(SCF) Tel Aviv – Place yourself in the mind of a Palestinian. You have just been told by the Secretary of State of the outgoing US Administration in Washington that your people should have «a future of freedom and dignity» and «the Israeli Government’s program of establishing civilian settlements in the occupied territory is inconsistent with international law». Might you have a warm glow about there being such support by the world’s «indispensable nation»?
It is a matter of record that President Obama did nothing to help Palestinians in the past eight years, while the US Congress did its biased best to make their lives as hellish as they could, while enriching Israel to unprecedented heights (and being themselves generously subsidised), but in spite of that, some Palestinians might have felt a degree of comfort that the world is aware of the bulldozing of their homes, destruction of their fields and fruit trees (their livelihood) and forcible ejection from their ancestral lands, and that something — at long last — might be done about it.
But almost immediately the next president of the United States declared that «We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!» He is strongly supported by the US Congress, 76 of whose representatives went on paid trips to Israel in 2016. (Israel is by far the most-visited country by US legislators.)
The fact that the entire world, with the exception of Israel and the United States, recognises and endorses the basic right of Palestinians to live in their own dwellings, on their own land, earning an honest living, seems to mean nothing to president-elect Trump. He might have the right ideas about peaceful engagement with Russia (although we’ll have to wait to know for sure about that), but he certainly doesn’t want peace for Palestinians, and here’s where he might end up regretting his support for the doltish but effectively malevolent Netanyahu, the modern torch-bearer for nationalistic lebensraum.
The Security Council recently reaffirmed that «the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law».
It could not be plainer that Israel has violated Security Council resolutions and that its seizure of Arab land on which to illegally construct large housing estates is detestable and contrary to human decency. The conduct of the Israeli government is contemptuous of the entire world.
The scornful rejection by President-elect Trump of the Security Council decision was in character, as were his comments in support of Israel’s surge to genocide, and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu responded by tweeting «President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!»
Irrespective of the moral implications of the Netanyahu-Trump axis, which bodes ill for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are threatened by racist extremism, there is the important matter of practical reaction by the fanatics of Islamic State.
Some governments may try to ignore the fact that Israel is intent on extermination of Palestinians, but they should bear in mind that their countries agreed, in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, to punish those who carry out acts «with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group». In the case of the Palestinians the most relevant of these acts is «deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy a group» which includes the «deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival, such as clean water, food, clothing, shelter or medical services. Deprivation of the means to sustain life can be imposed through confiscation of harvests, blockade of foodstuffs, detention in camps, forcible relocation or expulsion into deserts». (This was written in 1948, and has proved depressingly prescient.)
Of course the UN will not punish Israel for any of its apartheid excesses. But its arrogant subjugation of the nation within its walls will have other and much wider consequences.
In 2016 the terrorists of Islamic State declared that «the apostate [tyrants] who rule the lands of Islam are graver infidels than [the Jews], and war against them takes precedence over war against the original infidels». In other words they want to overthrow the repressive monarchs of the Gulf States (for example) before turning attention to repressive Israel. But the Palestinians are being increasingly victimised and there are many young men in their number who will turn to violence simply because of hatred for their vicious tormentors.
Zionist persecution will drive them to join the vile legions of Islamic State.
Although IS priorities might appear to put Israel on the back burner, these barbarians advocate attacking «the Jews and their allies wherever they find them, [by] killing them, destroying their property, and harming their interests in any way [possible]», because they consider the Israelis to be, well, extremist barbarians.
The Netanyahu-Trump war on Palestinians is sure to provoke violent reaction, and Islamic State and its various obnoxious offshoots will intensify their savagery. The New Year massacres in Istanbul and Baghdad were examples of ‘loner-terrorism’ in which individuals or small numbers of IS-associated fanatics slaughter scores of innocent people, thereby greatly increasing international anxiety and grievously damaging national economies.
Turkey’s vital tourist industry has already suffered a deep decline by reason of other terrorist attacks and the effects of this last atrocity will be economically crippling, which is one of the aims of the fanatics. But their main objective is to sow fear worldwide, and it is apparent from Countering Violent Extremism, a recent study by the National Research Group that they are succeeding. The NRG found, among other disturbing trends, that «in all [nine surveyed] countries except Turkey and Egypt, the root cause of violent extremism is primarily felt to be religious fundamentalism» while the secondary factors are «anti-Western sentiment and active recruitment» — which is where Palestine comes to centre stage.
If Trump and the entire US Congress continue to support Netanyahu so energetically in his relentless persecution of Palestinians they will not only boost recruiting to the ranks of Islamic State, they will encourage IS fanatics to think about selecting American targets. So far there have been mercifully few US-specific attacks, and most mass bombings and shootings have been against crowds in Brussels, Berlin, Nice, Paris and Istanbul (in addition to even greater mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan), but if the open and vocal support of Zionism by the Congress and the new President continues there will be movement to concentrate on US citizens and institutions. There will be a Palestine blowback.
If President Trump wants to create a lasting moral legacy, he would be well-advised to use his enormous power to grant justice to the Palestinians. And he would also save a lot of American lives.
This post by Brian Coughley originally ran on Strategic Culture.