Creating people's geographies
Dissident Voice | 29 August 2006
All the national, state and local Jewish organizations have launched a $300 million fundraising and propaganda campaign in support of the 21 Jewish civilians and 116 soldiers killed during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (but not the 18 Israeli Arabs who were excluded from Jews-only bomb shelters). As adjuncts of the Israeli foreign office not a single one of the 52 organizations which make up The Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations in the US voiced a single public criticism of Israel’s massive destruction of civilian homes, hospitals, offices, supermarkets, refugee convoys and churches and mosques, and the deliberate killing of civilians, UN peacekeepers and rescue workers with precision bombing. On the contrary the entire Jewish lobby echoed in precise detail the Israeli lies that the Lebanese deaths were caused by the Lebanese resistance’s “use of human shields,” despite the total devastation of the heavily populated southern suburbs of Beirut, completely out of range of any Hezbollah rockets.
The magnitude of the Jewish Lobby’s cover-up of Israel’s massive military assault can be measured in great detail.
The Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) launched 5,000 missiles, five-ton bunker-buster bombs and cluster bombs as well as anti-personnel phosphorus bombs each day into Lebanon for 27 days — totaling over 135,000 missiles, bombs and artillery shells. During the last seven days of the war Israel launched 6,000 bombs and shells per day — over 42,000, for a grand total of 177,000 over a heavily populated territory the size of the smallest state in the US. In contrast, the Lebanese national resistance launched 4,000 rockets during the entire 34-day period, an average of 118 per day. The ratio was 44 to 1 — without mentioning the size differentials, the long-term killing effects of the thousands of un-exploded cluster bombs (nearly 50 killed or maimed since the end of hostilities) and Israel’s scorched earth military incursion.
The Jewish lobbyists publish the number of Israel’s civilian dead as 41, forgetting to mention that only 23 were Jews, the remaining 18 were members of Israel’s Arab Muslim and Christian minority who constitute around 20% of the population. The disproportionate number of Israeli Arabs killed was a result of the Israeli government policy of providing shelters and siren warning systems to Jews and ignoring the security needs of its Arab citizens. The proportion of civilian deaths to soldiers was 41 to 116 or 26% of the total Israeli dead (but if we only consider Jewish Israelis and IDF members the proportion 23 to 116 or 16% of the Jewish dead were civilian.) Clearly the Lebanese resistance was aiming most of its fire at the invading IDF. In contrast, in Lebanon, of the 1,181 so far known to have been killed, 1088 were civilians and only 93 were fighters. In other words 92% of the Lebanese dead were civilians — over three times the rate of civilians killed by the Lebanese resistance and almost six times the rate of Jewish civilians killed (the only ones who count in the Lobby’s propaganda machine). To put it more bluntly: over 47 Lebanese civilians were slaughtered for each Jewish Israeli civilian death.
The Jewish Lobby’s claims of Israeli moral and military superiority in the Middle East — which is paradoxically combined with warnings that Israel’s survival is at stake — has been shredded to tatters as a result of their failure to annihilate Hezbollah.
The Lobby’s echoing Israeli military claims of the invincibility of the Israeli armed forces is largely based on their ‘fighting’ against rock throwing Palestinian school kids. Today it is clear that they are quite vulnerable when faced with well-armed, veteran Lebanese guerrilla fighters. According to a United Nation Report, from June 26 to August 26, 2006, Israel killed 202 Palestinians, 44 of whom were small children, while losing one soldier; while in Lebanon, Israel lost 116 soldiers to 93 Lebanese fighters in 34 days (almost half the time period). In other words, 157 times more Israeli’s were killed as a result of the Lebanese invasion in one month than died in Palestine in two months (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, August 26, 2006). The Jewish Lobby’s propaganda campaign in the US Congress, throughout the mass media and even in our small communities in defense of Israel’s “Summer Rain” (raining bombs on civilians) against the Palestinians has been thoroughly exposed as a murderous scorched earth policy by the United Nations report and summarized in the Israeli daily Haaretz (August 27, 2006): “The [campaign] . . . is still taking a severe toll on 1.4 million Palestinians . . . thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes following continuing IDF incursions into the Strip (Gaza) and heavy shelling . . . the Israeli Air Force has conducted 247 aerial assaults in Gaza…more than a million people have been left with no regular supply of water and electricity.” The Lobby, like skilled totalitarians, reverses the roles calling the Palestinian victims (all 202 of them) terrorists and the executioners (the Israeli Defense Force) victims (one dead soldier who was most likely killed by ‘friendly fire’).
George Orwell would have written a scathing essay on the Lobby’s version of Israel’s Animal Farm where one Israeli death is worth more than 202 Palestinians.
In surveying the Daily Alert, the propaganda sheet prepared by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (a semi-official propaganda arm of the Israeli regime) for the Conference of Presidents of Major America Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO), there is not a single mention of the fact that the Jewish state was killing almost 10 Lebanese civilians for each fighter, while the Hezbollah resistance was killing four times as many Israeli soldiers as Israeli civilians (Jews and Gentiles). Not a single opinion article, editorial or commentary reproduced by the Daily Alert, from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The National Telegraph, the New York Sun, USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post or The Times (UK) mentions the fact that Israel’s much ballyhooed “precision” bombing succeeded in targeting civilians, while the Lebanese defenders’ far less sophisticated weaponry mainly hit IDF invaders.
These omissions by the Jewish Lobby and its members and supporters in the Anglo-American-Israeli respectable and yellow press and electronic media were absolutely necessary to perpetuate the myth the Israel was waging a “defensive”, “existential” (sic) war for “survival” against Islamic “terrorists” embodied in Hezbollah and the Lebanese National Resistance.
Was Israel’s destruction of 15,000 homes up to Beirut and beyond to Northern Lebanon defensive actions as the CPMAJO claims? Do these very smart, very wealthy, highly educated Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Hopkins and Chicago-educated apologists for the Israeli invasion really believe that bombing hospitals, supermarkets, water treatments plants, churches and mosques in Southern Lebanon, oil refineries and milk, food and pharmaceutical factories in Beirut, transport, highways and bridges in Northern Lebanon were “existential” acts essential for the survival of the “Jewish State”? Can’t they understand the simple math presented above? The math of genocide? Do the investment bankers, professors, dentists and armies of rabbis of all Talmudic readings believe that Israel is the innocent victim of aggression — justifying the slaughter of over 90% Lebanese civilians among those it killed? Such well-educated professionals must know that from January 1996 to August 2006, there were weekly incidents all along the Israeli-Lebanese border, involving Israeli raids, killings and kidnapping of Lebanese civilians, as well as rocket firing in both directions. Didn’t the Hollywood moguls who gave so generously to the Israeli war machine know that Elliott Abrams, President Bush’s chief adviser on the Middle East (stern defender of Jewish purity and intimate collaborator with the Israeli high command) gave full support in early summer to an Israeli plan to destroy Hezbollah, at least one month before the border incident (see Seymour Hersh, “Watching Lebanon,” The New Yorker, August 21, 2006)?
Of course the educated elites know all about the Israeli lust for power and dominance –unlike the good Germans in the 1940s, who claimed they didn’t see the smoking chimneys or the grim trains — as today images of devastated apartments and slaughtered children were visible, easily accessible and followed by well-publicized reports by all the human rights groups on Israel’s crimes against humanity. They knew and supported Israel’s crimes before and after the ceasefire — and they proudly chose to endorse the war, the policies and the state as true accomplices after the fact.
Yet the Jewish Lobby tells us that Hezbollah’s kidnapping of two soldiers across the Israeli border was the detonator for a full-scale invasion. Numerous sources around the world even dispute the Israeli account of a Hezbollah cross-border attack. According to the big business US magazine Forbes (July 12, 2006), the French news service AFP (July 12, 2006), the respectable Asia Times (July 15, 2006) and the Lebanese police, the Israeli soldiers were captured within Lebanon in the area of Ai’tu Al-Chaarb, a Lebanese village a few kilometers from the Israeli border.
While the Jewish lobby raises funds exclusively for Israeli-Jewish soldiers and civilians, Hezbollah is engaged in a non-sectarian reconstruction program that embraces all Lebanese communities and households, regardless of religious or ethnic preferences. The reason is found in the fact that the Lebanese resistance was a national movement. Contrary to the Lobby’s propaganda, the Lebanese resistance was not exclusively Shia or even Muslim in make-up. Israel’s invasion managed to united Lebanon’s factions in defense of their homeland. Of the 93 Lebanese fighters killed, 20% were from organizations other than Hezbollah, a point ignored by the Lobby’s ideologues, who pursue Israel’s policy of pushing the US to attack Iran, Syria and other Middle East states known to be hostile to Israel’s hegemonic ambitions.
In both Israel and throughout the pro-Israel Jewish networks, the Israeli military’s failure to achieve its goal of defeating and eliminating the Lebanese resistance, particularly Hezbollah, has had a major impact. In Israel, the major criticism of the Olmert-Perez regime and General Halutz from both soldiers and civilians is that the government was too weak — there was insufficient bombing, lack of sufficient ground troops and too much concern for Lebanese civilians. The cease-fire, they complained, was premature; the territory occupied was too limited. Likud and other parties in the Knesset called for the bombing of Syria and Iran.
While many US and Israeli progressives cited the “turmoil”, “dissent” and harsh polemics in the aftermath of the war as typical of the “rough and tumble” of Israel’s democracy, they ignored the savage militarist substance and ultra-rightwing direction of Israeli public opinion. The “who lost the war” polemics in Israel is basically anchored in preparations for a new, more violent attack on Lebanon and other adversaries of Israel.
This militaristic rage is manifested in the brutal daily assaults on the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank where Israeli warplanes bomb homes and ground forces assassinate and injure dozens of civilians – “existential” murders against stone-throwing schoolboys. Israel’s rage has affected Jewish religious notables. The Rabbinical Council of America called for the Israeli military to re-evaluate its military rules of war in light of Hezbollah’s “unconscionable use of civilians, hospitals, ambulances, mosques and the like as human shields,” according to the Jerusalem Post (August 21, 2006). The RCA and the modern Orthodox women’s organization, Eminah, represent over one million US Jews. Their call to maximize civilian deaths in order to lessen the “risk” to “our” (Israeli Jewish) soldiers is in the finest spirit of Nazi chaplains egging on the Wehrmacht’s scorched earth policy during World War II. Their Israeli counterparts, Rabbis Eliyahu and Drori, echoed the RCA’s “delicate criticisms” in more colorful and uninhibited terms: “Our corrupt military, which tells us that our soldiers must endanger their lives to protect enemy civilians, is the reason we lost the war,” according to the gentle Rabbi Eliyahu, who sees all non-Jewish civilians opposing Israeli policy as enemies worthy of incineration. Not to be outdone, the good Rabbi Drori accused the rest of Western humanity of being “anti-Semites” for being horrified at Israel’s savage destruction. “Anti-Semites demand that we use Christian morality while our enemies act like barbarians.” (Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2006) Apparently the killing and maiming of over a thousand Lebanese civilians, mostly women and children, does not satisfy this raging bull Rabbi.
Lest one think that these US and Israeli Rabbis are simply loose cannons or isolated psychopaths, three weeks earlier one Rabbi Dov Lior, in the name of the Yesh Council of Rabbis (with hundreds of thousands of Israeli followers), announced that “when our enemies hold a baby in one hand and shoot us with the other, or when missiles are purposely aimed at civilian populations in the Land of Israel in blatant disregard for moral criteria, we are obligated to act according to Jewish morality, which dictates that ‘he who gets up to kill you, get up yourself and kill him first.’” (Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2006) The holy men of the Holy Land are providing a post-factum religious blessing for the more than three hundred Lebanese children killed and urging the future killing of even more children. All this, we are told, is according to “Jewish morality.” Surely many US Jews, especially liberals and even conservatives, object to rabbinical fiats for the slaughter of children, but we are deafened by their polite silence. The Lobby conveniently ignores the Jewish morality spiel, even as it defends the “moderate” secular line of Israeli civilian deaths resulting from Hezbollah using Lebanese babies and old grannies as shields to commit their crimes. So we have a raging debate among US and Israeli rabbis, and secular and religious apologists over whether killing Lebanese civilians and children is based on tactical military or religious-ethical considerations.
The Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, David A. Harris, puts to the lie the nasty bit of propaganda by US “Left” Zionists who downplay the role of the Jewish Lobby in securing whole-hearted US White House and Congressional support for Israel’s destruction of Lebanon. In discussing US subservience to Israel, Harris stated, “No other nation has been prepared to define such an intimate relationship with Israel in all bilateral spheres — from arms sales, foreign aid and intelligence-sharing to a free-trade zone, scientific co-operation and diplomatic support. No other nation has the capacity, by dint of its size and stature, to help ensure Israel’s quest for a secure and lasting peace ]sic] . . . In the recent conflict with Hezbollah, once again the United States demonstrated its willingness to stand by Israel, provide vital support and withstand the pressure of many US allies who would have wished for an earlier end to the fighting even if it meant keeping Hezbollah largely intact and in place . . . Whatever the primary factor, there can be no doubt that American Jewry is an essential element of the equation (yoking the US to Israel). This is all the more reason why American Jewry need to work day in and day out to ensure that the mutually beneficial link [sic] goes from strength to strength.” (Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2006)
In plain English, the Jewish networks and lobbies were able to secure 98 percent support from Congress for a resolution supporting Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, even as 54 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans favor a policy of neutrality as opposed to alignment with Israel. (Times-Bloomberg Poll, July 25-August 1, 2006, published in the Jewish Telegraph Agency — August 15, 2006) The Lobby convinced, pressured and threatened the White House to prolong the Israeli terror bombing as Harris so proudly announced. The Jewish Lobby does work “day in and day out” to make sure that Israel can ethnically cleanse Palestine, drop five-ton bombs on Lebanese apartment buildings, bulldoze villages and isolate the US from even its closest allies at the expense of the US taxpayers, our democratic ideals and our sovereignty. And the American Jewish Committee has the chutzpah (arrogance) to say that it is “our mutually beneficial link.” Now that is a bit of political dishonesty!
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is, The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at: [email protected].