Emotions are quickly taking over. The Middle East conflict is leaving precious little of our rational selves to figure this thing out. Not that there have never been brains at work trying to solve this intractable problem. But when revenge and retaliation are the only perimeters of an American war policy towards an international terrorism that is quickly metamorphosing into a war for the Zionist nation state of Israel we are in deep bowel matter.
Let us try to minimize our emotional component and maximize our rational content for a while. Let us ask ourselves some hard questions “under fire” as we may well be if things continue along this slippery slope of shooting first, and asking questions later.
1st Why are our politicians and diplomats saying and doing everything that will secure the hostility of Muslims all around the world? Muslims outside of the United States as well as Muslims inside of the United States are having difficulties differentiating between “Islam” and “terrorism” when these words are used by American officials and spokespersons. From president Bush who clobbers together an “axis of evil”, two thirds of it Muslim territories (Iran and Iraq), to a writer who suggests that the Muslim holy city of Mecca be bombed in retaliation for September 11 the public discourse is loaded with verbal ammunition against post-traditional Islam.
2nd Why is the United States government poking its nose in the internal affairs of other countries around the world? “The United States is building bases in four ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia and deploying 200 military advisers in Georgiaé NATO will be expanded to include three Baltic states.” Money, men, and materiel are pouring into Columbia and coming from the United States. To do what? To fight yet another war thousands of miles away. Seldom does a season pass by without hearing that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has opened up another office on another continent! And we thought this was a federal bureau not a global one. But we should have known better; globalization hit the FBI alsoé and they have to keep pace with the timesé
From time to time, the State Department sends out notices or warnings to Americans in certain countries to be alert and vigilant because “anti-Americanism” is peaking in that particular land. Or the State Department issues advisories for Americans traveling overseas or American would-be-tourists to avoid traveling to certain countries and areas around the worldé.
Some of this “helpful information” from Foggy Bottom even goes on to instruct some Americans who may be posted to volatile regions of the world to be as circumspect as possible — they should not dress like Americans or tourists, they should try as much as possible to blend in with the local culture, and they should vary their travel routes from day to day and not establish a travel pattern.
3rd The United States government if G.W. Bush by-passes the United Nations and pretty much does what it wants to anyone anywhere in the world where it feels its interests are “threatened.” President Bush did not entertain the usual hypocritical courtesy of going through the United Nations to gain some type of “legitimacy” for his entry into world affairs; i.e., America’s military presence and duties in such places as Afghanistan, the Philippines, Yemen, Georgia, and a host of other countries that are on his dispatch list in which Iraq seems to be the first runner-up. And with the increasing scarcity of information pertaining to government policies we do not know whether the United States has paid its dues to the UN. And all along we thought that the Orwellian society (i.e.; police state) would be shaped by the political left. Surprise! It is also coming from the right!
4th The Bushy White House is so cavalier in its policy implementations that it behaves beyond constitutional restrictions é especially when the “first man” tells us that this war against terrorism could go on for many years into the future. We thought that a war over ninety days would require an act of Congress. But who is askingé Who cares any longer; when civil rights can be violated, so can constitutional rights, too. This Bush does not need a Hill.
5th It would seem that by now the men around president Bush should be getting the message: the United States government is on its way to a world-wide isolationism — not because it is withdrawing from world-affairs, letting other people solve their own problems, and bringing back the boys in uniform from impossible military assignments, to defend this country at home from all enemies, domestic and foreign. Rather, the United States is on its way to isolationism because it is fanatically in support of a terrorist Israeli government led by a war criminal. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister is leading president Bush into international isolation. Bush is being hoodwinked into supporting every Israeli policy: right or wrong. And this support is not limited to verbal platitudes. The core problem is that terror-spawning Israel is financed by the United States government. The Israeli addiction to the American dollar is well established. And Mr. Bush cannot break the habit. He says: “one dime of money into a terrorist activity is one dime too much.” And “those who do business with terror will do no business with the United States or anywhere else the United States can reach.” If Mr. Bush could put his money where his mouth is he would stop the flow of around five billion dollars every year from the United States to a Zionist government led by an established war criminal.
President Bush, Not Hostage Bush
During Ariel Sharon’s first year as the elected prime minister of Israel he visited president Bush at the White House four times. We do not know what exactly transpired during those sequential meetings. And we do not claim to know anything pertaining to their sensitive discussions. But what we do know is that eventually Sharon felt as confident as to launch the current hostilities against the Palestinian people in which he is proving again his credentials as a war criminal. And Washington cannot raise an independent voice to condemn Israeli massacres throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The Israel of Sharon is systematically moving its armed forces (financed and equipped by the US) from town to town and from area to area on Palestinian territories and calling these areas “war zones” and banning reporters and correspondents from doing their jobs while Washingtonian diplomats and officials around Bush are incapable of equating Israeli terrorism with what they call Palestinian terrorism.
Just like commercialized doctors, commercialized politicians are treating the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. The very primitive Palestinian delivery system where the bodies of martyrs are strapped with explosives and used to strike against a militarist settler regime and society is not the problem. The problem is the systematic and sustained Israeli and Zionist policies and ideology that have reduced the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to a choice between living as a sub-human or dying as a martyr. Many people (and the higher ups in Washington are included) are afraid to look with their minds at this phenomenon of terrorism. They rather choose to look at it with their guts. A thoughtful consideration of this “terrorism” would indicate that it was long in the making — it did not happen over night. It was the Palestinians’ military option when all other options were proven useless. “The core of the problem is 35 years of harsh and humiliating occupation. Ending the occupation is the sole means of beginning to attain peaceé In treating the symptoms and not the cause, President Bush is participating and contributing to isolation, humiliation and destruction of Yasser ‘Arafat. Sharon believes that ‘Arafat’s elimination is desirable, and most of the Israeli cabinet is ready to assassinate him. Washington effectively acquiesces to the Sharon strategy.
Bush is no Eisenhower. Back in 1956 when the Republican administration of president Eisenhower had enough cool heads in its State Department and Intelligence Agencies who could dispassionately evaluate how things were going as Israel, Britain, and France attacked Egypt and that the whole war-game against Egypt may result in an eventual popular tide against American interests in that part of the world, Eisenhower had the back bone to call-off this tripartite aggression and freeze those hostilities against a beleaguered and besieged Egypt. Now it is not Egypt that is being beleaguered and besieged, it is Palestine. But where is Eisenhower? Maybe we should be looking at how Tel Aviv has politically terrorized Washington!
There is a type of symmetry between Ramallah and Washington. In Ramallah the Israeli war forces have president ‘Arafat militarily surrounded and virtually at the survival level from one miserable day to another. In Washington the Israeli lobbying forces have president Bush politically surrounded and virtually incapable of making any independent and American centered decisions. In a sense, president Bush and his inner circle are limping from one development to another and from one Israeli decision to the next, probably hoping that this Middle East crisis does not blow up in their faces and unleashes the “dark forces of Islamic terrorism.” And if that happens (and if it does it will be because of Sharon’s bulldozer qualities; not only is he bulldozing the range of policies nurtured by previous American administrations, but he is also bulldozing any current voice of sanity within the Bush administration) Usama bin Laden will seem like “the good old times.”
Superpower or Super-poodle?
In times like this a person cannot help but think: who is calling the shots? Is Prime Minister Sharon in charge? Or is it president George W. Bush? Is Israel giving the United States around five billion dollars every year, or is the United States giving Israel around five billion dollars a year? Is it the Americans who have an American lobby in Israel to lobby for American interests in the world, or is it the Israelis who have a “Jewish” lobby in the United States who trek incessantly all around Washington to secure the Israeli interest around the world? Is the military industrial complex of Raytheon, MacDonald-Douglas, Boeing, etcé are they located in Israel or in the United States? Where is the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the Import-Export Bank, etcé are they in Israel or in America? By the way Bush and Sharon are behaving you would think that Israel is the senior and the United States is the junior in this relationship! Why is president Bush behaving like Sharon’s Afghan hound? It seems like every time an American president succeeds his predecessor he becomes gripped by Israeli priorities and in the process can no longer acknowledge that the U.S. has its priorities and they come before Israel.
It would seem like the Israelis are on a rollé their military is roaming at will in and around Palestine. The skies are opened for their air force. They have also placed some satellites up there for good measure (the Ofek series). And there has never been any maritime challenges to the Israeli navy é the Mediterranean is their open sea. To the contrary, these Israelis were able to sink an American navy ship (the USS Liberty) and claim it was some type of mistake and get away with ité Up to this very moment there has not been an official investigation or a Congressional scrutiny into what happened on that tragic day in the second week of June 1967. Tens of US servicemen were killed by Israeli warplanes and torpedoes; more than one hundred and seventy were injured and no one back in Washington (during the Johnson administration) had the backbone to stand up to this war-crime and bring the culprits to justice.
Dump It on the Palestinians
The methodical, tireless, and unemotional Israeli military establishment is “having its day” bombing, shelling, bombarding, and shooting throughout the West Bank and Gaza and the Palestinians are holed up, confined, curfewed, or on the run trying to survive this combination of American taxpayer’s money and military technology with Israeli schemes and manpower. And if you were to listen to Washington you would think that the Israelis are defending themselves against offensive Palestinians. How clever have media falsifiers and perjurers become? 99% of the battles and exchange of fire is happening on Palestinian occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But you would not know that if you were reading or listening to the news that comes from all our local and national news outlets. The jaded comments coming from the full spectrum of American politics places the blame fairly and squarely on the Palestinians because — we are told — the Palestinians are the “suicide” bombers. I guess if someone dare fight back for his or her rights short of being able to match F’16’s with F’16’s and Apache helicopters with Apache helicopters and Merkava tanks with Merkava tanks is a terrorist without a flinch! It seems like Washington has become the echo of Tel Aviv, and Bush has become the sidekick of Sharon. And the game between the Knesset and the White House is called “Simon says.”
We are now eyewitnesses to an American policy that is at odds with virtually the whole wide world. Sharon’s incarnation of the Pharaoh and Goliath are readily identified by everyone in the world except for the Bush crowd in Washington. “Several world leaders made direct appeals to Israel, asking it to show restrainté The foreign ministers of China and Japan, and Morocco’s king Mohammed called either the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, or the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, to voice concern. France, Germany, Turkey and Arab states also urged restraint. [Even America’s closest ally in the person of] Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has called on Mr. Sharon to pull back his tanksé The Speaker of Greece’s parliament accused Israel few days ago of committing “genocide.” Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates all made diplomatic appeals, and Crown Prince ‘Abdullah of Saudi Arabia contacted the US to voice concerns. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, said in a statement: “The military confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians is cause for great concern. It holds the danger of destabilization of the entire region.
The Palestinian sense of retaliation by walking human explosive against an ever-increasing Israeli military oppression is understandable, albeit hardly permissible in the conventional interpretations of warfare. Any human society forced into sub-human living conditions for so long would have had to react in the face of such savage occupation. It has to be noted that the Palestinian powder keg did not explode in the form of human bombs over night; it took many years and generations of Palestinians who were consistently victimized by successive Zionist governments to choose to fight back by any means necessary.
America’s policy exemplified by president Bush “Israel is right even when it is wrong” can only lead to further Israeli shedding of Palestinian blood and to further American shedding of its political layers. Sharon is for all practical purposes stripping the Republican Bush administration of any and all principles as well as its own national interest.
“In these circumstances, America cannot ignore world public opinion. There is a nearly unanimous global consensus that United States policy has become one-sided and morally hypocritical, with clear displays of sympathy for Israeli victims of terrorist violence and relative indifference to the [much more numerous) Palestinian civilian casualtiesé The United States response, therefore, has to be guided by a strategic awareness of all the interests involved, and not by the claims of any single party.”
Political and Religious Osmosis
Could the American conservative right wing be digging into its religious literature and locking in on Biblical interpretations that give “credence” or legitimacy to an “Israel” that will usher in the “end of times?” What is the depth and the range of the American Evangelical movement that has been and remains well entrenched within the fold of the Republican party? It is said that there are around ninety eight million Americans who consider themselves evangelicals. That is more than one in every three Americans. How far is president Bush pushing this pool of conceivable and potential rock solid support for the Zionist politicians of the Israeli nation state? But even if a certain interpretation of Christianity favors a Jewish state with a Zionist agenda, hasn’t president Bush and the evangelical flock asked themselves about the rest of the Christians in the world? In Europe, in Latin America, in Australia, Canada, etcé How come they are not of the same vision as Bush is on the current upsurge of violence and warfare in the Holy Land? More than two hundred Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) are besieged by Israeli military forces and remain confined to the Nativity Church inside Bethlehem where it is said Jesus, son of Mary, was born. We cannot wonder if Jews and Christians were besieged inside this most holy Christian site by Muslim military forces, with tanks, machine guns, and helicopters surrounding the place!
In this instance, the United States and its president are more in the camp of Sharon the Zionist than they are in the camp of innocuous Christian and Muslim citizens of Palestine holed up in the holy Nativity Church.
It is easy to blame the “underdog.” It is even easier to place blame on corrupt politicians who were weaned by their Western money managers, economic executives, and political pals. Such is the blame game going on between Washington and Ramallah.
We do not know what will happen in the coming weeks and months. The Middle East is the last place to predict future developments. But there are a few things that may happen.
The conflict between Israeli and Palestinian will continue at “low intensity” warfare levels. Explosions, sniping, killing, ambushing, and different sorts of retaliatory measures may characterize this possibility. And the longer this goes on with the US government maintaining is unconditional support for the Israeli government the more the anger and rage will swell throughout the Middle East and into Asia and Africa against American interests that will gradually become synonymous with Israel.
A gradual or abrupt escalation of the conflict (either by expanding the theater of military operations into Lebanon or lands adjacent to Palestine or by an all-out Israeli military strike against the surrounding countries or a portion of them (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan or Egypt) risks the destabilizing the governments that rule in these countries. These governments so far are on talking terms with American officialdom. But if they are destabilized because of Israeli aggression and popular turmoil and tumult then the US government will lose access to these areas around Israel. This may also lead to a domino effect in which vital American interests may be at risk in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Persian Gulf.
Sharon’s preference: transfer of the Palestinian population across the borders into a homeland of their own; possibly Jordan or Iraq or a combination of the two or even a rearrangement of the political map of the region to make room for the absorption of the Palestinian people. And if the US government acquiesces to this then it will be considered an accomplice of Israel’s mass crime and if this happens on George W. Bush’s watch he and the American government will be hounded by a demographic turmoil that will brew in rage and hatred of everything Zionist and American for generations and conceivably centuries to come.
An American strike against Iraq to augment or facilitate Sharon’s preference will meet with the same result as (3) above.
Any attempt by the American administration of Mr. Bush to solve this issue on Israeli terms that would deny the Palestinians of their natural and political rights is bound to exacerbate this festering problem and to lead to more confusion and conflict.
The European governments maybe because of their close proximity to the area or maybe because of their historical experience with its people stand to teach president Bush a lesson on how to diffuse this “run-away war.” Of course, this cannot be done over night. It is not a magic formula. It takes coordination, common objectives, and the recognition of the Palestinians’ God-given right to live in peace and regain their lands and possessions. Sharon’s policies (which have never been criticized by Mr. Bush) of killing the Palestinians or whatever is left of them into submission will never work. And the Jews should acknowledge this fact before anyone else. If history had taught the Jews any lesson it should be that enemies will never obliterate you when you are the victim of injustice, oppression, discrimination, and racism. The Jews should be smart enough to see that the Palestinians are in the position that they were once in. And it does not make it justifiable for the Zionists to be the Jews of the past and the goyim of the present. Zionist occupation will breed more resistance. And American supplementation of Zionism will only place America’s interests throughout the world in jeopardy and at grave risks.
Now is not the time for Mr. Bush to be pandering to the internal Jewish American lobby as strong as that lobby is. We know that every US president in modern history wants to secure his second four-year term in office. But we ask the president of the world’s superpower: is the matter of world peace more important to the future of Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians? Or is it the election of G.W. Bush for another four years? If future peace is of any concern to Mr. Bush then he will prove the superpower status of the US. But if winning another election is what is occupying his mind, then he will prove that the US is not a superpower but a super-poodle, with Sharon as master.
Dr. Ahmed Yousef is Director of United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) and Editor-in-Chief, Middle East Affairs Journal.