A provocation at the al-Aqsa enclosure by one or other of the extreme Settler cults, is not probable – it is inevitable, Alastair Crooke writes.
The post WW2 policy iceberg – like that of the Artic Cap – may still be solid – but only just. And, like the real Ice Cap, it too is disintegrating. It no longer serves purpose for our internationalist oligarchs. Bits of it are crumbling; some are purposefully being offered up (i.e. Gates/Fauci). Though, to extend this metaphor to geo-politics would be to say that we may be on the cusp of a multi-facetted cascade of the post-war, ‘forever’ political certainties – some intended; many not; but all disruptive.
On the one hand, the U.S. outsized military establishment demands a new raison d’être – just as Russia and China unveil their smart new weaponry. The ‘bigger play’, of course, is that the social decay eating away at the fabric of America has become all too visible – and damaging to the desired recasting of the American mission (Green-washing and now LBGTQ ‘washing’ – as mechanisms to firstly disrupt, and then reset, politics and geo-finance).
Belligerent ‘competition’ with China is ramped as the means to reunite this fragmented America. Yet, however much Washington keeps pushing Europe and Japan to decouple from both China and Russia, a Cold War 2.0 on two simultaneous fronts has very few takers. The (self-harming) EU provocations of China and Russia over Belarus or the Uyghurs – as naively woke, as they are – are no accident, however.
They are intentionally disruptive. As the U.S. acquiesces to the inevitable – and accepts the reality of Russia-China-Iran primacy in Central Asia – Team Biden plans to pivot out, as best it can, from the region to China, leaving the EU busy with keeping Russia off-balance, and isolated.
Bizarre EU policies are not hard for global Big Finance to conjure up: The EU began life as a cartel (and now boasts double the corporate lobbyists than occupy ‘K Street’ in DC). In its present iteration, the EU tail of small anti-Russian states can easily be triggered to act as the ‘tail wagging the EU dog’ – especially as this allows the Euro-bureaucracy to play the tail against the bigger EU states – and thereby advance their own distinct ‘Brussels ideology’ of centrally-guided empire.
Less noticed perhaps – amidst all this other noise and theatrics – is that the Middle East may be close to its own separate ‘definitive moment’. In a nutshell, just as Iran has surprised the world by constructing real deterrence – with tens of thousands of deeply buried smart missiles, rather than ‘nukes’, encircling Israel – the latter is facing the absolute collapse of its Netanyahu ‘certainties’.
Which is to say, ‘the collapse’ is that of the meme that the Palestinian issue has been put to sleep; that ‘the world’ has ‘moved on’; and that the ‘defeated’ Palestinians ultimately must, (and will), reconcile to Israel’s military dominance – that Gaza will be domesticated; the West Bank bantustanised; Jerusalem encircled from without, and de-Palestinianised from within – and Palestinian refugee rights will be erased through the help of co-operative Gulf States.
This, effectively is the Netanyahu ‘mission accomplished’ narrative. And Kushner played his part, as a prime facilitator.
This grand narrative collapsed with the recent clashes in Jerusalem, Gaza and inside the Green Line. Not in a simple way, but in a way that is much more profound than most in the western sphere seem willing to acknowledge. (Not surprisingly, Netanyahu desperately has been trying to revive the ‘Iran threat’ narrative, to divert from the more fundamental long-term crisis facing Israelis).
Just as the very nature, and size, of the U.S. warfare state directly causes entropy in America – so too, this ‘mission accomplished’ mantra has resulted in a significant entropy in Israel: Its citizens have fallen asleep, blindfolded by years of such propaganda. The Israeli Jewish political class – from centre-left to hard-right – swallowed it whole. It represents a phenomenon many years in the making, but was accelerated, and put on steroids during the Trump era, when the power and platform of the U.S. government became the echo chamber of the Israeli Right.
What is the point here? A survey conducted by direct polls in Israel, found that 72% of Israelis didn’t want Israel to negotiate a cease fire – they wanted the attacks to continue. But why should this be so significant?
It is not only because it shows how much the Netanyahu’s ‘mission accomplished’ meme has been internalised (defeat must be seared into the Palestinian psyche through the rubble that the IDF wrought in Gaza); but rather because this poll points to the true nature of the ‘corner’, into which Israelis have been painted by Netanyahu and Kushner.
What happened, as Shir Hever underscores, is that “Palestinian citizens of Israel [often called 1948 Palestinians] went on a strike. [This was the] first time since the ’30s, that there was a strike on the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside the borders of Israel – [It] demonstrated a level of unity and solidarity that we haven’t seen before. This struck a lot of fear into Jewish Israeli society – to see Palestinians united more than ever before … This unity cost them a lot. Thousands of Palestinians were fired for going on that strike”.
Why? What is going on? What happened is that “the liberal message of the liberal Zionists has completely collapsed. There was this sort of promise, which is a mirage, that if the Palestinians are good citizens, if they’re loyal, if they don’t talk about politics too much, eventually they would be allowed to integrate into Israeli society – and have better public services and job opportunities and so on”.
‘Just hang in there: In one or two generations, you’re going to be fine’. This was a lie, of course – for now it is very clear that it was a lie, and the reason that it’s so clear is because the Netanyahu government made no pretence of working towards equality; but rather, was intent on asphyxiating the Palestinian issue in toto: The ‘world moved on’.
The Israeli Right is still clear: They say this is a state where only Jews can have equal rights and full rights – only Jews. So if you’re not a Jew, you have no hope of equality in that state. Which means that Palestinian citizens of Israel understand they too have to resist.
The Palestinian population inside Israel have long faced structural discrimination, but that discrimination now has been institutionalised into law (with the Nation State Law of 2018), leading to Israel’s principal human rights organization B’Tselem, as well as Human Rights Watch, designating Israel and the territories it controls (occupies) as being guilty of the crime of apartheid under international law.
The backlash from such statements identifying apartheid “is very, very violent, aggressive” (Shir Hever again), “and we’re seeing this [again] … whenever there is a bombardment of Gaza. There are some anti-war demonstrations in Israel. Some lefty Jews are organizing demonstrations, for example, in Jerusalem, not far from where I used to live, in so-called Paris Square, where ‘Women in Black’ used to stand every Friday, in protest at the occupation”.
“Now – last week, a bunch of lefty Israelis organized a demonstration against the bombardment of Gaza, in Paris Square, and the police came up to them, and said there are a thousand armed right-wing Israelis coming this way. They’re going to be here in a few minutes. We are not going to protect you. If you want to stay, do whatever you want. The police left, and of course, the protestors didn’t stay. It would have been a massacre. And this has never happened before”.
“I think what we see now is a post-traumatic society which is reacting with extreme fear, violence and racism towards Palestinians most of all, but not just towards Palestinians. There’s also a lot of hate between different groups within Israeli society. It’s not just the Orthodox and the secular, because you have national orthodox and ultra-orthodox, you have Zionist ultra-orthodox and anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox. The tensions are very high”, Shir Hever warns.
Did most Israelis (i.e. the 72%) understand what triggered the clashes with Hamas?
“I think they understand it on a much deeper level. Jerusalem was chosen by Netanyahu to start this [chain of events that began with rockets fired at Jerusalem], because Netanyahu knew that he has until a certain date to form a government [but he was unable so to do]. So the chance to form a government was passed to his main opponent, which is Yair Lapid from the opposition.
“At that moment, Netanyahu knew that if he triggers some kind of security crisis, the coalition talks are going to break apart. Lapid will not be able to form his coalition. And that means there’s going to be another election, a fifth election within a two year period. And Netanyahu will stay the interim prime minister again – and as long as he’s doing that, he cannot go to jail. And he has a very serious corruption trial going on against him. So everyone understands that. The amazing thing is that you have political parties that are trying to build a coalition. They had the coalition talks. They knew that they have a majority. They were just ironing out the details. And then the police entered Sheikh Jarrah, then the police entered Al-Aqsa, and they knew exactly what was going on. They understood exactly what Netanyahu was doing, but they didn’t dare to say a word. Not one of them said, oh, this is just a political, cynical manoeuvre by Netanyahu to prevent us from forming a government, because if they had said that, they would brand themselves as leftists. And you can’t have a worse tag in Israel than being a leftist now – it’s like being called a communist in the ’50s.”
The point here is that this is the new ‘reality’ Netanyahu has constructed, and it will out-survive him. Evidently, the Palestinians – on their own – do not represent an existential threat to Jews in Israel. (There is, however, much effort expended to persuade people that they are precisely such a threat.)
The Palestinians do, however, pose a real, existential threat to apartheid: “I think when the fear comes from having a colonial society where you know that you are maybe part of this hegemonic group within that society, but actually you’re the minority. Jews are a minority in the whole area of Israel Palestine, and they [Jews] know that. And they know that if Palestinians unify, they risk losing all their privileges. So that is a different kind of fear. And it’s a paralyzing fear … And the only thing that has kept Israel somehow glued together, has been Netanyahu’s populism”.
Now that Netanyahu’s ‘mission accomplished’ bubble – including the part of the storyline was that Arabs inside Israel were undergoing a process of Israelisation, delinked from any Palestinian identity – was popped by Hamas last month. It leaves Israel to face its own internal demons. And the truth of those demons is disturbing – as Zvi Bar’el acknowledges in Haaretz:
In Israel, the ‘glue’ holding it together is coming unstuck amidst profound internal animosities. The state gradually is morphing into an entity in which organizations, religions, ethnic minorities and gangs become the real rulers of the country. The physical and legal territory controlled by the Israeli government covers only selected portions of it. Each of the autonomies has a system of self-rule. One that withdraws a fortune from the state coffers; yet is permitted to do with it whatever it desires – and to decree its own rules and regulations.
The crisis, however, is much bigger than the disintegration of the Israeli body-politic – It is a crisis that Israel is only just beginning to appreciate, as the Netanyahu thrall fades. The crux of it is that there is no solution.
Jews are a minority between ‘the river and the sea’. The prospects of a two-state solution are destroyed: Oslo’s key pillars – that demography alone would compel Israel to implement a two states outcome; that Palestinian security co-operation would assuage Israeli hesitations to endorse a Palestinian state; and thirdly, that a Palestinian state would bring an end to occupation – all these key assumptions have proved false, over the last two decades and more.
And a one-state solution has been hobbled by the Victory narrative of the new Right, and the empowerment of street level racist right-wing thuggery among Israeli Jews (to which authorities turn a blind eye), especially with Netanyahu promoting and securing the entry of the Kahanists and Otzma Yehudit into the Knesset after the latest election. The alienated 1948 Palestinians now stand united with Hamas. A one-state solution, in theory, could see the unitary state governed by Hamas.
All of which returns us to our initial point, and to the bigger story – which is that Iran may be on the cusp of a momentous directional change. We may see this as part of a progressive strengthening of the Arc of Resistance which links Iran, the People’s Mobilization Units in Iraq with Syria, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen – and, now, a more unified Palestine. Or, we may observe it through the lens of an Israel decaying into existential crisis, with no solution to the quandary of which it (or Netanyahu and Trump) may be said to be the author.
Hamas’ strategy during the recent episode was rigorously co-ordinated with the IRGC and Hizbullah. Its’ aim was to impose new rules of engagement on Israel – leap-frogging beyond tactical objectives pertaining to Gaza. The aim was to create a deterrence to Israeli actions – across the whole Palestinian spectrum – and further, for Hamas to become the protector of al-Aqsa, and of the Holy City, Jerusalem. It represents the Resistance’s ‘solution’, as it were.
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, who often speaks as the authoritative voice of the Resistance Axis, addressed Israel. He warned: “you should be aware that violating Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa mosque stands unlike any other violation you practice … The enemy’s leadership must review its calculations after the war on Gaza … and any violation to Al-Aqsa or Islamic sanctities in general, shall not be faced by the resistance in Gaza, standing alone. But rather, the new equation must be regional war for Al-Quds”. He stressed that “should Islamic and Christian sanctities face threats, there will be no red lines”.
A provocation at the al-Aqsa enclosure by one or other of the extreme Settler cults, is not probable – it is inevitable.
And so, we may be at the cusp of a momentous shift – that, one way or another, could upend all regional certainties.