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Proletarian issue 37 (August 2010)
No return to business as usual for an increasingly isolated zionist state
On one level, it might seem that the fascist atrocity carried out by Israeli forces on board the Mavi Marmara, having temporarily woken consciences around the world, is already being successfully smoothed over and sanitised with the help of the ‘international community’. Scratch a little deeper, though, and it becomes clear that, for Israel, there can be no return to business as usual.
President Obama’s endorsement of Tel Aviv’s plan to have the fascists investigate themselves, with a hasty internal inquiry into the Mavi Marmara bloodbath, certainly gives some measure of just how far Washington is still prepared to go to cover for the crimes of its client state.

No West without Israel?

Given that the military inquiry panel was headed by a retired Israeli Defence Force (IDF) general, it was no surprise that the result was a whitewash that failed to identify any offending individuals and asserted that “there were no wrongdoings and no negligences in any fundamental areas”. The inquiry conceded only that there had been some “mistakes” further up the tree, underestimating the potential for violence in the operation – in other words, still trying to present the victims of fascist massacre as the instigators.

A second coat of whitewash is confidently anticipated a few months down the line when another Israeli propaganda exercise, the Turkel commission, is due to report further on the circumstances surrounding the attacks.

There has also been plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest continuing close White House involvement with Israel immediately prior to the assault on the aid flotilla. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, was closeted with both the prime minister and the president of Israel in the week preceding the attacks. Emmanuel, who holds dual citizenship in the US and in Israel and has Mossad connections, supported Obama in his race for the presidency.

Likewise, the decision to send David Trimble, that relic of Britain’s colonial policy in Ireland, to sit in on the inquiry as an observer shows just how deeply committed remains our own end of the Anglo-American axis to propping up the monstrous Israeli state.

It is noteworthy that, the very day following the Mavi Marmara killings, Trimble was to be found joining with kindred spirits like former Spanish prime minister José Aznar and John Bolton, formerly of the Bush administration, in founding the ‘Friends of Israel’, dedicated to defending zionism and attacking Iran. And for all the mild official reproofs over Israel’s conduct, Britain continues to supply the zionist state with the arms it needs to butcher Palestinians and peace activists, and the EU-Israel Association Agreement remains in place.

Yet Lord Trimble’s pals in the Friends of Israel get to the quick of imperialism’s dilemma when they boldly assert that “there is no West without Israel”. David Trimble can attest that there was a time when it was widely believed that there was no London without Londonderry. Now that colonial rule in the six counties is slinking ever closer to the exit, however, it turns out that British imperialism will have to get used to the idea of living without a satellite Orange statelet.

Proof that this bitter lesson is slowly sinking into even the densest imperialist brains is furnished by the Saville Report’s belated candour over Bloody Sunday, obliging the prime minister to stand up in parliament and confess at last that the Widgery Report had been a pack of lies from start to finish.

The historical parallel was not lost on the Palestinians of Gaza, who celebrated the Saville verdict as a victory for anti-imperialists everywhere, bearing aloft the flag of Palestine side by side with the Irish tricolour.

In the case of the Orange ascendancy, a pampered guard dog of imperialist interests, having long served as an instrument of national oppression, now finds itself increasingly marginalised. In Israel’s case, US imperialism is not yet bold enough to pull the rug from beneath the zionist feet.

However, Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, was not exhibiting paranoia alone when he briefed Israeli diplomats on the deterioration of US-Israel relations, declaring that “There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs. Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.”

Obama, he claimed, made judgements about Israel on the basis of cold calculation, unlike his predecessors. In fact, these cold calculations predate Obama’s watch, as evidenced for example by the leaked CIA document suggesting that Israel might no longer be around in 20 years’ time.

The important question to ask is not how deep Obama’s personal adherence to zionism is, but to what degree Israel’s behaviour is now disrupting rather than advancing the US struggle to maintain its hegemony in the Middle East.

Imperialism has no permanent allies, only permanent interests. Faced with the steadfast struggle of the Palestinian people and the increasing world revulsion against the criminal Israeli state, it cannot be doubted that some in Washington are growing eager to distance the US from mad-dog zionism and start to shape alliances in the Middle East better designed to square with Washington’s objectives in the region.

Yet phenomena such as the progress of the Iranian revolution, imperialist humiliation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the seething popular mood of anti-imperialism rocking the Egyptian state and Turkey’s uneven mutation from trusted cold-war satellite to independent regional power all suggest that such a belated re-jigging of US policy in the region could already be too late to save the US from further crushing disasters.

Whilst “No West without Israel” may be overstating the case, this dictum at least has the virtue of highlighting the perils awaiting US imperialism and its sidekicks in a post-Israel landscape – perils which it would be hard to overstate. In short, US imperialism is damned if it sticks with its maverick fascist sidekick, and no less damned if it turns traitor.

From Israel’s side, the political row that blew up over trade minister Ben-Eliezer’s secret efforts at conciliating Turkey, urged on by Washington, demonstrates the splits opening up within zionism itself as the pressure piles on. The state of relations within the Israeli cabinet may be judged by the trade minister’s reported threat to “kebab” an aide to defence minister Barak for briefing journalists against him.

Ben-Eliezer, who had already broken ranks by supporting the UN call for an international inquiry, provoked rage from both Barak and foreign secretary Lieberman when news of the talks got out. Whilst Ben-Eliezer’s desperate efforts to limit the growing damage to trade relations with Israel’s neighbours could not hope to seriously restrain the aggressive expansionism central to zionism, the bitter clash exposed the disunity right in the heart of the Israeli camp.

Turkey thinks again

Meanwhile, as is the case with the Israeli-US relationship, it would be hard to overestimate the closeness of the bonds which have hitherto obtained between Israel and Turkey, or to underestimate the damage to US hegemony posed by their possible dissolution.

The hangover from Turkey’s long and shameful role as Nato stooge left the nation with close military ties to Israel, not least as regards plans for aggression against Iran. Any loosening of those strong traditional bonds spells a major headache for imperialism.

Yet that is exactly what is starting to happen. Instead of rowing in with Washington’s efforts to
demonise Iran and construct a casus belli from that sovereign nation’s decision to develop its own nuclear energy programme, Turkey had already joined Brazil in proposing a diplomatic solution: a nuclear fuel swap agreement with Iran to satisfy all parties. When Washington brushed this initiative aside and steamrollered on with the demand for further UN sanctions, Ankara defiantly voted against.

Then came the murder by IDF soldiers of nine of Turkey’s citizens on board the Mavi Marmara. This act of war against the Turkish nation came at a time when the mildly Islamist Justice and Welfare (AK) party government was struggling to keep the ground beneath its feet amidst dirty tricks from within its own military as well as from beyond its borders.

Despite continuing close trade links between Israel and Turkey, the AK government has now warned that it will sever diplomatic relations unless the Israelis issue a formal apology or bow to calls for an international investigation of the murders. They have already cancelled planned joint military exercises with Israel and banned some Israeli war planes from using Turkish airspace.

Given the refusal of the EU to admit Turkey to membership, and now the refusal of Washington to insist upon an international investigation in line with the UN, it will increasingly be in Turkey’s interests to form closer relations with its other regional neighbours and emerging powers further afield, distancing itself still further from the former subordination to US imperialist goals. For example, the possibility beckons of closer economic integration with Syria – transforming an erstwhile enemy into a friend, while economic ties with Russia and China are booming.

Resistance broadens

Quite aside from the question of what responses governments choose to make to Israel’s war crimes, protest and opposition to these actions are spreading ever wider among the world’s peoples.

Even in Israel itself are to be found a brave minority of jews who stand out against the horrors being perpetrated in the name of Judaism.

In apartheid South Africa, a few whites resisted the institutionalised white supremacist thuggery dominating settler society, choosing to line up instead with those who fought for a democratic and non-racialist future for all citizens. In apartheid Israel now are to be found a similar brave minority who decide to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Such, for example, are represented in the ICAHD movement: the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. (See icahd.org)

Even setting aside the wholesale evictions of entire Arab populations in 1948 upon which Israel planted its bloody foundations, in the post-1967 period alone more than 18,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished as part of the vile policy of ethnic cleansing.

When a Palestinian acquires land, every bureaucratic trick is employed to deny him building permission. If he goes ahead and builds anyway, he will be fined for building without permission, he will see his home demolished – and then he will be billed for the ‘work’, just as in history the condemned man was expected to pay for the rope that hanged him. Enormous strain is put on the now-homeless family, sometimes broken up or obliged to camp out on the rubble of their old house.

Against this barbarism, ICAHD activists follow the watchword: Witness, Resist, Rebuild. Hearing of a home that is to be demolished, they join the occupants in the house. Whilst some chain themselves to the structure, others remonstrate with the wrecking crews and their armed escorts and make sure that media outlets and legal teams are kept abreast of developments.

Sometimes these efforts will slow the pace of demolition as well as making the ethnic cleansers’ crimes against humanity as visible as possible. When a demolition still goes ahead, Israeli activists will sometimes spend weeks working together with the dispossessed family to help rebuild what the zionists have so wantonly destroyed.

Just as with South Africa, it will be the Palestinian people who win justice and freedom by their own efforts, not as a gift but as a hard-won prize. It is precisely the unbroken and growing strength of their cause – and of the correspondingly dwindling ‘legitimacy’ of Israel – that stiffens the resolve of solidarity activists all round the world, such as those who participate each autumn in the olive picking season.

Palestinian olive farmers, hampered in their efforts to harvest their trees by the imposition of road-blocks and harassment by settlers, welcome the support of these international activists, whose presence affords them at least some degree of protection from zionist thuggery. Establishing such solidarity links also helps break down the misconceptions about Palestine encouraged by zionist cuckoos in the nest of the workers’ movement, not least in Britain. (Further information about the olive harvest programme this coming October can be had from visitpalestine@yahoo.co.uk)

Meanwhile, the ripples continue to spread out from the outrage against the Freedom Flotilla, shaking people awake. Even in Britain, whose arms companies have such a lucrative relationship with zionist state terror, the courageous example set by the solidarity activists on board the Mavi Marmara continues to have its effect, not least in Bristol, where the Raytheon merchants of death continue to serve Israel after having been successfully seen off from Derry.

The graphic accounts which two Bristolians on board the Mavi Marmara, Sakir Yildirim and Cliff Hanley, have been giving to packed public meetings since their return have galvanised opinion to such a degree that even the local council has passed a motion to condemn Israeli aggression and its blockade of Gaza.

The motion calls on the government to hold Israel to account for its illegal action and to ensure that future convoys from Bristol and elsewhere are able to deliver humanitarian aid without fear of an Israeli army attack. It demands an international investigation, the imposition of sanctions and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. It also demands that the government scraps a rule which prevents local councils from deciding to disinvest from countries which flout international law.

Given that the mover of this motion was a Liberal Democrat whose own party is currently propping up a Tory administration, the likelihood of the government acting on this advice is slim. Yet if sleepy municipal backwaters like this feel moved to take time out from unrolling the next tranche of public sector cuts in order to pass a motion like this one, does that not speak volumes about the extent to which Tel Aviv is losing its own propaganda war, despite all the best efforts of the BBC?

Israel has never looked more isolated and stripped of legitimacy.

Long live Palestine!
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