As Abunimah reminds us, the new US/Israeli deal was heavily foreshadowed by Clinton’s dealings with Israeli PM Ehud Barak. At this stage in the evolution of "the special relationship", the BuSharon pact is little more than an update to make official policy agree with our policy in practice. Nonetheless, it is a defining moment when a simple exchange of letters dissolves the long-standing core of US Middle East policy, and replaces it with a "deal" that violates every applicable international law and UN resolution.
The Green Line, the official Palestinian border since 1949, is gone, and with it go UN resolutions 242 and 338 and all their lonely children. The unalienable right to return to one’s home is explicitly denied. Israeli "anti-terror" attacks, anytime, anywhere, are officially approved. The separation barrier slowly strangling the West Bank will continue to grow, A-OK. Israel’s blatantly illegal settlements there are now "demographic realities" that we must respect. Jerusalem retains total control over Gaza’s borders and can continue to raid its neighborhoods with impunity. The Palestinians must "demilitarize" Gaza but will be forbidden to even invite international protection without Israel’s prior approval.
Defining moments can revise public understanding by bringing latent and obscured policy drift into the open. Well-intentioned liberals will now find it difficult to argue that our actions in the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" ought to match our official policy. Who can seriously suggest that Washington should revive "the negotiation track", now that Bush and Sharon have settled all the fundamental questions? The proposed "final status talks" are already a bitterly bad joke. As bits and pieces of this truth slowly sink in, what new understandings will emerge?
While Bush’s regime is internally obsessed with secrecy and disinformation, on the grand scale it has been quite revealing. Bush has repeatedly tossed aside the fig leafs and excuses of conventional rhetoric to expose the underlying policy of the past fifty-five years: The US has a unique right to world domination using unlimited intervention, pre-emptive war, death without trial, and flagrant disregard for international law. In the process, Bush and his cabal have helped to expose the true face of the corporate imperium headquartered in Washington, DC. This, too, is slowly sinking in.
This week Bush swept aside another mask to give the Palestinians a strong dose of the same treatment: To hell with the rules, "what we say goes." Sharon was also remarkably candid, expressing ebullient delight at having hit the jackpot in his negotiations with Bush. The presumptive president was presented with four options, and Bush chose the one that met all of Sharon’s requests. How could he have made it more clear that US official policy is now made in occupied Jerusalem?
As the old union song asks, "Which side are you on boys, which side are you on?" When US policy explicitly robs the Palestinians of their land, their borders, their safety, and their most treasured rights, who can believe that continued American influence in the "peace process" is anything but a bad idea? The "honest broker" that never was is dead.
Watershed events are preceded by periods of gestation during which their defining ideas are developed and validated. Political validation is conferred through the concentration of power and authority. The Likud brand of Zionism that ascended to power in Israel during the 1970s differed little from the once-dominant Labor Party in its zeal to oppress the Palestinians. But the Likudniks were far more ambitious and strident nationalists than the "humanist" Laborites, and that turned out to be their enduring strength.
Bush leads the corresponding American political movement, the ultra-nationalist Republican neo-conservatives, who also happen to be the most ardent proponents of the Likud platform within the US government. Since the neo-cons gained control of Middle East affairs during the Reagan administration, their propagandists have continually invigorated the electorate with a steady diet of pro-Israel breast-beating and anti-Arab vitriol. They use this process to methodically push the envelope of acceptable ideas, adapting the public mind to the unfolding crimes on the Zionist agenda.
Since 9/11 the vast pro-Israel propaganda machine has been working non-stop to identify the Palestinian resistance as a legitimate target in the "war on terror", ultimately little or no different from Osama bin Laden himself. With all of Washington obediently blaming the failure of the "peace process" on "Palestinian terror", the radical policies of the BuSharon pact rapidly gained a disreputable respectability. And there is no reason to expect pro-Israel John Kerry and his Democratic Party to do more than gratefully inherit the "new understanding" forged by the Likudniks and the neo-cons.
In the final analysis, however, the BuSharon diktat means only one thing: This is war, and in war the losers get screwed.
And it has always been war. The armed occupation Israel launched in 1967 was and still is an act of war by legal definition. On the other hand, the occupation is also the prime directive of Israel’s Zionist ideology, which commands the devout Jew and/or Jewish patriot to seize and occupy "the Promised Land" to fulfill Biblical prophecy and/or national destiny. In short, Zionism demands sustained war until its goals are won.
Many nominal American supporters of the Palestinian cause have been reluctant to come to terms with the brute fact that the Palestinians are fighting a defensive war for survival, not a "mediated conflict" punctuated by "acts of war". Because most of us are unacquainted with the experience of war and are inclined to support non-violent solutions, we resist understanding the inexorable force of the logic of war.
Palestinians suffering daily attacks, imprisonment, torture, coercion, restriction, and theft cannot enjoy our blissful ignorance. They cannot afford to pretend that an implacable and overpowering invader is not waging war on them every day. They cannot ignore the logic of war that counsels them to make their enemy suffer dearly for his depredations.
Year after bloody year, all their diplomatic attempts to obtain relief have been thwarted. Now officially abandoned by the US government, their backs are pinned against the wall. How can we expect the Palestinians to respond, but in kind?
Some argue that if Palestinians would only meet Israeli brutality with nonviolent mass resistance, the public’s conscience would be stirred and Israel’s position would be fatally undermined. This proposition misses the more important spiritual and organizing value of nonviolent action while ignoring the tactical facts. Palestinians have staged thousands of nonviolent demonstrations over the decades, frequently suffering arrest, beating, gassing, and murder at the hands of Israeli security personnel. US news media seldom cover these events, unless the news cycle is slow and the action is sufficiently dramatic. Yet even on these rare occasions, no perceptible stirring of the American conscience has occurred. Another five-second clip of Israeli troops attacking unarmed Palestinian protestors is unlikely to lead to anything more significant than another Cadillac commercial.
Even while the Palestinian resistance maintained a six-week truce during the summer of 2003, Israel launched an escalating series of armored raids and assassinations throughout the occupied territories. The Palestinians have learned that whether they fight or don’t fight, stand still or shoot back, the Israelis will continue their ideologically driven war of occupation.
The phrase "armed Palestinian resistance" usually evokes "terrorism" in the American mind, but the reality is very different. Those who actually follow the daily news from the occupied territories know that almost every day the IDF raids Palestinian villages and cities with tanks and armored convoys. They also know that almost every Israeli raid is met with armed Palestinian resistance. Typically the Palestinians have nothing more potent than rocks and rifle fire to pitch against Israel’s tanks, rockets and machine guns, but they never stop trying, and dying, in their struggle to stop the occupation machine.
These daily battles with the Israeli army, which are recognized by the Geneva Convention as legal resistance to armed occupation, constitute the main focus, effort and cost of the Palestinian resistance. Yet they are routinely ignored by the US media, which prefers instead the lurid lure of the occasional suicide bombing, the only Palestinian resistance that fits the official script.
During the 1930s American leftists gave their lives fighting for the Spanish republic against the forces of fascism. Today we don’t even dare to suggest that the Palestinians could use some military help. But Bush and Sharon have made it crystal clear. This is war, and negotiators need not apply. We should not be surprised if the logic of war tells the Palestinians that rocket-propelled grenades could do more to save them than the "peace process" ever will. Will we say that we know better?
James Brooks is a writer, activist, marketer, and webmaster. Articles have been published by numerous web sites covering the Middle East, investigative journalism and politics. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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