Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel's Juice

Firing Shots in Gaza
And Calling Them in Washington

The story seemed fair on on its face. On Saturday, Scott Simon, NPR’s sultan of smarm, invited two think tank types to offer two different views on whether Hamas, the democratically elected ruling party in Gaza, was receiving arms and alms from Iran to pursue its legitimate resistance to Israeli domination. (Of course, Simon didn’t use those accurate and useful terms).
The first tanker said, yeah, there was lots of evidence of lots of such putatively nefarious dealings. The second tanker said, no, not so much. The supposedly informed and critical NPR audience was invited to draw their own judgment. What could be fairer than that?
A whole lot!
First and foremost, the issue was a ringer. Countless millions of Muslims (and many of other confessions) from around the world have or are ready to give guns, money and even their lives to fight Israel. So why should the Iranians be singled out?
Second, Israel has carte blanche to both America’s armory and its treasury. If it requested gold-plated F-16s and ruby-encrusted Apache choppers, our production lines would crank 'em out PDQ. If the Israelis wanted another zillion bucks to upgrade to the popular new high tech HIC’s (harsh interrogation chambers) we would instantly borrow them from the Chinese and wire them to Tel Aviv. In other words, how many guns Israel runs simply isn’t a cause for controversy in NPR’s world.
What Scott Simon was doing was merely piling on to our demonization of Hamas and Iran, both as legitimate entities as Israel, Iceland or Indiana. This was evidently at the service of Israel, a tiny country that nevertheless manages to exercise huge clout over the allegedly all powerful United States.
How much power the Israelis have over us was reflected the very next day in these speak-for-themselves words in the Sunday NY Times: “...the question of whether Israel will settle for something less than a conventional attack on Iran pose[s] immediate and wrenching decisions for Mr. Obama.”
Just why would Israel’s imperatives be “immediate and wrenching” to our incoming president? So what if Israel doesn’t settle for less than another, bigger war in the Middle East? Will they charge us with disobedience? Will they apply sanctions or remove Obama from office or otherwise decree regime change in Washington? Just how much juice do they have?
Gibbon wrote that one of the signs of a declining empire is when the metropolis loses its sway over its colonies and starts giving in to them instead of giving orders to them. If that’s so, then the American empire is moribund. It’s time to bury it, folks.
And while we’re on the Middle East, it’s important to keep in mind the following facts which you are not going to derive from NPR, the Times, the rest of the money media or the politicians:
1. Israel’s conquest and subjugation of Gaza in 1967 was and remains illegal.
2. The Gazans have every right to resist their subjugation.
3. Under prevailing U.S. and Israeli military doctrine, it is merely necessary to say you are attacking military targets and trying not to harm civilians. Those civilians you do kill and injure, no matter how many, then become “collateral damage,” with no blame attached. It’s fair to presume, then, that the Gazans would say their rockets are directed at Israeli military targets. In other words, the same evasions should apply to all sides.
Finally, for some first class commentary on the Gaza War from a couple of brilliant writers, I recommend recent pieces by my former colleague Diana Johnstone, and also by Uri Avnery, a truly great and wise Israeli