9/11 legacy is an Israeli/American catastrophe

My following essay is published today on ABC online:

The 9/11 attacks had barely happened and the smouldering wreckage in New York and Washington was still shocking America and the world.

Israel already saw an opportunity. Then former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked to express his feelings about the terrorist action in the immediate aftermath.

“It’s very good,” he said. He quickly added: ”Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.”

He argued that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive haemorrhaging of terror.”

In 2008 the Likud leader hadn’t changed his views. He told an audience at Bar Ilan University that 9/11 remained a positive for Israel.

“We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” Netanyahu said. The events had “swung American public opinion in our favour”.

Israel’s ambassador to America, Michael Oren, continued this deluded thinking last week.

The logic was clear; as long as Washington could be convinced (or hoodwinked) that Israel was fighting the same battle, Zionist expansion in the occupied, Palestinian territories and constant intransigence in the region would be rewarded by American largesse.

This symbiotic relationship has led both nations to share similar foreign policy goals but the results have been disastrous; America and Israel have contributed to a decade of unprecedented decline and imperial overreach, despite some wishful thinking within academia.

Not that such views are ever heard in the American Congress or Australian Parliament; our politicians are obsessed with displaying loyalty to Zionism at every conceivable opportunity. By their actions, they are killing any chance of Israel surviving as a Jewish state into the future without expanding apartheid against the Palestinians.

Witness the increased isolation of Israel in the Middle East, with traditional allies Turkey and Egypt turning away from the Zionist state’s arrogance. It is a welcome realignment. America’s ability to shield Israel from the consequences of its actions has diminished. Israel faces, in the words of Israeli editor of Haaretz Aluf Benn, a “political tsunami“.

Not that this has stopped Israeli leaders praising the deep and expanding backing offered by the Obama administration towards Israel. Defence minister Ehud Barak recently told Fox News that, “I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now”.

Although many American Jewish voters are reportedly concerned with the occasional criticisms uttered by Obama against the Zionist colonies in the West Bank (comments almost immediately retracted once Israel rejects the pressure), the US president has essentially followed the script written by previous American leaders; Israel is a nation that must be endlessly indulged.

There are a host of examples of this backing but a WikiLeaks cable confirms that the US actively assisted Egypt and Israel in its brutal siege of the Gaza Strip in the last years. One and a half million people in the Gaza Strip are being punished for daring to elect Hamas in the 2006 elections. This collective punishment is illegal under international law.

The catastrophe of the Israeli and American relationship over the last decade has been its wilful inability to engender any respect for its actions. Military might has actually caused wholesome rejection of decades of established order. There is a collective crisis of confidence despite overwhelming military might. Israel has never been better armed and protected by its super-power boss and yet almost daily in the Israeli press one reads paranoia about the country’s current direction. Even the massive recent Israeli tent protests largely chose to ignore the Palestinians. Clearly a desire for social justice only goes so far.

Despite this, however – and the sentiment is blindly repeated in the Zionist Diaspora, including Australia – there’s little awareness of why Zionism is on the ropes. Nobody dares mention the West Bank occupation – with houses rapidly expanding at twice the rate inside Israel proper – or how to be welcomed into the civilised group of nations without bullying friends into support.

The Middle East after the Arab Spring has changed but perhaps nobody sent the memo to the Israeli political elite.

September 11 offered a seductive narrative that allowed Israel and its backers to hitch a ride on the escalating war machine unleashed by America in the vein hope that the world would finally understand its own “war against terror”. The opposite has occurred, with the strongest and most publicly proud backers of Israeli wars today the global, fascist Right.

Revealingly, such adulation is welcomed in many circles within Israel itself. Orthodox Jewish Knesset member Nissim Zeev told Newsweek in February: “At the end of the day, what’s important is their [the fascists] attitude – the fact they really love Israel.”

We are now seeing this fused nexus between the far Right and Zionist supporters in Australia, backing the Israeli-owned chocolate shop Max Brenner, accusing the backers of Palestinian rights of Nazism. This is coming from individuals and groups that loathe Muslims and love Israel for its racially discriminatory policies towards Arabs.

Shamefully some Greens MPs, such as Jeremy Buckingham in New South Wales and leader Bob Brown, are unwilling to wholeheartedly support Palestinians. Instead, they befriend those who abuse them.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a worldwide campaign that deserves support – the effectiveness of such moves are apparent when the Murdoch press, Labor and Liberal parties, Zionist heads and union leaders continually and offensively accuse backers of anti-Semitism – and yet only NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon bravely endorses the non-violent movement without shame.

Unlike many other Greens in the public arena, she recognises that it isn’t enough to simply mouth platitudes about human rights; action is required that may well upset the Zionist lobby and conservative media. Bob Brown should understand this, as one of the legacies of 9/11 is the importance of giving voice to those victims suffering under our repression. Palestinians are the perfect candidates.

While most of the corporate media prefers to ignore the ramifications of blindly backing every military misadventure by America and Israel – Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian last weekend comically referred to Western “values” being secure 10 years after 9/11, preferring to forget the millions of dead Muslims caused by unquestioning neo-conservatism – the Arab world doesn’t forget. Perpetual war remains the default setting of Washington, rightly damned by Tariq Ali as reaching its climax with the cheering execution of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Non-accountable executive power is unquestioned by many in the years since 9/11 and even challenging its validity invites verbal and physical threats.

I should know, having been at the receiving end of this bile for daring to ask why “they” really hate us (it’s not about our supposed Western freedoms) as well as refusing to believe that Israel is at the forefront of this “war on terror” and must be supported.

In reality, Zionist actions have made us Jews less safe than one decade ago.

In Palestine itself, the effect of the 9/11 attacks have been undeniably grim. Amira Hass, a journalist from the Israeli paper Haaretz, reflected on this week’s anniversary:

“My routine reporting laboured to remind the Israeli readers about our repressive military domination, and make visible the spiralling number of Palestinian civilian casualties, killed by the Israeli army. A doomed attempt. The Israeli vocabulary had space for Israeli pain and bereavement only. It made no causal link between supremacy and revolt, repression and revenge.”

Her despairing words ring true today. Too many Jews remain incapable of acknowledging the disastrous legacy of our religion being hijacked by fundamentalist Zionists who craved the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, endless occupation of Palestine, drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan and never-ceasing threats against Iran.

The Jewish community has neither rejected destructive neo-conservatism from its ranks nor acknowledged that supposed protection of Israel was a stated reason for causing chaos in the Middle East and the 9/11 attacks.

Furthermore, Israeli public opinion has moved far rightward in the last decade, adopted and defended anti-Arab and anti-democratic legislation and justified brutal tactics against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The US and Australia support this apartheid in Palestine because their actions contribute to an atmosphere of unquestioning Zionist love.

A viable two-state solution is long dead and buried with the upcoming UN vote on Palestine mere window-dressing and desperation from a Western-funded and corrupt Palestinian Authority wanting to appear relevant.

This is our legacy and this is our responsibility.

When the American government, followed by dutiful Western allies such as Australia, crush any chance of Palestinian self-determination, we shouldn’t be surprised that faith in Obama and Israel is rock bottom.

Working against Western exceptionalism and not excusing criminal behaviour of our supposed friends and allies is a great challenge of our age. If 9/11 taught us anything, it is that state terror always dwarves the actions of a committed bunch of extremists.

The victims know this well.

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist currently working on a book about disaster capitalism

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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