Israel, “Terrorism,” and the Money Power

In a June 23 article published by the venerable Dissident Voice website, Gabriel Ash offers a fresh and erudite meta-analysis of western support for Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The piece, ‘Why Boycott Israel? Because It’s Good For You’, begins with a review of the reactionary response in the UK and Europe to the British University and College Union’s call for an academic boycott of Israel.

Mr. Ash asks why Europe, especially the EU, has become such a craven supporter of the US-Israeli agenda in occupied Palestine, and of the “war on terror” in general. “What . . . lies at the root of this quite natural [sic] alliance between Christian fundamentalists, market fundamentalists, billionaires, Zionists, islamophobes, and garden variety warmongers?” He finds answers in the ideological history of postwar Europe and the ascendancy of a neoliberal capitalist power that spawned a neoconservative political agenda.

We are reminded that neoconservatives are anti-labor just as surely as they are “pro-Israel”. They inherit the right-wing tradition of an anti-labor ideology that has served the propaganda needs of financial and business elites for the past century. Today’s neocons still read Karl Schmitt, “the Nazi philosopher of law…. [who] saw the necessity of having an existential enemy, one that the whole state can be fully mobilized against.” Mr. Ash notes that in Europe the “new Schmittianism of the Islamophobic front is a right-wing reaction veiled in the trappings of the traditional left.”

The demise of the Soviet Union and the “communist threat” necessitated the invention of a new enemy. Anyone who lived through the mainstream US media of the 1990s should be able to recall how this was done. First we got warnings about the coming age of “asymmetrical warfare”. Then we began to acquire new enemies, because they supported or committed “terrorism”.

Ash explains: “Having an enemy across the border — alien, total, menacing — helps the right assert political power domestically, the power it now needs to liberate stock markets from the fetters of the welfare state. This is the revolution’s goal, and support for Israel is right at the center of it.”

This provocative premise suggests that US and European elites have had a long-term economic interest in cultivating “terrorist” enemies. The “forward leaning” types among them would have been laying the groundwork for the next enemy even before the end of the Cold War.

And so they were, in many places around the world. The exposure of the NATO-CIA Operation Gladio in Italy during the 1980s peeled the lid on similar false-flag intelligence networks across Europe. Formed by NATO intelligence in the 1950s as mole networks that would resist communist takeover of the host nation, they morphed into agents provocateurs that controlled “left wing” groups like the Red Brigades. They also perpetrated the kidnapping and assassination of Italian PM Aldo Moro and dozens of other political crimes in Europe that were routinely blamed on “leftist terrorists”.

Southwest Asia and Northern Africa comprised the main laboratory for the creation of the “existential” enemy of the future. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Somalia, Lebanon, and Chechnya were a few of the places unfortunate enough to attract the combined “assistance” of the CIA, the Mossad, and their nefarious shadows.

As demonstrated throughout Latin America since the early 1950s (to cite one large example), the prime objective of CIA “black operations” has been destabilization of local economies, governments, and civil societies in order to expand opportunities for western control and plunder.

Frequently, this has involved ‘false flag’ attacks to discredit and demonize indigenous political movements. At one time, the object was to brand labor organizations and land reform movements as part of the “global communist threat”. Nowadays, similar tactics are used to tar Arab and Muslim resistance groups with the broad brush of the “global terrorist threat”.

Neconservatives chafed under Bill Clinton despite his prodigious advancement of their shared neoliberal economic agenda and his unwavering allegiance to Israel. In foreign policy, the problem was not so much that he failed to fight “terrorism” but that he failed to instill the desired fear of “terrorism” in the public heart.

The mysterious creation of Bush II by the Supreme Court provided the platform neoconservatives needed to make up for lost time. After the highly questionable events of 9/11, it was all downhill. On 9/12 we were informed that we had ‘joined the Israeli people’ in a fight for survival against a shared ‘scourge of terrorism’, etc.

Carrying the logic forward, as long as “terror” is the existential enemy of choice for the all-fronts campaign to rob and disempower labor, the poor, and indigenous peoples while demolishing the Bill of Rights and humane values in general, Israel’s grossly illegal and unjust treatment of Palestinians must continue. It is a centerpiece of Islamophobic provocation, a kind of ‘eternal flame’ that helps sustain the necessary “terrorist” fires burning around the world.

And if the domestic intent of the “war on terror” is to cow the people into accepting the steady erosion of their rights, wages, government services, personal privacy, and economic security, its overseas effect is to create what neoconservatives call “constructive chaos”; bountiful opportunities to take control of resources, free land, and cheap labor while advancing geostrategic objectives.

This analysis offers a fresh perspective on the 40-year failure of the “peace process” to yield anything but death, misery, and dispossession for the Palestinian people. Conventionally, this astounding record of diplomatic failure is blamed on a complex interaction of forces unique to the situation, including the power of the pro-Israel lobby over US policy, racist Zionist ideology, western guilt over the Holocaust, the supposed inability of Palestinians “to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, and so on.

Yet even this tangle of real and imaginary factors does not seem to explain everything, especially since the US has armed and trained a faction of Fatah to challenge Hamas and trigger Ariel Sharon’s dream; a schism in the recently unified PA, half of which the US controls through the malleable hands of President Abbas. A Palestinian friend says that Abbas is now referred to as “Mahmoud Abdul Maliki el-Karzai”.

Will “sheer stupidity” be added to the perennial list of reasons for the ongoing “diplomatic” failure? Do you feel your credulity being strained? Does it smell like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, and El Salvador all over again?

The art of enemy creation, the meat and potatoes of US foreign policy-in-practice in Southwest Asia, involves more than simply spreading chaos in foreign lands. It must also hide the real enemy from public view.

Mr. Ash identifies the influence of Europe’s financial giants, especially the City of London, behind the steady rightward march of European politics and foreign policy. He cites instances in which European politicians have used the “enemy threat” card to distract public attention from their attacks on labor rights and government services.

We are weary of such stunts in the US. We need only remember Katrina, or gaze at the astounding growth of the national income gap over the past thirty years, to realize that we are being taken for a long, rough ride. Corporate power, which is nearly the definition of the problem with today’s media, Congress, and universities, is so pervasive that we must seriously consider its influence in every nook and cranny of US foreign policy.

Gabriel Ash’s robust and compelling hypothesis may explain a good deal more than we can glean from the conventional wisdom. It certainly suggests fresh grounds for considering support for Israel’s apartheid regime in its true “globalized” context, right down to the sustained erosion of our own wages and rights and the dwindling of our children’s future. For that reason alone it deserves our careful consideration.

James Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. He can be contacted at Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on July 2nd, 2007 at 1:34pm #

    One poit that needs to be borne in mind about Europe is the split between the “European street” and the elite. The European street doesn’t give a damn about Israel, one way or the other. Ditto for Palestine, Iraq, Iran or anywhere else you care to name. The street just wants to stay out of any and all wars. It expects its leaders to keep Europe out of trouble and trouble out of Europe.

    Much of the elite still has a knee-jerk reaction dating from cold war days that the US is automatically right. The even have trouble accepting that Russia is a democracy. Equally, the business community, in which there is a significant Jewish presence, is only slowly discovering that globalisation benefits only the American super-rich, not them. Add to that the US stranglehold on the world economy, based on the dollar’s role as world reserve currency and US military might. Both of those are well on the way to being broken, the process is not complete yet.

    Hence, Europe’s elite talks out of both sides of their mouths. The pay lip service to the US, and that is played up in the US and Israeli media, but they then act to keep Europe out of any fighting. EU/Russian stalling has largely saved Iran from attack. EU reluctance to withold funds from the Palestinian Government forced the US and Israel to seize the first available pretext to resume payments. EU troops are protecting Lebanese civilians from Israeli attack but are not taking any action against Hezbollah. Most NATO troops in Afghanistan take no part in the fighting, by decision of their governments.

    The idea that Europe is blindly following Bush has been carefully cultivated by European leaders and most Americans seem to have fallen for it. But just look at the amount of hostility being spewed at Europe on neocon/Israel Lobby sites like National Review Online! They’re not fooled!

  2. Max Fields said on July 2nd, 2007 at 4:02pm #

    While I agree with the “enemy” analysis, the alluding issue is the “dog/tail” question. Who pulls whose strings. Or like the old operant behaviour cartoon, with the rat looking up from a freshly deliversed treat, with the caption: “I’ve got this guy trained, every time I pull the lever he provides a treat.”

    The propaganda machinery continues to work overtime to marginalize and “associate” through symbols of demonization. But, at some point the wheel stops spinning and the day of reakoning will approach. Yes, it may be in the form of a world wide depression; a financial crisis whose consequences will not be fully known until they are played out for decades.

  3. Rowan Berkeley said on July 3rd, 2007 at 4:44am #

    We are still tiptoing around the central hot spot,which necessarily arises whenever “the money power” and jewish issues are discussed in the same paragraph. This tiptoing generally takes the form of trying to make sure they don’t appear in the same sentence, since a great many antisemitism watchdog sites would pounce on them with glee if they did).

    To further illustrate the complexities of this matter, let me point out that the geo-strategic context within which Schmitt presented his ideas was … that of a country trapped in penury by the anglo-american financial system (at that time still gold-based).

    I become more and more certain that the only way to resolve the fundamental historical dispute here is to provide what I previously called “an objective sociology of the élite” (though Gabriel Ash immediately picked me up on this). What I require is not so much a list of the names of supposed “élite members” as a theoretical account of the degree of autonomy of the contemporary banker. If, as I believe Messrs Nitzan & Bichler would agree, nowadays the cartels own the banks rather than the banks owning the cartels, then the historical fact of jewish dominance of international finance,in the days when it WAS autonomous becomes irrelevant, you see?

  4. dan elliott said on July 3rd, 2007 at 4:06pm #

    “Tiptoeing around the central hotspot”: what’s the point of debating whether the Tail wags the Dog or vice-versa? How accurate a picture do we need of the Power Complex controlling the forces arrayed against us and all we hold dear ?

    Well, said Power Complex certainly seems to think it makes a difference, to the point where they go to a lot of trouble to make sure there is as little discussion of these questions as possible.

    So let’s posit the alternative hypotheses advanced by various “left” voices, & try to deduce what differences in Grand Strategy, tactics & methods would be required of our contemporary equivalent of a “Modern Prince”, should one or another picture of the loci and internal organization of power be proven to be qualitatively more reflective of the existing facts, both “on the ground” & in the skyscrapers.

    Suppose the power of the US Jewish Establishment is really, as authorities as diverse as Dr Dershowitz, Dr Chomsky, and CounterPunch writer Ron Jacobs maintain, just a footnote to the history-making process, merely an incidental curious feature of US Globalized Imperialism; that neither AIPAC nor its network of allied organizations have the power to substantially affect US foreign/military/colonial policy.

    Wouldn’t this mean that our best bet for ending the Iraq War & restoring New Orleans would be to support Hillary Clinton? Who seems to be head & shoulders more professionally competent than the Demo competitors, and assuming the electorate to be at least momentarily tired of Republicans?

    The alternative would be to believe what James Petras is telling us, which would lead to the conclusion that no Democrat can be trusted, that the leaders of Labor are all phonies, that the so-called alternative press is really no alternative at all, and that the biggest problem is not really AIPAC & the Ziocons at all, but The Jewish United Front! By which is meant the cross-class alliance of persons whose self-identification as Jewish moves them to react negatively to any attention whatsoever paid to Jewish affluence, whether that of the Salaried Professional or of the 24pct of US Billionaires who “happen to be Jewish”.

    Well, maybe this attempt to define the problem leaves a little to be desired, but I can’t spend all day on it so I’ll leave it to the next interested party. Compliments & thanks to Mssrs Brooks & Berkeley, also to the other commenters for advancing the discussion to this point:)

  5. Rowan Berkeley said on July 4th, 2007 at 12:02am #

    I don’t start from the idea that there exist ‘democratic constituencies’ which can then be mobilised, demobilised, focused, defocused, and so on, like the liberals do. I start from the money end – where’s the money?

    On the face of it, the money is in the banks. In literally unlimited quantities, too. There is no practical limit on how much credit any accredited actor (say, Bear Sterns) can ‘create’, in the sense of arbitarily overvaluing existing assets and using them as collateral for yet more acquisitions, which then become equally over-priced assets, and so on.

    On the face of it, bankers and their minions are running everything. Thus, the unreconstructed ‘anti-capitalist’ theory which is most popular in the USA is, not “expropriate the bourgeoisie”, but “expropriate the bankers”. The pseudo left version of this is the version I referred to elsewhere which appeals to Major Douglas or similar advocates of an interest-free currency created and spent into circulation by the Treasury (as opposed to the current system, where the banks lend ‘money’ into circulation as interest-bearing credit).

    However, all serious Marxists have had it dinned into them – quite correctly – that the moment the public starts talking about expropriating the banks, they are speaking on behalf of the industrialists, not on their own behalf. Obviously, the industrialists (if there still are any Henry Ford type tycoons) hate the bankers, who have historically engaged in waves of boom-and-bust manipulation in order to expropriate the industrialists (and before them the farmers).

    Thus, the question Nitzan and Bichler raise is fundamental, and I have boiled it down to a simple and easily remembered question : do the cartels own the banks, or do the banks own the cartels?

    Upon this question depend the prospects for defusing the ever proliferating mythology of how all US’s problems arise because the jewish bankers favour israel. I’m only stating the obvious here, though I am breaching a taboo slightly to do it.

  6. dan elliott said on July 7th, 2007 at 1:42pm #

    Well, cartels, like corporations, are instruments, tools. Behind all these legal or illegal fictions are human people, individuals and families. The kind of individuals who own controlling portions of stock in corporations tend to be embedded in extended families and to act through family-based structures when they act in the business or political world.

    This is basically the view presented by the Domhoff/Avery/Floyd Hunter-derived “left” trend in academic Sociology which produced the old “Insurgent Sociologist” journal which in the mid seventies presented a series of studies of Family Offices, notable of the Rockefeller and Weyerhauser same. At present this and more recent work in this “tradition” is accessible through Dr Val Burris “Power Structure Research” website at the U of Oregon.

    So I don’t see that it nec. makes sense to counterpoise “the cartels” to
    “the banks” when both are very likely owned by the same people or their close relatives.

    I DO think it is relevant to note that the Federal Reserve system, which is the primary money-creating agent operating in the Dollar world, is disproportionately staffed in its higher levels by pro-Israel, pro-AIPAC persons of Jewish background. Let’s see, when was the last time a non-Jewish person headed the Fed? Who was the last non-Jewish Secretary of the Treasury? Shall we also glance at the World Bank? the IMF?

    Speaking of “cartels”, how about Halliburton? Last time I visited the Lehman Bros homepage, that member of the top handful of investment banking firms was bragging how it had financed the rise of Halliburton and of Kellogg, Brown & Root/KBR “from early Texas wildcat days”. So which is the “tail” & which the “dog” in the Banker/Industrialist relationship might be a subject for some sociological research?

    We do know that John F Lehman was a key member of the “Kean Commission” assigned to prevent investigation of what really happened on Sept 11 2001. Was this a coincidence?

    BTW, John Mearsheimer is now on the Advisory Board of “Foreign Affairs”, even though fired from his Kennedy School of Government chair at Harvard. And it has so far proved impossible to get even the stooges running the Iraqi puppet “government” to pass the “Oil Law” to privatize that nation’s petroleum industry & reserves.

    Which raises again the question: how many barrels per day is Iraq now exporting? What’s the total that has been exported since Dubya announced “Mission Accomplished”? How do the prices paid compare with those paid during the Saddam era?

    It’s interesting to me that various voices try to contradict the thesis advanced in Dr Jas Petras book “The Power of Israel in the United States” by going off on various tangents — but nobody takes him on directly. So until somebody does, and does so convincingly, I think I’ll stick with his take: this aggression against Iraq is for the benefit of Israel and the US Zionist Power Configuration, not the oil industry “majors”.