[News] A Cornered Israel is Baring Its Teeth

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 3 11:41:09 EDT 2010


June 3, 2010

"Mad Dog" Diplomacy

A Cornered Israel is Baring Its Teeth



Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, 
famously outlined the strategy he believed would 
keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a 
like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”

Until now, most observers had assumed Dayan was 
referring to Israeli military or possibly nuclear 
strategy, an expression in his typically blunt 
fashion of the country’s familiar doctrine of deterrence.

But the Israeli commando attack on Monday on the 
Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine activists have 
so far been confirmed killed and dozens were 
wounded as they tried to break Israel’s blockade 
of the enclave, proves beyond doubt that this is 
now a diplomatic strategy too. Israel is feeling 
cornered on every front it considers important – 
and like Dayan’s “mad dog”, it is likely to strike out in unpredictable ways.

Domestically, Israeli human rights activists have 
regrouped after the Zionist left’s dissolution in 
the wake of the outbreak of the second intifada. 
Now they are presenting clear-eyed – and 
extremely ugly – assessments of the occupation 
that are grabbing headlines around the world.

That move has been supported by the leadership of 
Israel’s large Palestinian minority, which has 
additionally started questioning the legitimacy 
of a Jewish state in ways that would have been 
unthinkable only a few years ago.

Regionally, Hizbullah has progressively eroded 
Israel’s deterrence doctrine. It forced the 
Israeli army to exit south Lebanon in 2000 after 
a two-decade occupation; it stood firm in the 
face of both aerial bombardment and a ground 
invasion during the 2006 war; and now it is 
reported to have accumulated an even larger 
arsenal of rockets than it had four years ago.

Iran, too, has refused to be intimidated and is 
leaving Israel with an uncomfortable choice 
between conceding to Tehran the room to develop a 
nuclear bomb, thereby ending Israel’s regional 
nuclear monopoly, and launching an attack that 
could unleash a global conflagration.

And internationally, nearly 18 months on from its 
attack on Gaza, Israel’s standing is at an 
all-time low. Boycott campaigns are gaining 
traction, reluctant support for Israel from 
European governments has set them in opposition 
to home-grown sentiment, and even traditional 
allies such as Turkey cannot hide their anger.

In the US, Israel’s most resolute ally, young 
American Jews are starting to question their 
unthinking loyalty to the Jewish state. Blogs and 
new kinds of Jewish groups are bypassing their 
elders and the American media to widen the scope of debate about Israel.

Israel has responded by characterizing these 
“threats” all as falling within its 
ever-expanding definition of “support for terrorism”.

It was therefore hardly suprising that the first 
reaction from the Israeli government to the fact 
that its commandoes had opened fire on civilians 
in the flotilla of aid ships was to accuse the 
solidarity activists of being armed.

Similarly, Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign 
minister, accused the organizers of having 
“connections to international terrorism”, 
including al-Qaeda. Turkey, which assisted the 
flotilla, is widely being accused in Israel of 
supporting Hamas and trying to topple Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Palestinians are familiar with such tactics. 
Gaza’s entire population of 1.5 million is now 
regularly presented in the Israeli media in 
collective terms, as supporters of terror – for 
having voted in Hamas – and therefore legitimate 
targets for Israeli “retaliation”. Even the 
largely docile Palestinian Authority in the West 
Bank has rapidly been tarred with the same brush 
for its belated campaign to boycott the settlements and their products.

The leaders of Israel’s Palestinian citizens too 
are being cast in the role of abettors of terror. 
The minority is still reeling from the latest 
assault: the arrest and torture of two community 
leaders charged with spying for Hizbullah. In its 
wake, new laws are being drafted to require that 
Palestinian citizens prove their “loyalty” or have their citizenship revoked.

When false rumors briefly circulated on Monday 
that Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of Israel’s 
Islamic Movement who was in the flotilla, had 
been gravely wounded, Israeli officials offered a 
depressingly predictable, and unfounded, 
response: commandoes had shot him after they came under fire from his cabin.

Israel’s Jewish human rights community is also 
under attack to a degree never before seen. Their 
leaders are now presented as traitors, and new 
legislation is designed to make their work much harder.

The few brave souls in the Israeli media who try 
to hold the system to account have been given a 
warning shot with the exile of Haaretz’s 
investigative journalist Uri Blau, who is 
threatened with trial on spying charges if he returns.

Finally, Israel’s treatment of those onboard the 
flotilla has demonstrated that the net against 
human rights activism is being cast much wider, 
to encompass the international community.

Foreigners, even high-profile figures such as 
Noam Chomsky, are now routinely refused entry to 
Israel and the occupied territories. Many foreign 
human rights workers face severe restrictions on 
their movement and efforts to deport them or ban 
their organizations. The Israeli government is 
agreed that Europe should be banned from 
“interfering” in the region by supporting local human rights organizations.

The epitome of this process was Israel’s 
reception of the UN report last year into the 
attack on Gaza by Richard Goldstone, a respected 
judge and international law expert who suggested 
Israel had committed many war crimes during its 
three-week operation. Goldstone has faced savage personal attacks ever since.

But more significantly, Israel’s supporters have 
characterized the Goldstone report and the 
related legal campaigns against Israel as 
examples of “lawfare”, implying that those who 
uphold international law are waging a new kind of 
war of attrition on behalf of terror groups like Hamas and Hizbullah.

These trends are likely only to deepen in the 
coming months and years, making Israel an ever 
greater pariah in the eyes of much of the world. 
The mad dog is baring his teeth, and it is high 
time the international community decided how to deal with him.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in 
Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are 
and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and 
the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) 
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” 
(Zed Books). His website is <http://www.jkcook.net>www.jkcook.net.

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