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The Blame Game in Gaza: Covering for Israel, Concealing War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Israeli war crimes in Gaza

James Petras on the Israeli Lobby, Occupied Palestine, and US-Israeli Militarism - by Stephen Lendman

Over his long distinguished career, James Petras authored hundreds of articles and dozens of books on many topics, including social change in Latin America, unmasking globalization, 21st century imperialism, and the subject of this contribution to his festschrift - the power of the Israeli Lobby, Occupied Palestine, and US-Israeli militarism.

This article discusses some of his current writing and analysis from three of his recent books - "The Power of the Israeli Lobby in the United States, Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire, and Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power." All were reviewed earlier in-depth.

"The (2006 published) Power of Israel in the United States" is a work of epic writing documenting the influence of the most powerful lobby in Washington. It extends to the highest levels of government, the business community, academia, the clergy, the mass media, and as Edward Said once said about the Senate: Virtually "the entire (body) can be marshaled in a matter of hours into" coming together for Israel.

The root of its power is in the high proportion of Jewish families among the wealthiest and most dominant in the country. They include billionaires and many others who've created a "tyranny of Israel over the US" with consequences grave enough to threaten world peace, security, the global economy, and democracy's very future in America and elsewhere.

Because of its influence, Washington unconditionally supported all Israeli aggression since 1967. Israel also played a leading role in both US Iraq wars and intervening sanctions, but that's not all. It may press us into war on Iran and its hugely destabilizing effects if it comes. More still, it suppresses open Middle East debate and dissenting opposition to its imperial agenda - regardless of the harm to America or how grievously it violates international law.

Attacking Iraq in 1991, 12 years of punishing sanctions, then invading and occupying the country in 2003 removed one of Israel's key adversaries with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria remaining. At the same time, Saddam's Palestinian support ended, and Israel advanced further toward its goal of total regional dominance in partnership with Washington.

Committed Israeli support makes it possible:

-- from officials at all levels of government;

-- influential Jewish organizations and lobbying groups like the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (PMAJO), the Zionist Organization of America (ZAO), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and according to some observers, the single most powerful Washington lobby - AIPAC; and

-- the vast "Jewish Diaspora," including many thousands of dedicated activists - doctors, lawyers, dentists, philanthropists, key Wall Street figures, major bank executives, Federal Reserve governors, its chairman, other key businessmen, major media bosses, the clergy, academia, and journalists given special prominence because they support a pro-Israeli agenda, its aggressive war policy, and its most grievous of disturbing crimes of war and against humanity - like the savagery shown Gaza under siege and the Nazi-like blitzkrieg against civilian men, women and children, massacred like for fun in an electronic war game.

As a result, Israel gets away with mass murder and receives more US aid than all other nations combined and special privileges with it:

-- billions of dollars annually in aid;

-- the latest weapons and technology;

-- low or no interest rate loans;

-- some simply waived and not repaid;

-- additional monetary aid as requested;

-- unrestricted US market access for its products and services;

-- free entry of its immigrants;

-- guaranteed Security Council vetoes for unfavorable to its interests resolutions;

-- freedom to operate covertly inside America, including on US military bases; and

-- Washington's partnership in its aggressive wars, its military agenda, occupation of Palestine, wars against Lebanon, unwarranted attacks on Syria, retention of the Golan Heights, and freedom to commit the most grievous crimes of war and against humanity, including mass-Palestinian incarcerations, free use of torture, and as much mass murder as it wishes.

Regardless of its harm to America, Israel gets what it wants because the "Zionist power configuration (ZPC)" extends well beyond the Lobby. It includes a "complex network of interrelated formal and informal groups, operating at the international, national, regional, and local levels" unconditionally supporting Israel and its agenda of war, colonization and oppression.

It influences the selection of political candidates and can defeat incumbents or aspirants daring to criticize Israel. It also shapes major media reporting, suppresses everything unsupportive or critical, and can get academics fired with Norman Finkelstein Exhibit A.

ZPC's fruition came under George Bush to the degree that Ariel Sharon once boasted that: "We have the US president under our control." It's likely Israel's next prime minister will say the same about Barack Obama - the man Petras calls "America's First Jewish President" in his November 2008 article by that title. He quoted him asking Israeli president Shimon Peres: "What can I do for Israel?"

He relates how he was spotted, chosen, groomed, vetted, judged safe on all matters for Israel, and may outdo George Bush and the neocons. He discusses the "conversion and promotion of Obama as an Israel-Firster" - a clear example of how ZPC influence builds "a near invincible power base in the US political system" under either major party.

"Obama's conversion began through an ideologically diverse, individual, family, and community-based effort" - from local to national prominence with massive political tutoring and funding. It began when Harvard Law School Zionist professor (Martha Minow) spotted him on campus as a "smart, promising, and politically ambitious" recruit. He then advanced step by step with powerful backers to his current role - a sort of ZPC Manchurian candidate-president and not likely one to disappoint.

As Petras puts it: "Obama had crossed the River Jordan (and capitulated) to the Zionfascists" and their agenda. Call him George Bush's third term and not "change to believe in" as wishful thinkers will soon learn. Obama has surrounded himself with a coterie of pro-Israeli zealots - from State to Defense to Treasury and all other high-level posts.

Petras justifiably worries about the "ascent of a minority of ambitious power-driven political operatives acting first and foremost for a militarist colonial power in a strategic region of the world....the biggest threat to world peace and to US democratic values in recent history....Where does that leave the American people, their rights, their interests and their country's independent foreign policy?"

Given the gravest ever global economic crisis, an agenda of continued militarism, a stronger-than-ever alliance with Israel, and the continuation of reckless policies the new administration espouses, be warned that the future under Obama looks grim and frightening. Petras alerted us.

In his latest January 2009 article titled "The Politics of An Israeli Extermination Campaign: Backers, Apologists and Arms Suppliers," Petras discusses Israel's war on Gaza, its "totalitarian vision....ethno-rascist ideology," genocidal agenda, criminal targeting of civilians, and assured continuity under a new Israeli prime minister and Obama as America's ("first Jewish") president.

Gaza remains totally isolated and for Israel a "free fire zone (against) the entire population of 1.5 million semi-starved prisoners" living in what Michel Chossudovsky calls a "concentration camp" - mercilessly under attack round the clock, including with illegal terror weapons.

Israel even "boasts of having systematically planned the extermination campaign - months in advance - up to and including the precise hour and day of the bombing to coincide with inflicting the maximum murder of civilians: the rockets and bombs fell as children were leaving school (and others arriving for afternoon classes), as graduating police cadets were receiving diplomas, and as frantic mothers ran out from their homes to find their sons and daughters."

Israel and Washington planned the operation collaboratively "because of (ZPC) influence" over administration and congressional policies under Republicans and Democrats. Strong backing as well comes from media bosses, trade unions, academia, and the entire support network for turkey-shoot mass murder.

Petras explains: "There is little hope for an independent US Congressional policy as long as Israel's war of extermination in Gaza (or elsewhere) can be defended by" the President, cabinet, House Speaker, leaders of both parties, and virtually the entire Washington establishment with enough power to matter.

"Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire"

In 2007, Petras' "Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire" was published. It discusses America's "systemic dimensions," evolving changes in its ruling class, its corporatist system, its use of force and genocidal carnage, Latin American relations and regional events, and the Israeli Lobby's power among other topics.

In Part II, the power of Israel and its Lobby was covered:

-- how combined they torpedoed Jim Baker's Iraq Study Group (ISG) proposal for an alternative Middle East agenda;

-- one favoring stability and less conflict;

-- a phased withdrawal from Iraq;

-- engaging, not waging war against, Iran; and

-- policies Big Oil wants for a more stable business climate.

Israel, AIPAC and the ZPC make war with Iran their top priority and back candidates supportive of "Israel's military solution to Iran's (perfectly legal) nuclear enrichment program." For Israel and its Lobby, Arabs and Muslims threaten peace, and Washington should unconditionally support its agenda against them.

The Lobby wanted war on Iraq and got it. The 2006 Lebanon one as well, targeting Syria, the current Gaza conflict, and more ahead with Iran to neutralize Israel's main regional rival - even at the risk of economic collapse and a possible calamitous world war.

Petras calls Washington's permanent war strategy in collaboration with Israel "an irrational gamble comparable to Hitler's attack on Russia" that doomed him and Germany. Attacking Iran and perhaps Syria and Hezbollah may result in "greater defeats, greater domestic rebellion" and dark future prospects ahead.

"Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power"

In 2008, "Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power" continued the story. Petras discussed Zionism's destructive influence on America - its stranglehold on US politics, the media, and all important segments of society. He again debunked the notion that ZPC influence is like all others and provides convincing evidence of its veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, and Middle East policies under both major parties.

One example among others were the pretexts for invading and occupying Iraq:

-- WMDs still unfound and known not to exist at the outset;

-- removing a dangerous dictator who pre-Gulf War was a valued ally;

-- bringing democracy to the region when, in fact, every effort is made to suppress it;

-- preventing a civil war in occupied Iraq, but our presence is why one may start;

-- needing a military victory to retain our superpower status - as though smashing a country proves our "bona fides;"

-- reassuring regional regimes we're reliable for protection and reminding outliers that war against them may be next; and

-- proving that America is the toughest bully around and able to fight and defeat whatever we call "terrorism."

The longer the Iraq and Afghan wars continue, the less convincing these arguments become. The more likely occupied people will resist, the greater the economic and political cost, and the increased chance that the US public no longer will put up with permanent wars at a time grave domestic needs should take precedence.

Wars nonetheless persist with possible larger scale conflict ahead and the perilous consequences if it comes. The Israeli Lobby wants it, and those opposed are intimidated, blackmailed, smeared, pressured, removed from positions of authority, and at times murdered in ways disguised as unfortunate accidents - a long-time CIA practice against "uncooperative" leaders and high officials anywhere, including at home.

Petras looks ahead and explains that Israel and its Lobby want sequential wars for more power by eliminating all regional challengers. Congress and the administration are supportive. Cost and duration are no deterrents, and permanent Washington-Israeli regional domination is the goal.

What precisely is the ZPC-Israeli Lobby - a power unlike any other politically! Representing less than 1% of the population, it consists of "a multiplicity of highly organized, well-financed and centrally-directed structure throughout the US." It includes scores of political action committees, a dozen or more think tanks, and the "52 major American Jewish organizations grouped under the umbrella listing Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO)."

Equally or more important are grassroots Jewish federations and organizations throughout the country, including influential professionals and activist students plus the entire political establishment from Washington to state and local levels.

The ZPC "octopus" reaches everywhere - "far beyond the traditional centers of big city power and national politics....into remote towns and cultural spheres" across the country. With powerful mass media backing, its influence is enormous, and only the brave (perhaps foolish) dare opposes it. Yet they do, their numbers grow, and may swell because of Israel's outrageous Gaza slaughter.

Today, the Lobby "is at or near the peak of its political power," yet remains vulnerable. Hostility against it is growing. Unless stopped, it's heading America toward what Chalmers Johnson calls the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change: "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy" plus authoritarian rule, the loss of personal freedom, and end of democracy. America's alliance with Israel and submissiveness to its Lobby hastens the arrival of that kind of future.

Petras again reviewed the possibility of war with Iran and further regional adventurism. He also discussed how top level Pentagon commanders are replaced by more compliant ones when they're not in accord with Israel and its militarism. He then addressed how this agenda foretells a "decline of US power" as well as a brief history of military vs. market-driven empire building.

He distinguishes between wars of conquest vs. "large-scale, long-term economic penetration via a combination of investments, loans, credits and trade in which market power and superiority (greater productivity) in the means of production led to....a virtual empire."

After WW II, European militarism declined. America's advanced for foreign wars, proxy ones, encircling the world with bases, and establishing an unprecedented military-industrial complex for supremacy. Today over trillion annually goes for "defense" with all spending categories included plus multi-billions more off-the-books and secret CIA, NSA and other undisclosed spending.

America expanded its war-making capacity while Western Europe, Japan, and more recently China and Russia emphasize economic development with predictable results. The US prospered through the 1960s before competition became formidable. Since then, "European and Japanese (and now Chinese, other Asian, Russian and Latin American) market-based (economies) moved with greater dynamism from domestic to export-led growth and began to challenge (our) predominance in a multiplicity of productive sectors."

These regions are more dominant as US economic supremacy declines, leaving America only tops in militarism, and that's now stretched to the limit. Why so? Because of decades of off-shoring manufacturing and growing a predominantly service economy. As a result (except for Wall Street and high finance and tech in good times), low wage jobs replaced better-paying ones. Social benefits are being lost, and unions are a shadow of their former selves.

In addition, trade and current account deficits are enormous. The national debt is skyrocketing. Money is created like confetti - what one analyst calls "toilet paper" and wonders why other countries accept it. The currency is being debased. The groundwork is being laid for a future hyperinflation, and according to one noted economist, a Great Depression doesn't loom ahead, a "Very Great Depression" does because of past excesses and hugely counterproductive current policies.

Petras reviewed market v. military empire building since WW II that brought us to our current dilemma. US prosperity peaked in 1999 and ever since declined - now precipitously. Even during a global economic crisis, China, India, Russia, European, Asian and Latin American states are developing their economies and expanding business relationships around the world while America's position is eroding.

The more Washington advances militarism in partnership with Israel, the worse off in the end things will get. History shows that "imperial wars destroy the productive forces and social networks of targeted countries." They eat the aggressor's seed corn as well and let market-based economies gain advantage through productive alliances.

"Militarist imperialism has weakened the entire economic fabric of the US empire without any compensatory gains on the military side." Since WW II, GHW Bush waged the only two successful conflicts - both against weak opponents, and they were quick and cheap. In contrast, Korea and Southeast Asia were quagmires. So are Iraq and Afghanistan today. No end to them is in sight, and many hundreds of billions of dollars, badly needed at home, are going to waste.

Future prospects are dismal - economic decline, national insolvency, the loss of personal freedom, and last remnants of democracy. All of them are up for grabs because of a destructive alliance with Israel.

Yet incredibly, what harms America helps the Jewish state, at least in the short run. In that light, Iraq was a great success. Saddam was deposed. A key Palestinians backer was removed. The country was smashed, destroyed and dismembered. Israel's regional dominance increased. It's unimpeded in colonizing and devastating Palestine. Next up perhaps Iran as a regional threat. Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas as well. And proxy wars go on against Pakistan, Somalia, and perhaps future ones on Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and even Russia with Georgia attacking South Ossetia an early warning.

Petras calls the "Judeo-centric view of the world" deadly. Believing "what's good for the Jews (means) providing unconditional support to an aggressive colonial state" - Israel. It's a guaranteed "formula for global disaster." A tiny minority of Jews and their supporters back it. In contrast, most Jews and others have no ideological ties to Israel, are dubious of imperial wars, see no advantage in them for themselves, and aren't comforted by America funding them when that spending is vitally needed at home.

No matter, the worst of policies persist. "Where will it take us? When will it end?" In the depths of tyranny unless enough people halt "uncontainable humanitarian calamities whose ramifications impact the entire world" and may end up destroying it and our futures.

Looking Ahead

As this is written, George Bush has days left in office. When it's published, Obama will be president and a new Israeli prime minister perhaps elected. Petras looked at prospects under new leadership. In December, he reflected more in an article titled "A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History," and this writer wholeheartedly agrees.

Petras:...."even a cursory analysis of his key campaign advisors and public commitments to Wall Street speculators, civilian militarists, zealous Zionists and corporate lawyers....point(s) to a continuation of the economic and military policies of the Bush administration."

This writer looks ahead to George Bush's third term, and make no mistake. "Within 3 weeks of his election, he appointed all the political dregs who brought on the unending wars of the past two decades, the economic policy makers responsible for the financial crash....Obama (speaks to) workers and work(s) for their financial overlords....He promise(s) peace in the Middle East (and) swears undying allegiance to the (ZPC) War Party....serving a foreign colonial power (Israel)....

on a bigger stage, (he's) the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket." He assures continuity with the worst of George Bush - permanent wars, homeland repression, economic corruption and collapse, the continued pillaging of the national treasury, rewarding banksters for their crimes, debasing the currency, effectively neutralizing organized labor, and detroying what remains of democracy in America - all the while hailing "change to believe in."

Only to the degree of even more of the same failed policies heading us to the edge of the abyss. "Let us (celebrate) our 'First Afro-American' Imperial President, (black on the outside, deceptive beneath), who wins by con...rules by guns," and assures the grimmest of grim futures for his own people and damn near all the rest of us as well.

In his January 8 article - "Venezuela: Socialism, Democracy and the Re-Election of President Chavez," Petras comments on the country's February 15 constitutional referendum to allow indefinite re-elections of the President in the context of an effective, working democracy where voters choose their leader and can keep him or her as long as they wish.

Since February 1999, Chavez transformed Venezuela from "oligarchic electoral politics to democracy." He overcame a 2002 US-backed coup, a subsequent oil management lockout, and through electoral victories "strengthened the process of democratization of the state and civil society."

It's easy to agree that constitutionally letting Chavez be re-elected "is essential for the continuation of the democratic process and social welfare of Venezuelans." He "audacious(ly)" defends "world peace and humanitarian justice," strongly opposes genocidal imperial wars, and had the courage to expel Israel's ambassador for the Gaza war.

Petras compares Chavez to Barack Obama and states:

"At a time of Israel's genocidal war, backed by the US and at a time when newly-elected Obama doubles military spending and troops for wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and possibly Iran, the world looks to President Chavez as the world's foremost humanitarian leader, the outstanding defender of freedom, peace, and self-determinination" when so little of them are around and none whatever in Washington or Tel Aviv, whichever party in either country governs.

"Con (and) guns" indeed when carnage in Gaza rages with the full support of Obama and Congress. It augurs grim times for sure when all humanity needs more like Chavez. No leader in America or Israel is like him.

For Palestinians, their struggle continues - for peace, social justice, self-determination, and liberation. Yet imagine - in solidarity, growing millions globally support them at a time when we're all Palestinians.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre of Research on Globalization. He also co-hosts The Global Research News Hour on Republic, reviewed James Petras' four most recent books, and quotes often from them and his other writings.

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