Monday, May 31, 2010

The Damage Israel Has Done to Itself is Irreparable

Israel's incredibly senseless attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian mission to bring supplies to impoverished Gaza is dominating today's news and commentary - incredibly, at least temporarily supplanting the BP oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Some of the most recent reporting and commentary from the US and British press can be found at the NYT, WaPo, and Independent.    Stephen Walt has posted what is IMO one of the most scathing yet cogent commentaries.  Note this extremely important question he raises:
How are we supposed to think about a country that has nuclear weapons, a superb army, an increasingly prosperous economy, and great technological sophistication, yet keeps more than a million people under siege in Gaza, denies political rights to millions more on the West Bank, is committed to expanding settlements there, and whose leaders feel little compunction about using deadly force not merely against well-armed enemies, but also against innocent civilians and international peace activists, while at the same time portraying itself as a blameless victim?   Something has gone terribly wrong with the Zionist dream.
Gone wrong, indeed - but for any who are aware of the "iron wall" policy that has dominated Israel's approach to the Arab world (so richly documented by historian Avi Shlaim in his book,  The Iron Wall) - and the Palestinians most especially - none of what happened today ought to be surprising.  It's completely of a piece with Israel's actions over many years.  Bottom line: if the Arabs resist, pound them into submission.  And if the rest of the world complains, take to heart the maxim of Israel's founding father David Ben Gurion: "It doesn't matter what the goyim say; it matters only what the Jews do."

The Israelis have been skating along quite nicely in recent years, having bludgeoned the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank into cowed submission; playing the everlasting four-corners offense with regard to the "peace process" while putting up ever-larger settlements on Arab land; and counting on its US backers both in Congress and in the pews of Christian Zionist congregations across the Bible Belt and beyond to fend off those calling for Israeli accountability for all the misery they have inflicted.

But this, . . . this is something different.  A convoy bringing humanitarian aid to the prison into which Israel has made Gaza was stopped and boarded 40 miles - 40 MILES! - off the Mediterranean coast by elite Israeli commandos.  This is nothing other than piracy.  Nothing about it can be constrained as a legal act, and if the boarding was indeed resisted - even violently - by those on board, they had every right to do so.  Israel hasn't a legal leg to stand on.

. . . which cries out for Mr. Obama to finally, please, grow a spine; put the diplomatic wood to what has become an insane Israeli foreign policy establishment; and if need be, divest the US of an "ally" that has done nothing but damage the US's standing in the eyes of millions across the planet. 

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