| Tricks of a movable fence
Recent developments over Iraq and Israel confirm the need to draw a distinction between the United States of America and its president, and to acknowledge, while honouring the land, that there could be no greater menace to mankind than George W. Bush. For him and his satrap, Israel’s Ariel Sharon, the “axis of evil” is a ploy to reinvent west Asia into an unrecognizable dependency.
Bush lied to the world about Saddam Hussein’s arsenal. He protects Sharon’s murderous regime. He has devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, destroyed their established governments, and butchered thousands of innocent men, women and children. He has foisted a puppet ruler on Afghanistan and a colonial military dictatorship on Iraq. Syria and Iran may be next on his hit list. If ever there was a case for a war crimes trial, it is of Bush. If ever there was a case for regime change to restore peace and stability to the world, it is in Washington.
Take the so-called present and constant threat of Iraq. The Iraq Survey Group, set up by the American Central Intelligence Agency after an earlier investigation failed to satisfy Bush’s craving for proof of Saddam’s guilt, scoured Iraq for months. It raided homes and offices, ransacked property, pulled people out for grilling, but found absolutely nothing with which Saddam’s regime could be nailed. No VX gas, no deadly anthrax or intact gas centrifuges. No nuclear-tipped missiles that could be launched in 45 minutes — or launched at all. All this existed only in Bush’s lurid imagination. Whatever Iraq did have the allies destroyed after the first Gulf War. As for why Saddam appeared to be difficult, Hans Blix, head of the United Nations inspection team, had an interesting explanation. “You can put up a sign on your door, ‘Beware of the dog’, without having a dog,” he told Australian radio.
It now appears from the memoirs of Robin Cook, Britain’s former foreign secretary, that Tony Blair (“Sancho Panza to George Bush’s Don Quixote”) was all along aware of this grand deception. He also knew that there never was “a shred of evidence” linking Saddam with al Qaida. Moreover, Cook claims that Blair admitted that Bush wanted war as long ago as September 2002. If so, the UN resolutions, ultimatums and inspectors’ reports were all part of an elaborate farce to deceive the world and ensnare Saddam. They were playing a cat and mouse game with him. The outcome had already been settled. The US wanted him out because it wanted Iraq.
Bush’s west Asian machinations might have been merely enigmatic if they were not so sinister. The deviousness suggests a perverted child who revels in acts of cruelty against small and defenceless creatures but who is also cunning enough to know that he must conceal his aberrations with untruths and misrepresentations. Hence a series of non sequiturs. Though 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi subjects, Bush ignored Saudi Arabia but ravaged Afghanistan. Though it was Pakistan that nurtured and nourished the taliban, he showered favours on Pervez Musharraf and turned his guns on Saddam who, apparently, loathed Osama bin Laden. Though the Israelis provocatively attacked a site 12 miles north of Damascus, it was Syria that Bush accused of “harbouring terrorists”.
It is Israel’s right, he says, to hit out in self-defence. True enough, but the woman who bombed Maxim’s restaurant in Haifa was a Palestinian from Jenin on the West Bank. Islamic Jehad, also based in the West Bank, claimed responsibility for her suicide attack. So where does Syria come in' With Bush’s connivance, Sharon is trying to play down the intifada as a desperate struggle for a national homeland and to project it instead as another stand by international terrorists. That way, Palestine can also be squeezed into the mythical axis of evil. No one admits that the Haifa suicide bomber had a personal motive since Israeli soldiers gunned down her brother and cousin. She is presented as another faceless ideological terrorist like the pilots who attacked the Twin Towers.
Propaganda claims of thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley (there is not an iota of proof of even a single Iranian) suggest that Lebanon might be another target. That would suit Sharon who needs more victims for the Israeli hawks who are baying for Arab blood. He is familiar enough with Lebanon’s plight. It would be a soft target. As Israeli defence minister, Sharon ordered Lebanon’s earlier invasion and occupation. Israel’s own Kahane commission found him “personally responsible” for the slaughter of up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians — men, women and children — in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. He has failed in his promise to crush the intifada, and is under pressure to do something dramatic. The Syrian raid was an attempt to divert attention from the storm brewing at home by escalating the conflict abroad. The point is: how far will he go' As suicide bombings continue and Israeli hysteria mounts, will he find ever new targets among the hapless Arabs'
Of course, Sharon would never have dared to attack Syria without American encouragement. The Syria accountability act, which is before the US congress, gave the green signal. It threatens sanctions against Syria, forgetting that Bashar Assad’s government threw its lot in with the Americans when the UN security council discussed war on Iraq and has since cooperated with them.
Sharon is the author of the notorious fence that marks one of the most ruthless land grabs of modern history. Israel has already formally annexed East Jerusalem which it seized from Jordan and part of the Golan Heights which belong to Syria. Significantly, it is not annexing the West Bank or Gaza. The fence is described as a security and not a political marker; it is also reiterated that it is not final. That means it can be shifted at any time to Palestinian disadvantage. Its status can also be changed to suit Israeli requirements.
As it is, the fence bites deep into Palestinian land; it separates Palestinian villages from their fields, encircling and appropriating the latter while excluding the houses and people. The result of this land theft is to rob villagers of both possession and means of livelihood, reducing them to penury. Part of the reason is to secure the illegal squatters settlements of 200,000 Jews; part of the reason is to ensure that if ever a Palestine does emerge, it will be a tiny moth-eaten entity without economic resources or military viability and permanently at Israel’s mercy. Even such a Bantustan would need a leader of some credibility which is why it suits Bush to prevent Sharon from eliminating Yasser Arafat. A moveable feast of a fence also keeps options open for further future encroachment. Jews regard the West Bank as the sacred land of Judea and Samaria, part of Eretz Yisrael, Greater Israel, the promised land.
It is an old Israeli joke to ask visitors to the Knesset (parliament) to spot the map behind the speaker’s podium. The Israeli hosts are delighted when the mystified visitor admits there isn’t one. Arab propaganda, they crow, has it that the Knesset is decorated with a map of Eretz Yisrael extending from the Tigris to the Nile.
This is chutzpah at its most blatant. For though there may not be a map, constructs like the fence offer ample evidence of the desire for continued expansion. Nor is physical occupation necessary to convert west Asia — like the West Bank — into an Israeli space in which Arab countries and governments exist on sufferance, exercising no more than some degree of internal autonomy. Israel alone cannot conceive of and execute such an insolent plan. The mastermind has to be the lone superpower’s. For millions of Asians, therefore, terrorism is the state terrorism practised by the US and Israel. Bush and Sharon constitute the real axis of evil.