[Marxism] Unprecedented Numbers of Americans Question Israel

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 6 07:09:13 MST 2009


Unprecedented Numbers of Americans Question Israel's Actions in Gaza
By Max Blumenthal, Huffington Post
Posted on January 6, 2009, Printed on January 6, 2009

Almost as soon as the first Israeli missile struck the Gaza Strip, a 
veteran cheering squad suited up to support the home team. "Israel is so 
scrupulous about civilian life," Charles Krauthammer claimed in the 
Washington Post. Echoing Krauthammer, Alan Dershowitz called the Israeli 
attack on Gaza, "Perfectly 'Proportionate.'" And in the New York Times, 
Israeli historian Benny Morris described his country's airstrikes as 
"highly efficient."

While the cheerleaders testified to the superior moral fiber of their 
team, the Palestinian civilian death toll mounted. Israeli missiles tore 
at least fifteen Palestinian police cadets to shreds at a graduation 
ceremony, blew twelve worshipers to pieces (including six children) 
while they left evening prayers at a mosque, flattened the elite 
American International School, killed five sisters while they slept in 
their beds, and liquidated 9 women and children in order to kill a 
single Hamas leader. So far, Israeli forces have killed at least 500 
Gazans and wounded some two thousand, including hundreds of children. 
Yesterday, the IDF blanketed parts of Gaza with white phosphorus, a 
chemical weapon Saddam Hussein once deployed against Kurdish rebels.

"It was Israel at its best," Yossi Klein Halevi declared in the New 

By New Year's Day, Israel's cheering squad had turned the opinion pages 
of major American newspapers into their own personal romper room. Of all 
the editorial contributions published by the Washington Post, the Wall 
Street Journal, and the New York Times since the Israel's war on Gaza 
began, to my knowledge only one offered a skeptical view of the assault. 
But that editorial, by Israeli novelist David Grossman, contained not a 
single word about the Palestinian casualties of IDF attacks. Even while 
calling for a cease fire, Grossman promised, "We can always start 
shooting again."

Israeli public relations agents fanned out to broadcast studios from the 
US to Europe, fulfilling an aggressive strategy conceived after the 
country's catastrophic 2006 attack on Lebanon. An analysis by Israel's 
foreign ministry of eight hours of coverage across international 
broadcast media concluded that Israeli representatives received a 
whopping 58 minutes of airtime compared to only 19 minutes for 
Palestinians. "Quite a few outlets are very favorable to Israel, namely 
by showing [its] suffering. I am sure it is a result of the new 
co-ordination," said Major Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokesperson who has 
become a fixture on cable news in the past weeks.

But while Israel's PR machine cranked its Mighty Wurlitzer to full 
blast, drowning out all opposing voices with its droning sound, a 
surprisingly substantial portion of the American public decided to dance 
to its own tune. According to a December 31 Rasmussen poll (so far the 
only measure of US opinion on the Gaza assault), while Americans 
remained overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, they were split almost 
evenly on the question of whether Israel should attack Gaza -- 44% in 
favor of the assault and 41% against it. The internals are even more 

While Republicans supported the assault on Gaza by a large margin, a 
predictable finding, only 31% of Democrats did. Members of the 
Democratic base thus stood in sharp contrast to most of their elected 
representatives (freshman Rep. Donna Edwards is a notable exception), 
who backed the latest Israeli assault in lockstep, and seem to support 
Israel no matter what it does. The rift between the progressive base and 
the party played out on Barack Obama's Change.gov site, which was 
deluged in recent days with demands for a statement condemning Israel's 
assault on Gaza.

So what accounts for the surprising trend in American opinion on Gaza? 
The proliferation of progressive online media and social networking 
sites could be a factor, but I have another theory: The same pundits who 
are cheerleading Israel's assault on Gaza once sold the occupation of 
Iraq to America, and with a nearly identical set of arguments. In their 
voices and those of the grim Israeli PR agents carted out for cable 
news, many Americans hear echoes of the Bush administration's most 
fantastical lies. When they see images of Gazans under withering 
bombardment, they flash back to Fallujah and the assorted horrors of 
Iraq. When they look at Israel, they see themselves during the darkest 
days of the Bush era.

Now, an increasing share of Americans know what Israel is doing to Gaza. 
And they reject it, even when Israel is "at its best."

Max Blumenthal is a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation 
Institute based in Washington, DC. Read his blog at 

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