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Yet another Israeli massacre

| 6 June 2010

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Interview with Dr Ian Douglas, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal by Victor Thorn of the America Free Press
The humanitarian aid ship recently attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces flew a white flag and was sailing in international waters. How can anyone say it was a threat to “Israel’s right to exist”?
No one can, and it wasn’t. The real existential threat to Israel is the violence upon which it was founded and that it continues to impose on the Palestinians. If the Palestinians are a threat to Israel’s existence, it is not because tomorrow militarily they can defeat the Israeli army, corner the government and dissolve the state. It is because their cause is just, and that cause is what Israel has been trying to bury since 1948. The more it tries, the more it finds it cannot do it. And the more it cannot do it, the more it tries. So we witness the horror of what happened on the Mavi Marmara. Israel is seemingly unconcerned about committing murder in front of the eyes of the world.

But even it was more than murder. Five of the victims were shot in the back, or in the back of the head. One victim was shot five times from 45 centimetres. This is not murder; it is destruction. There is a level of violence here that is sadistic and vengeful. In reality, this is what Gazans and Palestinians face every day. And it is becoming more and more clear to the world — that is to say, to the world’s people, because governments know very well how brutal and ruthless Israel is, whatever they pretend otherwise.

Norman Finkelstein recently said that Israel is now a lunatic state with 300 nuclear warheads. He is right and it is time, before the unimaginable is what we are obliged to live through, that the world deals with this massive threat that is Israel. Another analogy is Macbeth. Israel has so much blood on its hands that it sees phantoms everywhere, and can only go forward by more killing.

It is not individual Palestinians that haunt Israel. It is Israel’s injustice to the Palestinians.

In a speech last week, Binyamin Netanyahu proclaimed that those aboard this ship were “violent supporters of terrorism”. What is your response to this statement?
Netanyahu is so cynical, and this statement so outlandish, it is a challenge to know how possibly to respond.

First, this flotilla was bringing wheelchairs, spare parts for wheelchairs, paper, medical supplies, basic goods. It seems for Netanyahu a terrorist act to help the disabled. Second, no one aboard was armed, but in the attack it seems Israel expected those onboard to be shot by its soldiers without protest. Third, for Netanyahu, anyone who supports the Palestinians in Gaza in any capacity whatsoever is a “supporter of terrorism”. Given that Israel blocks all attempts to support the Palestinians in Gaza, anyone who insists on supporting them is deemed “violent”. The same was true up until only a few years ago of anyone who supported Fatah in the West Bank. In reality, Israel regards all Palestinians as terrorists or potential terrorists. This is all it sees. Around every corner, at every window, for Israel, is an existential crisis. What it refuses to see, and what it cannot see, is that it is an occupying power, not just of the Arab lands seized in 1967, but the Arab lands seized and expropriated by force in 1948.

Again, Israel simply cannot face up to its own bloody origin. It is a settler state, founded in violence by individuals who came from outside to an Arab country. Given this reality, international law affirms that the Palestinians — and indeed anyone else who wishes to assist them — have the right to use any and all means necessary, including use of armed force, to end this colonial situation and achieve self-determination in Palestine. The law of self-determination is unequivocal on this point. Even if we ignore that Israel’s admission to the United Nations System was conditional and that it has failed to meet the conditions set down, and even if we pretend that its occupation concerns only the land seized after 1967, we still cannot call resistance to Israeli occupation terrorism.

The Palestinians constitute a national liberation movement and this has legal meaning under international law. Moreover, other states are freely permitted to support this movement, and any component of it, if they wish.

Not that anyone is actually arming the Palestinians, as we can see from the homemade rockets they are occasionally able to fire into Israel from Gaza. But if states wanted to, they could arm the Palestinians. And who — having seen the horrid destruction and loss of life Israel inflicted in but its latest wholesale offensive on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 (the latest in a very long line of offensives) — could say that the Palestinians in Gaza didn’t have the right to defend themselves by use of arms?

In short, Netanyahu is the violent supporter of terrorism, and an instigator of it: the terror of the Israeli state against the Palestinians.

Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison: in essence, a concentration camp. Why is Israel permitted to perpetuate this genocide against the Palestinian people?
There are a number of factors. In what order they come is difficult to say.

There is Western racism against Arabs. There is the entire Orientalist attitude, which sees the Arabs as little more than Bedouins, camel rangers, or the nouveau riche. In a word, slaves or former slaves. Then there is fear of organised Jewish power, in the form of the political lobby and financial and media-based Jewish interests. Then there are Western strategic interests in the Arab world, based principally around hydrocarbon resources, and which run counter to Arab interests in autonomous development. Then there was the horse-trading that divided up the Arab world in the time Sykes-Picot.

All these factors militate towards Western tolerance of Zionist aggression against the Palestinians, both over the last 60 to 90 years and still today. Gaza is but the highest expression of this. And while the overwhelming majority of state actors know the reality of it, the international arena is so filled with cynicism, self-interest and continual threats from imperial and colonial powers that nothing seemingly can be done about it.

This is where ordinary people come in, and this is where ordinary people are changing the logic. For Israel is no longer able to perpetuate this genocide against the Palestinian people — at least no longer without consequence. Perhaps the greatest expression of this popular power is the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, that every day is gathering more and more momentum. Meanwhile, brave souls like those aboard the Mavi Marmara, at least nine of which died doing so, will continue to attempt to break Israel’s stranglehold over the Palestinians and expose for lies Israeli propaganda.

We in the BRussells Tribunal said it and I am sure of it: this is not the end, but only the beginning. Whereas aid ships used to try to get through alone, now they come in groups. When a thousand ships set sail, what will Israel do?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel’s murderous deeds with these words: “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness.” What are your thoughts?
He is right, but this realisation was a long time coming. And many Palestinians were killed in the meantime. Israel’s crimes are practically numberless. Decade upon decade, we see incident after incident. But it is one thing to recognise crimes and another to do something to end them. Above all, the Palestinians need not words but actions. If they want words, they can turn to Arab leaders. Israel’s victims in the future — whether next week, tomorrow or next year — need action now.

As for Turkey, it is not about starting a war against Israel. We need Turkey to use its influence and to build a coalition first to break the siege on Gaza, if necessary by threat of deploying a multinational naval escort; second, to demand that Israeli leaders responsible of grave crimes (which means all of Israel’s leaders) are brought to justice. Third, the international community must cut all economic ties, all defence coordination and contracts, and all diplomatic, intellectual and cultural links with Israel until Zionism is recognised as racism, the right of Palestinians to self-determination and the right of return of Palestinian refugees are realised, and equal rights are guaranteed for all in historic Palestine. Until this happens, Israel will continue to be the single biggest threat to world peace, and the possibility of a better world will continue to fall into and be suffocated by the black hole of Israel’s insistence on perpetuating injustice against the Palestinians.

Considering the Goldstone Report, the assassination of a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel, and this latest incident (not to mention dozens of other Israeli crimes against humanity), when will the world reach critical mass in regard to Israel’s reign of terror?
It has already happened. We wait for events to catch up. The overwhelming majority of the world’s population knows the truth about Israel and its leaders. They know that Israel is a lunatic state that insists on racial and religious purity; that it is at war with all of its neighbours, and that it practices brutality morning, noon and night. Who really needs convincing who could be convinced?

In your opinion, why does America continue to blindly follow (and enable) Israel’s pathological bloodlust in light of so much global condemnation?
Israel is a proxy of the United States in the Arab world. Its function is to divide Arab states internally and against one another. Washington’s greater aim is to block all sovereign Arab development and dominate natural energy production and consumption from the region. When America spends $200,000 a minute on oil, you can guess at how important it is to keep the Arabs from realising their geo-economic potential. This also suggests the unbreakable link between resistance in Palestine and resistance in Iraq — indeed resistance anywhere to US geostrategic plans for the region.

Ultimately it comes down to the internal system of power in the United States. It is one built on consumption of oil. Practically nothing in the consumer market doesn’t have an oil derivative in it. It is about far more than gasoline. If that system of consumption collapsed, how would America’s elite keep 300 million people in line? Consumption in the United States is a technology of government, and its currency is oil, of which the Arabs have a lot — enough to keep the US order of things going for a few decades yet.

Why seize that oil instead of buying it? Because America has the military might to do so, or to try to do so. And military technology and equipment has its own sequence of obsolescence. Hence the unnecessary wars in which, also, vast profits are made. Some think that George W Bush was ignorant. On the contrary, he knew what the United States is. And during his time in office, Washington became indistinguishable from Tel Aviv, or vice versa.

Obama is either unwilling, unable or doesn’t want to break from that. I feel genuinely sorry for those who bought into the lie that he would. He won’t and he never intended to. To quote from Borowski, “It is hope that compels man to hold on to one more day of life, because that day may be the day of liberation.” Obama might be able to sell hope to America, but the Palestinians have no hope in Obama. Thus they will continue — for they have nothing to lose — to confront Israeli injustice, and so should we.

This interview was first published in full on the site of the BRussells Tribunal:
http://brussellstribunal.org/Newsletters/Newsletter5EN.htm
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We negate and we must negate because something in us wants to live and affirm — Friedrich Nietzsche