Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tribalism and The Power of Four Percent

Chris Hedges' piece on TruthDig, entitled "Declaration of Independence from Israel", should be must reading. If only half of what he claims is factual it is truly frightening to realize how strong an influence on our democracy 4% of the American population can be.

I am an agnostic. I have no bone to pick with anyone over whatever religion. Meaning I am not anti-semitic, any more than I am anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Islam, or any other mythology one chooses to believe in.

I have become anti-Zionist though. I do have bones to pick with anyone or any group whose behavior is clearly inhumane. What irony that millions of people of a particular religion are annihilated, followed in only a few short years by adherents to that same religion visiting horrors on those of another faith.

A friend pointed out to me recently that abused children often become abusers; his way of responding to my rant that societies should stop pulling punches with Zionists who continue to use the Holocaust as cover for getting away with most anything they want to do to others for their own benefit. Confiscation of property, unlawful imprisonment and killing, to name just three, are common to both the Holocaust and the Palestinian occupation.

Hedges' piece concentrates on the power of the Israeli lobby in this country, AIPAC being perhaps the most visible. He cites a number of instances in which this lobby has been able to throw their weight(money) around to get their way: e.g. since 1982 the US has vetoed 32 UN resolutions which were critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast all the other memebers of the Security Councel. He claims that Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate for president who is not beholden to the Israeli lobby. Presumably that means Obama, Clinton, Juliani, Romney, etc are. He claims that George H.W. Bush was denied a second term in office because he aroused the ire of the Israeli lobby.

Hedges cites many other examples in history of our unconditional support for Israel, including about $3 Billion aid annually, one fifth of all US foreign aid. He points out how this blind allegiance is responsible for the Arab world's hate for and distrust of the US. He accuses Israel of using the US as its military proxy, doing the fighting for them in the first Gulf war, when Israel was a spectator, not a part of that coalition. And he cites the neo-con(read Zionist) propaganda which was designed to scare the American people into supporting the invasion of Iraq. He names names: Perle, Wolfowitz, Wurmser, Feith, to name a few.

Now Senator Lieberman, who changed colors so as to retain his job and his advocacy for Israel, is hyping the need to take military action against Iran. That might be good for Israel, but not for the USA.

I make no claim for the noble purposes of the Palestinians. On any given day, or at least week, one side or the other is doing horrible things to human beings; that's the nature of a tit-for-tat, Hatfield/McCoy fight. Each group is only retaliating, claiming the need to defend itself. It has a kind of perpetual motion element, as in the physics maxim, a body in motion tends to stay in motion; or more accurately, any action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Looking at the situation from forty thousand feet, trying to see the forest for the trees, in order to avoid being drawn into focusing only on the latest retaliatory crime against humanity, it seems to me that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land needs to be acknowledged as the ultimate cause. In this way it becomes clearer that confiscation of property, unlawful imprisonment and killings are the outrages committed in the process of effecting occupation.

Claiming that giving back Gaza did no good is a red herring. Israel continues to hold those in Gaza hostage. Nothing passes in or out of Gaza without Israeli permission.

Now our government is once again backing Israel in support of Fatah and it's fight with Hamas. Here's why that stinks. Hamas is the party which was duly elected in a democratic process. Yes, they have their killers, their terrorists, yet they were elected because they were known to look after the needs of their citizens. Fatah, on the other hand, even with its suit and tie wearing leader, is still in cohoots with Israel, making money as the Israeli paid toll keeper of Palestine; screw the needs of the citizens.

Reading "How Israel Lost", by Richard ben Cramer is enlightening. He is a journalist of the Jewish faith who is appalled by what Arafat(read PLO and Fatah)and Israel have done to the detriment of Israel and the Palestinians.

Like Chris Hedges' treatise, it's about the corruption of politicians and governments, by the cynical use of the power of money.

I came away from reading Hedges' essay wondering if our democracy can withstand the apparent onslaught of the power of money used to sway our so-called public servants. We want to believe that our point of view is sincerely and genuinely backed by people running for office to represent our point of view.

What are we as citizens to think and do about the revelations that our elected officials have been and are compromised by accepting campaign money from a lobby which is an advocate for a foreign government, more interested in the priorities of that government, Israel, than those of America?

Please read Chris Hedges's piece. What I have written here is only a smattering of the meat in it.


Lighthouse Keeper

1 comment:

The Old New Englander said...

I don't defend all of what Israel has done. There was an interesting piece on the New York Times op-ed page about a month ago, pointing out that about 6 months before the 1967 war, Israeli intelligence concluded that Israel should not occupy the West Bank. Perhaps that was right. And certainly the settler policy that Israel followed--especially under Likud governments--has largely been a mistake.

But although you try to be fair, you miss a number of vital points: a) Most of what is now Israel was purchased from its former owners, not taken by force; b) while some Arab leaders actually welcomed Jewish settlers in the early years of the 20th Century (they believed that the European Jews would bring much needed education and modern knowledge), they were over-matched (and in many cases killed) by people who wanted to kill the Jews; the Mufti of Jerusalem, the highest -ranking Arab leader in that city, was welcomed by Hitler. c) In 1948, when Israel declared independence, its Arab neighbors declared their intent to throw the Jews into the sea.

There has been progress since then, of course. Egypt and Jordan have made peace. Many, perhaps most, of the Palestinians have accepted the idea of living with a Jewish state. Yet it would be foolish to think that Israel could just accede to a Palestinian state.

I was one of those who thought that evacuating Gaza, including the Jewish settlements there, was a good idea. I was looking forward--as were many Israelis--to the day when the West Bank could also be evacuated. But what happened when Israel withdrew? Palestinians started firing rockets into Israel. Those who did this might not have been supported by the Palestinian Authority of Mohamed Abbas, but the Authority could not or did not put a stop to it. True, the mortars are crude and have not done much damage, but you would not expect the Israelis to bet their lives and future on the inability the Palestinians to progress in that respect, would you?

Remember that Israel's 1967 borders left the West Bank approximately 10 miles from the Mediterranean coast. Even the crude rockets used now by Palestinian extremists could close Israel's international airport, and hit some of the most concentrated areas of the nation. Would you be willing to live in easy range of people who want to kill you just because of your religion or your nationality?

I'm all for peace, but not for suicide. Hamas, Hezbollah and their allies--not to mention al Qaeda and its ilk--will have to undergo great change or be removed as forces in the Middle East before we can expect Israel to conclude a real peace with the Palestinians.

One more point: while the Holocaust is no excuse for treating other people badly--I believe that if we Jews are the Chosen People, it is because we were chosen to BE better, not because we ARE better--but a people who have suffered what we Jews have has every right to assure ourselves of survival.

Site Meter