Analysis: Gaza & the Politics of ‘Greater Israel’

IDF announcement designed to provoke.

November 17, 2012 (Nile Bowie) – The Israeli bombardment of
Gaza being perpetuated under ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ comes at an
interesting time. Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak,
the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements into Palestinian lands has
increased at unprecedented rates. Netanyahu’s
administration has approved the construction of 850 settler homes in the
occupied West Bank in June 2012, even after the Israeli parliament rejected a
bill to retroactively legalize some of the existing homes in the area. [2]
The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled in the past
12 years, with more than 350,000 residing illegally under international law. [3]
While Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserts Tel Aviv’s
unwillingness to permit Palestinians any right to return to their lands,
emphasizing, “not even one refugee,”
apartheid enforced on ethnic and religious lines has become a ratified part of
Israeli government policy. [4]
Far-right political discourse that was once considered extremism is now the
status quo in Israel. 

 

While Netanyahu publicly
announced support for a Palestinian state on the West Bank, his government has
threaten to end the Oslo
Accords
if the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine with non-member
observer state status. [5]
A panel of Israeli jurists assembled by Netanyahu’s government to determine the
legal status of the West Bank concluded that there is “no occupation” of Palestinian lands and that the continued
construction of settlement outposts are entirely legal under Israeli law, despite
critical international opinion. Netanyahu’s far right-conservative Likud party
was established on the philosophy of Ze’ev Jabotinksy, who called for the
establishment of a ‘Greater Israel,’ a concept embraced by Israeli historian
Benzion Netanyahu, the father of today’s Prime Minister. Under his fathers
influence, Benjamin Netanyahu was indoctrinated in the ideological foundations
of Revisionist Zionism, which promote Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (Palestine)
and the full biblical land of Israel by contemporary Jews, an oil rich landmass
extending from the banks of the Nile River in Egypt to the shores of the
Euphrates.

 

“The Bible finds no worse image than
this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any
law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards
conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His
personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what
kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one
of perpetual war. Israel’s must be the same. The two states solution doesn’t exist;
there are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab
population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for
an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the
Jews.”
[1] Benzion
Netanyahu

As rocket fire hits Tel Aviv
for the first time since the Gulf War, the ongoing siege of Gaza must be seen
as what it is – a premeditated component of Israeli expansionism. Netanyahu was a zealous supporter of former Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert’s 2008-2009 sieges on Gaza known as ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ which killed
over 1,400 Palestinians, while Israel suffered only 13 causalities. [6]
On November 14, 2012, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an offensive into the
Hamas-controlled Gaza strip and began announcing their progress through an
official Twitter account. IDF forces assassinated a prominent Hamas military
commander, Ahmed Jabari, who was allegedly in possession of a draft copy of a
permanent truce agreement with Israel. [7] The agreement included mechanisms for
maintaining the cease-fire in the case of future military exchanges between
Israel and the Hamas-led political factions of the Gaza Strip. Militants from
the armed wing of Hamas in Gaza retaliated by firing rockets into Israeli
territory, a large percentage of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air
defense system.

Benjamin Netanyahu used this retaliation to
claim the moral high ground by warning that he will take “whatever action is necessary” to
stop further rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. [8]
IDF officials have called on 30,000 reservists to prepare for a possible extended
ground incursion into Gaza, as IDF forces indiscriminately kill civilians
attempting to strike Palestinian aerial and naval targets. [9]
The Obama administration has condemned Hamas for perpetuating violence, while
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi recalled Egypt’s
ambassador from Tel Aviv. Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived in Gaza
after the second day of Israeli attacks in a show of support for Palestine. Through
‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ Israel is targeting the military foundations of
Hamas, while attempting to portray itself as a victim in the international
media. IDF forces dropped thousands of Orwellian leaflets over Gaza, urging
citizens to take responsibility for their own safety, due to Hamas “once again dragging the region to violence
and bloodshed
.” [10]

 

Despite Israel targeting the elected Hamas
government of Gaza, an article in the Wall
Street Journal
titled, “How Israel
Helped to Spawn Hamas
,” cites a former Israeli official who claims that
Israel encouraged the formation of Islamist groups to counterbalance secular nationalists affiliated with the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO). The
Israeli government even officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called
Mujama Al-Islamiya as a charity group, allowing it to build mosques and an Islamic
university. [11] Israel cooperated with the influential Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin, who was opposed to secular Palestinian activists, as he spearheaded the
Sunni Islamist movement that became Hamas. In late October 2012, Gaza’s Hamas
government received Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani,
the Emir of Qatar, for an official visit. As part of an aid development package,
Al-Thani granted Hamas $400 million, at least $150 million of which will go
towards a housing project in southern Gaza – it would be reasonable to assume
that large portions of that aid would be invested in defense. [12]

The support given to Hamas
by Qatar must be understood through the context of its engagement in Syria. The
New York Times articled titled, “Rebel
Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria
,” states that the arms
being shipped to Syria by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are being used to bolster
jihadists and al-Qaeda affiliated groups attempting to topple the government of
Bashar al-Assad. [13]
Qatar has held numerous meetings of US-backed Syrian opposition leaders and
hosts a critical American military air base at Al-Udeid, west of the capital,
Doha. Qatar has also allowed the establishment of a Brooking Institute center
on its territory. Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy published “Saving
Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change
” in March 2012, and the
directives described in the report have ostensibly become the policy of allied
Western and Gulf countries aiming to topple the Syrian government. The Saban
Center that published the report was established in 2002 when Israeli-American mogul
Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution in an
attempt to influence pro-Israeli policy. [14]

 

Despite paying lip service
to the Palestinian cause, Qatar is supporting policy engineered to give Israel
a pretext to consolidate its power. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have cooperated
with the United States and Israel by exporting the Salafist ideology that is so
prominent among radical rebel fighters in Hamas and the Free Syrian Army, and
using their enormous oil wealth to fund and arm these movements. An unapologetic
Op-Ed written by Israeli columnist Guy Bechor titled, “Dangers of a
Palestinian state
,” bemoans the possibility of an independent Palestine, in
fear of the nation becoming a hub for extremist violence:

 

“A sovereign Palestinian state will
immediately absorb 700,000 Palestinians who are living in terrible conditions
in Syria, another 750,000 Palestinians who currently live in Lebanon and
hundreds of thousands of others who will flock to the new state from all over,
because to them the West Bank and Israel are America – just ask the African
infiltrators. Due to the ‘Arab Spring,’ Syria and Lebanon would gladly kick the
Palestinians out, and the Palestinian state would welcome them with open arms
in order to change the demographic reality on the ground. Qatar and Saudi
Arabia would fund the entire exodus. 

Thus, the Palestinian state would
become one of the most densely populated areas in the world and pose a direct
security and demographic threat to Israel. In other words, in the near future
we may see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians settling in the West Bank.
Some of them are among the most dangerous people in the Middle East: Salafis,
members of armed Syrian and Lebanese militias, as well as members of various
jihadi groups. They will settle in places that overlook Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben
Gurion Airport and Jerusalem. The demographic balance in this region will be
changed forever. Our lives will become a Syrian-style nightmare.”
[15]

In 1952, Israeli Defense
Minister Moshe Dayan spoke ardently of Tel Aviv’s ultimate goal, the creation
of ‘an Israeli empire’ – today, Netanyahu has led his administration with
megalomaniacal hubris, and has emphasized a messianic-catastrophic worldview
where Israel is “the eternal nation.” [16]
Indeed, a Salafist-dominated Palestine would cause troubles for Israel, and it
provides a much-needed pretext for Israel to militarily engage with Palestine
groups, with the eventual goal of recapturing their land for Jewish settlement.
‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ launched just months away from Israel’s
elections, is a calculated component of the Netanyahu government’s strategy to
topple Hamas and continue absorbing Palestinian territory. Decades of
occupation and apartheid have shaped the current scenario; Israel has
dehumanized an entire people by seizing their land and forcing them into
prison-like ghettoes. Adherents to political Zionism have shown contempt for a
genuine political solution to the Palestinian conflict, and the Netanyahu
administration is poised to crush all opposition to the Jewish state. 

 

Amid reports of rocket fire
striking Jerusalem, it is clear that the Israeli response will be swift and
unforgiving. While the historic plight of the Palestinian people cannot be
ignored, the conduct of Hamas is counter-productive and radical, despite the
Israeli firepower being exponentially more destructive. The siege on Gaza is an
impetus to consider Henry Kissinger’s prediction, “In 10 years, there will be no more Israel.” Sixteen US
intelligence agencies that collectively issued an 82-page analysis titled,
“Preparing for a Post-Israel Middle East,” concluded that Netanyahu’s Likud
coalition has enthusiastically condoned and supported illegal settlements,
while enforcing an apartheid-style infrastructure upon Palestinians. [17]
Israel, the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, has all the
attributes of an international pariah state and its current path is
unmaintainable. If Israel devastates Gaza, the backlash would create momentum
that threatens the very existence of the Jewish state. Under Bibi’s watch,
Israel will either continue to enforce the ideological tenants of political
Zionism on its neighbors, or die trying.

Notes


[1] Received
Wisdom? How the Ideology of Netanyahu’s Late Father Influenced the Son
,
TIME, May 02, 2012

[2] Israel
to build more West Bank homes
, Al-Jazeera, June 07, 2012

[3] Population
of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year
, The Guardian, July
26, 2012

[4] Lieberman:
Netanyahu’s stance on 1967 borders reflects viewpoint of most Israelis
, Haaretz,
May 23, 2011

[5] Israel:
We will annul Oslo Accords if Palestinians seek upgraded UN status
,
Haaretz, November 14, 2012

[6] Israel
to take ‘whatever action necessary’ to stop Gaza rocket fire
, The
Telegraph, November 12, 2012

[7] Israeli
peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce
,
Haaretz, November 15, 2012

[8] Israel
to take ‘whatever action necessary’ to stop Gaza rocket fire
, The
Telegraph, November 12, 2012

[9] IDF
calling up 30,000 reserves ahead of possible Gaza ground operation
, The
Times of Israel

[10] Operation
Pillar of Defense: IDF Disperses Leaflets Above Gaza Strip
, IDF Blog,
November 15, 2012

[11] How Israel
Helped to Spawn Hamas
, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2009

[12] Qatari
ruler uses historic Gaza visit to call on Palestinian factions to unite
,
The Times of Israel, October 23, 2012

[13] Rebel
Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria
, The New York Times,
October 14, 2012

[14] Humanitarian
Buffer Zones in Syria: How Misinformation Obscures the Israel Lobby’s Influence
on U.S. Foreign Policy
, Dissident Voice, October 16, 2012

[15] Dangers of a
Palestinian state
, YNet, November 13, 2012

[16] As
Netanyahu pushes Israel closer to war with Iran, Israelis cannot…

Haaretz, August 03, 2012

[17] Kissinger,
US intelligence community endorse “World Without Israel,”
PressTV,
September 30, 2012

Nile Bowie is a Kuala
Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on
Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics
and geopolitics.