Like most people I was astonished by President Bush's acceptance of the absurd and cruel Sharon roadmap for permanent destruction of the Palestinian nation this week.
How could such a thing happen? And why this week? Didn't the Americans have enough trouble in Iraq without adding fuel to the fire?
Ariel Sharon is a wily fellow. He saw his moment - for which he had planning and acting vigorously throughout at least the last year.
Last year about this time Rachel Corrie, an American girl in the International Solidarity Movement ("a Palestinian-led grassroots organization that facilitates the participation of international volunteers in non-violent direct action resistance to the Israeli occupation") was killed by the IDF. Foreign observers, specifically the ISM were a major obstacle to IDF's steady incursions and brutal attacks/reprisals against the Palestinians. They were a growing force and could assure international media coverage (heroic ISM youth versus brutal IDF) as well as provide extensive documentation both photographic and video of these same assaults.
Murdering Rachel Corrie served several purposes - it was a test to see how large the reaction to an American death would be. Happily for Sharon, while the initial media outcry was large, it quickly faded. Particularly after the IDF managed to effectively spread falsehoods and doubt about Rachel's death to the effect that it was an accident. This is simply not true, as both eyewitness accounts - there are about four of them - and photographs illustrate.
The second and even more sinister purpose served by the murder of an ISM volunteer was to discourage expansion of the program. After these event what parent would allow his or her university age progeny to depart to Israel for three months to help the Palestinians. As Rachel's death was successfully labelled an accident - some ISM continued to come.
Unsurprisingly there were two more attacks on ISM members in the next two months in April. Both Tom Hurndall (English) and Bryan Avery (American) were shot in the head. Accidentally, of course. But a clear message was sent to both peace movements and journalists. If you interfere with Israeli actions in Palestine, even as an observer, you are likely to pay for it with your life. Even Americans.
Propitiously, all of these murderous attacks took place while the world and more especially the Americans were watching the theatrics in Iraq. Co-incidental?
After these accidents and still under cover of the hostilities in Iraq, Israel accelerated the building of the wall between Israel and Palestine along ever more aggressively and arbitrary lines, cutting Palestinian farmers off from agricultural lands and penning their cities.
But still why get official endorsement from the United States now?
Sharon wants his deal while Bush is in the White House. The Israelis are justifiably worried that they may not see their backer re-elected in six months. While John Kerry faces the same menaces at home from the Jewish political interest groups as any other American politician, never has Israel had such a pliant President in the White House so surrounded by Likud hawks from the Project for a New American Century (link to PNAC Watch - don't neglect to visit the original for to observe such peace inspirational tracts first hand. With Kerry, Israel - as yet - has no guarantees.
Why does Sharon think he can get away with it?
Together with the British, the Americans are already the perpetrators of the greatest genocide in history. The elimination of the American Indians as a significant social group is not in sheer number of individuals killed the largest attack on a people(s), but in terms of duration, severity and numbers of individual nations eliminated it far exceeds any other. There were over 1,470 official incidents of US Army action against American Indians between 1776 and 1907. The population of indigenous peoples in North America in 1492 is estimated at 5 million or more. By 1800 there were only 600,00 and by 1900 less than 250,000 living.
This is a liquidation of 95% of the population. Hundreds of tribes or peoples just disappeared into the ether. To be able to legitimise the shame of Israeli democracy - Palestinians are not allowed to vote within their own state - and to take the remaining Palestinian territory, this is the kind of decimation that Sharon must aspire to. Probably throughout the Middle East and not just in Israel.
I believe in the [Indian] policy that exterminates the Indians, drives them outside the boundaries of civilization, because you cannot civilize them - Congressman James M. Cavanaugh 1868
The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.... Reckless, revengeful, fiendishly cruel, they rob and murder, not the cowboys, who can take care of themselves, but the defenseless, lone settlers on the plains. Future President Teddy Roosevelt, January 1886Policy towards the Indian was even more brutal than that of Israel's towards the Palestinians. In 1850's California, the settlers were allowed to make Indians server as indenture servants for a period of 15 years. The government fenced them onto reservations, gave their grazing fields to the settlers, leaving them without food. When the hungry Indians raided settler's herds for food, reprisal raids were organised by the local cattle supervisor said "no man who would not kill all the Indians he encountered should go."
That same year, 1859, California Governor John B. Weller granted state commissions to companies of volunteers that excelled in killing Indians. Weller commissioned these volunteers in lieu of federal troops since the troops were reported to be on friendly terms with the Yuki. Upon completion of their mission to kill the Indians regardless of age or sex, Governor Weller sent his congratulations to the volunteers for doing "all that was anticipated," and his "sincere thanks for the manner in which it [the campaign] was conducted"Sharon has certainly picked the right partner for genocide. Curiously enough, the only other un-coerced party in the present coalition of the willing now in the Middle East is Britain, who prosecuted similarly successful genocidal policies north of the 49th parallel.
The only good Indian is a dead Indian. No Palestinians, no problem.
How can Sharon fail to see that the end game of this conflagration can only be the loss of Israel as well?
How could Hitler fail to see that war on two fronts would destroy his army? How could Napoleon fail to see that he would lose his army in Russia? So did Bush and Sharon fail to see they would lose Israel in Iraq and an unjust settlement in Palestine. Some dogs are just vicious. They bite all in sight. Wise owners muzzle them.
Fortunately for themselves the peoples of the Middle East have a far greater experience of Europeans and Jews than the unfortunate Indians did. They will not stop defending themselves and their way of life until the last American leaves their country. They will not be so easily or lightly vanquished. The Iraqis had learnt from the first Gulf War not to line up in tanks and APC's for slaughter by airforce and rocket. They dispersed and hid the weapons, waiting to see what the future would bring.
When it became apparent that they could only expect the rape and pillage of their country, they turned against the occupiers and will not turn back again. They are men of courage defending themselves with machine guns and rifles against F16's and tanks. The American soldiers are misplaced time servers in a foreign land which does not want them. In their frustration and fear, they are perpetrating atrocities. Short of nuclear genocide the Americans and their Israeli allies cannot hope to prevail.
But to return to Sharon, why now with the Palestinians?
Sharon's own stranglehold on power is gravely threatened now. His family is being investigated for corruption in a sorry saga of real estate scams. It is clear that Sharon's son did take payoffs to try to influence political policy. How the sons they influenced policy not yet been proven, but one expects it would be via the father. The policies in question did change in favour of those who paid the bribes. Obtaining America's approval on the permanent apartheid plan is a major political coup for Sharon right now.
While this may be a very wily tactic for Sharon, it is very bad for Jews everywhere.
Sharon's background in the army is that of a thug and a murderer - Sharon is not a statesman, but the descendent of Cain, a man who through his actions and his statements dishonours the memory of Jews, living and dead.
The Jewish people do not mourn more than four million (I believe that is the current accepted historical figure) of their own people perished in death camps to see the head of their state and self-proclaimed head of their people practice effective genocide on another people. Stefan Zweig did not write his books to be the bedside reading of Israeli lagerkommandanten, the last living agents of apartheid after the fall of South Africa. Arnold Schoenberg did not write his symphonies to be the soundtrack for armageddon.
The problem with Sharon's apartheid ideas is that he has clearly shown to the international community that one set of rules applies to Jews (and American Jews and by proxy supportive Americans) and another set of rules applies to everyone else.
And by putting these racist ideas into practice - the ideas themselves have been around for a long time - Sharon has awoken the bugbear of anti-Semitism which thankfully had been slumbering in America and abroad since the end of the Second World War.
What can be done to avoid an outpouring of anti-Semitism?
- American and Canadian Jews must denounce Sharon immediately and to repudiate his plan for the Palestinians.
- The American congress should suspend all support of the Israel defense structure as long as those weapons are being used to kill America and other international observers and to raze Palestinian homes.
- The current sitting President of the United States withdraw his ill-thought support for the apartheid and inhuman Sharon plan for the destruction of the Palestinian people.
- Americans must press for a fair settlement of the Palestine issue
Alarmism? No, Israel is already being widely paralleled to South Africa, the other pariah state of the second half of this century.
Americans will soon also be unwelcome in most other lands. This suits the Israel lobby - if we may identify that lobby with the Project for a New American Century. They are striving to create a situation where all Americans must live like Israelis: in fear for the strike of the next suicide bomber. The greater the identification, the better for Israel.
For now there is still a chance to reverse this process. Americans you do not have to be reviled the world over. Solve the Palestinian problem fairly (1967 borders, self-government) and withdraw gracefully from Iraq and your nation will again be celebrated in many places, your people protected in their travels, your businesses welcomed.
In the contrary occurence, all over the world - except in the United States - Sharon is creating a plethitude of difficulties for both Jews and their hosts nations. In the recent times of religious tolerance, Jews throughout the world, thanks to hard work and study, have obtained excellent post both government and commerce.
This has not been and should not be an issue.
But under the current situation, as long as international Jews support what happens in Israel, the tolerance will come to an end. In genocide, there is no neutral position as the Swiss found out.
Governments and employers can and will demand of their Jewish employees or representatives if they support the apartheid policies in Israel. And many will still wonder - to whom do their employees' loyalties stand greater, their own state or company or to Israel.
What can the unfortunate Jew answer? He or she will of course say that his/her loyalties are with his or her current state or employer. And often he or she will be telling the truth. But often or at least sometimes not. And how can one establish the turth?
Logically the quandary is thus posed:
- the state policies of Israel are totally unacceptable to civilised man
- it is our duty as a state to oppose these Israeli policies
- many Jews support these policies and other Jews support these policies clandestinely, indeed Jewish advisors led America into this preposterous war
- thus no Jew can be trusted in government any longer, as he may be working against his own state to support the inhuman policies in Palestine
A similar unwelcome fate awaits Jews around the world if this madness cannot be stopped. The situation suits Sharon and his Likud party fine, as they thrive on an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust. An dispossessed Jew is just a new Israeli, ripe for the settlements.
Might does not make right. Might creates terrorism, fear and misery in both persecuted and persecutor.
And the only people able to stop their self-immolation now are themselves. In America, they must put pressure on the Bush administration to stop Israel's hand. In Israel, they must put pressure on Sharon to pursue a more equitable settlement.
We are all held responsible the actions of our leaders. And so must be the Jews.