Commentary Magazine


Anticipating Israel’s Doom

A common thread in many of the critical reactions to Israel’s counter-attack against the Hamas terrorists in Gaza is the fact that no matter what Israel does, it loses. If it hits back, it is accused of building support for Hamas. It is told not only that it can’t defeat Hamas militarily but that it shouldn’t try. Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich takes this tack in a piece in the Boston Globe yesterday which not only takes Israel to task but sees it as a failed model for America’s own ill-conceived “war on terror.” For Bacevich, the Jewish State’s conflict with the Palestinians is a one-way tale of Israeli error. He writes:

Ever since it seized Gaza and the West Bank at the time of the 1967 War, Israel has assumed that allowing Palestinians to freely exercise their right of self-determination is incompatible with Israeli security. With expulsion infeasible and absorption unacceptable, a succession of Israeli governments set out to dictate the conditions under which Palestinians would live.

The problem with this formulation is that long before 1967 and ever since, “Palestinian self-determination” has been defined solely by the urge to extinguish Israel’s existence. Had that not been true, there would have been no war in 1967 and no need for the Israeli “occupation,” he laments. Specifically in the case of Gaza, Israel withdrew completely over three years ago, leaving its people to determine their own fate and hoping for, at the very least, a peaceful border. What they got was a continuation of a terror campaign whose goal is to make those portions of Israel that are within rocket range (an area that is growing in tandem with the sophistication of Hamas’s arsenal supplied by Iran).

Yet what is truly disheartening about Bacevich’s piece is his view of Israel’s legitimacy and its future:

Given the events related to Israel’s birth, which involved the displacement of Palestinians and left Israel surrounded by adversaries vowing to destroy it, one can understand this conviction. Perhaps even today in Gaza, given the intransigence of Hamas, Israelis have no choice–or at least none promising any escape from the predicament in which they find themselves. So they fight on, despite the growing sense that the entire Zionist enterprise is inexorably headed toward some tragic denouement.

Though he exhibits no glee about that “tragic denouement,” there is a sense conveyed by the article that Israel’s sad future is a product of its illegitimate birth. So, again, we are faced with a critic of Israel whose lack of enthusiasm for its measures of self-defense has more to do with his dim view of the entire Zionist enterprise. For Bacevich, Israel seems to be fated to fighting a losing battle for its existence. But at least he isn’t openly rooting for its demise. The same cannot said for the Nation, which this week subjected its readers to an open call for economic war against the State of Israel by the West.

Titled “Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction,” the piece by Naomi Klein pulls no punches in its call for bringing the Jewish State to its knees. That the Nation would publish such tripe isn’t a surprise. But it is interesting to note that in defense of her thesis, Klein isn’t afraid of condoning the sort of discrimination against Jews that can only be termed anti-Semitic. She concludes her article by citing with approbation an example of a British telecom exec who won’t do business with any party from Israel.

Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom company, sent an e-mail to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax. “As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.”

When contacted by The Nation, Ramsey said his decision wasn’t political. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients, so it was purely commercially defensive.”

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it’s precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

So in the name of “justice” for Palestine (which in this context means the extermination of the State of Israel), anything goes, even blatant Jew-hatred. I suppose this is what passes for the kind of “progressive” thought that the Nation claims to stand for these days.

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