Spare a thought for that oxymoron, the progressive Zionist. The Israeli peace movement's leading luminary, Uri Avnery, in his latest essay, A dirty word (zope.gush-shalom.org, 19/3/11), uncritically hearts Western intervention in Libya - and manages, not surprisingly for a rusted-on Zionist, to forget all sorts of things along the way:
"On Thurdsay evening I could not think of anything except Libya. First I heard the blood-curdling speech by Muammar Gaddafi, in which he promised to occupy Benghazi within hours and drown the rebels in a bloodbath."
So Libya took your mind off the Israeli air strikes which have been pounding the Gaza Strip of late, Uri?
"I was extremely worried and extremely furious with the international community and especially with the US, which had wasted days and weeks of precious time with empty phrase-mongering, while the dictator reconquered Libya bit by bit."
Yeah, and while the Israeli air force was pounding Gaza... to bits.
"Then there was the almost incredible sight of the UN Security Council... unanimously adopting the resolution calling for military intervention. The scene that ensued in Benghazi's central square and broadcast live on Aljazeera reminded me of Mugrabi Square in Tel Aviv on November 29, 1947, just after the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state. The feelings of joy and relief were palpable."
Took you back, did it, to that glorious time when the Truman administration, acting under Zionist pressure, had to twist a few arms to ensure the passing of a resolution giving the UN's imprimatur to the dismemberment of Palestine, over the heads of its people, and on behalf of recently arrived Jewish colons such as yourself. (See my 25/6/09 post Now Honestly)
"The hesitation of the US... to intervene militarily in Libya was... monstrous... For me, 'non-intervention' is a dirty word."
Oh, really? It wasn't a dirty word in 2003 when you noted - sensibly then - just prior to the US's intervention in Iraq: "As for democracy: Americans don't give a damn. Some of their best friends in the Islamic world are dictators, some more, some less cruel than Saddam. As the old American adage goes: 'He is a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch'" (The smell of war, 8/2/03).
And you were right in predicting then that: "For sure, Bush will try to set up some native Iraqi government, in order to disguise and lend legitimacy to the American occupation. There are any number of volunteers, ready to serve as Quislings. Then again, Bush may prefer some new Saddam Hussein, a dictator appointed by them." Their son-of-a-bitch, eh? But what you wrote then is of no relevance to the US's latest intervention in Libya now? Are you implying that the US is intervening there purely because, this time around, they do give a damn about democracy, and that they have no intention whatever, this time around, of instaling their son-of-a-bitch, whoever he may be? Not, of course, that Gaddafi hadn't been their son-of-a-bitch these years past.
Oh, and didn't you tell us back in 2003 that: "I do not belong to those who can speak of war with equanimity. I have seen war. I see the thousands who will be killed, the tens of thousands that will be wounded and maimed, the hundreds of thousands that will become refugees, the ruined families, the sea of tears and human suffering. I join the millions all over the world who say NO." How prophetic you were back then, but again, have those wise words of yours no relevance for US intervention in Libya today?
"It reminds me of the Spanish civil war, which took place when I was very young. In 1936, the Spanish republic and the Spanish people were viciously attacked by a Spanish general, Francisco Franco, with troops imported from Morocco. It was a very bloody war, with untold atrocities. Franco was decisively aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. German Air Force planes terrorized Spanish cities... The Western democracies adamantly refused to help the republic and coined the term 'non-intervention'. Non-intervention meant in practice that Great Britain and France did not intervene, while Germany and Italy did, and did their worst. The only foreign power to help the beleaguered democrats was the Soviet Union... At the time, it looked like a clear fight between good and absolute evil. Idealists from all over the world joined the International Brigades of the republic."
So, are you suggesting that the International Brigades of the Spanish civil war now the cruise missiles of Libya?
I've already had to remind you that Israeli warplanes are, even now, striking defenceless Palestinians in Gaza, but do I also have to remind you of what was going on in your 'own' backyard from 1936-39, when you were 13-15 years old? That's right, non-interventionary Britain, with the aid of Jewish mercenaries recently imported from Europe, were doing their worst to the Palestinians who had bravely risen up against their British masters. As Mike Marqusee, writing about his Avnery-like, progressive, but hopelessly Zionist, grandfather, EVM, pointed out in his memoir, If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew (2008):
"The White Paper of 1939 - opposed in the House of Commons by the Labour Party and from the Conservative benches by Winston Churchill - was a concession [to the Palestinians] made necessary by British priorities after the brutal suppression of the Arab Revolt of 1936-39, of which EVM shows, unsurprisingly, no awareness. In contrast to the Spanish Civil War... the most intense and sustained anti-colonial insurgency of its time was ignored by the left in Europe and North Anerica, and actually denounced by the British Labour Party as 'fascist'." (p 127)
And, since Marqusee's open before me and your memory seems shaky, let's remind ourselves of the dimensions and significance of that insurgency: "The Arab Revolt had begun in April 1936 with a general strike of Arab Palestinian workers that ran for 175 days, throughout which the Zionist trade union federation, the Histadrut, acted as strikebreaker-in-chief. By the strike's end in October, there were 37 British, 80 Jews and 1,000 Palestinian dead. The revolt now spread into the countryside, and for the next 2 years much of Palestine was in the hands of the rebels who also controlled significant urban areas, including at times the old city of Jerusalem, and mounted constant attacks on the Iraq Petroleum Company's critical pipeline to Haifa. After the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the British were able to deploy sufficient forces to crush the revolt. Punitive expeditions were mounted against villages, which were also bombed from the air. Mass arrests were followed by torture and hangings. In all this the British were aided by the Haganah, the Jewish military 'defense' force in Palestine founded in 1920; it was at this time that its elite unit, later known as the Palmach, came into being under British supervision. Meanwhile, the Irgun, the Revisionists' military wing, mounted a terror campaign against Palestinians, bombing marketplaces in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Jaffa. The suppression of the revolt left 5,000 dead, the Palestinians leaderless, disorganized and largely disarmed, while the Yishuv emerged with a strengthened infrastructure and well-trained armed force. Thus the British laid the foundations for the Zionist victory in 1948." (pp 127-128)
My God, Uri, could it be that, by recalling your enthusiam for the Spanish republicans, you're actually trying to block out your choice as a 14-year old in 1938 to join the Irgun, which, as Marqusee reminds us, was busy at the time bombing Arab marketplaces ? (For a more detailed account of same, see my 27/6/08 post Breathtaking Zionist Hypocrisy)
"If I had been only a few years older, I would without doubt have volunteered, too. In 1948, we sang with gusto the songs of the International Brigades in our own war."
Oh, did you now? But are you sure you were on the right side in that dirty war of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people? (See my 1/6/08 post Uri Avnery's 1948: A Critique)