Bringing Down The New Berlin walls
- Bringing Down The New Berlin walls
By John Pilger
15/02/08 "ICH" -- -- The recent breakout of the people of Gaza
provided a heroic spectacle unlike any other since the Warsaw ghetto
uprising and the smashing down of the Berlin Wall. Whereas on the
occupied West Bank, Ariel Sharon's master plan of walling in the
population and stealing their land and resources has all but
succeeded, requiring only a Palestinian Vichy to sign it off, the
people of Gaza have defied their tormentors, however briefly, and it
is a guarantee they will do so again. There is profound symbolism in
their achievement, touching lives and hopes all over the world.
"[Sharon's] fate for us," wrote Karma Nabulsi, a Palestinian, "was a
Hobbesian vision of an anarchic society: truncated, violent,
powerless, destroyed, cowed, ruled by disparate militias, gangs,
religious ideologues and extremists, broken up into ethnic and
religious tribalism, and co-opted [by] collaborationists. Look to the
Iraq of today that is what he had in store for us and he nearly
Israel's and America's experiments in mass suffering nearly achieved
it. There was First Rains, the code name for a terror of sonic booms
that came every night and sent Gazan children mad. There was Summer
Rains, which showered bombs and missiles on civilians, then
extrajudicial executions, and finally a land invasion. Ehud Barak, the
current Israeli defence minister, has tried every kind of blockade:
the denial of electricity for water and sewage pumps, incubators and
dialysis machines and the denial of fuel and food to a population of
mostly malnourished children. This has been accompanied by the
droning, insincere, incessant voices of western broadcasters and
politicians, one merging with the other, platitude upon platitude,
tribunes of the "international community" whose response is not to
help, but to excuse an indisputably illegal occupation as "disputed"
and damn a democratically elected Palestinian Authority as "Hamas
militants" who "refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist" when it
is Israel that demonstrably refuses to recognise the Palestinians'
right to exist.
"What is being hidden from the [Israeli] public," wrote Uri Avnery, a
founder of Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace movement, on 26 January, "is
that the launching of the Qassams [rockets from Gaza] could be stopped
tomorrow. Several months ago, Hamas proposed a ceasefire. It repeated
the offer this week . . . Why doesn't our government jump at this
proposal? Simple: to make such a deal, we must speak to Hamas . . . It
is more important to boycott Hamas than to put an end to the suffering
of Sderot. All the media co-operate with this pretence." Hamas long
ago offered Israel a ten-year ceasefire and has since recognised the
"reality" of the Jewish state. This is almost never reported in the west.
The inspiration of the Palestinian breakout from Gaza was dramatically
demonstrated by the star Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Aboutreika.
Helping his national side to a 3-0 victory over Sudan in the African
Nations Cup, he raised his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words
"Sympathise with Gaza" in English and Arabic. The crowd stood and
cheered, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world
expressed their support for him and for Gaza. An Egyptian journalist
who joined a delegation of sports writers to Fifa to protest against
Aboutreika's yellow card said: "It is actions like his that bring many
walls down, walls of silence, walls in our minds."
In the murdochracies, where most of the world is viewed as useful or
expendable, we have little sense of this. The news selection is
unremittingly distracting and disabling. The cynicism of an identical
group of opportunists laying claim to the White House is given
respectability as each of them competes to support the Bush regime's
despotic war-making. John McCain, almost certainly the Republican
nominee for president, wants a "hundred-year war". That the leading
Democratic candidates are a woman and a black man is of supreme
irrelevance; the fanatical Condoleezza Rice is both female and black.
Look into the murky world behind Hillary Clinton and you find the
likes of Monsanto, a company that produced Agent Orange, the war
chemical that continues to destroy Vietnam. One of Barack Obama's
chief whisperers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of Operation
Cyclone in Afghanistan, which spawned jihadism, al-Qaeda and 9/11.
This malign circus has been silent on Palestine and Gaza and almost
anything that matters, including the following announcement, perhaps
the most important of the century: "The first use of nuclear weapons
must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to
prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction." Inviting incredulity,
these words may require more than one reading. They come from a
statement written by five of the west's top military leaders, an
American, a Briton, a German, a Frenchman and a Dutchman, who help run
the club known as Nato. They are saying the west should nuke countries
that have weapons of mass destruction with the exclusion, that is,
of the west's nuclear arsenal. Nuking will be necessary because "the
west's values and way of life are under threat".
Where is this threat coming from? "Over there," say the generals.
Where? In "the brutal world".
On 21 January, on the eve of the Nato announcement, Gordon Brown also
out-Orwelled Orwell. He said that "the race for more and bigger
stockpiles of nuclear destruction [sic]" is over. The reason he gave
was that "the international community" (basically, the west) was
facing "serious challenges". One of these challenges is Iran, which
has no nuclear weapons and no programme to build them, according to
America's National Intelligence Estimates. This is in striking
contrast to Brown's Britain, which, in defiance of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, has commissioned an entirely new Trident
nuclear arsenal at a cost believed to be as much as £25bn. What Brown
was doing was threatening Iran on behalf of the Bush regime, which
wants to attack Iran before the end of the presidential year.
Jonathan Schell, author of the seminal Fate of the Earth, provides
compelling evidence in his recently published The Seventh Decade: the
New Shape of Nuclear Danger that nuclear war has now moved to the
centre of western foreign policy even though the enemy is invented. In
response, Russia has begun to restore its vast nuclear arsenal. Robert
McNamara, the US defence secretary during the Cuban crisis, describes
this as "Apocalypse Soon". Thus, the wall dismantled by young Germans
in 1989 and sold to tourists is being built in the minds of a new
For the Bush and Blair regimes, the invasion of Iraq and the campaigns
against Hamas, Iran and Syria are vital in fabricating this new
"nuclear threat". The effect of the Iraq invasion, says a study cited
by Noam Chomsky, is a "sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal
Behold Nato's instant "brutal world".
Of course, the highest and oldest wall is that which separates "us"
from "them". This is described today as a great divide of religions or
"a clash of civilisations", which are false concepts, propagated in
western scholarship and journalism to provide what Edward Said called
"the other" an identifiable target for fear and hatred that
justifies invasion and economic plunder. In fact, the foundations for
this wall were laid more than 500 years ago when the privileges of
"discovery and conquest" were granted to Christopher Columbus in a
world that the then all-powerful pope considered his property, to be
disposed of according to his will.
Nothing has changed. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund,
the World Trade Organisation and now Nato are invested with the same
privileges of conquest on behalf of the new papacy in Washington. The
goal is what Bill Clinton called the "integration of countries into
the global free-market community", the terms of which, noted the New
York Times, "require the United States to get involved in the plumbing
and wiring of other nations' internal affairs more deeply than ever
This modern system of dominance requires sophisticated propaganda that
presents its aims as benign, even "promoting democracy in Iraq",
according to BBC executives responsible for responding to sceptical
members of the public. That "we" in the west have the unfettered right
to exploit the economies and resources of the poor world while
maintaining tariff walls and state subsidies is taught as serious
scholarship in the economics departments of leading universities. This
is neoliberalism socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.
"Rather than acknowledging," wrote Chalmers Johnson, "that free trade,
privatisation and the rest of their policies are ahistorical,
self-serving economic nonsense, apologists for neoliberalism have also
revived an old 19th-century and neo-Nazi explanation for developmental
failure namely, culture."
What is rarely discussed is that liberalism as an open-ended, violent
ideology is destroying liberalism as a reality. Hatred of Muslims is
widely advertised by those claiming the respectability of what they
call "the left". At the same time, opponents of the new papacy are
routinely smeared, as seen in the recent fake charges of
narcoterrorism against Hugo Chávez. Having insinuated their way into
public debate, the smears deflect authentic critiques of Chávez's
Venezuela and prepare the ground for an assault on it.
This is the role that journalism has played in the invasion of Iraq
and the great injustice in Palestine. It also represents a wall, on
which Aldous Huxley, describing his totalitarian utopia in Brave New
World, might have written: "Opposition is apostasy. Fatalism is ideal.
Silence is preferred." If the people of Gaza can disobey all three,
why can't we?
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