Israel’s leading historian on the topic, Benny Morris, although having done more than anyone else to clarify exactly what happened, nonetheless concludes that, morally, it was a good thing – just as, in his view, the “annihilation” of Native Americans was a good thing – that, legally, Palestinians have no right to return to their homes, and that, politically, Israel’s big error in 1948 was that it hadn’t “carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country – the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan” of Palestinians. [Norman Finkelstein]
Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the “birth pangs of a new Middle East” and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
“This is a different Middle East. It’s a new Middle East. It’s hard, We’re going through a very violent time,” the US secretary of state said.
“A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo.
“Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region.”
I have to say that, as the mother of five children, these remarks stopped me cold in my tracks. Aside from the obvious question “what can Condoleezza Rice – a woman who has never given birth – know about “birth pangs”? – there is another more compelling question: what kind of human being can be so callous as to say such a thing when tens of thousands of mothers in the Middle East have suffered the unimaginable grief of seeing their beautiful babies crushed under the jackboots of rapacious Imperialism and religious fanaticism?
In Norman Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah, he writes:
In the course of preparing the chapters of this book devoted to Israel’s human rights record in the Occupied Territories, I went through literally thousands of pages of human rights reports, published by multiple, fiercely independent, and highly professional organizations – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel – each fielding its own autonomous staff of monitors and investigators.
Except on one minor matter, I didn’t come across a single point of law or fact on which these human rights organizations differed.
In the case of Israel’s human rights record, one can speak today not just of a broad consensus – as on historical questions – but of an UNQUALIFIED consensus. All these organizations agreed, for example, that Palestinian detainees have been sytematically ill treated and tortured, the total number now probably reaching the tens of thousands.
Yet if, as I’ve suggested, broad agreement has been reached on the FACTUAL record, an obvious anomaly arises: what accounts for the impassioned controversy that still swirls around the Israel-Palestine conflict?
To my mind, explaining this apparent paradox requires, first of all, that a fundamental distinction be made between those controversies that are real and those that are contrived.
To illustrate real differences of opinion, let us consider again the Palestinian refugee question.
It is possible for interested parties to agree on the facts yet come to diametrically opposed moral, legal, and political conclusions.
Thus, as already mentioned, the scholarly consensus is that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948.
Israel’s leading historian on the topic, Benny Morris, although having done more than anyone else to clarify exactly what happened, nonetheless concludes that, morally, it was a good thing – just as, in his view, the “annihilation” of Native Americans was a good thing – that, legally, Palestinians have no right to return to their homes, and that, politically, Israel’s big error in 1948 was that it hadn’t “carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country – the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan” of Palestinians.
However repellant morally, these clearly can’t be called FALSE conclusions.
Returning to the universe inhabited by normal human beings, it’s possible for people to concur on the facts as well as on their moral and legal implications, yet still reach divergent POLITICAL conclusions.
Noam Chomsky agrees that, factually, Palestinians were expelled; that, morally, this was a major crime; and that, legally, Palestinians have a right of return. Yet, politically, he concludes that implementation of this right is infeasible and pressing it inexpedient, indeed, that dangling this (in his view) illusory hope before Palestinian refugees is deeply immoral.
There are those, contrariwise, who maintain that a moral and legal right is meaningless unless it can be exercised and that implementing the right of return is a practical possibility.
For our purposes, the point is not who’s right and who’s wrong but that, even among honest and decent people, there can be a real and legitimate differences of political judgment.
This having been said, however, it bears emphasis that – at any rate, among those sharing ordinary moral values – the range of political disagreement is quite narrow, while the range of agreement quite broad.”
Let’s run that by one more time: The scholarly consensus is that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and Israel’s leading historian, Benny Morris, thinks that this was a good thing.
And now, Condoleezza Rice thinks that further ethnic cleansing of the Middle East by the psycho-bullies of Israel is just “birth pangs” of a “New Middle East.”
Most Westerners have been brainwashed to think that the “Arab-Israeli Conflict” is some kind of old, historical hatred, a “cosmic clash of religions, cultures, civilizations. This is what Finkelstein refers to as a “contrived controversy.” It is all bunk and mystification and it serves to blow smoke on the so-called “Two State Solution” that is the favored political gambit of most normal, decent, humane and moral people. Noam Chomsky favors this view to some extent, but I sometimes wonder how a person can have any moral fiber at all if they, on the one hand, agree that a deed is totally morally reprehensible, and on the other hand, suggest that righting the wrong is not feasible.
Nevertheless, there has been a consensus that the Two State Solution is the best one for over 25 years. In 1989, a UN Generally Assembly resolution passed nearly unanimously; it stipulated “[t]he withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.” The only dissenting votes were the U.S., Israel, and Dominica.
In 2004, basically the same resolution was passed again with the only dissenting votes being cast by the U.S., Israel, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Uganda.
So, why does Israel and the U.S. (and UK too), continue to blow the mystifying smoke on the problem, to continue to try to present it as a “clash of civilizations” or a “cosmic war between good and evil” and all that crap?
The answer is simple: if you look at it with all that nonsense stripped away you see the simple truth: it is a political problem that was created by politicians with Imperialist agendas.
The fact is, from the very beginning, the establishment of a National Home for the Jews involved blanket negation of the inalienable rights of the residents of that land to keep their homes.
The injustice inflicted on Palestinians by Zionism was manifest and, except on racist grounds, unanswerable: their right to self-determination, and perhaps even to their homeland, was being denied.
Several sorts of justification were supplied for the Zionist enterprise as against the rights of the indigenous population, none of which, however, withstood even cursory scrutiny. Belief in the cluster of justifications put forth by the Zionist movement presumed acceptance of very specific Zionist ideological tenets regarding Jewish “historical rights” to Palestine and Jewish “homelessness.”
For example, the “historical rights” claim was based on Jews having originated in Palestine and resided there two thousand years ago. Such a claim was neither historical nor based on any accepted notion of right.
It was not historical inasmuch as it voided the two millennia of non-Jewish settlement in Palestine and the two millennia of Jewish settlement outside it. It was not a right except in mystical, Romantic nationalist ideologies, the implementation of which would wreak – and have wreaked – havoc.
Reminding fellow Zionists that Jewry’s “historical right” to Palestine was a “metaphysical rather than a political category” and that, springing as it did from “the very inner depths of Judaism,” this “category … is binding on us rather than on the Arabs,” even the Zionist writer Ernst Simon was emphatic that it did not confer on Jews any right to Palestine without the consent of the Arabs.
One cannot help but draw the comparison between the justifications for the creation of the National Home for the Jews with the Nazis justifications for Lebensraum.
The term Lebensraum… was coined by Friedrich Ratzel in 1897, and used as a slogan in Germany referring to the unification of the country and the acquisition of colonies, as per the English and French models. It was adapted from Darwinian and other scientific ideas of the day about how ecological niches are filled. Similar concepts are still used today in geography and biology.
Ratzel believed the development of a people is primarily influenced by their geographical situation and that a people that successfully adapted to one location would proceed naturally to another. This expansion to fill available space, he claimed, was a natural and necessary feature of any healthy species.
These beliefs were furthered by scholars of the day, including Karl Haushofer and Friedrich von Bernhardi. In von Bernhardi’s 1912 book Germany and the Next War, he expanded upon Ratzel’s hypotheses and, for the first time, explicitly identified Eastern Europe as a source of new space.
The attempts to implement the Lebensraum happened in Zamosc County and Wartheland (see Generalplan Ost). The biggest obstacle to implement the Lebensraum further was the fact that by the end of 1942 the Sixth Army was defeated at Stalingrad. After the second big defeat in the tank battle at Kursk during July 1943 and the Allied landings in Sicily, all further Lebensraum plans came to a halt.
The Lebensraum ideology was a major factor in Hitler’s launching of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The Nazis hoped to turn large areas of Soviet territory into German settlement areas as part of Generalplan Ost.
- Ostland (Baltic States, Belarus and eastern Poland),
- Ukraine (Ukraine and adjacent territories),
- Kaukasus (Caucasus area),
- Moskau (the Moscow metropolitan area and adjacent European Russia)
The Reichskommissariat territories would extend up to the European frontier at the Urals. These administrative entities were to have been early stages in the displacement and dispossession of Russian and other Slav peoples and their replacement with German settlers, following the Nazi “Lebensraum im Osten” plans. [Wikipedia]
That sure does sound familiar, doesn’t it? And it was soundly and violently condemned by the entire world which fought a World War to end such expansionist aspirations on the part of Germany.
So, why do we tolerate it on the part of Israel? Why are we all sitting around and watching Israel doing the same things that the Nazis were doing, listening to psychopaths like Condoleezza Rice refer to it as “Birth Pangs” of a “New Middle East”? Have we taken leave of our senses? Is the universe of normal, decent and moral people so filled with smoke that we can no longer see what is right and what is wrong?
Well, as a matter of fact, that seems to be the case.
Another sort of justification conjured away the injustice inflicted on the indigenous population with the pretense that Palestine was (nearly) vacant before the Jews came. Ironically, this argument has proven to be the most compelling proof of the injustice committed: it is a back-handed admission that, had Palestine been inhabited, which it plainly was, the Zionist enterprise was morally indefensible. Those admitting to the reality of a Palestinian presence yet functioning outside the ideological ambit of Zionism couldn’t adduce any justification for Zionism except a racist one: that is, in the great scheme of things, the fate of Jews was simply more important than that of Arabs. If not publicly, at any rate privately, this is how the British rationalized the Balfour Declaration. For Balfour himself, “we deliberately and rightly decline to accept the principle of self-determination” for the “present inhabitants” of Palestine, because “the question of the Jews outside Palestine [is] one of world importance” and Zionism was “rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of a far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.” [Finkelstein]
At the time, British Cabinet Minster, Herbert Samuel, recognized that denying the Arabs majority rule was “in flat contradiction to one of the main purposes for which the Allies were fighting,” but he then turned around and bought into the smokescreen belief propagated by religion, to wit “the anterior Jewish presence in Palestine “had resulted in events of spiritual and cultural value to mankind in striking contrast with the barren record of the last thousand years.”
Winston Churchill testified before the Peel Commission saying that the indigenous population of Arabs had no more right to Palestine than a “dog in a manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time.” He further opined that “No wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, or at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Shades of Adolf Hitler!
Finkelstein makes a small apology for the Brits saying:
“The point is not so much that the British were racists but rather that they had no recourse except to racist justifications for denying the indigenous population its basic rights. Pressed to justify what was done, they became racists not from predilection but from circumstance: on no other grounds could so flagrant a denial be explained.”
The so-called “historic necessity” of Jews being given a National State is also bunk. There was a massive exertion of the Zionists to get Jews to go to Palestine; Jews were often conscripted in a heavy-handed way to go to Palestine. Zionists vigorously opposed the settlement of any Jews anywhere else. In documented cases, many Jews were given the choice between going to concentration camps under Nazi rule or going to Palestine.
“From the outset Zionism worked towards the creation of a purely Jewish state and was glad to rid the country of its Arab inhabitants.’ [Isaac Deutscher]
To say that the Israeli government is acting irrationally when it refuses to “remove or assuage the grievance” of Palestinians is missing the point. Considering that the Palestinians’ chief grievance is the denial of their homeland, if the Zionists were to act “rationally” according to that standard, and remove this grievance, i.e. to give them back their homeland, then there would be no Israel.
It is equally wrong to think that Palestinians – and the wider Arab community – have been acting irrationally when they blame the Zionists for all the misery in the Middle East. They are acting quite normally.
Which brings us back to Condoleezza Rice: Few things have ever revealed the psychopathic nature of the Bush Neocon Cabal more clearly than this soulless and truly inhuman series of remarks. Rice has revealed herself to be – like Benny Morris – a morally repellant creature. And, as Finkelstein has pointed out, the universe inhabited by normal human beings – honest and decent people – is one where the majority concur on the facts and their moral and legal implications, though they may have different ideas of how to implement a political solution. One could say that all normal people demand an immediate cease-fire. Period. You can work out the details later, but stop now before one more precious baby is lost and one more mother regrets the real birth pangs that brought her child into a world where he or she was destined to become only cannon fodder for such as the likes of Condoleezza Rice.
But let’s look again at what Rice said: a “New Middle East.” What could she have meant by that? Just what kind of Middle East can you have when Israel is systematically ethnically cleansing the region of – well… anybody but Israelis. And there’s your answer. That is, after all, the vision of Israel.
And so we see just what kind of “New Middle East” Condoleezza Rice is talking about: she is pregnant and giving birth to a Monster.
Originally Published 2006_07_24