Thursday, July 15, 2010

Run Like Hell: The West is finally wise that Zionist treason in high places compels the Mideast imbroglio

David Hirst interviewed
(Pulse) --

Veteran Middle East correspondent David Hirst, author of the seminal work on the Palestinian plight The Gun and the Olive Branch, has a new release: Beware of Small States, an equally important book on Lebanon’s complex tragedy. The Electronic Intifada contributor Robin Yassin-Kassab interviewed Hirst on his work and views...

RYK: The subtitle of your 1977 book The Gun and the Olive Branch is “The Roots of Violence in the Middle East.” Would you agree that yours was one of the first books (of those widely-available in the Anglo-Saxon world) to contextualize Palestinian violence against the backdrop of Zionist violence and Palestinian dispossession? What was the response to your book back then?

DH: I guess so. But that this should have been so is basically a measure of just how far that Western orthodoxy about the nature and moralities of the Arab-Israeli conflict parted company with historic truth and essential fairness. It is not as if my book discovered or vouchsafed anything really new. All the research had been done for me by earlier scholars. But it seems that I was at that time one of the few Westerners to put the history together in the form of a straightforward narrative setting Palestinian violence against Zionist/Israeli violence, a narrative whose basic conclusion was that the Zionists essentially pioneered the violence in pursuit of their political purposes — at their most dramatic and premeditated the ethnic cleansing of the territory they coveted — whereas Palestinian violence and terror has been essentially reactive.

RYK: Why has the West, in media and cultural production as well as in its geostrategy, tended to be partial to the Zionist narrative of the Middle East?

DH: For all the well-known reasons that have been rehearsed a thousand times. Biblico-Christian sentiment, Western guilt complex, admiration for the rugged, idealistic early Zionist settlers and their achievement in “making the desert bloom” and all that, highly effective Jewish/Zionist propaganda and influence within the corridors of Western power. On the geostrategic level, I don’t agree with the idea that Israel has been a valuable asset or ally in the service of an “imperial” or “neo-imperial” America. Quite the contrary, nothing has been historically more damaging than Israel itself to America’s interests, legitimate or otherwise, and its image in the region.

It is basically a measure of the quite extraordinary, disproportionate influence of the “friends of Israel” — AIPAC and company — that they get American politicians to buy the thesis that Israel deserves the support that the US lavishes on it not only because it shares Western “values” (which it increasingly doesn’t), or it is “the only democracy in the Middle East” (which it increasingly isn’t), but because it is to the strategic and political benefit of the US itself. This is not to say that Israel cannot in certain circumstances render services to the US — a classic example would be Israel’s readiness to rescue King Hussein in Black September 1970 — but that begs the question: who created the circumstances in which such a service was necessary in the first place? And the essential, underlying, perennial answer is that Israel itself, and its behavior towards the Arab region in which it implanted itself, is the principal cause of these kinds of crises and emergencies; and that they constitute threats to US interests because, in its deference to all things Israeli, it allows its interests get inextricably mixed up with those of its proteges. Even before Israel came into being the Zionists and their friends felt the need to promote a “strategic” argument for the creation of a Jewish state — that it would protect the British imperial life-line to the East — that was as spurious as its American descendant is today.

RYK: How have Western perceptions of the Israel-Palestine issue and the wider Israeli-Arab conflict shifted in the years since The Gun and the Olive Branch was published? Why?

DH: Public opinion is clearly changing at an accelerating pace, and will continue to do so the more obviously the nature and characteristic activities of Israel collide at variance with Western “values” and interests. In general governments and political classes lag behind their publics in their perception of this, or, at least, fearful of having to “take on” Israel, they are loath to acknowledge it in public. Hence their continued reluctance to adopt the truly impartial or “even-handed” attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict that alone could bring about the “Middle East peace” they so solemnly proclaim they want.

RYK: Do you think the greater visibility of the Israel lobby in the West, partly because of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, partly as a result of changes in the American Jewish community, will have a positive effect on Western policy?

DH: The extraordinary outrage, hysteria almost, that greeted the publication of their book — sober, scholarly, unassailably objective presentation of its topic though it was — and the manifest reluctance of the mainstream media and of course the US political establishment to be seen to endorse its conclusions, is just another demonstration of how very powerful — and spoiled — that lobby is, but also, I think, how eventually vulnerable it is too. I just don’t think AIPAC and the like can go on like this for ever, with their bigotry on Israel’s behalf, their specious arguments and their disdain for America’s true interests in the region, as opposed to those which they define for it; they are pushing their luck and the harder they do so the stronger will be the eventual backlash against themselves and the foreign state they promote.

RYK: Should we believe that US President Barack Obama’s different tack on peace-making will go anywhere? Is a two-state solution still a realistic possibility?

DH: Only if Obama summons up the determination to “impose” a solution along the lines I suggest in my book. Though more promising than any other American president in recent times, I don’t think he will. The “friends of Israel” in America are still too strong...MORE...LINK

No comments: