by Eric Margolis by Eric Margolis
It now seems clear the last disastrous act of the Bush administration was giving Israel a green light to launch its final solution campaign against the Hamas government in Gaza.
Just when we thought it was impossible for this calamitous president and Svengali Dick Cheney to do any more damage to the world or to America’s interests, they loosed one final Parthian shaft into the heart of the Mideast.
Another, earlier fool, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, gave Israel’s Ariel Sharon a green light in 1982 to invade Lebanon and crush the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Israel’s guns and bombs pounded large parts of besieged Beirut to rubble. The invasion was a disaster and led to the deaths of 18,000 to 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, and the massacres of 2,000 Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps by Israel’s neo-fascist Lebanese allies, and the death of 247 US servicemen.
Osama bin Laden noted a few years ago that the 9/11 attacks on New York were in direct retaliation for Israel’s brutal bombardment and destruction of downtown Beirut. Not surprisingly, the US media ignored this story.
In 2006, the Bush administration worked out a plan with Israel to again invade Lebanon, crush Hezbullah, then go on to attack Syria and Iran. This plan, like other American-Israeli machinations, collapsed in ignominy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, struggled to prevent the UN and world powers from ending Israel’s attack on Lebanon, which killed over 1,000 civilians and inflicted billions of dollars in damage on Lebanon. But Hezbullah’s unexpectedly effective resistance turned the invasion into a US-Israeli defeat.
Now, she has been at it again in Gaza, attempting to thwart efforts by the UN, EU and other powers to end the massacre there. Once again, America has covered itself with shame and hypocrisy. Shame and hypocrisy only exceeded by America and Israel’s co-conspirator in the Gaza siege, Egypt, which has barred the only escape route from the hell of besieged, starved Gaza.
President-elect Barack Obama, who is regarded by many around the globe as a savior, has only issued a few platitudes about the Gaza massacre. He did not hesitate to comment on the attack on Mumbai and other world issues, but his lack of response to the savaging of Gaza could be a dismaying portent of more of the bloody same in the Mideast.
So far, over 900 Palestinians have been killed and 3,500 seriously wounded. Three Israeli civilians are dead. The psychic wounds inflicted on 1.5 million cowering civilians subjected to 1,000 and 2,000 lb bombs, 155mm artillery shells, cluster munitions, heavy mortar fire, air to ground missiles, white phosphorus, and high power tank shells cannot be described.
Gaza has very few basements. Its people cower in apartments and buildings, never knowing when a bomb will crash through the roof or a tank shell through the wall. According to the UN, before the latest crisis, 70% of Palestinian children in Gaza suffered from emotional disorders as well as malnutrition.
Israel’s goal remains to eradicate Hamas and kill many of its members before world outrage finally forces a cease-fire. Once Hamas is crushed, the lapdog Fatah organization, which is financed by the US and Israel, will remain the sole voice of Palestinians. Fatah’s yes-men will then agree to the US-Israeli plan for the West Bank, which recognizes Israel’s retention of its useful parts, and leaves millions of Palestinians squeezed into Israeli-policed tribal enclaves, or Bantustans. In short, little versions of Gaza. Hamas kept refusing to recognize Israel until Israel recognized the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees.
The strategy of Hamas is simply to survive and continue to defy Israel and its allies. The homemade rockets still being fired by Hamas are an act of foolhardy but determined defiance.
The US-Israeli-Egyptian-British plan to eradicate Hamas, which is the Arab world’s only democratically elected government, has another important objective. Hamas was founded in 1987 by a group of Islamic charities linked to Egypt’s venerable Muslim Brotherhood movement. The new Hamas movement gained widespread popular support by promising to defend Palestinian rights to their lost lands and by providing a broad range of social welfare to destitute Palestinian refugees subsisting in squalid slums.
Hamas, in essence, is a democratic revolutionary movement that threatens all of the Mideast’s US-backed dictatorships and monarchies. Its biggest threat is to Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood remains the unofficial opposition to the regime of President Husni Mubarak, who has ruled his nation with an iron fist for 28 years.
Mubarak’s dictatorship is the keystone of US domination of the Mideast. Egypt holds almost a third of the Arab world’s total population. Gen. Mubarak is now 81. Egypt faces regime change soon. The last thing Washington wants is for Hamas’ revolutionary ideas and zeal to infect Egypt’s quiescent, nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition to Mubarak, and risk seeing the US-backed Cairo regime replaced by a nationalist or Islamist government.
So it was essential, in the US-Israeli-Egyptian view, to once and for all crush the Hamas movement and keep Gaza’s Palestinians — who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in what became Israel in 1948 — safely penned up in the Gaza prison. A high-ranking Vatican official just called Gaza a "concentration camp."
Israel has been remarkably successful in barring the world’s eyes from the carnage in Gaza. But when journalists and cameras finally do get in, there will be even more international outrage against Israel’s brutality. No matter. The world, including the ineffectual regimes running so many Arab states, have proven helpless in the face of Israeli ruthlessness and US interference to end the agony of the Gaza Palestinians. Contrast the UN’s helplessness over Gaza to its condemnations against Iraq’s late, lynched Saddam Hussein.
As I said last week, Israel is handing a "fait accompli" to President Barack Obama. Its squabbling politicians primarily launched this war to boost their chances in upcoming elections, but also to destroy Hamas while their protector, George Bush, was still in the White House.
A short-term success, perhaps. But these Israeli politicians will pay a heavy price in the long term for this slash-and-burn policy. The world will turn further against Israel and see it, as too many critics claim, as a brutal oppressor. Comparisons with the Warsaw ghetto uprising will inevitably be made. More important, any hope for a real peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been set back for years.
Equally, America will be blamed for the carnage in Gaza. In my latest book, American Raj, I try to explain why there is so much anger and hatred directed in there against the United States. Gaza is now exhibit "A."
While our media mostly repeats Israel’s side of the argument, people across the Muslim world hear nightly of Gaza’s agony and horror — and will soon see TV footage. Everyone knows the F-16’s, helicopter gunships, and self-propelled heavy artillery raining death on Gaza come from the US courtesy of American taxpayers. Everyone knows the White House has been blocking action to succor the Palestinians and ordering its Arab satrap regimes to stay quiet — or, as in the case of Egypt, keep the prison gates locked.
If 9/11 was payback for Beirut, 1982, then the next attack on the US or its citizens abroad will likely be labeled, "Gaza."
Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada. He is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.