Monday, October 15, 2007

Parting Shot #1

Sunday's New York Times reported that
Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor....

The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state.
Linking to the story, John Aravosis at AmericaBlog tossed it off with a post that said, in its entirety, "Can't say I blame 'em."

Well, I can. Goddam it, I can. I can blame them and I do blame them. I refuse to pussyfoot around, to step tenderly where Israel is concerned, to accept policies and actions that would horrify us if done by others. What would be the reaction - seriously, ask yourself - what would be the reaction if Syria had bombed an Israeli nuclear facility? You know damn well what it would be: Outrage. Fury. Retaliation not only by Israel but perhaps by the US, where forces eagerly desiring such an attack would leap at the opportunity, as the same Times article made clear:
Vice President Dick Cheney and other hawkish members of the administration have made the case that the same intelligence that prompted Israel to attack should lead the United States to reconsider delicate negotiations with North Korea over ending its nuclear program, as well as America’s diplomatic strategy toward Syria, which has been invited to join Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md., next month.
Certainly it is no secret - though officially denied with a wink and a nudge - that Israel has nuclear weapons, that it has nuclear facilities. And Syria and Israel are formally at war. So why is it okay for Israel to bomb Syria but not the other way around? What, defense, the "existential threat to Israel's survival" presented by Syria? Don't be ridiculous; that hasn't been a valid argument for decades.

In fact, it has been some time since Israel showed a genuine interest in peace - provided we assume that "peace" can be differentiated from "dominance." As Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress and until recently a senior fellow at the conservative Council on Foreign Relations, put it this summer,
[b]oth Bush and [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert have spoken endlessly of their commitment to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is their determination to bring down Hamas rather than to build up a Palestinian state that animates their new-found enthusiasm for making [Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas look good. ... Palestinian moderates will never prevail over those considered extremists, since what defines moderation for Olmert is Palestinian acquiescence in Israel’s dismemberment of Palestinian territory. ...

In fact, all previous peace initiatives have got nowhere for a reason that neither Bush nor the EU has had the political courage to acknowledge. That reason is the consensus reached long ago by Israel’s decision-making elites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state which denies it effective military and economic control of the West Bank.
"The Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history," he declared, noting the statement of former Israeli Defense Force chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon that Israel's intent is "to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people."

Nearly four years ago, I noted that Israel had staged a large-scale incursion into Ramallah just two days before Palestinian groups were to meet in Egypt to discuss halting attacks on Israelis.
Does it seem to anyone else[, I wrote at the time,] that Israel always seems to make some "provocative" move - a raid, an assassination, a "clampdown," something - just at the moment when it looks like some radical Palestinian groups might agree to back off on violence or just before some negotiation is supposed to start?
Nothing in the intervening time has given me any reason to question that judgment. In fact, just a month ago,
Israel overshadowed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest Mideast peace mission by declaring Gaza a "hostile entity" and threatening to cut back vital utilities, drawing Palestinian wrath and putting Rice squarely in the middle of the latest squabble. ...

[Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni said Israel was not obliged to deliver anything to Gaza beyond humanitarian aid.

"When it comes to the humanitarian needs, we have our own responsibilities," Livni said. "All the needs which are more than humanitarian needs will not be supplied by Israel to Gaza Strip."

The decision is likely to reinforce perceptions among Palestinians and their Arab backers that Israel will do as it sees fit, regardless of the cost to civilians, and that the US will not block Israel's hand. That could cripple preparations for the Mideast conference.
And now, a bombing raid on a facility in Syria which, even if we take all official statements at face value and assume evil intent on Syria's part, was not a threat and could not become one for a minimum of three years - just a month before, as noted, the start of Middle East peace talks to which Syria has been invited. I can't say I'm surprised.

So yes, I can and do blame Israel. I blame it for its "separation barrier," the internationally-condemned massive wall intended to turn the West Bank into a series of bantustans.

I blame it for its continuing seizure of Palestinian land, sometimes in violation of its own laws.

I blame it for its continued stalling on West Bank withdrawal with excuse after excuse, now including the supposed need to have a missile defense system in place, which will take, says Defense Minister Ehud Barak, at least 21/2 years.

I blame it for making fake "peace" offers that it knew in advance would not, could not be accepted by any Palestinian leader, offers made only for political manipulation.

I blame it for playing up the deaths of Israelis while burying the deaths of Palestinians under layers of silence sufficient to hide the fact that, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, more than four times as many Palestinians have been killed by Israelis than the reverse since September 2000. (The numbers are 1025 Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinians between September 29, 2000 and September 30, 2007 and 4308 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and civilians in that same time. In some categories, such as minors, the discrepancy is over seven to one.)

I blame it for fanning the flames of tension and war by its provocative, aggressive, what Science, Sport and Culture Minister Ghaleb Majadele called "regular" intrusion in Syrian airspace by the Israeli military.

I blame it for its illegal, immoral imposition of collective punishment on the people of Gaza.

I blame it for turning even its roads into servants of apartheid.

And I blame us for putting up with it, abiding it, ignoring it except to accept it, and most especially for our role in paying for it over the years.

Am I saying that the Palestinians, that Fatah and Hamas, are blameless? Of course not and don't even try to lay that crap on me. But the fact remains that it is not the Palestinians whose actions we are effectually endorsing with $2.4 billion in military aid every year. That aid should be stopped. Immediately. Period. Not one dime for occupation and oppression. Not one penny.

Because yes, I damn well can blame them.

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