Sunday, July 30, 2006

Notes from the Propaganda War

Nothing Less than Clear and Decisive Victory

Some important critics of the Israeli attack on Lebanon are lowering their voices and joining the government’s insistence on victory at all costs.Ha’aretz is the arch-type for this kind of twisting and turning. At the outset of the hostilities, when it seemed that a quick and overwhelming Israeli victory was in the cards, Ha’aretz and other similar trends did permit themselves to ask some serious questions about the whole idea. However, with the spectre of a possible Israeli defeat (and a cease-fire at this stage might well be considered as defeat), the ruling circles in this country are lining up with the most hysterical hawks and crazed militarists. Ha’aretz, and those who think along the same lines, fear that anything less than a full and unqualified victory, will seriously undermine Israel’s status as a regional super power. They may be right. Their logic is that if Bush and the U.S. are so happy about all this, it could not be so terrible. Many moderates, not having the faintest idea of how to get off the train, have started stoking the Olmert engine.

We Suspected As Much

Amir Oren, Ha’aretz, is one of the journalists who remained clear headed from the beginning of this wretched foray. Last week, Oren broke the Eyland scoop. The head of the Israeli National Security Council, Gen. Giora Eyland, revealed that he had submitted a comprehensive political plan to deal with the tensions between Israel and Lebanon, and had received a green light from UN sources and a wide variety of other countries, as well as important parties and persons in Lebanon. All of these informed Eyland that they are willing to consider action on the document, on the condition that Eyland had a green light from Sharon (back then) or Olmert. No Israeli response was forthcoming. See Ha’aretz, July 21, 2006 – Hebrew edition (English edition incomplete).

Oren has got his own take on the Bush-Olmert venture: “”Because this is the true surprise – a surprise of statesmen and not of intelligence – of the campaign in the north: no American red light, no flashing orange light, and not even a mere green light, but the blaring siren of the sheriff’s car sitting behind the hesitant driver at the intersection urging him to get moving. The global cop is recruiting Israel as a regional cop to impose UN Security Council Resolution 1559 on the government of Lebanon and dismantle the Hezbollah army.” Ha’aretz, 28.7.2006

Hezbollah Is Hiding Among Civilians

“The kibbutz where the Golani Brigade has set up its command center, very close to the Lebanese border appeared, almost empty of civilians this week. The small pool was closed….” “Since Golani took over the kibbutz, it has taken on the appearance of an improvised army base. Soldiers run around, military vehicles rush off with a squeal.” Harel and Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 28.7.06Ha’aretz

The Katrina Effect

Natural and man-made catastrophes tear up the social fabric. One stark effect of the subsequent revelations is that social inequality and class status has everything to do with chances for survival. Rich people tend to get out and survive. Poor people have to stay behind and pay with suffering and even, in many instances, their very lives.

Among the residents of the north, who is in the shelter in the north, and who is on the beach in Eilat? Who is in Nahariya, near the Lebanese border, and who is in Crete? The government and the media are portraying the “home front” in the North as a source of steadfastedness. Well, the people in the shelters in the North, the people huddled in the “security rooms” or in the safer “interior windowless spaces” are the people who do not have the money to move southwards. They are steadfast because they are poor. Since the “home front” is so important, why not rotate the privilege - pleasure of living in a shelter for weeks, among the various sections of the population. Those, now in the shelters from Haifa (and to the north) will relocate to the hotels in Tel Aviv (and southwards). Those, especially the myriads of Israeli bureaucrats, who wish to strengthen the “home front,” will then find room in the shelters.

The Peace Movement and Radical Islam

In any normal set of circumstances, Radical Islam, in general, and Hezbollah, in particular, would encounter in the millions who make up the ranks of the peace movement, implacable political and ideological foes. Despite this, the peace movement will not lower its flags or desert its duty because of the unattractive or even repelling nature of the present victim of U.S. aggression, or even because of the sad fact that Hezbollah shares many core values with those who are attacking it.

The lessons of Iraq are still fresh in our minds. The dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, as unsavory a character as you can find, was not the cause of the United States aggression. It appears, that despite its failure in Iraq, or because of it, the United States, is preparing a new campaign for regime change in Iran. It is not the nature of Iran’s internal regime that disturbs Washington, but the reasonable Iranian desire to use its oil to its own best advantage.

Radical Islam, in the broadest terms, is the product of poverty and social repression, and the almost inevitable result of huge unsolved social problems. When U.S. backed repressive regimes attacked and destroyed authentic forces for change represented by the left, the mosque became the only possible site for independent organization and protest.

The global interests of the United States are the determining factor in the latest crisis in the Middle East. While it is important and even necessary to research the reasons for the rise of forces such as radical Islam, the main issue was and remains the United States drive for exclusive political, economic and strategic domination. As we have seen in Iraq, The United States cannot solve any real local or regional problem, nor is it particularly interested in doing so. It can unleash the dogs of war against anyone who dares to refuse to surrender to its demands. We express solidarity with that natural and understandable refusal, and go to the streets against United States policy. This is the only way to give peace any chance. This subject – the contradictions between the peace movement and Hezbollah requires, of course, deeper and more extensive analysis. But that will have to wait.