Saturday, August 05, 2006

Why Is Israel Committing this Atrocity Against the Lebanese People?

Why Is Israel Committing this Atrocity Against the Lebanese People?

by John Spritzler

Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Arundhati Roy and others (see below) have rightly denounced Israel's latest atrocity, this time against the Lebanese people. But they don't understand the purpose of such atrocities, which is why they get it wrong when they write of this one:
The attempt has backfired. In Lebanon itself, 87% of the population now support Hizbullah's resistance, including 80% of Christian and Druze and 89% of Sunni Muslims, while 8% believe the US supports Lebanon.
The reason why ruling classes commit atrocities against people of other nations or of different ethnic groups, like the atrocity that Israel is perpetrating against the Lebanese people today, is to make the people who are attacked hate the people in whose name the atrocity is carried out. The fact that 87% of the Lebanese population now supports Hezbollah, which has obligingly rained down rockets on Israeli civilians in northern Israel, Haifa and elsewhere in retaliation, is not (as Chomsky and the others aver) a sign that Israel's attack has "backfired"; it is on the contrary a sign that it has succeeded.

Ruling classes fear working class solidarity across national or ethnic lines, and they carry out atrocities precisely for the purpose of ensuring that such solidarity does not develop. [1] Today Israel's goal is to make sure that the entire Lebanese population will hate Jewish Israelis, and that Jewish Israelis will in turn now fear the Lebanese. This is the political climate which the Jewish ruling class needs in order to control its own population. Not coincidentally, it is also the political climate which ALL upper class rulers in the region find useful to strengthen their power over their own people and to prevent people from waging the class war.

Whenever rulers fear that their own people might "fraternize with the enemy" they resort to an atrocity to create mutual hate instead. When the Japanese invaded China in 1937-8 they feared that their peasant soldiers would fraternize with the Chinese peasants and their revolutionary movement. The solution to this problem was the Rape of Nanking, which made fraternization impossible.

When Hitler invaded Russia he feared his soldiers (many of whom had socialist or communist backgrounds) would fraternize with Russians, so he gave orders to commit atrocities against Russian civilians. Stalin, for the same reason, gave Russian soldiers encouragement to rape German women at the end of the war.

Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is a giant decades-long strategic atrocity, supported by the American ruling class because it de-rails the class war in the entire Middle East.

In Yugoslavia in the 1990s the Serb and Croat communist rulers (like Milosovic) were afraid of losing power to the reform movements; their solution was to launch atrocities against each other's Croat and Serb populations so they could each use the violence against "their own" people to accuse their domestic opponents of treason if they didn't support their government in a time of war.

The American ruling class sent its working class soldiers to Iraq thinking they were supposed to liberate the Iraqi people--a recipe for fraternization unless something could prevent it. Voila! Abu Ghraib and Fallujah.

The American, British and Israeli ruling classes are field-testing the use of shock and awe terror to polarize the people of the world along lines that cut straight through our class--the international working class. They want us to hate and fear others much like ourselves--our class brothers and sisters--because of their religion or nationality. Just as they used WWII to get millions of people in the Allied nations to cheer the mass murder, by firebombings and nuclear weapons, of German and Japanese civilians, they want the people of the Middle East to cheer when bombs rain down on "enemy" civilians.

They want all working class people to look to their upper class-controlled governments as their protector against "enemy" working class people. They want us to willingly accept overt anti-democratic policies like the USA Patriot Act, the new British national I.D. cards and mass military conscription in Israel. They also want anti-democratic, pro-capitalist regimes in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America to be able to deflect domestic anger by asserting that they are "anti-American" or "anti-Imperialist." They want every nation to be ruled by either a "pro-American" or an "anti-American" government, just so long as it is not pro-working class. George Orwell would understand; we should too! Atrocities are not the result of any irrationality or incompetence or even blind racism of rulers (or populations) but rather they are a cold, calculated and time-tested upper class strategy of social control.

We need to judge all political leaders, from President George Bush to Hezbollah's Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on the basis of whether they promote this fratricidal mass murder agenda, or whether they expose it for what it is and try to wage the class war instead.

[1] I am indebted to David Stratman [pdf] for his insight into this role of atrocities, based on his non-Marxist understanding of the meaning of class conflict.


War crimes and Lebanon
The Guardian 3 August 2006

The US-backed Israeli assault on Lebanon has left the country numb, smouldering and angry. The massacre in Qana and the loss of life is not simply "disproportionate". It is, according to existing international laws, a war crime.

The deliberate and systematic destruction of Lebanon's social infrastructure by the Israeli air force was also a war crime, designed to reduce that country to the status of an Israeli-US protectorate. The attempt has backfired. In Lebanon itself, 87% of the population now support Hizbullah's resistance, including 80% of Christian and Druze and 89% of Sunni Muslims, while 8% believe the US supports Lebanon. But these actions will not be tried by any court set up by the "international community" since the US and its allies that commit or are complicit in these appalling crimes will not permit it.

It has now become clear that the assault on Lebanon to wipe out Hizbullah had been prepared long before. Israel's crimes had been given a green light by the US and its loyal British ally, despite the opposition to Blair in his own country.

In short, the peace that Lebanon enjoyed has come to an end, and a paralysed country is forced to remember a past it had hoped to forget. The state terror inflicted on Lebanon is being repeated in the Gaza ghetto, while the "international community" stands by and watches in silence. Meanwhile, the rest of Palestine is annexed and dismantled with the direct participation of the US and the tacit approval of its allies.

We offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it. For our part, we will use all the means at our disposal to expose the complicity of our governments in these crimes. There will be no peace in the Middle East while the occupations of Palestine and Iraq and the temporarily "paused" bombings of Lebanon continue.

Tariq Ali
Noam Chomsky
Eduardo Galeano
Howard Zinn
Ken Loach
John Berger
Arundhati Roy


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