As the Middle East descends into
the political equivalent of a sado-masochistic orgy, the porn
trope forms the perfect note trumpeting Israel's triumph.
The IDF offensive, the invasion of Arafat's compound, the
vaunted flexing of Israel's military muscle all have the
earmarks of some perverted ritual of humiliation and violation.
As the IDF's idea of Easter programming attests, the Israeli
offensive projects the essential character of the degraded
Israeli "democracy" a lust for domination.
After all, why does a robber, having already looted the till
and gone halfway out the door,
turn and shoot his victim? Because he can. For
one moment, he is a god, his power to inflict death, at will,
is orgasmic proof of his omnipotence. However, for a certain
type of killer there is no such thing as a clean kill: he
must torture his victim until the last moment, extracting
every ounce of perverted pleasure out of the experience. This
sadistic impulse is what drives the IDF and the Sharon government
forward and gives their American amen corner a really cheap
Glenn Reynolds, the " blogger "-in-chief of
the War Party, responds with a "chortle" to the
news of the Easter Sunday porn offensive, echoing Australian
war-blogger-cum-journalist Tim Blair
's snicker. And one can only imagine what the sight of
those butch young IDFers with their leather boots on Palestinian
necks will do to inspire Andrew Sullivan 's much
libido . Flex
those "power glutes," Andy!
The complete helplessness of
the Palestinians before the Israeli onslaught was underscored by
President Bush's endorsement of the rampaging IDF :
"I can understand why the Israeli government takes the actions
they take. Their country is under attack. Every day there
has been a suicide bombing, and every day the government sees
the loss of innocent life."
Asked if the storming of Arafat's office was justified, the
"Israel is a democratically elected government, and the government
is responding to the will of the people for there to be more
security.' Israel will make the decisions necessary to defend
Germany, too, was a democracy prior to World War II: Hitler
was elected Chancellor, and was recognized as such by all
the other powers. Did his "democratic" mandate ameliorate
the crimes of Kristallnacht ?
But in looking to the American President for a semi-coherent
explication of US policy we are bound to come up empty-handed.
Arafat could "do more" to rein in the suicide bombers, Dubya
dumbly insisted, as the Israelis cut off the phones, the electricity,
and the water in the PLO chieftain's compound. Duh-Duh-Dubya
is clearly in over his empty head, and is reduced, in a moment
that calls for leadership, to a ventriloquist's dummy, dutifully
parroting the Israeli line.
OFF THE TRACKS
Meanwhile, as if to underscore
this failure, the US delegate to the United Nations was voting
for a resolution condemning the Israeli invasion and
demanding the complete withdrawal of the IDF from Palestinian
cities. This really brought home the sad truth of Zbigniew
Brzezinski's incisive analysis on CNN the other day:
have shown some very dramatic footage, some very dramatic
sound bites as well. And they give you a sense of the immediacy
of the tragedy that's unfolding. But I think it's important
to step back and to remember that yesterday was a day of historic
opportunity in the Middle East as well as a criminal calamity.
"The historic opportunity is that, for the first time in 50
years, the Arab states have indicated they are prepared to
live in peace with Israel. And they've indicated a more or
less equitable framework, subject to negotiation, for such
peace. The calamity, of course, is the criminal act of terrorism.
I find it baffling that the United States is focusing almost
entirely on the calamity.
[T]he [Bush] administration can't ignore the fact that
for the last 10 years, Mr. [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon has
opposed the Oslo peace process, he has contributed to the
political climate in Israel that subsequently led to the killing
of [then] Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Rabin. He [Sharon] has
been determined to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and
he is using every act of terrorism as an excuse to try to
destroy the Palestinian Authority. That is not the way toward
peace. And the absence of any meaningful American strategy
and a sense of direction is a part of this appalling reality
that we are now watching."
THE ISRAELIZATION OF US FOREIGN POLICY
Lacking any coherence, American
policy in the region is effectively placed in the service
of Israel's present government. As American-bought tanks roll
over the Palestinians, and Bush demands that Arafat on the
verge of being taken into custody or killed "stop the violence,"
Sharon's strategic goal has been effectively accomplished.
It is now the US and Israel versus the entire Arab-Muslim
world. What began as a war against an extremist fringe sect
of Islam has turned into a religious and civilizational conflict.
The unprecedented Saudi peace plan was met with a volley of
spittle in Crown Prince Abdullah's face, coming not just from
Sharon but from Bush. If one of the chief aims of the Israeli
lobby in the US has been to provoke a final split between
Washington and Riyadh, then the Easter offensive certainly
accomplished that. Our "war on terrorism" marketed, at first,
as a war on Osama bin Laden and the perpetrators of 9/11
has now become a war on a billion-plus Arabs and Muslims worldwide.
It is a war in which the US will have few dependable allies:
perhaps only Israel can be counted on. And that's just the
way the Israeli lobby likes it.
A NATIONAL DISGRACE
It's a disgrace, really, how
American interests are being ignored and derailed in the Middle
East, while our policy benefits only the interests of a belligerent
little settler colony based on religious obscurantism and
an outdated paranoia. The Saudi peace plan, as an excellent piece in Reason
pointed out , offered the Israelis what they have always
claimed to want normal, peaceful relations in the region:
"Thanks to the Saudis a political horizon now exists. What
emerged from the Beirut conclave was an inventive offer that
defied the tide of anger in the region aroused by the Intifada.
Pointedly, it was directed at Israeli public opinion and came
accompanied by a most amiable Saudi interpretation of the
type of 'normal relations' the Arabs promised Israel."
Arabs are bluntly offering Israel what it has always demanded,"
concludes Reason contributing editor Michael Young.
"If Israel refuses, its quarrel may no longer be merely with
its neighbors, but also with the US." I'm afraid Young is
overestimating the Bush administration's willingness to face
down Sharon and Likud's American amen corner. It was the libertarian
journalist and polemicist Garet Garrett who, in 1952, presciently
noted that "no Empire is secure in itself: it's security is
in the hands of its allies." Now, it appears, our foreign
policy and our security has been placed in the hands of one
particular ally, which is intent on dragging us into their
declaring Arafat "the enemy," Sharon announced that the purpose
of surrounding and invading the PLO compound was to "isolate"
him. With this act, the Israelis also succeeded in isolating
the US. Brzezinski outlined the dangers well:
"I worry about the American national interest. I can see two
major jeopardies ahead if we don't step into the breach. If
the tragedy between the Israelis and Palestinians degenerates
into total violence, if Arafat is killed, we'll probably see
major uncertainty, major instability in the Middle East. We'll
become more isolated in the war against terrorism because
the Arabs will then unite against us. And we could even get
an oil embargo with the Saudis, the Iraqis and the Iranians
joining forces despite their disagreements. That's a very,
very ominous scenario."
THE WAR PARTY REJOICES
Oh, but what a glorious scenario
for the War Party! Why, just think, they can have all the
melodrama of a World War II movie: rationing, grim determination,
and the same self-righteous retort to all critics and other
whiners: "Don't you know there's a war on?!" Andrew
Sullivan will lecture us on the morally uplifting effects
of fasting; Victor Davis Hanson will write an article full
of classical allusions to Spartan self-sacrifice and the manly
virtues of imperial Rome; Norman Podhoretz will exhort us
not to engage in "another Munich" when the Arabs
come up with another peace proposal; and Rich Lowry will stop
denying he really wanted to "nuke
Mecca," admit it wasn't a "joke," and ask
"well, why not?"
AS YE SOW
The line of the Bush administration
and the Israelis is clear: the suicide bombings cannot be
tolerated, and Arafat is responsible. Since 9/11, it's a whole
new ballgame, and the Arabs had better get used to it, and
get out of the way. Aside from the question of Arafat's responsibility,
which hardly seems a credible contention when he can't even
turn the lights on in his headquarters, what the American
people don't know about is the degree of the Israeli government's
own responsibility for the terror campaign now being unleashed
on their civilian population. For, as Richard Sale, UPI's
terrorism correspondent, noted, Israel
gave major aid to the fundamentalist Hamas the principal
terrorist group coordinating the suicide bomber campaign:
"Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat,
but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence
officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct
and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
Israel "aided Hamas directly the Israelis wanted to use it
as a counterbalance to the PLO," said Tony Cordesman, Middle
East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies. Israel's
support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute
support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious
alternative," said a former senior CIA official."
Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978, as Al-Mujamma
Al Islami, and funds flowed into its coffers without any
interference from the authorities; funds slated for the secular
and leftist PLO were embargoed. At the time of the Iranian
revolution, Hamas began to pick up support, and, according
to US intelligence sources cited by Sale,
"Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One
US intelligence source who asked not to be named, said that
not only was Hamas being funded as a 'counterweight' to the
PLO, Israeli aid had a more devious purpose: 'to help identify
and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were
SO SHALL YE REAP
Hamas was rife with Israeli collaborators,
some of whom were weeded out and executed but not all. The
secular nationalism of the PLO had merged Palestinian Christians
and Muslims into a unified struggle against the Israeli occupation.
Hamas had started out as an Islamic alternative to this structure,
and so was encouraged by the Israelis. However, via the confluence
of two factors the rise of fundamentalism in Iran and the
infusion of millions in Israeli funding (all of it US tax
dollars, by the way) -- the group metastasized into a virulently
murderous cancer that eventually turned on its creators. Yet,
as Sale points out,
"Even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in
trying to continue to give Hamas support: 'The thinking on
the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was
that Hamas and the other groups, if they gained control, would
refuse to have anything to do with the peace process and would
torpedo any agreements put in place,' said a US government
official. 'Israel would still be the only democracy in the
region for the United States to deal with,' he said."
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
A recent juxtaposition of links
published by Antiwar.com
makes the thrust of Israeli policy all too clear:
The degree to which Sharon and Hamas have goals in common,
taken in context with a recent curious news story about one
of these suicide bombers, leads us in a disturbing but none
too surprising direction.
As Associated Press account of the death of suicide bomber
Murad Abu Asal appears, at first blush, to be merely
"A Palestinian suicide bomber threw himself on an Israeli
vehicle parked close to the West Bank border Wednesday, wounding
two members of Israel's Shin Bet security service who were
sitting inside, police said. A statement from Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's office, which is responsible for Shin Bet,
said the injured agents were on "an operational mission" when
they were attacked. The bomber's body was left at the scene
until explosives experts could check it for booby traps. Palestinian
security sources and Israeli radio reports identified the
bomber as Murad Abu Asal, 23, and said he had worked as a
collaborator with Israel.
Palestinian security sources said collaborators regularly
meet with Israeli security agents in that area. Israel's security
forces have a wide network of Palestinian collaborators who
second blush, however, this raises a few questions, at the
very least, such as: what sort of "operational mission" were
these two Shin Bet agents on when they met their fate? It would be pointless to speculate, but forgive me if I at least
raise the possibility that they were up to no good, and that
this was one collaborator who finally and literally went
off on them.
9/11, we are all supposed to empathize with the Israelis,
because we allegedly know just how they feel, they who have
to live every day of their lives with the specter of terrorism
hanging over their heads. But the suspicion that the Israeli
government may bear some responsibility for that threat
and not just indirectly, on account of the occupation may
yet alert Americans and Israelis to the twisted nature
of Sharon's game.
In the black-and-white world
of George W. Bush's "war on terrorism," the idea that things
are not always what they seem to be on the surface especially
when it comes to the murky relations between nations is
lost or glossed over. In the twilight world of covert action,
however, where there are no allies and it's a war of all against
all, moral parameters and boundaries are dissolved in the
solvent of necessity, and it's hard to tell friend from foe.
Which brings to mind a
curious news item from the Bergen County (New Jersey) News,
dated September 15, 2001
story paints a picture of a widening dragnet in the greater
New York-New Jersey area designed to sweep up anyone and everyone
connected to 9/11, including a raid on a business known as
Urban Moving Systems:
first became interested in the business after witnesses reported
Tuesday that three men seemed to celebrate the World Trade
Center explosions in Liberty State Park, then drove away in
a company van.
Agents took pictures inside the company's
office Thursday night and seized 13 computer hard drives.
They also showed a keen interest in the roof, which had a
very clear view of the World Trade Center until Tuesday. A
half-dozen agents searched the roof with flashlights and appeared
particularly interested in the sight lines from the roof toward
Rutherford police stopped an Urban Moving Systems van on Route
3 Tuesday and detained five men inside, at least some of them
company employees. The occupants said they were all Israelis.
They were being detained because they are in violation of
immigration regulations, and all have expressed a desire to
leave the country on their own, according to an Immigration
and Naturalization Service spokesman.
"An employee of Urban Moving Systems, who would not
give his name, said the majority of his co-workers are Israelis
and were joking on the day of the attacks.
was in tears,' the man said. 'These guys were joking and
that bothered me. These guys were like, 'Now America knows
what we go through.'"
first, it seems like an anomaly that a bunch of Israelis would
be cheering literally jumping for joy at the sight of
the World Trade Cener, the pride of New York, brought down
and humbled. But, then again, on second thought, it makes
perfect sense, now doesn't it? "Now America knows what we
go through," indeed. In light of the growing scandal over Israeli
spies in this country who might have known something
about 9/11 before the dawning of that fatal day we all
ought to be as "bothered" as that astonished employee
of Urban Moving Systems by such a perverse willingness to
go to any lengths to gain our sympathy. We have to ask: what
wouldn't they do to keep it?
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