|Greater Middle East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Identification Card of Ahmad Said, a Palestinian refugee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), the Golan Heights, and portions of neighbouring countries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It may be just a hangover from my training as a journalist, but there is one enormous question that begs to be asked in anything one sees on TV to do with the Middle East, but that remains unasked, to my intense fury. From President Obama down to the merest TV journalist in an AlJazeera or BBC interview show, they all seem unable to, or are not allowed to, ask the question. “What about Israel’s hydrogen bomb?”
These people can go chuntering on, month after month, year after year, acting as if such a 400-strong weapons nuclear arsenal as Israel has in its possession does not even exist. They can sit there fulminating against Iran’s desire to enrich uranium so that it could conceivably be made into a bomb, pretending that this could destabilize the Middle East, and simultaneously they act as if Israel’s actual possession of this enormous nuclear arsenal is irrelevant.
Just today, however, I finally heard a commentator ask the question. Phyllis Bennis, an intelligent, informed, and radical American commentator on global affairs, said at the beginning of a discussion on Al Jazeers’s Inside Story show, that the Israeli arsenal should be front and centre of anything to do with discussion of the Iranian nuclear issue. Nobody ever mentions it, she said. Obama won’t mention it, it is unmentionable in Israel which doesn’t even admit to having it, Israeli journalists are not allowed to write about it, and yet it overhangs every discussion about power in the Middle East.
The Israeli journalist, a reporter for an Israeli daily newspaper, said he was happy to talk about it, but the reason it was never mentioned was because it was irrelevant.
With this staggering pronunciamento it can be imagined the discussion got off on a rather irascible tone, with the Israeli, as in most such discussions, continuing to present a view of the world totally at odds with everyone else.
This seems to be the distinguishing pattern of Israeli life these days, to be out of sync with everyone living around them. The reason seems clear enough: because ever since the nation was founded, the Zionists in control of it have followed an at-first hidden, lately more frankly admitted agenda, which is pursuit of what seems to be Israel’s ultimate objective, namely, to control all of the land of Palestine, instead of just the 78 per cent of it they have won in various wars against the Arabs.
The international situation cannot be doubted: Israel should withdraw its occupation of the West Bank territories, as they are known, where, since the Oslo accords, the Palestinian .authority has exerted a sort of strangulated power under Israeli control. The Arab summit as long ago as 2002 offered peace to the Israelis if they would do what is expected of them by almost everyone except the United States, the nation that is loyally, but on the whole fairly silently, followed by other Western powers.
The evidence that Israel has developed from that progressive, productive, peaceful nation it set out to be, and which was so heartily admired by the rest of the world, into a repressive, obstructive power that illegally continues to occupy land it has conquered, and that regularly violates every international regulation covering international relations and the rules of war by brutally attacking the defenceless refugees who live around it, is by now clear to everyone. Tens of thousands of these refugees have been killed in merciless attacks, culminating in that of last summer whose brutality it was difficult to believe and painful to witness, even on TV.
Jeff Halper, the director of the small but brave organization Israelis Against House Demolitions, said it bluntly when he spoke in Montreal over the winter: the reality on the ground is that the whole of Palestine, including Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, is already one country, governed by Israel, as the overlord that controls every aspect of life in that whole territory. What is objectionable about this new Israel, he said, is that it has already established a fully-functioning apartheid state where one race rules a subordinate (but numerically larger) race.
How they can get away with this in the full light of international examination beats me. Of course, standing behind them are the United States (and its satrap, Harper’s Canada, to our eternal shame) for whom no barbarity is sufficient to awaken them to the acknowledgement of the injustice to which they should be called by those very values that they are always boasting about as essential to their way of life.
Perhaps those who are more cynical among us will hardly be surprised that a nation in which a policeman shoots a black man every 28 minutes, should be so supportive of a nation that is wilfully slaughtering the neighbours over which it illegally maintains an iron, military control.
I suppose the only way out of this dead end is if more people like the admirable Phyllis Bennis find the courage to talk about things as they really are.