Monday, January 12, 2009

War to end all Zionist wars ?

I have nothing much to add to the ideas in the following two articles.

Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz:
When the cannons eventually fall silent, the time for questions and investigations will be upon us. The mushroom clouds of smoke and dust will dissipate in the pitch-black sky; the fervor, desensitization and en masse jump on the bandwagon will be forever forgotten and perhaps we will view a clear picture of Gaza in all its grimness. Then we will see the scope of the killing and destruction, the crammed cemeteries and overflowing hospitals, the thousands of wounded and physically disabled, the destroyed houses that remain after this war.

The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The world's exaggerated willingness to forgive Israel is liable to crack this time. The pilots and gunners, the tank crewmen and infantry soldiers, the generals and thousands who embarked on this war with their fair share of zeal will learn the extent of the evil and indiscriminate nature of their military strikes. They perhaps will not pay any price. They went to battle, but others sent them.

The public, moral and judicial test will be applied to the three Israeli statesmen who sent the Israel Defense Forces to war against a helpless population, one that did not even have a place to take refuge, in maybe the only war in history against a strip of land enclosed by a fence. Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will stand at the forefront of the guilty. Two of them are candidates for prime minister, the third is a candidate for criminal indictment.

It is inconceivable that they not be held to account for the bloodshed. Olmert is the only Israeli prime minister who sent his army to two wars of choice, all during one of the briefest terms in office. The man who made a number of courageous statements about peace late in his tenure has orchestrated no fewer than two wars. Talking peace and making war, the "moderate" and "enlightened" prime minister has been revealed as one of our greatest fomenters of war. That is how history will remember him. The "cash envelopes" crimes and "Rishon Tours" transgressions will make him look as pure as snow by comparison.

Barak, the leader of the party of the left, will bear the cost of the IDF's misdeeds under his tutelage. His account will be burdened by the bombing and shelling of population centers, the hundreds of dead and wounded women and children, the numerous targetings of medical crews, the firing of phosphorus shells at civilian areas, the shelling of a UN-run school that served as a shelter for residents who bled to death over days as the IDF prevented their evacuation by shooting and shelling. Even our siege of Gaza for a year and a half, whose ramifications are frighteningly coming into focus in this war, will accrue to him. Blow after blow, all of these count in the world of war crimes.

Livni, the foreign minister and leader of the centrist party, will be remembered as the one who pushed for, legitimized and sat silent through all these events. The woman who promised "a different kind of politics" was a full partner. This must not be forgotten.

In contrast to the claims being made otherwise, we are permitted to believe that these three leaders did not embark on war for electoral considerations. Anytime is good for war in Israel. We set out for the previous war three months after the elections, not two months before. Will Israel judge them harshly in light of the images emanating from Gaza? Highly doubtful. Barak and Livni are actually rising in the polls instead of dipping. The test awaiting these individuals will not be a local test. It is true that some international statesmen cynically applauded the blows Israel dealt. It is true America kept silent, Europe stuttered and Egypt supported, but other voices will rise out of the crackle of combat.

The first echoes can already be heard. This past weekend, the UN and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva have demanded an investigation into war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Israel. In a world in which Bosnian leaders and their counterparts from Rwanda have already been put on trial, a similar demand is likely to arise for the fomenters of this war. Israeli basketball players will not be the only ones who have to shamefully take cover in sports arenas, and senior officers who conducted this war will not be the only ones forced to hide in El Al planes lest they be arrested. This time, our most senior statesmen, the members of the war kitchen cabinet, are liable to pay a personal and national price.

I don't write these words with joy, but with sorrow and deep shame. Despite all the slack the world has cut us since as long as we can remember, despite the leniency shown toward Israel, the world might say otherwise this time. If we continue like this, maybe one day a new, special court will be established in The Hague.
And beyond the war-crimes issue there is the issue of Zionism itself. Paul Woodward writes, by way of comment on a WaPo piece:

The failure of Zionism

Israel apologists, in defending Israel’s war on Gaza, repeatedly return to the same question: what would you do? Is Israel not acting in exactly the same way that any other country would when under attack?

Implicit in this question is the notion of Israel as a stable, democratic, fundamentally peaceable nation whose only serious problem is the hostility of its neighbors.

The fact that Israel has existed in a near perpetual state of war since its creation is treated as being descriptive of the region in which Israel exists and not descriptive of Israel itself.

At the same time, look anywhere else on the planet at any government and any nation whose political system is profoundly molded by warfare and it is clear that relentless war and sustainable democratic governance are incompatible.

Any nation that perpetually focuses on threats from outside, simultaneously rots from within.

When thoughtful, open-minded Israelis such as Tom Segev have reached the conclusion that peace is no longer possible — that the best that Israelis and Palestinians can hope for is better conflict management — isn’t it time to declare the Zionist project a failure?

To say that Zionism has failed is not to suggest that the state of Israel can or should be dismantled but to say that Israel will never become what it was hoped to be.

Without this recognition of failure, Israel will remain in a state of paralysis. In its state of partial birth it will become progressively more disfigured.

These are just the opening statements in a process that is obviously going to raise a lot of questions: For instance, is it possible to manage a transition from a sectarian state to a genuinely open one? And would America be qualified to play any role in such a process (for instance having just completed the process of establishing a sectarian state in Iraq?)


Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

I think it is quite clear that the US is fundamentally incapable of playing a positive leadership role here. Historical processes are underway which the US, whether under Bush, Clinton, or Obama (and it looks like we're going to get a Frankenstein that resembles a bit of all three for the next 4 years) is simply for domestic political/ideological reasons unwilling to lead on. In fact, the US system with its built-in not just Israeli, but military-industrial biases, is simply incapable of standing up for right in any meaningful way. Instead we are going to see Zionism increasingly collapse under its own weight as the killing and death they inflict on the weak increasingly strengthens Palestinian resolve to settle for no less than true justice and equality. Israel is making the one-state solution inevitable as it strengthens its opponents and weakens whatever false moral authority it had ever tried unsuccessfully to claim for itself.

I think it was Sari Makdisi who recently said (paraphrasing here, think I got this off a kabobfest post) something really profound - the reason Zionism is doomed to fail is because it has tried to do something that has never worked in Palestine: it is trying to impose a mono-ethnic state onto an inherently heterogeneous land and set of historical societies. Palestinians themselves carry the blood of countless civilizations of the past: Arab, Jewish, Greek, Phoenician, Egyptian, Persian, Turkish, European Crusader, (ever realize the "Nathshe" family in the West Bank are actually a clan of German "Nietzsche's"?), and on and on. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are destined to live together in a single society, the sooner we can dispose of this myth that separating them with barriers and borders is possible, the sooner the South African reconciliation model will be recognized for the trailblazing example it is.

12:54 PM  

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