On Saturday, the son of Israeli peace
activist and famous novelist David Grossman was killed in action in South
Lebanon. I grieved for this man and his son (who was my son�s age -- 20), and I
reflected on the futility of wars. How does one assess the latest Israeli
adventure taking the lives of 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 53 Israeli civilians
(and 104 soldiers) and devastating Lebanon? Is there anything positive that
could come out of this debacle? Or will Israeli forces simply continue the
�routine� rampage, killings, and home demolitions (which have been ongoing in
Gaza and the West Bank)?
US Ambassador John Bolton is a neoconservative who supports
Likud policies in Israel. He did not dedicate his tenure at the UN to deal with
pressing issues like Global warming, Korea, China, or Latin America but has
always been more interested in advancing his Zionist interests. This is not
because Bolton loves the Israeli people but rather to advance political elite
interests even if at the expense of people in the Middle East. These interests
are backed by strong lobbies that put fear and trepidation in the hearts of
Early Zionists stated that they would rather be �feared�
than loved. But fear of a ruthless Zionist lobby was not uinversal (for
examples, see the book published in the 1970s by Congressman Paul Findley
titled �They Dare to Speak Out�). The aggressive adventures of this lobby
helped erode its power (of fear) just as the aggressive military adventures
helped erode the aura of invincibility of the well-funded Israeli military.
Israel's is the strongest army in the Middle East,
guaranteed to remain superior to any combination of armies around it by US
guarantees and billions of dollars in military aid annually. Israel is even
ranked as fourth in military power among all 200-plus nations of the world.
That the Zionist army was shown to be fallible and weak
against a small resistance movement leads to a huge psychological shift with
far reaching implications for other sacred cows of Zionism. It may even be
decisive in finally retiring that destructive ideology.
After significant arm-twisting (also known as US diplomacy),
Bolton was able to maintain in the UN resolution a call on Hizballah to stop
all operations while calling on Israel to stop only �offensive military
operations.� Of course, as every Israeli elementary school kid knows, as every
major US media dutifully reports, and as every Israeli politician and diplomat
always emphasize, Israel never engages in �offensive military operations.� Aren�t
all Israeli actions �defensive�? The Israeli army is even intentionally named
IDF (Israel Defense Forces). As such this provision is not just a loophole but
more like a road through which Israeli tanks and US supplied F-16s, armed with
cluster bombs, could rumble through (now that the US government speeded their
delivery). But overconfidence and a belief in racial or religious superiority
provide the Achilles heel of both Zionism and US foreign policy in the Middle
Even before Israel was established they wrote and executed
plans for aggression and transfer of Palestinians. Zionists hasbara
(propaganda) publicly declared only �defensive wars� while creating and
maintaining the largest post-WWII refugee population in the world (now nearly 6
million Palestinians are refugees or displaced people). The pre-Israel Zionist
militias began their ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages and towns several
months before Israel was established and the Arab �armies invaded� in May 1948
to supposedly liquidate the nascent Jewish state.
We now know through declassified Israeli documents the
reality of what transpired. Books by Israeli historians like Avi Shlaim, Ilan
Pappe, Tom Segev, and even Zionists like Benny Morris, document the history of
Plan Dalet, the �transfer committee�; Ben Gurion�s orders to cleanse the cities
of Rample and Lydda (now Lod) and many other acts. In fact, Israel initiated
all wars involving its neighbors with the exception of 1973 (and that was a war
by Egypt and Syria not on Israel but on Israeli forces stationed illegally in
Syrian and Egyptian lands -- Sinai and Golan).
In 1956, Israel, with help of France and England, initiated
a war of aggression and occupied the Egyptian Sinai for a while, until
President Eisenhauer wisely forced Israel to back down. After strengthening the
Israel lobby in Washington, Israel launched the war of 1967, again claiming
preemption and threats to its existence. But a number of easily available
quotes from Israeli leaders prove otherwise.
For example Israeli General Matityahu Peled stated:
"The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967
and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which
was born and developed after the war. . . . To pretend that the Egyptian forces
massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel
constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of
analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to the Zahal Israeli
army" (Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972).
The invasions of Lebanon (and there were several by Israeli
forces before this latest aggression) have all been similarly justified as
�preemptive� or �self defense� despite an overwhelming body of evidence
otherwise. One can claim self-defense and security in such broad and
mythological terms (as Israel does routinely) so that even the ethnic cleansing
of 70 percent of the native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) and the 33
massacres committed between 1947 and 1949 are explained away.
Zionists use the power of propaganda (based on victimhood)
combined with aggressive attacks on their self-declared enemies to cover up
theft of Arab lands and natural resources. This strategy was applied both in
the Middle East and in gathering support in the West.
Moshe Dayan, Israeli Defense Minister during the 1967 war,
admitted in a 1976 interview that it was about land: "Eighty percent of
the incidents worked like this: We would send tractors to plow in an area of
little use, in a demilitarized zone, knowing ahead of time that the Syrians
would shoot. If they didn't start shooting, we would tell the tractors to
advance until the Syrians would get aggravated and start shooting. We used
artillery and later the air force became involved." Dayan recalled that
during the war, settlers from the north lobbied the Israeli Prime Minister Levi
Eshkol, to convince him to seize the land for their use: "They didn't even
try to hide their lust for that soil. That's what guided them".
Yet, waters of the Litani River in Lebanon and the fertile
lands of the Golan are less coveted than other �Erez Yisrael� lands in
geographic/historic Palestine. That is why it was considered a bargain to get
Bush to approve �unilateral disengagement� from the desert strip of Gaza with
its 1.3 million Palestinians (most of them refugees) and to get him to approve
the expansion of settlements on top of the Western and Eastern water aquifers
of the Palestinian West Bank.
History teaches us that colonial powers always attempted to
use low level and �manageable� conflicts to maintain hegemony (sometimes successfully
but often not). Unless gernocide is used (as happened with Native Americans and
Australians), the colonized people prevail far more commonly than the
colonizers like to admit.
The latest attack on Lebanon did show that Israel can
unleash significant destructive power but also showed two other more important
facts: the limits of military power and the destructive grip of pro-Zionist
forces on US foreign policy. (I do not use �pro-Israel� because I consider
support for militarized and colonial Zionism to be contrary to Israeli and
American public interests). Fear is a two way street and it is not sufficient
to exert brute power and intimidation to engender fear. Over the years,
Lebanese and Palestinians have learned to fear less and less. In doing so they
also inspired people around the world.
Twenty-seven years ago when I first came to the US, there
was hardly any criticism of Zionism or Israel outside narrow intellectual
circles. Now the criticism is so pervasive that it can�t be ignored (hard as
the Zionist lobbyists who are the gatekeepers of many mainstream media try). Just
this Saturday, some 30,000 activists demonstrated in Washington, DC, against
Israeli and American policies with regards to Palestine and Lebanon. The
Internet is buzzing with information despite hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of Zionist PR being spent to shield the public from knowing the truth. Hence
the logarithmic growth of the divestment and boycott movement and the
logarithmic growth of activism for Palestine.
The psychological projection of Zionist illnesses on others
is only one of the symptoms of a deeply disturbed political ideology (witness
the use of terms like Islamo-fascists, accusing Palestinians and Lebanese of
exaggerating their tragedies, claiming that people resisting simply hate the
Jews, etc.). But it is fear that they rely on more than anything else. Jews who
oppose Zionism are ostracized as "self-hating Jews" and any
anti-Zionist is simply hounded as "anti-Semitic" sic.
Many US politicians are pushed and �bought� (literally and
figuratively, carrots and sticks) and vote billions of our taxes to Israel even
as it violates International law and engages in war crimes and crimes against
humanity. But we have to remember that politicians are usually the last to
catch on to trends. This was the case with ending US war on Vietnam, with civil
rights, with the right of women to vote, with ending US support for apartheid
South Africa and many other momentous historical transformations. We are in the
midst of such a historical shift and it seems to be (as in all historical
transformations) beginning with a psychological shift to not fear Zionists or
Zionism. This means the road ahead will be clearer though not necessarily
easier. We note that history shows that such racist movements (Nazism,
Apartheid, etc.) get most violent just before their downfall.
I predicted a while back that Lebanese and Palestinians
remaining in Palestine (a largely defenseless population) will bear the brunt
of this last and gasping efforts by the Zionist military machine to hang on to
illegitimate state power. Israeli elite leaders such as Olmert call this stage
hafrada (separation) and it is to be far worse than the Apartheid regime�s
creation of Bantustans in South Africa.
I also predict increased terrorizing of American and British
citizens by Israeli and CIA operatives (in what they term �PSYOPS�). These will
be modeled after Zionist bombings in Iraq and Cairo in the 1940s and1950s (e.g.
the Lavon Affair). I predict more US peace activists to be targeted. But I am
even more certain than ever before that these various nefarious schemes will
fail here just as they failed in other situations (Algeria, Vietnam, South
Africa). That failure will be the best news for all people of the Middle East
(especially Palestinians and Israelis), even for those who are still suffering
from the Zionist delusions.
B. Qumsiyeh, PhD , is a member of the Steering Committee, US Campaign to End
the Occupation and the Executive Committee, Palestinian American