Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Rationalizing Gaza", Justin Raimundo

(...)  Their argument goes like this: if rockets were coming from Mexican territory and landing in San Diego, posing a threat to the life and safety of American citizens, we all know what would happen.(...)

 The blockade itself was an act of war, by which the Israelis struck the first blow.

With this correction made, then, let's revisit – and reverse – the Israeli argument, putting all the known facts in their proper context. If Mexico – in an attempt to regain its lost territory, the promised land of California – invaded California, drove the residents of San Diego from their city, cooped them up in, say, Death Valley, and wouldn't let anything but a basic minimum of consumer goods and medical supplies either in or out, well, we all know what would happen.

(..) In the beginning there was Arafat, the first Palestinian leader to come to public prominence in the U.S. and Western Europe, who long embodied the Palestinian cause. Seen through the eyes of Israel's amen corner, he was a perfect villain: a radical, a terrorist, and a vicious anti-Semite, whose name was generally associated with intransigence and violence. The Israelis drove him out of Palestine and pursued him into Lebanon and points beyond, yet he endured. Longevity elevated him to semi-statesman status, and his perseverance would have led to a two-state solution if the U.S. negotiating team hadn't taken their instructions from Tel Aviv. He refused to relegate his people to a collection of defenseless bantustans. (...)

Fatah, traditionally afforded the same treatment as Arafat, has now been rehabilitated in the eyes of the Western media. In vivid contrast to Arafat's day, today we are told that Fatah is the vessel of pro-Western moderation. Yesterday they were dangerous terrorists who could not be talked to, today they are the recipients of U.S. aid. Abbas has basically taken the position that Hamas provoked the attack by launching rocket attacks after the cease-fire ran out, a position that further erodes his tenuous support among the populace and gives Hamas plenty of ammunition for future political gains.

Hamas, like Fatah before it, is today depicted much as Fatah once was – an exemplar of violent intransigence, an enemy whose fanaticism precludes negotiations, the only difference being the religious element. Fatah was always secular, whereas Hamas wants to establish an Islamic state in what is now Israel and the West Bank. Like Hezbollah, Hamas runs a wide variety of social and humanitarian programs: compared to the notoriously corrupt Fatah, these guys seem like angels to the average Palestinian. When Fatah lost out to Hamas big-time – in elections touted by President Bush as a triumph of democracy – "President" Abbas simply annulled the results, expelled the elected Hamas representatives from the Palestinian parliament, and outlawed the organization. The Israelis took it from there, with the blockade.

The pattern here is clear enough: whenever someone is actually opposing Israeli military aggression, that person or group is automatically characterized as a villain, a fanatic, a terrorist whose existence cannot be tolerated. Having demonized Arafat and driven him to his death, now they push Fatah and go after Hamas. Whichever group is more effective in resisting the occupation is targeted for destruction.

The history of Hamas provides more than a few ironies: it was originally sponsored by the Israelis in the late 1970s as a way to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization and Arafat's personal leadership.(...)

The Israeli blitz demonstrates a new moral principle in action, one that stands the old Catholic just war theory on its head by establishing the concept of disproportionality. Whereas the old just war theorists insisted that responses to aggression must be proportionate to the provocation, this new theory – let's call it the Luciferian theory – holds just the opposite: that an overreaction is mandated in order to strike fear and awe into the enemy. This will supposedly deter them from stepping out of line in the future.

We saw this Bizarro World morality applied in Lebanon in 2006, when Israel invaded the country, killed over 1,000, mostly civilians, and devastated civilian targets, including hospitals and water plants – all because Hezbollah had kidnapped a few of their soldiers. Now Israeli government officials are claiming that because the Palestinians insist on fighting back and firing missiles as deep into Israel as Beersheba, this places a million Israelis in mortal danger, and therefore anything and everything is justified in "self-defense."

This mutant morality was prefigured by the Bushian theory of preemption, which arrogates to the U.S. the right to attack any nation on earth, based on the possibility that someone somewhere is plotting to do us harm, and it will now be upheld (or, at least, not contested) by the Obama administration. This war is sending a message not only to the Palestinians, but to the Americans: the Israelis are telling us that they, too, claim the "right" to preemptively go after their avowed enemies, at least in their own regional sandbox, without having to justify it in a way any normal code of morality or international law would condone.(...)"

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