Article from Challenge Magazine on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Jurriaan Bendien J.Bendien at wolmail.nl
Tue Dec 10 14:28:16 MST 2002


Here's an article from the latest issue of CHALLENGE (see
http://www.hanitzotz.com/challenge/). CHALLENGE is a bi-monthly leftist
magazine focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a global
context. Published in Jaffa by Arabs and Jews, it features political
analysis, investigative reporting, interviews, eye-witness reports, gender
studies, arts, and more.

Sowing the Whirlwind: Israel, America and the Coming War

Roni Ben Efrat

President George W. Bush gets wall-to-wall support in Israel for his
impending war against Iraq. Left and right exalt him. The press beats the
drum. Doves on the Palestinian issue become hawks on the question of Iraq.
Among the wider Israeli public, 40% support a nuclear response if Iraq uses
chemical or biological weapons against them, even if these pose no real
threat to the existence of the state. Israelis line up obediently to get
their gas masks. The benefits of war seem so obvious that not a single
discussion has taken place in either the Knesset or the cabinet.
When war comes, the country most likely to feel the wrath of Iraq will be
Israel. Yet Israelis support Bush's war even more than Americans do. This
fact stands out all the more when we note that in the rest of the world,
including America, the topic occasions heated debate. German chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder won re-election because of his staunch stand against the
war on Iraq. At the time of this writing, in the UN Security Council, France
and Russia threaten to veto an American resolution that would authorize an
immediate war if Iraq impedes the weapons inspectors.

Half of the American population supports the war, but that is a drop of 17%
since June. On October 26, a coalition called ANSWER organized 150,000
Americans in a march against the war. In London on September 28, 350,000
protested. (According to the Guardian, only a third of the British support
the war.) In Italy 1.5 million demonstrated against the pro-war stance (and
the economic policies) of the Berlusconi government

What about Israel's opposition? One hears not a peep. Yossi Sarid, its
parliamentary leader, gave a speech on October 14 at the opening of the
Knesset's winter session. He said nothing of either Iraq or the
Palestinians. He confined his talk to the poverty in Israel. He spoke of a
boy who received lunch at school. The teacher noticed a lump in his pocket,
and it turned out to be a chicken drumstick, which the boy was saving for
his mother. This is surely a legitimate story, but Sarid omitted the
context: Israel's deepening social disaster is largely a result of its
worsening political entanglement, both with the Palestinians and with the
wider Arab world. The war against Iraq will entangle it further.

A messianic junta
Israel is traditionally pro-American. This is nothing new. Israelis must ask
themselves, however, whether the Bush Administration deserves the same
fidelity as its predecessors. The answer is a resounding No! The world
stands today before a new-old phenomenon, whose ramifications extend far
beyond the American-Iraqi conflict. After dubious elections, the White House
has been taken over by a right-wing junta, buttressed by 70 million
Christian fundamentalists who link their destiny to Zion.

This messianic concept finds its secular match in the interpretation of
history held by the people surrounding Bush: Vice President Dick Cheney,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice, and their subordinates, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. In the
Reagan era, as these people see it, a Republican administration defeated the
"evil empire", leaving America as the only superpower. Bush Senior exploited
the new situation, mounting a successful worldwide offensive against Iraq.
Then came a falling off. Because of economic trifles, Americans elected Bill
Clinton. Instead of leading the nation towards its manifest destiny as world
ruler, Clinton sought "peace dividends". The country's defenses went to
seed. At last, however, the Reagan-Bush team is back. It will lead the US to
global hegemony.

This notion is inscribed in a lengthy document entitled Rebuilding America's
Defenses. It was published in September 2000, prior to the American
presidential election, by a conservative group that calls itself "The
Project for the New American Century." "In broad terms," say its authors,
"we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by the
Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The
Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a
blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great
power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with
American principles and interests."
(<www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf>, p. ii.)

Rebuilding America's Defenses has been the basis for the foreign and defense
policy of George W. Bush. Its main thrust is an expansion of American
military might, such that the US will remain unchallenged as the world's
sole superpower. To that end, it holds, America must increase defense
spending, develop nuclear power and resume nuclear testing. It advocates
cancellation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Clinton signed
(ibid., pp. 7-8). Its influence was already apparent during the first year
of the new Bush Administration, which blocked international arms control
treaties.

Rebuilding America's Defenses was written before the attacks of September
11, 2001. These gave a new urgency to America's drive for global control, as
reflected in a more recent document, "The National Security Strategy of the
United States", published by the Bush Administration on September 20, 2002
(        <http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/secstrat.htm>).

The new National Security document contains what has come to be known as the
Bush Doctrine: "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads
of radicalism and technology." America must prove its determination to act.
"Our immediate focus will be those terrorist organizations of global reach
and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism which attempts to gain or
use weapons of mass destruction. .While the United States will constantly
strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not
hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense
by acting preemptively..." And later: "For centuries, international law
recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully
take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent
danger of attack. . We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the
capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries." The consequence is
clear: Americans will not be safe until their Uncle Sam becomes the world's
Big Brother.

In the New York Review of Books (September 26), Frances Fitzgerald points
out that the senior Bush, unlike his son, knew his way around in foreign
affairs. Among George Senior's top advisors, Defense Secretary Cheney was a
hawkish minority of one. In the new White House, the junior Bush depends
completely on his advisors. Here VP Cheney is joined by his old friend and
mentor, right-winger Donald Rumsfeld, who took Paul Wolfowitz, co-author of
the DPG, as his deputy. To the latter's former Pentagon position, Rumsfeld
appointed Douglas Feith, a favorite of Richard Perle, who was a leading hawk
in the Reagan Administration. (Perle today advises the Pentagon.) Thus the
war-mongering minority from the time of the elder Bush is today the main
advisory group around his ignorant son.

***

There is an Israeli connection. In 1996, according to Fitzgerald, Perle and
Feith wrote a document advising Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's new prime
minister, to make a clean break with the Oslo peace process and renew direct
Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. When Netanyahu declined to
accept this counsel, Feith published it in a piece of his own. "The price in
blood would be high," he wrote, but it would be a necessary form of
"detoxification - the only way out of Oslo's web." (Quoted by Fitzgerald,
op. cit.)

What about Israel's opposition? One hears not a peep. Yossi Sarid, its
parliamentary leader, gave a speech on October 14 at the opening of the
Knesset's winter session. He said nothing of either Iraq or the
Palestinians. He confined his talk to the poverty in Israel. He spoke of a
boy who received lunch at school. The teacher noticed a lump in his pocket,
and it turned out to be a chicken drumstick, which the boy was saving for
his mother. This is surely a legitimate story, but Sarid omitted the
context: Israel's deepening social disaster is largely a result of its
worsening political entanglement, both with the Palestinians and with the
wider Arab world. The war against Iraq will entangle it further.

A messianic junta

Israel is traditionally pro-American. This is nothing new. Israelis must ask
themselves, however, whether the Bush Administration deserves the same
fidelity as its predecessors. The answer is a resounding No! The world
stands today before a new-old phenomenon, whose ramifications extend far
beyond the American-Iraqi conflict. After dubious elections, the White House
has been taken over by a right-wing junta, buttressed by 70 million
Christian fundamentalists who link their destiny to Zion.

This messianic concept finds its secular match in the interpretation of
history held by the people surrounding Bush: Vice President Dick Cheney,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice, and their subordinates, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. In the
Reagan era, as these people see it, a Republican administration defeated the
"evil empire", leaving America as the only superpower. Bush Senior exploited
the new situation, mounting a successful worldwide offensive against Iraq.
Then came a falling off. Because of economic trifles, Americans elected Bill
Clinton. Instead of leading the nation towards its manifest destiny as world
ruler, Clinton sought "peace dividends". The country's defenses went to
seed. At last, however, the Reagan-Bush team is back. It will lead the US to
global hegemony.

This notion is inscribed in a lengthy document entitled Rebuilding America's
Defenses. It was published in September 2000, prior to the American
presidential election, by a conservative group that calls itself "The
Project for the New American Century." "In broad terms," say its authors,
"we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by the
Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The
Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a
blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great
power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with
American principles and interests."
(<www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf>, p. ii.)

Rebuilding America's Defenses has been the basis for the foreign and defense
policy of George W. Bush. Its main thrust is an expansion of American
military might, such that the US will remain unchallenged as the world's
sole superpower. To that end, it holds, America must increase defense
spending, develop nuclear power and resume nuclear testing. It advocates
cancellation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Clinton signed
(ibid., pp. 7-8). Its influence was already apparent during the first year
of the new Bush Administration, which blocked international arms control
treaties.

Rebuilding America's Defenses was written before the attacks of September
11, 2001. These gave a new urgency to America's drive for global control, as
reflected in a more recent document, "The National Security Strategy of the
United States", published by the Bush Administration on September 20, 2002
(        <http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/secstrat.htm>).

The new National Security document contains what has come to be known as the
Bush Doctrine: "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads
of radicalism and technology." America must prove its determination to act.
"Our immediate focus will be those terrorist organizations of global reach
and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism which attempts to gain or
use weapons of mass destruction. .While the United States will constantly
strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not
hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense
by acting preemptively..." And later: "For centuries, international law
recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully
take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent
danger of attack. . We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the
capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries." The consequence is
clear: Americans will not be safe until their Uncle Sam becomes the world's
Big Brother.

In the New York Review of Books (September 26), Frances Fitzgerald points
out that the senior Bush, unlike his son, knew his way around in foreign
affairs. Among George Senior's top advisors, Defense Secretary Cheney was a
hawkish minority of one. In the new White House, the junior Bush depends
completely on his advisors. Here VP Cheney is joined by his old friend and
mentor, right-winger Donald Rumsfeld, who took Paul Wolfowitz, co-author of
the DPG, as his deputy. To the latter's former Pentagon position, Rumsfeld
appointed Douglas Feith, a favorite of Richard Perle, who was a leading hawk
in the Reagan Administration. (Perle today advises the Pentagon.) Thus the
war-mongering minority from the time of the elder Bush is today the main
advisory group around his ignorant son.

***

There is an Israeli connection. In 1996, according to Fitzgerald, Perle and
Feith wrote a document advising Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's new prime
minister, to make a clean break with the Oslo peace process and renew direct
Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. When Netanyahu declined to
accept this counsel, Feith published it in a piece of his own. "The price in
blood would be high," he wrote, but it would be a necessary form of
"detoxification - the only way out of Oslo's web." (Quoted by Fitzgerald,
op. cit.)



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