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Israel's violence and Western colonialism

By: 
Paolo Bassi

August 20, 2014

The Israeli military machine has attacked the Gaza Strip for more than a month, killing more than 2,000—the vast majority civilians. Everywhere homes and buildings have been turned to rubble. The Palestinians are still counting the cost of the last invasion and had little to begin and have even less now. History seems to have come full circle—Gaza now resembles the Warsaw Ghetto.  
 
The 2014 invasion is already more deadly than that of late 2008/2009 when Israel killed 1,400 Palestinians and then placed Gaza's 2 million people under an economic embargo. Since 2009, Israel has controlled who and what goes in and out of the 25 mile strip. It is this embargo that is strangling the Palestinians that Hamas wants lifted as part of a short-term agreement. Which other people or country would demand less?              
 
Colonialism
Israeli's pathological violence certainly constitutes illegal “collective punishment,” but the Israeli government is quite sane. Israel is driven by the same savage rationale that created the state in 1948: the need to grab as much land as possible and reduce the Palestinian population. Invading Gaza means Israel not having to resume settlement talks, possibly for years. What better cover for the land grab in the occupied West Bank to continue?
 
This is the real objective. With each new settlement, Israel strengthens its grip on this occupied Palestinian land and declares its intent to make the West Bank part of Israel proper. Israel is not building homes for Jewish settlers to hand over to Palestinians in the future.  Israel is settling the West Bank to further wipe out Palestinian history.
 
While land is the real objective, for decades Israel has kept up the shambolic cry that the Palestinians pose a threat. The Palestinians have no organized military, no ships, no planes, no artillery, no drones, no helicopters, no money and no powerful patron like the US. Israel is the regional superpower, armed to the teeth with the latest American military technology and hundreds of nuclear warheads.
 
Western masters
Israel kills because it needs the cover of conflict to grab land and prevent peace but Israel is only able to do this because the green light comes from Washington. Each time Israel has attacked Lebanon or Gaza, there is a well-practiced protocol in Washington. There is silence for days until Israel has killed enough and only then will Washington mutter words about restraint. When the numbers of dead can no longer be ignored, Washington uses stronger words but always conditional on Israel's right to defend itself—apparently even against unarmed Palestinian women and children. In reality it is nothing more than cynical stagecraft.
 
During this latest invasion of Gaza, even as the Palestinian dead approached 1700, the US cynically topped up Israeli ammunition stockpiles and gave $225 million in emergency funding to the Israeli military.  This is in addition to the $3 billion plus in direct aid given to Israeli annually. The US has 50 million hungry people living in poverty yet finds billions for Israel, a first world economy. 
 
The West is not forced to support Israel by some tiny lobby group. Western imperialism as a whole benefits from the conditions maintained by Israel’s violence, as the newspaper Ha’aretz wrote in 1951: “Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive policy towards the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the U.S. and Britain. But if for any reason the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy to the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible.”
 
Palestine solidarity
Israel and its Western masters try to distract from its geopolitical role by accusing the Palestine solidarity movement of anti-Semitism or of singling out Israel. But the tag of anti-Semite as a means to silence criticism of Israel has worn thin. It is not anti-Semitic to opposite the violence and racism of the Israeli state, but a duty—which increasing numbers of Jewish activists are leading.
 
As Judy Rebick said at the Toronto rally, “My understanding of ‘never again’ is never again for anyone. So I consider it a responsibility as a Jew to stand against the slaughter. Because when the Nazis slaughtered the Jews no one stood with them except for Communists. No one stood with them: this country turned away a boat load of refugees. We can’t do it again. Whenever a government slaughters civilians we have to raise our voices. We have to raise our voices against Israel who is committing one of the worst massacres we’ve seen. Because our government is supporting them we have a special responsibility.”
   
Palestine solidarity does not single out Israel but connects Palestinian liberation to resistance movements across the region, threatening the imperial architecture. As US strategist Zbigniew Brzezinki anxiously wrote in 2006: “The destructive war in Iraq, the hypocritical indifference to the human dimensions of the stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the lack of diplomatic initiative in dealing with Iran and the frequent use of Islamophobic rhetoric are setting in motion forces that threaten to push America out of the Middle East, with dire consequences for itself and its friends in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”
 
The Arab Spring, inspired by Palestinian resistance, has shaken all of the Western-backed dictatorships on which Israel depends, and the West has intervened to contain resistance movements—bombing Libya, arming sectarian forces in Syria, supporting the new military dictatorship in Egypt and the old dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan. The West then unleashed Israel to attack Gaza, but this has only further isolated Israel and fanned the flames of Palestine solidarity—which are connecting to indigenous sovereignty and solidarity movements across Canada and the US. By challenging our own governments in the West we can support Palestinian resistance and the regional movements with which it is connected.

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