Tariq Ali

The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, denounced the bombing of the UN school in Gaza as ‘outrageous’ and ‘unjustifiable’. His officials have described the massacres as a ‘disgrace to the world’. Who stands disgraced? The UN General Assembly has regularly voted in favour of an independent Palestine. It is the Security Council that has vetoed the very thought and the Security Council, as everyone knows, is dominated by the United States; on this issue, Russia and China have remained on message.

What of the broader ‘international community’, in other words the United States/EU/Nato? They have backed Israel. As for the ideologues of the human rights industry, Samantha Power, the queen of ‘humanitarian interventions’, is the US rep on the Security Council and staunchly pro-Israel. Both the House and the Senate have unanimously written Israel a blank cheque; the French Socialist government banned demonstrations against the Gaza horrors in Paris on the grounds that they would encourage anti-semitism (not well received by French Jewish organisations who co-sponsored the march); the British Foreign Office is compliant as usual; the Germans too busy imposing sanctions against Russia while turning a blind eye to Gaza and refusing to accept that the Palestinians are the indirect victims of the judeocide the Third Reich unleashed during the Second World War and for which successive democratic governments in Germany have been paying ever since. The US satellite states in Eastern Europe have followed suit. Scandinavia, too, with this exception: Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister and veteran Nato hack, supports US policies, but the Swedish king and queen donned Palestinian scarves and joined a public demonstration against Israeli atrocities.

In the Arab world there is great anger below, but the Wahhabi monarch in Riyadh, the Israeli-protected king in Jordan and General Sisi in Egypt have effectively backed Israel’s assault on Gaza. They loathe Hamas and make no secret of the fact that they would rejoice if the Israelis exterminated the organisation. And what about those who vote for it? Dissolve the people and elect another? In Turkey, Recip Erdoğan makes a lot of noise, mostly ineffective and over-the-top, but refuses to break diplomatic relations with Israel. Turkey is after all a longstanding member of Nato and if Iraqi Kurdistan becomes ‘independent’ as a US-Israeli protectorate, Erdoğan will need their help to prevent a spillover in eastern Turkey.

While Asia is effectively silent – China thinks trade, India is close to Israel, Japan is still not allowed its own foreign policy – in South Africa there is growing support for the BDS campaign (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) led by Desmond Tutu and others. The apartheid analogies are not taken lightly and the ANC in the South African parliament voted unanimously to expel the Israeli ambassador, a demand ignored by President Zuma.

The strongest political reaction has come from a continent where Muslim populations are either non-existent or tiny. Venezuela and Bolivia broke relations with Israel after the attack on Gaza in 2009. The Israeli ambassadors in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Salvador and Brazil have now been asked to pack their bags.

In the Occupied Territories themselves there is strong unity from below and Mahmoud Abbas, who initially remained silent and refused to visit Gaza, is now talking of ‘Israeli war crimes’, but his security apparatus and the PLO leadership has been collaborating with the IDF ever since the Oslo Accords. Hamas might have been drawn to this position with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whose elected leaders were willing to capitulate to Washington like the PLO. Sisi’s coup put paid to all of that and Hamas was, as a result, able to reassert its independence.

There is no military solution in the region. Israel is a nuclear state and has the sixth largest army in the world (so talk of parity with Hamas – moral, political or military – is grotesque). It is threatened by itself, not by an outside force. The only solution left is the creation of a single state with equal rights for all and till this is achieved the only way to help the Palestinians in the medium-term is via the BDS campaign. It is not enough, I know, but it is the very least we can do.


  • 31 July 2014 at 2:43pm
    Gunnar says:
    "...the Swedish king and queen donned Palestinian scarves and joined a public demonstration against Israeli atrocities."

    Not quite. About a year ago they were each given a Palestinian scarf as presents during a walkabout in northern Sweden. The scarves included the motto "Our Aqsa and not their temple". They accepted the gifts and smiled to the cameras while wearing them over their shoulders, and were of course critized for it from some quarters. That's about it.

  • 31 July 2014 at 11:39pm
    bat020 says:
    Broadly agree with this (especially the conclusion) but I'm not sure Tariq gets the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Washington quite right. Whatever the problems with Morsi's government when he was in power aid could cross the Rafah border. Operation Pillar of Cloud ended with Netanyahu submitting to an Egyptian-brokered truce. Under Sisi the crossing is sealed and Palestinian fatalities are running ten times higher. It's a bit peculiar to characterise this as a matter of Hamas "reasserting its independence".

  • 1 August 2014 at 9:02am
    ander says:
    Germany's reluctance to condemn Netanyahu's pacification of Gaza has yet another motive than that mentioned by Tariq Ali: Germany's lucrative deal to supply the Israeli navy with an extra batch of the Dolphin Class attack submarines, the latest of which having the capability to launch nuclear cruise missiles. Angela Merkel would be skirting hypocrisy providing Netanyahu with heavy arms while condemning him for using them. Daily Detox mentions this subject in a posting which can be found under the following link:

  • 1 August 2014 at 9:16pm
    2345 says:
    While Chile's Muslim population is very tiny, it has a fairly large and influential Palestinian and Arab Christian community which has political weight. So while the Chilean decision to recall their ambassador to Israel has human rights reasons, political and electoral calculation cannot be ruled out. Brasil and Argentina also have large Arab, mostly Christian, Arab communities.

  • 5 August 2014 at 4:08am
    a says:
    I strongly disagree with the author's views especially by presenting Israel as world's 6th largest military power. And then how he goes on to press onto his own preferred solution of "ONE STATE" which would be of course ISRAEL, backed by superpowers. This is all a farce and the real game is being played in the war-rooms of Washington, Moscow, Beijing, London and Paris.7 billion people's peace is being destroyed by these 5 security council's member states since more than a hundred years now. These states are simply pushing all of the small armies like Hamas or other freedom fighting factions of the world to procure dangerous weapons. Instead of seeing the dream of United Nations to make this world peaceful, we see continuous efforts and pushing by these 5 nations to make this world as dangerous as possible. This non-sense has to stop and will stop just like thousands of the pages of history speak LOUD and clear. If might is right, then everyone will run to procure as much might as they can. Using weapons to subjugate humans is a very old and a failed strategy. Wars have never EVER solved a problem, it has always created thousand more in the after-math. If not today, tomorrow all of these warriors will be sitting across each other on a table and shaking hands to establish peace. Killing a human is not a victory, it is actually a self-defeat since one could not bear his/her ability, reason or logic to disagree or to be subjugated as a lesser being than themselves. The day neighbors will start protecting their neighbor's life and property as their own, global peace will come back. Until then, let's continue to watch fools running the show.

  • 6 August 2014 at 3:12pm
    Pennywhistler says:
    I would LOVE to see how Mr. Ali would implement his "one-state solution. Would the Knesset be in charge or would suicide bombers?

    Oh for the time to point out all the bullshit here.

    "Israel has the sixth largest army in the world." For a few weeks. Then everyone has to go back to their jobs or the economy collapses.

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