Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel's new Gaza offensive and risks to the US

Robert Fisk offers his unsentimental view of the new Gaza war in Hamas and Israel have opened the 'gates of hell' in Gaza yet again. And the number of journalistic cliches in hell is growing by the day The Independent 11/18/2012.

Why Americans, including many military leaders and thinkers, seem to consider Israel a model in fighting terrorism, I have never been able to quite figure out. Because their terrorism problems never seem to end. As Fisk puts it:

Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Here we go again. Israel is going to "root out Palestinian terror" – which it has been claiming to do, unsuccessfully, for 64 years – while Hamas, the latest in "Palestine's" morbid militias, announces that Israel has "opened the gates of hell" by murdering its military leader, Ahmed al-Jabari. [my emphasis]
I find the current Israeli operation against Gaza yet another sign that the ever-receding "two-state solution" is gone as an option. Israel controls Gaza and the West Bank and dominates them as a nasty colonial master. Within the borders of "Greater Israel", Palestinians will soon outnumber Jewish Israelis, meaning that Israel will face the real choice of ceasing to be a Jewish state or ceasing to be a democracy.

This is the alternative about which Jimmy Carter warned in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2008). Here is the full text of the Carter Center press release, Carter Center Calls for End to Gaza Violence 11/14/2012:

The Carter Center condemns rocket fire from Gaza against Israeli communities, the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, and other targeted attacks in Gaza.

"Both sides should cease all hostilities," said former President Jimmy Carter. "Israel should end its blockade of Gaza, and Western countries should work to facilitate reconciliation between Hamas and their Palestinian rival, Fatah. As long as Gaza remains isolated, the situation in and around Gaza will remain volatile."
Fisk writes:

But is there nothing to stop this nonsense, this garbage war? Hundreds of rockets fall on Israel. True. Thousands of acres of land are stolen from Arabs by Israel –for Jews and Jews only – on the West Bank. There isn’t even enough land left there now for a Palestinian state.

Delete the last two sentences, please. There are only good guys and bad guys in this outrageous conflict in which the Israelis claim to be the good guys to the applause of Western countries (who then wonder why a lot of Muslims don’t like Westerners very much).

The problem, oddly, is that Israel’s actions in the West Bank and its siege of Gaza are bringing closer the very event which Israeli trumpets it fears every day: that Israel faces destruction.
I assume here that what Fisk means by "Israel faces destruction" is the alternative just described: Jewish state or democracy, but not both. Hamas does not have the capability to destroy Israel, nor does any other country in the Middle East. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and what is generally recognized as the best army in the area. No state or combination of states can credibly threaten the existence of Israel as such.

But, as Fisk also observes, the Arab Awakening has created new conditions for both Israel and the US in the Middle East:

The Arab awakening now takes its own path: its leaders are going to have to follow their public’s mood. So, I suspect, is poor old King Abdullah of Jordan. America’s clowning for "peace" on Israel’s side is no longer worth the candle among Arabs. And if Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the arrival of the first Iranian Fajr rockets necessitates the Israeli big bang on Iran, and then Iran fires back – and perhaps at the Americans, too– and brings in Hezbollah – and Obama gets swallowed up in another Western-Muslim war, what happens then?

Well, Israel will ask for a ceasefire, as it routinely does in wars against Hezbollah. It will plead yet again for the undying support of the West in its struggle against world evil, Iran included.
Israel's new war on Gaza is going to further damage the image of Israel and its US partner in the Middle East, the Muslim world, and much of the non-Muslim world. Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, America's image in the Middle East and the Muslim world is, if anything, worse than it was then. Americans are still asking, "Why do they hate us?"

President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama blandly reasserted Israel's right to defend itself, which no one questions, and is apparently doing little or nothing to try to end the current conflict. As Glenn Greenwald tweeted on 11/17/2012, "Maybe now we can start to accept that Obama's policies are because he believes in them, not because he's 'forced' to adopt them #IsraelGaza."

Juan Cole looks at some ways that Israli military action in Gaza could complicate US foreign policy in a number of ways in Could a Gaza Land War lose the Middle East for America? Informed Comment 11/19/2012.

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