Gaza: Masters of the Goebbels lie
The mainstream narrative of Israel, Palestine and the middle east is a Big Lie, writes Tony Greenstein
“Hague, Obama and the BBC applaud Israel’s ‘retaliation’,” Ali Abunimah points out in his timeline to Israel’s latest attack on Gaza’s Palestinians.1 Egypt brokered a ceasefire on November 11, only for Israel to assassinate Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari three days later.
Exactly the same situation occurred four years ago when Israel waged a one-sided war against Gaza that killed 1,400 people, including 400 children. Then Israel used white phosphorous bombs against civilian targets, including a United Nations school. Although the Israelis insist they are doing everything in their power to ‘protect innocent civilians’, as they target residential areas, the actual logic is that babies and children grow into ‘terrorists’, so it is better to get them young. Which was, of course, the excuse that the Nazis used for murdering Jewish children. The numbers are, of course, different, but the principle remains the same.
And, just as with Operation Cast Lead, so Israel’s new Operation Pillar of Defence seeks to cast the victims of the bombing, killing and destruction as the aggressor, and the perpetrator as the victim. As Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, is alleged to have stated, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension the truth is the greatest enemy of the state.”
For months Israel has been conducting bombing raids on Gaza and shooting civilians who stray near the border, as well as the odd fisherman. Unsurprisingly most of the rockets sent over in retaliation killed no-one, but were used as the excuse for further aggression.
And the BBC with its usual ‘balance’, takes Israel’s propaganda at face value and portrays the struggle between David and Goliath as the actions of a sorely provoked Zionist state. But it was always thus. The victims of colonialism and imperialism have always been the aggressor in the eyes of this mouthpiece of the British establishment. Of course, when it comes to Syria, then the BBC abandons such impartiality and balance and has no compunction about coming down on one side.
The question is, why now? Why do Israel’s leaders act like vampires, eager to shed yet more Palestinian blood? One reason, though not the only one, is the holding of elections in Israel in the new year. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, ‘defence’ minister Ehud Barak and his fascist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, want to be seen to be strong. But this is not the whole story. From the Zionist right and left there is a chorus of approval. Shelly Yachimovich of Israel’s Labour Party is an equally enthusiastic supporter of Israel’s latest war.
A key reason is that Israel, as a settler colonial state, is incapable of coming to terms with the indigenous Palestinian population. Zionism by its very nature is an expansionist ideology and movement. The idea of ‘two states’, which apologists for imperialism like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty never cease to parrot, has only ever been for foreign consumption. The goal of all Zionist parties is either the confining of the Palestinians into a series of tiny Bantustans or, even better, their expulsion over the river Jordan. Transfer is certainly the goal of the present far-right Israeli government and it fervently hopes that it will once again have the means to effect it.
In the meantime the only good Palestinian leader is someone like Mahmoud Abbas, the quisling ‘president’ of the Ramallah canton. Abbas’s only political purpose is to (eventually) acquiesce in whatever Israel demands of him, while pretending to oppose it. The problem with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, despite its reactionary religious ideology, is that it still retains its independence. The same was true, to a lesser extent of the former leader of Fatah, Yasser Arafat, which is why he was murdered by Israel - using radioactive polonium, it is believed.
Western imperialism would generally be content for there to be a viable Palestinian state in which Abbas’s American trained security forces kept the people under tight control. But Israel’s leaders will not countenance even the most subservient of Palestinian states. And yet they know they cannot forever perpetuate a system of apartheid, where Israel’s Jews rule over a majority of Palestinians (Israeli Jews now constitute less than 50% of what was mandate Palestine). Hence ‘transfer’ is the preferred option.
But the Middle East is not the same as it was before the Arab spring. Despite closing down many of the tunnels in Rafah between Egypt and Gaza,2 Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi sent his prime minister to Gaza. This followed the visit of the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. This in itself, combined with the prospect of further visits by international leaders and the gradual recognition of Palestinian sovereignty, was enough to cause apoplexy amongst Israel’s leaders, who have maintained a blockade against Gaza for the past seven years.
The oppression of the Palestinians is symbolic of the oppression of Arabs in the Middle East and undoubtedly it was an astute move by Hamad, one of the few intelligent Gulf rulers, to visit Gaza. Israel’s blockade, which itself has been relaxed in certain respects since the murder of nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010, has become a political liability. The need to reassert the blockade and make it clear that Gaza is intended to be an open prison, not an independent state, is vital to Zionist plans. There is also a very good economic reason: the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean sea opposite Gaza. Energy independence is something close to Zionist hearts.
It is unlikely that Israel, even if it invades Gaza, will attempt to impose the rule of Abbas on the people. Hamas, which Israel helped create in the 1980s when secular Palestinian nationalism was the main enemy, is necessary to keep order, not least against the growing Salafist movement. The primary purpose of the Israel’s attack and possible invasion of Gaza is to make sure that the Palestinians in Gaza do not start getting ideas of independence. The present bombing is there to remind them who is master of the region.
2. See ‘Gaza tunnel trade squeezed by Egypt “crackdown”’: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19320135.