Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wiped off the map

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has caused a political storm by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map". The hardline authoritarian President was speaking in front of 3,000 students at a conference in Tehran entitled “The World without Zionism”.

The west reacted angrily to Ahmadinejad’s statement. The British Foreign Office described it as “sickening”. The White House said that it "underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear operations". Israel's Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for Iran’s expulsion from the UN, saying that the remark "contravenes the United Nations charter and is tantamount to a crime against humanity”.

Whilst this reaction might sound like moral outrage, it can hardly be described as such. The term ‘moral outrage’ describes anger provoked by the violation of some ethical principle. To allow ourselves to be morally offended by one nation’s president calling for another country to be “wiped off the map” we must first have ensured that our own actions do not contravene the same operative ethical principles. In this respect, every citizen of the UK, the US and Israel has a very long road to travel.

In 1947, the UN decreed that historic Palestine should be partitioned, with 56 percent of the land going to the 600,000 strong Jewish population and the remaining 44 percent going to the 1.2 million strong Arab population. Earlier, in 1938, the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion, later the first Prime Minister of Israel, wrote, "[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state -- we will abolish the partition of the country, and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel". In the 1947-49 Arab-Israeli war, around 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their historic homeland by Israeli forces subjecting them to assasinations, rapes and massacres. Israel seized about 78 percent of the British 'Mandate' Palestine by force of arms, with Egypt and Jordan taking the remainder. The Palestinian state decreed by the international community had been forcibly ‘wiped off the map’, to use Ahmadinejad’s phrase. Successive Israeli governments ensured that it was never to emerge.

Does calling for the elimination of a state constitute “a crime against humanity”, as Shimon Peres contends? If so, then Ahmadinejad would be joined in the dock by every Israeli official who has not only advocated but effected the policy of expansionism that continues to prevent a Palestinian nation state from emerging. The list would be long and illustrious. In 1936, Ben Gurion said that "the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them". Moshe Dayan, famed military commander and later an Israeli government minister told the youth of Israel that expansionism was a continuous enterprise. "You have not started it, and you will not finish it!". Elsewhere, he said that "[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no - it must - invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge...And above all - let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space".

Since 1967 Israel has held further occupied territory in open defiance of international law. It has built vast settlements on that land and repressed the occupied population with a ferocity that has been savage in the extreme (more of which in a moment). In spite of this Shimon Peres has, with considerable self-restraint, never described Israel’s actions as crimes against humanity, or conceded its right to be a part of the United Nations, whose laws it treats with utter contempt.

The outrage displayed by western politicians at Ahmadinejad’s denial of Israel’s right to exist was nowhere to be seen when Dov Weisglass, one of the principal advisers to Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, set out his government’s strategy to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state in an interview last year. Weisglass was describing the policy aims behind the fraudulent Gaza withdrawal plan. Recounting the interview, Le Monde Diplomatique noted that "according to Weisglass, Sharon decided to give up Gaza, which he had never considered as a national interest, to save the settlements in the West Bank and, more important, to prevent any negotiated agreement with the Palestinians".

In the interview, Weisglass left very little to the imagination: "There was a very difficult package of commitments that Israel was expected to accept. That package is called a political process. You know, the term `political process' … is the establishment of a Palestinian state …. [its] the evacuation of settlements, it's the return of refugees, it's the partition of Jerusalem…we succeeded in taking that .. and sending it beyond the hills. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely”.

Did the stated intention of keeping Palestine off the map “indefinitely” cause the White House any of the “concern” it expressed this week at the remarks of the Iranian President? Hardly. Weisglass boasted that he had achieved “all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

Israel enacted the plan, making a great show of leaving 19 sq miles in Gaza and evacuating 8,500 illegal settlers, whilst expropriating 23 sq miles in the West Bank Land and introducing 14,000 illegal settlers there. The land grab would also involve, Sharon and Weisglass declared, the permanent annexation of the whole of Jerusalem, including the Arab eastern segment. Far from finding this whole charade “sickening” as the UK Foreign Office described Ahmadinejad’s remarks, Tony Blair wrote to Ariel Sharon, saying “I greatly admire the courage with which you have developed and implemented this policy”.

Despite Israel’s continued expansionism, open dismissal of Palestinian self-determination, brutal treatment of civilians in the occupied territories and total rejection of international law, the Blair government expresses its “admiration” for Sharon’s “courage” far more profoundly than with warm words alone. The historian Mark Curtis, formerly of Chatham House and a specialist in British foreign policy, notes that “[UK] arms exports [to Israel] doubled from 2000 to 2001, reaching £22.5 million as Israel stepped up aggression in the occupied territories. Supplies included small arms, grenade-making kits and components for equipment such as armoured fighting vehicles, tanks and combat aircraft. [The UK] has recently supplied Israel with machine guns, rifles, ammunition, components for tanks and helicopters, leg irons, electric shock belts, tear gas and categories covering mortars, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and military explosives”.

The contribution of Britain’s principal ally, the United States, hardly requires any review. By one estimate, US support for Israel between 1973 and 2002, military and otherwise, totalled $1.6 trillion, over $5,700 per head of population, more than twice the cost of the Vietnam War.

Moral outrage on the part of Britain and the US was conspicuously absent, as the weapons they had sold to Israel were put into murderous effect during the early years of the second intifada. US historian Norman G. Finkelstein describes the conduct of our Israeli ally: “To repress Palestinian resistance, a senior Israeli officer in early 2002 urged the army to "analyze and internalize the lessons of…how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto." Judging by Israeli carnage in the West Bank culminating in Operation Defensive Shield - the targeting of Palestinian ambulances and medical personnel, the targeting of journalists, the killing of Palestinian children "for sport" (Chris Hedges, New York Times former Cairo bureau chief), the rounding up, handcuffing and blindfolding of all Palestinian males between the ages of 15 and 50, and affixing of numbers on their wrists, the indiscriminate torture of Palestinian detainees, the denial of food, water, electricity, and medical assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, the indiscriminate air assaults on Palestinian neighborhoods, the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes with the occupants huddled inside - it appears that the Israeli army followed the officer's advice. When the operation, supported by fully 90 percent of Israelis, was finally over, 500 Palestinians were dead and 1500 wounded.”

Finkelstein quotes a Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. According to the report, a "thirty-seven-year-old paralyzed man was killed when the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] bulldozed his home on top of him, refusing to allow his relatives the time to remove him from the home"; a "fifty-seven-year-old wheelchair-bound man…was shot and run over by a tank on a major road outside the camp…even though he had a white flag attached to his wheelchair"; "IDF soldiers forced a sixty-five-year-old woman to stand on a rooftop in front of an IDF position in the middle of a helicopter battle."

An Israeli soldier who operated a bulldozer in the assault on Jenin breathlessly described the experience: "I wanted to destroy everything. I begged the officers…to let me knock it all down, from top to bottom. To level everything…. For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed…. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew that they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down.…I had plenty of satisfaction. I really enjoyed it."

As pressure builds on Iran over its nuclear weapons programme, the remarks made by President Ahmadinejad will be seized upon as evidence of Iran’s pathological depravity, and justification for the increasingly menacing stance the US and the UK are taking towards it. Tony Blair expressed his “revulsion” at the Iranian President’s statement. Saying that he had never heard of the president of a country saying they wanted to wipe out another country, Blair added: "Can you imagine a state like that with an attitude like that having a nuclear weapon?". The Prime Minister is of course well aware that he has no need to use his imagination. His government arms and otherwise backs just such a country: Israel.

Ahmadinejad’s remarks were offensive indeed. But if our disgust is to rise anywhere above the level of mere hypocrisy we should first acknowledge, reverse, and atone for the material support we have given to those who deny a people’s right to self-determination, not just in word, but in savage bloody deed.


umkahlil said...

Dear Diarist, Excellent research to support the analogy between Israel's actions and Iran's president's words. Arrived here via ICH and am thrilled that you're posting so brilliantly about Palestine. Best Regards, umkahlil

6:52 PM  
thecutter said...

my sister umka took the words out of my mouth. This is an excellent article, very well documented and presented. I couldn't agree more with what you have written.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous said...

what a fantastic Blogg well done!!!!!

8:29 PM  
Levi9909 said...

I just found this on Umklahlil and I'm glad I did.


8:50 PM  
Anonymous said...

Great article.
I must, however, question your assertion that from 1973-2002 the U.S. funded Israel to the tune of "$1.6 trillion." As I understand it, U.S. taxpayers' aid to Israel since 1949 currently totals about $110 billion or allowing for inflation, somewhere well in excess of $150 billion. Currently Washington is pumping about $16 million into Israel each and every day to keep that fascist, expansionist, occupier state afloat.

Surely it must be obvious to any reasonably informed person that the greatest diplomatic blunder since World War II was the creation of Israel, an exclusivist "Jewish State" in Palestine that has been in a state of territorial expansion and ethnic-cleansing since its inception in May, 1948. (In fact, before, as 350,000 Palestinians were expelled by the Irgun, Sternists, Haganah and Palmach as per instructions from David Ben-Gurion/Gruen and the Jewish Agency in the five months between passage of the recommendatory/non-binding 1947 Partition Plan and the illegal declaration of the Jewish state on 15 May 1948.) Also, let us not forget that 90 per cent of Palestine's Jewish population in 1948 (about 30 % of the country's total population owning a mere 6 % of the land) was comprised of immigrants, mainly from Russia and Eastern Europe, of whom only 30 per cent had taken out citizenship.

As the US Senate 9/11 Commission and the Pentagon have declared, the principle reason that the US has been targeted by so-called Islamic terrorists is its unquestioning total political and financial support for Israel. Sooner or later the US will have to choose between continuing to support Israel, an historical anachronism and a huge geo-political liability, and the Arab/Muslim world which now totals well over one billion. Although slow to come, the outcome, as Israel fears, is obvious. Just as the kings and popes of Europe abandoned the Crusaders, so will the US have no option other than to cast Israel adrift. In the meantime, the Palestinians will continue to resist by all means while employing their overpowering weapon - the fact that their women are the world's most fertile. As DeGaulle once said, "Israel will drown in a sea of Arabs." They now outnumber Israeli Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Jewish emigration is accelerating and immigration is less than a trickle.

A Canadian who lived in the Middle East for nearly five years.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous said...

Tenacious Sister
Great article, well researched.

as regards "But if our disgust is to rise anywhere above the level of mere hypocrisy we should first acknowledge, reverse, and atone for the material support we have given to those who deny a people’s right to self-determination, not just in word, but in savage bloody deed."

Blair was “rejoicing” in parliament after his terrorist attack on the people of Irak.

9:02 AM  
David Wearing said...

anonymous of 9:02 - that's tenacious brother, I'll have you know.
otherwise, many thanks

anonymous of 11:49 - my mistake. The 1.6 trillion figure wasn't an assertion. It was a specific professional estimate. I've added the link which wasn't there previously so you can check out the source.

I don't agree with you about Israel's existence, at least in terms of whether or not it ought to exist. I don't think it has a right to exist - people have rights, not states – but I think it ought to. Both Jews and Palestinians, as human beings, have an equal right to self-determination. Honouring these rights is probably best served, at this point, by a two-state solution on the basis of the original Partition plan, or at worse the 67 borders. A two-people, one-state solution is probably the only way to achieve a truly decent co-existence, but that's one for the long, long term.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous said...

Hi diarist

I'll check out the link for the $1.6 trillion figure.

I do not reject Israel's existence - it is a fact. However, to reiterate, I view its creation as the major diplomtic blunder since World War II. I think this is obvious.

I agree with your assertion that the only real solution is one state for two people (democratic and secular.) However, given the fact that with US compliance (thus far), Sharon and his gang of thieves, thugs and murderers are only willing to give the Palestinians about eight percent of mandated Palestine (i.e., about 37 per cent of the 22 percent of mandated Palestine comprising occupied East Jerusalem/the Old City, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that Israel invaded in 1967) even a temporary two state solution is impossible. This is becoming the position of the Palestinians. Needless to say, borders based on the 1947 Partition Plan which would "shrink" Israel to 56 per cent of mandated Palestine would be a "tough sell," for all intents and purposes a non-starter.
Generally speaking, however, I think we are on the same page.

One last thought, speaking as a Canadian of Irish descent who as I stated, lived for nearly five years in the Middle East: When the day of reckoning comes (and it most surely will), Israeli Jews will thank God (let's pretend this is a God) that their enemies have been Arab Muslims and not European Christians. As history attests, while they certainly have their fanatics, the Arabs are a forgiving people.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous said...

Hello again diarist
I checked the link and concur with the author's findings. I hate to nit pick, but your statement is somewhat confusing: "By one estimate, US support for Israel between 1973 and 2002, military and otherwise, totalled $1.6 trillion, over $5,700 per head of population, more than twice the cost of the Vietnam War."

Perhaps you should have made it clear that the figure included indirect economic costs as well as direct ongoing financial and military aid.

In this regard, just to cite one more example, the $billions incurred by the US for the closure of the Suez Canal from 1967-74 should also be included.

Bearing in mind the findings of the Senate 9/11 Commission and the Pentagon: In terms of the present -apart from $16 million per day in direct aid and other ongoing indirect costs - most of the $hundreds of billions that US taxpayers are expending (i.e. assuming debt for) on the so-called "war on terror" and increased internal security must be included in the costs for maintaining their country's "special" or "passionate relationship" with Israel (the new Jewish ghetto) and for keeping indolent, corrupt, detested pro-U.S. puppet regimes in power in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt etc.

Needless to say, the costs of the assault on your civil rights and constitution are incalculable.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous said...

It's great to see so many people who think the exact same thing agree.

Although I am sure your points are well-researched and all your quotes and figures accurate, I cannot help but notice that the lack of a Palestinian State today is blamed only on Israel, as opposed to perhaps Trans-Jordan, Syria, or the Palestinian leadership in 1947.

"massacred, raped..." is overstated. Having met numerous Palestinians, it is important not to forget that while the Israeli army was indeed consolidating lands, a significant nubmer of palestinians left on their own.

The reasons Palestine isn't a country today is because when the UNSCOP came to Palestine to talk about a possible partition, Palestinians blatantly ignored them, and rejected any UN Resolutions on the subject until accepting them began to favor the Palestinians.

If in 1947-8, the Arab states and Palestinian Leadership would have accepted the resolution, there would have been no war, and there would be a Palestine today. Instead, they all invaded the new borders of Israel, because it was assumed Israel would lose. The reason the borders rose, other than Zionism, was that Israel was forced to occupy sufficient territories for self-defense - something it would not have done, had it not been attacked.

So, before you blame zionism and the great conspiracy on everything, remember some Middle East History, and the great quote (forgive me that I cannot currently place it, but the first UN Ambassador of Israel): "The Arab states never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

You may now call me a zionist. You will be wrong, but that's ok. Have fun.

5:33 AM  
David Wearing said...

Anonymous of 05:33 – thanks for your comments

Firstly, the basis of the article was an elementary moral truism that should hardly require repetition: the fact that, unless we are hypocrites, we will concentrate on the actions that we are responsible for, before examining those of others. The long history of decisive US/UK backing for Israel means that this writer’s first responsibility is to look at actions that his elected government is aiding and abetting, not to wag the finger at Palestinians.

In addition, the serious deficiencies of the Palestinian leadership over time, and the largely malignant role of several Arab states in the history of the conflict, do not in anyway diminish the crimes of ethnic cleansing, repeated massacre, savage repression and denial of the Palestinian’s right to self-determination, that have been committed by the state of Israel. That is, of course, unless one’s first instinct upon hearing of such crimes is to deny Israel’s responsibility and search for excuses, however flimsy or inaccurate.

"massacred, raped..." is not an overstatement, merely a statement of fact. The source, as you will see by following the link, is Ilan Pappe, a senior lecturer in political science at Haifa University and a leading Israeli historian who has written extensively on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. His credentials match, and even exceed “Having met numerous Palestinians”.

And yes, many “palestinians left on their own”. Given the fate of those who did not, this is neither surprising nor relevant in assessing the scale or nature of the crime.

You rightly urge us to “, remember some Middle East History”. Let us then do so, on the question of the Palestinian reaction to partition. In 1947, the Arab population of Palestine was around 1.2 million and the Jewish population 600,000. 92 percent to 94 percent of the land was owned by Palestinian Arabs and 6 percent to 8 percent owned by Jewish settlers. In spite of this, and the population ratio of 2:1, the U.N. partition plan of that year called for a Jewish state on 56 percent of historic Palestine and a Palestinian Arab state on the remaining 44 percent. To be genuinely mystifyied by the Palestinian rejection of this generous offer, their missing of this great opportunity, one would first have to internalise a profoudly low estimation of Palestinian rights, as opposed to those of Israelis.

You assert that “If in 1947-8, the Arab states and Palestinian Leadership would have accepted the resolution, there would have been no war, and there would be a Palestine today”. To test this, and the rest of that paragraph, let us “remember some Middle East History”. We can simplify this process by merely recalling what was written in the article. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion wrote, "[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state -- we will abolish the partition of the country, and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel".

As Moshe Dayan said, to continue the expansionist project and “acquire our space" Israel “may, no - it must - invent dangers”. Given this, and Ben Gurion’s bald statement of intent in 1938, it is quite an achievement to say to be able to say that “Israel was forced to occupy sufficient territories for self-defense - something it would not have done, had it not been attacked.” The ability to internalise propaganda to the extent that one believes it, no matter how easily disprovable on factual grounds, requires an impressive level of intellectual disciple.

Finally, on the accusation that “the great conspiracy” is being blamed, I can only assume that this is not an attempt to insinuate that anti-semitism is at work here. Such an obvious admission of having nothing of substance to say would hardly befit one who professes to be so keen for us to “remember some Middle East History”.

11:42 AM  
MattB said...

Do you think the USA/UK will ever condemn Israel for their Nuclear, Chemical and possibly biological arsenals which are not subject to any treaty? We seem to be very vociferous about the Arab states holding WMDs, especially if they are party to international Acts. I believe that Israeli Jericho missles can already reach Tehran, but this is not considered a threat to peace in the middle east.

When will we start being even handed to help resolve this conflict. If we expect Iran to comply on nuclear weapons then we need to present a level playing field to show our true intentions.

10:15 PM  
David Wearing said...

mattb - you raise an important point, which I gave my views on in the comments section of my post of 11/10/2005 "Experts Predict US Attack on Iran (summary)". Have a look there, where I also give some links to a few articles on this subject that are well worth a read

2:06 PM  
Anonymous said...

Well researched article. Well done. You won a regular reader.

2:30 PM  
Amvet said...

Excellent; BEYOND Excellent. Thank you! This intrepid expose of the abominable hypocrites of this world would, if there were any justice (of course, there is no justice...), be required reading for all the purported "leaders" in the Bush regime and in its lapdog Congress and for each of the appallingly ignorant American masses.

My only nitpick is that your final paragraph could have been improved somewhat, thus sustaining the biting edge of its prior perfection. It's easy for this hind-sighter, but I came up with this:

President Ahmadinejad's remarks -- which were surely metaphorical; he was clear in noting that the power does not exist to carry them out literally -- rightly generated controversy. But if any dissent, any disgust were to rise above the level of mere hypocrisy, such must first acknowledge, confront, reverse and atone for the incalculably vast (im)moral and material support that has been given to those who, having the chutzpah to arrogate to themselves the status of "chosen people" in this 21st Century, deny an entire homogeneous people's right to dignity, life, statehood and self-determination, not just in word but in senselessly brutal -- savage, uncivilized, inhuman, ungodly -- bloody deed.

Finally, in any discussion of aid to Israel I always wonder: Beyond the never-ceasing public flood of monies Israel's way, how many unaccounted-for private dollars (think Irving Moskowitz) leave the US economy to support illegal settlements in the West Bank, the de-Arabization of East Jerusalem, etc.? (I acknowledge that this area may have been addressed in Mr. Stauffer's $1.6 trillion estimate; the one entry I noted does not convince me....)

9:32 AM  
Anonymous said...

I would like to say the Isralis to live and let live others,and also to the bush administration to leave Iraq as soon as possable and stop thinking of making Iraq as a part of Greater isreal.other wise it will be too late to realise.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous said...

After reading this Goebbels' type anti-historic, pro-Arab Anti-Semitic propaganda, I highly recommend you to visit and to read, and to analyze information on the following website and than to make up your mind, if you're not a Nazi (British or Arab) and you already believe in 72 virgins as a reward from the same one immortal G-d for killing the same Jews whom He promised forever the following:

Genesis 9:25
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

Genesis 12:3
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

British and Arab Nzis for their own reasons have the same goal what got Barak from the Bible and all of you will have the same End from G-d which he got in the end:

Numbers 22:6

6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed."

Arab villains hijacked the Hebrew Bible, stoled their property, land and killed the real owners of Medina and in the modern times declared themselves as "the real owners" of the Land of Canaan.

This is why they are cursed by G-d from the Day One and very soon those ignorant clones of the Phylistinians who never owned any land anywhere just because they came from the islands next to Greece and even there their property was ships not land like the Arabs owned their camels and surfed the desert but never owned any land like Gypsies prior their thief Mohammed and the precursor of Hitler and brought them their First Mein Kampf named Quoran. Very soon all of them will be reunited with the real Phylistinians and this will add one more chapter in the Holy Bible. The real one went to Hell with hell of the Hebrew king David which star is on the Hebrew flag.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

You make no attempt to hide your utter disgust and blatant hatred for your fellow human-beings, just as the zionist regime you probably support fails to do.

In your few paragraphs of spite and venom, you have adequately summarised and indeed confirmed many of the points the author has so eloquently made.

Reading this whole discussion from top to bottom, it is clear there is only one sentiment in-line with the very nazi-ism you mention, your own. Your blatant slander for other religions (ill-found and inacurate) and your clear contempt for anything that is not Jewish is the very definition of a Nazi principle.


6:39 AM  

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