The Guardian • Issue #2088

Palestine, Middle East: the West is complicit

Palestine, Middle East: the West is complicit

Rafah emergency rally, Boorloo/Perth 16 February.

Rafah emergency rally, Boorloo/Perth 16 February. Photo: Vinnie Molina.

In the maelstrom of news surrounding the Palestine genocide it’s easy to forget fundamentals. One of those fundamentals is Western complicity. The United States government, with the support of mainly Western countries, has been funding Israel’s military and supporting the Israeli side all along. Yes, this is Israel’s genocide, but there is a force behind it. Israel wouldn’t be able to commit genocide on this scale without help from the United States and its Western allies.

FUNDING RECORDS BROKEN

From 1946 to 2023 the United States government has given Israel a total of $216 billion in military aid, the most military aid any country has ever received in world history. In 2022 alone, before the genocide, Israel received $4.8 billion for military and missile defence systems. For 2024 Biden has successfully requested an extra $14.5 billion, nearly $20 billion in one year. That puts it higher than the previous highest funding year, 1979, breaking all records.

In the 1960s, US funding to Israel began to rapidly rise due to fear of Soviet influence in the region, spiking in the 70s and 80s. It’s easy to forget that US military aid to Israel is part of a Cold War history of fighting communism or alleged socialist influence in the Arab world.

The military hardware side of things is shocking enough. But of course the Western game is also political. Western countries have consistently abstained or voted down membership of Palestine to the UN. Which countries are we talking about? The USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Countries that approved membership were overwhelmingly from the global majority and the third world: China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, the Democratic People’s, Syria, Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, and a host of countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

TRADE ROUTES, LAND RESOURCES

Why does the US and their allies do this? The underlying reason is protecting and expanding trade routes and land resources; most importantly oil and gas. Europe, Africa and Asia all converge in the Middle East. The United States has over 1,000 bases and military installations in overseas territories. Of these a significant amount are in the Middle East. A fact sheet from the American Security Project describes twenty-seven of these spread across Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Türkiye and the UAE. Gulf states are of especial importance to the US in light of protecting maritime trade routes.

The US is losing its grip on the region, and feels particularly threatened now, since Middle East countries are among 150 countries worldwide that have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s proposal is not based upon military supremacy (it has only one overseas base in Djibouti), but economic and philosophic; working with governments rather than corporations or through the IMF, and building a shared future for humankind.

Trade relations are changing. China has transformed century-old ways of doing things and the US isn’t happy. In March last year China brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudia Arabia, a cooperative partnership which, some commentators note, may bode well for the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Given the level of violence in Palestine, the US cannot expect even the Gulf States to fall in line any longer.

US MEDDLING

Though the Palestinian genocide is one of the most violent and rapid genocides in recent history, it’s part of a larger history of US meddling in the Middle East. Let’s not forget ‘Timber Sycamore,’ a US funding program launched in 2012 to undermine the Syrian government. The result so far is over 13 million people displaced, and over 600,000 dead.

In Libya Obama launched an operation to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, supported by the usual suspects, NATO, the UK, Canada, France, Belgium, and other European countries. The US had long wanted to get rid of Gaddafi. Who supported Libya? Only three countries: Belarus, Algeria and North Korea. The result? Ongoing civil wars in Libya resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.

There’s also Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that have forever marked this century. US meddling in Iraq goes way back: first it was to get rid of Prime Minister Qasim in a violent coup in 1963, before they turned their sights on Saddam Hussein in two invasions. Afghanistan, like Vietnam, was a dismal failure with tragic consequences. Millions died in these two wars.

The list of US-led “Operations” is endless, the death count appalling. The US has been at it for a long time, and Palestine is part of a larger attempt to prevent the liberation of Arab peoples and destroy the region. At the heart of this is opportunism, a blatant disregard for national sovereignty in the Arab world, and zero commitment to world peace and human development.

‘OPERATION PROSPERITY GUARDIAN’

One US ‘Operation’ we can’t ignore is Operation Prosperity Guardian, underway right now. Led again by the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark and European countries, these attacks are occurring on Yemeni territory. This coalition of Western countries have launched missiles into Yemen and breached its sovereignty.

In the name of “protecting supply chains,” “guarding prosperity” and ensuring the flow of global capital, the West has effectively begun another war, on Yemen, framed as a war on the Houthis, who are exasperated by the genocide in Palestine.

A war on Houthis is a war on Yemeni territory. To kill Houthis is to kill Yemenis and breach Yemeni sovereignty, just as to kill members of Hamas is to kill Palestinians on Palestinian territory.

This must stop.

DISTRACTIONS

What do all these facts tell us?

First of all, they clarify the nature of our fight. Discussions about Zionism and anti-Semitism have released a flurry of confusions and distractions into our news feeds. From our position viewing this conflict in the West, we see the right-wing media using the genocide of Palestinians for the very worst purpose: to foment hatred of a people, and denigrate those who defend Palestine using whatever method they can muster, including accusations of anti-Semitism. This we know is false, but it’s also a clever distraction.

A way avoiding these distractions is to insist on material facts regarding the role of the West and our own countries in these conflicts and in this genocide. It’s important right now to emphasise that Israel has not acted alone. This makes our protests, right here in the imperial core, more, not less, important.

Make no mistake, we won’t just support Palestine now, we’ll support it long into the future if and when it becomes a strong, liberated, secure state that can begin a path of reconstruction and development.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Demand the US and the West immediately halt killings anywhere in the Middle East
  • Educate friends and colleagues about the financing role of the United States in Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians
  • Insist that Western countries including our own cease funding Israel
  • Demand UNRWA funding resumes
  • Hit the streets every week with progressives, students and workers to enlighten Australian society about the Palestinian struggle
  • Support Palestinian statehood.
The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More