In the days since the Israeli armed forces attacked an unarmed aid convoy in the international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, Americans have been treated to a growing Israeli fiction: We were merely defending ourselves against invaders. The incredible rationale is that when we invaded their vessels, those people fought back, and we only used force as necessary to defend ourselves. That the attack was unprovoked, and that the vessels attacked were unarmed is glossed over in the same manner that Israeli uses of depleted uranium and white phosphorus weapons in the December 2008, January 2009 attacks on Gaza were swept under the rug.
With virtually unchallenged access (ownership -ed) to mainstream media, the Zionists and their supporters are busily wiring together the Israeli version of this assault. The epitome of apologists is probably Charles Krauthammer in the June 4 Washington Post piece: "Those Troublesome Jews." A more balanced and historically rooted piece by Uri Avnery, an Israeli activist, puts the Israeli crime squarely on the shoulders of Netanyahu and his Zionist cabinet. Meanwhile Israeli forces have stopped another vessel, the Rachel Corrie and are towing it to shore in a repeat performance.
In failing to react to Monday's attack, American leadership has dug itself a hole that now may be deepening. President Obama's excuse is that he was waiting for more information about these tragic events before taking a position. His reaction and those of the great majority of political Washington, especially the Congress, raise real doubts as to whether US leadership appreciates how deadly the Israeli attack was for American interests, and such ignorance seems to have kept it from calling the Israelis to account for this attack.
The accumulating evidences of the US supported 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon, the US supplied Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2009/January 2010, the attack on the Turkish-led aid flotilla, and this morning's reported capture of the Rachel Corrie cast the US in an increasingly unfavorable light. It has become a willing and hardly silent partner in a pattern of regional Israeli military aggression.
These episodes further inflame the festering sores on US policy toward Gaza. In late 2005 the US promoted an election in Palestine in the hope of strengthening the rule of the Fatah Party and the successor to Yasser Arafat. The US reading of the Palestinian situation was that Arafat's former deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah supporters would be shoo-ins. However, despite the alleged amounts of US and Israeli intelligence in the region-backed to be sure by British and other readings- and their financial support for Fatah, the collective outsider view of Palestine was erroneous. The reason was the increasingly important and popular leadership role Hamas had come to play.
Americans, blinded by their view that Hamas was a terrorist organization, had failed to take on board the fact that Hamas, much more solidly than Fatah, understood and represented the interests of the Palestinian people. Moreover, Hamas was both a good political system manager and an honest one. In its posture the US simply hooked its wagon to the wrong star, and Hamas won the right to rule Palestine. By the estimates of experienced outside observers such as former president Jimmy Carter, the Hamas victory was fair and square.
With a parliamentary majority, Hamas formed a government, but Abbas, with the US and Israel prompting from the sidelines, was not prepared to play. He could be a Palestinian president of Fatah but running the country with a parliamentary majority of Hamas. His decision, apparently shared by the US and Israel, was to split the government, leave Hamas in charge-whatever that would mean-in Gaza, and move the nominal Palestinian seat of government to Ramallah. Ironically, Ramallah had been, by Israeli design and enforcement, Yasser Arafat's pre demise prison in the West Bank. While he is free to come and go on Israeli/US approved errands, Abbas has became a very similar prisoner.
The scenario for this gambit was to make Abbas and his Fatah following comfortable in the West Bank, protect them well from possible political enfilading by Hamas that had considerable following in the West Bank as well, and basically ignore the Palestinians under Hamas in Gaza. Abbas obviously was afraid that he lacked the political following to defeat Hamas in an electoral gambit. Thus, the solution was to enjoy the comforts of a protected, basically Israeli/American controlled environment in the West Bank, and let Hamas cope as well as it might with the stringencies of life in an isolated Gaza.
Hamas proved impossible to dislodge in Gaza. While Israel and his US masters in the West Bank made Abbas and his followers comfortable, the pressure on Hamas and Gaza was unrelenting. Meanwhile, if much less than perfectly, Hamas was coping for the people in Gaza. Their principal tool was smuggling which, as any Middle East hand knows, is the most common way of doing business in many border areas. Despite an onerous Israeli blockade, the Gaza Palestinians, aided and abetted by established trans-border tunnels and smugglers in the Mediterranean and in the border regions of Egypt, managed to survive.
Gaza became a complex political agenda. Abbas knew he and his Fatah party could not defeat Hamas candidates in a fair election, and a Fatah attempt militarily to unseat Hamas failed. Israeli leaders knew that Hamas articulated the central Palestinian agenda far more clearly than Fatah. That meant Hamas stood for the primary Palestinian agenda including (a) the right of return for Palestinians, (b) compensation for Palestinians whose lands in Israel had been confiscated by Israelis, (c) a two state solution with at least all the territory in the Gaza and West Bank territories represented by the 1967 truce line, and (d) a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. In that context, Hamas would recognize Israel when Israel recognized Palestine.
All of that represented pure anathema to the proponents of Greater Israel. Scaled down to the possible dimensions of the 21stcentury, Greater Israel would be the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. There was no room in it for Palestinians. The fact that the proponents of Greater Israel, really the Ashkenazim Khazars of Central Europe, were neither ethnic Jews nor people of the book, did not interfere with their aim to claim the whole of Palestine. That dream map included some pieces that belong to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.
Meanwhile, Egyptian leadership would be happy to dispose of Hamas, since it sprang from a political faction in Egypt that has become increasingly popular. Given half a chance this group, the Muslim Brotherhood, along with other oppositionists, would grow into a full-fledged political challenge to the ruling elite. The Egyptian republic that is essentially a closed dynastic system was founded in 1953 by Mohamed Naguib.
He was followed shortly by Gamal Abdel Nasser and blessed by only two captains since-Anwar el Sadat who was assassinated in 1981, and Hosni Mubarak who, after almost thirty years in power, is presently trying to pass the mantle to his son. The possibility of an elected Hamas-like government elected by the people of Egypt does not sit well with the Mubarak oligarchs. Hamas, as a political force in Gaza is an attractive nuisance to the present Egyptian regime.
In this complex of Palestinian political separatism, Israeli ambition to gain the whole of Palestine, Egyptian desires to limit if not eradicate the political force represented by Hamas, and the desires of surrounding countries eventually to lose their Palestinian refugee populations, the unpleasant events of the past few years have transpired. The political success of Hamas was a severe shock to many in the neighborhood, but Hamas has proved politically more acceptable to Arab governments than Fatah. In addition, the United States, having billed Hamas as a terrorist group because it attacks Israel, especially in the border areas of Gaza, seems determined not to recognize Hamas as a viable political force, no matter how well it takes care of its charges in Gaza.
The Israeli attacks on the Turkish led deliverers of assistance to Gaza are inevitably entangled in that history. Muted or non-existent reactions to Israeli excesses in dealing with Gaza suggest that the Zionists can proceed with their Greater Israel campaign without serious outside resistance. By preventing the people of Gaza from rebuilding, while trying to starve them into leaving, Gaza can be retained as part of Greater Israel. Moreover, any Palestinian resistance to this process will be dismissed as terrorism or simply ignored.
The United States has been unable to take a detached stance on the flotilla attacks because its leadership is too deeply in bed with the Israelis as well as ideologically indisposed to consider Hamas a viable Palestinian political force. Even polite Israeli society would be more comfortable if there were no Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli leadership fears Hamas because it defines a Palestinian agenda that would be the death of any concept of Greater Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, at least moderately comfortable under Israeli and US protection in the West Bank, would not mourn the end of Hamas rule in Gaza even if it were to result from stopping the flotillas of assistance that help keep the people of Gaza alive.
The Israeli goal is to keep the Palestinian society in Gaza from getting back on its feet. Apologists say that all the aid-giving groups have to do is land the stuff in Israel and the Israelis will deliver it to Gaza. But Israel now permits only about a quarter of the necessary supplies of food and medicine-and no building materials-to enter Gaza. Rebuilding would give the Palestinians a permanence that simply is inconsistent with making room for Greater Israel. In that context, we can expect continuing Israel Defense Force efforts to limit or prevent assistance to Gaza.
Meanwhile the Palestinian people, ever more tightly crowded into shrinking Bantustans of land in the West Bank, see their chances for a Palestinian homeland diminished daily by Israeli land confiscation. The Israeli settlements of recent news mention can only happen by confiscating more land from its Palestinian owners. Wealthy Americans who are credited by Israelis with generously spending their money to expand settlements have to know that the land belongs to Palestinians who are not paid for it. In this context, many well-meaning people--Turkish, American, Muslim country, European, and others-find their efforts to help the Palestinian people frustrated by attackers whose agenda includes the eventual elimination of all Palestinians from the Holy Land. The Israeli attacks on the aid flotillas are only the recent crimes in this long brewing tragedy.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose overseas service included tours in Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Brazil. His immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning. He will welcome comment at