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Tsunami in the Mid-East

arabsIt’s curious to consider how events in one part of the world offer images that reflect conditions in another part, as the devastation in Japan provides a glimpse into the eruptions spreading throughout the Mid-east. The suddenness of the tsunami, caused by unanticipated fractures far below the surface of the ocean, sent a wall of water rushing over the landscape of Japan, a literal wall of cement flowing with debris as it cascaded over homes and buildings toppling them like dominoes until rivulets of the rushing water met in eddies creating whirlpools that sucked huge ships and buildings into a vortex and hence into the darkness below.

Just as suddenly, and just as unexpectedly, did the eruptions in Tunisia and Egypt take place causing a swelling that grew in size and force rushing swiftly into Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, each caught in its own eddies as the forces for freedom and human rights grew in intensity cascading against the dictatorial dominoes that had stood for decades, toppling one government after the other as the tsunami of the people leveled the land and moved its power ineluctably toward Bethlehem where those rights first saw the light.

The mid-east tsunami rushes from two directions, from Syria in the north and Morocco in the west, toward the state of Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine. The flow erupted from a revolution by the people against a Western imposed control, a veritable colonial complex of political tectonic plates, of dictatorial rule lasting four decades. That control solidified with the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli “Peace Agreement” that returned the Sinai to Egypt and guaranteed that Sadat and his Vice President, Hosni Mubarak, would maintain an Egyptian boycott of Arab interference with the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

American tax dollars bought this “peace” for the Israeli state as it provided Egypt with 2.8 billion a year, used to establish a military police to control the people, including “emergency” arrest and seizure, together with a United States oversight of the Egyptian army equipped with American state of the art ordinance bought with American tax dollars as part of the Peace Agreement from private corporations, a sweet deal indeed. A similar arrangement was made with Jordan providing Israel with two aligned borders where the illusion of peacefulness with neighbors could be displayed to the world. In reality, the desires of the Egyptian people and the desires of the Jordanian people, a majority of whom are Palestinian, were ignored. While an inner circle close to the dictators benefited, the people suffered in poverty, imminent arrest without charge, and the indignity associated with collaboration of Israeli brutality against fellow Arabs, their neighbors.

But the western controlled dominoes did not stop with Egypt and Jordan. Israeli occupation and seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, its invasions of Lebanon, its destruction of Iraq’s nuclear plant, and its continued annexation and theft of Palestinian land until only ten percent was left in the West Bank, enabled by the absolute support of the United States, also enabled political powers in Lebanon and Syria and Iraq to impose their own will on populations lest they be destroyed by the united power of Israel and the United States. As that scenario played out, Gaddafi sued for peace with the west, abandoned his desire to have nuclear weapons, and signed lucrative oil and gas agreements with western nations. He did not, however, share his new found and secure wealth with his people. As western economic controls increased, the costs of goods rose steadily and wages sank followed by expanding unemployment. Add to this the U.S. invasion of Iraq, done as it turns out to support our western state in the mid-east, Israel, which placed a pall on the entire area as American imperialism opened its arsenal against Arab states in Iraq and Afghanistan. From the eyes of the Arab world, the crusade George W. Bush unleashed was indeed a crusade regardless of his retraction of the word.

What the people of the mid-east experience and what the American people are told do not mesh; liberating the Iraqi people resulted in 1.3 million Iraqis dead and a people in turmoil; Afghanistan continues to fall deeper and deeper into the ditch of devastation as the years wear on; distrust and dismay grow at American and Israeli interference in Lebanon and Mossad assassinations in Abu Dhabi; Israel’s devastating invasion of Lebanon in 2006; the imprisonment of the Palestinians in Gaza, the inhumane invasion of those people during Christmas in 2008/09, the attacks against humanitarian aid ships attempting to bring medical and foodstuffs to a besieged population proffer no understanding other than the reality of western imperialism fronted by the U.S. against people who have suffered inordinate emotional and psychological pain for decades all of it in one way or another attributable to western imperialist greed to sustain its “standard of living” to which it has unalienable rights, because after all it has “pureza de sangre,” offering as always the benefits of a superior race to those in need of imperialist grace.

These it seems to me are the underlying political tectonics that set off the tsunami that makes its way ineluctably toward Israel. And Israel knows it. It’s wondrous to watch the Israeli government swim through the currents of criticism with attendant expectations as it proffers the delights of democracy and freedom on behalf of the protestors in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya while it proclaims sub missa voce the need for stability and consistency if the peace is to be maintained. Hence the superior advisory voice of Tzipi Livni on the desirability to create a “democratic code” to which all aspiring nations would accede if they are to be admitted to the hallowed halls of westernized advanced nations. That little bit of tactical delay could thwart the possibility of the changes the protestors fight for. Then, of course, there’s the strident voice of Netanyahu in his interview with Piers Morgan recently, who declares with absolute certainty that “The instability in the region is not a result of Israel and the Palestinians. That was never the cause of this instability.” Indeed the real cause rests with the Arabs themselves who “have failed to modernize.” He fails to mention that Israel has been content with their failures for forty years as long as their interests were secure behind the walls that Mubarak helped lock.

Netanyahu, of course, proclaims Israel’s undying desire for peace and its constant attempts to achieve peace: “We want peace more than any other people. We pray for peace, yearn for peace, dream about peace.” All that prevents peace are the concessions that the Palestinians must make, comparable to those that Israel has made: “We recognize the rights of the Palestinians for a state of their own. Even though they’re sitting in part of our ancestral homeland, it’s very painful to do that…But they refuse to say that they recognize a Jewish state, a nation state for the Jewish people.”

Embedded in this statement, not stated, is the reality that exists. All the land remaining to Palestinians is 10% of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, a sliver of land 30 miles long and 7 miles wide, not accounting for the Israeli imprisonment wall and the land that abuts it on the Palestinian side, a literal no walk zone. Since the West Bank is carved into smaller pieces by the network of highways created for the Jewish settlers only (over 400,000 squatters living on stolen Palestinian land), there is no viable contiguous land mass that could function as a state much less connect the West Bank to Gaza. In blunt terms, Netanyahu’s statement is a sham; he is not recognizing a Palestinian state, he is, when the truth is known, asserting an impossibility, and that is why the Palestinians cannot accede to the Premier’s demands. The second item that is embedded in that statement is the claim that the Jews have legal rights to the land of Palestine even though it relinquished its control more than 1800 years ago having lost it to the Roman Empire. It would make more sense to return the land to the Turks since they owned it a hundred years ago as the Ottoman Empire. What does ancestral homeland mean? For whom? What body in contemporary times would determine ownership?

Having established the Palestinians responsible for failed peace negotiations, Netanyahu responds to Piers Morgan’s suggestion that there appears to be a growing anti-Semitism in Europe by placing the blame on Europe’s colonial past. The Europeans apparently have found colonialism destructive but see Israel as a leftover European type colonial power. “So for Europeans we are, I don’t know, we’re like Belgium in the Congo, or the French in Alger, or the British in India. You know strange interlopers in somebody else’s land. But in fact, we have been here for 4000 years. This is our ancestral homeland.” Unfortunately, that same land is the ancestral homeland of many other people who could dredge up documents that attest to that reality. A fictional narrative as the Bible has been shown to be, though authoritative to some people, is not a deed.

But the reason Netanyahu raises the issue of colonialism in Europe is not to agree that it is illegal now, but to point to America’s colonization of the land mass that became the United States. “Americans understand that instinctively (Palestine is Israel’s ancestral homeland) for America this (return and occupation) is not a colonial past. This is the Promised Land. America was the new Promised Land; we are the original Promised Land.” So instead of damning the early colonists that massacred thousands of Native Americans and stole their land, and subsequently, America under its Presidents ethnically cleansed the Natives of virtually all of their remaining land bundling them into small Bantustans called reservations, Netanyahu uses this American Holocaust, as David Standard called it in his researched volume of that name, to justify Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians. How clever. Israelis are exonerated because they simply followed the precedent created by the United States. They are victims once again of anti-Semitism.

Relative to this discussion, but tangential in a way, is another comment made by Netanyahu in his interview with Morgan, a comment that I have not seen mentioned in America’s press. When pressed by Morgan about the Iranian threat constantly broached by Israel and its U.S. supporters and what Israel intends to do about it, the repartee always returns to Iran as not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to “Europe and the United States.” Morgan asks again, “What is the answer, Prime Minister?” Having successfully avoided saying that Israel would attack Iran to rid it of this danger, Netanyahu resorts to “I’m talking about a credible military action.” “Lead by whom,” asks Morgan. “Lead preferably by the United States,” replies Netanyahu. “Could you contemplate some kind of land invasion,” asks Morgan. “Well, I think the United States has proven great effectiveness and I’m going to divulge a secret to you about their capabilities. They’re greater than ours.” So says the Prime Minister of Israel as he talks about using America’s military to take out the Iranian threat to Israel. Why not use American boys and girls to kill your enemy and save your own sons and daughters? Why not indeed. Mark the tone. It’s almost as though he is saying to this imported talk show host, “Why do you ask, Stupid, it’s so obvious.”   
    
Ultimately, both the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s administration must face the truth, do they stand for the imposition of International Law as it is being used to defend humanitarian action against Libya or do they continue to defy the UN and the world community by imposing genocidal policies against the occupied people of Palestine? We’ve had it both ways in the past, but that was before the tsunami in the mid-east. We can’t have it both ways anymore and survive as a defender of freedom and human rights. 

The real terrifying tsunami that looms off the Gaza coast and the white beaches of Tel Aviv comes in the form of International Law as the European Union, the Swiss government in particular, the nations in the southern Hemisphere, and all the nations of the General Assembly with the exception of the U.S., disappointed, dismayed, and distraught by the impunity that Israel has secured from its obedient Golem, the United States, in its defiance of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Accords, and the 2005 “responsibility to protect” norm used by the Security Council in its action against Libya, rise in unison to confront Israeli injustice as the only nation in the mid east that willingly and arrogantly ignores the rights of the people under its control.

When that tsunami comes, it will come crashing through the years of Israeli injustice and defiance, not in a maelstrom of destroyed houses and debris, no longer silenced by fearful trepidation, no longer willing to submit to accusations of anti-Semitism, but infused with the spirit of human sensitivity and respect for the dignity of all humankind, it will bring the State of Israel before the International Courts that at last justice might prevail in Palestine.


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