Friday, November 16, 2012

My Brother's Keeper III

In view of the current Israeli attack on Gaza, it has become increasingly untenable to try to cast Israel's conduct as self-defense.  (Which doesn't keep the Only President We've Got from trying, of course.)  Once again Israeli broke a ceasefire to kill a few people in Gaza, which led to retaliatory missiles aimed at Israel, which led to the Israeli assassination of a Hamas official and then to the Israeli blitzkrieg.  It needs to be stressed again that it is usually Israel that breaks the ceasefires, and that if Israeli leaders really wanted to stop missiles from Gaza, they need only to stop their own attacks.  If any further evidence were needed, it is clear that contrary to its protestations, it is Israel that doesn't want peace, except the peace of the conqueror.

I was quite surprised to see that the Washington Post had put on their front page a picture of a Palestinian father grieving for his 11-month-old baby killed by Israeli violence.  Ordinarily only Israeli suffering gets this treatment in corporate US media.  But of course, most other US coverage of the attacks on Gaza has followed the Israeli/US line.  That means lying, but what else is new?

An interesting trope emerged in comments to Glenn Greenwald's post on the subject today:
Missing is some good literature about what would happen to the Israelis if the Arabs won. What would happen to the Jewish and Christian Arab children, women and older men if the IDF is defeated? How would the Arabs treat the Israelis that are left alive? How would they divide up the country among the victorious parties? A good thought piece for a novel, and one that many people don't ever think about.

But what would happen if the people of Gaza won, and were able to rush out of Gaza and take over Israel. Would they be nicer to the Jews than the Israeils were to them?
This is a rather daring move, comparable to Obama apologists who admit that their POTUS has been something of a disappointment.  This commenter admits, at least rhetorically, that the Israelis have not been "nice" to the people of Gaza, which is pretty bold since all decent people know that the Arabs have only gotten what they deserved for wanting to drive the Jews into the sea.  We are constantly dunned with celebrations of the moral superiority of Israel not only to the Arabs but to all other nations. (The commenter also makes an interesting flipflop from "Jews" to "Israelis.")  Given what the commenter admitted, could Israelis and their American apologists really complain if a defeated Israel suffered the same treatment it has inflicted on its enemies?  If the conquering "Arabs" were no "nicer" to the defeated Israelis than the Israelis have been to the Palestinians and Lebanese, consistency would require the world (or at least the US) to marvel at the conquerors' very great indulgence and mercy, and to hail them as a moral example to the rest of the world.

But as with Obamabots, the concession is in the service of a greater lie.  It's a breathtaking diversion, but one I've seen before, sometimes tacit, sometimes explicit.  No doubt many people in the Middle East would like to see Israel vanish into thin air, but Hamas has declared that it accepts a two-state solution on the 1967 borders.  Perhaps this declaration is as disingenuous as Israel's own claims to want peace, but it should be tested.  It won't, of course, because both the US and Israel reject it, in defiance of the international consensus. And it would not mean that the Palestinians had won and were ready to take over Israel.  (The commenter's echo of traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric is, I presume, unconscious.)  It's unlikely that Palestine would ever have the military might that Israel has, which includes a nuclear arsenal of dubious legality, nor would it receive military aid on the scale Israel receives.  Maybe what the commenter is proposing is a worthwhile thought experiment, but I don't see why.  It's really irrelevant, but I think it lurks beneath the surface of a lot of Israeli and pro-Israeli propaganda, so it's worth noticing.

What I and probably most thoughtful critics of Israel favor is not an Israeli defeat. What we favor is that Israel should stop its terrorist violence against the Palestinians and others. (A good parallel would be the US "defeat" in Vietnam, which only meant that the US had to withdraw its forces; it did not mean US surrender to the Vietnamese people, who did not then occupy Washington and take over the US government.)  The Israelis need not surrender, contrary to what the commenter and others assume. All they need to do is stop their abuse of human rights, their violation of every humane concern that arose after the obscenity of World War II and the Nazi crimes. There are more alternatives than the status quo and the obliteration of Israel.

As the political philosopher Michael Neumann wrote in his 2005 book The Case Against Israel (Counterpunch/AK Press), no one is morally required to compromise with an invasion, and "having renounced all of pre-1967 Israel, the Palestinians have already compromised enormously when they demand total withdrawal from the Occupied Territories" (146). What comparable compromise can the Israelis offer?