Israel, the War on Terror and the "Holocaust Effect"
Last week, WikiLeaks released 200,000 pages of US War machine secrets. Like the Pentagon Papers, it may eventually lead to a paradigm shift about an unwinnable war. The Af/Pak Papers go even farther: they expose a “big lie” about the War on Terror. In these documents, what was once murmured is now screamed from the roof-tops: our long-time ally, Pakistan, has been funding and training the Taliban.
With friends like these, who needs “enemies”?
It’s been a long, hot summer for the US War machine. US assassin cabal Task Force 373 was exposed by WikiLeaks with "prima-facie evidence" of war crimes for killing seven children in Afghanistan. Back in May, the US Machine’s top Middle East ally, Israel, rappelled from their helicopters onto a flotilla of human rights activists. Nine aide workers, including one American, were killed in the violent melee. Yet Israel was not censured by the USA, and Congress just approved $33 billion more for Afghanistan.
To fully understand that seductive mix of violence and propaganda called “The War on Terror” you need political and historical chops. But you also need a special kind of insight, into something I’m calling “The Holocaust Effect.”
I want to robustly confront the Nazi genocide against the Jews, but from a new angle. The state violence the Jews suffered has boomeranged back. The only thing worse than suffering violence is when the victim population chooses to ape that violence. Sure, there are no gas chambers in Gaza, but Israel and her supporters have nonetheless crossed a line of late.
This came out last week during the failed campaign of Zionists and right-wingers to stop plans for an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said, "[9/11 Victims Families’] anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."
An organization dedicated to fighting the return of fascism is now endorsing a victim’s “entitlement” to bigotry? Sounds just like Israel’s policy in Gaza.
In the name of victim-hood, violence metastasizes. Israel is the birthplace of two major world religions. Both preach the God of peace, mercy and understanding. But Israel’s huge heart has turned to stone. Without a commitment to gutsy, God-based, peace and nonviolence, Mainstream Zionism has become an ugly practice of hate and murder. Politics alone can’t address the problem, you have to know the Torah, the Bible. You must know God to be able to fully face up to this Zionism of the modern day.
Israeli violence depends on US violence for its life. Just a couple years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frankly admitted "We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," because those events "swung American public opinion in our favor." Here in New York, the “War on Terror” is based on our use of the Holocaust Effect. Look at the past nine years of daily life in NYC. There are similarities between those who increase police and military power here, and the Israeli policies in the occupied territories. The power structure in NYC claims that we were the victims of terror. As a result, that same power structure trashes the Bill of Rights, and puts soldiers on our streets. My bag can be searched at random in the subway. Pre-recorded announcements during that train ride refer constantly to terror, threats, and “suspicious packages.” Yet the power structure has never felt compelled to produce an objective investigation of the 9/11 attacks. Contradictions remain unsolved. The question of justice in this country is frozen in the trauma of terror.
After the brutal killings on the Mavi Marmara, Israel was widely denounced by everyone from Amnesty International to Foreign Policy Magazine to the Daily News. But when the US war machine is your ally, you don’t have to say sorry. President’s Obama’s first response was to express sorrow, and caution everyone to “wait for details to emerge.” Then he called Israel and offered help with their public relations disaster.
The UN called for an objective investigation into the Flotilla killings. Israel refused, and appointed its own military and civilian inquiries (it later acquiesced to an international probe). Of course, Israel’s own military inquiry found no wrong-doing. The civilian inquiry is focusing on "actions taken by those who organized – and participated in – the flotilla, and their identities” while remaining incurious about how nine of them were shot.
I showed up at the Gaza Flotilla Survivors event at House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, on June 17. Flotilla survivors like Kevin Ovendon prepared to give rousing speeches. Before the event got underway, I had a moment to wander across Atlantic Avenue to hear from the 20 counter-protestors waving Israeli flags. Sometimes you learn a lot about an issue from the opposition.
I approached a tall, well-dressed man in a yarmulke, who introduced himself as Dov Hikind (without mentioning he was the New York State Assemblyman who had organized the counter-demonstration).
Hikind told me, “What happened was a tragedy, without question. But the real story is the status of the ‘IHH’” -- the group who organized the flotilla.”
Hikind claimed that the IHH was a “terrorist” organization, and cited local NY politicians like Jerry Nadler who had recently made the claim. Israel has pushed this talking-point, and blocked one of the survivors from being able to speak in the USA, when a petition drive, combined with the efforts of local politicians, pressured the State Department to withhold a visa.
That visa was denied based on allegations that IHH has “ties to Hamas and Al Qaeda.” However, the sources for the assertion are sketchy, if not completely manufactured. The lead source is a paper on IHH from the Danish Institute for International Studies.. But that report was penned by a young, mysterious American named Evan F. Kohlman, a “terrorism expert” inseparable from US Government counter-terrorism. Previous profiles on Kohlman report his “counterterrorism center” is located in his bedroom in New York. .Kohlman is a part of the “Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation” a group that works with 9/11 victims’ families. But rather than producing “answers” about 9/11, Kohlman works as an “expert witness” in military tribunals of terror suspects. What kind of objectivity can you have as a “private consultant in terrorism matters for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)…and Scotland Yard's SO-15 Counter Terrorism Command”? Kohlman took $45,000 from the Pentagon to make an emotional movie, based in part on Pentagon images, to show at a terrorism trial.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind complained that in Gaza, Hamas does not recognize the State of Israel. But even Hikind surprised me when he admitted that there is some truth to the theory that “Hamas is a Creation of Mossad.” He brusquely quipped, “Go on the internet” if I wanted to learn more. Ok, Dov, let’s go:
Since Hamas’ founding in 1987, Israel’s strategy has been to use the religious Islamists at Hamas as a foil, rather than negotiate with the secular, leftwing Fatah movement. Are you finding peace talks with your Muslim neighbors difficult? It’s convenient, then, to keep on hand your own brand of radical Islamists to do something violent at key moments. Hamas itself is a wing of Muslim Brotherhood, a group with historical ties to the Far Right, and the CIA. Hamas is a “terrorist” group on the State Department list, but their parent group is somehow “the preeminent movement in the Muslim world…something we can work with” according to a former CIA official.
What’s a peace radical to do? What is the ethical Christian/Jewish/Muslim/spiritualist response? Without denying the Jewish Holocaust, is it too heretical to ask if the reason that Holocaust Denial is so popular in the Arab world is that the Holocaust of 65 years ago is now being used to justify brutal attacks on a similarly oppressed people?
Call it the Holocaust Effect. What we are seeing here is the power of victim-hood elevated into the power of legend. The US seeks to enshrine 9/11 into an impregnable cultural myth. The Israeli Right seeks total freedom from human ethics—a strategic advantage in war. (Thank God due process still exists: 550 officers have been investigated for war crimes in Gaza.) The Holocaust Effect is like a US law now, or a cultural norm, as America attempts to justify its expanding empire.
Dwight Eisenhower was one of the heroic US soldiers to first liberate the Jews from the death camps. Gifted with an almost prophetic foresight, he warned us that the Holocaust would someday be denied by political opportunists. What he didn’t see was the “Military-Industrial Complex” (which he also gave dire warning of) would become so powerful, it would wage a war on the truth, by engaging in deception to advance US interests abroad, while instilling terror at home.
In my conversations with Zionists, Dov Hikind included, I have often wondered why they never talk about God. They tell me Zionism is not a religious movement; it’s a nationalist movement. This is a tragic development for the Jewish people.
It shows that the modern-day Israelis are still making the same mistakes from millennia ago. Read the Bible, and you realize the ancient Jews were gifted with an insight into the true nature of the Supreme Being: change, mercy, peace. But today, instead of living the higher law of repentance, compassion, and understanding, the Israeli Likudniks worship a false god of revenge, power and military might. The attack on the Mavi Marmara was so brutal, it may soon “turn the tide” against Zionism, according to Kevin Ovendon, the flotilla survivor allowed to speak that night. The world owes Judaism a huge debt for advancing our consciousness. But the world owes Zionism nothing.
The host at House of the Lord Church, Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry told me that his event was “faithful to the Biblical mandate, to prioritize the needs of the least in society, the excluded, the exploited, a call that is in both the Old and New Testament.”
Jesus came with love for the hated in society: the zealots, the whores, the dispossessed. He preached peace. He walked the talk to the cross. Christians and Jews and Muslims everywhere need to hear this call: Jesus would stand with the people of Gaza, not the soldiers delivering death from above.