Israel May Yet Reap the Whirlwind

Three facts stand out starkly in connection with the murderous assault by Israel on Gaza:

  1. An UN Security Council statement condemning the carnage was blocked on Tuesday by the USA.
  2. The military asymmetry means that, for example, on Tuesday night 26 more Palestinians were killed, compared to two Israelis. Any ground assault would further exaggerate the imbalance of power.
  3. Netanyahu is facing an election, and the attack on Gaza has boosted his standing in the polls.

The reason given by the USA for blocking the UN security Council resolution is risible, as they claim it did not address the “root cause”, which they claim is the rocket attacks on israel.

The whole world knows that the “root cause” is the inhuman siege of Gaza by the Israelis; a policy as illegal as it is immoral, and one which bears within it no prospect of ever reaching a peaceful resolution.

Let us be clear. Israel does not want peace. Their trajectory is based upon permanent war, upon illegal settlements in the West bank, upon house demolitions, upon the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, upon the Apartheid wall, upon the gaoling of elected Palestinian MPs, upon assassinations and murder. And Gaza, which dared to elect a government that would not bow its knee at the proud feet of the Israeli conqueror, has been subjected to years of isolation and blockade, in a cruel and desperate attampt by the Israelis to crush the spirit of resistance through collective punishment of the civilian population. Furthermore, Israel has long pursued a policy of destabilising and discrediting any possible Palestinian interlocutor who might be prepared to negotiate peace.

In the short term, Israel may prevail. Their greater military power, their better diplomatic connections, and their Faustian pact with American imperialism, means that Might will temporarilly triumph over Right. But the cost of perpetual warfare distorts Israeli society, and as long as Israel acts as an arrogant subaltern to American interests in the Middle East, then it is stoking fires of hatred that may one day return upon it like a whirlwind.

Some 60 years ago, Israel looked at the world and saw that Britain’s star was waning, and hitched itself instead to the Americans. As the power of their American sponsor and protector declines over the next decade or so, then Israel may live to regret making only enemies in the region.

14 comments on “Israel May Yet Reap the Whirlwind

  1. “60 years ago …” Did you mean “Israel”, or did you mean “the jews”? Yes, Israels response to hundreds of rocket attacks since January has been murderous. Yes, all occupied territories should be returned forthwith. However, your language and your argument fundamentally ignores the fact that Israel exists. You rehearse the honourable arguments against Zionism pt forth by Nathan Weinstock, Leon Trotsky et al before 1948. Intellectually this is no problem, however in a post-1948 world, I wonder whether you have really thought out what a “win” for Hamas actually entails.
    If, perchance you have, and you fund yourselves indifferent to the fate of those living in Palestine today, well then, maybe you need to rethink whether your version of Socialism is actually a universal creed.

  2. Ian Stewart: “60 years ago …” Did you mean “Israel”, or did you mean “the jews”?

    Well, Andy can speak for himself, but as far as I can see, the article makes sense as it stands but would make no sense at all with “the Jews” substituted for Israel.

    So what exactly are you trying to say, Mr Stewart?

    But NB, if you have to fix a date on which Israel became a strategic asset primarily for the USA rather than Britain (& France), it would be between 1956 (Suez invasion) and the 1967 Israeli conquest of The West Bank Gaza, the Golan etc. So ’50 years ago’ might be more accurate.

  3. jack ford on said:

    I know this is a controversial view but I believe Israel has long ceased to be a strategic asset for the US Empire. The Americans would find it easier to manage the Middle East without the anger their sponsorship of the apartheid state arouses throughout the Arab and Muslim world. The Lobby has succeeded in placing its interests ahead of the rational self interest of the American state. Walt and Mearsheimer documented this pretty convincingly in their book The Israel Lobby and a former CIA chief and head of the Bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer regards Israel as a liablity to the United States.

  4. Blah Blah Blah. Israelis can all die. Indeed they should die. Imperialism, The West, Yah Yah Yah, …
    What you mean is that the lives of Jewish people do not matter to you. Why not be honest?
    You have no interest in any kind of peace process unless Hamas tells you it is ok. Why not just tell the world that you are anti-semitic? Do you not have the guts?

  5. jack ford on said:

    At some point the capacity of the United States government to afford lavish subsidies to client states overseas, as well as the capacity of any significant group of American citizens to carry out large-scale fundraising projects on their own, will dramatically decline. The United States has the ample wealth that allows it to support Israel because of the imperial wealth pump, that is to say, the systematic patterns of unbalanced exchange that funnel an oversized share of the world’s wealth into American hands. As those patterns break down—and they are breaking down already—the subsidies that keep the Israeli economy afloat and make its current rate of military expenditure possible will inevitably slow to a trickle and then stop.

    When that happens, Israel will find itself backed into a corner with no readily available means of escape. Finding another nation willing to take over the American role as sugar daddy is easier said than done; much of the support Israel gets from the US comes out of the fact that the American Jewish community is one of the better organized veto groups in American politics just now, with the votes and funding to swing a close election, while none of the rising powers likely to take over America’s role in the world has either a large enough Jewish minority or a political system sufficiently gridlocked to allow the same sort of pressure to be applied. Given a choice between funding Israel and placating the petroleum-rich nations and ample export markets of the Arab world, it’s not hard to see where, for example, China’s obvious interest lies.

    Lacking outside support, in turn, Israel faces a future in which it can no longer dominate its region and may not be able to ward off military threats. Its military depends, like most modern militaries, on large and reliable inputs of petroleum products, and petroleum is one of the many resources that Israel lacks; its ability to import as much petrol, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and so on as it needs depends, like so much else, on the subsidies it gets from the United States. The ability to field a large and technically advanced military machine also depends on those direct and indirect subsidies. Lacking them, Israel’s military potential is not much greater than, say, Lebanon’s or Jordan’s—not enough, in other words, to sustain anything like its current dominance. Its nuclear arsenal gives it a temporary edge, but one that will last only until a rival power in the region equips itself with its own stockpile of warheads and delivery systems.

    It’s probably necessary at this point to put paid to one of the widely repeated fantasies of our time, the notion that Israel might set out to guarantee its survival by threatening the rest of the world with nuclear war, or might simply start flinging warheads around in the event of its imminent demise. That’s one of those theories that seems to make sense as long as no one asks what happens next. The downside to any such action on Israel’s part, of course, is that the nations threatened or attacked would be able to respond with far more compelling threats and far more devastating reprisals.

    To begin with, Israel is a very small country. Any nation with a significant nuclear arsenal could turn the whole of it into incandescent ash, along with its entire population, and still have bombs left over. The threat to wreck a city or two has very little clout when the cost of following through on that threat could quite easily amount to immediate national annihilation.

    Furthermore, many of the nations that might plausibly be threatened with a bomb or two can respond at least as effectively by means of conventional warfare.

  6. jack ford on said:

    I had an argument with an Israel supporter back in 2009 after Operation Cast Lead and I tried to convince them that at some point America would decline and the military balance of power would swing to the East. She claimed that if necessary the Israelis would use their nuclear weapons and to use the classic trope bring down the temple on their heads. I’ve heard this expression used elsewhere.

    I don’t believe this is anything more than a bluff. If Israel were losing a conventional war and was threatened with invasion it might threaten to nuke an Arab city but all the Arab commander would have to do would be to say if you commit genocide against one of our cities I will not be responsible for what my men do to your women when Tel Aviv falls. Alternatively you can surrender now and I will guarantee their safety. In such circumstances the Israelis would have to be psychotic to use their nukes.

    Also the world reaction to an Israeli nuclear strike would seriously endanger the safety of Jews everywhere in the disapora and they must know that.

  7. jack ford,

    I dont really accept this “jewish lobby” argument, the USA acts according to its own perceived self interest, the Israel lobby is influential because it is pushing an open door

  8. Uncle Albert on said:

    #7 Andy: “the Israel lobby is influential because it is pushing an open door”

    This is a point that is often overlooked. As Anthony Rusonik remarks here*: “Many like to think that the Israeli tail wags the American dog. It is perhaps more apt to suggest that the oil-rich Saudis wag the American dog.”


  9. Of course it true that the US wants to create reliable puppet states amongst the Arab regimes, and so therefore Israel’s behaviour can often be seen as a problem- hence the efforts to restrain Israel. However, Israel offers a more stable option to the US, a more reliable watchdog. As a colonial settler state, the Israeli masses are very unlikely, due to their privileges, to turn against the Zionist set-up. But as we’ve seen over the decades, and as we see now, other regimes in the Middle East have a far greater instability about them. They are a less reliable option for an imperial power such as the US.

  10. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Noah – entirely agree about the timing. It is also when significant ideological shifts take place in US public and cultural opinion: the impact of the Eichmann trial which further conjoined the Holocaust with the righteousness of Israel.

    The other staging posts in that period are the Iraqi revolution and the continued turn of Nasser away from a rapprochement with the West. The great fear of the US – replacing its hope in the 1950s – was that newly independent countries would gravitate via non-alignment towards Moscow.

    So all that is in place by 1967. Then the swift Israeli victory in the war demonstrates its utility to Washington, which after even swifter deliberation decides firmly to back Israel, unlike in 1956. From then on the Israeli-US link rapidly eclipses the relationship with Britain, and even more so France, both of which continue their post-Suez imperial declines.

    Significantly, all this happens before the immense growth of the organised pro-Israel lobby in the US. What the lobby goes on to do is a) anchor support for Israel to support for the Israeli right, as liberal and socialist Zionism are eclipsed in Israel and by extension in pro-Israeli organisations, and b) police the policy-making process so that alternatives to egregious support for Israel (I mean simply a rebalancing, not the US throwing itself behind the Palestinians) are sidelined, and their bearers sidelined.

    The result is a certain dysfunctionality in the US political system. In recent years there have been several – crucially they are usually non-elected – figures in the US establishment who have questioned the craven support for Israel. But there is a grande peur in the Senate, Congress and among any presidential contenders when it comes to doing the same.

    So we have the candid exchange caught on camera between Obama and Sarkozy two years ago in which Obama confided, and Sarkozy agreed, that he couldn’t bear even to look at Netanyahu’s face, alongside the constant support for even the most outrageous actions.

    Remember when Joe Biden went to Tel Aviv to tell Netanyahu to halt settlement building? Netanyahu announced an accelerated programme and humiliated Biden, who got back on his plane and flew home.

    Underlying the policy grip in Washington is, as Stuart said, that the “pro-Israelis” can say, ok – there are problems, it sometimes goes off the rails, we have to sometimes rein it in, but you can be sure that the Israeli population (at least the Jewish part) will not go and do an Iran 1979 or Egypt 2011, forcing out two of our most important strategic allies.

    The public figure who in the last two years most vocally stated that he thought the absolute support for Israel was a liability for US wider interest was Petraeus, giving evidence as chairman of the joint chiefs to the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

    He’ll not be opening up fundamental policy debates on Capitol Hill again.

    (Oh – and before some Byzantine argument from a Zionist troll that what I am really saying is that “the Jews conspired to bring down Petraeus”, I am saying nothing of the sort.)

  11. jack ford on said:

    I think during the Cold War Israel was seen as an asset by the US but the relationship has long since become dysfunctional to the point where Israel is actually a liability to the Empire. US support for the apartheid state has caused great hostility to America in the Arab world and makes managing the Middle East that much more difficult.

    Not only Petreaus but also Michael Scheuer, former CIA head of the Bin Laden Unit, has come out castigating the “Israel firsters” as extremely harmful to American interests. He believes the Iraq war was not only a disaster but that the Israel lobby was a major force pushing for it. There are signs of a struggle within the US Establishment between the old Anglo lobby and the Zionist lobby but the Zionists have a grip on Congress that so far the Anglos have been unable to challenge. In the Pentagon and CIA who take a completely unsentimental attitude to Imperial client states I suspect there is great frustration at the politicians.

  12. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Very good points, Jack.

    Two years ago the Israeli ambassador to Washington in a leaked memo to his staff warned that Obama did not have the same “emotional” connection to Israel as many previous US presidents (George W. Bush outstandingly) and that there was a danger that he would talk a “cool and calculated” view of assessing the relationship between US global interests and Israel.

    Now the only reason you would fear a cool and calculated view would be the possibility or likelihood that it would arrive at a conclusion you don’t want and which could be forestalled by “emotional” decision-making.

    A former head of the Mossad also warned at around the same time that in his view many in the US state had gone from seeing Israel as a “strategic asset” to a “liability”.

    Importantly, all this is in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Ben Ali and then Mubarak.

    The problem in my view, however, for – let’s call them – the “US-firsters” is not only the elected politicians and the disproportionate hold of the “Israel-firsters” in that sphere. It is also that in a very uncertain Middle East, it’s not as if the strategic argument for significantly loosening the relationship with Israel is so overwhelming that it trumps any but the most ideological objections.

    The US-firsters can say, for sure, look at Morsi in Egypt. We have nothing really to fear, though we must be vigilant and continue to apply pressure. But he’s not done bad for us over the last week. And without a ceasefire, then who knows where this would have ended up in Jordan. We need a public posture that cuts these guys some slack. We need some shift on the Palestine question. If we pull this off, we can have a series of states like today’s Turkey. Not ideal – but we could do a lot worse.

    But the counter-argument has no little force: you want to stake things on Morsi and the Islamists? Look at how fragile things are in Egypt. Look at what happened the last time we sided with an Islamist force to gain tactical advantage: Afghanistan. We are going to face a very rough patch, particularly as we – and we are all agreed on this – focus on containing Iran. Now is not the time to distance the one ally in the region that has the capacity to act externally and the internal coherence to weather waves of instability in the region. And they are surely coming.

    So the argument will continue, in my view, distorted by the pro-Israel lobby and in a context of what Rumsfeld described as known unknowns and unknown unknowns. That is in general how policies are made and unmade, of course.

    I describe the impasse as leading to a situation where the half century marriage between the US and Israel is increasingly unhappy. But neither party is prepared to sue for divorce. The result is crockery thrown across the room, followed by getting back together, and then the inevitable renewed exchange of cups and plates.

    If only it was just themselves who got hurt and just metaphorical missiles exchanged.

  13. Hello all, this is the real Ian Stewart here. I have found that someone I thought of as a mate has been using my laptop and ID to make ill-judged and incendiary posts about Israel and Gaza on this site. After an almighty row, this will not happen again. I apologise for any offence caused by this individual, who I will no longer have in my house.
    Whilst I do not necessarily agree with Andy or Kevin, trolling like this, especially using someone else as cover, serves absolutely no purpose. Please take down those posts Andy, as I really do not want my name associated with those remarks.