West Bugged By Iran’s Independence, Not Anti-Israel Stance

Arab Governments Helping Western Regional Domination

Hezbollah’s resistance against Israeli attacks during the 33-day war introduced a new model for other resistance groups in the region and the world. Unfortunately the Arab regimes, despite their affinities with the Lebanese people, did not help or support Hezbollah’s resistance during the war.

Iran and Syria were the two main supporters of the Lebanese people.

Hence, it is necessary for Muslim states to boycott the Zionist regime whose main financial support, not considering the US financial support, is its exports to the regional and Western states.

Iran Daily‘s Amir Tajik interviewed Gabriel Ash and discussed different aspects of Israel’s boycott issue. Ash is a Jewish anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist activist and political writer who grew up in Israel. He writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not. Excerpts:

Amir Tajik: Why did Israel support the Fatah movement during the current disputes in the Palestinian territories?

Gabriel Ash: The current reading of the situation in Israel is that the conflict cannot be solved; it can only be managed. Therefore, the mainstream international view of Fatah as a ‘pragmatic’ Palestinian faction with which the West and Israel can reach an acceptable agreement is simply false.

The support for Abbas, not just from Olmert, but also from the US, Europe and the Arab League has three causes. First, there is the old “divide and rule”. The power struggle within the Palestinian political scene is weakening both Hamas and Fatah and is also very demoralizing for the Palestinian public. When you play “divide and rule”, the first rule is to support the weaker side in order to prolong the crisis as much as possible. This is exactly what Israel and the West are doing by supporting Fatah.

Second, supporting Abbas is good propaganda. Israel, the US and Europe are all able to describe their support for Abbas as working for the cause of peace and against the ‘militant’ Hamas. This is very important because Western publics expect their governments to be committed to peace. Even in Israel the prospect of eternal war is unwelcome to most.

Third, Hamas provides a model of resistance that threatens all Arab governments in addition to Israel. Hence undermining Hamas is a common goal of the West, Israel and the client Arab states — chiefly Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Of course, the ‘peace’ strategy must look believable. So there might be a new ‘peace’ dynamic, but the conditions for peace are absent.

Amir Tajik: How will Europeans’ boycott of Israel harm the regime’s economic and political structure?

Gabriel Ash: Israel is a small country with large military expenses. In order to maintain relatively first-world living standards, Israel’s economy depends on exports, foreign investment and non-commercial support. Clearly, a full EU trade boycott of Israel will cause severe damage to the Israeli economy. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, and Israel exports to the EU are over $10 billion a year. Let us, however, not deceive ourselves. There is no chance for such a trade embargo to happen in the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, grassroots boycotts can have a cumulative impact. Increased public awareness to Israel’s criminal politics can translate into lower sales for brands associated with Israel, lower investment in Israel, and pressure on EU governments to stop some of their more directly damaging involvement in the region, including buying Israeli weapon systems, selling weapons to Israel, subsidizing the Israeli occupation and helping Israel fight Palestinian resistance.

The most important role of grassroots boycott initiatives is educational and moral. They expose Israel for the kind of country it really is: a racist, brutal colonial outpost. And they undermine the mainstream media whitewashing job. Grassroots boycotts can thus repeat the dynamics that made Western support for Apartheid South Africa untenable.

Amir Tajik: Could Israel get rid of the legal consequences of the boycott?

Gabriel Ash: Boycotts do not change the legal situation. Israel is in breach of every UN resolution that mentions it and then some. It is in breach of the UN charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention, The Fourth Hague Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Court for Justice, etc. etc. Furthermore, all these breaches are not merely technical, but massive and substantial.

With regards to international law, Israel is a major scofflaw.

International law, however, cannot simply be called upon for redress, because there is no world government with enforcement powers. International law represents the stage of the enlightened opinion of humanity with regards to how states should behave. But only the application of pressure by other states can force states to obey the law, should their own residents be unable or unwilling to demand such obedience.

Amir Tajik: Why don’t Arab regimes initiate a serious boycott against Israel?

Gabriel Ash: There is an expectation that Arab governments would support the Palestinians and be against Israel. It is historically baseless. Arab regimes are part of the problem. Their concern is how to maintain their power domestically. The major struggle in the Middle East is between the indigenous population and capitalist imperialist and colonialist enterprises, not between Arabs and Jews.

Arab governments are not on the side of the Arab indigenous people. Palestinians, for example, are not just oppressed by Israel. They are oppressed by many Arab states.

Arab governments are key elements of the Western domination of the Middle East. The very states most of them govern represent arbitrary lines drawn in the sand by colonial envoys. This is true of Israel, but equally so of Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc. These states exist by the grace of the colonial powers, and their local elites benefit from the plundering and killing of their people. Some of these states do make a show of boycotting Israel. But it is a charade. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel are all on the same side. They are all US client states. So let’s not wait for salvation to come from Arab governments.

Amir Tajik: If Iran were to stop its anti-Israel policy, would the West stop bothering Iran?

Gabriel Ash: There might be an easing, but the West didn’t become the dominant force on the planet through a policy of non-interference.

There is an imperial world system, global capitalism. States must somehow fit in. The global system is the context within which every governing formation must choose its strategies for political survival and economic advancement. The system defines a number of generic templates that local elite can follow, adapt, negotiate or challenge.

The most typical template for a third-world country, however, is the raw materials provider, a template that usually includes Western ownership of the means of production, an unemployed majority left to rot in slums, barely existing local industry and minimal domestic consumption, except for a small elite that consumes imported luxury goods and works mostly in government. With local variations, this is the typical template in South America and the Middle East.

Iran was squeezed into this template between 1953 and 1979. Then there is the outpost state, which is supported by the West for its role as a weapon platform and/or as a tool for putting pressure on other states to conform to a desired template. Israel, Taiwan, Japan, Apartheid South Africa, and Turkey are all local variants of this template. In many ways, this is the most enviable position, at least economically, since outpost states are often used as positive examples that advertise the benefits of submission, and are therefore allowed to attain relatively high levels of development.

Finally, there is the worse template of all, the battleground state. Battleground states are states that provide the West a place to destroy overcapacity and justify the existence of its military industry and repressive technologies. The battleground template can come about from the failure of local elites to impose a desired template, as in Colombia, Somalia or Vietnam, or it can come about as a deliberate choice, as in Iraq. Countries that refuse to follow an acceptable template are good candidates for the battleground category. Iran is one such candidate.

The West’s problem with Iran is not its anti-Israel rhetoric, but the general independence of its foreign policies and economy, which is particularly annoying given Iran’s size and strategic location. Regardless of the template, no country within the global order is supposed to have independent foreign policies, and the worse offense is helping other countries resist Western imposed integration, as Iran does. Iran is also a state created in a revolution against a Western imposed template. It is a reminder that Western domination can be rejected. Therefore, like Cuba, the destruction of Iran is never going to be completely off the table. They are afraid that defeat and withdrawal from Iraq would deal a severe economic blow to the arms industry in the US. A confrontational Iran serves them well.

Iran has two possible paths. Either it renounces its geopolitical independence and opens itself up to Western capital, or it prepares for escalation by building up its defenses, extending its alliances and strengthening its society. A crucial asset for Iran is the rise of newly balancing powers: China and Russia. But there is a danger of getting to the party too soon, as these emerging global powers are still unsure of their footing.

Iran’s government’s verbal provocations against Israel are not the cause of Western hostility, but they are a wonderful excuse. Holocaust denial and other such inflammatory language help the West justify its ‘concern’ about Iran.

Amir Tajik writes for the English language publication Iran Daily, where this interview first appeared. Read other articles by Amir, or visit Amir's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Wes S said on August 5th, 2007 at 8:19am #

    Very well said. I just hope that this kind of articles would appear in so called “main stream media”. Too much to hope for, I guess.

  2. Jaime said on August 5th, 2007 at 10:42am #

    Uhm, Hizbollah attacked Israel last summer. Not the other way around. And the west is “bugged” by the fanatical lunatics running Iran’s development of weapons of mass destruction which could create an expanded war situation that includes other countries in the middle east besides Israel.

    The above is crass imperialistic propaganda

    Here’s an example of how screwed up Iran is right now:


    Iran arrests 230 in raid on illegal rock concert
    Published: Saturday, August 04

    Iranian police arrested 230 people in a raid on an underground rock concert close to Tehran, amid a growing crackdown on behaviour deemed contrary to Islamic law, local officials said on Saturday.

    Large quantities of recording equipment, alcohol, bootleg CDs, revealing female clothing and also drugs were seized at the concert in the city of Karaj just west of the capital, in Tehran province.

    “Two hundred and thirty people were identified and arrested in a ‘rock party’ in the Mohammadshahr district of Karaj,” said Ali Farhadi, the prosecutor for Karaj, according to the website of state broadcasting….

  3. Max Shields said on August 5th, 2007 at 6:41pm #

    Amir Tajik,
    This is the MO of our imperialism. The US does the same with Venezuela. It has nothing to do with their form of government or what’s going on internally. It’s there successful rejection of American domination that get’s under the US regime’s skin.

    What we have with Israel/Palestine and the US and the rest of the world is asymmetrical morality. The US define itself as moral and the determines who is immoral. The same asymmetry applies to the law as Mr. Ash suggests. Might makes right; and thus international law is a sham.

    A grass-root boycott of Israel would be a means by which to circumvent this asymmetry; even if it only provides a bit of a taste of what they’ve been doing to the Palestinians.

  4. Suggestion said on August 6th, 2007 at 7:13am #

    Maybe the collective arab and muslim world, and the lunatic hamas nutjobs, should someday give up their dream of exterminating israel. Then israel could hand some land over without worrying about anything, and everyone on both sides could move on with their lives. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  5. bill rowe said on August 6th, 2007 at 4:37pm #

    I totally agree with the premise that the “West” fears Iran greatly because of its serious success potential along its alternate “path”. Iran is on the brink of becoming one of the truly indeoendent countries; when it achieves a truly functional commercial nuclear power infrastructure within the next decade its place will be undeniable. It can then be expected to more forcefully support other groups in the area in their quest for their eventual independence… and that is the true fear of the west. Their emergence will be an immensely good thing for the mideast long term future. I wish them all the best of luck. Also, I expect and hope that during their development local indigenous democratic sectarian influences will reverse their theocratic rule.

  6. www.benwhite.org.uk: the blog » Blog Archive » Plucky Israel, surrounded by enemies said on August 7th, 2007 at 6:45am #

    […] I’ve lost track of the number of times that in emails, or during questions post-lecture, someone will ask me about how Israel has always been surrounded by enemy Arab states. The idea of Israel as a plucky little state constantly being threatened by Arab governments is a useful Zionist myth, as it reinforces the erasure of the Palestinian identity (e.g. the conflict is ‘Arab vs Jew’) and enforces anti-Arab racism (e.g. all the Arabs are indistinguishable). So here is a useful extract from Gabriel Ash’s latest musings: […]

  7. Deadbeat said on August 7th, 2007 at 1:32pm #

    While it is true that the “West” fears any nation that they cannot control there rhetoric and approach are different. For example while the U.S. are at odd with Venezuela their approach to dealing with them was a coup attempt rather than a full blown military invasion. The “West” was not in agreement regarding Iraq and the U.S. seems to be committed to a full blown campaign to beat the war drums against Iraq. There has to be an understanding why the approaches to these countries are vastly different. This seems to be obscured by “Western Imperialism” explanation.

  8. nesreen said on August 8th, 2007 at 12:36am #

    Such a shame many people forgot very quickly that the Israeli soldiers were caught in AITA SHAAB on Lebanese Soil (google can easily show the map ) this was a provocation and israel wanted the soldiers to be fired upon (not kidnapped ) so they can fire back with deadlier weapons . that s how the Golan heights was captured after provocations . Moshe Dayan explains how they provoked the syrians to respond so they can send the fighter jets . (google aslso )
    Olmert had also confessed that the war was already Plannned 4 MONTHS before July 2006 .
    the israelis are after the Litani river , they have decided so in Paris conference in 1919 , it was Jordan valley (done ) golan Heights (done) and theLitani river (working on it since 1948) the israelis think long term and how that much water can benefit them as that area is getting drier and drier . But hizbullah is smarter than the So called Arab leaders , the EUNUCHS of the region , hizbullah knows they are after the Litani and they wont let that happen hopefully .

    Hamas has changed its stance against israel , first of all , it can not destroy a Nuclear State which manufactures its own deadly weapons , with rockets . and katyushas barely scratch the soil . hamas has been talking about 1967 borders , which means they have accepted israel within 1948 border , so the zionists who live in the past please read 2006 and 2007 articles by hamas . all they want is freedom and a homeland for their people within the 1967 border , which the UN allows them (according to past documents and resolutions ) but we also know the UN most of the time meants US .

  9. Amir Tajik said on August 17th, 2007 at 5:42am #

    Max Shields,
    Thanks for the constructive comment!

    I’m sure every one knows about the arrest of Israeli soldiers. But could you tell me whether it can be a good reason for starting a brutal war in which thousands of innocent women and children are killed? No! It’s only an excuse! Many of the western politicians confirmed that the war against Lebanon was pre-planned!

  10. Mike McNiven said on August 30th, 2007 at 12:01am #

    Please see an Iranian scholar’s view who lives in exile and –based on his own words– cares about Peace and Social Justice in his homeland: