By Prof. James Petras
30 November, 2012
For the past forty-five years the state of Israel has been dispossessing millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, confiscating their lands, destroying homes, bulldozing orchards and setting-up ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements serviced by highways, electrical systems and water works for the exclusive use of the settlers and occupying soldiers. The process of Israeli territorial expansion throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem has greatly accelerated in recent years, converting Palestinian-held territory into non-viable isolated enclaves – like South Africa’s Bantustans – surrounded by the Israeli soldiers who protect violent settler-vigilantes as they assault and harass Palestinian farmers at work in their fields, beat Arab children on their way to school , pelt Palestinian housewives as they hang their laundry and then invade and defecate in Palestinian mosques and churches.
The Rage and Rape of Gaza and its Apologists
Israel ’s strategic goal is to impose ‘Greater Israel’ on the region: to take over all of historical Palestine , expell the entire non-Jewish population and subsidize ‘Jews-only’ settlements (for settler-immigrants, often from the US and former USSR ). While bulldozers and tanks have dispossessed Palestinians in the West Bank for decades, the launching of thousands of missiles and bombs have become the ‘weapons of choice’ for uprooting and eliminating the Palestinians in Gaza . In just eight days, Israel ’s latest blitzkrieg resulted in the killing of 168 Palestinians (42 children and 100 civilians), the wounding of 1,235, the destruction of over 1,350 buildings and the further traumatizing of over 1.7 million children, women and men fenced in the world’s largest concentration camp. According to the Israeli Defense Minister, the Jewish State dropped “a thousand times more bombs onto Gaza ” than the Palestinians fired back into Israel .
The current Israeli offensive began with the gruesome assassination of a prominent Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, and immediately escalated into an assault on the entire Palestinian population of Gaza . Secure in the knowledge that the Palestinians had no capacity to retaliate with similar weaponry, the Israeli High Command ordered the systematic destruction of civilian life, workplaces and densely populated neighborhoods. Over 75% of the casualties have been non-combatants; almost half are children, women and elders.
The Israeli propaganda machine and its ‘Fifth Column’ in the US fabricated and repeated the Big Lie: that the Jewish state was ‘defending itself’… Right… with only six (mostly military) deaths and 280 wounded (the majority non-threatening) versus the nearly 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, slaughtered. The US Zionist power configuration (ZPC), embedded in the policy centers of the US Executive, the Congress and both political parties, parroted this line. All the major US TV networks and print media reproduced verbatim Israeli Foreign Office press handouts about Israel ’s ‘defensive’ … genocide … while entire Palestinian families were being buried under the rubble of their bombed apartments.
Death and destruction, planned and executed with the unanimous support of all the major Israeli political parties and leaders, enthralled the mass of its Jewish citizens: Indeed, over 80% of Israeli Jews supported the terror blitz against Gaza . As the Russian media outlet (RT) reported: “A new wave of hatred towards Palestinians is sweeping through Israel from public figures to the man (person) in the street”. The Israeli Interior Minister declared that “Gaza should be bombed into the Middle Ages”. Israeli demonstrators in Tel Aviv shouted; “they (the Palestinians) don’t deserve to live, they must die”, “may your children die” and “now we must go back there (to Gaza) and kick out all Arabs”. The prominent Israeli Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the son of a former chief rabbi, made a speech in the Cave of the Patriarchs in occupied Hebron where he blessed the Israeli soldiers and urged them “to slaughter their enemy”.
Even more to the point, Israel Katz , Israel ’s Transport Minister, demanded “Gaza be bombed so hard the population will have to flee into Egypt (the Sinai desert)”. Avi Dichter, the Minister of Home Front Defense, incited the Israeli military to “re-format” Gaza – that is to erase its population with bombs.
Almost half of Israeli Jews considered Netanyahu’s terror bombing of Gaza insufficient: According to the independent Israeli Maagar Mohot poll, half of Israelis opposed the cease fire and demanded the bloody assault against the Palestinian population of Gaza continue. The same poll reported that almost a third of Israeli Jews though their government should have sent ground forces into Gaza , an invasion which would have led to tens of thousands of Palestinian casualties and total destruction of their vital infrastructural life-lines. Netanyahu and his allies in power now confront a new, totalitarian mass opposition that openly embraces a genocidal ‘Final Solution’ to the Palestinian problem.
Genocide at the Service of Greater Israel
The parallels between the pronouncements and actions of Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel are overwhelming. The bloodlust in Israel goes far beyond psychopathic raving of a few deranged rabbis and marginal politicians: it extends from the top Cabinet members to the average citizen.
In Israel, almost an entire people – over 80% of Jews – support, with varying degrees of intensity, the terror bombing and slaughter of the people of Gaza. Setting aside the profound sociopathic disorders of the raging and racist multitude in Israel , what is politically more significant are the totalitarian rants of leading Israeli public figures, published as editorials, in such newspapers as the respectable Jerusalem Post: “We need to flatten all of Gaza . There should be no electricity in Gaza , no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” writes Gilad Sharon and the statements of prominent Knesset members, like Michael Ben-Ari , “There are no innocents in Gaza … mow them (all) down”. These outbursts reveal Israel ’s strategic goal: Genocide at the service of Greater Israel – the bloody purge of 5 million Palestinians, the creation of a 100 percent ‘pure’ Jewish State. Overseas (mostly US) Zionist-Jewish media moguls, Ivy League university academics, billionaires, US Congress people and government officials finance, underwrite, propagandize for and promote with single-minded perseverance the defense of Israel’s most heinous war crimes, its violations of international law and its ongoing crimes against humanity.
During the entire period of the recent Israeli blitzkrieg, Israel ’s Fifth column, the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, the New York Times and the rest of the major US press rose to the dirty task of giving unconditional support for Israel ’s war crimes. Vocal support from the US White House and by extension the leaders of the European Union echoed Netanyahu’s lies. In order to grasp the media white wash of these ongoing crimes against humanity one could compare the US press reports on Israel’s bombing of Gaza to those which would have appeared in the leading fascist newspapers at the time of Hitler’s ‘defensive’ attacks on Poland and Belgium and the bombing blitz of civilians in London.
The true purpose of Israel ’s terror bombing raids and assassinations in Gaza and the cutting up of the West Bank is to make these territories uninhabitable for the Palestinians. The daily humiliation and destruction of the basic conditions for normal life are designed to force young, educated, ambitious Palestinians to abandon their land, homes and families for less grotesquely barbaric sites, where they might achieve a normal civilized existence, free from foul-mouthed Jewish settlers, unending military incursions, Israeli soldiers pistol-whipping their fathers or breaking the legs and arms of stone-throwing Arab schoolkids.
The Logic of Public Flogging
This obscene Israeli-Jewish behavior is intentionally open and flagrant: Flaunting Jewish military superiority over the defenseless Arab is vital part of the psychological war reinforcing the idea of Arab inferiority and of Palestinians as aliens in their own country. Israel ’s underlying slogan “Arab Raus!” (Arabs Get Out!) echoes the Nazi screed, “Juden Rauss” (Jews Get Out!).
The message is clear: “
If you are not a Jew then you do not exist! Your very alien presence is an abomination in the eyes of the Zionist God. So if you won’t leave politely we will hasten your departure with a few thousand bombs, missiles and a rain of white phosphorous.” That is the deeper meaning of Israel ’s rape of Gaza .
The Impact of Israel ’s Genocide on US Society
Leading journalists in the politically most influential US newspapers, academics from the most prestigious universities and ‘experts’ from the leading research institutes have systematically defended each and every Israeli war-crime, including the rape of Gaza, the demolition of Palestinian civil society and the cruel blockade of 1.7 million Palestinians in the biggest ‘open air concentration’ camp in the world.
As usual, the Uber-Zionist Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz and his acolytes provide a legal gloss on the savage bombing of essential public services and private communication and media centers. Not to be outdone by the loudmouths in Harvard Square , Yale and Princeton professors, with tribal loyalties to the Jewish state, describe the Israeli killing machine as a righteous citizen army defending its eternally victimized people. “Experts” at the Brookings Institute, Hudson Institute and dozens of other ‘research’ (read propaganda) centers provide ‘scientific’ explanations regarding Israel ’s unique right to dispossess millions of Palestinians. The experts’ justifications of Israeli war crimes permeate the mass media, penetrate the homes of millions of Americans and fill the heads of elected officials. Meanwhile they ‘convince’ and/or browbeat thousands of non-tribal school teachers and educators into complicity or silence, thus perverting and hollowing out what residual humane and democratic values remain embedded in the citizenry. It is precisely the much-vaunted ‘high achievements’ of so many Israel-Firsters that has led to their rise to the most influential positions in US society and state and makes their support of terror bombings, ethnic cleansing and genocide so deeply destructive to the US political culture. In spite of this, some of the same expert-academic apologists for Israel’s terror against the Arab civilians are the most vociferous defenders of human rights everywhere else in the world – including the US (piously condemning US war crimes whenever and wherever they are not explicitly aligned with the interest of the Jewish State). These ‘experts’ have perverted the concept of universal human rights in the minds of the US public.
As the US mass audience and political class watches the smoke, debris and wreckage of Gaza – and even catch glimpses of a child’s dismembered small body – they are told by the tribal loyalists that this destruction is morally justified, that the target is really “Hamas” – even over the piercing cries of Palestinian mothers for their slaughtered children. US citizens are told that Israel ’s aggressive aerial bombing and mass shelling from warships off-shore is really a “defensive” maneuver against a “terrorist” regime – one which just happens to lack a single airplane, warship, tank or missile capable of hitting a single major Israeli military or civilian installation.
The Zionist Academic –Journalist Propaganda Complex
The Israeli academic-journalist propaganda complex in the US has pushed the entire US political narrative even further to the fascist right. It has perverted our political vocabulary, equating mass slaughter with national defense; equating the ‘anxiety’ of Israeli Jewish civilians with the homeless, jobless and traumatized widows and children emerging from their devastated densely-populated urban neighborhoods.
The tribal scholars and mass media pundits excel in transforming executioners into victims and victims into executioners. The Liberal-Zionists, peace-time critics of Israel, remove their peace buttons and pick up scripts defending ‘just wars’, as soon as Israel starts bombing another Arab population or adversary. For the liberal (human-rights-spouting) Zionists, bombing civilians is always illegal – except when it is Israel launching the missiles. Propaganda zealots for Israel saturate the media attacking any human rights activist critical of Israel with charges of “anti-Semitism”. They smear, threaten and blackmail each and every dissenting voice daring to oppose their narrative.
The entire mass media and the most prestigious universities censor any mention of Israeli crimes against humanity. As bombs rained on Gaza not one single Congressional voice denounced the odious American President Obama when he defended Israel’s eight-day “Guernica” against a defenseless population. Unlike the citizens in Nazi Germany, we, in the US and Western Europe , cannot claim that we did not know about Israeli war crimes as they were happening. On the other hand, how can the mass of semi-literate TV viewers in the US really ‘know’ what is going on when Israel-Firsters have so thoroughly ‘framed the context’ – claiming it’s all defensive, that only Hamas “terrorists” are targeted …despite the images of children being frantically pulled from the wreckage of their homes. However, the educated classes in the US do know about Israel ’s tradition and practice of mass civilian bombings; they do remember Lebanon 2006 as well as Gaza 2008-2009 (and countless Israeli massacres in the late 20th century). At the same time, they also “remember” the vicious reprisals and vitriolic attacks the Zionist ideological attack-dogs launched against the critics. Having ‘learned their lessons’ from the Zionist ‘thought-cops’ they conveniently remember … to forget and walk away… from the whole ‘Middle East mess’. Worse still, they sanctimoniously blame the Palestinians for their efforts to retaliate in the face of Israel ’s blatant murders of their most prestigious leaders as well as their stubborn refusal to surrender.
There are a few Left-Zionists who actually praise the ‘resilience’ of the Palestinians and their refusal to surrender to the dictates of Israel and its occupying army. They note how the Gazans ‘celebrate’ their ‘victory’ amidst the rubble after having secured a very tenuous cease fire. Any reasonable observer could reply to this sentimental nonsense: Is survival in an open air concentration camp for another day, the daily prospect of Israeli drone flights overhead and a brutal land and sea blockade any “victory”? There is no cause for celebration: Transforming Israeli war crimes into Palestinian virtues is a cheap liberal Zionist sideshow. An eight-day Israeli assault, which had successfully destroyed every major and minor public office responsible for providing the people of Gaza with essential services, and the savaging of the water and sewage system, power and electrical grids and media offices (not to mention perishable food and medicine) is nothing to celebrate. In fact the underlying strategic goal of the Jewish state – to make the remains of historical Palestine uninhabitable (a modern ‘howling wilderness’) for its people – has been advanced by leaps and bounds. Surviving another day in order to bury loved ones and scrounging among the burnt ruins of a home for a birth certificate or photograph is hardly the noble “Hamas victory” proclaimed by Norman Finkelstein and Uri Avneri.
Why NATO – Washington Support Israel ’s Genocidal War
Unlike in the past, where some international organizations and European states raised tepid objections to Israel ’s military assaults against Palestine or Lebanon , this time around nothing took place. The White House immediately embraced Israel ’s terror bombing as did the governments of Western Europe . Meanwhile, Turkey , the Gulf States , the Arab League and the pan-Islamic organizations did nothing concrete, offering no arms, no boycotts, no oil embargos – only shallow symbolic gestures.
Netanyahu timed his assault to take advantage of the western imperial offensive against independent countries and leaders who had historically supported the Palestinian liberation struggle for decades. Since NATO states had invaded and bombed the sovereign nation of Libya back into the Stone Age, Netanyahu’s Cabinet Ministers must have reasoned, “Why can’t we send the Gazans back to the Middle Ages with our bombs”? When NATO and the Gulf States now arm, finance and support a prolonged terrorist-led assault against the secular regime, people and infrastructure of Syria , Netanyahu reasons, “Why don’t we do the same to the Palestinians”?
With the EU, Washington and the Gulf States engaged in covert and overt wars against all of Palestine’s staunchest allies (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya Syria, Iran and the Sudan) and against the people’s movements in Yemen, Bahrain and Pakistan, Netanyahu’s plan to ethnically purge Palestine has advanced with total impunity – indeed with overt Western approval and without concern for any international ‘humanitarian’ sanctions or even protest.
Netanyahu’s murderous war on Gaza , with full US complicity, has unmasked the collaborationist-nature of Egypt ’s Islamist President Morsi. Morsi, together with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, secured a cease fire only after Netanyahu had accomplished his immediate goal of destroying the public institutions of civil society and undermining the vital public functions of the Hamas government.
Against the protests of the blood-thirsty Israeli public, who wanted their bombers and army to ‘finish the job’, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu negotiated and signed an agreement overseen by Morsi on a cease fire where Israel will pay no indemnity to the devastated civilians of Gaza while confirming the Mubarak-era Israeli– Egyptian treaty and starvation blockade of Gaza. Right after the ‘cease-fire’, President Morsi assumed dictatorial powers over the Egyptian state. With the shameful terms of the cease fire and Morsi’s assumption of dictatorial powers the ‘Arab Spring’ has come to a tragic end.
The people of the Middle East , especially the Palestinians, are in their worst position ever. Palestinians have lost the political, financial and military support of the independent, secular regimes of Libya , Syria and Iraq . And Iran , the principle source of arms for the Palestinians, faces a US Naval armada off its coast. Israel is accelerating its naked land grabs in the West Bank . The PLO continues to be Israel ’s frontline ‘cop on the block’ – jailing resistance fighters and dissidents by the hundreds. Israel ’s Fifth Column in the US ensures unconditional support for Israel ’s ethnic cleansing of its non-Jewish population. Above all, as the terror bombing of Gaza reveals, Israel, as a state and as a people, is free to bomb and destroy Gaza in order to force a mass exodus of the Palestinians so that they may establish a ‘pure’ and unadulterated Jewish state on historical Palestine.
Less than 24 hours after the so-called “cease fire” Israeli soldiers murdered an unarmed Palestinian protestor and wounded dozens with live ammunition on the Gazan side of the border. Israel storm troopers raided West Bank homes and arrested 55 Palestinians accused of supporting Hamas. Scores more Palestinians in the Beit Lahia area of the West Bank were summarily arrested and jailed as suspected Hamas members. Jewish vigilante settlers near occupied Hebron uprooted 400 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers from the village of Hawara . As the missile murderers take their break, the bull dozers rev up their engines: Israel ’s leaders pursue their strategic objective of a “pure” Jewish state with their inexorable and destructive juggernaut. The ‘cease fire’ merely changed the methods and the terrain of dispossession for the time being.
Israel’s assault on Gaza has totally demolished its vibrant recovery and growth since the previous war of destruction. In 2011 the economy of Gaza grew by 20%; after the recent Israeli attack who would dare consider Gaza as a place to live and invest?
James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, SUNY, New York, U.S., and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.