Saturday, October 23, 2010

ISRAEL, ALINSKY, TRUTH

I came across a short piece in ‘The New Republic’ and it seems to me to clearly connect to Alinsky, among other things, so here goes.

In the September 2 print issue, online here, is a piece entitled ‘The Nowhere Bomb’. This mag’s not the place to go for serious (and therefore frank, candid, and accurate) talk about the whole ‘Israel thing’, but you get an idea what one side is talking about and how it would like to spin matters.

The article opens with a question: “Should Jerusalem bring its bomb out of the basement?”

For those viewers who have recently tuned-in (as they used to say) this seems like a candid and frank question. And in a sense that’s true.

But in a larger sense it’s not really so true at all.

What’s going on here is that in a public forum somebody is actually discussing something that was a violation of international law and has been since its inception back in the days of Eisenhower, and that came to a head – it has to be said – in that fateful summer of 1963, a few months before – it also has to be said – JFK’s assassination. You recall that in that year JFKwas deep into his efforts to get a Test Ban Treaty going with the USSR to reduce the threat of nuclear war (the Cuban Missile Crisis had taken place in the previous October).

On July 5th of that year, JFK wrote to the brand new Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol (who replaced David Ben-Gurion, an Israeli ‘old fighter’ who had helped bring the Israel State into existence). In no uncertain terms JFK told Eshkol (as he had told Ben-Gurion, to no effect) that the US could not and would not countenance Israel’s under-the-table efforts to acquire The Bomb and that any continuation of Israel’s efforts would not see success on his (JFK’s) watch.

Then suddenly JFK’s watch ended in that assassination in Dallas in November, which was explained as the work of a lone lunatic and that “magic super-bullet” that did so much damage from several directions and ended up in almost pristine condition to be ‘discovered’ later lying peacefully in the Presidential limo.

Israel’s efforts apparently continued, including hundreds of pounds of vital atomic fuel-material that somehow got ‘lost’ in a Western Pennsylvania district’s nuclear-processing facility owned by a rabidly pro-Israel businessman and situated in a district that would soon be represented on Capitol Hill by Arlen Specter, then a staffer on the Warren Commission inquiry into the assassination and – by amazing coincidence – the guy who came up with the magic-bullet ‘explanation’ for the assassination.

Funny how the night moves.

It was on LBJ’s watch that the material went missing in 1965, the same LBJ who, when the USS Liberty was attacked repeatedly in broad daylight by Israeli air and naval units with great loss of sailors’ lives, ordered the rescue fighter-jets from the carrier USS America to be recalled and later ordered the naval inquiry to ‘find’ that the whole thing was just a mistake because – LBJ insisted – “we don’t want to embarrass our Israeli friends”.

Cut to now.

The article here notes with a deceptive matter-of-factness that Israel is “the only nuclear-armed nation to hide its cache behind a façade of official silence – neither confirming nor denying its existence”. Although the article admits that Israel does indeed HAVE nukes.

Which is an on-going and long-standing violation of international law (in case you might think that Bush invented violations of international law with his preventive-war theory).

The article suggests that it’s time for a “reconsideration of this stance”. In other words, that the on-going international crime, heretofore hidden, should be openly admitted.

But only for the “advantages” such an admission – or, rather, ‘announcement’ and declaration – would have for Israel’s international position.

I can’t help but notice what a poor example of law-abiding, let alone ‘moral’, behavior this sets.

And doubly so: first that the crime was committed and kept going for so long, and second, that its poisonous fruits would now be capitalized-upon in the Great Game. (For the moment, let’s put aside the numerous lives lost in consequence of the whole gambit, perhaps – it would have to be considered – including JFK’s.)

The article – again with deceptive though illuminating candor – discusses the downsides of the idea, because “disclosure poses its own challenges”. So true, as Al Capone’s attorneys probably advised that noted businessman back in the day.

Were Israel to make the admission, then “the nuclear pariah spotlight” which presently and soooo nicely “shines on Iran” would shift to Israel “given global political biases”. [italics mine] In other words, if you were to think ill of Israel for this on-going international crime then you would clearly be ‘biased’. An argument I’m sure Capone would have loved to have made in open court, if he thought that such a claim wouldn’t have reduced him to instant and contemptuous ridicule.

So if you were to be upset at the commission of this on-going crime, you wouldn’t be concerned for international justice, say; you would merely be ‘biased’ (and I suppose it’s an interesting straw in the wind now that the article doesn’t deploy the time-worn ‘anti-Semitic’ epithet).

Quietly and perhaps without intending to, the article also admits that such ‘bias’ is now “global” – which might lead one to think that the world is becoming more concerned for international justice, but which apparently means to the author that the world continues to be ‘against Israel’ for whatever dark and nasty reasons. Though, of course, he cawn’t think why.

It might “legitimate Iranian nuclear weapons in the court of international opinion” – though he cawn’t think why. That most of the world is aware of Israel’s on-going international crime, that other nations in that sore-bethumpt and fractious Middle East might have figured that if Israel can ‘do it’ so can they (and perhaps that if Israel has The Bomb then they’d better get one of their own pretty damned quick) … these utterly predictable and forseeable and – not to put too fine a point on it – logical international possibilities do not merit notice.

Israel would prefer to imagine itself, it would seem, newborn in the 21st century, with no 60 prior years of history and no responsibility for ‘having’ The Bomb (which it ‘has’ but never seems to have ‘acquired’; much like the old Boston Brahmin lady who does not ‘buy’ her hats, she simply ‘has’ her hats: such a dignified dowager would never degrade herself by going into a store and actually doing the dirty work of ‘buying’ anything).

But Israel could “complicate the mullahs’ risk calculations” and do so “without exciting the Arab street”. As if the Arab street doesn’t already know that the Israelis have been engaged in this on-going violation of international law for almost half-a-century. And that the US has, since LBJ’s time, been complicit not only in keeping up this charade but in helping the Israelis get the damned Bomb to begin with.

In best Beltway and advertising style, the author here has even given his new plan a catchy moniker: “Opacity Plus”. In his own words, Israel will find “subtle ways to draw attention to its nukes without explicitly abandoning its current position” (which is already to cover-up an ongoing crime).

Lovely.

Alinsky’s approach is in this, as well as Lenin’s, Goebbels’s, Edward Bernays’s, and Machiavelli’s. There is only ‘the low-road’, and since Nothing Is On The Level then whatever you decide you have to do isn’t any worse than what’s already been going on.

And all that’s required now is to ‘spin’ this and ‘sell’ this, since there can be no ‘moral’ discussion in a world where only “the low-road” exists.

And you wonder where ‘moral discussion’ and assessment and ‘judgment’ (you surely don’t want to be ‘judgmental’) have gone.

Without admitting the implications of what he’s just said, the author slyly and immediately moves on to ‘justify’ what he prefers not to admit: Israel “looked out at a daunting strategic landscape” in 1948, “surrounded by adversaries”. Which is precisely what so many seasoned diplomatic sources of that era had warned would be the case; which Harry Truman, riding the crest of America’s immediate-postwar dominance but hugely worried about his re-election possibilities, did blithely and with callowness aforethought ignore as he noted that he “had no Arab voters” but a hell of a lot of “Jewish voters” and instantly recognized the State.

Worse, the article whines gently that Israel “had also failed in its efforts to enter into a military alliance with either Europe or the United States”. Which isn’t quite so. First, there was no sovereign nation called “Europe” and never has been; second, Israel purposely avoided any treaty with the US in order to avoid having to admit that its long-term plan was to take over the whole of Biblical ‘Israel’ before it was finished. A mutual defense treaty would require a formal description of each contracting State’s borders, and their long term plan was a dark secret the Israelis didn’t want to admit openly.*

And, of course, the article notes that the Holocaust was involved: against such a replay of events, “David Ben-Gurion latched onto the idea that nuclear weapons would provide the ultimate security blanket”.

Was he wrong? I don’t mean morally; let’s keep it at the level of ‘strategically’. Have the yes-and-no nukes made Israel a more respected member of the international community?

And both law-enforcement and prosecutors and competent therapists will recognize "latched onto" as what is called in those trades "minimizing": a person responsible for an act tries to use words that make it sound a lot less serious than it really was. "Latched onto"? You decide to take a country and violate international law, in a matter of atomic-nuclear weapons, which you intend to achieve by whatever means necessary, legal or not, and then to cover that act up, and you want to say you just sorta "latched onto" the plan?

Washington was not pleased with Israel’s Eisenhower/Kennedy-era efforts to get The Bomb because “Washington was obsessed with curtailing the spread of the bomb”. Obsessed? Like it was a bad thing? Like it was a form of mental-aberration? Like Israel should be applauded for retaining its ‘sanity’ while Washington went off the deep end?

Surprisingly the author notes that while Eisenhower raised objections to Israel’s efforts (with the help of a Vichy-guilty and anti-American France) to set up the Dimona facility, JFK (in the process of forging a test-ban agreement with the USSR) was the one who actually refused to accept Ben-Gurion’s (deceitful?) “assurances that Dimona served civilian purposes”; thus it was JFK “who would make the lone serious effort to halt the Israeli program … even threatening to re-evaluate the whole [US-Israeli] relationship”.

Without any comment or hint of irony, the author concludes that thought with the flat sentence: “Because of Lee Harvey Oswald that confrontation never happened”. Which, to the detectively-inclined might constitute powerful ‘motive’, as they say in the police procedurals.

But, following LBJ’s “letting the matter slide”, Nixon ( a Republican, neatly) and Golda Meir “finally came to an informal understanding” in 1969, in which the US would not “impede” Israel’s efforts so long as “the program remained opaque”. In other words, an on-going violation of international law was OK, as long as nobody got too obvious about it. I think there’s a crime in there somewhere. Or a crime to cover-up a crime.

But since that arrangement has been “endorsed by all subsequent American presidents, Barack Obama included” then what even the author calls a “pretense” can’t be objected-to at this point; support for this thing has been ‘bipartisan’, as they say. So since the bank was robbed and the money spent – wisely or not – then the crime can’t be prosecuted? The philosophy of law has really lost even more ground than We had previously thought in this country.

And around the world. And can anybody honestly be surprised?

So here’s a situation – and it’s no doubt not only an open secret but a classic example of How To Do It inside the Beltway and has been for decades – that openly undermines not only truth and the rule of law but also the fundamental political basis of language as a means of conveying to The People accurate truth about what is being done in their Name and on their Authority. Orwell warned everybody about this.

And it no doubt migrates into other areas of national activity, these assumptions that Nothing Is On The Level and that It’s OK If WE Do It But Not OK If THEY Do It.

This type of activity degrades and coarsens not only politics and not only the political discourse but the politicians and diplomats themselves. It breeds not simply a well-intentioned but profoundly cynical ‘organizing’ – as Alinsky consoled himself to think – but also a fundamental derangement of the practitioners as well as the political discourse. And the not-a-secret support of such a scam cannot but pull the rug out from under any wide international confidence in anything resembling fairness, let alone in truth and justice, in international diplomacy and relations.

AND THEN the author goes on to rub his hands gleefully about the possible benefits of this debasement of politics and language: Israel should put all of this out in the open in order to “allow a cacophony of debate among the chattering classes, to generate ‘crazy’ as well as tempered ideas”. I get the impression that “chattering” includes discussions of the morality or legitimacy or legality of this whole frakkulent gambit, and that any idea that doesn’t agree with what’s been done will not be acknowledged as “tempered” no matter how insightful it may be, but rather the idea – and probably its proponents – will be labeled as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘shrill’ and ‘irrational’. That, apparently, is how the Game is best played.

This will bear poisonous fruit indeed, or rather will continue to do so as it has for the past half-century.

NOTES

*You can read a short but candid assessment of Israel’s attitude toward an actual treaty – the only way one nation can formally and actually be an ‘ally’ of another nation – here.

ADDENDUM


I can’t pass this up. Michael J. Totten just published an interview he did with Martin Kramer.

I don’t think you can get a better insight into how these things are arranged than by reading it.

Let me begin by saying that there are, as I see it, three types of interview.

First, there are hostile interviews: the interviewer doesn’t like the ideas or perhaps the originator of the ideas, and is determined to expose them.

Second, there are constructive interviews: the objective is and remains the public exploration of the ideas, the interviewer drawing out the positive and negative aspects of the idea(s) so that viewers depart with more accurate information than they had before.

Third, there are the friendly interviews, or ‘puffs’. Their purpose is merely to give the ideas and/or the originator a platform to publicize a desired ‘line’ (as in Party Line, that sturdy old Bolshevik phrase).

This Totten-Kramer job is very much in the third category, so much so that Totten becomes nothing more than a jukebox that doesn’t need a quarter to play the tune.

Essentially, the interview is designed to trot-out the latest Israeli ‘narrative’ by which the true believers and cadres are to understand and explain the most recent phase of the sempiternal Israeli game-plan.

There is no longer a Middle East: there is a “Levant” (resurrecting an ancient geographical term) that includes the Eastern Mediterranean and then there is the Persian Gulf (which is not to be thought of as actually belonging to Iran – home of the Persians – but the world is stuck with the common usage even though it is inconvenient to the Israeli spin and, anyway, it’s really only the Persians who call it the Persian Gulf and the Arabs would like it called something else (although, as I recall, there is already an Arabian Gulf so perhaps it should be re-named the Israeli Gulf) /

The “Arabs” live in the Levant and the Iranians live above and along the Persian Gulf /

The Iranians don’t have much of an economy (“some carpets and pistachio nuts”, as Kramer minimizes it) or natural resources (beyond the pistachio nuts aforementioned) so they will try to set up like mobsters to horn in on the Gulf, which carries much of the world’s oil trade /

This makes the Arabs nervous and the Israeli’s concerned for their well-being /

And also frustrates the Israelis because clearly the US is not stepping up to the plate as regional hegemon (or, take your pick, world guarantor-hegemon) and insuring that it will either keep the Persians out of the oil rackets or guarantee that the Israelis – as America’s Deputy – will have full American support in case they decide to do ‘whatever it takes’ (as the Israelis love to put it) /

So if they have to, the Israelis will step up if the artistes formerly known as Persians try to get nuclear and will if need be – but not before – go nuclear if the Iranians get nuclear /

The former-Persians are not really interested in “the Palestinians” or genuinely concerned for “justice for the Palestinians”, by the by, but rather are simply playing the old agitprop game of creating a diversionary ‘issue’ (or ‘emergency’ or ‘outrage’) so nobody should really worry about the Palestinians and everybody should worry about the formerly-Persian Iranians /

The former-Persians now “plan” to dominate the Persian Gulf (so, apparently, any speculation about a long-held Israeli plan to get back all of the Biblical Israel can be forgotten, thank ya vurrry mutch) and the whole neighborhood is beginning to resemble Virginia City and environs without Ben Cartwright and his boys; in fact Kramer voluntarily ‘shares’ with puffboy Totten his own personal impression that the former-Persians remind him of no one so much as – WAIT FOR IT – Saddam Hussein, deceased, who threatened to burn down Israel but burned down Kuwait instead (hence ‘the Arabs’ are getting nervous and restless, as natives so often do) /

The US should step in now (unstated middle: while it still has enough steam left to make at least a credible showing) or risk losing face as Great Hegemon, which would distress the Israelis on top of their already aching concern for the upset ‘wa’ of the Arabs /

And the US should not be selfish and say that since it doesn’t actually use much of the Gulf’s oil (at some point in the past few minutes we have arrived at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, clearly) but everybody in Virginia City expects the Ponderosa to either do its bit or simply delegate its role as God’s Deputy by Deputizing the Israelis (who, I was under the distinct impression, were already God’s Chosen in their own right) /

As regards Israel’s possession of a nuclear bomb (in rather clear and ongoing violation of international law), the Israelis are sorta like the Japanese in the sense that either one has The Bomb or one is “only one screw away from it” (although how the Japanese and sex got into this whole thing is beyond me) /

So the formerly-Persian nukes are really a “world problem” and if the US doesn’t want to do its job, then the Israelis announce that they will be glad to stand up for Jesus and step in to save the Arabs /

Oh, but of course it should be perfectly obvious that if the Persians have nukes then Israel will – alas – have to keep a tight grip on ALL of Jerusalem and fortify the whole place so that it will become simultaneously a ‘deterrent’ and a secondary command post in case the Persians want to attack what would now be an Arab holy place-cum-Israeli-command-center and in fact Israel would have to keep pretty much all of the control in order to ensure that the State of Israel remains “viable” in case of a nuclear war /

Oh, and since even “a small faction” of Iranians who are Bomb-happy cannot be tolerated in the Iranian government, then [Kramer leaves this conclusion unstated but planted just under the surface like a road-side bomb] if even one such former-Persian remains or get into the Iranian government – even just one – then “the Iranian threat” will still remain, so, barring the almost utter impossibility that the Iranian government would contain TOTALLY NONE of the pro-Bomb faction (widely defined, no doubt) then Iran is going to have to be attacked no matter how much it tries to comply with the Israeli dampdreams  – preferably with nukes (since not even the US has the ground forces for the job, especially in its present condition.)  (And of course, this comment lets the Iranians know that they are pretty much going to be attacked regardless, even if they install a government of 99 percent Girl Scouts; which, nicely, will undermine any moderates in the Iranian government and strengthen the hand of whatever pro-Bomb, or even pro-war lunatics, who already have a say in what Iran will decide. Diabolical. And, although nobody can accuse the Israelis of hewing to the Bible in anything except their insistence that it constitutes a Real-Estate Deed of Ownership of great antiquity and statute, there is that bit in the Book of Genesis (the first book, so it’s not like the story is buried in the back pages) about Lot asking God if He will destroy Sodom “if even only one just man” can be found, to which – you recall – the Deity agreed that He would not destroy the city if only one just man were found within.)  /
Oh, and Yes, it’s going to make any arrangements with the Palestinians wayyyyy more difficult but that’s a price that – for the sake of the Arabs and the world – the Israelis are willing to take on, as they have taken on so many other unrewarded burdens /

And, come to think of it, given all the complications of nuclear exchanges and such, the whole Palestinian thing should really be accepted as a secondary problem that cannot be allowed to interfere with the well-being of so many various peoples in that Levant and Israel is just going to have to man up and accept the fact that it will have to run Jerusalem and environs until the cows come home (which, in those parts, might be quite some time) /

And lastly, Israel will have to be logical about its new responsibilities as savior of the Arabs and move just about all of its most vital assets into Jerusalem – technological, economic, industrial – sort of like as if Jerusalem were the capital of Israel (although in no way is this to be construed as a fulfillment of any hypothetical pre-determined plan to take over all of Biblical Israel with Jerusalem as its Biblical capital.

Well, there you have it.

There’s something rather unserious about all this. It seems to me to be a glaring characteristic of this Age that while the problems are serious indeed, the humans are queasily unserious. (A headline today asks if “Comedians can save Democrats”, referring no doubt to Jon Stewart and Mr. Colbert (pronounced Col-bear)).

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