By Tariq Ali –
The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, denounced the bombing of the UN school in Gaza as ‘outrageous’ and ‘unjustifiable’. His officials have described the massacres as a ‘disgrace to the world’. Who stands disgraced? The UN General Assembly has regularly voted in favour of an independent Palestine. It is the Security Council that has vetoed the very thought and the Security Council, as everyone knows, is dominated by the United States; on this issue, Russia and China have remained on message.
What of the broader ‘international community’, in other words the United States/EU/Nato? They have backed Israel. As for the ideologues of the human rights industry, Samantha Power, the queen of ‘humanitarian interventions’, is the US rep on the Security Council and staunchly pro-Israel. Both the House and the Senate have unanimously written Israel a blank cheque; the French Socialist government banned demonstrations against the Gaza horrors in Paris on the grounds that they would encourage anti-semitism (not well received by French Jewish organisations who co-sponsored the march); the British Foreign Office is compliant as usual; the Germans too busy imposing sanctions against Russia while turning a blind eye to Gaza and refusing to accept that the Palestinians are the indirect victims of the judeocide the Third Reich unleashed during the Second World War and for which successive democratic governments in Germany have been paying ever since. The US satellite states in Eastern Europe have followed suit. Scandinavia, too, with this exception: Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister and veteran Nato hack, supports US policies, but the Swedish king and queen donned Palestinian scarves and joined a public demonstration against Israeli atrocities.
In the Arab world there is great anger below, but the Wahhabi monarch in Riyadh, the Israeli-protected king in Jordan and General Sisi in Egypt have effectively backed Israel’s assault on Gaza. They loathe Hamas and make no secret of the fact that they would rejoice if the Israelis exterminated the organisation. And what about those who vote for it? Dissolve the people and elect another? In Turkey, Recip Erdoğan makes a lot of noise, mostly ineffective and over-the-top, but refuses to break diplomatic relations with Israel. Turkey is after all a longstanding member of Nato and if Iraqi Kurdistan becomes ‘independent’ as a US-Israeli protectorate, Erdoğan will need their help to prevent a spillover in eastern Turkey.
While Asia is effectively silent – China thinks trade, India is close to Israel, Japan is still not allowed its own foreign policy – in South Africa there is growing support for the BDS campaign (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) led by Desmond Tutu and others. The apartheid analogies are not taken lightly and the ANC in the South African parliament voted unanimously to expel the Israeli ambassador, a demand ignored by President Zuma.
The strongest political reaction has come from a continent where Muslim populations are either non-existent or tiny. Venezuela and Bolivia broke relations with Israel after the attack on Gaza in 2009. The Israeli ambassadors in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Salvador and Brazil have now been asked to pack their bags.
In the Occupied Territories themselves there is strong unity from below and Mahmoud Abbas, who initially remained silent and refused to visit Gaza, is now talking of ‘Israeli war crimes’, but his security apparatus and the PLO leadership has been collaborating with the IDF ever since the Oslo Accords. Hamas might have been drawn to this position with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whose elected leaders were willing to capitulate to Washington like the PLO. Sisi’s coup put paid to all of that and Hamas was, as a result, able to reassert its independence.
There is no military solution in the region. Israel is a nuclear state and has the sixth largest army in the world (so talk of parity with Hamas – moral, political or military – is grotesque). It is threatened by itself, not by an outside force. The only solution left is the creation of a single state with equal rights for all and till this is achieved the only way to help the Palestinians in the medium-term is via the BDS campaign. It is not enough, I know, but it is the very least we can do.