Saturday, June 30, 2007

How Can We End the U.S. Government's Pro-Israel Foreign Policy?

I will be blunt. It will take a revolution. Here's why.

It is plain to see that the corporate/government elite who control the U.S. government, and for whom elections are just a means of legitimizing that control, support the Israeli government's ethnic cleansing with virtually no dissent from their ranks--not a peep. Gentile or Jew, it makes no difference--wealthy and powerful people in the United States all "get it"--Israel is good for them.

This is what they, or at least their astute advisers, fully appreciate. Israeli ethnic cleansing foments what appears on the surface to be a religious war in the Middle East between Jews and non-Jews. In actuality it is a divide-and-rule conflict that strengthens the power of all elites in the region, by allowing them to pose as defenders of their own people while actually oppressing and exploiting them. George Orwell got it right.

At stake in the Middle East is whether the oil wealth will be
controlled by corporate elites for the benefit of corporate elites, or by ordinary people for the benefit of ordinary people.

But it's not just the Middle East that is at stake. The balance of power in the United States itself is at stake.

The Orwellian Cold War has now been replaced with the Orwellian War on Terror. These are wars of social control, most importantly for social control of the American population itself (as well as the populations of U.S. allies.) The main purpose of such wars--on both sides--is not to "win the war" but to maintain a war mentality domestically so that the ruling elite can use "national security" to justify pretty much anything they wish, and put dissenters on the defensive by accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Wars like this need a dramatic story line. To create compelling propaganda for the story line there must be some "germs of truth" facts to spin. American Cold War propaganda, for example, could point to the Soviet Union's Gulag, its one-party-only "democracy" and lack of free speech to paint a picture of a Communist boogie man aiming to enslave Americans. Soviet propaganda, on the other hand, could point to America's racial discrimination and the fact that many Americans lived in abject poverty in a land where others were billionaires to argue that, as bad as things might be under Communism, it would be far worse under Capitalism.

The War on Terror story line for American consumption needs its own "Gulag"-type facts to be credible. The story is that violent hate-driven religious fanatic terrorists want to kill peaceful democratic people like ourselves. The 9/11 attack certainly made this story seem credible to many (for a while--at least 36% of Americans now suspect our government was complicit in the attack), but that attack was a one time only event (so far.) The War on Terror story needs ongoing day-to-day "facts" to spin.

Israel provides decades of the most photogenic and heart-string-pulling "germ of truth" facts for this story line that one could imagine. Israel, Americans are repeatedly told, is the "only democracy in the Middle East" and it only wants to be a little tiny country where Jews can live in peace and not be attacked by violent anti-Semites, but violent hate-driven religious fanatic anti-Semitic terrorists keep attacking Israel, day after day after day, with suicide bombers and rockets non-stop.

It makes for damned effective War on Terror propaganda, as long as Americans remain ignorant of the fact that Israel is based on ethnic cleansing and the anger at Israel is anger at ethnic cleansing, not anti-Semitism (which is, of course, why the American media never ever inform Americans about Israel's ethnic cleansing.) This propaganda is so effective that nobody with any real power in the United States even dreams of telling Israel to stop the ethnic cleansing, since if it ended peace would break out in Palestine/Israel and a major prop for the Orwellian War on Terror would collapse.

Short of some completely unforeseen development in the Middle East that would present a better means of carrying out a divide-and-rule Orwellian war in that region than Israel's ethnic cleansing currently does, the American ruling elite will continue to support the Israeli government's ethnic cleansing, no matter what.

This means that until we remove the American elite from power, they will support Israel's government the way they have been doing for decades. That's why it will take a revolution to end U.S. support for Israel.

How Do We Build a Revolutionary Movement?

The first step is to identify the objective: building a revolutionary movement, a movement whose goal is to remove our ruling elite from power and create a genuine democracy.

Some people are afraid, however, that taking this first step means abandoning the objective that got them into political activism in the first place. I want to address this concern here.

Realistically speaking, it is quite likely that if and when Americans finally overthrow the current ruling elite they will do so while still largely ignorant about what is going on in Palestine/Israel. Americans, after all, have plenty of close-to-home reasons for making a revolution besides our government's pro-Israel foreign policy. Americans even have some direct knowledge about the war in Iraq because Americans are sent to fight and kill and die there. But no Americans are being ordered to fight in Palestine.

Consider these two different scenarios.

#1) We build a non-revolutionary movement focused 100% on persuading Americans that our government should stop supporting Israel, and we succeed in winning over 80% of Americans, but the government continues to support Israel just as it continues to wage war in Iraq despite overwhelming public opposition.

#2) We build a revolutionary movement that, while including opposition to Israeli ethnic cleansing, does not focus on that topic but rather focuses on the issues Americans care about the most, and thereby succeeds in removing the elite from power and creating a genuine democracy.

Which scenario does the most good for Palestinians? Clearly the #2 scenario.

Ordinary Americans may not know why it is wrong to support Israel today because of all the lies and lack of truth they have been exposed to, but once the people telling the lies and covering up the truth are out of power Americans would quickly discover the truth and come to the conclusion that they would rather support the people opposed to ethnic cleansing than the people carrying it out. Don't forget that ethnic cleansing has never been a big vote-getter in the United States, not unless it was disguised as "the only democracy in the Middle East."

This is why we need to get out of the Johnny-one-note single issue mode of thinking, in which we place all of our eggs in one basket--the "end America's pro-Israel foreign policy" basket. If there is ever going to be a revolution in the United States, it will not be driven by the single issue of the country's pro-Israel foreign policy. That issue is one of many others. It is an important one, however. And it is one which, if not understood, will cause people to be confused about how our society works and why we need a revolution. But it is an issue that ordinary Americans can come to understand in only two very different ways.

One way is to become an expert in matters Palestinian, by reading books and articles or watching films that are obscure and that require a fair amount of dedication to discover. (The non-revolutionary single-issue kind of movement seeks to educate the public in this manner exclusively.)

The other way is to hear somebody point out that what elites do to control and exploit ordinary people in Palestine/Israel is really no different (in kind if not degree) from what they do to control and exploit ordinary Americans, to hear, in other words, that one's own knowledge from personal experience about why we don't have affordable health care or decent jobs and pensions or good schools for all, and how our elite prevent us from making our country more equal and democratic with policies that pit us against each other along racial and other non-class lines, is all that is required to understand why our government supports a government like Israel that defines itself with KKK logic to be a "Jewish state." (A revolutionary movement would explain and condemn our government's pro-Israel foreign policy this way mainly, knowing that expert knowledge about Palestine will be of interest to some people, but not most.)

For the majority of Americans, understanding events in Palestine seems less important than understanding domestic concerns or a war in which Americans are fighting, and they are naturally more attentive to a movement that talks about such concerns than one that talks exclusively about Palestine. Furthermore, a movement that explains US support for Israel by asking Americans to understand this as a continuation abroad of the same kinds of elite methods of manipulation and domination that Americans, from their direct experience, understand so well with respect to domestic issues closer to home, is more effective than asking Americans to become experts on Palestine divorced from everything else.

This is why we need to start thinking about building a revolutionary movement and not a reform movement focused just on one issue.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Azmi Bishara and Muslims Worldwide Say No To Attacks on Non-Combatants

What follows are some excerpts from Azmi Bishara's writings, and some results of opinion polls of Americans and Muslims, on the question of violence against non-combatants.

Any organization trying to gain public support for opposition to Israel must take into account what the public thinks about this question. The Zionists shrewdly make their #1 propaganda theme the lie that the conflict is simple. On one side, they say, are those who believe in killing Jewish Israeli non-combatants, and on the other side is Israel, doing what is necessary to defend Jews, even if that requires what would otherwise seem to be harsh and draconian measures, like a brutal occupation. The Zionists ask the American public to take the morally just side in this conflict, and they do everything they can to make sure people see us as being on the wrong side.

Azmi Bishara speaks out on this issue because he doesn't want the Zionists to succeed. Here is what he says.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 10 - 16 February 2005
Issue No. 729
Notes on violence
Instinct and moral constructs: Azmi Bishara examines definitions of terror
"Clearly one can conceive of violence against an occupation as unprofitable or counterproductive. But is it possible to conceive of an illegitimate form of violence against occupation? The evolution of civilisation and social organisation that checks and regulates the lust for revenge and other such instincts compel one to answer in the affirmative. A foreign occupation is an instance of the aggression of a state against civilians of another country. Resisting this aggression may justify violence targeting the occupying power but not civilians, even if they are members of the occupying power. This principle holds true even when we extend the definition of the occupying power to comprise its government, institutions of state and other official paraphernalia." [This is an excerpt from "Notes on violence" by Azmi Bishara, with full text at ]

Obviously, there is nothing "anti-Palestinian" about Azmi Bishara, a man elected to the Israeli Knesset by Palestinians living in, and second-class citizens of, Israel and a man now being hunted down and accused of a capital offense by the Israeli government for his "crime" of insisting that Israel be a state of all its citizens, not a Jewish state. By stating his views on violence so clearly, distinguishing violence against the occupying power from violence against civilians, Bishara enlists maximum worldwide support for the anti-Zionist cause.

Bishara, again making a distinction between these two different kinds of violence, wrote in July, 2006 (in "Channeling
the resistance") that, "Contrary to the general belief, Israel perceives a greater danger from attacks against its soldiers than attacks against civilians -- it does not want the precedent to catch on." In this article, Bishara goes on to explain why violence by Palestinians against Israeli combatants helps the cause and harms the Zionists, while violence against Israeli non-combatants does exactly the opposite:
"Israel knows that if military confrontation became the rule this would threaten the unity of Israeli society. As long as civilians are at risk, Israelis can tell themselves they are being attacked because they are Jews and that they have no choice but to defend themselves, or that war is an imperative. But attacks against soldiers are attacks mounted directly against the occupation and the armed forces that embody the occupation. States can choose their policies, unlike people on a bus or in a restaurant. Soldiers who are killed are not said to have been murdered, like civilians who happen to have been in the wrong restaurant or on the wrong bus at the wrong time, but rather to have "died in the line of duty". The Zionist establishment is also acutely sensitive to the fact that the army, security and the military myth are fundamental to the credibility and prestige of Zionism as a historic solution. No doubt, too, selecting military targets would also alter the image of the resister. He would become a formidable adversary who plans his strategies and tactics in order to accomplish a certain agenda, instead of just a mad suicide bomber driven by dreams of martyrdom or personal revenge into blowing himself up in a marketplace so as to take the greatest number of civilian casualties. The Zionist establishment does not want anything to shake this carefully constructed and marketed image of Palestinian otherness, because otherwise the Palestinian fighter would become a legitimate party in a comprehensible struggle for liberation."
Far from being weakened by attacks on Jewish Israeli non-combatants, Israel's leaders are strengthened by it. That is precisely the reason why they carry out false-flag attacks on Jewish civilians. According to a recent report in the British Telegraph, "Israeli agents 'helped Entebbe hijackers'" (when Palestinians held Jewish airline passengers hostage in 1976, killing three of them during the famous Irsaeli rescue mission.) In February of 2005 Israeli Military Intelligence rained rockets down on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya after telling the public that Hezbollah was going to do so. The former Israeli M.I. officer, Ari Ben-Menashe, in his book, Profits of War (pg. 120), writes about Israel's "intelligence community's 'black' operations around the world. These included funding Israeli-controlled 'Palestinian terrorists' who would commit crimes in the name of the Palestinian revolution but were actually pulling them off, usually unwittingly, as part of the Israeli propaganda machine." Ben-Menashe specifically recounts in great detail how this was the case with the 1985 "Palestinian" attack on the cruise ship, Achille Lauro, in which Palestinian individuals killed an elderly Jewish man in a wheelchair and then threw him overboard, horrifying people the world over, which was the exact intention of the Israelis who, unbeknown to the Palestinians, had orchestrated and paid for the attack.

Of course, it is impossible to oppose and expose such false-flag attacks on non-combatants if one adopts the stance that it is not permissable to criticize anything done by Palestinians in the name of the resistance. Israeli leaders hope that friends of the true Palestinian resistance will adopt this stance and remain silent when such false-flag operations occur, rather than explain to the public that opposition to Zionism is not at all the same thing as advocating the killing of Jewish non-combatants.

It is precisely because Israel's leaders benefit when their non-combatant civilians are attacked by Palestinians, that it makes no sense to argue, as some do, that the killing of Jewish Israeli non-combatants is a legitimate form of struggle. Making such an argument means falling right into the trap of helping the Zionist leaders gain strength from being able to control and exploit ordinary Jews by making them believe that Palestinians want to kill them simply because they are Jewish.

Opinion Polls in the U.S. and in Muslim Nations

Now let's look at some opinion poll results on this question. In December of 2006 the University of Maryland's Program on International Public Attitudes asked random samples (pdf) of people in the U.S. and in Iran the following question:

"Some people think that bombing and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified while others think that this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that such attacks are often justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?"

80% of Iranians responded "Never justified." (5% said "Rarely justified", 8% said "Sometimes justified", 3% said "Often justifed" and 5% Refused/Don't know. Was the sample unrepresentative? I don't think so, because, not surprisingly, 83% said Israel has "a mainly negative influence in the world" and 73% said the Palestinians have a "mainly positive" influence.)

The Christian Science Monitor, in an article titled
"The myth of Muslim support for terror" February 23, 2007, reported that a different 2006 poll "from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria... found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are 'never justified'; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent."

Interestingly, the University of Maryland poll asked Americans exactly the same question that it asked Iranians and the result was quite different: 46% of Americans said that "attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "Never justified" (27% said they were "Rarely justified," 19% said "Sometimes justified" and 5% "Often justified" with 2% Refused/Don't know.)

At first I was surprised that so few Americans (only 46%) answered "Never justified." But then the explanation occurred to me. For most people in the world, the words "civilian" and "non-combatant" mean the same thing. But for people living in countries whose government is waging a war against insurgencies made up largely of armed civilians, the words are not understood to mean exactly the same thing. A civilian may or may not be a non-combatant, and Americans have been shown so many photographs of armed insurgent civilians in Iraq that many Americans probably visualize a combatant, not a non-combatant, when the word "civilian" is used in this context dealing with the appropriateness of violence.

Here, for example, is a typical photograph of Iraqi insurgents, obviously civilians, and its caption below, like the thousands that Americans have been inundated with since the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

[ photo is at]

The caption reads: "Armed Iraqi insurgents chant pro-resistance slogans after clashing with U.S. forces in the western city of Falluja June 24, 2004. Rebels bent on disrupting a handover to Iraqi rule bloodied five cities Thursday with coordinated assaults on local security forces in which about 75 people, including three U.S. soldiers, were killed. [Reuters]"

A civilian is a person who wears civilian clothes, not a military uniform, and who is not a member of a nation's formal military forces. Some civilians are non-combatants, and some are not. Americans, far more than people living in countries not at war with an insurgency, would be keenly aware of this distinction.

Had the opinion poll question posed to Americans used the word "non-combatants" instead of "civilians" I think about as many Americans as Iranians or Indonesians or Pakistanis would have responded that "attacks intentionally aimed at non-combatants" are "Never justified," in other words the vast majority.

That is why, if we want to build a mass, popular movement and actually win, we need to let the public know that on this fundamental moral question, it is we, the anti-Zionists, who agree with them, and it is the Zionists who disagree with them, not simply because the Israeli government militarily attacks Palestinian and other non-Jewish non-combatants, but because the objective of Zionism, itself, is a violent ethnic cleansing attack on non-combatants.

We need the public to know that the choice is between supporting equality or supporting racism, not between opposing or supporting the killing of non-combatants, as the Zionists try to make the public believe. We should tell the public that, yes, we do disagree with the actions of some Palestinians, but that doesn't at all take away from the fact that Zionist ethnic cleansing is the root of the conflict and must be abolished, just as slavery in the United States had to be abolished regardless of the fact that some slaves wrongly killed some innocent white children.

When the Zionists accuse us of supporting the killing of non-combatants, we should follow the example of people like Azmi Bishara and say, clearly and simply, "No we don't." If we can't respond directly like that, people will wonder, Why not? They will figure that we must actually support the killing of non-combatants, just as the Zionists say we do, because otherwise we would say that we don't.

If our chief concern is to win then we have to deal with this question effectively. Let's win.