The Massacre in Palestine and the Threat of a Wider War

Shamus Cooke

Yet another Israeli-led and U.S.-backed massacre is taking place as the world watches in horror. The western media, desperately trying to peddle the puny rockets of Hamas as bullying, does journalistic back flips in avoiding the utter carnage brought down by the much more powerful — U.S. made and paid for — Israeli missiles.

In an effort to target Hamas, the Israeli military has massively bombed over 300 sites and counting, including a five story building that was demolished at a university campus. As of this writing, 391 Palestinians have been officially counted as dead with nearly 2000 wounded. The number of dead is certainly undercounted, as bodies still lie under mountains of rubble (the number of dead Israelis is five). To say that only “Hamas militants” are being targeted is a most shameful lie.

The truth is, if one is to target Hamas specifically, the Gaza population in general must be attacked, since they offer Hamas not only wide support, but attend Hamas-financed schools, mosques, health clinics, and soup kitchens.

This fact led to the above mentioned bombing at the university. Hamas is not simply an Islamic parliamentary body but a nationalist political organization with a large social service apparatus with close ties to the majority of people in the region.

On November 4, while much of the world watched Barack Obama’s victory celebration, Israel used this distraction to break the ceasefire between itself and Hamas by bombing the Gaza strip. Israel claimed this violation of the ceasefire was to prevent Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

The very next day, Israel launched a terrorizing siege of Gaza, cutting off food, fuel, medical supplies and other necessities in an attempt to “subdue” the Palestinians while at the same time engaging in armed incursions.

In response, Hamas and others in Gaza again resorted to firing crude, homemade, and mainly inaccurate rockets into Israel. During the past seven years, these rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 17 Israelis. Over the same time span, Israeli blitzkrieg assaults have killed thousands of Palestinians, drawing worldwide protests but falling on deaf ears at the U.N.

The outrage produced by the occupation and now the massive destruction of the Palestinian society, combined with the continued savagery of the Israeli government, make the Middle East an especially combustible area.

The U.S. puppet dictator in Egypt, Mubarak, is making his already-shaky regime less popular by his role in the conflict, by manning the tightly sealed Israeli border with machine gunners to force back terrified Palestinians.

The king of Jordan, Abdullah, yet another U.S.-financed tyrant, resides over a population deeply sympathetic to the Palestinians, but did all that his bosses in Washington would allow him to do — nothing.

The whole Middle East is brewing with resentment and hatred with this action, putting pressure on strained U.S. puppet dictators across the region, such as the recently formed one in Iraq.

Not only are the Middle East client states in danger of disintegration, but Israel is capable of expanding the conflict, as the western corporate media openly talks about Hamas’ “enablers” in Lebanon and Iran. Much attention is being focused not only on Hezbollah’s open support of the Palestinians, but on Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who “decreed” that all Muslims have an obligation to defend the Palestinians.

Now, accusations are being made that Iran, Hezbollah, and even China have supplied Hamas with more “sophisticated” missiles.

The undeniable logic here is that Israel would be justified in attacking these countries if they were found — or suspected of — supplying Hamas with weapons or other support useful in a war setting.

It must also be noted that the current Israeli military operation was not a spontaneous act, but the result of months of planning since the level of targets being fired upon requires substantial intelligence gathering. The planning involved was revealed by Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who called the bombing campaign the “first of several stages” in operation Cast Iron. A rejected ceasefire and the continuing swell of ground troops ready to invade on the border could intensify the slaughter.

It is undeniable that Israel’s allies, most importantly the U.S., were fully aware of the invasion beforehand, but also of the destabilizing effects it would have on the entire region at a time when the Middle East — thanks to the U.S. and Israel — needs only a spark to ignite. It is possible that the current conflict will provide Israel with the pretext it has needed to finally attack Iran since government officials have not been shy in discussing the idea before operation Cast Iron began.

The very real possibility of a wider Middle East war — itself capable of drawing in the world — receives no comment from Barack Obama, who also must have known about Israel’s plans beforehand. Other leading Democrats simply cheer-leaded the Israeli advance while sternly lecturing the Palestinians.

This reaction of the Democrats comes not from some underground Zionist conspiracy, but the very profitable service Israel provides to U.S. corporations, by providing “stability” to the region — through state terror — so that U.S. businesses can continue to dominate the region.

In exchange, the Israeli ruling class receives not only huge subsidies from the U.S. — in the form of weapons of mass destruction and cash — but is enabled to use the constant threat of war to terrorize its native working class into submission.

This grossly irrational-appearing relationship between the U.S. and Israel has a solid, logical core: that of the profit motive inherent in a capitalist economy and the oil needed to lubricate it. So that U.S. corporations may dominate the Middle East, competing corporations elsewhere need to be scared away, while native populations need to be terrorized into obedience.

The basis on which to end this war requires that mass protests, demanding that billions of dollars of U.S. aid to Israel cease, be combined with a deeper understanding of the causes of imperialism and war.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at portland@workerscompass.org