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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 16th, 2009 - 01:39:58

Israel is relentlessly pursuing a course that can no longer be tolerated
By Michael Payne
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jan 16, 2009, 00:22

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Israel, a small nation with a population of 7.3 million and an area of no more than 10,000 square miles, has been at the center of turmoil in the Middle East for decades. With the current crisis situation involving deadly actions between Israel and Hamas, this situation has now reached a boiling point that must be resolved.

This current crisis did not have to happen but it did. This �war� is between Israel, said to be the fifth largest nuclear power in the entire world, and Hamas, a political movement that has no army, navy or air force. We could argue all day and all night as to who started what first, who is the aggressor and who is the victim, but what needs to be done is to develop some solution to this massive ongoing problem.

Almost everyone agrees that any nation has the right to prevent the raining down of missiles on its population, which Hamas is clearly doing. But why is Hamas doing it? Probably because Israel has blockaded (an act of war) Gaza, closed all borders, and severely restricted shipments into Gaza of the essentials of life: food, water and medical supplies. The population of Gaza is being suffocated in an attempt to get the people to reject Hamas and throw them out of power. That�s never going to happen as long as Israel continues to pound Gaza unmercifully.

The major problem that I see is that there has been no serious, continuing attempt at peace talks and diplomacy for years. Bush and Condi Rice have done basically nothing for the past eight years, except to condone every military action taken by Israel, whether against Lebanon, Palestine or Syria. And so, Israel has been very comfortable in taking a position that they are right and everyone else in the Middle East is wrong. And that�s one of the main reasons why, since 1948 when the state of Israel was established, there has been nothing but turmoil and crises in that entire region.

So what happens now? No Middle East nation is foolish enough to try to confront the military might of Israel, most of which was developed by the funding and technical support of the U.S. It is very difficult for anyone to try to come up with some solutions that could alleviate this terrible situation. However, I am beginning to see more and more writers coming to the conclusion that Israel has now taken excessive military actions to the point that can no longer be tolerated; that Israel can no longer be allowed to continue on a course that is wreaking destruction on their neighboring nations.

Israel should be brought under control. If military actions against this nuclear armed nation are not the answer, then what exactly is the answer? The best answer points to Israel�s Achilles heel: a lack of natural resources and a great economic need to export products. As powerful as this tiny nation is, it is highly dependent upon the nations of the world for imports of petroleum, coal, food, various other raw materials, and military equipment. And it is also highly dependent upon its exports to many other nations to remain economically solvent.

As Naomi Klein said on January 9 in The Nation, �The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.� She is mainly talking about boycotts and sanctions and I will add to that, cutting off all diplomatic relations. I think she is right on and here�s why. Israel has now proven that it wants no part of any kind of diplomacy, a two state solution or any other means of establishing peace with Palestine and other nations in the Middle East. It has no intention of ending its use of military force as its chief foreign policy.

So, if military actions and attempts at peace through diplomacy are off the table, then the only solution will have to come from a concerted effort from many nations who either export to or import from Israel to sever trade relations with it -- at least until the time that Israel begins to understand that its days of using force to solve problems must come to an end. While this seems to be almost impossible scenario, it can happen if there is enough outrage among nations that are appalled and sickened by what continues to happen in Palestine.

A good starting point for this movement might well be in Latin America. Israel has signed free trade agreements with nations within the European Union, Turkey, Canada, Jordan, Mexico, Egypt and the U.S. In December 2007, it entered into a trade agreement with the nations of the Mercosur trade group, composed of Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Venezuela is to become a member soon.

Venezuela�s very active and persuasive president, Hugo Chavez, has recently expelled the Israeli ambassador to protest Israel�s actions in Gaza. Chavez has been a longtime critic of both U.S. and Israeli policy and his action to sever diplomatic relations with Israel is the strongest reaction to the Gaza crisis by any other nation that has ties to Israel. That just might be a first step in convincing other Mercosur members to discontinue trading with Israel and sever diplomatic relations.

Israel is very vulnerable to trade sanctions. For example, it imports more than 99 percent of its petroleum needs. It is quite complicated to determine the exact sources of its oil since it deals through many third parties such as the European Union nations. But it is known that for many years its oil imports have come from countries such as Angola, Egypt, Norway, Mexico, and Colombia. In recent years, imports have originated in Russia, Kazakhstan and other nations in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea.

Will the U.S. ever take part in such a movement? Forget it. Cries of outrage are coming from all over the world but not in America. This nation is now conditioned to totally accept whatever actions Israel takes against its neighbors. It can do no wrong. The U.S. Congress just recently approved a resolution calling for a Gaza Strip cease-fire on Israel�s terms.

How about the normally very articulate, engaging President-elect Obama? Well, he seems to have no voice on this matter. Should we conclude that he is totally supportive of what Israel is doing? While he continues to state that there can be only one president at a time, he is speaking out on the economy each and every day but has nothing to say that might save innocent lives? While I fully supported him for president, I could not be more disappointed by his complete silence on this critical moral issue. But, in his defense, there are some who say his administration has plans to engage Hamas in some way to try to develop a future solution. I certainly hope that it is true.

Is there any outcry from the corporate-controlled media? Where are the Christian churches and their leaders, and for that matter, where is the voice of any of the major religions in America? Where is the compassion? So what if innocent men, women and children are being killed for no good reason. The world is outraged but America remains silent, totally engrossed in its economic distress. For too many years, many Americans condoned the illegal, immoral war upon the people of Iraq and now we seem to be doing the same thing with this Middle East crisis. We should be better than that.

Someone must develop a solution to this immense problem and soon. The compassionate nations of the world can and must take steps to stop this needless, senseless killing of innocents. They should say to Israel, �Enough is enough; because of your past and current military actions, we no longer wish to continue trade relations with your country -- and please take your ambassador back.�

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