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Current battle in Gaza just another in a long list of Mideast failures

Another day, another mess in the Middle East.

The latest turmoil is another set of attacks by Israel on the beleaguered Palestinians in the occupied territory that is Gaza. Hamas, labeled a terrorist organization, is the ostensible target. Innocents, including children, overwhelmingly make up the victims.

The attacks, the worst since 2014, have set off another round of handwringing and tut-tutting. More posturing and postulating from those who think they know better and want to stick their noses in it, from Washington to Moscow. The usual response – the U.S., for instance, says it won’t push for a ceasefire.

While the fighting is nothing new, there has been a shift in public sentiment in favour of the Palestinians, the Israeli treatment of the occupied territories being compared to apartheid. Much like pre-Mandela South Africa, Israel continues to violate the rights of Palestinians in the lands it occupies illegally, backed by the U.S.

The protest against the latest violence in Gaza even spilled over into the region on the weekend, as a long string of cars paraded through K-W Saturday, though the three hours of incessant horn-honking may not have endeared the protestors to those exposed to the cacophony that found no relief from police, as the disturbance went unquelled.

While the decades of intransigence have been met in recent years however, with a growing shift in support for the Palestinians, who have won the battle for international hearts. The politicians and those who profit from arms deals are another matter, however.

After years and years of summits and bad-faith bargaining by all sides, little seems to change when it comes to the Arab-Israeli struggle.

Stripped of the jingoism, all the adventures there smack of imperialism: control of strategic areas – especially important during the Cold War – and of a strategic resource, oil.

For all the fuss, the reality is that what happens there – who lives, who dies, who does what – matters no more to us than what happens in Africa and other Third World countries. In short, we don’t give a damn.

That applies to recent imperialistic invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the various movements that formed what we called the Arab Spring, though those rallies against dictators and their foreign masters did touch us due to the shared human yearning for freedom, which is increasingly an illusion in the West. Need proof of our indifference? How much attention have we been paying to Syria?

You remember Syria, right? The Baathist regime that carried out atrocities under the autocratic rule of Bashar al-Assad, just as it did under his father for three decades prior to that? The government, aligned with Russia and Iran, that’s no friend of the West?  The hundreds of thousands of people who died in the conflict?

For all the military adventurism in the Middle East, only the naive and partisan believe the goal has ever been democracy and freeing people from tyranny. There’s nothing noble in anything we’ve done there.

As it stands, we’re doing more harm than good. That’s especially true of the Americans, who have advanced the cause of radical Islamists. Experts predict more of the region will fall under the sway of Islamist revolutionaries, who’ve been made stronger by American bungling in the region.

Recent actions in Gaza are an example of things to come. Intervention and occupation by the West and its proxy state has made extremists more popular with the native populations, exactly the opposite of what needs to happen for things to get better.

The Palestinians are largely ignored by all parties when it comes to Middle East unrest. Even countries such as Iran who express solidarity in opposition to Israel have their own agendas that don’t really include the formation of a Palestinian state on land taken from the people more than seven decades ago.

As noted activist and writer Noam Chomsky notes, even attention paid to the cause during the Trump administration agreements between Israel and the likes of the UAE and Bahrain amount to little more than lip service.

“The Palestinians have been completely thrown under the bus. There is nothing in this for them. These agreements are actually raising to the surface tacit interactions and arrangements which already existed and have existed for a long time,” he told +972 Magazine, an independent, online, non-profit magazine owned and run by a group of Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

“With Israel-Palestine, we’re [usually] presented with two options. One is the longstanding international consensus on a two-state settlement; the other option is one state, in which Israel takes over the West Bank, then maybe there would be an anti-apartheid struggle for the Palestinians. But those are not the two options — the one state is not an option [because] Israel is never going to agree to become a majority-Palestinian state with a Jewish minority.

“The second option, apart from two states, is the one we’ve seen developing before our eyes for 50 years: Greater Israel. Israel takes over whatever it wants in the occupied territories, but not the population centers; Israel doesn’t want Nablus or Tulkarem. Divide the other areas into almost two hundred enclaves surrounded by soldiers, checkpoints, various ways to make life miserable. When nobody’s looking, destroy another village — as just happened in the Jordan Valley under the cover of the U.S. elections — step by step, dunam after dunam, so that the goyim don’t notice, or pretend not to notice.”

With its history of intervention in other countries, often clandestine, the U.S. has been complicit in a long list of atrocities. It has no moral authority to step into the current struggle in Gaza. Yes, the war is a catastrophe for the people there, but the planet has seen many such unfortunate wars that the U.S. and others in the West were fine ignoring, largely because there were no strategic or economic benefits to doing so. If getting involved in Middle East makes sense, then the same should apply to the Rwandas and East Timors of the world.

The history of U.S. hegemony in Latin America, for instance, is clear, with more than a century of military and economic oppression. That same model is at play today in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan and, perpetually it seems, in Israel and its Middle-East neighbours.

As it stands, that policy is doing more harm than good. It will do nothing to ward off another 9/11; quite the opposite, in fact.

Intervention and occupation by the West have made Islamic extremists more popular with the native populations, exactly the opposite of what needs to happen for things to get better.

In reality, it doesn’t really matter what happens internally with those countries: the oil will still flow and people in the West won’t notice a thing.

Other countries, principally the U.S., need to stop meddling. Go home. And maybe then we’ll stop hearing about the Middle East.

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Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
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