Creative chaos, divine right
Caught between policies that deliberately destabilise, and a world willing to condone any level of Israeli violence, the region teeters on the brink, writes Galal Nassar
Once again the Middle East faces the threat of being caught up in a raging fire that no one will be able to extinguish. It is a fire that threatens to engulf those responsible for igniting it and those who obstruct any attempt to put it out.
Regional and international parties have watched from the sidelines as scenes of destruction spread across Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. To some these scenes herald the onset of "creative chaos", a state of affairs that is supposed to give birth to something better. A new Middle East is supposed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, or that, at least, is what those ruthlessly in pursuit of their own narrow interests would have us believe.
The major problem with this destructive scenario is that it ignores the catastrophic consequences that will follow the collapse of the peace option. Certainly Israel has wasted no opportunity in convincing Arab nations that peace efforts are useless and that any attempts to end this conflict outside the battlefield are pointless. Israel has consistently sent out the message that the only peace it cares about is one that brings Arab nations to their knees, that forces them to abandon their legitimate rights and recognise the supremacy of Israeli power. And the nations of this region are slowly but surely learning this destructive lesson, that force is the only option, violence the only way of surviving in the face of Israeli arrogance, and international collaboration in that arrogance.
Israeli actions in Lebanon and Palestine have served to underline the fact that Israel's only response to the problems it faces is to weigh in with military force. Any incident, however trivial, evokes a disproportionate Israeli response. Israel is a country that relies on violence, on the exercise of brutality that is not only criminal but reminiscent of the heyday of European fascism. Nor do Israeli officials spare us the rhetoric. They threaten, speak of vengeance and vendetta.
Is it any wonder that Israel has successfully exported this vindictive mood to groups that exercise a certain influence in the Arab street? Israeli politicians and generals have provided these Arab groups with the pretext to respond to violence with violence, to bloodshed with bloodshed. Meanwhile, the international silence over Israel's crimes reassures only those who seek to escalate the conflict and who have come to view international law as spurious. So welcome to the land of vendetta, a land where no one wants to listen to the words Mahatma Gandhi, who pointed out, half a century ago, that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".
The US, the world's greatest power, has been feeding the cycle of vengeance and reinforcing the rule of the law of the jungle. President Bush believes that the murder of Arab children in Lebanon and Palestine, the destruction of infrastructure, the razing of houses and fields, are acts of self-defence. US troops continue their criminal rampage in Iraq. Washington and Tel Aviv are together inscribing their lexicon of brutality across the region. The only words we hear today are words of violence; the advocates of peace on all sides have been upstaged by warmongers.
The actions of many international and regional players have been despicable, notwithstanding the advantage these players may have in terms of economy, science and technology. Apparently, it is enough for an occupying soldier to be captured for the free world to rise up in indignation, denounce terror, and call for an immediate release of the captive. Meanwhile, Israel embarks on acts of "self-defence" involving the use warplanes, rockets, tanks and warships. Israel destroys bridges, power stations, national institutions; it kills innocent Palestinian civilians at will, burying the corpses beneath yet more rubble, and these acts, according to the White House, are nothing but self-defence.
Israeli occupation forces have abducted ministers, parliamentarians, the heads of municipalities. Palestinian officials have been taken from their homes. Israel abducts any Palestinian it wants. It sends its planes to strafe and bomb. You are not safe if you take up arms against Israel or throw rockets at its soldiers. Forget that the individuals in question are doing this to liberate their own land and repulse Israeli aggression. The only thing that matters is that they are challenging a state that cannot be challenged. Israel does not condone opposition, by arms, stones, or even words.
The only thing that concerns Israel is that the captive soldier returns to his post, so he can continue to dehumanise the Palestinians. Any action Israel undertakes to ensure that this happens is deemed legitimate. One soldier has become larger than life. Forget the fact that Israel has thousands of prisoners. The captive soldier has become a divine symbol, an epitome of the chosen people. Other captives, Muslims and Christians, are something else. The captive soldier is an innocent victim, for he was defending the Promised Land, whereas the other captives are guilty, because they were challenging Israel's hold on to the Promised Land.
Israel, and Israel alone, is allowed to occupy, kill, and displace people with immunity. Israel, and Israel alone, is allowed to ignore international law and endanger world peace and security. Other countries are just states, but Israel is more than a state, it is The State, ordained from heaven, and answerable only to divine laws. This has been the case since Israel was created on the tattered remnants of the Palestinians and their land. Israel is a litany sung by rabbis, a battle fought by the generals, a dream of supremacy buttressed by neoconservatives and their friends in the US media and congress.
We all know how the Zionist mind, both in Israel and the US, works. But what about Europe? Why has it bought into the myth? Why do European leaders say nothing about the brutality of the Zionist aggression, about the abduction of deputies and ministers? As for the Arabs, they are paralysed as usual, as if mesmerised by a long Hollywood feature film. They see the drama unfolding and fail even to understand it. So they flip between stations, watching football for a while, then go back for a few snippets of tragedy. The Arabs have lost touch with their own reality, perhaps even interest in their own fate. The Middle East is teetering on the verge of the abyss, helpless. But those who play with fire will end up burned, like everyone else.