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Protecting "Israel’s" Ethnic Cleansing: Deceptively Called "Protecting "Israel’s" Security"

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By: Edward S. Herman

Dissident Voice, 03-05-2010

First published in Z Magazine, May 2010.

It is one of the standard clichés of the U.S. political establishment that our policy toward "Israel" and the Palestinians is dominated by our desire to "protect "Israel's" security." Of course, the need to protect our own "national security" is the excuse and cover for the gigantic U.S. military budget, the network of military bases across the globe, support of an expanding NATO, and the steady stream of wars - all of them at quite a distance from the United States, itself. The word "security" provides a protective linus blanket that obscures the reality of positive and expansionist objectives. As with "Hoover's law" [J. Edgar Hoover] - that the fewer the number of Communists the greater the Communist threat - so with National Security: the greater the U.S. military budget and outreach, the greater the fear of overlooking "threats" that might seem unworthy of the attention of a superpower. The United States even attacked Grenada, the nutmeg capital of the world, in the interest of National Security.

But while the word has the ring of virtue that regularly paralyses any establishment opposition, it is economic and political power that dominates in clearing the ground for the investment in the "protection of security," whether of this country or "Israel". Here, the power of the military-industrial-complex and its close allies in the political, financial, media and academic communities have normalized gigantic and growing budgets and continuous warfare. In the case of "Israel", the power of the pro-"Israel" Lobby; the inter-penetration of U.S. and "Israeli" business, finance, weapons development, and military and strategic planning; and the cultivation of, and pressure on, the media and politicians, have given "Israeli" leaders extraordinary power over U.S. policies that bear on their interests. They are a tail that can wag the big (and "security"-bloated) dog, although a flea jumping from the tail onto the dog's body and giving it a nip might cause it to bark angrily and scratch.

One hugely underrated feature of the drumbeat of U.S. political leaders, and those of the EU, in stressing the urgency of protecting "Israel's" security, is its blatant racism. U.S. officials repeat day-after-day that our "solidarity" with "Israel" is an "unshakeable bond," that there is no "space" between us and "Israel" on the issues, and that we have an "absolute commitment to "Israel's" security" (Hillary Clinton). A large fraction of congress and the Senate appear regularly at AIPAC annual meetings to virtually pledge allegiance to the State of "Israel", and Vice President Joseph Biden has publicly declared himself "a Zionist," with "Israel" "the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States."

Following the recent tiff between Obama and Netanyahu, AIPAC got over three-quarters of the U.S. congress to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of "Israel" and a "reinforcement" of the alliance based on "common values," etc., the wording of the letter closely following one sent out by AIPAC. Is a Zionist and "Israel"-centered commitment, the deference to AIPAC, and the various pledges of allegiance to "Israel" consistent with the oath of office to the United States taken by these political leaders? General David Petraeus has recently and embarrassingly claimed that the commitment to "Israel" has damaged U.S. national security interests: "This conflict foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of U.S. favoritism to "Israel"." This would imply possible prosecutable behavior on the part of Biden and the other pledgees to "Israeli" interests, although needless to say, this is not likely to materialize in legal action.

But the racist element in the pledges is also notorious. Palestinian "security" is unmentioned by these "Israel"-solidarity pledgees and activists, although the "Israelis" have long been brutalizing the Palestinians, taking their land and water by force, and although it is crystal clear that it is the Palestinians who need security protection here and now, as they have for decades. Palestinians are implicitly an unpeople, an Untermenschen, who can be mistreated virtually without limit or penalty to the victimizers. Visiting South Africans have for years been claiming that the "Israelis'" apartheid system imposed on the Palestinians is worse than that under the departed apartheid regime in South Africa, and a number of Israelis have said the same thing. But this has made no impression on the West, whose leaders continue to claim their devotion to "Israeli" security in a manner they could not display openly in dealing with the old South Africa - there the Western establishment, while quietly protecting the apartheid state, had to do this without claiming a dedication to protecting the apartheid state's "security." Their racism was revealed mainly in their policies and political alignments, such as supporting South Africa in Angola and Namibia, cooperating with it in intelligence and "counter-terror" programs, and protecting it as much as possible against sanctions and condemnation.

With "Israel", the West is actively engaged in supporting a state that violates the Fourth Geneva Convention on a daily and multi-year basis, ignores International Court (and international community) opinion on matters like the wall, continuously takes land and water from Palestinians and gives it to Jewish settlers, and freely attacks across borders in wars and assassination programs. In the recent exchanges over the "Israeli" government's announcement of the planned construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, the attention in the Western mainstream media was on the insult to the visiting Joseph Biden (and President Obama), and the possible resultant setback to "proximity talks." There was little or no mention of the fact that all of these units were for Jews - that while the ouster of Palestinians in East Jerusalem has been a long-standing process, as Gideon Levy points out, "we must not forget that this huge building project in Jerusalem is for Jews only; not one Palestinian neighborhood has been built in 43 years of occupation. Should that not be called apartheid?"

Levy adds, "Even the new magic and foolish solution of the greatest master of words, President Shimon Peres, has persuaded no one: "Israel", the president now tells his guests from abroad, has the right to build in ‘Jewish neighborhoods.' And how, Mr. President, did they become Jewish, all of them on Palestinian land, if not by massive, illegal settlement, just like in Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, which are now within the ‘consensus' we invented for ourselves? Consensus? Only in "Israel". And to a great extent this consensus, too, has been fabricated."

The racist premise of "Israeli" policy is normalized in the enlightened West, helped along by claims about a "peace process," "proximity talks," and "negotiations" that have to be restarted with the aid of the "honest broker." This is all straight out of Orwell, or perhaps Kafka. There is no real peace process, or negotiations, because "Israeli" leaders do not want a settlement or borders, which would interfere with their steady displacement of the Untermenschen and colonization of the West Bank. This has been obvious to anyone who doesn't wear self-imposed blinders, in the continuous "Israeli" stalling and alleged inability to find a partner, and it is clear from "Israeli" self-interest in stealing and dispossessing, which is much easier in occupied lands than it would be with settled borders. It is also sometimes even acknowledged by "Israeli" leaders, as in the statement by Sharon adviser Dov Weisglas: "The significance of Sharon's [Gaza evacuation] plan is the freezing of the peace process...The Disengagement Plan actually supplies the formaldehyde into which all other [peace] plans can be put."

Thomas Friedman says that peace for "Israelis" has recently become a "hobby" rather than a "necessity." They find they can live happily without peace, and they are disillusioned by "The collapse of the Oslo peace process combined with the unilateral "Israeli" pullouts from Lebanon and Gaza - which were followed not by peace but by rocket attacks by Hizbullah and Hamas on "Israel" - decimating "Israel's" peace camp and the political parties aligned with it."

For Friedman "Israel" had a right to be in Lebanon and Gaza - it had aggression and occupation rights - so its exits were generous and peace-minded; not, in the former case, based on non-viability and the latter a "formaldehye" to "freeze" the peace process. That the continued "Israeli" raids, killings, imprisonments, dispossession process and blockade of Gaza might have produced rockets is not admissible. That peace-making was formerly a necessity for "Israel", but somehow not obtainable, presumably because of Palestinian intransigence and "terrorism," is ethnic cleansing apologetics at the level of sick-comedy.

There is also no "honest broker" in this fraudulent "peace process" - honest brokering is inconsistent with complete "solidarity" and a "central commitment" to one side. Given the imbalance of power between "Israel" and Palestine, a settlement would require the exercise of U.S. power contrary to the desires of the "Israeli" leadership, incompatible with a close alliance and the absence of any "space" between "Israel" and the United States. In fact, solidarity is displayed by the pretense that a peace process is meaningful without serious pressure on the more powerful party - this pretense, along with arms supply and diplomatic protection of anything "Israel" does, is a critical feature of what must be regarded as a joint "Israeli"-U.S. program of long-term dispossession of the Palestinians.

This racist process is also normalized by distorting history. One important line of historical misrepresentation is the alleged dominance of Palestinian terrorism and violence and "Israel" as merely responding to this terrorism. In reality, the primary violence is "Israeli" dispossession, which has taken Palestinian land and water for decades, under U.S. and other enlightened states' protection. Over the years the Palestinians have resisted, mainly peaceably, sometimes by violence, but with very much higher casualty rates suffered by the poorly armed Palestinians (over 20-1 prior to the second intifada, when the rate dropped to 3 or 4 to 1 - rising to 100 to 1 in the Gaza war). The "Israelis" have needed a certain level of Palestinian violence to justify their continuous encroachments on Palestinian land, and the kindly enlightened West has allowed these encroachments and dispossession as part of a response to "terrorism." The "Israelis" have also needed to fend off any negotiated settlement of borders with a hypothetical Palestinian state, so that a "peace process" has never been allowed to result in peace. But once again the generous enlightened states have played the peace process game, without putting the slightest pressure on "Israel" to actually settle, thus giving it the cover for continued dispossession and ethnic cleansing.

So this is applied racism by "Israel" and the West. It turns on its head the newly claimed Western devotion to both "humanitarian intervention" and "right to protect." Its interventions steadily support "Israeli" state violence against a civilian population that the West struggles to further disarm, but who desperately need protection. This is also a beautiful case of ethnic cleansing, being carried out systematically and openly. One may recall Western indignation at ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, where this invidious notion could be applied - with great bias and fact-bending - to a Western target (the Serbs), and where it was used to justify a violent international (mainly U.S.) response to protect the victims. But in the case of "Israeli" ethnic cleansing, in an open and very clear case, carried out by the fifth largest army in the world against a virtually unarmed different ethnic group, the West continues to support the cleansing process, even gives it active aid.

This also means that protecting "Israel's" "security" is a first class propaganda lie - the United States and West are protecting "Israel's" ethnic cleansing operations. Insofar as Israel has any security threat at all, this is a result of its refusal to stop its ethnic cleansing and make peace with the Palestinians and its other neighbors. It is well-known that the Arab states have offered Israel a comprehensive settlement and peace plan that entailed "Israel's" giving up its post-1967 land seizures in exchange for full recognition and a peace settlement. The "Israelis" have rejected this and continue their ethnic cleansing march.

Will the new turns in the U.S.-"Israeli" relationship marked by the Netanyahu slap in Biden's face during the Biden visit to "Israel", the Petreaus suggestion that "Israel's" policies damage U.S. interests, the allegedly unfriendly exchange between Netanyahu and Obama, and new U.S. demands on "Israel", alter the long-standing U.S. support of the ethnic cleansing process? This writer is doubtful: the structural conditions are unchanged; the power of the Lobby is still great; the "Israeli" polity is further to the right and settler interests and power are strong; and the room for maneuver in producing negotiations that would yield a viable Palestinian state is small.

The U.S. and "Israeli" political establishment both agree that Iran is a huge menace. The recent Hoyer-Cantor-AIPAC-based letter calling for more ethnic cleansing solidarity stresses that "Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability." With Obama, Clinton, Hoyer and Cantor all agreeing on the seriousness of the Iran threat, and looking for a means of resolving the tiff, and "Israelis" possibly seeing this as a moment to "Leverage the Crisis," could it be that a determined Obama can achieve another success by getting "Israel" to agree to freeze settlements and negotiate with its favored Palestinians in exchange for a war against Iran?