“One can express all sorts of outrage over the Obama administration’s depressingly predictable defense of the Israelis, even at the cost of isolating ourselves from the rest of the world, but ultimately, on some level, wouldn’t it have been even more indefensible — or at least oozingly hypocritical — if the U.S. had condemned Israel? After all, what did Israel do in this case that the U.S. hasn’t routinely done and continues to do?
As even our own military officials acknowledge, we’re slaughtering an “amazing number” of innocent people at checkpoints in Afghanistan. We’re routinely killing civilians in all sorts of imaginative ways in countless countries, including with drone strikes which a U.N. official just concluded are illegal. We’re even targeting our own citizens for due-process-free assassination. We’ve been arming Israel and feeding them billions of dollars in aid and protecting them diplomatically as they (and we) have been doing things like this for decades. What’s the Obama administration supposed to say about what Israel did: we condemn the killing of unarmed civilians? We decry these violations of international law? Even by typical standards of government hypocrisy, who in the U.S. Government could possibly say any of that with a straight face?
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What this really underscores is that the mentality driving both Israel and the U.S. are quite similar, which is why those two countries find such common cause, even when the rest of the world recoils in revulsion. One of the more amazing developments in the flotilla aftermath is how a claim that initially appeared too self-evidently ludicrous to be invoked by anyone — Israel was the victim here and was acting against the ship in self-defense –has actually become the central premise in Israeli and (especially) American discourse about the attack (and as always, there are far more criticisms of Israeli actions in Israel than in the U.S.).
How could anyone with the slightest intellectual honesty claim that Israel and its Navy were the victims of a boat which Jon Stewart said last night looked like ”P Diddy’s St. Bart’s vacation yacht”; or that armed Israeli commandos were the victims of unarmed civilian passengers; or, more generally, that a nuclear-armed Israel with the most powerful military by far in the Middle East and the world’s greatest superpower acting as Protector is the persecuted victim of a wretched, deprived, imprisoned, stateless population devastated by 40 years of brutal Israeli occupation and, just a year ago, an unbelievably destructive invasion and bombing campaign? The casting of “victim” and “aggressor” is blatantly reversed with such claims — which is exactly the central premise that has been driving, and continues to drive, U.S. foreign policy as well. In Imperial Ambitions, Noam Chomsky — talking about America’s post-9/11 policies — described the central mental deception that is at the heart of all nations which dominate others with force:
In one of his many speeches, to U.S. troops in Vietnam, [Lyndon] Johnson said plaintively, “There are three billion people in the world and we have only two hundred million of them. We are outnumbered fifteen to one. If might did make right they would sweep over the United States and take what we have. We have what they want.” That is a constant refrain of imperialism. You have your jackboot on someone’s neck and they’re about to destroy you.
The same is true with any form of oppression. And it’s psychologically understandable. If you’re crushing and destroying someone, you have to have a reason for it, and it can’t be, ”I’m a murderous monster.” It has to be self-defense. ”I’m protecting myself against them. Look what they’re doing to me.” Oppression gets psychologically inverted; the oppressor is the victim who is defending himself.
Thus, nuclear-armed Israel is bullied and victimized by starving Gazans with stones. The Israel Navy is threatened by a flotilla filled with wheelchairs and medicine. And the greatest superpower the Earth has ever known faces a grave and existential threat from a handful of religious fanatics hiding in caves. An American condemnation of Israel, as welcomed as it would have been, would be an act of senseless insincerity, because the two countries (along with many others) operate with this same “we-are-the-victim” mindset.”
There’s one simple reason for this. Power. Ever since the communist bloc imploded, the Anglo-American-Jewish establishment has had nothing to balance it, politically. Domestically, of course, this establishment ( which operates undisturbed behind the facade of blue or red state politics) holds supreme. Anyone who contradicts the party line on 9-11, the War on Terror, Israel, anti-Semitism, and a host of other shibboleths is quickly censored, “vanished” (labeled with tags like “racist,” “anti-Semitic,” “conspiracist”) and otherwise reduced to non-person status in the intellectual pecking order
Meanwhile, as the economic ascendancy of the US wanes, the government substitutes political/military power. As the US is forced to compete with billions of other people on a playing field that flattens more and more, its need for political and military control to restore its economic ascendancy increases.
That is one part of the logic.
The other part is that, of course, there is very little gap between the ideology of the US ruling class and that of Israel. Let me be frank. Racist Militant Zionism – for want of a better word (via finance capital, media propaganda, speech codes, and revisionist history) – rules both countries.
( Correction: I deleted the term ‘racist.’ It’s not wrong but in the circumstances it’s inflammatory. I think the majority of countries and people already think Israel is in the wrong. The hard part is to get more Israelis and their supporters here to see it that way too. Calling them names doesn’t help).
At least, in Israel prominent journalists do speak out bravely. In the major media here, however, even the simple observation of what is glaring reality is enough to draw sharp breaths of horror from the politically correct crowd…
And also, unfortunately, from the crowd that otherwise fancies itself politically incorrect.
All, like the victims of domestic abuse, cannot bring themselves to utter a harsh word about the abuser. Instead, they reserve their condemnation for those who try to wean the population from the abusive relationship.