Israel: Beyond Good and Evil?

by , September 02, 2006

The viciousness of the Israeli assault on Lebanon is underscored by the IDF’s use of cluster bombs against civilian targets. As Jan Egeland, who heads up humanitarian operations for the United Nations, put it:

“What’s shocking – and I would say to me completely immoral – is that 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution. Every day people are maimed, wounded, and are killed by these ordnance.”

As close to a million refugees return to their homes, 100,000 unexploded cluster bombs – most of them dropped by the Israelis in the closing hours of the war – lie in wait for them and their children. Kids often pick up such ordnance because of its resemblance to toys. Such is the sickening legacy of the Israeli aggression, which will continue to deal death long after "peace" is declared.

The Israelis, for their part, defend their use of cluster bombs. Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin philosophized that, while war is "regrettable," dropping the widely condemned ordnance on civilian targets in Lebanon was perfectly legal:

"Israel does not break any international laws in the type of armaments it uses. Their use conforms with international standards."

Eisin, you’ll note, didn’t even attempt a moral defense of the IDF’s murderously cruel tactics: the Israelis long ago ceded the moral high ground and retreated behind a veritable Wall of Separation, beyond good and evil. The spirit of what might be called their Nietzschean foreign policy was well expressed in Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman’s reply to those who decried Israel’s response to the kidnapping of two soldiers as wildly disproportionate: "You’re damned right this is disproportionate!"

The ordinary rules of morality don’t apply to the IDF: Gillerman and his government are explicitly rejecting international moral norms, asserting that Israel has the right to commit any atrocity in the name of "self-defense." And if their "defense" requires the reduction of Lebanon to rubble, then so be it. Such is the creed of the new Israeli Overman.

In normal society, individuals who live by this Nietzschean code of anti-ethics are called sociopaths. Most wind up behind bars. Others find employment in the various branches of government. Gillerman is a proud spokesman for this disturbing trend in official Israeli circles – it was he who wowed the crowd at the March 6 AIPAC conference when he averred,

"While it may be true – and probably is – that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim."

Insert "Jew" in place of "Muslim," and substitute "international bankers" or "Ecstasy dealers" for "terrorists," and imagine the resulting furor: the speaker would be likened to Hitler and run out of town on a rail. Instead, Gillerman’s star rose in the American political firmament, so that by summer he was gracing the stage alongside Hillary Clinton at a pro-Israel rally in New York City:

“Let us finish the job! You know better than anyone else that what we are doing is doing your own work: fighting terror…. And to those countries who claim we are using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: you’re damn right we are!”

This braying, swaggering arrogance is the sort of style one usually associates with the historic enemies of the Jewish people – jackbooted fascists and neo-Nazis, who wear their nihilistic ruthlessness on their sleeves alongside their swastika armbands. Here is yet more evidence of my thesis that Israeli society, deformed by perpetual war and disfigured by state controls, is morphing into a form of fascism, including a mass movement with global reach that mimics the historical forms of national socialism – minus, of course, the requisite anti-Semitism. The national-socialist Sparta of the Middle East, egged on by its radicalized American amen corner, is embarked on a campaign of aggression that can only end in disaster for all – the United States included.

The reality, in spite of Gillerman’s contention that the Israelis are (somehow) fighting our fight, is that the Americans will be drawn into any war sparked by another proudly disproportionate strike by the IDF. We’ll have to finish what they start. This is the one overriding principle of our policy, the mad "America last, Israel first" paradigm that distorts the rational pursuit of U.S. interests in the region. The IDF makes a mess in Lebanon – and we are charged with cleaning it up. When the Israelis aren’t bulldozing the homes of their Palestinian helots, they’re using them for target practice – and the ire of the Arab-Muslim world is directed at us, because those bulldozers and those bullets were paid for by American taxpayers, just as those cluster bombs that continue to kill and maim Lebanese civilians were made in – and paid for by – the U.S.

Amnesty International is urging the Israelis to provide maps of areas where cluster bombs were dropped, in an effort to clean up the deadly debris left behind by the invaders, but the Israelis, proud of their ruthlessness, are unlikely to assent. After all, can’t you just hear Gillerman braying his defiance at those who "claim" that the IDF’s dropping such deadly ordnance means Lebanese children are dying: You’re damned right they are!

As for that investigation by the U.S. State Department into allegations U.S.-made cluster bombs were found in south Lebanon – and used in violation of several long-standing agreements to which Israel is a party, as well as U.S. laws, including the Arms Export Control Act – I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any conclusive results or corrective action. As this New York Times piece suggests, no one expects the State Department probe, undertaken by the directorate of Defense Trade Controls, will lead to sanctions against the Israelis. By going through the motions, however, the Bush administration hopes to bolster its stock with its Arab allies – or, at least, prevent it sinking from sight.

Sinking very far from sight is the likely fate of the State Department investigation – unless antiwar activists keep the issue in the spotlight and force Congress (especially "antiwar" Democratic candidates for Congress) to take a position. Cluster bombs dropped on Lebanese civilians, Ned Lamont – are you for or against?

The U.S. is now demanding that sanctions be imposed on Iran for what Tehran might do in the future, for aggression that has not yet been committed, and yet the Israelis are immunized from any penalty for what they have already done. This kind of hypocrisy is astonishing – and yet more evidence that, even as the Israelis place themselves beyond good and evil, the U.S. is fully complicit in their crimes. And it’s all paid for by you, the American taxpayers.

Read more by Justin Raimondo