05 July 2006

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...

Jim Putnam comments on the latest bloodletting in Gaza.

Sometimes I am hopeful of common sense one day prevailing in this part of the world. Other times I despair. Thirty years I've been going through this cycle ... but I don't, of course, go through it in the same terrible way, with the same appalling costs, as those who still live there.

Isra'el didn't brew the crime and tragedy which is the displaced Palestinian Arab population. Nor did the Palestinians themselves. The rest of the world did that, or at least the power politics of one northern quarter. British post imperialism, Nazism, other European skirmishers, the governments of new Arab states playing the religion card in their own fratricidal manoeuverings, the new superpowers USA and USSR ... it's hard to find anyone in this part of the world who did not have a greedy finger stirring the woeful pot of human misery. And nor is Isra'el the only partner in the endless dance of death which has followed - it takes two to tango. But Isra'el has shown a consistent suicidal commitment to the triumph of violence over commonsense.

Every Isra'eli strike against Palestinians in general for guerrilla and/or terrorist action by specific Palestinian individuals has generated among the survivors new ranks of enemies fuelled by predictable hatred. Isra'eli measures have ensured that new generations have grown up in abject hopelessness, seeing no hope of release so falling back on Pyrrhic violence instead.

Whenever both sides get so weary that a breakthrough seems possible, some militarist faction on the Palestinian side predictably mounts a provocative and highly visible atrocity. An equally predictable, equally militarist knee jerk within the Isra'eli body politic then launches a spectacularly visible pyrotechnic response against Palestinians as a whole. And so the cycle starts again. Only Isra'el can cut this Gordian knot, not because Isra'el is the singular villain of the piece but because only Isra'el has the coherence and power to maintain rapprochement with the mass of Palestinians who would love to regain dignity, peace, affluence. A truly sovereign Palestinian state which could perhaps provide the Palestinians with those things has for a long time been the only hope Isra'el has of lasting peaceful existence - and yet Isra'el, locked into the orgy of mutual destruction, specifically undermines and degrades any moves towards such an entity.

The cutting of lifelines to which Jim refers is the latest in a heartbreaking continuum of such actions over the five (nearly six) decades since the touch paper was lit.

Only Isra'el can cut the knot. But Isra'el, psychologically, cannot do so. So, she has to be placed in a situation where she has "no alternative" (a favourite mantra throughout her history, once true but now a self delusion) - for her own good as well as for that of the Palestinians who pay most of the ongoing human costs. There is only one way in which that can be done, and only one direction from which it can come.

The US bankrolls Isra'eli power. If the US cut the financial lines which maintain her interdictive military power, the cycle would become unsustainable. It's that simple. Actually cutting it isn't strictly necessary; Isra'eli belief that a US ultimatum (you cut the Gordian knot, or we cut the gold seam) was seriously meant would have the same effect.

So, ultimately, every day and every death and every blighted life, Palestinian or Isra'eli, is blood on US hands. Not because the US is bad (she's not - she's as much of a moral muddle as any other liberal democracy) but because she just happens to have the power to change things - and nobody else does. But morally all of us who are US allies, or citizens of a US ally, share the guilt. If we don't tell our friends where the right path lies, we are as much to blame as they when they take the wrong one.

The US must tell Isra'el where its right path lies. We, all of us, governments or citizens, must bluntly and without circumlocution do the same for the US. In either case, if we obsequiously tell palatable untruths or even keep quiet about unpalatable ones, we are false friends. The situation exists because we all failed to act with moral integrity in the last century; it continues because we so far fail to do so again in this one.

The quotation with I have approximately titled this post is, of course, from Edmund Burke. To paraphrase in modern terms, it continues "...is for good people to do nothing".

Jim is a US citizen, and is calling his country to account. All power to him. The rest of us need to follow.

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