By Alan Hart
On the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip – in my view it was a demonstration of Israeli state terrorism at its most naked – it’s not enough to say that the governments of the Western powers (and others) are complicit in Israel’s on-going collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians, 53% of whom are children.
What is actually happening in the blockaded Gaza Strip, and less obviously on the occupied West Bank, is the continuation by stealth of Zionism’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. My friend Professor Ilan Pappe, Israel’s leading “revisionist” (meaning honest) historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, would and has put it another way. What we are witnessing is, in his words, “genocide in slow motion.” And that, really, is what the governments of the Western powers (and others) are complicit in.
The question that provokes in my mind is: Why, really, are the major powers (and others) allowing it to happen?
The only answer that makes some sense to me is this. They have concluded, but cannot say, that nuclear-armed Israel, with the assistance of the Zionist lobby in all of its manifestations, is a monster beyond control. In my analysis it’s possible to identify the moment in history when the major powers abandoned any hope they might have had of containing Zionism’s colonial ambitions. It came, the moment, in the immediate aftermarth of the 1967 war. Contrary to Zionism’s version of the story, it was a war of Israeli aggression not self-defense. As I document in some detail in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Israel’s military and political leaders knew the Arabs were not intending to attack. That being so, what the major powers ought to have said to Israel (in the diplomatic language of a Security Council Resolution and more explicitly behind closed doors) is something like: “Aggression cannot be rewarded. Aggressors cannot keep territory conquered in war. You are now required to get the hell out of it without laying down conditions for your withdrawal.” To drive home the point, they could and should have reminded Israel of what President Eisenhower said to the people of America when he demanded Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from Egyptian territory after its collusion with Britain and France in 1956. Eisenhower, the first and the last American president to contain Zionism, said this: “If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order. We will have countenanced the use of force as a means of settling international differences and gaining national advantage… If the UN once admits that international disputes can be settled using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the organisation and our best hope for establishing a real world order.” As it happened, the major powers could not say that to Israel in 1967 because the Johnson administration had colluded with Israel to the extent of giving it the greenlight to smash Eygpt’s armed forces, in the hope that a humiliating defeat for them would lead to the overthrow of President Nasser. But also true is that President Johnson sought and obtained an assurance that Israel would not take advantage of the war situation to grab Jordanian and Syrian territory. It was because some in the Johnson administration (probably Defense Secretary McNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff) didn’t trust Israel to keep its word that the U.S. spy ship, the Liberty, was stationed off the Israel/Gaza coast to listen to IDF movement orders. And it was because Israeli Defense Minister Dayan didn’t want Johnson to know that he intended to take the West Bank and the Golan Heights that he, Dayan, ordered the attack on the Liberty. (The full story of that attack and Johnson’s cover-up of it is also in my book, in a chapter headed The Liberty Affair – “Pure Murder” on a “Great Day”). Despite that, the major powers, including and led by America, could still have acted firmly to contain Zionism’s colonial ambitions. They could have said to Israel something like: “We can just about live with the fact that you will retain the newly occupied Arab territories as a bargaining chip, to be exchanged for peace with your Arab neighbours, but we will not allow you to settle those territories. Not one building. If you defy us on this matter, the Security Council will authorize enforcement action as necessary to oblige you to comply with international law.” In what became Security Council Resolution 242, it was the failure of the major powers to read the riot act to Israel on the matter of not settling the newly occupied territories that marks the moment when they, the major powers, became resigned to the fact that the Zionist state, assisted by its awesomely powerful global lobby, was a monster they could not control. (They could slap it on the wrist from time to time but not control it). The lesson of the cold-blooded attack on the Liberty was that there is nothing the Zionist state might not do, to its friends as well as its enemies, in order to get its own way. (In my book I explain, on the basis of a conversation with Dayan, the real reason for Israel’s decision to acquire a nuclear arsenal. It was to have the deterrent threat capability of saying to its friends, “Don’t push us further than we are prepared to go or we’ll use these things.”) So in the full light of the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, it’s not surprising that the major powers (and others) are today complicit, more by default than design I say, in Zionism’s crimes.