Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Bang or Chaos: What's Israel Up To? by Baroud

By Ramzy Baroud, taken from ZMag over here

Why did Israel attack Gaza with such brutality? Did Israeli officials think, even for a fleeting moment, that their army's attacks could halt, as opposed to intensify, Palestinian rockets or retaliatory violence? Indeed, was Palestinian violence at all relevant to the Israeli action? Was the Israeli bloodletting in Gaza solely relevant to the Gaza/Hamas context, or is there a regional dimension that is largely being overlooked?

In an al-Jazeera English TV discussion, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and al-Quds al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd al-Bari Atwan attempted to decipher Israel's actions in Gaza which have, since February 27, killed more than 120 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers. These attacks were followed by incursions and further violence, including an attack on a Jewish seminary school in Jerusalem.

Levy explained that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to demonstrate to the Israeli public that he was "doing something" about the regular launching of rockets from Gaza. Although Levy wasn't justifying the Israeli government's inhumane and misguided logic, he disagreed with Atwan over the use of terminology. The latter (who is also an outstanding journalist) had asserted that the killings in Gaza represented a form of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing".

Arab intellectuals, often wary of the use of certain terminology - since Western sensibilities don't accept associating Israel with genocide and ethnic cleansing - became less hesitant after Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned Palestinians in a radio interview to expect a "bigger Holocaust".

But terminology aside, are we to really believe that the wanton killing in Gaza - a major violation of international and humanitarian laws - was meant to send a message to the Israeli public, or to carry out genocide for its own sake?

Initially, albeit unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seemed oblivious, and then at best neutral, to the carnage. First, it asked both Israel and Hamas to cease their violence, and then it accused Israel of attempting to "derail" the peace process (what peace process?). Finally, and only after the Vatican, thankfully, decried the Israeli killings, Abbas announced the halt of all contacts with Israel.

A few days later, following a trip by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region, Abbas reversed his position. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of the presidency, quoted Abbas as stating that "we intend to resume the peace talks with Israel which reserve the aim of ending the occupation".

Considering the heavy toll that Palestinians endured by a deliberate Israeli attempt to cause a "bigger holocaust", Abbas' agreement to the resumption of futile chats with the same men who ordered the death of scores of his people is a mockery to say the least.

While Palestinian, Israeli and international responses to violence remain predictable, this view still doesn't explain the timing or the underlying objectives.

In my view, historically, Israel's behavior, regardless of its outcome, is always politically motivated, and it never fails to keep a regional picture in mind.

There are two lines of military logic that Israel resorts to. One is motivated by the "chaos theory", the idea that seemingly minor events accumulate to have complex and massive effects on dynamic natural systems. For example, Gaza might have been attacked with the hope of provoking a streak of suicide bombings that would eventually be blamed on Syrian planning and Iranian financing - thus provoking a major showdown in Lebanon. The history of Israeli-Arab conflicts demonstrates how many major invasions are justified by seemingly irrelevant events, such as the 1982 Lebanon War.

But is Israel capable of sustaining another conflict in Lebanon after its miserable - and costly - failure in July-August 2006?

That's when the US becomes even more relevant. Just as Israeli attacks occupied major headlines around the world, the USS Cole and two additional ships - including one amphibious assault vessel - were quietly making their way from Malta to the shores of Lebanon. The ships were dispatched as a "show of support for regional stability", according to US Navy officials.

With the gung-ho George W Bush administration's time in office coming to an end and waning public enthusiasm for war against Iran, Israel cannot afford allowing the regional setup to be stacked in the following way: Hezbollah dominating south Lebanon, Hamas dominating Gaza and Iran becoming an increasingly formidable regional power.

This leads to the other line of Israeli military logic, the "big bang" theory. The self-explanatory logic of this theory is applicable in the sense that a regional war - accompanied by mini civil wars in Palestine and Lebanon, along with other attempts at destabilizing Iran and Syria - could work in Israel's favor.

Under no condition would the US be able stay out of such a conflict (considering its regional interests, allies and own war in Iraq). Revelations of the sinister role played by the Bush administration in organizing and provoking a civil war among Palestinians shows the extent to which Bush is willing to go to achieve Israel's objectives. More, it shows the willingness of various Arab and Palestinian players to readily participate in the bloody and costly US-Israeli ventures.
With all due respect to Levy and Atwan, I think Israel's main aim was neither to send a message to its public nor to commit genocide - though these are not unreasonable possibilities. Indeed, the majority of the Israeli public, according to a Tel Aviv University poll, wished that their government would negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas, as bombs were falling atop the hapless Gaza residents.

The facts - as demonstrated by the US-Israeli role in the turmoil in Lebanon, the consistent attempt to arraign Iran, and the Israeli provocations and bombings in Syria - all indicate that Israel's plans are regional, with Gaza being a testing ground, and the least costly target to isolate and brutalize. Already a massive concentration camp with a largely starving population, Gaza has provided Israel with a perfect opportunity to start sending stern messages to the other players in the region.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).


Anonymous said...

Israel is not "up to anything" in Gaza except defending itself.

You hit me and expect me to sit with my hands folded. No sir. War is a two handed game.

The problem with overly "educated" people is that they have to flesh out their theories with fancy Western terms like "chaos theory" and "regional considerations". It's horse manure.

emanuel appel

MarxistFromLebanon said...

how about expelling a whole race from their lands and keeping them in poverty then call it self-defense?

Unless you think Milosevic was right in his self-defense of Serbia?

welcome to my blog emanuel

Anonymous said...

"how about expelling a whole race from their lands and keeping them in poverty then call it self-defense?"

Yes, that is what the Moslems did in their takeover of the Near East. However, that's history.

If you're going to use silly arguments over events going back 100 years, then it's a war to the finish with the Arabs totally wiped out.

If the Arabs are willing to see two States, Israel and the whatever the other State wants to be called, then the killing can stop. If not, you can do what you do best - die a miserable death and complain that the other side hits back.

emanuel appel

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Actually I am not a Muslim :)

I am not going events over 100 years, rather about 60 years that are still relevant to now day... if you want to understand what happened to the palestinians , you should analyze how they got here... mind you the Jews were 7% in 1917 according to the British Mandate...

The onely ones who brought death with highest crime rate is the Israeli government...

The Muslims did actually impose conversions during their early conquests... but again the fact that christians remained all those centuries should give you another idea... as well as Jews (who were protected by the Muslims at different eras , unlike your crusades...)

and btw Zionism claims to restore a 2000 year old diaspora...


Renegade Eye said...

When you don't blog or write for long periods, I personally worry.

Hamas's unfocused bombing falls into the hands of the Zionists. They mostly hit working class and dark skinned Israelis. They are clueless strategically.

There was no Guatemalans, El Salvadorians, Congo, and on and on, until after statehood. These nations have far less reason than Palestinians, to have a state.

Ultimately as Lenin said, the national question is one of bread. If Palestinians have a state, with neoliberal policies, and at the mercy of Israel for water and other resources, it doesn't matter if they have statehood. Freedom can only come from a socialist federation of Middle East states. There should be no borders, or need for a passport.

Anonymous said...

"Renegade Eye" is the real Marxist since he argues along class lines. Perhaps he can include "Marxist from Lebanon" in a basic Marxist course so he doesn't embarrass himself.

The Arab is still in the 9th century so these arguments about no frontiers and we're all going to be happy in a non national supra State is a fantasy. It's only used to deprive Israel of its nationhood.

Perhaps Renegade Eye can do some work among the Arabs teaching them that Islam is superstition and that Mohamed, the bourgeois "Prophet", was just another exploiter. When that happens and is accepted, then we can talk about "federations".

emanuel appel

MarxistFromLebanon said...


When you slap me with one side of the arguement without regarding the other, I forcefully place the other side of the arguement. I dont need to defend my marxim to a pro-Zionist... as a matter of fact, what is called self-defense is sending extra settlements to be established instead of Palestinian homes, it amazes me how CNN fails to cover such information. If you read my entire blog (specially the topics regarding the Jews) you will understand...

As for even opposing Internationalism for the sake of Israel... Israel was established on blood of citizens... and being an orientalist snob because Arabs are in defecto barbarians in yours doesnt support much your arguement.

Renegade is indeed a wonderful marxist and it is my honor to right at his blog... just a fact, you dont lose your marxism for attacking Zionism... as well as Hamas and others (if you read my blog)... on the contrary, Lenin himself called Zionism as "the greatest superstition".

And the biggest flaw from an amateur perspective is to assume all Arabs are Muslims (flaw number 1) just as the Zionists expelled a gigantic amount of Christians within Palestine and those refugees still suffer in Lebanon (christian and muslim palestinians alike).

So practically, you seem just another racist :)


Anonymous said...

Dear "Marxist from Lebanon"

Do you actually get paid for writing this stuff? Congratulations, hold on to your job; you'd never get one like this in a normal society.

What I'd like to point out is the basic Arab or Arab Moslem, not Marxist, nature of your arguments. It's based on selective historical arguments and the preference for remaining injured rather than accepting a partial settlement.

You think you're being cute by pointing out you're not Moslem. Irrelevant to my argument. Your mindset is the same. You'd rather beat yourself like a Shia than accept a peace with Israel which leaves her in place.

Get it thorugh your head. No one is going back to Israel. Hers is the land of the Jews since before Mohamed.

Fight and you die. Then don't complain if civilians die as a function of war. It happens in every war and no one moans about it as you do. I realize it's a part of cheap publicity.

Frankly, since Israel and Lebanon don't have a territorial problem, I don't see why there's no peace treaty except that Lebanon is occupied hezbollah territory and before that PLO. Ok, if you insist, suffer and die.

emanuel appel

Renegade Eye said...

The irony is that Jews will play a big part in overthrowing Zionism. Israel is a class society, with its own dialectic.

You can't turn back the clock to 1948, but a solution will entail more than just leaving Israel alone.

Read MFL's blog from the start. See all the heat he received from Arab nationalists of all stripes, pretending to be radical. He is uncompromisingly internationalist. It would be easy but dishonest to dismiss MFL as simply an Arab nationalist.

On my blog he has supported Iranian dissidents as my blog team member Maryam Namazie.

Anonymous said...

Dear Renegade Eye,

If you read a bit about Israeli history, you'll find that the most active nationalists, Zionists, were Labor Zionists from various stripes of the Socialist International. To say that we are going to kill our own nation for ideology is a colossal pipedream and you make yourself look ignorant.

If Israel is a class society, what is the Arab world?

Every Socialist nation has guarded its sovereignty and culture from Russia to China to Viet Nam to Cuba. Not one of them ever proposed abolishing borders. As a matter of fact, residents of the USSR had to apply for passports and visas when visiting nearby Communist countries like Bulgaria on simple tourism.

Advocating revanchist policies re the Arab defeat of 1948 with fantasies about " a return" is what keeps the Arab world backward and stupid.

He may support Iranian "dissidents" but does he support the destruction of Iran? No. Yet , that's what he and the other Arabs propose for Israel.

We are a nation that will determine its own destiny and how we manage the house whether monarchy, democracy, or communism. It's not your decision and whatever form of economic arrangemnets we make, we are all Zionists.

emanuel appel

Renegade Eye said...


Israel as well as every country in the Middle East are class societies. If you read MFL's blog, he is critical of both big factions in Lebanon.

Even Iran has a national question yet to be worked out, with the Kurdish population being large and militant.

I realize Labor in Israel is nationalist. It is a place where progressive Israelis gravitate towards, just like in Canada workers support NDP, Pakistan the PPP, or in France it's the Socialist Party. My comrades in the UK even work with the Labor Party.

The countries run by Stalinism, weere nationalist to varying degrees, due to the Stalinist doctrine of socialism in one country.

There is no going back to 1948, but there can be some resettlement, or some kind of compensation. A friend said on his blog, " The US pretends to care about democracy, in return Arab countries pretend to support Palestinians."

Zionists are not a monolith. Some are motivated only by religion and some are secular. Zionists are not a monolith, and Israel has its own contradictions. It has classes, and people who want a different policy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Renegade Eye,

You can hold on to your ideology and find some way to reconcile the true nationalism that every Socialist country has with professed "internationalism". It's never been seen except in the brains of "book socialists". How much "internationalist understanding" has China ever shown (See Tibet and Sinkiang)? It's no use to call them "Stalinist".

The salient feature of the Arab world, including its Marxists, is its desire for genocide in the case of Israel and to destroy another sovereign State in order for Arabs to dominate an area. There is no talk of "working class" except in terms that the Arab elites will rule the few Jews they leave alive. Those quickly will leave as any normal person has in Gaza and Taliban Afghanistan.

Over 1 million Jews left the Arab world for Israel in 1948 and no one ever talked about compensating them. No, we just wanted to build our society according to our lights.

The Arabs who lost after their invasion of Israel in 1948 have been monetarily supported by the West ( the UN ) , not by any Arab State. They have been compensated.
They have been deliberately kept from assimilating in the surrounding arab States for strategic reasons. They, the Arabs, would rather have millions of their fellows unhappy in order to keep the racist kettle boiling.
If they want more money, then the displaced Jews need to be compensated also. It's a wash.
But, without fail, they all want to go back to 1948. It ain't gonna happen.

There are no "progressives" in the Arab/ Moslem world except for a few mutants. They just use the term "Marxist" to project secular rather than Moslem aggression.

emanuel appel

Renegade Eye said...

If it is true that there are few progressive Arabs, than MFL is one of the few. He is internationalist and secular.

A letter from an Israeli pensioner:

Dear Fred Weston,

In your speech to the ULU Marxist Society you mentioned the fact that people's pensions were being cut here in Israel.

Yesterday one of the people who come to my wife's help foundation went to see a psychiatrist because she had been driven to the depths of despair, and wanted to kill her self. Her small pension had been cut to the extent she had to go and pick up food from the filthy dirty floor of our local market.

My wife and I live on disability pensions, plus my wife gets two pensions because she was a guest in a Stalin Gulag. Thankfully, our pensions have not been touched.

However, it seems that the Russians are being deliberately targeted as regards pensions. Also this is the second case that my wife has had of someone wanting to kill themselves because they did not have enough to live on.

Suicides amongst the new immigrants are not generally reported. They only report when they involve murder. The rate for these sort of acts is very high amongst the Ethiopians, whole families being murdered, then the person who committed the act killing themselves.

The attitude of officials towards the immigrants is appalling. The woman in question was turned away by the first doctor she went to see. He was a Russian. The elite Russians and those Russians "Who have made it" don't want to know their fellow country men/women when they need help.

Mordechai Peargut in Israel, March 20, 2008

Israel has its own dialectic, just as the Arab world does.

What is your program to resolve the issue?

Anonymous said...

Dear Renegade Eye,

I'm very touched that you care so much for the plight of the Israeli retired :) Don't you think that it's a rather petty point over the larger question of the Arab/Moslem desire to conquer, dismantle Israel and kill a large portion of its population?

Without the Arab / Isralei struggle, defense appropriations can be reduced to supplement pensions. Now, isn't that easy?

By the way, what sort of old age pension program do the Arab/Moslem nations have? I heard rumors they make money by selling oil.

emanuel appel

emanuel appel

Renegade Eye said...

You're using strawman arguments. Nobody is arguing for the reactionary Arab regimes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Renegade eye,

On the contrary, you bring up an internal Israeli problem, pensions, and use it to shift the discussion.

As far as the Arab world, I accuse the Left in general of supporting reactionary Arab regimes. They do this for the same reason that the USSR signed a peace treaty with Hitler - temporary advantage in their hostility to the West.

The institutional Left has no principles. The amateur Left or bookish Leftists may have scruples but , no offense, people like you would wind up in the Gulag or Castro's prisons for speaking your mind apart from the Party Line.

The creator of this blog may call himself a Marxist because he's a Lebanese non_Moslem but he's an Arab nevertheless. What does it mean?

He holds to the deadly, revanchist poison that permeates throughout Hezbollah captured Lebanon. There's no "internationalism" when it comes to the Jew. No, it's the same blind hatred.

Lebanon and Israel have no outstanding territorial disputes. We should have normal relations as we have with Jordan and Egypt. We don't because they're in the grasp of medieval Hezbollah. They have to demonize us,

Instead of pointing out that the PLO,Hezbollah, Hamas, etc are medieval elements holding back the progress of the whole Arab world, the blog owner writes garbage speculation about Israel. Instead of speculating, why not talk directly to an Israeli? Because that would entail recognizing our sovereignty, our right to to be our own nation.

emanuel appel

Renegade Eye said...

You are correct about the left in the abstract.

Few people in the discussions understand that there are both reasonable Palestinians and Israelis. The bottom line is the best way for palestinians to receive justice, is by uniting with Israeli workers.

MFL is sympathetic to the same Trotskyist organization that I belong. If you read his blog you'll see he is not a Hezbollah supporter, and is much more far sighted.

You are correct that the Arab regimes are not friendly to MFL's or my Marxism.

If MFL was a simple Arab nationalist, he'd say so.

I'am uncomfortable speaking for MFL. I know about the heat he gets from various nationalists. Just read hid blog.

I found a blog that linked to mine, that was anarcho-Zionist. I wouldn't touch that discussion.

Anonymous said...

Dear Renegade Eye,

The Arab cannot unite with the Israeli worker because he wants territorial conquest, not better working conditions. There is no "justice " in a territorial dispute.

Second, there is no "class consciousness" in the arab world, just religio-nationalist instincts.

Now, I can respect an opposing view but I can't respect fantasy, verbosity, and paranoia. That is the Arab style. That's what I find in this blog.

The irony is that the blog owner rants about Israel in the most ignorant way despite his "Marxism". How does he use his Marxism? To deny us our history and nationhood just like the most ignorant Moslem.

Ironically, he's probably unaware that in the photo he uses as the masthead, the third man down from Lenin, sitting on the podium, is Leon Trotsky the Jew. Watch, he'll airbrush him out tomorrow.

emanuel appel

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Dear Emanuel Appel

It amazes me how you downsize the story of the Jewish Exodus to Israel back in 1948.

If you read the records of the British Mandate, you will see the butchery practiced by the Zionists on the Arabs and how they feared it will trigger a chain reaction through out the Arab world. With the expulsion of a whole race from their homeland, it was doomed one reaction will lead to the other, which was the case of the Iraqi Jews (sadly) being marginalized and oppressed so that the reactionary regimes would face save themselves to their people.

You cant simply say what happened to the Arab Jews in 1948 without putting the whole story: How they all lived in harmony till European Colonial Zionism arrived and broke that chain, how the Zionists oppressed the Arab Jews, how they gradually expelled the Palestinians from their land... it is important to stick to the historical events as they happened...

Thank You Renegade eye for the wonderful debate...