his phone, and expect not a word of criticism for it. Just this week, Netanyahu excoriated America’s envoy ‘never to second guess me again’ when the brief ceasefire crumbled. Surprising words from the leading recipient of US military aid, without whom Israel would quickly have no alternative but to stop their insanity.
He keeps hitting me, but I can’t leave him, because it’s my fault, and I love him so much.
Today, Benjamin Netanyahu conducts military campaigns with impunity, aimed at collective punishment of a powerless and terrified, cowering mass of people, and designed to further Israel’s long-term goals and consolidate his own grip on power. His nation is an international pariah, a militarized and frightened society that has become the most rogue nation on earth. Even North Korea is not actually invading and killing the South Koreans, nor building new districts in South Korean territory each year. Even outside of the regular military slaughter ‘campaigns’, Israel doles out collective punishment to Palestinians, controlling air, sea and land borders, from which there is no escape, threatening infrastructure like power and water whenever it so feels, and going so far as to restrict food entry to Gaza, literally counting the calories to keep Gazans hungry. Tragically, the conduct of the Israeli government often resembles that of Germany in 1930’s Warsaw. It’s a comparison that draws outrage, but then what is taking place right now is utterly outrageous – murder, war crimes, collective punishment of innocents that the world utterly rejects.
What to do. As each outrage has plumbed new depths, it’s appears nothing is too much, no incident or attack so vile that Barack Obama would step onto a podium and actually say that Israel has gone too far, or should simply stop. Israel knows it can act with impunity, safe in the knowledge that it’s big mate will never, ever not have it’s back. With unquestioning and inalienable support, Israel can thumb it’s nose at the world, forever, with no consequence. No amount of protest on the world’s streets even causes introspection. The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement can do so much, but it’s been nearly ten years – notice any effect so far?
If you saw a heavily armed and muscular man on the street, kicking a near unconscious skinny fella on the floor, would you march in protest, pass a resolution – stop buying his Soda Streams? Given this guy has 100 nuclear weapons, perhaps fighting him yourself might not be the best idea. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the only way to end this conflict is to arm the Palestinians. This from a pacifist. But the only way is give the guy on the ground a gun. A psychopathic bully only backs off when threatened.
Israel is committing vast and appalling war crimes. It should retreat to the pre-1967 boundaries. Netanyahu should be tried at the Hague. These are not my opinions, they’re the opinions of the world’s nations, and a reading of simple international law, much of which was written after the Nazis did what they did.