Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New birth pangs for the Middle East


Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 31 December 2008

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously celebrated Israel's 2006 aggression against Lebanon as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." She could say the same thing about Gaza today, but it will not be the birth of the Middle East she wanted.

Israel's savage attacks on Gaza come after months and weeks of repeated threats and secret planning. The shockwaves are rumbling all over the Arab world, as much because of the official Arab silence and international cowardice and complicity as because of Israel's barbarity.

Israel has never behaved otherwise. Right from the beginning, and even before Israel was founded, Zionist gangs led by future prime ministers were the first to introduce terrorism to the Middle East.....

Israel's butchery in Gaza is therefore nothing new, even if its brazenness and cruelty set shameful new records. The pain penetrates deep into every soul as ordinary people in Arab capitals voice their anger at Israel, at their own indifferent governments, and the duplicity of an "international community" that automatically supports the aggressor and blames the victim.....

....When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it also had a green light from international and regional powers. Then, as now, the United States and United Kingdom refused to call for a ceasefire, to give Israel time to continue the killing and to try to achieve its goals. But in 2006, Israel failed to achieve anything but defeat, despite massive political and military support.....

With its latest massacres, Israel has ensured once and for all that it will never be accepted as a normal, permanent state in this region. That is a decision that can only be taken by the people of this region -- not by declarations from their leaders -- and the people have made their views clear every time they were given a chance to express themselves.....

No one can say with certainty what Israel's new aggression will unleash, but one can point to some likely outcomes. The attack on Gaza will not destroy Hamas, and even if Israel kills every person who ever supported Hamas, the attack will not end resistance. On the contrary, resistance will be strengthened throughout the region, undermining the notion that resistance is outdated or impossible and that the only remaining "strategic choice" for the Arabs is negotiation from a position of weakness.

The Gaza attack will weaken and discredit even further the so-called "moderates" who did their best to extinguish any form of resistance and bet heavily on the failed peace process and its sponsors.

We may also see an awakening of the role of the Arab public, which has been extremely patient with the sterile negotiations and summitry conducted by its leaders. It will be impossible to counteract the now firmly rooted idea that there was official Arab complicity in the Gaza attack. No one will forget that Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni issued her threats against Gaza from Cairo on 25 December, while Egypt's foreign minister stood smiling next to her without saying a word of protest. Neither will it be easy for Egypt to further justify its role in tightening the siege on the Gaza population by keeping the Rafah crossing closed.

The reality is that the starvation siege Israel has imposed on Gaza could not continue so long without Arab complicity. These facts leave indelible marks of shame on Arab history......"