by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 10, Muharram, 1434)
Zionist Israel is definitely guilty of war crimes but do not expect its political and military rulers to be brought to justice anytime soon. The political dynamics, however, are changing and the Zionists may soon find themselves at the end of the line.
Different explanations have been advanced for Israel’s latest aggression on Gaza. From Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to boost his popularity in the January 22, 2013 elections to challenging US President Barack Obama on his anticipated overture to Iran to testing the new Egyptian government’s commitment to the so-called peace treaty or derailing the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the UN; all these have been cited as reasons for Israeli war crimes. There are elements of truth in each although one is constrained to ask what kind of people would support rulers that shed the blood of innocent people to boost their popularity? Waging wars and shedding the blood of innocents is also a long established policy of US imperialism.
This brings us to the question of the real reason for Zionist aggression in Gaza. Since the end of Second World War and then after the Zionist State’s implantation in Palestine in 1948, one can discern a clear pattern of behavior of the US and Israel. The US attacked Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq using such pretexts as national security or fighting “terror.” To US military attacks must be added the numerous CIA-engineered coups that overthrew legitimately elected governments in countries like Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, Indonesia and Chile. Since 1948 (or even before it was formally established) Zionist Israel has been waging wars not only against the Palestinians but also against neighboring countries.
But what explains the persistent aggressive behavior of the US and Israel? Prior to the Second World War, Britain and Germany indulged in such aggression. Why have the US and Israel adopted the same tactics since the Second World War? One must look at the systemic needs of these countries and their ruling elites. Predatory societies need to project power by flexing their military muscle to warn would-be challengers of the consequences of standing in their way. Before the Second World War, Britain and Germany laid claims to being global powers. The war left Germany defeated and Britain exhausted, no longer able to fulfill its imperial pretensions; thus there emerged the US and its rival the Soviet Union on the world stage waging wars against weaker countries on flimsy pretexts.
The Zionist regime did this quite successfully in the Muslim East until the emergence of Hizbullah in Lebanon in the early-1980s. Hizbullah’s determined resistance, as opposed to the cowardly response of Arabian regimes, was the first serious challenge to Zionist aggression. Its army was forced to flee most of Lebanon in May 1985 and confined to a 20-mile wide strip in the south. Then in May 2000, the Zionists were also driven from the rest of Lebanon when they retreated to Sheba Farms which they still occupy. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the Summer of 2006 was aimed at recouping some of the losses; it turned into a fiasco. Hizbullah delivered a devastating blow to the Zionist war machine. They have still not recovered from the psychological trauma of that defeat.
The Americans have faced a similar fate: suffering defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, bankrupting them in the process. They barely managed to escape from Iraq and are still struggling to find a safe exit out of Afghanistan. The Zionists’ experience vis-à-vis the Palestinians has been equally sobering especially since the emergence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance groups in Palestine. As long as the secular PLO was fighting the Zionists, Israel did not have to worry. The Americans and Zionists had most PLO operatives in their pockets. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are very different entities. They cannot be bought; in fact, they long for martyrdom, a concept that cannot be defeated by guns or missiles.
Israel’s 2006 defeat in Lebanon led them to attack Gaza in 2008–2009 in hopes of crushing Hamas. Most Arabian regimes — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, for instance — conspired with the Zionists to eliminate Hamas. This grand conspiracy failed despite Israel destroying much of Gaza’s infrastructure and killing more than 1,400 civilians, among them 322 children. Even the brutal siege has not broken the Palestinians’ spirit of resistance.
The latest Zionist onslaught on Gaza was meant to res-tore Israel’s macho credentials. Instead, it has delivered another psychological blow to them. Since 2009, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have equipped themselves with missiles and are able to exert psychological pressure even if they cannot match Israel’s military might. The ground rules have changed, as has the environment around Palestine. Henceforth, Israel will not be able to attack Gaza at will. This is a very significant development, one that may force the arrogant Zionists to come to their senses and end their frequent itch for aggression.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought