"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle"
— Sun Tzu (The Art of War, Special Edition)
By Dr. Alan Sabrosky
Let us admit it to ourselves, once and for all. The battle of Palestine for the Palestinians has been lost. The odds against them and their scattered network of supporters have been great. The last possible chance to at least stave off defeat was stillborn last year, when the Goldstone Report on Gaza was endorsed by the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN General Assembly, and then — simply stopped. Only if some country or countries had fought to bring UNGA 377A (the Uniting for Peace Resolution) before the General Assembly then to force a vote censuring Israel and, if necessary, the US and activating the punitive aspects of that resolution, did the Palestinians have some hope.
That didn't happen, and while it may take a while yet for the remnants of the Goldstone Report and its aftermath to wither away, all that is finished. Goldstone’s recent rejection of his own report in an attempt to reconcile himself with his Zionist community affirms that reality. All that remains is the terms Israel will give the conquered people there – terms that may well simply be a second Nakba (catastrophe) resulting in their ethnic cleansing from their ancestral homeland.
Underscoring this dismal situation is abundant evidence of the continued expansion of Zionist influence and control in so many areas. The growth in settlements and numbers of settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues. Gaza remains embattled and all but isolated, even with the opening of its border crossing with Egypt. Israeli military power continues to grow, thanks to the American military and financial support. Israeli leverage in key democracies, especially Canada, Great Britain and Australia, continues to expand, as does Zionist influence in the mainstream media (MSM). And the Zionist capture of the US Government is for all intents and purposes complete. The Obama White House now speaks as Israel dictates, and not a person of consequence remains in the US Congress who will stand up and speak out against it. Anyone doubting this has only to reflect on the humiliating (to me) image of US Senators and Representatives unanimously giving Binyamin Netanyahu 29 standing ovations at his recent appearance before the Congress. Even former President Carter, once an “Elder” condemning Israeli apartheid in the Occupied Territories, made a public written obeisance and apology in print for having given offense to Israel, all in support of the political ambitions of a young relative.
The Ongoing Struggle
I can imagine that many in the anti-Zionist movement around the world will refuse to acknowledge this state of affairs. After all, it could be said, what about the growth of the alternative media? What about the BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) campaign? What about the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas, and the move in the UN to recognize Palestine as an independent state? And Gaza, what about the ships and truck convoys going to Gaza, and the efforts in many countries to increase awareness of the plight of the people there?
Each of these positions has some transitory merit, but no significant strategic effect on the outcome. So much of the discussion in the alternative media consists of the same relative handful of people on different websites and from different organizations talking to and about one another. But it rarely is covered in the mainstream media, and it is literally unknown to at least 99% of the voting public in industrial democracies, and even fewer in other countries, and is therefore at best incidental to the outcome of the struggle.
The BDS campaign is theoretically more significant, and in fact I do support it (as I participate in discussions in the alternative media), if only because it sometimes causes Israel and its supporters some public embarrassment and some little hardship. And it did have an effect on apartheid in South Africa. But Israel is a different matter entirely. Its leverage in Europe and the US ensures that neither the European Union (EU) nor the US will impose embargoes and sanctions on Israel, and without them, nothing of consequence is likely to happen. But say it did, and in some convoluted way, the BDS campaign managed to force Israel to the economic wall without the EU and the US. Reflecting on Israel’s effective control of the US Government and the US media, does anyone seriously doubt that at least the US Congress – with the concurrence of pundits, evangelical pastors and the President himself – would vote Israel whatever bailout monies it needed, for as long as it needed them, to maintain itself, no matter what other countries did?
As for Palestinian factions and the proposed recognition of Palestine as an independent state, it is hard to take any of it seriously, even without President Obama’s avowed determination to veto that independence in the UN Security Council – something anticipated, and a reason it is supposed to proceed in the General Assembly afterward. Now, I understand the emotional need for Palestinians to be recognized by the UN as an independent state, but in its current situation, “independent” is the last term I would apply to it in practice. It all comes down to one point. If there is to be a Palestinian state, Israel demands that it be defenseless and demilitarized, and the US now concurs. But no independent state can be defenseless, and no Palestinian state in the aftermath of “Operation Cast Lead” can accept being demilitarized. Call Palestine an independent country and give it UN membership or not, but without US support it will mean less than one of the old South African Bantustans except to a handful of Palestinian leaders – the political equivalent of putting a lion’s head on a donkey and calling it a lion, which still leaves it as lunch if it happens to run across a real lion.
But it is Gaza, or rather the focus on Gaza since its blockade by Israel and especially since its savaging by Israel in 2008-2009, that holds pride of place in the anti-Zionist movement’s attention and actions. The plight of the Palestinians in general is real and deplorable. The plight of those in Gaza is heartbreaking, and the sense without that it is critical to do something to relieve their suffering is understandable, with truck convoys of assorted size making runs there with mixed success, and both individual boats and a flotilla, followed now by a second flotilla in at least two parts, attempting the approach by sea.
None of it matters. I expect the Israelis will intercept this flotilla in international waters as they did the first one, and that the chaotic mismanagement of the flotilla coupled with the unbelievable failure of its leadership to enlist the support of any major government or any part of the mainstream media, means that interception will succeed, protected as always from condemnation or sanctions by a US veto in the Security Council. But even if the Israelis stood aside and let every ship and boat in the second flotilla deliver every scrap of their cargos to Gaza, including those utterly useless letters with which the Americans on the Audacity of Hope have squandered their opportunity to make a real difference, it would have no strategic effect whatsoever. The Wall would still stand. The settlements would persist and expand. Israel’s dominance of the US Government would continue, and with it Israel’s absolute ability to continue pursuing its own “Final Solution of the Palestinian Question” and its march to at least regional hegemony.
In this context, Gaza has thus served the Israelis well. They do not care greatly about it, although they will assuredly remove its people into the Sinai when they remove the remaining Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank into Jordan and perhaps Syria as well. But Gaza has captured the attention of the anti-Zionist movement, thereby functioning as a combination of distraction and decoy, a “Judas goat” of sorts that allows the Israelis to proceed with their primary plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to extend their influence in the industrial democracies, and especially to consolidate their position in and around the US Government, with little or no interference from outside.
Pathology of Failure
It has been said that victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. Here, however, there are more than a few reasons for our failure. A key problem with the whole anti-Zionist effort (9/11 more than Palestine in the US, Palestine more than 9/11 elsewhere), is that all of us (myself included) have been like duck hunters standing in a circle blasting birdshot outward and upward in a thousand different directions on a thousand or more issues in so much detail that not one of us can possibly understand it all, while the general public — in America and elsewhere — who knows little or nothing of this is hopelessly confused at best, and totally turned off at worst. It doesn't help that a lot of us indulge in rhetorical overkill that makes that general public say, "oh, yeah, the kooks are at it again," and gives the Zionists firm grounds for ridicule (as I've heard on BBC and CNN commentaries, for instance).
Three visible examples of this phenomenon: (1) the attack on the USS Liberty was NOT a "Holocaust," it was intended to be a massacre that didn't work out that way; (2) the attack on the Turkish MV Mavi Marmara wasNOT a massacre, although it was certainly a brutal attack; and (3) the Israelis are NOT Nazis resurrected in a coat of different colors, “only” traditional fascists with an especially ruthless streak. All this sort of hyperbole does is give our opponents an arsenal of ammunition to mock us (no great problem for us, apparently); AND to so discredit the anti-Zionist movement that reasonable and thinking people won't bother considering the substantive merits of our arguments, even if they came across them in the first place (and this is a HUGE problem for us).
Second, every effort of consequence needs a strategy, a repertoire of tactics compatible with that strategy, and organizational skills to bring people and resources together when and where they are needed. Now, I am a strategy and plans person with a decent sense of tactics, but not much in the way of organizational skills. For their part, the leadership of the anti-Zionist movement, and especially of the assorted land and sea convoys (whatever name one chooses to use for them), do have organizational skills and a full measure of enthusiasm and perseverance. But beyond that they fail, and fail miserably. Arrogance, ignorance, incompetence, private agendas and in some instances duplicity war with one another for pride of place, to the detriment of their avowed goals and the welfare of Palestine. Just look at where assertions of “We don’t retreat” and “We know we are right” have taken us all today.
The whole exercise reminds me of a criticism by Lenin in the 1920's called "Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder" (that his successors ruined everything does not invalidate his analysis). The "leadership" <sic.> of these “anti-Zionist”outfits would also be dismissed by that of the US antiwar movement of the 1960s in even more disparaging terms. They have tactics that do not fit their opponent, plans but no strategy to fulfill them, believe slogans constitute action, focus on symptoms and not causes, and play to their enemy's strengths. And they lose. Surprise!
Remember this, and remember it well: Slogans, street theater and stubbornness do not constitute a strategy, nor does squandering resources like political lemmings rushing for the nearest cliff define one. One’s strategy must focus on the enemy’s weaknesses, and the tactics must match both the situation and the character of the adversary, or they are doomed.
Examples abound. What made the first flotilla newsworthy, for instance, and made it a center of UN interest and a source of public concern to Israel, was that some people did resist and that there was overt Israeli violence resulting in some deaths on the high seas. Affirmations of non-violence and avowals of one’s defenselessness mean absolutely nothing to the Israelis, except to make them laugh and assure them of an easy win – had (e.g.) Gandhi tried to do to the Israelis what he did so successfully to the British, he and his followers would have been shot down in droves. I do not advocate offensive weaponry – civilians are not trained or mentally equipped to use them effectively. But self-defense is an inherent right of everyone anywhere, and the only thing that will matter to Israel is if Israelis die in their attack on a flotilla or a convoy. Internationals who do not understand this elementary fact of political life should either stay away or acknowledge that they are only there for the show.
Looking ahead, it is important to remember certain essentials. Gaza is both victim and symbol. Other Arab states are not your friends. Turkey is the one state that has actually tried to help, and it behooves us not to insult her and her government – we do not have an abundance of allies out there. Neither the EU nor NATO nor the Arab League nor the UN can be counted on to help, although the latter may be of some limited assistance, at least if Israeli and American bribes and blackmail of its membership fail. And Israel is the enemy.
Moreover, the source and the solution to the issue is in the United States, and secondarily other Western capitals. If you must take ships or trucks somewhere, go there, or at least to US embassies, and also to Westminster, which helps the US by legitimizing many of its actions. Protest there. Spend the same time outside of the gates of (e.g.) the White House that it took to assemble a convoy in the UK and go to Egypt, parking vehicles and dumping goods at the gates, calling on Obama to honor his words in Cairo, and people who matter WILL have no choice but to notice, the mainstream US media WILL hatefully and unhappily take note of it, and you may make a difference. Or take your boats up the Thames or the Seine or the St. Lawrence or the Rhine or the Potomac, have your demonstrations along the waterfront of their cities, and you may likewise make a difference. Otherwise the occasional convoy or ship or busload or truck of people and goods getting to Gaza means less than putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound, except perhaps to a few egos who like being the center of attention even in a very small media pond.
The Zionists have a much better sense of how to do these things. They know that it is essential to focus on one or two key targets and issues, and pile on those issues from every direction without getting distracted by peripheral matters. To use my hunter analogy above, they are also standing in a circle, but they are facing inward from the high ground and firing rifled slugs downward at a wounded target. And remember as I wrote in the beginning that they are winning, and winning big time – or has no one looked at the change in the remnants of Palestine over the last five years (more settlements, more settlers, miserable Gaza) or the total lack of opposition to Israel now in the US Congress?
We need to adopt their approach to strategy, stop fighting them where they are strongest, and take a more indirect approach – Sun Tzu rather than Clausewitz, if you will. In the US, their strength is at the national level, and in some selected state level offices; their weakness is at most local levels. I doubt if there is a national office of anything, especially if it is based in Washington or New York City, that is not in their pocket, and I include the national offices of veterans organizations as much as the Congress. I would not be at all surprised if the national officers of (e.g.) the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) or the Navy League are regularly visited and entertained by AIPAC, for instance; but I'd bet the bank that the local VFW chapters here have never even heard of AIPAC. And the same with the rest – for instance, politicians who cozy up to AIPAC (or vice versa) in Washington are in their center of comfort and power, but when they come back to their home states and districts, the local media and the local chapters of their parties do not care about Washington, and that is where they can be cornered and hammered. And similarly in other countries.
Most importantly of all, we need to understand in our minds and believe in our hearts that this is not merely a civil protest against a misguided government or even a political struggle with the Zionists, but a war with Israel. Israel sees it in those terms – this is for them an all-or-nothing struggle, and it should be the same for the rest of us, and not just because of Palestine. The Israelis have won their battle in and for Palestine, but the war is not over, any more than WWII ended with the Nazi conquest of much of Western Europe in 1940. Contemplating that catastrophe, then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated that "the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin."
So it is with those of us who truly care, not only about justice for the Palestinians, but also about defeating the extensive and embedded network of Zionism that is producing a new catastrophe. The Battle of Palestine is over. The Battle of America needs to begin. And like WWII, properly done it can lead to victory in this war as well, rolling back Zionism from its high-water marks of success much the way Nazism was rolled back from its high-water marks of conquest.
My take is that we generally spend way too much time looking at Palestine when searching for ways to combat Zionism. The American people would not care greatly about a distant issue like the Palestinians, or an abstraction (however significant) like Zionist domination of the mainstream media, even if they knew the cold, hard facts about those things. They do care about things that hurt them, or make them afraid, or enrage them. Therefore, we in America and elsewhere should hit the Zionists on what they do to us — because if we take them down on that, especially in the US, then Palestine wins by default, BUT the converse does not hold.
The way I see it, the gate to first containing and then rolling back Israel, and thus helping Palestine, is not over there, it is in the US. The lock to that gate is not in Washington, it is in the heartland of America where the Zionists have as of yet remarkably little influence. And the key to that lock is the open wound today which is 9/11 and the wars it spawned. Nail them on 9/11 and the cover-up of it, nail them for the wars they contrived and the wars they want the US to wage on Israel’s behalf, nail them for the lives and treasure America has spent and the lives it has taken waging America’s Jewish Wars, nail them often and hard, and the Zionists may end up wishing Germany had won WWII. How to define 9/11 for the American public and to bring them its message is the subject of the next article: Demystifying 9/11: Israel and the Tactics of Mistake.