Are we expecting Palestinians to thank us for building a dictatorship?

If any more evidence was required that Washington, no matter who runs the place, only acts towards Israel with uncritical affection, the Wikileaks cables confirm it:

CounterPunch has accessed Wikileaks’ file of cables on Israel’s Gaza assault two years ago (Operation Cast Lead, December 27, 2008 through January 18, 2009). Though the cables often…  simply rehash Israeli press reporting, providing…  little new insight into Israel’s attack or the planning behind it, they show with pitiless clarity … the U.S. government to be little more than a handmaiden and amanuensis of the Israeli military machine.

The cables make clear, were any further disclosure needed, exactly where the United States stands with respect to Israel’s unprovoked attacks on Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors.…  Although Operation Cast Lead took place in the last days of the Bush administration, ending two days before Barack Obama was inaugurated, every Obama policy in the succeeding … two years – including the administration’s repudiation of the Goldstone Report detailing Israeli atrocities and war crimes during Cast Lead – has demonstrated a striking continuity of support for Israeli actions.

The cables give a notably one-sided account of the assault.…  Because they take their daily reporting primarily from the Israeli media, the cables keep a tally of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza and dramatically describe “burned dolls and destroyed children’s toys” at an unoccupied kindergarten in Beer Sheba hit by a rocket, but make virtually no mention of Israel’s intensive air and artillery bombardment of Gaza, including its civilian population.…  There are no reports of burned Palestinian babies or very few of destroyed property in Gaza.…  Even the western media provided more accurate coverage of Palestinian casualties than this.

The U.S. embassy cables did provide some information on Palestinian casualties, but the reporting was minimal.…  In one cable buried in the collection, approximately ten days into the assault, western press reports are cited giving a single report of 530 Palestinians killed.…  This was at a point when the cables counted five Israelis having been killed.…  Israeli casualties were totted up repeatedly.…  This roughly 100-1 ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed persisted throughout the operation, but this is not noted in the U.S. cables.…  In a few instances, U.S. consular officials report the views of a few Gazans, frankly conveying Palestinian distress, but even here, when one Gazan reports that his town is increasingly being assaulted by Israeli fire, the cable qualifies his report by referring to “what he termed ”˜indiscriminate’ Israeli fire.”

Whenever the cables mention a specific location in Gaza having been attacked or destroyed, including hospitals and mosques, the cables repeat Israeli claims without questioning them; on January 2, for instance, it is reported that the Israeli Air Force destroyed a mosque “reportedly serving as a weapons depot and communications hub.”…  The embassy reports, without a hint of skepticism, the Israeli claim midway through the operation that Hamas operatives were reconstituting “certain command and control capabilities” at Shifa Hospital in Gaza by disguising themselves as doctors and nurses.

Instead, we have Washington and its allies pumping countless millions into a nice, little, compliant authoritarian state, aka Palestine:

“If we are building a police state — what are we actually doing here?” So asked a European diplomat responding to allegations of torture by the Palestinian security forces. The diplomat might well ask. A police state is not a state. It is a form of larceny: of people’s rights, aspirations and sacrifices, for the personal benefit of an élite. This is not what the world meant when it called for statehood. But a police state is what is being assiduously constructed in Palestine, disguised as state-building and good governance. Under this guise, its intent is to facilitate the authoritarianism which creates sufficient popular dependency — and fear — to strangle any opposition.

The transition from the lofty aspiration of statehood to a scheme intended to usher West Bank Palestinians into a new alleviated containment — a new form of remotely-managed occupation — is not some unfortunate error. The roots of this manipulation of the Palestinian aspiration into its opposite — cynically dressed up and sold as statehood — were present from the outset. Professor Yezid Sayyigh has shown how U.S. and EU rhetoric “promoting democratic development and the rule of law is pious at best, at worst disingenuous”. Both America and Europe bear responsibilities for this betrayal.

The seed of this deception which was to grow into a new police state in the region was the US and European acquiescence to Israel’s self-definition of its own security needs — and by extension, Israel’s definition of the requirements for Palestinian security collaboration. This Faustian pact, which prioritized Israel’s security-led criteria as the boundaries for negotiations — above any principles of justice — set the scene for the inevitable inflation of Israeli demands of security collusion by the Palestinian leadership — demands on which America’s ”˜war on terrorism’ poured fuel.

The hidden, and false, western assumption was that if a two-state solution was in the interest of the dominant party, all that the Palestinians needed to do was to establish that a stable two-state solution was available to Israel. And in the end, it would emerge simply because it was in Israel’s demographic interest to give it. On this false premise, the Abbas-led Ramallah leadership embraced security collusion comprehensively. The western state-building project was conceived simply with the aim of providing Palestinian efficiency in the delivery of security collusion, nicely wrapped in a discourse of security reform and good governance.…  But the problem is that the underlying assumption — that Israel was going to give the Palestinians a sovereign state in its own interest — was false.

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

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