Israel – just testing the waters? By William Bowles

14 July 2006

“What has proportion got to do with it though … it’s not about proportion is it. I mean human life is not cheap to the Israelis and human life on the other side is quite cheap actually because they strap bombs to people and send them to blow themselves up.” – Maureen Lippman, 23/7/06, BBC TV ‘The Week in Politics’

Maybe it’s denial on everybody’s part but many of my lefty pals seem to be at a loss to explain the actions of Israel as it methodically dismembers Lebanon-aside that is, from the obvious ‘warmonger’ tag, a tag that explains little.

Typically the arguments range from the dog wagging tail, tail wagging dog hypothesis through to the attempt at realising the ‘Eretz Israel’ objective; ‘punishing’ those nasty Arabs for daring to strike back and no doubt many more beside including Pappe’s far-fetched notion of too many guns and not enough ‘real’ wars to use them in.

Of one thing we can be sure, Israel’s role is and always has been as a vehicle to stop the Arab independence movements from succeeding, as an examination of history clearly shows.

From the days of the Balfour Declaration (1914) through to the establishment of Israel in 1948 and then the Suez War in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967 and finally the war of 1973, Israel has proved itself to be a loyal vehicle of Western imperial objectives. That it also has objectives that to some degree are independent of US & UK interests is open to debate.

For example, when Israel tried to sell advanced weapons to China, the US slapped the Israelis down without a thought, thus dispelling any notions about Israeli’s ‘independence’ of action.

We can be sure that the decision to attack Lebanon didn’t come out of the blue, nor was it simply some kind of ‘gut’ reaction to the alleged Hizbollah attacks on the IDF.

There would seem to be two possible explanations:

1. The attack on Lebanon is a prelude to a wider war, possibly with Syria being the next target
2. The attack on Lebanon is a horrendous diversion from the failure of the Gaza bloodbath to achieve its stated objective, the complete destruction of what was left of the Palestinian administration, enabling it to complete its total annexation of the West Bank.

Obviously there is a great deal of overlap between the two and there is no doubt that the ‘Greater Israel’ objective, the total incorporation of the Occupied Territories, that includes parts of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon into Israel, is still the major concern of the Zionist state.

(What seems to have escaped peoples’ attention is the fact that Israel still occupies a chunk of Lebanon precisely where the fight between Hizbollah and Israel took place.)

However, it still comes down to the issue of whether these aims fit into the larger strategic objectives of the US which includes installing governments friendly to the US in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

We should not forget that the US already has Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia as allies and perhaps also Libya. Standing in the way of attaining these objectives are the Palestinians, whether in the Occupied Territories or in the Diaspora, the biggest of which is in Lebanon.

I doubt the US gives a toss about ‘Greater Israel’, only whether it assists in gaining its own objectives. Certainly the US has given its public blessing to the barbarous assault on Lebanon, I suspect firstly in order to ascertain what the reactions (and actions) of countries like Syria and Iran would be (and let’s not forget the Russians). So far, the gamble appears to be paying off.

The invasion has many of the same hallmarks of the US response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, where it was imperative to find out what the Russians would do about US actions in the post-Soviet period.

And secondly, the absolute demonisation of the Palestinians through the onslaught on both Hamas and Hizbollah over the previous months has created the right psychological conditions for Israel’s invasion, the Western media response to the invasion and the slaughter in the Occupied Territories illustrates this perfectly.

And I think it’s true to say that Israel can tread where the US fears to go, so in this sense, Israel is acting as a ‘classical’ proxy for the US. The question still remains concerning what will be Israel’s/the US’s next step?

The ‘Arab’ world since 1973, has never been much of an obstacle to US/Israeli aims in spite of all the talk, so it’s doubtful that Syria will do much unless it is attacked directly and even then it’s up against the 4th biggest army in the world.

But it’s difficult to see where the Israelis can go from here. There’s no possible strategic advantage to be gained from destroying Lebanon. It has no military force to speak of aside from Hizbollah’s largely guerrilla army which again brings me back to the idea that the invasion is designed as a distraction from events in the Occupied Territories.

Olmert’s statement about “convergence”, a code word for consolidating its grip of the West Bank continues apace whilst the world is distracted. The Zionists know that aside from the odd bleat from Western governments about showing some “restraint”, the Palestinians can expect no help from these quarters.

Hizbollah’s rocket attacks can do no more than continuing to justify Israeli destruction of life and infrastructure. Once again, it reveals the bankrupt nature of the political struggle being waged by both Hizbollah and Hamas (let alone the toothless Fatah). As ever it’s the civilian populations who pay the cost.

Nor can we expect anything from the UN. The US vetoed the Security Council resolution calling on Israel to halt its barbarous assault.

From the European perspective, without a coherent left, and I contend, a unified European left, the Palestinians can expect nothing aside from a few demonstrations.

If nothing else, the events of the past few days reveals the true nature of ‘social democracy’ as nothing more than brute force disguised as ‘civilisation’. Where are the ‘left’ Labour MPs I ask? Once again, I contend that the real role of racism as a corrosive and divisive weapon of imperialism is central to the lack of any real opposition emerging. For as long as we regard Arabs as non-people, the bulk of the Israelis, Americans and Europeans will continue to ignore the slaughter.

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