By GERRY FOLEY
In the face of a growing international outcry over Israel’s massive terror against the Palestinian population, U.S. President George Bush went on TV on April 4 to try to defuse criticism of the United States for its backing of the Zionist state.
Bush’s hypocrisy was underlined by the contrasting headlines in The New York Times and the Jerusalem Post. The semiofficial American publication stressed that Bush was calling on the Israelis for restraint. The Israeli daily, on the other hand, headlined: “U.S. Continues Support for Israel.”
The fact is that the chief political representative of U.S imperialism put the blame for the Israeli campaign on the victims. According to him, it was the fault of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat: “The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making.”
The White House statement continues U.S. imperialism’s pattern of holding out the prospect of a compromise to the Palestinians and the Arabs, while continuing to give effective support to actions by the Israeli state that preclude any compromise.
The real policy of the United States is rooted in acceptance of the Zionist project of maintaining an exclusively Jewish state in historic Palestine based on robbing the Palestinian people of their homeland. Within this context, no enduring compromise is possible, and the talk of a “negotiated settlement” serves only an anaesthetizing function, as more than a decade of experience with the most ambitious attempt at compromise in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Oslo accords, shows.
Israel’s war on the Palestinian people is nearing the brink of genocide, because that is the only thing that a general war against an unarmed people driven into a corner of their country can mean. And that is the last resort of a Zionist settler state that is running up against the ultimate limits of its ability to maintain itself against the hostility of the people of the region.
Demographers estimate that within a decade Palestinians will be in the majority in the entire area of historic Palestine, including the present state of Israel. This fact has been much discussed by Zionist think tanks and is obviously on the minds of the Israeli rulers. And the prospect of mass expulsion of the Palestinians is being discussed openly again in Israel.
At the same time, the continuing conflict is clearly leading reasonable people to the conclusion that it is impossible to maintain a Jewish state based on the dispossession of the Palestinian people. According to a Newsweek poll made public on March 23, only 34 percent of Americans believe that there will still be a Jewish state in Palestine in another 50 years.
Caught in this dilemma, the Zionist rulers are striking more and more ruthlessly against the Palestinian population. More and more reports are appearing that the Israeli forces are carrying out summary executions in the Palestinian areas they have occupied. For example, the Palestinian minister of information, Yassir Abed Rabbo, has reported that the bodies of five Palestinian policemen were found in a bank near Arafat’s headquarters, shot in the head at close range
In the Palestinian Authority areas it has reoccupied, the Israeli military has been demanding that all males between the ages of 15 and 45 submit to screening for alleged terrorists.
The Israeli military even began putting classifying tattoos on Palestinian men until it was forced to stop by an outcry in Israel and internationally. The practice was too reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camps.
However, the practice of collective punishment of the civilian population for attacks carried out by guerrillas was also characteristic of the Nazi attempts to suppress partisan movements. As the Israeli “retaliation” strikes escalate, more and more they take that form.
Moreover, the Israeli military have been showing a ruthless disregard for civilian casualties, as indicated in the March 31 issue of the London Sunday Times: “Civilians trying to escape had little chance. An elderly Palestinian man shot by Israeli troops near Arafat’s compound lay in the street for hours and bled to death before ambulances could reach him. A Palestinian woman was shot in the head as she tried to drive away from danger.”
The New York Times correspondent James Bennet felt compelled to note in his March 31 account of the Israeli assault: “If the current Israeli operation does not succeed in halting Palestinian attacks, it is not clear what military options will remain.”
But Bennet and the other reporters for the major international press know that the Israeli repression, short of all-out war, is not going to break the Palestinian resistance, and that increasing the desperation of the Palestinian people can only increase the incidents of suicide bombings. The imperialist rulers know it too. They know that the Zionists are on the brink of a general war against the Palestinians and probably a new war against neighboring Arab states.
The response of the imperialist “statesmen” is to “deplore the violence” and urge the Israelis to seek a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. But they are not making it clear that they will not support a general assault by Israel on the Palestinian people or a war with neighboring Arab states, which the Zionist regime could not face without their material support.
The Pontius Pilate award goes to the United States, which voted for a UN resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian Authority areas it has occupied, and then clearly indicated to the press that the resolution would have no effect because it “did not have a timeline.” But as Israel escalates its assault on the Palestinians, the U.S. pretense becomes less and less viable.
With Arafat isolated in one ruined room, and the Palestinian police slaughtered and their headquarters ruined, the U.S. charge that Arafat is not doing enough to stop terrorists is now a paper-thin pretext. He has neither the political basis nor the apparatus for doing anything.
The brutal Israeli assaults have welded the Palestinian people into one furious mass, convinced that they have nothing to lose by resisting in any way possible because the Zionists are out to destroy them.
The past 10 years have shown that the Israeli rulers are not prepared to grant real self-government to even a part of Palestine, they are not ready to give up their aim of converting all of Palestine into an exclusively Jewish state, and the United States is not going to going to force them to do it. The U.S. rulers also continue to need the Zionist myth, and therefore ultimately to support genocide. And since the Israelis cannot accomplish this without U.S. support, it is the United States that is responsible.
The outrage in the world and in the Arab world in particular against the Israeli attacks needs to be turned against the U.S. government, focused on the demand for an end to all aid to the Zionist state.
The majority of the American people, judging from the Newsweek poll , have already recognized that in the long run it is impossible to maintain a Zionist state in the Middle East. Among the Israeli population itself, there is increasing questioning of the war against the Palestinians.
Among the Arab peoples of the region, there is growing anger at the failure of their neocolonialist rulers to defend their brothers and sisters who are being trampled out of existence by an imperialist-backed regime. Out of this vortex, a solution to the conflict can come. It will have to involve the complete dismantling of any exclusively Jewish state and its replacement by a democratic secular Palestine, in which Jews and Arabs can live together as equals.