Demand the Impossible! is available now from Haymarket Books.
The history of US military actions is a history of conquest and genocide from the start and chaos and catastrophe ever since: invading and occupying Vietnam and then intentionally expanding that war into neighboring Laos and Cambodia as retribution for the US defeat, a disaster that cost the lives of six thousand people every week for ten years; unleashing a massive shock-and-awe attack on Iraq in 2003 that led to the breakup of that nation and the rise of several reactionary fundamentalist and terrorist formations including ISIS; orchestrating a fifty-year campaign to destabilize and topple the Cuban government; propping up nasty regimes from medieval Saudi Arabia to apartheid South Africa; overthrowing elected presidents in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Chile in 1973; instigating constant civil unrest in Venezuela for fourteen years including a successful if short-lived coup in 2002; supporting the communist purge and the genocide that followed in Indonesia in the mid-1960s; participating in the murders of the African freedom fighter Patrice Lumumba in Congo in 1961, the Moroccan anti-imperialist Mehdi Ben Barka in Paris in 1965, the internationalist Che Guevara in Bolivia 1967, and the anti-colonial leader Amílcar Cabral in Guinea-Bissau in 1973; exporting billions of dollars in arms to Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, and reactionary regimes and right-wing subversives the world around. As busy and ambitious as this looks, it’s only the tip of a menacing mega-iceberg, an emblematic list as opposed to an exhaustive survey.
In any case, the swirling vortex of ruin obscures for many North Americans a central source and seed of this overwhelming maelstrom of hostility and bloodshed: the indefensible relationship between the United States and its chief client, Israel. Israel, as everyone knows, was established in 1948 by a people who had experienced the lash of anti-Semitism for centuries, and the immediate colossal horrors of the Holocaust in Europe. What’s of- ten conveniently understated or downplayed in the US, however, is that while understandably wanting to create a refuge for them- selves, the founders of the state of Israel dislodged the indigenous inhabitants and destroyed their society, forcing them to become displaced persons and refugees or second-class citizens in their own land ever since.
With generous and unwavering support from the United States, its protector, enabler, and big brother, Israel has flouted UN resolutions and international law—including nuclear agreements, the Geneva conventions, and the “laws of war”—seized Palestinian land and zealously supported the settler movement in the occupied territories with infrastructure and violent force. Israel would stand completely alone in the world if not for the dysfunctional relationship it clings to with the United States— from which it gains billions of dollars in military aid alone.
The Palestinians have the ongoing misfortune of being the victims of the twentieth century’s most notable victims—whose exceptional suffering at the hands of the Nazis is consistently trotted out to justify Israel’s own crimes against humanity. Reactionaries who dream of a Greater Israel, a Promised Land stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates, plot and organize the elimination of all Palestinians one way or another. Under the banner of agony and pain, Israel unleashes murderous military attacks and conducts massive ethnic cleansing campaigns. And yet the reality on the ground is that the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews are so intertwined that there is no separation between them except for the separation of apartheid—two populations living in one land, unequal today, but not necessarily forever.