Israel’s Calculated Brutality

gaza flotillaEven Americans, finally, seem to be catching on to Israel’s brutality toward Palestinians and it’s never ending drive for effective control of lands beyond its borders – liebensraum, to borrow a word.

Israel’s perpetual claims to victimhood, and a supposedly resulting right to brutalize the people of Gaza, Lebanon, and any other peoples it chooses, have worn through at last, at least in the finally opened eyes of a large and growing minority in this country. The claim is a tactic, not a truth.

Much of the rest of the world caught on years ago.

Sadly, American politicians still are pants-wetting terrified of Israel’s lock-step army of supporters in this country. Those supporters are a powerful electoral force in some areas, although probably not as powerful as the pols think.

The killing and wounding of unarmed people aboard a vessel in international waters May 31 may have been just another ploy by the Israeli government, or it may have been the result of arrogance and stupidity, perhaps tinged with racial hatred.

In either case, it was unforgivably callous and pig-brutal.

Oh…The Israelis claim that the “militants” (always use a strong word with a bad connotation to describe your opponents) came “armed with bladed weapons” and such and planned from the beginning to attack boarding Israeli troops.

Right. The people on the boats planned to attack heavily armed Israeli boarders with knives and clubs. Oh, yeah.

Israeli official statements fail to mention the lethal deck chairs with which some of the “militants” supposedly armed themselves when they came under attack by commandos carrying pistols and automatic weapons.

A letter to the editor in the New York Times on June 2 reflected an attitude encountered more and more often in this country -– an attitude and an experience that is identical to my own, by the way.

The letter writer recalled how, as a 13-year-old in 1948, she received high praise for raising money to support the then-infant Israel. Now, her letter said, “I’ve had it with Israel, and I want my money back.”

That simple sentence carries a very large load of anger and revulsion.

Israel began its blockade of Gaza in June 2007. Since then, it has had almost total control of what goes in and out of that small piece of land which houses about 1.5 million people, almost all of them Palestinians. From the beginning, it has been needlessly and deliberately cruel in determining what can reach that population –- keeping out food, materials for building much-needed housing and even squeezing medical supplies. Every outsider who has managed to get into and look around the enclave has come away with the impression that the whole of Gaza is a poorly supplied prison.

The blockade began when the people of Gaza elected members of a militant Hamas to govern them in place of a more moderate Fatah. Hamas is a declared enemy of Israel, and maintains that the Jewish state has no legal right to exist. Hamas, of course, won election in response by Gazans to Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians, including themselves.

Egypt, which has the only other land border with Gaza, has mostly complied with Israel’s choking of the district out of fear of both Hamas and Israel.

Supposedly, the blockade was to show the people of Gaza that they had made a terrible mistake and that they would be far better off if they quickly threw Hamas out and gave power in the region back to Fatah or to some other relatively moderate political organization.

(In fact, given their history, it is more than possible that that Israel’s right wing leaders were privately pleased by the installation of Hamas in Gaza. Gave them a great excuse to squeeze the enclave.)

All of the basic facts are available in a hundred different archives.

Obviously, the proclaimed goal of forcing a quick turn away from Hamas failed, as it was bound to do. Obviously, Israel’s continued chokehold on Gaza has exactly the opposite effect. Gazans aren’t going to change their government because Israel says it must. Under similar situations, almost any country or region anywhere in the world would be equally obstinate. Obviously, Israel’s stated goal was nothing but cover for what it wanted to do anyway.

Hitler and many another megalomaniac sometimes used false flag operations -– staging phony provocations -– to justify an attack on another country. Almost all invasions, including Bush-Cheney’s illegal invasion of Iraq, are justified by the perpetrators through use of a phony claim of provocation.

Israel has given those old tactics a different, if not entirely original, twist.

Israel pushes people and pushes them and pushes them again, like a bully repeatedly jabbing his finger into a smaller guy’s chest until the jabbed spot grows sore and temper overheats, driving the little guy to take a swing. Then the big guy has an excuse to beat the crap out of his victim.

Fences, checkpoints, frequent demands for identity papers, blocking roads or making them Jews-only roads, sometimes destroying housing and/or businesses – those and a hundred other devices are used against Palestinians in neighboring countries and even on Palestinian Israeli citizens.

When some of the bullied people have taken all they can or will, and use whatever comes to hand to fight back, Israel labels them “terrorists” -– sometimes they are, sometimes not -– and uses its military to kill and maim and further grind down the Palestinian populations. And all the while, it complains to the world that it is a victim, only trying to defend itself against Arab and Palestinian aggression.

Poor little Israel, with a military power that is unprecedented for a country so small, a military power that far outguns any combination of other powers in the region, thanks in large part to American politicians and American taxpayers.

That “poor little victim” act has worked in the United States since 1948, bolstered as it always has been by what Sarah Palin –- wrong about everything else -– rightfully disdains as “the lamestream media” and politicians who cower before the money and vote control of AIPAC and other American agencies of the Israeli government.

Europeans, with a freer press, started catching on in the 1960s. They pretty much have Israel figured out.

Here, the vast majority still don’t know that Israeli troops deliberately rained bombs and shells on civilian populations and targeted United Nations observers during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, nor do most Americans know yet of the deliberately murderous attacks on civilians, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure in Gaza in 2008 –- attacks so brutal and purposeful that the United Nations condemned many of the actions, and numerous international human rights organizations said flatly that Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israel, as always, raised a middle finger in the direction of its critics and made only cursory denials, just as it is now raising that finger at those who want an independent investigation of its actions against the unarmed people on those relief boats. It will not cooperate. It never cooperates with such efforts.

It knew in 2006 and 2008 that it could rely on the United States and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the German government, to back its play. It knows that now.

The questions as yet unaddressed by any commentary I’ve seen is why the brutalization of Gaza continues and, more immediately, why Israel, apparently deliberately, provoked an international uproar.

There seem to be multiple answers to the first of those questions. One is simply that Israel’s extremist government makes life hell for the people of Gaza because it can — because it gets some sort of satisfaction from that stance, just as any strutting bully enjoys creating misery for his victims. Another may have to do with weakening Gaza’s population in preparation for more invasions and, possibly, eventually taking over the territory. Or, more simply, continuing the provocations so that some Gazans hit their limits and, through mostly harmless attacks, keep giving Israel excuses for its harsh treatment of Palestinians and Arabs.

Timing of the provocation is of greater concern right now. There was absolutely no need for the violence used in taking over the relief vessels, and planning of a sort well within Israel’s capabilities would have prevented it. Therefore, it’s rational to assume that Israel deliberately provoked the anger now heard around the world.

It’s harder to figure that out, but some possibilities that occur while thinking about it are frightening.

Some thoughts:

Israel continues to deliberately provoke the western world when its leaders feel that other countries need a reminder that Israel does what it damned well pleases and the opinions of others don’t matter.

Israel can get away with that because it is certain that the United States will prevent any serious repercussions for its actions, no matter how far beyond decency or international law. No United Nations resolutions will make any difference to Israel’s place in the world, no effective sanctions will ever stand against Israel. Any substantial force that acts against Israel will face the combined military might of Israel and the United States.

But Israel’s right wing leaders have made it clear they are unhappy with U.S. President Barack Obama. He has sometimes dared to wag a remonstrative finger at them (though nothing more, of course).

Israel demands that U.S. presidents do what Israel tells them on questions pertaining to the Middle East. It wants obedience, and Obama has a couple of times given indications of unwillingness to be entirely obedient.

Is the attack on the relief boats a way of reminding Obama that he damned well better behave as Israel dictates if he wants to retain political power? Is it possibly more –- a reminder that when Israel starts its intended war with Iran, Obama better jump in, and do it quickly and with all-out effort?

It’s impossible to argue with the fact that Israel has enormous political clout in this country.

AIPAC, the biggest and most powerful of many pro-Israel — one can say Israeli-controlled — organizations, can call on huge money reserves to put in play for or against American politicians. Other organizations have less, but still plenty, of power.

Those organizations also command millions of votes in key states in this country.

The number of holocaust survivors is, of course, dwindling, but they raised children and grandchildren to be totally loyal to Israel as the long-denied spiritual, if not always physical, homeland of Jews. Among the memories of my youth are the parents of Jewish friends who asked of any big event, “How does that affect Israel?” Their loyalty was passionate and unquestioning and, under the circumstances of their lives, perfectly reasonable. For a substantial number of American Jews, the emotional tie continues undiluted.

But, of course, there also are millions of non-Jewish Americans like me, raised on newsreel images of Jewish survivors of Hitler’s madness jammed onto rusty ships standing off Palestinian ports and forbidden to land by British troops. We were raised on Leon Uris’s “Exodus,” novel and movie, which taught all of America that Israel was righteous and its founders all heroic. (The terrorists among them were never identified as such.) And we were rightfully horrified by the true stories, then still emerging, of the insanity and evil of the Nazi regime.

Our kids heard of those horrors from us, and in their schools.

And now the emotional American support of Israel is bolstered by Christian nutters who think that supporting Israel in all that it does will bring the “rapture” soon to a neighborhood near them.

Still, many Americans have caught on to the fact that, whatever the original virtues of Israel, real and imagined, it’s actions these days make it an outlaw country. More people are figuring that out day by day.

But the majority position in this country still probably is unquestioning support for Israel.

It has long been obvious that Israel wants a war with Iran, and it intends that the United States join in that war, probably with troops and planes and bombs, but certainly with financial and materiel support. In fact, statements from Israeli politicians and Israel’s government in the first days after the attack on the relief boats have carried references to Iran. One such statement said that if Israel lets relief boats land, soon “Iran will have a port in Gaza.”

A whole lot of American politicians, in thrall to the arms industries and other industries that profit from war, fully support an attack on Iran. Many more who get financial and organizational support from the likes of AIPAC and it supporters will go along.

It’s at least possible that the murder of the folks on the humanitarian aid boats was a simple reminder to our president and other Democrats that they will be in deep trouble if they don’t follow the script written in Israel. The myriad letters to newspapers around the country that appeared within a day of the attack on the boats show how quickly Israel can rally support in this country for anything it does.

Israel wasn’t quite ready with its PR playbook when its troops dropped onto the relief ships and started beating and shooting.

But Israel is good at believable lies and quick with a spin.

Within 24 hours of the attacks on the high seas, Israel was putting out the word that the people aboard the relief boats trying to carry food and clothing to Gaza are “supporters of terrorists.” Some people inclined toward Israel in all situations believe that, though even cursory examination shows that it makes no sense. Repetition over the days and weeks and months to come –- no doubt, with additional manufactured “evidence” as time goes by -– will lead many more to believe it.

But many of us, a quickly growing number, have had our fill of Israel’s outlaw government.

So, incidentally, has a substantial minority of Israel’s Jewish population. You will see that if you get news from sources other than television and corporate American newspapers.

Jim Fuller


Published by the LA Progressive on June 4, 2010
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About Jim Fuller

James Clay Fuller is a sort-of retired journalist who has worked in newspapers and magazines for more than 45 years. His day job for 30 years was at the Minneapolis StarTribune, where he was a business and economics reporter, features writer, and sometime music critic, as well as an editor in charge of several specialized sections of the newspaper and a number of investigative projects. He was nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in 1977 and 1992, and was the instigator and senior editor on a project that was nominated for a Pultizer in 1997. He has written for many national publications.

Professionally, Fuller has been known throughout his career as Jim Fuller. However, when applying for the URL of that name, he learned it has been hijacked by a Web squatter who is using it in an extremely offensive way. In addition, Web searches for "Jim Fuller" turn up thousands of others with the same name, so he is now using his full name - James Clay Fuller - to make it easier to find him online.