Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why do they hate us? The dispute between the West and the Muslim world

To the question of what causes what Westerners call Islamic terrorism, George Bush famously and stupidly issued the answer: "They hate us because of our values." In the wake of the accused killing of a soldier Lee Rigby by Michael Adebolago and Michael Adebowale in England, we may ask, what is the real answer to that question?

There is a real dispute between the world's more than one billion Muslims and the West, led by the United States and the office of the US presidency held by Barack Obama. In that dispute, the West is really on the side of bigotry and racism while the Muslim world is really on the side of human equality. It is a dispute Westerners usually do not think about, but when they think about it, they lie to themselves and each other. Westerners lie because in this dispute, the West is opposing its own claimed values and ideals.

The object of the dispute is the question: Should there be a majority Jewish state in Palestine? Barack Obama believes the answer is yes. When that question has been directly put to non-Jewish populations in Israel's region, most non-Jewish people in the region answer no.

Here is a poll of Iran taken in 2009, for example:

18. Level of agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist.

Strong Agreement: 51.9%
Mild Agreement: 14.6% (total agree, 66.5%)
Neutral: 21.1%
Mild Disagreement: 4.6%
Strong Disagreement: 3.9% (total disagree 8.5%)
Barack Obama believes there should be a Jewish state in Palestine in much the same way Ronald Reagan believed there should be a white state in South Africa. In both cases, that was a disagreement with most of the people in the respective regions.

South Africa created a fiction where it described territory under its control as bantustans, formally independent states where Africans could vote, but that would leave the South African government with a white political majority even if it allowed a small number of black voters to remain in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's ANC took the position: no political majority white state in South Africa. White South Africans will have to live under majority Black rule. Any white South Africans for whom living under Black rule would be such an indignity as to be impossible should leave.

Ronald Reagan sided with White South Africans as they tried to transition their system of denying the vote to Black people to one in which Black people would be allowed to vote, but in subjugated states that for security purposes would be dominated by a state whose government was to have a designed white majority.

Today Barack Obama sides with Jewish Israelis in their attempt to create and pressure the Palestinians to accept that situation rejected by Nelson Mandela and the ANC. A subjugated, controlled, and for security purposes, non-sovereign non-Jewish state created to formally allow non-Jews to vote while maintaining by design a Jewish majority state.

The core disagreement over the question of should there be a Jewish state in Palestine leads the West, the United States, Barack Obama to policies that are unconscionable by supposed Western values, even if necessary to maintain a Jewish state in a region where most people do not believe there should be a Jewish state.

Hamas - an organization that, like most Palestinian voters and most people in the region, does not believe Israel is legitimate and should exist - won the most recent Palestinian election. To punish the people for voting for Hamas, Israel's leadership announced that territory under Hamas control would be put on a diet.

Barack Obama supports limiting Palestinian access to food and uses US political and diplomatic resources to limit Turkish efforts against it and to coerce Egypt to cooperate with the embargo over Palestinian territory. Children in Gaza are hungry today because of the diet Barack Obama supports on behalf of Israel. Most people in Western countries that support that policy are comfortably unaware of the ongoing pain the West is imposing on that large population of civilians.

The United States is directing the distribution of weapons to a civil war in Syria that now that has killed tens of thousands of people.

One of the directors of US policy in the region, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman favors removing Bashar Assad from power claiming Assad plays an "extremely negative role in the region". What is this extremely negative role? According to Feltman, Syria under the Assad government supports Hezbollah, which with its allies won the popular vote in Lebanon's elections and is an ally of Iran, which Israel has identified as its primary strategic threat because of Iranian policies that are supported by the Iranian population.

Supporting a civil war in Syria, when it was first contemplated, would have been expected to lead to tens of thousands of deaths. As it has. Barack Obama has decided that reducing support for Hezbollah and Iran, despite the popularity of Hezbollah's and Iran's anti-Israel policies, is worth tens of thousands of lives in Syria. Most Westerners are totally oblivious to these deaths, promoted by their governments ultimately on Israel's behalf.

Everything Iran and Syria do to play, using Feltman's words, an extremely negative role in the region, would be done, with more resources and at least in some ways in concert with Iran and Syria by many of the states in the region if their governments were accountable to their own people. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and others would support anti-Israel groups and would work to end Israel's military dominance of the region. The United States supports dictatorships over these countries to prevent them from taking popular measures that Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman would consider negative but that their own people would consider positive.

Outside of Israel's region, the United States is able to achieve its strategic and political goals with governments that have some degree of popular accountability. Israel's region, and Israel's inherent strategic vulnerability uniquely requires US ongoing support for the world's last remaining string of dictatorships directly descended from the colonial era.

Saudi Arabia in particular could base modern air defense systems on its territory that could reach Israeli airspace and deny Israel air superiority in any conflict. It could quickly reach a Japan-like nuclear posture that without actually building nuclear weapons would neutralize Israel's regional nuclear monopoly. It could also supply anti-Israel fighters with levels of armaments greater than those currently available to anti-Syrian fighters which would probably make living under Arab rule preferable for most Jewish Israelis than continuing to fight an active and indefinite insurgency.

The US' express commitment that Israel must alone have military superiority over all of its neighbors put together by itself requires a pro-US dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. That country must be ruled by a government that, unlike the people of Saudi Arabia accepts Israeli military superiority. Saudi Arabia spends more than three times as much on weapons as Israel every year. A Saudi Arabia which was accountable to its people rather than to the US would not cooperate with this open commitment by the US and would be impervious to some of the tools of coercion such as IMF loans that the US is now trying to use to control Egypt's policies after Hosni Mubarak, its pro-US dictator has been removed.

Saudi Arabia under its current pro-US colonial style dictatorship does not pose even as great a threat to Israel as Iran does because the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia is determined by people accountable to Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman but not accountable to the nearly 30 million people of Saudi Arabia. For Obama, dictatorship for those 30 million Arabs is an acceptable price to maintain an ethnic majority for fewer than 6 million Jewish people in Israel.

Barack Obama and Jeffrey Feltman disagree with the people of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and other countries on a key question: should there be a Jewish state. Because of that disagreement they work for the West to maintain hegemon-subordinate relationships with these countries that are remnants of the colonial era. Most Westerners are not aware of the string of effective colonies the US supports ruling tens of millions of Arab people on Israel's behalf.

The United States uses drones to attack in their homes people in organizations that oppose Zionism and the string of colonial-style dictatorships the US maintains on Israel's behalf. Victims of these attacks include US citizens and hundreds of children. Westerners are largely aware of the drones, but not that the children dying from them have been killed to ensure that fewer than six million Jewish people in Israel never suffer the indignity of living under non-Jewish rule.

The United States is supporting hunger, death and dictatorships throughout the Middle East ultimately on behalf of Israel. The dispute over whether or not there should be a Jewish state extends to be a dispute about whether or not civil war should be imposed on populations whose governments reflect their people's views on Israel. The dispute extends to whether or not Arab children should have limited access to food. The dispute extends to whether or not people in Israel's region in resourceful or strategic states should have governments accountable to them.

Barack Obama has taken the thoroughly racist proposition that fewer than six million Jewish people avoiding the fate of White South Africans is worth tens of millions of people who are not Jewish being ruled by dictatorship, millions of people going hungry, tens of thousands of people being killed in civil war, hundreds of innocent people being directly killed by American airstrikes and many other forms of damage and destruction that the US is committed to in the region on Israel's behalf.

The position that a designed Jewish majority state in Palestine is worth the misery continuously imposed on non-Jews, mostly Muslims, in the region to maintain its viability is no more defensible within the value system Westerners claim to uphold than the position that a designed White majority state in South Africa was worth the required misery for non-whites.

Westerners routinely ignore, lie about and evade issues related to Israel in the Middle East because their positions cannot be defended according to the values they themselves claim. George Bush and Barack Obama have never openly asserted that Jewish lives and interests are vastly more important than those of people who are not Jewish in the Middle East. They have consistently harmed huge numbers of people in accord with that belief that they do not admit they hold. But people are continuously dying over this Western bigotry whether Westerners openly state those views or not.

That is the real dispute between the West and the Muslim world. In that dispute, the West, even according to the values it claims to hold, is wrong.

If Barack Obama and George Bush were smarter and more honest they would have answered, "They hate us because we - supposed liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans - are sanctioning, killing, starving, maintaining dictatorships and sanctioning millions of Arabs and Muslims on behalf of Israel."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The case against Israel, or why Israel should not exist

If a state was created by atrocities, etc, as Israel was, that does not lead to the conclusion that it should not exist. A hypothetical country with a pristine origin and history still does not have a right to exist. "Right to exist" itself is a term I've almost only seen used in pro-Israel propaganda. Can you think of a context other than Zionism where the term "right to exist" has even been used?

But Israel is not viable without the active oppression, today, of hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East who are not Jewish.

Iran is the most important strategic threat to Israel. The policies that make Iran threatening to Israel: its refusal to recognize or maintain ties with Israel, its support for anti-Israel groups and its efforts to increase its military capabilities are all popular with the Iranian people (PDF link).

Saudi Arabia has more money than Iran and is closer, and if the people of that country could vote, they would vote for a government that is has hostile to Israel as Iran is, or more. Israel would not be viable if Saudi Arabia was as actively hostile to Zionism as Iran is.

To avoid that, the United States supports a dictatorship over Saudi Arabia's almost 30 million people. The United States does not need the dictatorship to sell oil. A democracy in Saudi Arabia would still sell oil. The United States needs a dictatorship to refrain from using the proceeds of oil sales to threaten Israel. A democracy in Saudi Arabia would not do that. The pro-US dictatorships over the tens of millions of people in Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and others in the Middle East in the same way are ultimately maintained today for the sake of Israel.

The United States is a hegemonic power that disregards and acts against the interests of people, especially poor people, all over the world, but it only requires a string of friendly colonial-style dictatorships in Israel's region. The US requires this string of dictatorships in Israel's region because without them Israel is not viable.

Aside, Iran would also have no problem selling oil to the US. The US blocks Iran's oil industry because, and only because, Iran uses or would use the proceeds of its oil sales to support anti-Israel groups. Historically the US oil lobby once competed against the US Israel lobby in an attempt to participate in Iran's oil industry. The oil lobby was defeated in a humiliating fashion.

Another aside, Iran believes it has the right under the NPT to have the same nuclear capabilities countries like Japan have - which is to say while Japan has no weapon, it could build one in an emergency. Israel cannot tolerate other countries in its region even having NPT safeguarded legal Japan-like capabilities. Current US diplomatic efforts against Iran are motivated by this proposition.

Back to Israel. Most people in Israel's region consider Israel an injustice. That does not mean those most people in Israel's region hate Jews, any more than the African opposition to Apartheid South Africa could be explained by hatred for white people. But just as Americans offered rationalizations and justifications for US support for Apartheid South Africa that were not compelling to Black audiences; Israeli, American and other Western arguments for the necessity of Israel as a political majority Jewish state are reasonably not compelling to Middle Eastern audiences.

I'll point out that both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah have said that they favor Zionism ending by elections which put in place majority Muslim governments, not by killing anyone. That is how Apartheid ended. Supporters of Israel have a strong interest, because they disagree with the idea of Zionism ending the way Apartheid did, to present opponents of Zionism as more menacing and less reasonable then they are.

For the United States, in the face of the reasonable opposition of most of the people of the Middle East, maintaining Israel requires the active oppression, today, of the hundreds of millions of people in the region who are not Jewish.

For one example, the sanctions, invasion and occupation of Iraq that killed well over half a million Iraqi children would not have been necessary except that a powerful Iraq would threaten Israel more than Iran is acknowledged to today.

Again, the threat Iraq posed to the pro-US oil dictatorships, to the questionable degree that such a threat is real, is only threatening because the US needs those dictatorships for their cooperation with Israel, their refrain from using their resources to oppose Israel. The US does not need dictatorships to sell oil.

The United States did not kill half a million Iraqi children for oil. The United States killed those children for Israel.

To sum up, Israel should not exist as a majority Jewish state not directly because its creation was illegal and immoral. Israel should not exist because its existence as a political majority Jewish state requires the active oppression, right now, of hundreds of millions of people who are not Jewish on behalf of fewer than six million Jewish Israelis.