Monday, December 29, 2008

Killing Floor Expands

Friend Richard Seymour does some heavy lifting in a thankless area, namely, setting the record straight regarding Hamas. Or about as straight as one can get amid the slanders and lies. Like another heavy lifter, Chris Floyd, I too have no love for Hamas' religious views and practices. But then, I live inside an imperial state, not under its boot, so I cannot say how I would act or think were I languishing in Gaza-like conditions. It's easy for Westerners to project their "elevated" values on the distant poor, the dispossessed, the murdered and maimed. It's also obscene to do so when their taxes are literally killing those who fail to live up to such "civilized" standards. Yet, many in the West behave this way with little shame or care. Another perk of imperial existence.

It's interesting to note how all the excuses for slaughtering Palestinians when the PLO was Hitler are now being used to tar Hamas. They reject compromise, are bottomless Jew haters, are addicted to death, want to drive Israel into the sea, etc. Naturally, being human beings, there are Palestinians who match these descriptions (just as there are Israelis who view Palestinians as dogs, pigs, insects, and cancers). But accurate labeling isn't the goal here; finding excuses to justify attacks that were pre-planned is the overall point. Again, this goes back to the PLO period, when Fatah offers of two-state negotiation, beginning in 1976, were not only rejected by Israel, but were often answered with air strikes. When the PLO kept offering to talk, Israel found ways to undermine Palestinian moderation, from helping anti-PLO Muslims gain political/military traction (which led to Hamas), to outright attempts at physical annihilation, like the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Now that Fatah has been reduced to Israeli-client status, the same bloody playbook is being used against Hamas, and will be used against whoever succeeds them.

This has been a Zionist goal from well before the formation of Israel in 1948. As Ze'ev Jabotinsky put it in his seminal "The Iron Wall" from 1923, "Culturally [the Palestinians] are 500 years behind us, spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will . . . They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie." Thus, "we conclude that we cannot promise anything to the Arabs of the Land of Israel or the Arab countries. Their voluntary agreement is out of the question." Jabotinsky was an inspiration to and godfather of modern Israeli rejectionism, primarily for those on the Israeli right, but not excluding more "moderate" Zionist currents. The bottom line is that Palestinians have never been part of the equation. They've been in the way, and their ongoing existence and resistance provide Israeli hardliners the fuel needed to openly kill and marginalize them. What is happening now in Gaza is merely the latest chapter of this barbarous narrative. Judging from official Israeli statements, this narrative is hardly near its end.

Yesterday, I wrote how pleasantly surprised I was to see a popular liblog like Firedoglake tackle the Gaza crisis. This engagement is spreading throughout the libsphere, a big break from the relative liberal silence over Israel's 2006 assault on Lebanon. Jane Hamsher speaks to this shift, which I'm happy to see happening. How deep it is and what shape it will take once Obama's sworn in remains open to question. However, as bizarre as it might seem, I feel a tad optimistic on this front. Let's see where it goes.