We all know the rationalization for Israel's brutal
invasion of the Gaza Strip. After all, it's been reiterated endlessly over the
airwaves by official and unofficial spokesmen for the Israeli government, on
all channels, and with no rebuttal or skeptical perspective from Palestinians
or, indeed, from anyone vaguely sympathetic to their plight. Their argument
goes like this:
if rockets were coming from Mexican territory and landing in San Diego, posing
a threat to the life and safety of American citizens, we all know what would
This is supposed to settle the question of the morality of the invasion, but
it doesn't. Because what we are seeing in this argument is a variation on the
old cherry-picking technique
neocons in the Bush administration, who utilized "talking
points" that were very selective
in their presentation of the facts to make the case for invading Iraq.
What the rationalizers leave out, of course, is the ongoing blockade
of Gaza, imposed after Hamas took control in the wake of its overwhelming
election victory – and an attempted (and partially
d'etat by the losers of that election, the Fatah organization of the late
Yasser Arafat (now headed up by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas). The blockade
itself was an
act of war, by which the Israelis struck the first blow.
With this correction made, then, let's revisit – and reverse – the Israeli
argument, putting all the known facts in their proper context. If Mexico – in
an attempt to regain its lost territory, the promised
land of California – invaded California, drove the residents of San Diego
from their city, cooped them up in, say, Death Valley, and wouldn't let anything
but a basic minimum of consumer goods and medical supplies either in or out,
well, we all know what
I won't waste your time or mine complaining about the brazenly Israeli-centric
news coverage of the invasion by the English-speaking media. It's a given,
like the weather, or, more accurately, the phenomenon of global warming – a
man-made disaster. In any case, what's interesting is how Western perceptions
of the Palestinian leadership have evolved over time, always in perfect accordance
with the talking points put out by the Israeli embassy.
In the beginning there was Arafat,
the first Palestinian leader to come to public prominence in the U.S. and Western
Europe, who long embodied the Palestinian cause. Seen through the eyes of Israel's
amen corner, he was a perfect villain: a radical, a terrorist, and a vicious
anti-Semite, whose name was generally associated with intransigence and violence.
The Israelis drove him out of Palestine and pursued him into
Lebanon and points beyond, yet he endured. Longevity elevated
him to semi-statesman status, and his perseverance would have led to a two-state
solution if the U.S. negotiating team hadn't taken their instructions
from Tel Aviv. He refused to relegate his people to a collection of defenseless
Be that as it may, in the end the Israelis besieged
the ailing symbol of Palestinian resistance, then gloated
that he had died of AIDS, rather than an Israeli bullet in the back of the head.
Fatah, traditionally afforded the same treatment as Arafat, has now been rehabilitated
in the eyes of the Western media. In vivid contrast to Arafat's day, today we
are told that Fatah is the vessel of pro-Western moderation.
Yesterday they were dangerous terrorists who could not be talked to, today they
are the recipients of U.S.
aid. Abbas has basically taken the position that Hamas provoked the attack
by launching rocket attacks after the cease-fire ran out, a position that further
erodes his tenuous support among the populace and gives Hamas plenty of ammunition
for future political gains.
Hamas, like Fatah before it, is today depicted much as Fatah once was – an
exemplar of violent intransigence, an enemy whose fanaticism precludes negotiations,
the only difference being the religious element. Fatah was always secular, whereas
Hamas wants to establish an Islamic
state in what is now Israel and the West Bank. Like Hezbollah, Hamas runs
a wide variety of social and humanitarian programs: compared to the notoriously
corrupt Fatah, these guys seem like angels to the average Palestinian. When
Fatah lost out to Hamas big-time – in elections touted
by President Bush as a triumph of democracy – "President" Abbas simply
annulled the results, expelled
the elected Hamas representatives from the Palestinian parliament, and outlawed
the organization. The Israelis took it from there, with the
The pattern here is clear enough: whenever someone is actually opposing Israeli
military aggression, that person or group is automatically characterized as
a villain, a fanatic, a terrorist whose existence cannot be tolerated. Having
demonized Arafat and driven
him to his death, now they push Fatah and go after Hamas. Whichever group
is more effective in resisting the occupation is targeted for destruction.
The history of Hamas provides more than a few ironies: it was originally sponsored
by the Israelis in the late 1970s as a way to undermine the Palestine Liberation
Organization and Arafat's personal leadership. Citing several former and current
CIA officers, UPI's Richard Sale reported
the Israelis provided "direct aid," including funding, to Hamas at
Under the name Al-Mujamma al-Islami, Hamas was registered as a legal association
in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh
Ahmed Yassin. "According to U.S. administration officials," reports
Sales, "funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and
directly and indirectly from Israel." It soon branched out from propaganda
and social work. Aside from splintering the Palestinian movement for national
self-determination, Israeli support for Hamas was designed to keep tabs on
militants considered dangerous by the Israelis. What happened, instead, was
that spies and collaborators were caught and shot by the very effective Hamas
counter-intelligence unit. This Frankenstein monster, rising to take the place
of the PLO as the instrument of Palestinian rage, turned on its creator.
Hamas is the enemy Israel deserves, and nothing proves this more than the
current bloody operation, which is inflicting heavy casualties on the Palestinians.
A full 30
percent of the killed and injured are children.
The Israeli blitz demonstrates a new moral principle in action, one that
stands the old Catholic just
war theory on its head by establishing the concept of disproportionality.
Whereas the old just war theorists insisted that responses to aggression must
be proportionate to the provocation, this new theory – let's call it the Luciferian
theory – holds just the opposite: that an overreaction is mandated in order
to strike fear and awe into the enemy. This will supposedly deter them from
stepping out of line in the future.
We saw this Bizarro World morality applied in Lebanon
in 2006, when Israel invaded the country, killed over 1,000, mostly civilians,
and devastated civilian targets, including
hospitals and water plants – all because Hezbollah had kidnapped a few of their
soldiers. Now Israeli government officials are claiming that because the Palestinians
insist on fighting back and firing missiles as deep into Israel as Beersheba,
this places a million Israelis in mortal danger, and therefore anything and
everything is justified in "self-defense."
This mutant morality was prefigured by the Bushian theory of preemption,
which arrogates to the U.S. the right to attack any nation on earth, based
on the possibility that someone somewhere is plotting to do us harm, and it
will now be upheld (or, at least, not contested) by the Obama administration.
This war is sending a message not only to the Palestinians, but to the Americans:
the Israelis are telling us that they, too, claim the "right" to
preemptively go after their avowed enemies, at least in their own regional
sandbox, without having to justify it in a way any normal code of morality
or international law would condone.
The two most destructive and objectively anti-American forces in the Middle
East – al-Qaeda affiliates and the Israelis – benefit the most from this fresh
outbreak of a festering conflict, and the losers are the Palestinians and the
American people, with the former enduring the slaughter and the latter paying
We will pay for it not only in billions of our tax dollars, but in terms of
the hate-America factor, which will skyrocket on the Arab "street"
and inspire many to take up arms against us. These are prime recruits for the
jihadists such as bin Laden, whose ultimate target is the continental United
States. At the rate we are going, we'll have to close off the country entirely
in order to keep out enemies both numerous and determined. In the end, however,
nothing will protect us against the relatives and loved ones of the innocents
Israel has slaughtered, with our help and full approval.