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"Anti-war positions can and will be opportunistically jettisoned when it comes to Israel. Which brings me back to Nancy Pelosi and why people of her ilk are disingenuous...."

hollow victory
commentary: mike morgan


The recent U.S. mid-term election results seem to have created an over-exaggerated sense of euphoria in anti-war circles. Anti-war sentiment might have prevailed amongst the electorate, but this hardly establishes the credentials of those who benefited from it as bona fide. At best, there is the satisfaction of watching the neo-cons turn on each other. But that's about all we've got out of it. At worst, any real accountability has been forsaken with the renewal of blind faith that the system itself can produce an effective opposition. This is evident insomuch that there is virtually no critical analysis of what these new power-brokers are actually saying or what they have done in the past. One such individual that deserves more scrutiny is Nancy Pelosi from the Bay Area, the new Speaker of the House.

Nancy Pelosi is an ardent, vociferous supporter of Israel and its brutal occupation of the Palestinians. Here is what she said in May, 2005, when addressing AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, aka the Israeli Lobby) in Washington, D.C.: "There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation and never has been; it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist." Whew, tell that to the Palestinians. This is not so different from the Tom De Lay quote when he was House Majority Whip, namely, "Let every terrorist know that the American people will never abandon freedom, democracy or Israel. Palestinian attacks on Israel are attacks against liberty and all freedom-loving people must recognize that Israel's fight is our fight." Later on, Dick Armey, the House majority leader and a Republican from Texas, went public with the following: " I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank. I happen to believe that the Palestinians should leave...to have those people who are aggressors against Israel retired to some other area." In essence, there is nothing contradictory between these Republican positions and those of Nancy Pelosi. When these kind of statements are made, the asymmetry of the situation is exposed. The concern about violence is purely for the security of Israelis, not for the daily much more lethal dosage meted out by Israelis to Palestinians. In sixteen months of Qassim rocket attacks, one Israeli settler has died; compare this to the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Force during that same period. Perhaps in a different climate, where political opposition might mean something, such obvious bias would raise some eyebrows and ire. But right here and now, it's dismissed by apologists as not amounting to much. Nancy Pelosi is, after all, a vocal Bush critic. Apparently that's enough.

There is an abhorrent position that holds some popular sway in this country: that those elected officials who might be courageous enough to condemn Israel will commit political hara-kiri if they do so and therefore shouldn't, or are let off the hook for their tacit approval, even though Israel deserves to be called on its actions. The overwhelming majority of U.S. politicians choose not to rock the boat, either willingly through solidarity with Israel or for the pursuit of their own careers. If we trace this current administration's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian and Middle Eastern conflicts, its roots can be found in a paper authored in 1996 by neo-cons Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, amongst others, entitled “A Clean Break: A Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which was presented to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and immediately embraced by that regime. This thesis, which became the blueprint for official Bush administration policy, argued that "the Palestinians as a national group do not exist as such." It called for a "proud, wealthy, solid and strong Israel" whose claim to the territory of biblical Palestine was "legitimate and noble." It set forth the basis for the new imperial agenda beginning with "removing Saddam Hussein from power." It laid out the containment of Iran, Syria, and forces within Lebanon that were viewed as rogues or a threat to the grand scheme. Essentially, it pushed for Israeli policy and US policy to be one and the same regionally, particularly in the identification of joint enemies, i.e. the foes of Israel automatically become the foes of the U.S. and vice versa. Needless to say, 9/11 provided it with a jolt in the arm. All of this is enfolding on the ground today. It's hard to know whether the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in summer 2006 was hatched by the Israelis or the U.S.-it probably came about by the collusion of both, but if one spends any time studying this Clean Break neo-con position paper, what we are witnessing now is an exact enactment of its original intent. Since there is nothing short of unanimous support for Israel's policies from this new lot that recently got themselves voted into power, it requires an enormous stretch of the imagination not to expect more of the same. The contradiction of unqualified backing for Israel versus opposing the war in Iraq, mixed in with a universal dread of being perceived as "weak on terror" and all of the double standards inherent to that, will reveal itself in nefarious ways. Those being voted in bear the lion's share of responsibility for this, but that doesn't excuse many of those doing the voting either.

The irony of this was noticeably manifested in the Senator Joseph Lieberman shuffle. Here's an old hack who staunchly supported the invasion of Iraq. He lost this year's Democratic Party primary in Connecticut, apparently based largely on that issue. Yet he finally won his seat back as an independent operator. The conundrum that faced liberal voters was whether to shun him because he was for the war or to vote for him because he is and always has been a strongman for Israel. The latter more than anything else is what gained him re-election. It's also why Al Gore chose him as a running mate in the 2000 presidential election, Gore himself having the same unquestioning loyalty towards Israel. Lieberman's pro-war stance, as disturbing as this was to many of the people who voted in Connecticut, was secondary to his pro-Israel allegiance which finally won the day.

The opposite can also be true. Anti-war positions can and will be opportunistically jettisoned when it comes to Israel. Which brings me back to Nancy Pelosi and why people of her ilk are disingenuous. Any sane thinking political person of conscience should be able to figure out what AIPAC is all about. Goodness, two AIPAC staffers have recently been indicted by the U.S. for espionage. Now, AIPAC is basking in the adoption of Israel by the Christian Right. AIPAC gathers intelligence on anybody who criticizes the Zionist agenda, such as journalists, writers, academics, activists, film makers, playwrights, and politicians who might not toe the line. It seeks to muzzle or discredit these people by any means at its disposal in order to sell the Israeli version of events to Americans, which it accomplishes quite successfully. It is a powerful organization with an unscrupulous underbelly. Nancy Pelosi is not just willing to pay AIPAC lip service, she's an outspoken barker for them. One can't help but wonder how this will play itself out. Clearly, Israel desired the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It would love to see a U.S. military initiative against Iran and punishment to Syria. Israel wants to continue to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they'll either leave or be killed trying to stay. The U.S. has shown little intention of interfering in this process, other than to provide more military, logistical and political clout for the Israelis to carry it through. When many in the rest of the world were outraged this summer over the Israeli devastation in Lebanon and the Gaza, there wasn't one peep of criticism from a single elected U.S. official. There was even more consternation and upheaval inside Israel than here. Yet we are told that there is a vibrant anti-war sentiment afoot in the halls of power in Washington. The preposterousness of this should not be lost on us.

What's more likely is that we are going to see the policies of duplicitous, politically expedient minds and bodies in action. It doesn't bode well for the Palestinians. And it's certainly a kick in the ass and insulting to anybody anywhere who genuinely opposes U.S. wars.


A native of South Africa, Mike Morgan has lived and written in Brooklyn, NY for the last 20 years. He is a founding member of Lurch Magazine and serves as one of its Senior Editors and Contributors. In addition to these duties, he has been and continues to be at the heart of a thriving literary, art and music scene and is a regular at Freddy's Bar, where he is often found discussing global and local affairs, rock and roll, various New York sports teams, and whatever books he happens to be reading at the time. More from Mike Morgan can be found in the Smokebox Archives.

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