Some in the US claim that the influence of the Israel lobby is the reason that the US supports Israel so strongly. It is true that this lobby is extremely powerful and can and has determined the outcome of particular elections. However, that is only within the limits of what the US capitalist class wants. The comment from Henry Kissinger that “oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs” is the real reason, and if Corporate America wanted to counter the Israel lobby it could easily do so by swinging public opinion through their control over the media.
This is what they did with apartheid South Africa. When the struggle against apartheid threatened to overturn capitalism itself, the US capitalist class decided that South Africa must reform. Their media here in the US regularly published reports about the brutality of the South African regime and the movement against it. They helped build support for the movement in South Africa.
It’s clear that the major wings of the US capitalist class would like to see an “independent” Palestinian state – the two state “solution.” That this would be as much of a solution as the reforms in South Africa, where poverty is just as great or greater now as it was under apartheid – that is beside the point. Such a state would be under the economic, political and military domination of Israel, but it would mean greater stability in the entire region.
Now, it appears that the US media is starting to play a similar role with Israel. Whereas never before did it report on the continuing land and water theft, the brutality in the West Bank, etc., now it is starting to highlight some of what Israel is doing in its attacks on Gaza. It has actually gotten to the point that Israel is starting to worry. And this seems to be having an effect on public opinion here. That, in turn, will make it easier for some US politicians to start to criticize Israel.
They know that this is a risky business, which is why the main reporting still favors Israel. (That reached comic proportions when Nika Brzezenski interviewed the Israeli ambassador to the US on the MSNBC morning show called “The Morning Joe.” After the interview, she committed the Freudian slip of referring to the show as “The Morning Jew.” Watch it here.) The danger is that once the door to what the Israeli regime is doing starts to open just a crack, all kinds of other information can start to get out. Another question is after all these years of portraying Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East” and putting forward the need for Jewish people to have their own homeland because of the holocaust, can the American public be swayed so easily? That should not be too great of a problem; that public has proven itself to be fairly easily manipulated so far.
More difficult is whether Israel can be reformed. It would stand to reason that some major capitalists in Israel would oppose the current policies. If relations could be normalized with the surrounding states, then major profits could be made through investment and trade. However, as others have pointed out, the military industrial complex is extremely powerful in Israel, maybe even more so than in the US, and they profit mightily by these periodic attacks on Gaza. They use these attacks as a means of selling their latest weaponry, which they can point out have actually been battle tested. Well, not really battle tested, but tested on real live human beings anyway.
The other issue is the political situation within Israel: With the influence of the settlers, the prevalence of open and unashamed outright racism, the rise of even neo-fascist groups — is it politically possible for Israel to reform? Don’t forget, the comparison that many make between Israel and South Africa is wrong in one important way: The South African white working class was only a small minority whereas the Jewish working class in Israel is the majority.
This leaves completely aside the question of what reform could accomplish. In South Africa poverty is just as great or even greater than it was under apartheid. In Israel/Palestine reform means a separate Palestinian state. But such a state would never be truly independent; it would perpetually be under the economic, political and military domination of Israel, as long as capitalism rules. That is a different issue, though.
All of this makes the development of a wider working class movement in the region and throughout the world all the more important.
Categories: Middle East