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June 10, 2010

Gaza, a Zionist mind-set

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, looking suspiciously like a Wall Street banker, presented his defense to the Israeli nation today (June 2, 2010).

Here are two of the points he made along with my analysis:

1. Netanyahu said he won’t lift the Gaza blockade because it has served to prevent missile strikes from that territory.

He did not explain just how it serves to do so.

In fact, it is pretty obvious that what does prevent continuing missile strikes is the wholesale devastation brought by the Israeli air force at the drop of a hat.

The Israelis have proven themselves, both to Hamas and the rest of us, as willing and capable of turning Gaza into something resembling the Warsaw ghetto after the Nazis burned it to the ground (it presently resembles the Ghetto before that grisly act).

That sort of action, inhumane in its own right, is different than the slow and steady strangulation of a million plus Gazans.

What the present blockade represents is not just the utter ruthlessness of quick and massive destruction, but the sheer soulless sadism of the torturer. (By the way, US sanctions against the Iraqi people smacked of the same thing.)

Push that sort of behavior too far and people start feeling they have nothing more to lose. My guess is that if Hamas was as crazy as the Israelis they could have thousands of suicide bomber volunteers in very short order.

That they have not yet returned to that path is due to Hamas’s belief that, among other things, there still are precious things to lose.

2. Netanyahu went on to elaborate on the missile strike theme and in doing so opened a window on Israeli perceptions of their strategic situation.

He claimed that Israel faces an Iranian inspired plot to arm Hamas with missiles that could strike all of Israel’s major cities. If the blockade ended the result would be "hundreds of ships bringing in thousands of missiles from Iran." Gaza would be turned into "an Iranian port" in short order.

I have no doubt that a lot of people in the Middle East, and not just some Iranians, would like to see this scenario come true.

And Netanyahu, obsessed as he is with Iran, must have nightmares about missiles raining down on his head from the north (Lebanon) and the west (Gaza).

Yet any sane and knowledgeable observer can tell the Prime Minister there are at least two viable ways of preventing this eventuality short of starving the people of Gaza.

One is long term and the other short term.

The long term solution is simply to make peace by returning to the 1967 border.

Hamas has recently announced that they are willing to live peacefully alongside Israel if it gives up its expansionist and colonist policies.

And, personally, I find the word of Hamas’s leadership more believable than that of men in Jerusalem. Every objective observe knows that going back to the green line is a sine qua non for peace, even the decreasing number of sane Israelis still living in the country.

In the short term the Israelis can simply do what the British did throughout a history of naval blockades (the British virtually invented the tactic). That is, you stop and inspect incoming vessels (avoiding the tactics we have just witnessed in the last couple of days).

If they are carrying what you consider missiles, or parts thereof, you confiscate them, if they are carrying all the sorts of things that the Gaza Flotilla was carrying you let them through.

It takes a bit of work, but it can be done that way. Of course this should preferably be carried out by a neutral UN force because the Israelis have just proven themselves incapable of handling such a job in a civilized manner.

So Netanyahu’s painting of the situation as necessitating an all or nothing blockade is just wrong, but also reflective of a Zionist mind-set that is quite frankly, paranoid and anxiety ridden.

The PM goes on to insist that Israel is being unfairly criticized by an international community full of hypocrisy because they won’t share his paranoia.

"The same countries that are criticizing us today" Netanyahu asserts, should know that they would be targeted tomorrow."

We can trace the Zionist theme of Israel as an outpost guarding the West from the vicious Muslim East all the way back to Herzl. This is, of course, your standard clash of civilizations nonsense, but you have to be on the outside of the Israeli thought collective to realize it.

Simultaneously, the Israeli government did the following:

1. Backed away from their plans to prosecute peace activists who defended themselves and their ship from the Israeli attack on the high seas. Israel’s Attorney General admitted that "keeping them here would do more damage to the country’s vital interests than good." This is about the only decent decision the Netanyahu government has made in the last week.

2. Rejected calls for an investigation of the flotilla attack. Reverting back to the Zionist mind-set that makes no sense to almost anyone on the outside, cabinet minister Isaac Herzog told the media that no independent investigation is necessary because "we are the last nation [that] you can say doesn’t check itself." Now who on the rest of the planet would take this at face value? You guessed it, the morally blind in Washington.

So what is the scenario for the immediate future?

Well, if we wait on Washington nothing will happen and it will be business as usual within days.

The real hope lies with the Europeans. For instance most of the EU countries have demanded the lifting of the blockade and an honest investigation of the flotilla attack.

The British and French peace activists have the best shot of putting sufficient numbers into the streets to force their governments to carry through on these demands.

The deported activists should start filing class action suits in their home courts against the Israel for damages.

No Israeli politician attached to the Netanyahu government or officer of the Israeli army or navy should be allowed to cross a border without fear of being arrested.

And, as Robert Falk said today, boycott, divestment and sanctions is the best hope of forcing Israel to abide by international law and plan old humanitarian common sense.

Revising an old refrain, "All Power to BDS!"

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is with the Department of History, West Chester University, USA.

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