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The West’s Frankenstein Moment

SYDNEY, Feb 14 2024 (IPS) - Israel continues to defy its strongest backer the US and its western allies in its quest to control the land from the “River to the Sea”, and in the process ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to push ahead with a ground offensive against Gaza’s southernmost town of Rafah despite mounting warnings from aid agencies and the international community that an assault on Rafah would be a catastrophe. He also snubbed the US on the latest hostage release and ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar and Egypt. The interim order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to take all effective measures to stop “plausible” genocide in Gaza seems irrelevant to Israel. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief admits that Netanyahu “doesn’t listen to anyone”.

Anis Chowdhury

Israel’s impunity

One should not be surprised at all at Israel’s defiance. It has been enjoying impunity ever since it was established in 1948. When David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May, 1948, the US President Harry S. Truman recognised the new nation on the same day. Israel has violated 28 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which are legally binding on the UN Member States.

Between 1972 and February 2023 the US has cast a veto 53 times in the UNSC against anti-Israel resolutions or condemnations of Israel. An opinion piece in Israel’s reputable newspaper, Haaretz asked, “When Will the U.S. Get Tired of Helping Israel With UN Vetoes?” It vetoed every attempt by the UNSC for a permanent ceasefire in Israel’s latest onslaught on Gaza, following 7 October Hamas attack on Israel that have resulted in nearly 30,000 deaths most of whom are children and women.

When Joe Biden met with Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet during his visit to Israel, immediately following the Hamas attack, President Biden assured them: “I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist”. Faced with global outcry and domestic pressure, especially within the Democratic Party and growing dissent of administration staff, President Biden expressed some frustrations, saying Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is “indiscriminate” or Israel’s reaction to the 7 October Hamas attack was “over the top”.

But the US and its allies’ military, financial and diplomatic supports for Israel continue unconditionally. The US and its Western allies, especially Germany and the UK, are critical of South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ seeking an interim injunction against plausible violations of the Genocide Convention. They dismissed it as “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever”, or “wrong and provocative”, rushing to defend Israel at the ICJ, while Israel’s President called it “atrocious and preposterous.”

The West has failed to stop Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied land of Palestine. Occasionally the US and its Western allies have used some stronger words like “deeply dismayed”, “deeply troubled” and “strongly opposed,” not to mention banal expressions such as “against unilateral steps” and “calls for restraint and stability”, reiterating their “commitment to a 2-State solution”.

As the Haaretz opinion piece observed, “These bland themes carry no consequences. They’re not much different from the “thoughts and prayers” that American politicians offer after a mass shooting. These hollow statements from Washington have become the foreign policy version of “nothing to see here, carry on.”

The US and its Western allies condemn “form the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” as anti-Semitic. But fail to mention the Likud Party’s manifesto which says “The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and … [the land, i.e., Judea and Samaria] between the Sea and the Jordan [River] there will only be Israeli sovereignty”. No one raised any concerns when Netanyahu in September 2023 gleefully displayed at the annual UN General Assembly Session the new Middle-East map with Israel from the “River to the Sea”, less than a month before the 7 October Hamas attack.

Why should one be surprised when Israel’s influential finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, accused President Joe Biden of engaging in an “anti-Semitic lie” in reaction to Biden’s administrative order of sanctions against violent Zionist settlers in the occupied West Bank? Is it not ironic that a self-declared non-Jew Zionist is accused of anti-Semitism? Netanyahu termed the US sanctions as “drastic” and declared “there is no place for drastic steps on this matter.”

Ariel Sharon spoke the truth

Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel, said in an acrimonious argument with his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, “Every time we do something, you tell me Americans will do this and do that. I want to tell you something very clear; don’t worry about American pressure on Israel; we, the Jewish people, control America ….”.

Supporting Israel has historically been incredibly politically popular in the US, bolstered by a well-funded pro-Israel lobby in Washington, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). James Petras in his “The Power of Israel in the United States” (2006), provided detailed analysis and documentation of the power of Israel via the Israeli, Jewish or Pro-Zionist Lobby. He explored the extraordinary extent of US political, economic, military and diplomatic support for the state of Israel, along with the means whereby such support is generated and consolidated.

Petras’ book sheds light on the AIPAC spying scandal and other Israeli espionage against America; the fraudulent and complicit role of America’s academic “terrorist experts” in furthering criminal government policies, and the orchestration of the Danish cartoons to foment antipathy between Muslims and the West. James Petras argued that Zionist power in America ensured unconditional US backing for Israeli colonisation of Palestine and its massive uprooting of Palestinians.

Frankenstein’s fate?

In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, the scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a monster. The monster attempts to fit into human society, but finds itself rejected; thus, becoming vengeful, especially against its creator.

The monster killed Frankenstein’s younger brother, best friend and bride on their wedding night, whereupon Frankenstein’s father died of grief. Finally, Frankenstein dedicated himself to destroying his creation. But the monster goaded him to pursuing him the North, through Scandinavia and into Russia, staying ahead of him the entire way. Suffering from severe exhaustion and hypothermia, Victor Frankenstein died at the end.

As Israel tramples over all the international institutions, including the UN, the US and its Western allies have become complicit in the destruction of the rule-based world order that they themselves created. Israel’s open defiance of the US and its Western allies is a clear sign that it is too late to reign in the monster they created. As the US and its Western allies are losing influence and credibility in the Global South, one wonders whether the US-led West is facing Frankenstein’s fate.

Anis Chowdhury is Adjunct Professor, School of Business, Western Sydney University. He held senior United Nations positions in the area of Economic and Social Affairs in New York and Bangkok.

IPS UN Bureau


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