“[The Israeli security man] took his gun out, pressing it to my head . . . Another man, who was laughing, said: “Why are you bringing perfumes?” I replied: “They are gifts for people I love.” He said: “Oh, do you have love in your culture?” ”
Palestinian journalist Mohammad Omar, June 26, 2008
That sums it up. It encapsulates the disrespect, the utter contempt for Palestinians – indeed for all Arabs – felt and displayed by vicious and spiteful Israeli buffoons. This tiny but significant cameo explains the entire ethos of the Israeli regime as concerns colonially-suppressed Arab serfs who have been for sixty horrible years without help or hope in their destitution and despair. This incident, which was not made known by the mainstream media (“Your search – Mohammad Omar – did not match any documents” – New York Times), became public only because non-mainstream editors, not subject to pressure or to energetically held personal beliefs, have nothing to fear from media moguls with financial or personal axes to grind.
The journalist Mohammad Omar was trying to return home from attending a function in London to mark his award of a journalistic distinction, the Martha Gellhorn Prize, for his reporting. His journey back to Gaza was assisted by the Dutch Embassy, which deserves great credit for trying – albeit unsuccessfully – to have his return free of harassment and the normal casual barbarity of Israeli officials. (The Dutch and the Scandinavian countries do a great deal, quietly and usually effectively, in support of decency and world-wide human rights. Official Washington laughs at them.) But the Israelis pay no attention to diplomatic custom and civilized traditions when these do not suit them, although they insist on them when it seems that someone might be so indelicate as to make it clear that Israel is behaving illegally and disgustingly, which it does a lot of the time.
Let me declare an interest : I was made aware of the arrogance of Israelis when one of my duties was to brief and debrief army officers going to the UN Mission in the Middle East. My briefings were straightforward and impartial, but I was interested in the fact that the young officers were without exception pro-Israeli. “There are the brave Israelis,” they exclaimed, “surrounded by evil Arabs intent on destroying their country!” (Or words to that effect.) “Gallant little Israel” was the theme, because it was standing alone against the massed might of the Arab nations. (And true enough, because Egypt and Syria had tried and failed to invade Israel to avenge the treatment of the Palestinians to whom the land belonged – and still belongs, in law.)
I debriefed three of these officers when they returned after their year in UN service. By that time they despised and loathed Israel and Israelis. They told me that without one exception, so far as they knew, their scores of colleagues of all nations represented in the UN Mission had equally forthright views. One of them, an old friend, told me in detail of his experiences, and of one in particular that to his mind demonstrated the jackboot approach.
One day he was in a UN jeep in an area forbidden to Israeli troops, and driving through a village street, when an Israeli tank blocked the way. He got out of his jeep to remonstrate, and the Israeli tank commander – “blond, blue-eyed, he was straight out of Rommel’s Afrika Corps or the bloody SS” – traversed the gun and depressed it to sight on the UN vehicle. He didn’t say anything, but obviously was ready to fire. The UN officer was sensible, and got back into his jeep and reversed the hell out of there. His report, like all those detailing Israeli arrogance and non-cooperation, was sent to UN HQ in New York and filed and forgotten. The US does not permit any criticism of the country that its current secretary of state has described as “the key to security of the world.”
This was an astonishing statement by Dr Rice, and should be put in context. So here is the report from an Israeli newspaper:
“In an exclusive interview with Israel’s daily Yediot Aharonot . . . Dr Condoleezza Rice said that “the security of Israel is the key to security of the world.” Rice added that she feels “a deep bond to Israel.” Asked if her feelings toward Israel stem from her religious convictions, Dr. Rice said “That is a very deep question. I first visited Israel in 2000. I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it . . . I think that we, Israel and the US, share common values. Israel is the only democracy in the region. That is also very important . . .”
Obviously she has love for Israeli culture, and she is not alone, for there are other lovers of Israel, some in high uniformed places.
Much publicity was given to a statement on 2 July by the US Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, when he was asked about a possible Israeli attack on Iran. He said “This is a very unstable part of the world and I don’t need it to be more unstable . . . Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us.” How this could be interpreted, as it was by most US media, as a sign of “discouragement” to Israel is intriguing. (And use of the personal pronoun “I” says a great deal : who is this man who is grown so mighty?) Associated Press also recorded that Mullen “refused to say what Israeli leaders had told him during his meetings with them last week about any intentions to strike Iran.” But we might have some idea about that, if only because of what Mullen said on 4 May concerning US support for Israel. He declared that the US
“has been at Israel’s side for all of 60 years, it will be for the next 60 years, 100 years and 1,000 years. With all its success, I am a tremendous admirer and have great respect for Israel.”
It is amazing that a military officer of any nation could make such a public declaration of unconditional support for a foreign country. It was a blatantly political statement by a uniformed officer following his leader, George W Bush, who is similarly committed to Israeli supremacy and has said that “Israel is a solid ally of the United States. We will rise to Israel’s defense, if need be. . . . You bet, we’ll defend Israel.”
It was reported on 4 June, following a Bush meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert, that the latter said “We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.” It could not be more clear that the Bush administration is determined to help Israel attack Iran, not matter what might otherwise be stated in public.
The Israeli lobby in Washington has a stranglehold on US foreign policy. There is no US politician of any party who dare criticize Israel. Such impudence would lead to a campaign for their political extinction, funded by rich and vindictive zealots who are single-minded in their support of a foreign country to which they owe unconditional loyalty. So the stage is set for a strike on Iran, after which the world will reel from the effects of Israel’s lunacy.
There is not much love in their culture.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY lives in France. His website is www.briancloughley.com