Counterpunch today carries what is perhaps the most lucid and succinct analysis of the concept of ‘Israel’ that I have ever read, and out of an entirely unexpected corner as well: it is written by Brian Eno. Entitled ‘An experiment in provocation’, I can find only one fault with it, which is that Eno seems to accept the original landgrabbing act in and before 1948 as justified. I reprint it here in full: ‘It’s a tragedy that the Israelis – a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression – are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked “Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians”. By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians – with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers – and themselves – with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world – they sacrifice all credibility.
The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.
Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly…and, surprise, surprise – they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?
Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now ‘under attack’ you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn’t possibly reach an accommodation.
And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.’
Information Clearinghouse fortunately carries an article today by Gilad Atzmon, ‘Living on borrowed time in a stolen land’, which elaborates on the one aspect Eno forgot to mention: ‘Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’. Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told. The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture. Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilisation on the land had been wiped out. Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum.’
Atzmon also has a prediction to make, which is neatly in line with my own thesis (generally derided by everybody I care to mention it to) that Israel’s racist colonial apartheid regime – is standing on its last legs and will be finished within this and a few years: ‘Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage. The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution (…) Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas. For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t matter of ‘if’ but rather matter of ‘when’. By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined. The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over. The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinian into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there. All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out. They want the Palestinians out of the region. It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics. This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians. There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict. Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle. It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.’