The new Israel and the new Amalekites
There is a ceasefire in Gaza which may come unstuck by the time this article is published. As of now around 2000 Gazans, including 400 children, have been slaughtered, and around 9000 have been injured. Residential Gaza looks like Hiroshima. It is estimated it would take around 10 years and around $ 10 billion to rebuild the city during which time the Israelis will, on the evidence of the last 10 years, have destroyed it a further three times.
This is the new ‘norm’ for US-Israel policy towards Gaza, Palestine and the region. It sends all the ‘right messages’ to the countries of the region. The elites receive them ‘loud and clear’ with good cheer while the streets receive them fearing for their dead children of tomorrow.
In these circumstances, it is instructive to listen to the US Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent Hard Talk interview with the BBC. According to him, the US will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against the rocket attacks of Hamas. Israel had no option but to retaliate against Hamas. Yes, there was “horrible collateral damage” but Hamas was to blame as it “behaved disgracefully” firing from areas populated by civilians including children. Their blood is on the head of Hamas not Israel. That is why the US had worked so hard for a ceasefire. The rockets of Hamas had to be eliminated and Gaza made a demilitarised zone for Israel to be assured.
What about the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade which constitutes a permanent act of war. This, according to the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, is the supreme crime that contains within itself every other crime, including terrorism. Kerry, however, blithely answered that the blockade would need to be taken up “as part of an overall solution” in order to “make life better” for the Palestinians. He said the Palestinians would need to act with “greater responsibility” before “bigger and broader issues” like a settlement including security guarantees for Israel and protections for the Gazans would be possible. Meanwhile, the US would stand behind Israel against the terrorist Hamas group. No country could be expected to tolerate the Hamas. The US “supported Israel 100 percent. Period.”
The sad truth is that every sentence of the US Secretary of State was a blatant lie. They were also thinly veiled threats to the people of Gaza who refuse to blame Hamas for Israeli atrocities backed by the US. The rocket attacks from Gaza have been largely ineffective. They are in response to the suffocating and life-threatening blockade as well as the regular killing of Gazan civilians including children by Israeli fire over the past decade. The rocket attacks from Gaza are essentially acts of resistance which are, in and of themselves, perfectly legitimate.
However, to the extent they target Israeli civilians, even if ineffectively, they do constitute a crime. Despite serious provocations, Hamas should not resort to rocket firing that is inaccurate and which, accordingly, can intentionally or unintentionally result in Israeli civilian casualties. It is true that there are few Israeli adult males who are not associated with the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Nevertheless, firing such rockets is neither legally, militarily nor politically a good option. They provide an excuse for criminally disproportionate retaliation.
To be fair to Hamas, it has sought in the past to extend ceasefire agreements with Israel which were rejected. Anything that relieves the daily deadly pressure on Gazans is emphatically rejected by the Israelis, always backed by the US with massive military support. This is part of the US political commitment to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over the combined military power of the Arab and Muslim countries of the region. This edge is concentrated against a largely defenceless, occupied, and totally traumatised people. Even so, any resistance is considered an act of terrorism.
The US is clearly conveying to the Arab and Muslim peoples through its actions that it is their implacable enemy! Dressed in suitably liberal verbiage or nakedly displayed, this stance is considered a vote winner in various electoral constituencies of the US. As for ‘disgraceful behaviour’ what could be worse than Israel’s deliberate targeting of schools about which the UN provided all the required information several dozens of times? There is only one thing worse: the US policy of condemning the crime without blaming the perpetrator!
The world order the US and the west seek to consolidate has essentially no place for Muslim countries and peoples seeking redress for historical wrongs done to them from which they still suffer. They are expected to be civilised enough to ‘take it on the chin and move on’ to further blows awaiting them. Of course, rulers in the Muslim world, with a few notable exceptions, are even more culpable. They are, of course, largely supported against their own people by the US.
It is interesting to note how a major human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW,) decided that Hamas rocket firing is a war crime because they are inaccurate (plausible), whereas Israeli bombing is not because it is accurate (mystifying). In other words, the use of primitive and ineffective rockets is criminal, but the use of sophisticated and successfully destructive weaponry (against civilians) is not. Talk of Alice in Wonderland! What could be more racist and discriminating on a civilisation scale?
Kerry apparently subscribes to the HRW view as he praised Israeli bombings as “a helluva pin-point operation.” In fact, 80 percent or more of Gazan casualties have been civilian. So Israeli fire has either been inaccurate, in which case according to HRW (and Kerry) it should be criminal. Or it is ‘pin-point’ accurate in which case the killing of civilians was deliberate and, therefore, even more blatantly criminal. But, of course, if you ‘got the power’ you can have it both ways. You can also ignore the fact that there have hardly been any Israeli civilian casualties.
As for a two-state solution, the record shows that ever since 1973, the US and Israel have effectively opposed it. The lies about Arafat and Taba have been exposed. Israel, backed by the US, will never allow a viable Palestinian state including the West Bank and Gaza to come into existence. Their actual policies of expanded settlements, land grabs, water control, minimal intra-Palestinian links, banning employment opportunities for Palestinians, trade and economic strangulation, check post humiliations, the separation wall, the blockade and undermining the viability of Palestinian communities are only a small part of a strategy to eliminate the prospect of any peace settlement. Ultimately, the Palestinians will have three choices: to die quietly, progressively disappear, or rise up in utter desperation and thereby ‘justify’ a ‘final solution’.
The US never apologised for the holocaust bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo, for the carpet bombings and chemical warfare against the Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian people, or for the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Why will it ever apologise for what it is doing to the Palestinians?
According to the US founding fathers, the ‘Red Indians’ were divinely intended to be “blown away like autumn leaves.” Why should the Palestinians be any different? In the Old Testament’s Exodus the God of Israel says “I will blot out the name of Amalek….The Lord’s war against Amalek is from generation to generation.” And so it continues today, Mr Kerry, with the Palestinians treated as the New Amalekites and the US seeing itself as the New Israel!
The writer is a former envoy to the US and India.