Could the recent Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon mean that the United States has engaged Israel in redrawing the regional map? Are Zionist efforts at expanding the Jewish state imminent? While these questions may seem far-fetched and unreasonable for two modern states such as Israel and the United States, the erection of a physical wall that segregates Palestinians into ghettos of desperation while the Israeli military guards the entrances and exits with American produced machine guns and tanks once would have seemed similarly outlandish. However, the Wall is being built at a feverish pace with little more than a verbal reprimand from Washington. Similarly, the United States has given Israel the not-so-silent nod to carry on its acts of aggression. However, why would the United States support Zionist ideology and the expansion of the Jewish state when it has been on record rhetorically in favor of a Palestinian state, a posture that gives the faÃ§ade of balance? The answer is two-fold.
On the one hand, as the Bush administration has been fervently fighting “terrorism,” Israel has been remarkably effective in drawing non-existent parallels that serve Zionist purposes. Following the 11 September attacks, Israel was the first state to compare the resistance to its aggression with the attacks on the World Trade Center by equating the number of American victims to Israeli deaths. After the United States toppled the Taliban government and raided suspected Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, Israel tightened its chokehold on the Palestinian territories, and invaded Palestinian population centers for the first time since the negotiated withdrawal. After President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq and began hunting down Saddam Hussein, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accelerated illegal targeted assassinations against supposed terrorist leaders. Both leaders have in common the fact that their victims never stood before a court of justice, but rather faced a barrage of accusations based on a cloud of “classified” intelligence gathered by secret, usually biased sources.
Now the United States has turned its attention towards Syria. Bush publicly warned Syria of its alleged harboring of terrorist groups. Israel’s attack on Syria pursues the same cycle of follow-the-leader politics that the Sharon government plays with the Bush administration. In each case, Israel acts aggressively and with impunity to test the U.S. reaction. Under this guise, Sharon ordered preliminary gunfire on the Lebanese border and has left open the option to strike Syria again. Immediately following the attacks, Sharon declared that “Israel was prepared to strike anywhere, any way.” These are neither the words nor the actions of a peacemaker, but rather of an empire builder who has found his moment of opportunity.
The Bush administration has come under increased internal scrutiny due to the absence of any weapons of mass destruction that Iraq supposedly harbored. The Bush administration, in an effort to divert attention from legitimate cries of foul play, is rattling the cages of other regional governments to help in the search for Saddam’s elusive weapons – thus the focus on Syria and perhaps very soon Lebanon and Iran. The message is clear: either assist the United States in its unpopular war, risk open reprimand or worse. In order for the Bush administration to be successful and get reelected, it is paramount that U.S. inspectors either find weapons of mass destruction or that the Bush administration keeps diverting attention across the region, continuing to play upon post 11 September popular fright and outrage.
Where will the war of rhetoric go next? As Americans have seen in recent weeks occupation is neither popular nor welcomed. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has produced many U.S. casualties and American troops are increasingly coming under fire. The Sharon spin-doctors will most likely start to empathize with the Bush administration on the difficulties in keeping ungrateful Arabs under occupation. Of course, it will be worded much more eloquently by an American public relations firm; however the message is the same. Israel will once again recolor the struggle for Palestinian self-determination as a large-scale terrorist operation undertaken by militants who need to be destroyed or kept under close observation and separate from the ‘free, western-styled democracy’ of Israel. By the time the Americans realize this move was just an ideological farce, Palestinians will already be living in ghettos created by the segregation wall and Israeli troops may have positioned themselves at the gates of Beirut and Damascus–”under the auspices of ‘security.’
The Sharon government has proven its intent to use the Bush administration’s war against terrorism to implement the maximum colonization of sovereign Arab territory, and the Bush administration has proven itself impotent against such flagrant exploitation. Drunk with naÃ¯vetÃ©, Bush is laying the groundwork for Eretz Israel. Drunk with power, Sharon is paving the path for the Zionist expansion his party ideology requires. Sounds far-fetched? Keep in mind the following: over 145 new settlements–”confiscating 70,000 acres of land–”have been built since the beginning of the so-called peace process; for the first time in history, a physical structure is being built to divide the Holy Land; and the Israeli Occupation Army is responsible for the deaths of 2,405 Palestinians since September 2000.
Before concluding that Zionist expansion is inevitable, one must remember that the United States and Israel are but two players in a larger world. Syrian and Arab leaders have opted for the diplomatic route by taking their case to the United Nations, and the global polity has largely agreed that Israel is acting not in self-defense, but in aggression. Increasingly, the most effective solution to the Bush-Sharon plan to redraw the political map of the Middle East is for leading global powers like the European Union, Russia, China, and Japan to demand their place at the negotiating tables and speak up for majority opinion; rather than continue the current policy of benign neglect.