Now that Israel has declared a ceasefire in Gaza and withdrawn its troops from what it calls the border, it is only time before the attention of the world's media also fades. At any given time, most of the Western media is, in any case, a willing victim of Israel's well honed policy of Hasbara (in case you don't know what Hasbara is and how it works, then here are three links to help you: link one, link two and link three).
We at Pragoti have, in its own limited ways, tried to highlight this tragic and criminal war from a strong anti-imperialist and humanitarian perspective. Now that the actual hostilities by Israel have stopped, it is all the more necessary to keep the spotlight on Israel's crimes by bringing together the best of analysis and insight on this issue. The principle tragedy of the matter is not that Israel is killing thousands of innocent civillians but that it has been successful in depriving an entire people of their land, history and humanity for six decades now without facing any significant public outcry.
But what has been significant this time is that even in the capitals of the Western imperium, there has been consternation at the brutality and wanton killings during the current war. Public opinion, which has assiduosly been herded and penned into pro-Israeli intellectual enclosures, has seemed less plaint this time. The Wall Street Journal, that extremely right wing Murdoch owned publication actually published a longish article from the moderate Palestinian perspective; The Economist, another obnoxiously rightwing publication, has been surprising in the amount of printspace it has given to report, what is termed by it, Israel's human rights violations and war excesses.
In fact, I'd argue that this hesitation at supporting Israel and a feeling that it is becoming difficult to support its actions with the same brazenness as earlier, is the main cause behind (then President elect) Obama's silence on Israel's attack on Gaza. Many left wing commentators have written about how shameful his silence is in the face of Israel's killings, but they may be missing the point here. This was perhaps the first time that a US president (or president elect) has not come out in unequivocal support of Israel's actions. I am not here trying to argue that this indicate's Obama's progressive intent, but rather, that the correct way to read this silence of the US president -- and the leader of Imperialism on the world stage -- is to realise that he found political capital in not coming out in defence of Israel's war.
This is unprecedented.
This blogger was commenting on one (by Yitzhak Laor) of the series of reactions by eminent Western writers and public intellectuals on the Israeli assault on Gaza which was published by the London Review of Books. Do take the time to read it. I will copy paste here another of the LRB's reactions. This one is by Eliot Weinberger:
1. Who remembers the original dream of Israel? A place where the observant could practice their religion in peace and the secular would be invisible as Jews – where being Jewish only mattered if you wanted it to matter. That dream was realised, not in Israel, but in New York City.
2. The second dream of Israel was of a place where socialist collectives could flourish in a secular nation with democratic freedoms. Who remembers that now?
3. ‘Never again’ should international Jews invoke the Holocaust as justification for Israeli acts of barbarism.
4. As in India-Pakistan, blaming the Brits is true enough, but useless.
5. A few days ago, to illustrate the Gaza invasion, the front page of the New York Times had a large pastoral photograph of handsome Israeli soldiers lounging on a hill above verdant fields. Unquestioning faith in the ‘milk and honey’ Utopia of Israel is the bedrock of American Judaism, and reality does not intrude on faith.
6. Any hope for some sort of peace will not come from the US, even without Bush. It must come from within an Israel where the same petrified leaders are elected time and again, where masses of the rational have emigrated to saner shores and have been replaced by Russians and the American cultists who become settlers. It is hard to believe that this will be anytime soon.
7. It is hard to believe that two states will ever be possible. So why not a new dream of Israel? A single nation, a single citizenry with equal rights, three languages– English as a neutral third– and three religions, separate from the state. Give it a new name– say, Semitia, land of the Semites.
Some of you would see in his last paragraph a reflection of the very point that was made in the editorial of the Economic and Political Weekly, which I had drafted and which had been posted on Pragoti earlier.
This seems to be the agenda to fight for! While it is true that a this seems so much more difficult than the truncated Bantustan of the Two-State Formula, it is the only true solution. It must be remembered that the most enduring slogan of the Palestinian freedom struggle is
From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!
I will end today's post by linking two must reads on the current situation.
The first is by Eduardo Galeano. It is short and schematic but, precisely because of its terse text, so much more forceful in putting forth its politics. He first asks:
Who has gifted it [Israel] the right to deny all the rights [of the Palestinians]? Where does this impunity, with which Israel is carrying out the killings in Gaza, derive from? The Spanish government could not have bombed Basque country with impunity to finish off ETA; neither could the British government have destroyed Ireland to liquidate the IRA. Perhaps the tragedy of the Holocaust entails a policy of everlasting impunity? Or that the green light comes from the bigshot power which has in Israel the most unquestioning of its vassals?
The reference to the Holocaust is important since he concludes by saying:
Old Europe, so capable of war and malignancy, sheds a tear or so, while secretly celebrating this master move. Because hunting the Jews was always a European custom, but since half a century that historical debt is being paid for by the Palestinians who also are Semites and who never were, nor are, anti-Semites. They are paying, in blood money, the price of others.
The concluding link for today's post is to Noam Chomsky's rather longish and very detailed analysis of Israel's war. His main argument is that to understand's Israel's actions for the past many decades, one has to remember that its long term strategic objective is to stave off all possibility of a political settlement of the Palestinian issue. I'll leave you to read the entire article at your leisure but here's a quote to start you off:
It is not that Israel does not want peace: everyone wants peace, even Hitler. The question is: on what terms? From its origins, the Zionist movement has understood that to achieve its goals, the best strategy would be to delay political settlement, meanwhile slowly building facts on the ground. Even the occasional agreements, as in 1947, were recognized by the leadership to be temporary steps towards further expansion. The 1982 Lebanon war was a dramatic example of the desperate fear of diplomacy. It was followed by Israeli support for Hamas so as to undermine the secular PLO and its irritating peace initiatives. Another case that should be familiar is Israeli provocations before the 1967 war designed to elicit a Syrian response that could be used as a pretext for violence and takeover of more land -- at least 80% of the incidents, according to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.
"From the Sea to the River, Palestine Forever!"