Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Israel 'has become a rogue state'
How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
The Guardian: Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions. Excerpts:
...Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by 'an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.' I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.
I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansion. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been on of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times...
As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity...
The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies...
This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with 'an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.' A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practices terrorism -- the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it.
Read the entire article here.