Dangerous Times

by Nick Pretzlik
April 15, 2004

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“The world is too terrible a place to live in, not because of the bad things that happen, but because of the good people who stand by and do nothing.”

-- Albert Einstein

Until recently it was a mystery to me how in the 1930s on of the most evil regimes in history could usurp power in a country that at the time represented the pinnacle of culture in terms of the arts and sciences, and was thought to be a model of democracy. How could the German populace have permitted such an occurrence?

As the Project for the New American Century unfolds and the unholy alliance of Christian Zionists, Neo Conservatives and corporate and Jewish Lobbies act in concert to dictate the foreign policy of the world’s only superpower, the global situation deteriorates. It seems inevitable now that the bogeyman of organized international terror will fill the void left by the demise of the Cold War. The fear generated by its intangible tentacles already acts as the catalyst, which is perverting western democracies and eroding established civil rights. When people are sufficiently afraid, they will accept whatever information they are given by those in authority, even if logic indicates that the information is skewed.

Post 9/11, few Americans think to ask why it is that much of the world detests the US. Nor is it often said that this animosity is felt by non-Moslem populations too -- scratch the surface and anti American sentiment will be found in the hearts of Bolivians, Colombians and Venezuelans just as it is in the Arab street. Yet, in the United States it is considered disloyal - unpatriotic even -- to question whether decades of rapacious American international trading practices, coupled with support for repressive regimes in South East Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East have been influential in bringing this situation about. Not only that, but the American public has been so well shielded from the facts surrounding their country’s involvement in post 1945 global events that the truth can now be portrayed as a lie, as can the corollary that a lie now be portrayed as the truth.

Once people are sufficiently confused, frightened and paranoid logic can be stood on its head. Pre-emptive wars –- even preventative wars -– are made acceptable. Attack becomes defense and, providing opinion is suitably "shaped", the public can be persuaded to tolerate almost anything. How else could the rocketing and bombing of crowded civilian areas - as happens on a regular basis in Gaza and in the West Bank – be perceived as acceptable? It is not acceptable. State sponsored targeted killing is terror by another name.

The policy of targeted killings by the Israeli armed forces reached its apogee on 22 March 2004. The act itself was nothing unusual. According to Noam Chomsky in his book Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (2003), 175 liquidation attempts were carried out by Israel from November 2000 through to April 2003. Two hundred and thirty five people were killed – 156 suspected of crimes; one attempt every five days. However, on 22 March the victim was Sheikh Ahmad Yassin – an elderly, nearly blind quadriplegic blown apart in his wheel chair on the way home from the mosque after morning prayers. A crime against humanity? A perversion of moral standards? You might think so. Not according to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who gave the murder his seal of approval the following day by symbolically announcing the sequestration of the empty bank accounts of various Hamas leaders – including Dr Rantisi, Sheikh Yassin’s successor. A contrast indeed to Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss at the memorial service in commemoration of Sheikh Yassin, held in New York, who said in his address “The Jewish people throughout the world, who are true to their religion, have been thrown into turmoil and are deeply incensed at the recent happening, the tragedy that has taken place”.

Why is it that that the myths surrounding the state of Israel are so easily accepted, myths that permit the west to look the other way as Israel continues its assault on the Palestinians? Why do we not question Israel’s repeated claim to being a democracy? It is not. It is an ethnic democracy, whose institutions are founded on the denial of equality to non-Jews. And can a state be called democratic if over 20% of its citizens –- Israeli Palestinians -- suffer institutional discrimination in key areas such as property law, employment opportunities, state benefits and education?

Why do we accept as fact that the apartheid wall, now being constructed on Palestinian land, was designed to provide Israel with security? It was not. It was designed to defuse the looming demographic time bomb, which threatens the Jewish nature of the state of Israel, and to cement a land grab in the West Bank, as well as secure important water resources. Why don’t people take note when they learn that the apartheid wall, conceived in the mid 1970s, long preceded the first Palestinian suicide bomber?

The answer unfortunately is that relentless Israeli spin and racist propaganda have substantially succeeded in dehumanizing Palestinians. Fear of "the other" has entered the psyche and has morphed them into a genetic terrorist aberration. Palestinians are perceived as a threat even though it is them who are occupied and them who are the victims of ethnic cleansing and daily degradation. They -- the victims -– are perceived as the abusers and Israelis -- the actual abusers -- are seen by many to be the victims. As a consequence Ariel Sharon and his government will have few qualms about implementing their plans for ‘withdrawal’ from 17 of the 21 illegal Israeli settlements in Gaza and for further truncating the West Bank -- plans which will leave Palestinians in both areas isolated, incarcerated and impoverished, and without resources or hope. And because it feels safer to believe what those in authority tell us, we will probably accept Ariel Sharon and George Bush’s assurances that the plans –- in reality recipes for long-term disaster -– are recipes for peace. Let us hope that for once, however, the world will be seen as it really is and that on this occasion we will reject what we are told. Failure to do so will fan the embers of fascism, which already glow brightly in the US political grate.

Nick Pretzlik is a semi-retired businessman living in London, England. He travels frequently to the Middle East. He can be reached at: upretzlik@yahoo.co.uk.


Other Articles by Nick Pretzlik


* Redemption
* Just Another Day
* The Hour Before Dawn
* Jenin: A Town of Wasted Hopes
* Syrian Truths




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