Netanyahu Bites, Obama Snarls Back:

When Bloody-Jawed Wolves Feud, Don’t Choose Sides… Bring Forward Another Way!

by Larry Everest | March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress (and the world). This wasn’t an ordinary speech by the leader of one of the U.S.’s closest allies. Netanyahu was invited by Republicans in the House of Representatives specifically to denounce the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran, which are reportedly at a critical point. Netanyahu indeed delivered a scathing critique of U.S. talks with Iran, claiming they would strengthen and legitimize Iran and lead to a nuclear arms race in the region. Barack Obama quickly went on TV to sharply and directly counter Netanyahu’s charges, arguing his negotiations were the best way to contain Iran and its nuclear program.

In the mainstream media, the terms of this are being twisted and distorted to obscure the real deal: This feud is not in any way about how to stop the danger of nuclear war or bring freedom to the Middle East. What’s happening is that the U.S. imperialists and Israelis are scrambling and undertaking all kinds of machinations in an effort to maintain their grip on the Middle East as their imposed regional order tears at the seams and threatens to fly apart. These tremendous stresses and strains are generating intense conflicts between Israel and the U.S. and within their respective ruling classes.

What Is the “Special Relationship” Between the U.S. and Israel?

Special Issue on Israel:
Bastion of Enlightenment… or Enforcer for Imperialism:
The Case of ISRAEL

#213, October 10, 2010

Also available in PDF

The U.S. imperialists have “stood by” Israel for decades as their most loyal bastion in the Middle East and an invaluable enforcer of their interests worldwide. Why? The U.S. economic, political, and military stranglehold on the Middle East has allowed it to dominate the world’s main source of oil and natural gas and a key nexus of global trade and geopolitics. Domination of the Middle East has been, and continues to be, key to the U.S. maintaining its position at the top of, and preying on, a world of misery and oppression. And Israel has been an enforcer for all this, in the Middle East and beyond.

But for the peoples there, these past decades have brought one horror after another—with the lives of hundreds of millions suffocated, crippled, or just ended thanks to the U.S. For the past 70 years, from Morocco to Egypt, to Iran, to Afghanistan, and most everywhere in between, the U.S. has installed and backed military juntas, religious fundamentalist tyrannies, and all manner of torture regimes. It has orchestrated coups, threatened military intervention, and imposed economic sanctions—killing children by the hundreds of thousands.

U.S. sanctions against Iraq alone were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 children. In 1996, Madeline Albright, then U.S. President Bill Clinton’s UN Ambassador (and soon-to-be Secretary of State), appeared on the TV program 60 Minutes and was asked whether the deaths of half a million children was worth it. Her answer: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

The U.S. launched devastating bombing and drone campaigns, and most recently invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, impoverishing, uprooting, wounding, and killing millions.

Palestinians driven from their homes in Galilee are on the road to Lebanon, November 1948.Palestinians driven from their homes in Galilee are on the road to Lebanon, November 1948. AP photo

Palestinians watch as others carry a body from the rubble of a house destroyed by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, July 21, 2014. AP photo
Palestinians watch as others carry a body from the rubble of a house destroyed by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, July 21, 2014. AP photo

Israel plays a unique and indispensable role in all this. Israel is a settler-colonial state based on the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population—the Palestinians. This has been carried out by terrorist violence and inhuman war crimes, from daily humiliations, to torture, to cruise missiles and cluster bombs. Hardly a day goes by without another news report of some Israeli outrage—people in Gaza denied aid and still living amidst rubble, a Palestinian youth shot down. And every day, more expansion of Israeli “settlements”—armed outposts of Zionists who terrorize and kill the displaced Palestinians in the West Bank. All this is a form of genocide.

Netanyahu is a fitting representative and embodiment of this brazen savagery and imperialist arrogance. He has, repeatedly throughout his career in Israeli politics, overtly advocated the violent ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people, subjecting the Palestinians in Gaza to genocidal slaughters, seizing land, maintaining a constant state of terror, and viciously attacking any resistance or opposition.

Sharpeville, March 1960For nearly 50 years in South Africa, until 1994, the apartheid system was in effect. A wealthy minority of white settlers held all political power and used it to rob the land, labor and resources of the country, enriching European and U.S. imperialism, while the great majority of black people were segregated, denied any human rights or respect, and lived in deep poverty. Any resistance to this setup was met with brutal repression. Shown here, in the township of Sharpeville in March 1960, police opened fire on a black protest, killing or wounding hundreds. This was the beginning of the movement that eventually brought down the apartheid system. AP photo

mass grave of people massacred by the Guatemalan army in 1982
August 2007. Villagers next to mass grave of people massacred by the Guatemalan army in 1982. AP photo

The “special relationship” Israel and the U.S. proclaim and celebrate extends far beyond the region. Israel trained and armed the white-racist Apartheid regime in South Africa—a key U.S. ally in the ‘70s and ‘80s—while it massacred black protesters. In the early 1980s, Israel trained and supervised the death squads carrying out genocide in Guatemala—killing 200,000 indigenous people when the rulers of the U.S. assessed oppositional movements in Central America as a threat to their empire. Under the direction of the U.S., Israel provided essential military and logistical aid and weapons (including 10,000 Uzis) to Christian fundamentalist butcher Efraín Ríos Montt and “advised” the death squads that subjected the Mayan people and others in Guatemala to systematic rape, bullets to the head in front of family members, beheading, ripping the hearts out of small children in front of their parents, burning people alive, and other atrocities. (See “Ríos Montt on Trial in Guatemala: A Censored Massacre Made in USA.”)

If you’re looking for depraved savages who murder children by the hundreds of thousands, tear children from their parents, carry out systematic rape and murder of pregnant women, and carry out genocide—and don’t apologize for any of it—the rulers of the United States and their junior partner, Israel, are far and away at the top of the list.

In many ways, Israel has become more crucial during this period of profound upheaval and conflict, when other U.S. “allies” in the Middle East (bloody, repressive regimes) like Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and others are unstable or challenging the U.S. in various ways. And when the U.S. confronts increasingly aggressive rivals around the world. And the existence of Israel is fundamentally dependent on massive U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military aid and other relationships—open and covert.

That is why even in the midst of the furor over Netanyahu’s speech, Netanyahu himself said, “Our alliance is stronger than ever. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office he holds. I have great respect for both. I deeply appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.”

And in turn, Obama framed his criticisms of Netanyahu by emphasizing, “The prime minister appropriately pointed out that the bond between the United States of America is unbreakable, and on that point I thoroughly agree.”

That “bond” is a bond between the world’s greatest criminal and one of his most vicious henchmen.

The Intensifying Clash Between McWorld and Jihad

So if the bond between Israel and the U.S. is “unbreakable,” why the intense conflict?

The unprecedented level of public feuding between Israel and the U.S. is driven by serious challenges to the whole oppressive, U.S.-dominated regional order. Across the 4,000 plus mile arc from North Africa through the Middle East into Central Asia, reactionary Islamic fundamentalism is growing explosively, including dramatic gains by groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) which now controls a big swath of northern Iraq and Syria. States, including Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq have collapsed or are fragmenting. Iran’s influence has increased in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and regionally. Upheaval has wracked U.S. pillars like Egypt. And these challenges to the “authority” of the U.S. empire are intersecting with broader conflicts between the U.S. and powers like Russia and China.

Let’s be clear: There is nothing good at all about Islamic fundamentalism—about ISIS, Islamic Republic of Iran, Boko Haram, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or other varieties. It is completely reactionary and against the interests of the people, including—and especially—very oppressed sections of people in the slums of Cairo, Paris, or Kabul for whom these forces often claim to speak and among whom—tragically—they attract a following. These forces aim to forcibly impose a fundamentalist or absolutist interpretation of the Koran and Sharia law (the body of religious rulings made by Islamic clerics) on society as its governing law and ideology. Central to this is the most cruel, inhumane oppression of women. And the Islamist Jihadists’ methods reflect their reactionary ideology and program, including targeting and murdering non-combatants, terrorizing whole populations, and sanctioning severe corporal punishment or death for infractions of Islamic law. They differ ideologically with the U.S. imperialists and “the West” only in the forms of exploitation and oppression.

The Interests of the U.S. Empire are NOT Our Interests

Fundamentalist Jihadists are a nightmare when they are in power, but that is not the problem the U.S. and Israel have with these forces. When the U.S. can use them to advance and enforce the interests of their empire, they find “signs of progress” among the medieval princes of Saudi Arabia (where women can’t even drive cars, and where the regime carried out 345 public beheadings between 2007 and 2010 ), or “partners” in feudal warlords in Afghanistan who ban girls from schools. And Israel is notorious for working with and through some of the most oppressive and vicious Islamic fundamentalist forces when it serves their interests.

But the challenges posed by forces like Iran and ISIS (even as those Islamic fundamentalist entities have sharp conflicts with each other), and larger global challenges to the U.S. empire, have given rise to the sharp conflicts between Israel and the rulers of the U.S., and within their respective ruling classes over things like if and how much to try to integrate the reactionary, women-enslaving regime in Iran into functioning as an enforcer for U.S. interests in the region (and how to deal with its nuclear program in that context); how to deal with (and in places use) forces like ISIS; as well as what forms through which to carry out the ongoing genocidal ethnic cleansing of Palestine and more.

The arguments among these predators are so heated because the problems they face are so intractable, and because they have no good options or clear choices—and fundamentally no answers.

BAsics 3:8

When these kinds of crises develop and spark intense infighting among reactionaries like what we are seeing now between the U.S. and Israel, and within their ruling classes, the people of the world have less than zero interest in either side of this feud. Their crises and difficulties are not our crises and difficulties. Neither they—nor the Islamic fundamentalists of any stripe—have any answers for the people.

Bring Forward Another Way

There is nothing good in either side in conflicts and upheaval like we are witnessing today—taking the form of the clash between Obama and Netanyahu. But conflicts like this do point to an important element of why revolution is not impossible but possible. The clash between Obama and Netanyahu is one indication of the depths of the contradictions the system is facing in the Middle East, their lack of solutions to their own crises, and the potential for a revolutionary situation to emerge from this and other contradictions.

In “What Is a Revolutionary Situation?“ Bob Avakian identifies one element as “A deep crisis and sharpening conflicts in society and in the government and ruling circles, where they cannot find a way to resolve these conflicts—in society and among their own ranks—which do not make things worse for them and call forth more resistance and further undermine people’s belief in their “right to rule” and in the “legitimacy” of their use of force to maintain their rule...”

Nobody can say how all the kinds of conflicts provoking the tension between the U.S. and Israel and other international crises will end up, or how they might interact with intense struggles within the U.S. against police murder, and the movement for an actual revolution in this country making important, if beginning, advances in getting on the stage.

But for all who refuse to accept a world of oppression, degradation, and unjust wars, conflicts like the one flaring up now between Obama and Netanyahu must be moments to expose the real terms of things, to expose and oppose the whole setup, and to wrench people out of accepting that this is the best the world can be. It is NOT! (For a deep analysis and understanding of how to act to radically transform the terms of things in this situation, a critical analysis is found in Bringing Forward Another Way—a talk by Bob Avakian).

After the holocaust...

For anything good to come out of all this, and for people—especially in this country—to not be passively complicit in terrible crimes, we need to wage determined struggle, right now, against any intervention in Iran and against Israel’s genocidal assault on the Palestinian people and overall role in the Middle East. We need to expose the obscene lies that justify U.S. crimes in the Middle East, and actively protest them—to oppose and prevent, right now, horrible injustices and grave crimes, both of which are going on and could easily intensify in such a volatile situation. And such struggle should be seen and built by revolutionaries as part of preparing the terrain, the people, and the vanguard for the earliest possible opportunity to actually do away with this horrific system.

The “5 Stops“ poster includes among other key elements “STOP—WARS OF EMPIRE, ARMIES OF OCCUPATION, AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!” And that is one reason it is so important to get that out everywhere. The movement for revolution needs to reach out to the campuses and beyond, seeking out and working with students, especially those who ARE opposing the actions of the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East.

Those challenges (opposing the crimes of the U.S. and Israel, and getting to a world free of all oppression) are, in fact, tightly integrated. In that light, rather than seeking a sliver of illusory hope in one or another side in this conflict, what we need is to oppose the crimes of the U.S. and Israel as part of a moment to rip something completely different out of the world as it is—and to build a movement for an actual revolution which will sweep away this system and its injustices and be a transition to a world where all humanity is free.


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