Sunday, November 25, 2007
Atrocity Reporting posted by Richard Seymour
The cruelty of Western states is reported with breath-taking equanimity. Take this, for example. Marie Colvin of The Times describes Hamas ruling Gaza "through fear" with "impressive" armouries, including the sorts of measly weaponry used by insurgents against the Megadeath Occupation of Mesopotamia. The article describes the growing "isolation" of the Hamas government there:
Gaza is growing more and more isolated. Israel controls the borders, land and sea, and has closed the crossings since June. Food prices have rocketed, unemployment is at 70% because no materials can be imported and nothing can be exported. Israel cut fuel supplies last month and has said it will cut electricity supplies from Sunday.
In the latest sign of its total international isolation, Hamas, although democratically elected in 2006, has been excluded from the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tuesday.
What the reporter is describing here are unconscionable war crimes. The starving of the Palestinian population as punishment for having elected the wrong people, the economic blockade, the cutting off of fuel supplies and electricity - all of which we have seen many times - are criminal acts designed to torture the Palestinian population into submission. The vicious doctrine of collective punishment, perpetrated by colonial and imperialist states far more effectively and bloodily than by anti-colonial combatants, is neutrally described and tacitly applauded. In fact, the logic of this approach is genocidal - it starves Palestinians to death for being Palestinians, with absolute foreknowledge. The policy is applied, that is, with intent to destroy (and Britain bears special responsibility for it). There is a raft of other examples of vindictive targeting of the civilian population, and practically every human rights organisation active there reports consistent targeting of civilians and the use of them as human shields. Only something truly evil could legitimise this aggression, and The Times does its best to produce the desired turpitude with some lurid reportage of the growing repressiveness of Hamas' rule - mainly attributable to the state of seige - and this in particular:
The organisation’s isolation comes from its refusal to recognise the existence of Israel, renounce violence or abide by any agreements signed between Palestinians and Israel.
The quoted sentence is composed entirely of lies. It is false from start to full-stop. Hamas has: recognised the existence of Israel in signed documents; engaged in unilateral ceasefires while Israel continued to attack Palestine, build settlements, harrass civilians, and murder people; recognised agreements made between Israel and the PLO despite a provocative ongoing Quad-orchestrated embargo. It was Hamas' leaders who called for a long-term ceasefire to negotiate a settlement, and the US and Israel who contemptuously dismissed it. Hamas must recogise Israel, while no one must recogise Palestine, and no one does; Hamas must renounce violence, while Israel must have the right to violence at the drop of a hat; Hamas must respect agreements, while Israel drops them from one day to the next and then casually lies about it. Israel's claimed 'rights' are unique and extravagant, while even the most minimal rights of Palestinians - even of Hamas - are completely igored. Even to this day, Hamas is exhibiting remarkable restraint as Israeli troops enter Gaza and murder people in cold blood. Of course, the Reuters report makes no mention of the fact that Israeli troops have no business being in Gaza, while Gazan "militants" have every business patrolling the street). The fact that the exclusion of one of the main political forces in Palestine makes a complete mockery of any claim that the current discussions constitute a peace process is also gently glossed over.
The US-sponsored 'peace process' in Annapolis is of course nothing to do with peace, and the exclusion of Hamas reflects both its refusal to accept the conquerors' terms in negotiations and the growing US reliance on its local attack dog. The US has conquered Iraq, but its power in the region is diminishing in the long-term. In the aftermath of the demise of Arab nationalism and the USSR, the US had every reason to be confident. In the absence of an alternative model, much of the Arab left collapsed into support for neoliberalism, and even imperialism. Even the most apparently militant Islamists could eventually be coopted and integrated into an American-led global system. The aggressive strike for Iraq, desired throughout the 1990s by both Democrats and Republicans, was supposed to finish that process, taking out a remaining bastion of Arab nationalism and turning the place into another Saudi Arabia. Iran, suitably chastened, would rush to be even more accomodating. America's puppet president in Egypt, the second largest local recipient of aid, is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The pressure on Syria hasn't produced much effect. The capitulation of the Libyan regime was probably a delayed response to the end of the Cold War, and could have been had much earlier were it not for the spurious and unravelling attempt to pin Lockerbie on Qadafi. Lebanon's current crisis may produce a bloody civil war, but it is unlikely to diminish the standing of Hezbollah or produce a hegemonic pro-US regime. If we fail to end the occupation soon, Iraq could well still end up with a broadly pliable regime along with military bases, but even then it is not going to be the chump-state of Ahmed Chalabi's promises. In this context, the US needs Israel more than ever (and vice versa). Any thought that the US might pressure its Levantine mini-me into making some concessions has had to be abandoned. Even the ridiculous 'Road Map', issued when the US thought it was winning in Iraq, is well past its sell-by date. The plan now appears to be to secure complete capitulation from a Fatah-led rump, which will be no difficult matter, who will then be used to intensify the stranglehold on Gaza before eventually finishing Hamas off. Fatah is now in a unique position - it could never control Gaza on its own, and its control over the West Bank is questionable. It relies on Pax Americana more than ever before. That ensures its long-term acceptance of and complicity in crimes against the population it is supposed to represent - for which we will be invited to blame Hamas.