Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Israel: Time to Stop Playing the Victim Role

Time to Stop Playing the Victim Role

By Philip Slater

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I can understand that after centuries of persecution it's satisfying for a Jewish state to be the aggressor for a change, but there's a codicil that goes with that role. You don't get to act like a victim any more. "Poor little Israel" just sounds silly when you're the dominant power in the Middle East. When you've invaded several of your neighbors, bombed and defeated them in combat, occupied their land, and taken their homes away from them, it's time to stop acting oppressed. Yes, Arab states deny your right to exist, threaten to drive you into the sea, and all the rest of their futile, helpless rhetoric. The fact is, you have the upper hand and they don't. You have sophisticated arms and they don't. You have nuclear weapons and they don't. So stop pretending to be pathetic. It doesn't play well in Peoria.

(Yes, I know, we Americans should talk--always trembling in our boots about terrorists and 'rogue states' and 'evil empires' when we have enough nukes to blow up entire continents, and spend more on arms in an hour than most of the world's nations spend in a year. But just because we're hypocrites and Nervous Nellies doesn't mean you have to be).

Calling Hamas the 'aggressor' is undignified. The Gaza strip is little more than a large Israeli concentration camp, in which Palestinians are attacked at will, starved of food, fuel, energy--even deprived of hospital supplies. They cannot come and go freely, and have to build tunnels to smuggle in the necessities of life. It would be difficult to have any respect for them if they didn't fire a few rockets back.

The Israel lobby has a hissy fit when anyone points out that Israel has been borrowing liberally from the Nazi playbook, but to punish a whole nation for the attacks of a few--which Israel has been doing consistently in Gaza--is a violation of international law--a law enacted in response to the Nazi practice. And please, spare us the hypocrisy--borrowed, I'm ashamed to admit, from my own government--of saying 'every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties'. When you drop bombs on a crowded city you're bombing civilians. Bombs don't ask for ID cards. Bombs are civilian killers. That's what they do. They're designed to break the spirit of a nation by slaughtering families. They were used all through World War II by all sides for that very purpose. And that's what they're intended for in Gaza.

And please, Israel, try to restrain yourself from using that ridiculous argument, borrowed again from Bush (how low can you get?), that Hamas leaders "hide among civilians", by living in their own homes. Apparently, in the thinking of Israelis, they should all run out into an uninhabited area somewhere (try to find one in Gaza), surround themselves with flares and write in the sand with a stick, "Here I am!"

Yesterday you shelled three UN-run schools, killing several dozen children and adults, despite the fact that the UN had given you the precise coordinates of all its schools in Gaza. So much for 'taking every care to avoid civilian casualties'. You seem to feel you can kill whomever you like, whenever you like, and wherever you like, just because you have a blank check from the United States. Every day this assault goes on you're demonstrating contempt for the UN, the international community, and human life. Talk about a rogue state.

You might also pay attention to the fact that your outdated policy of macho bullying--the policy you've been following for decades--isn't working! The Palestinians are human. They're not dogs you can beat into submission. The worse you treat them, the more they'll fight back. That's what it means to be human. The more you oppress people, the more people resist. We dropped more bombs on Viet Nam than all the bombs dropped by all nations in World War II. Not to mention napalm, herbicides and all kinds of sophisticated land mines. But did they bow down and kiss the feet of their conquerors? They did not.

You'll have to kill them all. And when you do, you may finally lose the support even of the United States.

Remember that American support is based entirely on the notion that no politician can win without the Jewish vote. But not all American Jews think Israel is on a divine mission from God. A great many American Jews believe in international law and justice.

I can understand how Israel could resent this lecture coming from an American. After all, isn't this what we Americans did? Came into someone else's country, slaughtered 95% of its inhabitants and took over? And didn't we go all Nervous Nellie whenever they fought back, accusing them of aggression to justify even more genocidal slaughter? And didn't we get away with it?

Yes, but I'm sorry to tell you, Israel, you came on the scene too late. Genocide just doesn't fly any more. I know it isn't fair, you have every right to feel aggrieved about this, but the world's smaller, cowboys are passé, and bullies aren't heroes any more.

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