The Gaza crisis shows that those among the Syrian opposition who have put their faith in the Western powers are now allied to the forces intent on murdering Gazans and sustaining Israel
The Israeli attack on Gaza looks like the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in so many ways. Then the murderous fourth most powerful military state in the world, backed by the greatest military power in the world, killed 1,400 Palestinians who were unable to effectively defend themselves with their vastly more primitive arms. So it is today.
In 2008 the US presidential election was just over, as it is now. Then we were in the run up to an Israeli election, as we are now. Then the election victory was bought with Palestinian blood, just as Benjamin Netanyahu means to do today.
But this time there are even more significant differences. In 2008 Mubarak, defender of the peace with Israel, was in power in Egypt.
Today the powerful current of pro-Palestinian sentiment that runs through the Egyptian revolution is an important pressure on the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi. As a consequence Morsi has condemned the Israelis, the Egyptian Ambassador has been withdrawn from Tel Aviv, the Israeli envoy has been sent packing from Cairo, the Rafah crossing opened and the Egyptian Prime Minister sent to Gaza on a three hour visit.
Turkey, an Israeli ally in 2008, is more critical this time around. The Turks’ ‘new Ottomanism’ foreign policy of trying to become the major powers’ conduit into the Arab revolutions comes with a price. That price is opposition to Israel, at least at the level of rhetoric. Prime Minister Erdogan called the Israeli action an ‘election stunt’ and added: ‘Before this election they shot these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated. The dominant world powers are now making the Gaza people and fighters pay, and as the Republic of Turkey we are with our brothers in Gaza and their just cause.’ Turkey is key to Western intervention in Syria and it cannot want a Gaza crisis that runs out of control.
The Syrian crisis causes a major problem for the Western powers as well. The US is reluctant to create an even deeper problem than it has already. So, although there will be nothing short of 200 percent support for Israel in public, Obama may be hoping that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt can get their Hamas allies to accept a truce.
The gaping hypocrisy of the West is exposed by the juxtaposition of the Gaza attack and the Syrian crisis. On consecutive days William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, could be found denouncing Hamas and then swearing further support for the new Syrian opposition delegation as it visited London for talks.
So we, and an Arab audience of millions, are being asked to believe that the pro-Zionist William Hague, the Destroyer of Hamas, is at one and the same time the Saviour of the Syrian Revolution. The Gaza crisis simply shows that those among the Syrian opposition who have put their faith in the Western powers are now allied to the very forces that are intent on murdering Gazans and sustaining the Zionist state.
Then there is the looming crisis with Iran. When the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was caught unknowingly still on air at the end of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme’s ‘Thought for the Day’ slot saying the Gaza crisis was ‘all about Iran’ he was probably making one of the most honest statements that have come out of the BBC during the whole crisis.
As William Hague has said in the past he believes there is a new Cold War in the Middle East with the Western powers, the Saudis and Israel on one side and Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah on the other.
The Israelis, frustrated by the slow pace of US plans to attack Iran or intervene in Syria, certainly see further attacks on Palestinians as part of this wider conflict. But they are more isolated than before in the region. Egypt and Turkey cannot be relied on in the old way.
The Western powers, even as they stoke other conflicts with Syria and Iran, are worried by a third major crisis. For all these reasons the Palestinians and the international anti-war movement have everything to fight for.
We can and must fight to save Palestinian lives now. That means fighting our own government which supports, arms and finances the Israeli state. But in doing so we will be fighting a weakened pro-Israel bloc who we may be able to prevent killing even more Syrians than have already lost their lives to Assad’s murderous troops-and the lives of untold numbers of Iranians.
From the Stop the War site
John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher) and ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German). He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.