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Wishful thinking on Israel / Palestine
Author and serial dissident William Blum once wrote that if he were president, he’d be assassinated in about four days into his term. He said that his policies would include ending wars, apologizing to victims, and dismantling military bases in absurd locations. And it was this—his humane and rational actions—that would get him shot.
I don’t think many of us would fare much better in the Oval Office. For instance, I noticed that the United States, alone among nations, vetoed a U.N. resolution to investigate war crimes in Gaza. The halfwit representing the White House said it gave a thumbs down because the vote was “a political instrument.” I would still be in hysterics if the situation weren’t so grave. As if the U.S. didn’t instantly use the downing of flight MH17 as a political football. Nothing like the flaming carcass of a commercial airliner to help you demonize your enemies. Especially now that Twitter and YouTube are acceptable forms of ‘evidence.’ Screw forensics. The hell with satellite imagery. Forget the crime scene. Social media is the new soul of veracity.
The fact is that the racist pogrom in Gaza would never happen if the U.S. didn’t give Israel the green light. No, Barack Obama didn’t call up Benjamin Netanyahu and say, “Let’s bury some Arabs this week!” He didn’t have to. The light is always green. In the Zionist White House—yes, Obama has repeatedly groveled before AIPAC—there are no yellow caution lights or red stop lights. The freeway to fascism is ever green lit. Full-speed ahead.
Technically, Israel is a free state able to conduct its business as it pleases short of international intervention. But that’s exactly what we need.
So if I were elected president tomorrow, my first act in office would be to ring up Tel Aviv and get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the line. “Bibi, you world-historical thug,” I would begin. “You need to call off the dogs before they butcher more innocent children, blast more hospitals, crush more schools, and generally lay waste to the Gaza Strip.”
Bibi might then sputter a few words of ingratitude and do some insolent posturing, which I would promptly ignore before continuing, “Bibi, you apartheid world champion. If you don’t end the siege, attack, act of illegal aggression—call it what you will—this moment, I’ll stop payment on the three billion dollar check I just sent you. And never write another.
“Furthermore, I am prepared to move the Fifth Fleet from the Straight of Hormuz into the Mediterranean Basin to provide the immiserated, stateless Palestinians with a bit of protection against your ethnic cleansing campaign.”
“But what about Iran? What about the terror in Tehran?” Bibi would stammer with genuine alarm. “The mullahs can’t be trusted. I see mushroom clouds in our future.”
“Bibi, you knavish war criminal, in your monomaniacal racism you missed a few facts. Namely, that since we started tabulating such things, Iran’s official defense policy has been purely defensive. They haven’t attacked anyone unprovoked in centuries. They are, however, quite justifiably frightened by the fact that my country keeps attacking their neighbors, assassinating their scientists, slipping viruses into their computer networks, and doing some high-volume saber rattling anytime we get near a microphone.”
“But the Iron Dome doesn’t work against dirty nukes, Mr. President!”
“Don’t fret, Benji. Congress, which is beyond my control, has just mailed you a check for another couple hundred million to fortify your dome.”
“We must stop these Arab terrorists from threatening Israeli lives! They parade their telegenic dead and try to drum up international support. What gall, using civilian shields to win political support—an outrage against humanity!”
“Try not occupying and resettling their land. Unlikely they’d fire rockets your way in the absence of nonstop oppression. As we discovered much to our surprise in Iraq: people don’t take kindly to having their country occupied, their homes razed, and their citizens tortured.”
“If you think I’m bad, wait until you see what I’ve got behind me in the Knesset! Talk about radical! But we agree on one indisputable fact: Israel has a right to defend itself!”
“Not according to international law, Bibi. Not when you are an occupier. You forfeit that right. But the occupied party does have the right to an armed resistance. It’s called ‘the right to return fire’, not to be confused with that other legitimate concept, ‘the right of return.’”
“Then we reject international law!”
“Then we claim the right to use any method at our disposal to stop you. Right now I’m thinking of lending the considerable weight of the U.S. State Department to further globalizing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. I’m sure the Israeli Chamber of Commerce will be pleased with that development. Not only that, but I’m putting my Security Council veto in a safe and throwing away the code. I’m tired of my country being the major obstacle to progress in the world. You know how many times we’ve vetoed resolutions on your behalf?
“Have you become an Arab sympathizer, Mr. President? How you joined the vile ranks of the anti-Semites?”
“No, Bibi, America just opened its eyes. And just as a point of clarification, aren’t Palestinians Semites, too? How have you managed to appropriate an entire classification of linguistics and ethnology? And if I support peaceful co-existence for both Jews and Arabs, doesn’t that make me pro-Semite?
“Do us all a favor, Benjamin: just resign. I would suggest you retire to Elba in a self-imposed hermitude, but I have a better idea. Simply fly to The Hague, where my lawyers will be waiting for you. I’ll send a rendition jet to pick you up. While you’re being arraigned on war crimes, please signal to the Knesset that you are prepared to recognize Palestine in the U.N. Then ask them to objectively consider whether or not a ‘democratic Jewish state’ is a contradiction in terms, and possibly racist, undemocratic, or both.
“I would nev—“
“Then instruct them, based on their findings, to prepare a plan for a one or two-state solution. If the latter, please note that if any roadmap, blueprint, or other such documents even resemble maps of South African Bantustans, your proposal will be met with extreme hostility this side of the Atlantic. And I’m sure my sycophant colleagues in the City of London will no doubt back me on this. Westminster will be pleased to quit having to parrot our asinine defenses of Israeli policy. Also, please write an op-ed for The New York Times explaining why you think ‘right of return’ is a perfectly reasonable position for an occupied, sequestered, immiserated, displaced, and frequently fired-upon people to take. They probably won’t publish it, but it’s worth a try.”
“Never! How could you turn your back on us?” (At this point Bibi might be rifling through his Gideon Bible or Torah or whatever super-sacred scripture he keeps in the drawer, looking for the passage that warns against turning your back on the tribe of Israel.)
“That’s a good question. Remind me exactly how exclusively supporting Israel benefits America? Sure, it satisfies the jackals at AIPAC and ideologues like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pearle. But what else? It saps our domestic budget. It forfeits the trust of nearly all the Middle East. It makes terrorists want to bomb us. And it morally degrades us.”
“Ah, here it is. And the Lord said—“
“Thanks for the chat, Bibi. I feel like we understand each other a lot better now. Shalom.”
After hanging up, I’d ring up former President Obama’s crack web-coding unit and get the password so I could modify the White House website. I would upload writings by Blum, Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, and a few others. Then I’d write an apology to Palestinians; and post the following lines first glimpsed on a placard in Gaza in 2012:
You take my water
Burn my olive trees
Destroy my house
Take my job
Steal my land
Imprison my father
Kill my mother
Bomb my country
Starve us all
Humiliate us all
But … I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.
That’s how I would begin my presidency. Naturally, I would probably end it not long afterward (Tony Blair mentioned something about “45 minutes”) with a hole in my head and being unceremoniously dumped at sea. But there are worse fates. Like living under eternal siege.
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives and works in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.