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Jurassic Park, Psuedo-events, and Prisons:
The fallout from Abu Ghraib
[Previous installments of this series have focused on the strategic role of orchestrated bullshit in the current Bush Administration's current Iraq "effort." The staging of events for political advantage is a very ancient art, at least as old as imperialism. Always useful, it's particularly handy when you need to found a state in a territory that happens to be somebody else's home. And if it has irreplaceable natural resources like water or oil, your need for a "founding myth" is all the greater.
In this fourth meditation on pseudo-events, Stan Goff takes a painful look at the contradictions of Zionism - including the appalling episodes of cooperation between early Zionists and Nazis; the ugly similarities among South African, American, and Israeli racist nationalisms; and the brutal Israeli strategy of water hegemony. -JAH]
HAMMOND: It's just a delay. All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked.
MALCOLM: Yeah, but John, when the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.
- Jurassic Park
Some defense officials said privately in interviews that the plan in place for security after Baghdad's fall has been an utter failure. They said it failed to predict any significant resistance from Saddam loyalists, much less the deadly combination of Ba'athist holdouts and foreign terrorists preying daily on American troops. "Every briefing on postwar Iraq I attended never mentioned any of this," said a civilian policy adviser. --Rowan Scarborough,
Washington Times, August 28, 2003
* * *
JUNE 14, 2004: 1600 PDT (FTW) -- Going back to the disparate winds that became a perfect storm initiated by the photos at Abu Ghraib, this installment will begin by talking about that other essential liquid, not crude oil: water.
Imperialism needs its stories, its pseudo-realities and pseudo-events, but it also needs its material. If the industrial-capitalist world-system needs oil as the basis of its continued capital accumulation, the human beings who inhabit and form part of this system need water.
Oil, water, food. These are tied together more tightly than the Gordian knot. And the pressure of their convergence is highest where the resources are most scarce, or most hotly contested, or both: behold the Holy Land.
Instead of beginning an examination of Palestine and Israel with a study of religion and ethnicity (let's not forget that 40% of Palestinians are Christian), we should begin by looking at water.
It's hard not to take for granted what we have abusively wasted for so long. But it turns out that, despite the cherished illusions of the west, there is no cosmic faucet from which potable fresh water springs eternal. We'll figure that out soon enough, because it's becoming uncomfortably obvious as geopolitics and climate change combine to make us even thirstier than our 40,000 square miles of suburban lawns.1
Peter Grimes of Johns Hopkins University writes about water globally:
A closely related problem emerging in recent years has been a growing shortage of fresh water. The aspect of the global water cycle of concern here is the rate of flow. Fresh water on land is renewed by ocean evaporation (and desalinization) followed by rain over land, after which it eventually returns to the sea. Over geological time, fresh water has accumulated in glacial snow packs and underground aquifers. [my emphasis] (A huge example of the latter is the "Oglala Aquifer"--named after the Sioux tribe-which stretches from the Dakotas south as far as Kansas and Colorado.) The demand for fresh water for both irrigation (currently 70% of global demand and urbanization has come to exceed the flow provided by rain, most severely in drought-prone areas. To compensate, deeper wells have tapped aquifers. The Oglala Aquifer has been tapped to supply Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and farms in southern California to augment the flow of the Colorado River (itself so drained that during some summers it no longer makes it to the ocean).
In the Middle East, water access is an important obstacle to peace talks, and rationing is in effect along the Gaza strip. [my emphasis] In the former Soviet Union, the Aral Sea has contracted 50%, and the remainder has dangerous levels of salinity and petro-toxins. Over the short term, the retreat of glacial snow packs adds to river flow in more temperate climates, but that is at best a mixed blessing. We are collectively consuming our water "capital", which will ultimately require restoration of the balance via a massive contraction of use. This can only mean sharp contractions of agricultural output and urban size or use. In the first few millennia of human agriculture, it was not understood that continuous irrigation eventually deposited enough salt on the soil surface that fertility disappeared. In an analogous fashion, only now is it also becoming clear that continuous irrigation from wells liberates arsenic from its bonds to the soil, creating a gradual build-up of arsenic in the well water.
Arsenic is a cumulative toxin for which there is no known cure. Recently the BBC reported that the British Geological Survey has discovered that the problem has become so widespread in Bangladesh and parts of India that an estimated 30-60 million people are being poisoned by their well water…
Put simply, current technologies used in global food production have achieved their historic highs of yield/acre only by supplementing natural energy inputs with ever-larger amounts of fossil fuel. Insofar as there are limits to the supply of fossil fuels, the enormous subsidy they provide must eventually grow smaller and finally stop altogether.
[Interesting that he should mention the Sioux, since the situation of the Palestinians bears strong resemblances to that of the Indian nations in the US (who were named thus by Europeans not because Columbus thought he was in India - a popular grade school myth - but because at first - before they were marked for enslavement and genocide - they were perceived to be close to God, in Spanish, Dios… in-dios). We'll return to this comparison.]
For a better grasp of water politics, which is obviously closely related to fossil energy politics and military issues, I'll refer to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, who lists the following forms of "water conflict":
Control of Water Resources (state and non-state actors): where water supply or access to water is at the root of tensions.
Military Tool (state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation or state as a weapon during a military action.
Political Tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal.
Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems, are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors.
Military Target (state actors): where water resource systems are targets of military actions by nations or states.
Development Disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute in the context of economic and social development.
Since the pre-emptive attack by Israel on Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon in 1967 - an attack during which Israeli fighter planes also deliberately attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 and wounding 172 US troops, to prevent the American intelligence craft from seeing what they were doing - Israel has occupied the West Bank of Jordan, the Gaza strip of Egypt, and the Golan Heights of Syria. They only recently abandoned the occupation of a "buffer zone" in Lebanon.
(Israel and its American apologists still claim the attack on the USS Liberty was an accident, but the "accident" went on for 75 minutes, against a uniquely American ship that was clearly flying an American flag. Survivors of the USS Liberty have a web site at http://www.ussliberty.org/.)
There were many reasons given for the attack, most prominently the US-supported fable that an attack was immanent against Israel. But what we never hear is that after that attack and occupation, Israel was left in control of virtually all water resources in Palestinian areas.
The massive and uncritical support of Israel by American elites actually began with this 1967 attack (though the US had been supportive of Israel's role as a military bastion against Arab nationalism as early as the 50s), because of American delight at Israel's destruction of the Egyptian Air Force. Egypt's Nasser is still called the father of Arab nationalism, and he was the head of state in Egypt. This was the definitive action which united Israel and the US in a tactical alliance that served Israel's expansionist goals and the US interest in containing regional independence. Helping to cover up the USS Liberty episode was the first in a now uninterrupted series of actions taken by the US to ensure their new surrogate's impunity.
For Israel, the water question was the key to the land question. And expansion has always been the goal. The headwaters of the Jordan River are in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Aside from the West Bank's underground aquifer, the Jordan - which pools twice in Lake Tiberius and the Dead Sea - constitutes the primary water source for the whole region.
Israel and the US claim the occupation of the annexed Golan Heights of Syria is a military necessity, but this is a key headwater for the Jordan as well.
Israel irrigates the Negev desert for agriculture with so much Lake Tiberius water that very little flows downstream past the Palestinian Bantustans. Israel has since 1967 forbidden Palestinians access to the Lower Jordan, where the Israelis have emplaced illegal settlements.
A study published by the Palestinian Media Center shows:
The average (renewable) quantity of freshwater available in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories per year is slightly over 2.4 billion cubic meters. Israel allocates approximately 90% of this amount to itself, leaving the Palestinian population just over 10%. If water resources were divided into equal per capita shares, Palestinians would receive approximately 45%.
As a result of the severe Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian water supplies, each of the approximately 3.3 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories receives an average of less than 100 litters per capita per day for all uses. This is far less than the 150 litters per day recommended by the World Health Organization as a minimum per capita water availability. The average Israeli on the other hand, uses 353 litters of water per day, over 3.5 times the amount of water Israeli allows the Palestinians. Israeli settlers living illegally in the Occupied Palestinian Territories use up to nine times the volumes provided to Palestinians per capita. This discrimination by Israel violates the human right to water, which was recently recognized by the United Nations.
Israel has closed and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian wells since 1967, and has allowed fewer than 20 new wells to be constructed to replace them. There have been volumes written on the water issue, but nothing of this issue ever seems to surface in the American press, which I will expound in a moment.
Simply review the map below, and it becomes glaringly apparent that the Israeli grab for land is also a grab for water. The blue-green, blue, and black areas are areas under the control of Israeli settlers and the military. One can quickly discern how Palestinians are being forced to higher and higher, less moist and less arable land, while the illegal settlements take the prettiest pieces for themselves.
There is a precedent for the Israeli land theft strategy afoot now in Palestine: the systematic expropriation of Indian land in the US. Through a combination of trickery, massacre, low intensity war, depopulation, and finally emplacement of a network of strategic military bases from which to expand the acquisition of Indian land, the First Nations of North America were pushed into smaller and smaller enclaves that are now represented by a smattering of isolated reservations whose laws are subjugated under the rubric of US law.
In 1895, Cree Chief Piapot said, "In order to become sole masters of our land they relegated us to small reservations as big as my hand and make us long promises, as long as my arm; but the next year the promises were shorter and got shorter every year until no they are the length of my finger, and they keep only half of that." Palestinians would recognize this.
In 1923, Vladimir Jobotinsky wrote The Iron Wall, an essay that laid out a direct comparison of expropriation of the Arabs with the expropriation of the Indians of North America:
There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs, not now, and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority. Each of you has some general understanding of the history of colonization. Try to find even one example when the colonization of a country took place with the agreement of the native population. Such an event has never occurred.
The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists - and it is all the same whether they are cultured or uncultured. The comrades in arms of [Hernan] Cortez or [Francisco] Pizarro conducted themselves like brigands. The Redskins fought with uncompromising fervor against both evil and good-hearted colonizers. The natives struggled because any kind of colonization anywhere at anytime is inadmissible to any native people.
Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.
They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of conquest and colonization is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.
It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and by every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.
Even an agreement with non-Palestinians represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.
We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.
Now an actual wall is being built that captures yet more Palestinian land. Despite the objection of the United States, the wall has just been condemned by a ruling of the International Court of Justice at The Hague on July 9th, 2004. 2 But for the foreseeable future, enforcement of this ruling will remain… elusive. Like a unicorn.
The more recent analogy can be found in Apartheid South Africa, of which Israel made a key ally, where Black South Africans were pushed onto squalid reservations called Bantustans and subjected to "pass laws," much as Palestinians are now. It should not surprise anyone that Chaim Weizmann, the president of the World Zionist Organization that cajoled the British Mandate into awarding them Palestine was a good friend of the vicious South African Apartheid architect, General Jan Smuts.
But we seldom hear of this theft, or of the water. The US press has been so thoroughly intimidated by Zionist publicist/attack dogs, who bait every critic of Israel as an anti-Semite, that they have developed journalistic norms with regard to Palestine-Israel that completely support the Zionist position.
Robin C. Miller's book The Media's Middle East Rules of Engagement is a good primer on how this works, listing ten "rules" that are scrupulously followed and giving examples of each. It can be found at http://www.robincmiller.com/pales8.htm. The outline is:
Rule 1: See the Middle East through Israeli eyes.
Rule 2: Treat American and Israeli governmental statements as hard news.
Rule 3: Ignore the historical context.
Rule 4: Avoid the fundamental legal and moral issues posed by the Israeli occupation.
Rule 5: Suppress or minimize news unfavorable to the Israelis.
Rule 6: Muddy the waters when necessary.
Rule 7: Credit all Israeli claims, even if wholly unfounded.
Rule 8: Doubt all Palestinian assertions, no matter how self-evident.
Rule 9: Condemn only Palestinian violence.
Rule 10: Disparage the international consensus supporting Palestinian rights.
There is an eleventh rule that hovers over all the other rules. Equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. This shuts everyone up. That's why it is so critically important that this Eleventh Rule be challenged loudly and clearly and frequently. Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism. Zionism is not Judaism. Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews. The point is that Zionism raises many questions about what constitutes Jewishness. Israeli Jews are largely secular, so it cannot be called a strictly religious category. Race is not even a scientifically operational term. The Jewish communities around the world are distinctly developed from one another. If Zionism is to define Jewishness for itself, it can only do so – loosely – as the Diaspora, the political utility of which, for example with the African Diaspora, is one where that ‘scattered’ status still results in a common historically conditioned oppression. For Israeli Jews, the contrary is true. They have become not an oppressed nationality, but an oppressing European settler state.
After the 1st Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897, Herzl penned his manifesto, Der Judenstaadt (The Jewish State), in which he used overtly racial-colonial language to describe the process of seizing Palestine from its inhabitants, saying that this new state would be…
"…a rampart of Europe against Asia, of civilization against barbarism… We shall endeavor to encourage the poverty-stricken population [Herzl knew next to nothing about Palestinians] to cross the border by securing work for it in the countries it passes through, while denying it work in our own country. The process of expropriation and displacement must be carried out prudently and discreetly. Let the landowners sell us their land at exorbitant prices. We shall sell nothing back to them."
The British supported this position unequivocally after World War I with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Balfour himself would say in 1919, "In Palestine, we do not even propose to consult the inhabitants of the country and (Zionism's) immediate needs and hopes for the future are much more important than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who presently inhabit Palestine."
One of the most despicable ideological practices of Zionism has been its pimping of the Holocaust to justify Israel's fascist-like treatment of Palestinians. In fact, prominent Zionists consorted with Mussolini, and saw the Holocaust as a great boost for Zionism.
Jabotinsky was an admirer of Mussolini and stated his racism openly and proudly:
It is impossible for a man to become assimilated with people whose blood is different than [sic] his own. In order to become assimilated, he must change his body, he must become one of them, in blood. There can be no assimilation. We shall never allow such things as mixed marriage because the preservation of national integrity is impossible except by means of racial purity and for that purpose we shall have this territory where our people will constitute the racially pure inhabitants.
This founding father of Zionism could have been quoting Adolph Hitler. Now his political offspring want to capitalize on Hitler's monumental crime to legitimate their own crimes.
The irony was that with the blood-and-soil, anti-Semitic fascism that swept up Europe and began the horrifyingly systematic, industrially-rationalized slaughter of European Jewry, and with the closure of western borders (including those of the US) to those desperately escaping genocide, Zionist settlements in Palestine filled up. Zionists themselves actively lobbied western nations to refuse those trying to escape from Hitler's crematoria.
In 1938, Ben Gurion had already stated, "If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative."
As late as 1943, while the Jews of Europe were being exterminated in their millions, the U.S. Congress proposed to set up a commission to "study" the problem. Rabbi Stephen Wise, who was the principal American spokesperson for Zionism, came to Washington to testify against the rescue bill because it would divert attention from the colonization of Palestine. (Sheonman, Ralph, The Hidden History of Zionism)
Zionists actively collaborated with Nazis. This is a verifiable historical fact. Not only did the Zionist Federation of Germany send a resolution of support to the Nazi Party in 1933, "the World Zionist Organization Congress in 1933 defeated a resolution calling for action against Hitler by a vote of 240 to 43." (ibid.)
The history of Zionist collaboration with fascism is barely touched upon here, because my intent is not to paraphrase the history but simply to make my point about the obscenity of Zionists now laying claim to the Nazi Holocaust as justification for the Palestinian Holocaust they are perpetrating to this very day, all the while claiming that the Palestinians and other Arabs are bent on reproducing Nazi Germany's crimes against them.
Jurassic Park again: Ian Malcom, just as he and two companions escape a rampaging Tyrannosaur who has eaten one of their team, asks, "Do you think they'll have that on the tour?"
Does anyone think Israel's present-day hagiographers will talk about collaboration with fascists?
Arab nationalists saw the British-sponsored immigration as a beachhead against their own political aspirations - rightly, as it turned out - and began supporting Palestinian militias who resisted the settlements. This was not resistance against Judaism, a religion, but resistance to an attack on Arab anti-colonial nationalism, a political movement.
Zionist militias were first trained and commanded by a half-crazed, millenarian Christian Zionist officer from Great Britain, named Orde Wingate, who lay around naked eating plain raw onions while he spun out his military theories which, regrettably, actually had some military merit.
David Ben Gurion, often referred to as the George Washington of Israel, was very clear from the beginning that Israel had no intention of respecting the UN partition plan that created both Palestine and Israel as neighboring states:
After we become a strong force as the result of the creation of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine. The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion. The state will have to preserve order - not by preaching but with machine guns. [emphasis mine]
Zionism is a political movement, and an explicitly colonial one, the difference being that there was no intention of exploiting the labor of the natives, but of pushing them out completely. This has been the central organizing goal of Zionism ever since Jabotinsky, and its ideology is racist.
Like all such ideologies created as an instrumental adjunct to a colonizing purpose, it has had to reconstruct a Zionist history - an entire historical cosmology that is a kind of pseudo-event.
In this racialized mythical narrative, Palestine has no Palestinians. Jews returning to their homeland find an empty desert that, through hard work, they make to bloom with olives and oranges.
Except it's not true. Most of the farms were expropriated from among the almost 700,000 Palestinians that lived on this arable land at the turn of the century. Depopulation was achieved (during the "war for independence" lionized in the almost completely fabricated Exodus of Leon Uris) by massacres intended to catalyze a Palestinian exodus. These massacres are amply documented with graphic photography at http://www.iap.org/massacres.htm.
When the UN partition plan was created there were almost a million Palestinians living in almost 500 cities, towns, and villages. After the "war of independence," less than 100 remained. The rest were "depopulated" and razed to the ground.
Said Israeli General Moshe Dayan to Israeli students in a moment of remarkable candor:
We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, Jewish state. Instead of Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You do not even know the names of these villages and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books, but also the villages do not exist.
There is a class analysis that becomes necessary at this point to understand the perennial inability of Palestinians to fight back.
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