Myth of Zionist invincibility
With the fall of the myth of Israeli army invincibility, is it not time to address the myth of Zionist invincibility
"Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples will plunder you, because of men's blood, and for the violence done to the land, to the city and to all who dwell in it." Habakkuk 2:8
On Saturday, son of Israeli peace activist and famous novelist David Grossman was killed in action in South Lebanon. I could not help grieving especially since he was my son’s age (20), and then thinking about the futility of wars. How does one reflect on the latest Israeli adventure which caused the lives of over 800 Lebanese civilians and 53 Israeli civilians (114 soldiers) and devastated a whole country? Is there anything positive that could come out of this debacle that might prevent a repeat performance? Or will Israeli forces simply resume the “routine” killings and home demolitions in Gaza and the West Bank?
US Ambassador John Bolton, a neoconservative who supports Likud policies in Israel, did not dedicate his time at the UN to deal with pressing issues like Global warming, Korea, China, or Latin America. Judging at least by statements going back to the early 1990s and while at the UN but before this current crisis, Bolton’s main focus has always been the security and interest of Israel. This is not because Bolton loves the Israeli people or hates the Lebanese. He, like many of the neocons who now run US foreign policy, have their own selfish interests in mind even if entail loss of Israeli and Lebanese citizens. Early Zionists stated that they would rather be “feared” than loved. Fear of a ruthless Zionist lobby began to shatter as soon as many stood up against it and did not bend (for examples, see the book published in the 1970s by Congressman Paul Findley titled “They Dare to Speak Out”). Israel 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 military aid annually. Israel is even ranked as fourth in military power among all 200+ nations of the world. This latest war is no exception. But what is different now is that the Zionist army was shown to not be invincible and it could lead 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 resolution a call on Hizballah to stop all operations while calling on Israel to stop only “offensive military operations.” Ofcourse as every Israeli elementary school kid knows, as are 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 East.
Even before Israel was established they wrote and executed secret plans for aggression and transfer of Palestinians. Yet Zionists hasbara (propaganda) publicly declared only “defensive wars.” The pre-Israel Zionist militias (can be charitably described as states within a state) 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 pre-emption and threats to its existence. But a number of easily available quotes from Israeli leaders that 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. Ofcourse one can justify self-defense and security in such broad and mythological terms (as Israel does routinely) to make all actions fall under such broad definitions. Thus the 33 massacres committed between 1947-1949 are explained away. The ethnic cleansing of 70% of the native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) is similarly explained away.
Zionists realized the power of propaganda and victimhood when combined with aggressive attacks on your seolf-declared enemies. This worked both in the Middle East and in gathering support in the West. Locally what they coveted was Arab lands and natural resources. 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) 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 are 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. 27 years ago when I first came top the US, there was hardly any critique of Zionism or Israel outside narrow intellectual circles. Now the critique 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 divestment and boycott movement and the logarithmic growth of activism for Palestine.
Many US politicians are “bought” (literally and figuratively) and still regurgitate the Zionist hasbara including the psychological projection of their own illnesses (witness the use of terms like Islamofascists). They continue to 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 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 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 (“psychops”). These will be modeled after Zionist bombings in Iraq and Cairo in the 1940s-1950s (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).