- by Seamus Carey
- The Guardian
- Issue #1974
If there’s one thing we couldn’t criticise the imperialists for, it’s inconsistency in deeds. Rhetorical inconsistency aside, the actions of the imperialists never waver in their course – subjugate, dictate, punish, plunder.
The aforementioned rhetorical inconsistency is, however, integral to the whole project. Imperialist propaganda relies on fostering the old colonialist mentality of moral supremacy yet simultaneously relies on defending itself with arguments based upon moral equivalence. One of the most clear-cut examples of this is that of Israel.
Pro-Israel propaganda relies on a narrative of moral supremacy, appealing to the same tropes as other murderous colonial projects. We hear about our shared Western or “Judeo-Christian” values, Israel’s supposed status as “the only democracy in the Middle East,” and their superficially progressive social policies. Yet when it comes to viewing Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, as well as Arab neighbours such as Lebanon and Syria, the narrative shifts to one of moral equivalency – it’s a tit-for-tat “cycle of retaliation” or “cycle of violence.” Don’t worry about taking a side.
These two rhetorical tricks are contradictory, but a defence of Israel’s crimes cannot be otherwise.
While media coverage of the Israeli regime’s attempted evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, has petered out, the struggle is ongoing. Palestinian people still have to defend the neighbourhood from attack by Israeli security forces and fascist groups.
Israel’s Supreme Court made an “offer” to the Palestinian families while legal proceedings over ownership of the dwellings are ongoing. This offer included the promise that the attempts to forcibly evict the families would stop but demanded that the Palestinians recognise Jewish ownership of the properties and pay rent. This ridiculous offer was clearly nothing more than an intimidation tactic and a plan to denounce the Palestinians as “uncooperative” after they rightfully and predictably rejected the deal.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since the Six-Day War of 1967. In the same six days, Israel also invaded and occupied other Palestinian land and Syria’s Golan Heights, Lebanon’s Sheba’a Farms, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Subsequent UN resolutions declared these occupations illegal under international law, and stated that the return of these territories and the right of Palestinians to their land are prerequisites for peace. However, fifty-four years on, Israel has only ever returned the Sinai Peninsula, and that only in return for concessions including Egypt’s recognition of Israel. This coincided with the realignment of Egypt towards accepting US domination.
There is no ambiguity about which side bears ultimate responsibility for the “cycle of violence.”
Until Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel’s illegal occupations had never been recognised de jure by any other country, even the US, although in practice the US has long supported them financially and militarily. In 2019, Trump recognised the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, earning international condemnation. A planned Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights was announced later, to be called “Trump Heights.”
This followed Trump’s 2017 recognition of all of Jerusalem, including the East, as the capital of Israel, a move that was shamefully and cowardly echoed by Scott Morrison just a little over a week later.
Morrison declared Australian recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move which even according to his own justification had no practical significance, only signalling loyalty to the US line without even having enough confidence to do it properly. Morrison was clearly aware of the fact that dropping “West” would be a violation of international law, yet simultaneously wanted to display support to the US and Israel in that exact violation. A truly embarrassing display that we should not forget!
Israeli aggression never lets up. More recently, on 5th August, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out air raids in Lebanese territory. The following day, the 6th of August, fighters of the military wing of Hezbollah responded with rocket fire across the border, in turn receiving more fire from Israel. Spokespeople from both sides expressed no willingness for the situation to further escalate. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, made a televised statement declaring:
“Our response was linked to the Israeli strikes that occurred in south Lebanon for the first time in 15 years.”
“We wanted to tell the enemy […] that any air strike by the Israeli air force on Lebanon will inevitably draw a response, though in a suitable and proportionate way, because we want to serve the purpose of protecting our country.”
The transition from Trump to Biden has had no objective impact upon the situation in Palestine and surrounds. Israel has only continued to become even more emboldened by the US’ many moves to support Israel in its crimes. Biden has not rescinded Trump’s actions, and has continued to set aside billions in funding to Israel and its military.
The policy of the imperialists is a continuous trajectory, no matter whose face is on it.
Another of Trump’s outrageous decisions which the US has continued to bolster is recognition of Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. Just as with Israel’s 1967 occupations, no other country had ever recognised Morocco’s claim, and considering it to be a violation of international law. The Sahrawi people have a sovereign right to their land, properly named the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. However the Sahrawi government, led by the Polisario Front, operates in exile out of Algeria, where tens of thousands of refugees have had to live for decades since Morocco’s invasion of most of Western Sahara.
Trump offered recognition of this illegal occupation in exchange for Morocco’s recognition of Israel. Solidarity between illegal occupations! The working and oppressed peoples of the world must build a solidarity against occupation, against imperialism, that is yet stronger! The US a good friend to invaders and occupiers everywhere, so long as they submit themselves to US interests. The rest must be yet better friends to each other, in order to defeat the US world dictatorship.
While the US’ huge military exercises in Europe and Asia have gotten some media coverage, they have also recently been conducting large exercises in Africa, receiving far less media exposure.
In June, the “African Lion 21” exercises by US troops and allies took place in Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. A glance at the map shows that these countries neatly circumscribe Western Sahara and Algeria.
This is yet another example that whatever party is in power in the US, the real power remains held by the same class with the same interests, and the imperialist policy of the US continues.
Coincidentally – or perhaps not – a controversy in the African Union (AU) has emerged over the recent decision of the AU Commission to announce Israel’s “observer” status in the organisation, against the will of the vast majority of African states. How and why this decision was made by the Commission is still unclear, but the increasing military and economic interest both the US and Israel are displaying in Africa is surely part of the answer.
To end war and oppression, we must fight to end the unjust power of the imperialists and fight for a world of independence and socialism.