Israel, the big lie

Odilon Redon (1840–1916), charcoal and crayons, 1891 (The Met collection)
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By CHRIS HEDGES*

Israel does not exercise “the right to defend itself” but conducts mass murder

Nearly every word and phrase used by Democrats, Republicans and the talking heads in the media to describe the unrest inside Israel and the heaviest Israeli assault on Palestinians since the 2014 attacks on Gaza, which lasted 51 days and killed more of 2.200 Palestinians, including 551 children, are a lie. Israel, employing its military machine against an occupied population that lacks mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery, and command-and-control, not to mention a US commitment to provide a comprehensive defense aid package. of $38 billion to Israel over the next decade, is not exercising "the right to defend itself". You are conducting mass murder. It's a war crime.

Israel has made it clear that it is ready to destroy and kill as arbitrarily now as it was in 2014. Benny Gantz, who was chief of staff during the murderous attack on Gaza in 2014, promised that if Hamas “does not stop the violence, the 2021 coup will be harder and more painful than the 2014 one”. Current attacks have already hit several residential buildings, including those housing several local and international press agencies, government buildings, roads, public facilities, agricultural land, two schools and a mosque.

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, four of which as head of the The New York Times in the region. I am fluent in Arabic. I once lived for weeks in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison, where more than two million Palestinians live on the verge of starvation, struggle to find clean water, and resist constant Israeli terror. I was in Gaza when it was hit by Israeli artillery and air strikes. I watched mothers and fathers, weeping in grief, rocking the bloodied bodies of their sons and daughters. I know the crimes of the occupation – the food shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, the suffocating overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the almost constant power outages due to Israeli attacks on power stations, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment. , fear and despair. I have witnessed the carnage.

I have also heard the lies about Gaza emanating from Jerusalem and Washington. Israel's indiscriminate use of modern industrial weapons to kill thousands of innocents, injure thousands more, and leave tens of thousands of families homeless is not war: it is state-sponsored terror. And while I oppose the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians against Israel, while I oppose suicide bomb attacks as war crimes as well, I am acutely aware of a huge disparity between industrial violence conducted by Israel against Palestinians innocent people and the minimal acts of violence likely to be perpetrated by groups such as Hamas.

The false equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian violence echoed during the war I covered in Bosnia. We who were in the besieged city of Sarajevo were daily crushed with hundreds of heavy bombs and rockets from the surrounding Serbs. We were targeted by sniper fire. The city recorded a few dozen dead and wounded every day. Government forces within the city fired back with light mortars and small arms fire. Serb supporters took advantage of some casualties caused by Bosnian government forces to play the same dirty game, even though over 90% of deaths in Bosnia were the fault of the Serbs, as is also true of Israel.

The second and perhaps most important parallel is that the Serbs, like the Israelis, were the main violators of international law. Israel is breaking more than 30 UN Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which defines the collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention by settling more than half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and by ethnically cleansing at least 750.000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300.000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied after the 1967 war. His annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does his construction of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian lands to Israel. It is in violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 which states that "Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be allowed to do so as soon as possible".

This is the truth. Any other starting point for the discussion of what goes on between Israel and the Palestinians is a lie.

Israel's once vibrant peace movement and political left, which condemned and protested the Israeli occupation when I lived in Jerusalem, is dying. The right-wing Netanyahu government, despite its rhetoric about fighting terrorism, has built an alliance with the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia, which also considers Iran an enemy. Saudi Arabia, a country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 11/XNUMX attacks, is reputed to be the most prolific sponsor of the islamic terrorism international community, allegedly supporting Salafist jihadism, al-Qaeda grassroots, and groups such as Taliban in Afghanistan, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.

Saudi Arabia and Israel worked closely to support the 2013 military coup in Egypt led by General Adbul Fattah el Sisi. Sisi overthrew a democratically elected government. He arrested tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel in keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places in the world. Israel's cynicism and hypocrisy, especially when wrapped in the mantle of protecting democracy and fighting terrorism, is of epic proportions.

Those who are not Jewish in Israel are either second-class citizens or live under brutal military occupation. Israel is not, and never has been, the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people. From the seventh century until 1948, when Jewish settlers used violence and ethnic cleansing to create the State of Israel, Palestine was overwhelmingly Muslim. It was never an empty land. Jews in Palestine were traditionally a tiny minority. The United States is not an honest broker for peace, and it financed, permitted and defended Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Israel is not upholding the rule of law. Israel is not a democracy. It's a state of apartheid.

That the Israel lie continues to be embraced by ruling elites – there is no discrepancy between the statements in defense of Israeli war crimes by Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz – and used as a basis for any discussion of Israel is proof of the corrupting power of money , in this case the LOBBY of Israel, and the failure of a political system of legalized bribery that has surrendered its autonomy and its principles to its main donors. It is also an astounding example of how settlement projects, and this is true in the United States, always carry out cultural genocide so that they can live in a state of mythological suspension and historical amnesia to legitimize themselves.

The Israel Lobby has shamelessly used its enormous political influence to demand that Americans do de facto oaths of allegiance to Israel. The approval by 35 state legislatures of supporting legislation LOBBY from Israel, requiring its workers and contractors, under threat of dismissal, to sign a pro-Israel oath and pledge not to support the movement Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions it is a mockery of our constitutional right to free speech. Israel did LOBBY with the US State Department to redefine anti-Semitism according to a three-point test known as the Three Ds: crafting statements that “demonize” Israel; statements applying “double standards” to Israel; statements that “delegitimize” the State of Israel. This definition of antisemitism is being driven by LOBBY of Israel in state laws and fields College students. O LOBBY of Israel spies in the United States, often under the direction of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, those who defend Palestinian rights. Conducts public smear campaigns and lists Palestinian rights advocates – including Jewish historian Norman Finkelstein; the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, also a Jew; and university students, many of them Jewish, in organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Israel lobby has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to manipulate the US election, far beyond anything allegedly done by Russia, China or any other country. Israel's heavy interference in the US political system, which includes operatives and donors amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in every US constituency for candidates who meet funders' requirements, is documented in the Al- Jazeera in four episodes, “The Lobby”. Israel managed to block the transmission ofThe Lobby”. In the film, a pirated copy is available on the site Electronic Intifada, the leaders of LOBBY from Israel are repeatedly caught on a reporter's hidden camera explaining how they, backed by intelligence inside Israel, target and silence American critics and use massive donations of money to buy off politicians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured the unconstitutional invitation to then Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner to address Congress in 2015 and denounce President Barack Obama's Iranian nuclear deal. Netanyahu's open defiance of Obama and the alliance with the Republican Party, however, did not stop Obama from authorizing, in 2014, a military aid package to Israel worth 38 billion dollars for 10 years, a sad observation on how American politics is captive to Israeli interests.

The investment by Israel and its supporters is worth it, especially considering that the US has also spent over $6 trillion during the last 20 years waging futile wars that Israel and its LOBBY boosted in the Middle East. These wars are the greatest strategic disasters in American history, accelerating the decline of the American empire, bankrupting the nation in a time of economic stagnation and increasing poverty, and turning huge parts of the globe against us. They serve Israel's interests, not ours.

The longer one embraces the false Israeli narrative, the more powerful racists, bigots, conspiracy theorists and far-right hate groups inside and outside Israel become. This steady shift to the extreme right in Israel has fostered an alliance between Israel and the Christian right, many of whom are anti-Semitic. The more Israel and the LOBBY of Israel intensify the charge of anti-Semitism against those who speak for Palestinian rights, as they did against the leader of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, the more they encourage real anti-Semites.

Racism, including anti-Semitism, is dangerous. It's not just bad for Jews. It's bad for everyone. He empowers the dark forces of ethnic and religious hatred in extremes. Netanyahu's racist government has built alliances with far-right leaders in Hungary, India and Brazil, and has been a close ally of Donald Trump. Racists and ethnic chauvinists, as I saw in the wars in the former Yugoslavia, feed off each other. They divide societies into polarized and antagonistic camps that only speak the language of violence. Radical jihadists need Israel to justify their violence, just as Israel needs radical jihadists to justify their violence. These extremists are ideological twins.

This polarization fosters a fearful and militarized society. It allows ruling elites in Israel, as well as in the United States, to dismantle civil liberties in the name of national security. Israel runs training programs for military police, including those in the United States. It is a global player in the multi-billion dollar drone industry, competing with China and the United States.

Oversees hundreds of cyber surveillance companies whose innovations in espionage, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, have been used abroad “to locate and detain human rights activists, harass members of the LGBT community, silence citizens critical of their governments, and even fabricate cases of blasphemy against Islam in Muslim countries that do not maintain formal relations with Israel”.

Israel, like the United States, has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. One million Israelis, many of them among the most enlightened and educated, left the country. Its most courageous human rights defenders, intellectuals and journalists – Israelis and Palestinians – are under constant government surveillance, arbitrary arrests and heinous government-led smear campaigns. Gangs and guards, including criminals from right-wing youth groups like Im Tirtzu, physically attack dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and African immigrants in Tel Aviv's slums. These Jewish extremists harassed Palestinians around Sheikh Jarrah, demanding their expulsion. They are supported by a range of anti-Arab groups, including the Otzma Yehudit party, the ideological descendant of the banned Kach party, the Lehava movement, which demands that all Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories be expelled to neighboring Arab states, and La Family, far-right hooligans. Lehava in Hebrew means "flame" and is the acronym for "Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land". Bands of these fanatical Jews parade through Palestinian neighborhoods, including occupied East Jerusalem, protected by Israeli police, shouting to the Palestinians living there “Death to Arabs”, which is also a popular chant at Israeli football games.

Israel passed a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that echo the racist Nuremberg Laws that deprived Jews of their rights in Nazi Germany. The Communities Acceptance Act, for example, allows "small, all-Jewish towns throughout the Galilee region to formally reject applicants for residency on the basis of 'appropriateness to the fundamental outlook of the community'." Israel's educational system, beginning in primary school, uses the Holocaust to portray Jews as eternal victims. This victimization is an indoctrination machine used to justify racism, Islamophobia, religious chauvinism and the deification of the Israeli military.

There are many parallels between the deformities that adhere to Israel and the deformities that adhere to the United States. Both countries are moving at breakneck speed towards a XNUMXst century fascism cloaked in religious language that will abrogate what remains of our civil liberties and extinguish our anemic democracies. America's failure to uphold the rule of law, to demand that Palestinians, powerless and friendless, even in the Arab world, be granted basic human rights, mirrors the neglect of the vulnerable within our own society. I fear we are taking the same path as Israel. It will be devastating for Palestinians. It will be devastating for us. And all resistance, as Palestinians boldly show us, will only come from the streets.

*Chris Hedges is a journalist. Author, among other books, of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Nation books).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves

Originally published on the portal Scheerpost.

 

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