Creating people's geographies
July 21, 2006 05:25 PMURL: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/george_galloway/2006/07/sixty_years_since_the_king_dav.html
I’ll be marching this Saturday, along with many thousands of others. By a striking coincidence tomorrow also marks the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by the Irgun acting under the umbrella of the overall Zionist force, the Haganah. The attack killed 92 people, most of them civilians, some 17 of whom were Jewish.
It was organised by Irgun leader, Menachem Begin, who went on to be twice prime minister of Israel. His second period of office saw Israel’s “limited” 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon, which quickly become an assault on the whole country and claimed many thousands of lives.
I recalled all this when I read that Binyamin Netanyahu, former Israeli prime minister and darling of CNN, attended a commemoration this week of the Irgun’s actions, saying, “It’s very important to make the distinction between terror groups and freedom fighters, and between terror action and legitimate military action.” Well, quite.
There was no Hizbullah in 1946 or in 1948 when 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for the state of Israel. There was no Hizbullah in 1982; the organisation emerged after the Israeli invasion, after the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. It established a base in Lebanese society and its prestige grew enormously when it forced the Israelis out of most of southern Lebanon in 2000. I say most because Israel continued to occupy the Shebaa Farms, not that you would know that from western news reports, every single one of which talks of Israel withdrawing “completely” from Lebanon six years ago.
It was Labour backbencher Gerald Kaufman who made the point in the House of Commons yesterday that every one of Israel’s previous invasions of Lebanon has been a failure, even from the stand point of the Israeli military, despite the devastation caused. Reports this morning suggest this one will be no different. As in 1982 it shows every sign of escalating. Indeed, the leaders of Israel, the US and Britain want it to escalate – why else do they constantly issue bellicose noises about Syria and Iran?
Which brings me to Blair. I was among those who warned long ago that he was not some weathervane accommodating to the prevailing breeze. Anyone studying his words and demeanour this week would have to conclude that he really believes in this – he really believes in Israel’s assault on Lebanon; he believes he and Bush are leading the world in some messianic battle for the future of the Middle East. That’s why he hasn’t called for a ceasefire. Our prime minister sees himself as a protagonist in an expanding conflict across the Middle East. And he is making our country part of the extended war zone.