Understanding the Israeli Problem

March 8, 2010

Solving the World’s Problems one by one: Big or small we do them all.


by Carl Baydala

A continuing problem for the world is the Israeli problem. Israel and its relation with its neighbours in the Middle East commands a lot of our attention. And, the reason for this focus that we give to Israel and its problems lies in the fact that it has not made peace with its neighbours. The seemingly intractable problem of Israeli-Palestinian relations is a problem that has been with us for over sixty years. That means it must be a serious problem that deserves our attention.

Israel presents itself as a western-style democracy operating in a land of, essentially, non-western like political entities. The Israeli State was born in violence and it continues to be embroiled in conflict with its neighbours. We only count the days and the years waiting for the next conflict to erupt. The country is essentially a creation of the British Zionists who decided that they wanted to establish a homeland for the Jews in the land of Palestine. They made a deal with the British Government during World War One that allowed the creation of the State many years later. The problem is of course that you cannot just decide to move somewhere and establish yourself without the consent of the original inhabitants. And, this is the root cause of the current problem; the original inhabitants of the region do not as a group support the idea of the Jewish state in their midst and this fact has been the cause of the numerous wars between Israel and its neighbours.

Israel claims that it wants to make peace with its neighbours. But, is this true? By its actions over the last sixty years does it come across as an honest participant for peace and a long-lasting relationship with its surrounding counterparts? I don’t think so. The many battles that it has fought with its neighbours has ended up netting Israel more land. This is a source of ongoing antagonism of course. The 1967 War in particular was very kind to Israel and it continues to occupy land that it took from its Arab neighbours. Israel has a lot of power in the region as a result of its war booty and for other reasons as well. Not only does it enjoy its land gains, but it has support from the Western powers in terms of military and psychological and political support. In the United Nations, for example, you will never see the United States doing something that would cause harm to Israel. So, Israel is well-endowed with many things that its neighbours do not enjoy. Israel is the dominant kid on the block and it is not shy about flogging its power and keeping its foes in line.

This power that we are now commenting upon lies at the root of our understanding of the Israeli problem. Israel may in fact have too much power. It has become an arrogant state and one that is not afraid to engage in war no matter what the cost. Invasions of Lebanon and into other Palestinian enclaves are done when the time suits Israel. It seems not to care much about the effects of war and the death of innocent civilians. According to Israel, it is in the business of defending itself and that is the way that it explains its actions to the world.

But, the time is coming close I think, when Israel is going to have to make a decision about its future. By its actions, it has shown the world that it is not much interested in peace as the rest of the world understands it. Gains from former conflicts do not want to be given up so easily and there is every reason to believe that Israel wants even more land. The destruction of Iraq, for example, is not an isolated incident. Israel gained from that invasion as it removed the thorn of Saddam Hussein from its side. Removing Saddam Hussein eliminated a threat to Israeli hegemony in the region. Israel does in fact want to be the dominant power in the region and I don’t think any honest observer is going to think otherwise. You don’t maintain the fourth largest military and harbour nuclear weapons for nothing. You must have a motive for doing so. And, I don’t think you can keep falling back on the idea of self-defense for explanations for this arsenal. Furthermore, the continuing rhetoric against Iran is nothing more than trying to remove yet another obstacle to Israeli influence throughout the whole Middle East region.

And, closer to home how does Israel treat the Palestinians? Very poorly as you can imagine. They are a segregated group and from all accounts have no future in the region with Israel as overlord; their movements are restricted and they are treated differently than Israelis. They are also the continued victims of settlement after settlement upon their lands. These are illegal activities on the part of the Israeli Regime. Consider also the recent intrusion into Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces. It was a case of over-kill to say the least. Many innocent civilians were killed just to prove a point. The point that Israel has an over abundance of power relative to its neighbours. We already know that so why to do you need to display the arrogance of power to prove such a point to the world? You might as well be shooting fish in a tank. It has the same kind of effect. The world is not impressed by such measures, but rather the contrary. It only allows the civilized world to question Israeli motives relative to its neighbours. The defense argument simply doesn’t hold any water when you are dealing with such an imbalance of power. No matter what the concerns of Israel are re self-defence and the like, no state has the right to literally massacre a civilian population in such violent terms. Perhaps that is why the Goldstone Report was established and brought to light an account of the 2008-2009 War in Gaza and its effects on the civilian population. This Report concluded that there were war crimes committed by both sides, but it did come down harder on Israel, and for obvious reasons.

So, the problem remains. Israel is the dominant power in the region and it has a lot going for it, and in spite of the recent bad press against it, the nation continues on as it always has. It has its allies and it has its military power, which we alluded to above. It still employs the old standbys of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust to try and shut down the debate when that debate is seen as detrimental to its interests. It is not shy about making political and economic mince meat of its enemies should circumstances justify such activity. But, using the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as weapons is becoming less effective by the day in trying to suppress the criticism of its enemies. You cannot keep on making the Palestinians pay for the war crimes of the Nazis in Europe. Yet, Israel still maintains strong support in the United States and in Britain for the vast majority of its actions. It has a strong lobbying group in the U.S. and its still receives billions of dollars in aid every year. It receives things that its neighbours do not and that is part of the problem of Israel. It is favoured whereas its neighbours are criticized, marginalized, and even invaded should the need arise.

And, that must ultimately lead us back to the question as to why Israel is favoured over its neighbours. The U.S. and Britain are not obligated to support Israel, and on the surface, they don’t seem to gain much from the support. That support only cost billions of dollars and the soldiers that must be sacrificed in the ongoing Middle East wars. So, why continue to support Israel if there is no logical reason to do so? I mean, it wouldn’t take much effort to simply make deals with the Arab states and pay the going rate for their oil. If oil is your objective and reason for being in the Middle East, that is. The United States and Britain surely had no real reason to invade any Arab or Muslim nation before the 9/11 attack. But, it did use the event as justification for intrusion into the Middle East in a more dramatic fashion. The reasons given for the recent invasions are based on the idea that Osama Bin Laden was being harbored by the Afghan leadership and also as a means of combating the new threat of Islamic terrorism. These were marketed as wars of prevention and were supposed to act as a means of protecting the citizens of the United States. So, how does Israel fit in and why are we focused on this nation all of the time, and why does its name come up all of the time when we are discussing these most recent wars in the region?

Well, I think posing the above question might help us to understand the Israeli problem, in hopefully, greater detail. As I stated earlier the state of Israel was made out of a bargain; a bargain between the Zionists and the British Government. This resulted in the famous Balfour Agreement of 1917. The U.S. entered World War One as part of that bargain and Germany was defeated as a result. Prior to that entry Germany was actually winning the war. So, the Zionists kept their part of the bargain by their efforts in bringing in the new blood of the U.S. into the war. The Zionist objective was to gain some land in Palestine as a result of that deal. And, eventually the State of Israel was born in 1948. But, it was not an easy birth as everybody now knows. There was much bloodshed and displacement of Arabs in the process. Throughout all of the violence, however, Israel steadily managed to assert itself and it did survive. As stated earlier, it was born in conflict and continues to live with this conflict; the conflict of being an uninvited guest into the region. The point of the whole thing though is that Israel is just a political creation and no more. The whole Zionist project is essentially a land grab on Arab lands and I don’t think it is much more than that. You can think of it as a modern form of colonialism if you like. Religious considerations are not really meaningful either when you are setting up a country on foreign soil without the support of the indigenous population on a large scale. You can have all the alien support you want from fellow Zionists or even so-called Christian Zionists living in America. But, these are meaningless things if the locals do not support what you are trying to do; the locals are going to try and repel you. They are certainly not going to accept you with open, loving arms. So, Israel needs to assert itself and to justify its presence in the region. It asserts itself through periodic wars and with its ongoing propaganda, the thrust of which is to portray itself as victim in the region – victim of the Nazi Holocaust. Victimization is a fine strategy, but it doesn’t work very well when the remedy involves the sacrifice of someone ( the Palestinians ) who had nothing whatsoever to do with the crime that caused that victimhood. I, personally do not think Israel is doing a very good job at all and it is failing in its message and is steadily losing whatever support it had for its colonial project. It has created too many enemies in the region and it continues to isolate peoples and even states by its continuous actions. People are turning away from the mainstream media and more people are becoming knowledgable about the Israeli problem.

But, the Zionists and other backers of Israel have a lot of power and I think that is the essential problem here. So, we are essentially dealing with a power problem as I am trying to point out to you. Israel was a creation of Zionists and continues to be supported by those who support the idea of Zionism – and the very idea of Israel being dominant in the region. There is much support from places like the U.S. as we have already stated. And, in Britain as well. Leading the charge into the Middle East and the invasion of Iraq were the U.S. and Britain, both strong centers of Zionism and their financial power. So, there just might be a connection here and something that would ultimately lead us to a greater understanding of this Israeli problem and its origins. Israel continues to be supported by those forces outside of the region. And, maybe that is part of where its confidence comes from; it knows that it can rely on this support. Israeli prime ministers have even publicly stated that they ‘ control ‘ America and have the politicians on their side. Surely, that implies power. Israel, as we should now beging to realize, cannot accomplish anything as a small state operating independently. Its identity and its power are derived from outside sources as we have just stated. And, its enemies know these things. So, I believe this to be the real problem in the Middle East and in Israel in particular. Israel seems intransigent in its policy toward its neighbours and particularly the Palestinians. They do not have to treat the Palestinians fairly if they do not want to because nobody is going to make them do so. They have that much power. The nation continues to build settlements upon Palestinian lands knowing how this upsets the locals and makes them even more angry than they are now. And, this reveals in no uncertain terms the power of the nation of Israel. That it continues to treat the Palestinians with little or no regard is certainly telling. Even the current president of the United States has little influence in the matter. He has spoken out about the issue, but what has happened that would further peace in the region? But, shouldn’t we be now asking ourselves the question: can Israel continue to conduct itself in its over-zealous manner knowing what the ultimate effect of its actions will be? The point of the whole thing, however, is that Israel does not care what others think. It might just be that arrogant – rather like the guy with the girlfriend who conducts her business knowing that her big boyfriend will rescue her if she gets into trouble. When Israel gets into trouble what does it do? Well not only does it count on its heavyweight friends for support, it employs the old tools that it always uses – the tools of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Using these weapons only indicates the arrogance of the State as I have just described it and the world is becoming wiser every day and with each new conflict that involves the state and its neighbours.

So, that in a nutshell friends is the problem with Israel. It has too much power in relation to its neighbours; this power being its huge military apparatus and the use of the United States military and armaments if need be. A small state with these kinds of resources have caused some to say that the State just might need an attitude adjustment and bring it down to earth. Professor Norman Finkelstein, for example, has termed Israel ” A Crazy State ” on account of its actions after its gains during the 1967 War. I am sure many of you are already aware of many of these ideas if you have taken time to study the issue.

Does Israel have a right to exist? Well, that depends on who you talk to of course. There is much in its history that would indicate that it doesn’t have much right at all to hold the status of nationhood the way it conducts its business vis a vis its neighbours. For example, it simply comes across as a state not interested in peace at all, and it appears to have expansionist aspirations. It certainly gains from the elimination of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq. Certainly many friends and supporters of the State would have encouraged that invasion in 2003. And, it openly calls for the invasion of Iran as well. And, settlements expansion is another glaring example of Israeli policy as you can imagine. Nobody can stop these settlements, or so it would seem. So, by might and rhetoric alone, Israel does a have a right to exist. All states have a right to exist if they can defend themselves from one and all and if there is no effective opposition to its goals. And, who is going to stop Israel from existing if it has such a vast military and the support billions of dollars annually from the likes of the United States? No state seems to want to stop Israel from pursuing its military ambitions and operations and there is no substantial criticism levelled against it when it does engage in hostilities. It engages in instantaneous propaganda and political warfare when it is challenged. The United States is a strong ally and continues to be. Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself because it has proven its ability to fight off its enemies in more ways than one. Surely, the State has a right to exist under these conditions.

But, there is a much greater issue here friends. And, that is the notion of justice. We know that Israel is powerful and it has influential friends who will stand by and protect the nation if it is attacked. These friends will even stand by if Israel engages in obvious expansionism as well. Remember, it is not aggression according to Israel, it is defence. Well, defence or not that is not quite how the rest of the world views things when the power of Israel is unleashed upon its neighbours. The onus is on Israel to prove that it is a responsible state acting among a sea of non-equals – there is no other way around it – if Israel wants to be accepted by more of the world and confirm its right to exist and to be accepted as a legal political entity by all concerned. If Israel wants to succeed as a nation then it must take time out and examine what it is doing; in relation to its power and how it utilizes that power against its enemies. It needs to show the world that it can act as a responsible world citizen. And, there is no better way to do that than to treat those with lesser power as one’s equals – even if it hurts and bruises your ego and puts a dent in one’s ambitions. There is no other way to achieve peace in the region until Israel and its backers decide it is time for peace. It is that simple. And, that is the problem – and the challenge – for Israel as I see it.


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