Bombastic Israeli politicians gripped by the flow of history

12 Nov

YouTube video, 10 November 2012. Islamic Jihad’s military wing has published this video claiming to show a new type of rocket launcher firing projectiles at Israeli tanks.


by Grant Morgan

editor of

12 November 2012

Israel’s home front defence minister, Avi Dichter (left), commenting on the recent spike in cross-border hostilities between the Zionist state and Palestinian Gaza, yesterday declared: “We have no other choice; Israel must perform a reformatting of Gaza, and rearrange it, as we did in Judea and Samaria during Operation Defensive Shield.” 

Dichter is referring to Israel’s 2002 military operation in the West Bank, the largest since the 1967 Six Day War. In response to the Second Intifada, Israeli troops locked down the West Bank’s six biggest cities and their hinterlands. Tel Aviv ordered the use of heavy weapons, including air strikes, in densely populated areas. 497 Palestinians were killed, according to the UN, while 30 Israeli soldiers died. 7,000 Palestinians were arrested.

While Israeli politicians, like Dichter, claim the operation was a strategic victory for Israel, independent analysts think differently. For instance, Beverly Milton-Edwards, an Irish professor of politics, says Tel Aviv assisted the popular growth of Hamas by the “emasculation” of the Palestinian Authority and its president Yasser Arafat, who was corralled in his Ramallah compound until he was on his death bed. 

Milton-Edwards concludes that the “unequivocal victory” sought by the Zionist state “remained elusive and the Israelis and Palestinians resumed a variety of forms of low intensity warfare with each other”.

It’s hard to know whether today’s full-on war of words, and the more restrained war of explosions, will spiral into the sort of blitzkreig that Israel unleashed on Gaza in 2008-9 as punishment for the free election of a Hamas government.

Behind Tel Aviv’s rhetoric and missiles, however, lie inescapable trends that are weakening Israel’s position in the Middle East.

Among the most important trends are these:

  • Since 2010, the Arab Spring’s revival of democracy has been awakening the multitudes across the world’s premier oil region, putting pressure on Arab leaders to take a firmer stance against Zionist colonialism more in line with the shouts from the street.
  • Moves are underway to form regional alliances of Muslim leaders, such as the growing ties between Egypt and Turkey, which in various ways undercut Israel’s previously unchallenged strength in the Middle East.
  • Israel’s great protector, the United States, is on an unstoppable downward slide in terms of Washington’s ability to project imperial power in an increasingly multipolar world, as revealed in the military debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan, and even more potently in uncontrollable financial and economic chaos.
  • Pressures are growing within Palestinian society to transcend the factional split between Fatah and Hamas through a uniting resistance strategy against Zionism more closely aligned with changing realities in the Middle East and beyond.

In the face of this unforgiving flow of history, any second Operation Defensive Shield will surely bring a strategic defeat for bombastic Israeli politicians like Dichter, and in the process undermine their entire colonial project. That seems as certain as Tel Aviv’s inability to secure a strategic victory in 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield, at a time when public opinion believed the Zionist regime to be invincible.

While Israel’s political and military leaders may dream of quelling the flow of history, they will fail badly, just like all the fallen rulers before them.

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