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Friday, June 15, 2007




GAZA: PART ONE (A Three-Part Series)

(CHICAGO)(June 16, 2007) As the impact of the chaos in Gaza sinks in, it is time to remember some painful truths. First, Hamas was originally encouraged to develop two decades ago, by Israel. Israeli security services falsely believed that empowering Islamic organizations would undermine the secular Palestinian national movement. Finally, 20 years later, the security services have been vindicated. Hamas has removed the remnants of Yasser Arafat’s movement from Gaza. Unfortunately, Israel will be the big loser in this week’s chaotic developments.

Second, those of us who are independent experts in Middle East matters advocated a welcome by the United States to Hamas’ democratic victory in fair and open elections. Tragically, President Bush and his administration marched in lockstep with the self-destructive policies of the Israeli regime, and we are now reaping the bitter fruit. I wrote a column entitled “Marhaba Hamas,” or “Welcome Hamas,” not because I was a supporter of Hamas but because only democratic politics can gradually extinguish the violent tribal conflicts which have been engendered by 40 years of Israeli occupation and Palestinian powerlessness.

President Bush parroted the Israeli-junta line, that Hamas should be quarantined. Wrong. Big mistake. Folly. That quarantine has now strengthened and spread the virus. The consequences will be chaos.

Israelis and American supporters of Israel like to brand critics of our Middle East policy “anti-Semitic.” But we are not anti-Semitic at all. We are just more impartial and emotionally uninvolved in the passions of the parties, and we offer long-term solutions, not petty political proposals. (See Gaza Part Three for an Open Letter to American Jewish Supporters of Israel).

Even before the guns were falling silent in Gaza this weekend the Israeli political and military structure was calculating how to profit from the misery of their neighbors. Once again, I caution the Israelis: all of your elaborate schemes over the past four decades have exploded in your faces, and in our American faces. Please, please try to take the side of history, and not petty political squabbling in the Knesset.

Indeed, even as a subdued 40th “anniversary” of the illegal seizure and occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was soberly being reflected upon in Israel (not celebrated), the fires were burning in Gaza and the pressure was building for this week’s explosive developments.

Unfortunately, if President Bush continues to allow Israelis to dictate American policy in Palestine, the result will be growing regional conflagration. Ultimately, Israel will be consumed by the very fires which Israelis deliberately and repeatedly set. The arsonists will eventually be consumed by their own acts of arson.

We come to today’s headline: “President Bush’s Bay of Pigs.” You might ask how I connect our policy involving Cuba with our policy involving Palestine. Sadly, they have run on parallel tracks. The Bay of Pigs is remembered because American intelligence services prepared an invasion plan for Cuba, and then President Kennedy failed to devote adequate resources to the project. The venture collapsed embarrassingly on the beaches of Cuba.

Since the death of Arafat, which Israelis had always promised would herald a new day—the Israelis always making such promises and always yanking them away like a magician pulling a handkerchief over a rabbit at a county fair—the U. s. has had a Palestinian structure which it could utilize to empower Palestinians for peace. We did nothing. Instead, the U. S. has done everything it can to encourage civil war in Palestine. The bill is only party coming due. And future installments of this liability will come with higher and higher risks.

And, finally, the Bay of Pigs in Palestine. At some point maybe the Israelis, or maybe some American, or someone whose identify we can’t yet identify, realized the obvious: If Gaza fell, the West Bank will eventually fall, and if the West Bank fell Israel would eventually fall as well. So we started our Bay-of-Pigs involvement of sending weapons to one side in the civil war. But not enough weapons for "our side" to win. Just enough weapons so that we would be blamed for the loss. Great move. Bay of Pigs all over again. Too little will, too late.

Israelis have always operated on the delusional band width where they believed they could float above the tragic conditions they inflicted on Palestinians. Israelis have schemed for sixty years to expand their empire, and to continuously swallow bits and pieces of Palestine. Ehud Olmert is coming to Washington this weekend with his latest scheme: to “separate” Palestine into two cantons, to allow Gaza to become a free fire zone for the Israeli military and to allow Israel to swallow more of the West Bank. Why does Olmert always remind me of a mindless Nazi Gauleiter?

Reflecting on their own self-induced delusion and mindless creation of misery among their neighbors, Israelis secretly and not so secretly think they can profit from the civil war they have created, split Palestine in two, destroy Gaza, and conquer the West Bank, apartment block by apartment block.

Unfortunately, Israeli policy is madness. Indeed, between Washington and Tel Aviv there is madness to excess. Washington egged on the Israelis to conduct terror attacks on Lebanon last year and young Israelis senselessly died for the greater glory of American policy. Now Israeli wants a blank check to commit new atrocities against Gaza. If President Bush endorses Olmert’s insane plans, more innocents will perish, including Americans, before the entire region is consumed.

As the battles in Gaza recently grew, Olmert threatened “consequences” from the temporary success of his policy to foment civil war. Indeed there will. Today, Egypt is endangered. If Egypt falls, Israel will not survive.

Like all madmen, the Israeli politicians who lead that regime always believe the laws of nature and the laws of gravity do not apply to them. Hizballah taught them that those laws do apply.

If Olmert is allowed to begin his campaign of planned atrocities against Gaza, Egypt will be the next casualty. Egypt may not fall all at once, but the Mubarek regime is creaky, and any spark could trigger a revolution in Cairo.

So what should U. S. policy be? First, admit we goofed. We were too little too late to aid Abu Mazen, because we allowed the Israelis to diminish and discredit him since he became Palestinian leader.

The Israeli ruling political structure is no more prepared for peace with Palestinians than the Palestinian extremists are prepared for peace with Israel. Ordinary Israelis, and ordinary Palestinians, want peace. But their leaders continue to blatantly betray them. And we betrayed the two peoples as well.

After admitting we sent too little, too late, and triggered the Bay of Pigs takeover of Gaza by Hamas, we should embrace Hamas, and send aid. Load up the planes and land in Gaza with food, medical supplies, field hospitals and every from of assistance we routinely devote to natural disasters around the world. My policy recommendation today is the same as it was after the 2006 election. Engage, don't enrage. Only engagement can succeed the long run.

In the light of last week’s developments, my recommendation is riskier than it was in 2006. Now we risk rewarding Hamas. But our own foolishness should not continue to blind us to good long-range policy.

Unlike the Israeli politicians who glory in all of their political infighting, American men and women are dying for our failed polices in the Middle East. The failures in Gaza and the coming failures in the West Bank will demolish what remains of American influence. We must not let Gaza become a killing field for the Israeli military, and we must not let the West Bank continue to be colonized by Israeli expansionists. We must put America first.

Sixteen years ago the first President Bush was called an anti-Semite for seeking to prevent the theft of Palestinian lands in the West Bank for “settlements,” which are not “settlements” at all but organized thefts of occupied land in violation of international law. The second President Bush opened the flood gates to theft of land, and to encouraging Palestinian to fight Palestinian.

I repeat: engagement is the only policy that can bring benefits for the U. S. in the long run. Ehud Olmert learned nothing in Lebanon last year, and engagement is the last option he wants to pursue. Expansion and annexation and atrocities are on his menu for his coming meeting with President Bush.

Saturday I will be holding news conference in Chicago to outline a way through this dangerous period.

President Bush and I have not agreed on policy matters since he was a candidate eight years ago. Personally, I like the man. But politically, Bush has been a slow death for the Republican Party, and he will bring more senseless and needless death on the American people if he allows Ehud Olmert’s visit to Washington this week to permit new Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people.

Finally, you can label me what you want. But I speak as a friend of the Palestinian people, and the Israeli people. These two peoples want peace. And they deserve better than the leadership they have received for the past sixty years. It is time for an American president to become a leader again, and not to be a handmaiden to the malignant agendas of Ehud Olmert and his cabinet.

Only an anti-Semite could be happy at the developments this past week. Because slowly, but inexorably, incompetent Olmert and his supporters are leading Israel down the path to destruction.

I prefer to stand apart, to sound the alarm, and to state the unpleasant and unpalatable truths to both sides. That is why I consider myself a true friend of both Israel and Palestine.

President Bush, will you join me?

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and world politics with forty years of personal experience. Martin, America's most respected independent foreign policy and intelligence analyst first went to the Middle East in 1970. He served as a Baghdad Bureau Chief in most of 2003. Columns also posted at;
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