News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: That's not Paul Newman Behind that Israeli Nuke

Sunday, July 16, 2006

That's not Paul Newman Behind that Israeli Nuke

One the most interesting aspects about the almost symbiotic relationship between the US and Israel is how successfully the pro-Israel interests in the US has super-imposed in the American consciousness the image of Israel onto America. ... [xposted at Spengler Forum]

As terrorism expert Larry Johnson has characterized it:

While most folks in the United States buy into the Hollywood storyline of poor little Israel fighting for it's survival against big, bad Muslims, the reality unfolding on our TV screens shows something else. Exodus, starring Paul Newman, is ancient history. Hamas and Hezbollah attacked military targets--kidnapping soldiers on military patrols may be an act of war and a provocation, but it is not terrorism. (And yes, Hezbollah and Hamas have carried out terrorist attacks in the past against Israeli civilians. I'm not ignoring those acts, I condemn them, but we need to understand what the dynamics are right now.) Israel is not attacking the individuals who hit their soldiers. Israel is engaged in mass punishment.

This campaign of PR and cultural propaganda has been so succeresful that you could say--to change the metaphor somewhat--that the US and Israel are joined at the hip.

For example what explains statements like the following from Pres. Bush?
I told the prime minister what I've stated publicly before: Israel is a close friend and ally of the United States. And in the event of any attack on Israel, the United States will come to Israel's aid. The United States is strongly committed and I am strongly committed to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state.

The Hollywood storyline would like you to think that it's the most natural thing in the world to think that Israel's interests and US interests are the same. As recent studies like the one by Mearshimer and Walt show, however, this is far from the truth.

That almost unquestioned assumption inculcated by years of hollywood stories on TV and in the movies provides a glimpse into the power of propaganda. So, the next time you hear the news talk about the deaths of Israelis, you might ask yourself how many Palestinian or Arab/Muslim deaths preceded it. The awful truth of the carnage in what used to be known as Palestine is that for every Israeli killed numerous Palestinians have died.

There has to be a new paradigm for the Mideast. It might be the one voiced by Bernard Williams when he paraphrased Thomas Hobbes about the first question of politics:
I identify the "first" political question in Hobbesian terms as the securing of order, protection, safety, trust, and the conditions of cooperation. It is "first" because solving it is the condition of solving, indeed posing, any others. It is not (unhappily) first in the sense that once solved, it never has to be solved again. This is particularly important because, a solution to the first question being required all the time, it is affected by historical circumstances; it is not a matter of arriving at a solution to the first question at the level of state-of-nature theory and then going on to the rest of the agenda. This is related to what might count as a "foundation" of liberalism.
Until this happens, nothing will occur in the way of peace and resolution in the Mideast. Of course, this applies to both sides and all intermediate groups. Israel, in following its so-called anti-terrorist campaign has notoriously failed to found safe streets for its people but has instilled fear and terror in the lives of innocents and opponents alike.

Until it and the US changes their policies and accords some modicum of respect to its opponents it cannot hope to find that peace that it says it wants. Instead, they will continue to kill innocents and be more and more cast in the image of the barbarian.

The US itself must realize this in its own foreign policy choices. Unfortunately its success in Afghanistan and Iraq appear to show that it is incapable of providing the most basic needs required for democracy to flourish.

Of, course, there are those--I at time, but not always--who would say that neither the US nor Israel wish to promote democracy in the region. Instability and chaos only serve the interests of an occupier who hopes to impose its will on cowed and fearful societies.

Related Links

No comments: