by James Petras
Because of the unconditional support of the entire political class in the US, from the White House to Congress, including both Parties, incoming and outgoing elected officials and all the principle print and electronic mass media, the Israeli Government feels no compunction in publicly proclaiming a detailed and graphic account of its policy of mass extermination of the population of Gaza.
Israel’s sustained and comprehensive bombing campaign of every aspect of governance, civic institutions and society is directed toward destroying civilized life in Gaza. Israel’s totalitarian vision is driven by the practice of a permanent purge of Arab Palestine informed by Zionism, an ethno-racist ideology, promulgated by the Jewish state and justified, enforced and pursued by its organized backers in the United States.
The facts of Israeli extermination have become known: In the first six days of round the clock terror bombing of major and minor populations centers, the Jewish State has murdered and seriously maimed over 2,500 people, mostly dismembered and burned in the open ovens of missile fire. Scores of children and women have been slaughtered as well as defenseless civilians and officials.
They have sealed off all access to Gaza and declared it a military, free fire zone, while expanding their target to include the entire population of 1.5 millions semi-starved prisoners. According to the Boston Globe (December 30, 2008): Israeli military officials said their target lists have expanded to include the vast support network on which the Islamist movement relies to stay in power “…we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel (my emphasis)”. A top Israeli in its secret police apparatus is quoted saying, “Hamas’ civilian infrastructure is a very sensitive target” (ibid). What the Israeli Jewish politicians and military planners designate as “Hamas” is the entire social service network, the entire government and the vast majority of economic activity, embracing almost the entire 1.5 million imprisoned residents of Gaza.
Israel’s ‘target’ list thus involves the ‘total population’, using the totality of its non-nuclear weaponry and for an unlimited time period (until the ‘bitter end’ according to the Israeli Prime Minister). Israel’s defense ministry spokesman has emphatically reiterated the Jewish’s state’s totalitarian war concept emphasizing the targeting of civilians: “Hamas has used ostensibly civilian operations as a cover for military activities. Anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”
Like all totalitarians in the past, the Jewish state boasts of having systematically pre-planned the extermination campaign – months in advance – up to and including the precise hour and day of the bombing to coincide with inflicting the maximum murder of civilians: The rockets and bombs fell as children were leaving school, as graduating police cadets were receiving their diplomas and as frantic mothers ran out from their homes to find their sons and daughters.
The mass military extermination campaign was a follow up of its non-stop total economic embargo and unremitting selective assassination campaign of the previous two years: Both were designed to purge Palestine of its Arab population, first via mass hunger, disease, humiliation and violent intimidation and the proxy power grab by the PLO Quislings under Zionist puppet Abbas. When they discovered that mass hunger and selective Israeli murder only strengthened the population’s links to its democratically elected government and the resolve of the Hamas government to resist Israel, the Israeli regimes unleashed its entire arsenal of weapons, including its new ‘American gifts’ up-to-date 1000 pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs and high tech missiles to incinerate large numbers of human beings within their deadly radius and to obliterate Palestinian civilization.
Moving directly from its totalitarian vision to its military blueprint to the savaging of Palestinian population centers, the Jewish state destroyed the principle university with over 18,000 students (mostly women), mosques, pharmacies, electrical and water lines, power stations, fishing villages, fishing boats and the little fishing port that provided a meager supply of fish for the starving population. They destroyed roads, transport facilities, food warehouses, science buildings, small factories, shops and apartments. They destroyed a women’s dormitory at the university. In the words of the Israel leader: “…because everything is connected to everything…” it is necessary to destroy each and every facet of life, which allows humans to exist with some dignity and independence.
The Israeli totalitarian leaders knew with confidence that they could act and they could kill with impunity, locally and before the entire world, because of the influence of the US Zionist Power Configuration in and over the US White House and Congress. They knew they had the full backing of all the major Israeli political parties (Right, Left and Center), trade unions, mass media and especially public opinion. Israeli state terror is backed by 81% of Jewish Israelis according to a poll taken by Israel’s Channel 10 (Financial Times, December 30, 2008). Israeli totalitarian violence and extermination of Palestinians is extremely popular among the Jewish electorate, especially in raising support for the Labor Party candidate Minister Ehud Barak. They knew they would ‘succeed’ with virtually no casualties because they bombed, burned and dismembered a defenseless population totally lacking the minimum means to defend themselves from F16 bombers, helicopter gun ships and missile assaults. The vile depravity of the assault on the defenseless population is matched by the utter cowardice of the Israeli military command and its cheering bloodthirsty public ensconced behind their aerial monopoly. They suffered no threats of aerial retaliation, no wounded or dead pilots, helicopter gunners, as wave after wave swept in and over a defenseless imprisoned population in a crowded and besieged ghetto.
Hundreds of tanks and armored carriers are prepared to invade once the cities and towns have been leveled, once the population is too weakened by starvation to resist, once the leaders and fighters have been murdered and the normal Palestinian institutions of law and order have been pulverized, making way for the corrupt thuggish collaborators of the so-called Palestinian Authority…then and only then, will the Israeli General staff risk the skin of a precious Jewish ‘soldier’ and risk the anxiety and worry of their kin in Israel and the US.
Overseas Allies: The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO)
From the moment that the Israeli Government decided it would destroy the newly elected Hamas government and punish the democratic electorate of Gaza with starvation and murder, the entire Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the US, including the PMAJO, pulled all stops in implementing the Israeli policy. The PMAJO encompasses the fifty-two Jewish organizations with the largest membership, with the greatest financial clout and the most influential backers. The most prominent lobbyist within the PMAJO is AIPAC, which has over 100,000 members and 150 full-time operatives in Washington actively pressuring the US Congress, the White House and all administrative agencies whose policies may relate to the interests of the State of Israel. However Israeli political extends far beyond its non-governmental agencies. Over two score legislators in the Congress and over a dozen senators are committed Zionists who automatically back Israel’s policies and push for US funding and armaments for its military machine. Top officials in key administrative positions, in Treasury, Commerce and the National Security Council, senior functionaries in the Pentagon and top advisers on Middle East affairs are also life-long, fanatically committed Zionists, who consistently and unreservedly back the policies of the State of Israel.
Equally important, the majority of the largest film, print and electronic media are owned or deeply influenced by Jewish-Zionist media moguls who are committed to slanting the ‘news’ in favor of Israel. The composition and influence of the ZPC is central to understanding three main characteristics of Israel’s power: (1) Israel can commit what leading United Nations and international human rights experts have defined as ‘crimes against humanity’ with total impunity; (2) Israel can secure an unlimited supply of the most technologically advanced and destructive weapons and use them without limit on a civilian population in violation of even US Congressional restrictions and (3) scores of almost unanimous United Nations condemnations of the construction of genocidal apartheid barriers against a native population, starvation embargoes and the current extermination campaign in Gaza are always vetoed by the US representative.
Many critics of Israel’s genocide in Gaza also condemn what they call ‘the complicity’ of Washington or ‘the United States’ without clearly identifying the actual socio-political forces influencing policy-makers or the ‘dual’ political loyalties and identities of the ‘American’ politicians who have long-standing and deep allegiances to Israel. As a consequence, most critics fail to counter, protest or even identify the ideology and politics of the organized power configurations which define US complicity with Israel, who intimidate potential critics, who write and mouth the pro-Israel editorials in the mass media and who filter out any criticism, any truth…even when Israel engages in sustained bloody extermination campaigns.
The ZPC and the Israeli War of Extermination in Gaza
The ZPC played a major role in all stages of Israel’s extermination campaign against Gaza including a sustained propaganda effort. The ZPC orchestrated a massive successful campaign through the extensive network of American mass media, which it controls and influences. It fabricated an image of the Hamas administration in Gaza as a terrorist organization, which allegedly seized power through violence – totally denying its rise to power through internationally supervised, democratic elections and its defense of its electoral mandate against a US-Israeli backed PLO military takeover. The entire Zionist Jewish leadership backed Israel’s land grabs, its ghetto wall around Palestinians, the hundreds of road blocks, the Jewish settlers violently taking over Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the criminal, genocidal Israeli economic embargo on Gaza designed to systematically starve the Palestinians into submission. Throughout the two years of this Israeli extermination campaign, American Zionists played a major role in leading the servile US government at home and abroad in backing each totalitarian measure: The vast majority of local synagogues became bully-pulpits defending the starvation and degradation of 1.5 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza caged on all sides by deadly force and the ‘walling off’ into economically and socially devastating cantons of the 4.5 million West Bank Palestinian population under foreign occupation. The US Congress shamelessly followed the Zionist lead, backing every single criminal measure taken by the State of Israel and approving dozens of resolutions, which in most cases were entirely written by AIPAC lobbyists acting as unregistered agents of the Israeli government (contrary to US federal statute, which requires foreign agents and lobbyists to be registered as such). Israel’s demands for the most up-to-date US warplanes, including F-16s, Apache helicopter gun ships, and 1,000 pound bombs were secured by dint of effort of the AIPAC lobbyists and their clients in the US Congress. In other words, the American ZPC created the ideological cover and military instruments for Israel’s ‘total war’ against the defenseless Palestinian population. Equally important, prominent Zionist leaders in the US Congress and members of the foreign policy establishment blocked or vetoed any international criticism of Israel – securing its impunity and immunity from any of the Congressional sanctions usually enacted against criminal states. In other words, Israeli policy makers operated with the knowledge that there would be no negative economic, diplomatic and military repercussions to their launching the planned Gaza extermination campaign because they knew, in advance, that ‘their people’ were in total control of US Middle East policy to the extent of actually repeating verbatim each and every propaganda lie in defense of Israel’s total war against the entire population of Gaza.
In Defense of Israel’s War of Extermination
The Zionist-controlled US print media, in particular the New York Times and the Washington Post, systematically fabricated an account that fit perfectly with Israel’s official line defending its massive assault on Gaza: Omitting any historical account of the hundreds of Israeli armed incursions and ‘targeted’ assassinations of Palestinian leaders and officials (even in their own homes) which repeatedly violated the ‘cease fire’ agreed by Hamas and provoked its retaliation in self-defense of its people; omitting the years of an Israeli enforced starvation embargo of food and essentials that threatened the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians and led to the desperate efforts of the elected Hamas leadership to secure supplies for the people’s survival via tunnels across the Egyptian border and through missile attacks against Israel to pressure the Jewish state to negotiate an end of the criminal blockade.
The Conference of President of the Major American Jewish Organizations, and the vast majority of Jewish communal groups and congregations, gave enthusiastic and unanimous support to Israel’s total war, its extermination campaign against the captive Palestinian population of Gaza. Even as images and reports of the massive destruction, killing and wounding of over 2,500 defenseless Palestinians filtered in the mass media, not a single major Jewish organization broke ranks; only individuals and small groups protested. All the ‘Majors’ persisted in the politics of the Big Lie: the destruction of hospitals, mosques, universities, roads, apartments, pharmacies and fishing ports were all labeled ‘Hamas targets’. The systematic all-out assault by uncontested helicopter gunships against 1.5 millions civilians was erased by tendentious accounts of Hamas’ homemade missiles falling ineffectively near Israeli towns.
A close reading of the most important propaganda organ of the PMAJO, the Daily Alert (TDA), during the first 5 days of Israel’s assault, reveals the propaganda tack taken by the leadership of the pro-Israel power configuration. TDA systematically worked to achieve the following:
1. Exaggerate the threats to Israel by the Palestinian missiles from Gaza, citing 4 Israeli deaths, while omitting any mention of the 2,500 Palestinian dead and wounded and the total destruction of their economy and living conditions (without safe water, electricity, food, cooking fuel, medicine and heat in the winter).
2. Promote Israel’s military assault as ‘defensive’, directed at eliminating Hamas rocket attacks while omitting mention of Israel’s clearly stated purpose of destroying all civil organizations, social welfare agencies, educational facilities, medical clinics and public security institutions connected in any way with the elected Hamas government and any auxiliary agencies.
3. Cite select statement from Israel’s allies and clients (Washington, the US media, Germany and the UK) blaming Hamas for the conflict without mentioning the vast majority of countries in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Israel’s brutality.
4. Reproduce Israeli slanders against any and all international human rights leaders and organizations that condemn the Jewish state’s policy of genocide against the native Palestinians. In this regard, TDA is the foremost ‘genocide denier’ in the United States and, perhaps outside of Israel, in the world.
5. Repeatedly cite Israeli political and military leaders’ claims of acting ‘with restraint’, ‘safeguarding civilians’, and ‘targeting military objectives’, even in the face of reports and images of mass civilian destruction and loss of life documented in the vast majority of (non-US) Western media.
6. Defend every Israeli bombing mission, every day, every hour, of every building, every home, and every economic, religious and educational institution in Gaza as ‘defensive’ or a ‘reprisal’, all the while quoting some of the most notorious, unconditional, perennial apologists of Israeli violence as if they were unbiased intellectuals, including Benny ‘Nuke Tehran’ Morris, Marty Peretz and Amos Oz.
7. The Daily Alert quotes US writers, journalists and editors who praise and defend Israel’s ‘total war’ without identifying their long-standing affiliation and identification with Zionist organizations, giving the false image of a wide spectrum of opinion behind the assault. Never has even the most moderate Jewish or Gentile critic of Israel’s massive extermination campaign appeared in any issues of the Daily Alert.
The principle American Jewish organizations have bombarded the US Congress, influencing, intimidating and purchasing the craven so-called ‘representatives’ of the American people, the media and public notables with lies in defense of Israel’s total war to exterminate a people. Their public, brazen, open complicity in genocide can be considered crime against humanity: The willful promotion of acts of a state designed to destroy an entire people.
And yet these willing accomplices, these ‘willing executioners’ of state mass murder go uncontested within the US political class. One of their leading mouthpieces in the incoming Obama Administration, Chief Presidential Adviser David Axelrod, even cites an Obama campaign speech defending Israeli assaults on the people of Gaza.
Israel arrogantly repudiates all calls to end this mass murder, because Israel knows that ‘its people’ are still in control of US policy toward the Middle East and will use their power in the new president’s administration to block any condemnation of this crime.
To date the entire human rights and anti-war movements have failed to even mention, let along challenge, the most powerful propaganda and political organizations, which influence US policy and manipulate the mass media in favor of Israel’s extermination campaign. They will play no restraining role on Israel’s totalitarian policies as long as its principle US backers are free to lie, manipulate and defend each and every crime.
There is little hope for an independent US Congressional policy as long as Israel’s war of extermination in Gaza can be defended by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (and Zionist zealot) Congressman Howard Berman in the following terms: “Israel has a right, indeed a duty, to defend itself in response to the hundreds of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza over the past week. No government in world would sit by and allow its citizens to be subjected to this kind of indiscriminate bombardment. The loss of innocent life is a terribly tragedy and the blame for that tragedy lies with Hamas.” Thus Congressman Berman cynically omits the 2 years of Israel’s embargo, the daily ‘targeted’ assassinations of Palestinians, the ‘targeted’ missile attacks against civilians, the land, sea and air blockades and the blatant ‘targeted’ destruction of the infrastructure of Gaza. No government, indeed a democratically elected Islamist government, can stand by while its people are starved and murdered into submission. But according to the respected Congressmen Bermans of the world, only the lives of Jews matter, not the growing thousands of murdered, dismembered and mutilated citizens of Gaza – they do not count as people!
What is to be Done
Israel’s crimes against humanity demand a public response: social action, which will force it to cease and desist from its campaign to exterminate the people of Gaza. Because the Jewish state has assaulted a vast array of Palestinian social institutions, which resonate with those in our own society, we can and should mobilize them to condemn and boycott their counterparts in Israel:
1. We should urge the entire academic community to denounce Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza and the total destruction of all of its science facilities. An organized boycott of Israeli universities and all academic exchanges, especially scientific, should become university policy throughout the country. Special attention should be paid to the 450 US university presidents, who in the recent past, denounced a call by British academics for a boycott and who remain silent and complicit in the face of Israel’s total physical annihilation of all ten faculties for 20,000 Palestinian university students.
2. All American health workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, should organize and denounce Israel’s medical embargo against the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into the Gaza Strip. They must condemn Israel’s bombardment of Gaza’s Children’s Hospital, the neighborhood pharmacies and the attacks on any transport of those critically wounded Palestinian victims of its aerial and missile attacks. Medical personnel should raise the fundamental ethical issues regarding the collaboration of US medical personnel and programs with the Jewish State’s ‘total war’ policies of extermination.
3. All citizens should demand the end of all US military aid to Israel, especially F-16 fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, missiles, 1000 pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs used by the Israeli armed forces on the civilian infrastructure of Gaza and the murder and maiming of over 2,500 Palestinians, civilians, civil servants, police and national militia. In pursuit of a cutoff of US military aid to Israel, every effort should be made to target and denounce the most forceful, aggressive and successful Zionist advocates and lobbyists who influence the elected members of the US Congress and White House on foreign military aid budgets. No progress in ending US military aid for Israel’s ethnic cleansing will succeed unless the peace movement and others appalled by Israel’s mass murder tackles the Zionist lobby head on. This includes boycotts, rebuttals and demonstrations against the AIPAC, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and the other 50 leading American Jewish organizations, which initiate and secure US governmental endorsement of Israel’s extermination policies.
4. US religious institutions should forcefully denounce Israel’s crimes against humanity, including its demolition of 5 mosques, uniting all faiths (Christian, Moslem, Buddhist) and especially reaching out to the tiny minority of rabbis and observant Jews willing to forthrightly denounce the totalitarian practices of the Israeli state.
5. Port and long shore workers, sailors and other maritime workers and officials should boycott the handling of all trade with Israel and denounce its Navy’s violent illegal assault, in international waters, of civilian fishing boats and vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. No ships carrying Israeli products should be loaded or unloaded as long as Israel maintains its criminal military blockade of the port facilities of Gaza.
6. Tens of millions of US citizens subject to the one-sided pro-Israel bias of the electronic and print media, the lop-sided presentations of Zionist ‘op-ed’ writers, ‘news’ reports and the self-styled Middle East experts, should demand equal time, coverage and reportage for non-Zionist specialists, analysts and commentators. We should demand the end of euphemisms and fabrications, which convert victims into aggressors and exterminators into victims.
7. We should wage a battle of ideas everywhere (in every public forum) against the efforts by the Zionist Power Configuration to monopolize discussion over the Israeli policy of genocide, to censor, intimidate and slander critics of Israeli apartheid – as UN General Assembly President Manuel d’Escoto so aptly calls Israel’s Ghetto Wall surrounding Palestinian villages. The outpouring of public protest over Israel’s war of extermination is an enormous step forward in countering the Zionist monopoly of the mass media and encouraging the tens of millions of Americans who clearly recognize and privately despise Israel’s crimes against humanity and resent the local Zionist elite’s thuggery against those who speak out. Mass pressure on elected representative may sway some to reconsider their abject servility to their Zionist ‘contributors’ and their ‘Israel First’ Congressional colleagues.
8. A patriotic nationwide campaign should demand that the Israel lobby, especially AIPAC, come clean and register as a foreign agent of the State of Israel. This might undermine the Lobby’s appeal to American Jews, reduce its influence over Congress and open up judicial processes and investigations over its abuse of tax-exemptions, money-laundering and lead to revelations over its treasonous procurement of confidential US state documents for a foreign power. There is a powerful political and legal basis for such a denial of the ‘Lobby’s’ tax-exempt status and legality, apart from the transparent and overwhelming evidence that all Zionist organizations act as transmission belts for Israeli state policies: In the early 1950’s up to 1963, the forerunner of AIPAC was obligated to register as a foreign agent of the State of Israel. More recently, an Israeli prosecutor presented evidence that the Israeli-Jewish Agency and its US counterparts were laundering billions of dollars especially for the funding of Israeli colonial settlements on occupied Palestinian land, condemned as illegal under international law. Congressional hearings, law suits and further published research would reveal the role of the Lobby as a Fifth Column for the State of Israel against the interest of the people of the United States.
Until we neutralize the pervasive power of the Zionist Power Configuration in all of its manifestations – in American public and civic life – and its deep penetration of American legislative and executive offices, we will fall short of preventing Israel from receiving the arms, funding and political backing to sustain its wars of ethnic extermination.
When told that the great majority of the world’s people are sickened and incensed by Israel’s mass murder of the citizens of Gaza, we can easily imagine the contemptuous dismissal by Israel’s top leaders, paraphrasing Joseph Stalin: How many bombers, missiles, fighter planes and powerful lobbies do they (the outraged people of the world) have?James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008).