refugees I had interviewed in recent days while trying to
enter the camp were not lying. If anything, they underestimated
the the carnage and the horror. Rarely, in more than a decade
of war reporting from Bosnia, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo,
have I seen such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for
Using civilians as human shields, the Israelis went on a
rampage of vengeance and bloodlust that only ran its course
when the streets of Jenin were running with blood not only
the gore of fighters, as the Israelis are now claiming, but
that of innocent civilians wantonly murdered. Here's Marie
Colvin, of the Times, tracking down the horrific
truth. Apparently, she had only to literally follow
"The first medical teams allowed into the Jenin
refugee camp last week followed the chickens. Human senses
were overwhelmed by the devastation and the stench of death, but the birds
were not distracted. They were hungry. Two rusty-colored fowl
pecking away at a bundle in the street drew a Red Cross team to
the remains of Jamal Sabagh.
"He wasn't really recognizable to an untrained eye.
His body had been lying there for more than a week. The Israeli
army had banned ambulances from the camp for 11 days, and neighbors
were too terrified to go to him."
"Tank tracks led to his body, over it and onwards through
the mud. What had once been a young man was rotting flesh
mingled with shredded clothing, mashed into the earth. One foot
was all that looked human."
can't you just hear Bill Bennett and his fellow Israel Firsters
trying to justify this atrocity? After all, Sabagh was a terrorist,
a potential suicide bomber, a fanatic bent on the destruction
of Israel, and was killed in the course of what the IDF calls
a "battle." Except that Sabagh wasn't a fighter.
A diabetic too ill to flee, he was also fearful that he might
be mistaken for a fighter if he left his house. So he stayed
definitely a mistake:
"Two days later, he left his house when the Israelis
yelled over megaphones that they were going to blow it up.
He walked, directed by soldiers in armoured personnel carriers, with
other men to Seha Street at the centre of the camp, carrying
his bag of medicines. He joined the crowd. Soldiers yelled at him to
take off his shirt, then his trousers. He clung to his bag
of medicine as he tried to unbuckle his belt, and he was slow. The soldiers
shot him, friends say."
The editorially pro-Israel Telegraph was equally
damning, with one story headlined "Horror
Stories from the Siege of Jenin." Summary executions,
including the murder of young children, vicious beatings of
women, and a complete disregard for the elementary rules of
war, marks the Israelis' "Operation Defensive Shield"
what a name! as the devilish work of homicidal maniacs.
Why else would the IDF have bulldozed houses, without warning,
while whole families were still in them? This was the
Homicide Offensive, meant to deliver a death blow to the Palestinian
nation. But swiftly burying the bodies under tons of rubble
wasn't deep enough: as Nahum Barnea, whom the Telegraph
describes as Israel's leading newspaper commentator, put it:
"If Israel does not find some way to give them a
dignified burial, the bodies will bury Israel."
recognizes that the main front in the war for a Greater Israel
is not on the West Bank, but in the West Wing and in the
West generally. In the propaganda war for the hearts and minds
of their American patrons without whom Israel would not
last a year the Sharon government is conducting a desperate
struggle to suppress the truth not only about Jenin, but about
their own annexationist agenda. "Operation Defensive
Shield," eh? Now
comes the news that Sharon plans to absorb half the West
Bank into Israel proper. The Israeli blitzkrieg was about
as "defensive" as Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia
in the dark days prior to World War II and just as ominous.
JOINS THE VRWC
weeks, the pro-Israel lobby in the US has been on the offensive, mirroring
the IDF's scorched earth tactics with a take-no-prisoners
propaganda blitz. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
led the charge
up Capitol Hill, with the usual array of sniper pundits
giving him plenty of cover. Bob Novak archly remarked that
Bibi's trip seemed to be an electioneering jaunt perhaps
to get his old job back but left tantalizingly open the
question of which election in which country. In a dress
rehearsal for the key Florida election, putative presidential
Lieberman and the Democrats competed with right-wing Republicans
to see who could roll out the red carpet faster. The Los
Angeles Times pointed to the emergence of a Lieberman-Hillary
Clinton-conservative Republican alliance in Congress giving
unconditional support to Israel surely the ugliest marriage
of convenience since the Hitler-Stalin
Hillary joins the Vast Right-Wing
Conspiracy or is it the other way around? At any rate,
who woulda thought it would come to this? the conservatives
and the Clintonistas, together at last.
the story of Jenin unfolded, the Israeli disinformation campaign
went into high gear, with an op-ed
by Netanyahu in the War Street Journal
that would win an Academy Award if ever they gave one for
rank hypocrisy. As the stench of the bodies rises up from
the rubble of Jenin, this vulture brays that the root cause
of terrorism is not "the deprivation of rights"
after all, Gandhi didn't resort to suicide bombings to free
India from British rule but totalitarianism:
"Those who fight as terrorists rule as terrorists. People
who deliberately target the innocent never become leaders
who protect freedom and human rights. When terrorists seize
power, they invariably set up the darkest of dictatorships--whether
in Iraq, Iran,Afghanistan or Arafatistan. In short, the reason
why some resort to terror and others do not is not any absence
of rights, but the presence of a tyrannical mindset."
as we are continually reminded, is a "democracy,"
but so was South Africa under the Boers. And remember, we
aren't talking about Israel proper anymore, but about Sharonistan
the Jewish state plus the annexed territories. Israel
may have started out as a liberal democracy, but can a Greater
Israel remain one? Contra Bibi, people who deliberately target
the innocent have become the leaders of the Israeli
state so can we now confidently predict "the darkest
of dictatorships" as Israel's future?
IN THE ORIENT
good friend Emmanuel Goldstein, writing
in his really quite excellent blog, Airstrip One, has
a very interesting theory that impacts on this issue:
he thinks Israel has been Orientalized by the influx of Sephardic
(largely Arab) and Russian immigrants, and asks "are
we expecting too much of Israel?" "Until recently,"
always rooted for Israel. So why do I get so upset when they
flood the airwaves with porn? Well perhaps because I see them
as being Westernized. The same reason that I support them
is the same reason I expect such high standards."
with Jenin, something seems to have happened to the Western
idealism that motivated the original Zionist movement, the
souring of a once sweet wine that no amount of sugar can mask.
Goldstein, I think correctly, points to the Orientalist mindset
of more recent immigrants, with their higher birthrate, as
the future of Israel:
what are the cultural implications of this? Well it is orientalizing
Israel. Whereas the predominantly Ashkenasi Zionist movement
was heavily influenced by the ideas sweeping around Western
Europe because of the years spent in or near Western Europe
- what is the likely outcome of a longer immersion in Arab
culture for the Sephardic Jews?
is this hand wringing all misplaced. Is Israel simply orientalizing,
or to be more accurate Arabising? As anyone who followed the
Lebanese civil war - and the behaviour of the Phalangists
- knows, it is not enough to look to the West to act Western
what we are seeing is that Israel is becoming a foreign country
Israeli island in the sea of Araby has been inundated and
conquered, culturally and spiritually, if not yet demographically.
That is the significance of Jenin, and of all the Jenins to
regular readers will remember that I alerted you to the forthcoming
publication of an
anthology containing one
of my past columns, and now I can report that Taking
Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in American
Foreign Policy (second edition), is out and I am
jazzed. Not just for reasons of egoboo although there
is some of that but because it turns out this is
a textbook, presented in a "Crossfire"-style
debate format, intended for college and advanced high school
students. That, of course, is precisely where Antiwar.com
needs to be: in the classrooms, where tomorrow's leaders and
voters are learning about the vital foreign policy issues
of our time. By the way, my own contribution is not the only
reason to buy this little volume: Gee, I can't wait
to read chapter 17, which deals with the question: "Did
US Military Action Against Yugoslavia Violate Just War Theory?"
Defending the rape of the former Yugoslavia is none other
than Bill Clinton, but even more intriguing is the opposing
piece by Marine lieutenant colonel William
T. DeCamp III, whose article, arguing in the affirmative,
was first published in the Marine Corps Gazette! The
book seems to be doing well, so far: Amazon says they have
only three left in stock, but more are on the way.
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