This essay was first published in the Palestine Chronicles 2005 01 12 and is copyright protected.
Not to be published without consent of the author.
This is the last in a series of articles that explores the rise to power of the fundamentalist Christian right within the government of the United States and its affects on perceptions and actions in the Middle East with, as indicated by the title, the focus on a country yet born, a people colonized by another that is also prophesized to disappear.
Part VIII Palestine - where prophecy and reality meet
Where will the future take us? From both the prophetic and secular perspective there is little that can be said for the actual events that will take place in the Middle East and in America. Prophecy may be ‘revealed’ but it is only with hindsight that it is associated with certain events in certain ways, and the modern translators of prophecy cannot say which action is good or bad for their ultimate realization of eternal salvation. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is, for now, taken as a sign of prophecy, but, as I indicated earlier, not even the modern lay prophets can divine the miraculous workings of God and His purpose. The secular viewpoint attempts to provide reasoned positions on where certain actions may lead, but simple human nature is very confounding of those decisions, both from the decision makers who tend to think and decide based on one or several preconceptions and deceptions (witness the war in Iraq), and from those being acted upon who do not always respond to the supposed beneficence of the perpetrators (witness, again, the war in Iraq).
Iraq and Palestine now have many commonalities and the two are tied together into the overall global foreign policy of the United States, which at the moment is focussed on the Middle East, and will be as long as terrorists and oil are located there. The commonalities are several: both countries are occupied by a military force; both are subject to impositions of military activity to suppress ‘terrorists’; both are having votes that present a false face of democracy onto over-riding issues that a vote will not solve; both have citizens and towns invaded, destroyed, walled off in one way or another, with the same citizens required to hold ID passes; and for both, the American Christian right has inordinate control of the government that holds the self-proclaimed unilateral power to be able to do anything about it. For the latter, it appears that it will be more of the same, more soldiers in Iraq, more support for Israel, more threats and possible attacks on other countries – Syria and Iran in particular - that are either perceived as or invented as threats to American hegemony and Israeli survival. Add to that the fundamentalist position from the Christian right that Israel is to be supported at all costs or endure the wrath of God, and the future looms bleakly on the landscape.
First off, George Bush won a mandate, of small proportion, but as he expressed it, he now has the political capital and the will to spend it. While Bush won the election based on ‘moral values’ and ‘family values’ according to the polls, the point argued by Frank Gaffney, neocon founder and president of the right wing think-tank Center for Security Policy, emphasizes foreign policy. According to Gaffney “the president laid claim squarely to the ultimate moral value – freedom – as the cornerstone of his strategy for defeating our Islamofascist enemies and their state sponsors, for whom that concept is utterly anathema.” The same spin is still there, with freedom elevated to a moral value supposedly beyond the reach of secular reasoning, but ironically, in contradiction to the freedom expressed as a reality of individual choice by secular argument. This faith with moral values leads also to “faith with Israel, whose destruction remains a priority for the same people who want to destroy us.”
Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are still the two highest unelected nearly invisible manipulators of the American executive branch. Bush retains the same speechwriter Michael Gerson, a graduate of Wheaton College, with a major in theology, and who shares the president’s faith. The unelected group of neocons whom he hired and who supported him are all still there, ready to continue with same course of action. Rumsfield, the “ultimate survivor”, the ultimate war hawk, is still Secretary of Defence, and in spite of Abu Ghraib, or complaints from the ranks about poor equipment, he still wants to “try to push forward a major reshaping of the US military and quell the violence in Iraq – and thus secure a more favorable legacy.” He is still supported by his neocon staff, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defence, Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, and indirectly, John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Security, all of whom were discussed earlier. A new Rumsfield initiative brings General William (Jerry) Boykin to the front again, a Deputy Undersecretary for Defence who said the fight against Islam, against Satan, can be won only if done in the name of Jesus. The new plan involves “’fighting for intelligence’ or commencing combat operations chiefly to obtain intelligence.” This is as assured a lead into Iran and Syria as can be imagined, with warfare waged to gather intelligence on nuclear weapons research in Iran, or on survivors of the Iraqi Baathist party hiding in Syria. The same author summarizes the current administration in terms of “fantasies imposed upon on the world”, “arrogance”, and “hubris” (overweening pride so as to challenge the gods). In closing he provides a warning that to my mind is all too real, “The second term is coming, so buckle up. It promises to be a very dangerous four years.”
That danger will undoubtedly be focussed on the Middle East. A long time UN watcher, Thalif Deen summarizes the renewed Bush government as “a re-empowered American administration claiming a popular mandate, with a strengthened commitment to preventative war in Iraq, intensified support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine, renewed military threats against other perceived ‘enemies’” among other political effects.
The other perceived enemies are mainly Iran and Syria. From the Christian Right perspective, both are obstacles in the way to achieving a unified Israel and must be dealt with for this to happen. Iran is accused of supporting the insurrection in Iraq, of supporting the Shiites in southern Iraq, but most seriously, of being very near to having nuclear capability. It is that nuclear capability that scares the U.S. and scares Israel, as that would significantly change the positions of power in the region as Iran already has a well-developed short-range missile delivery system. Some see it as a problem of nuclear proliferation, without calling upon Israel to disclose or open for inspection its own nuclear capabilities, a not very carefully guarded secret. Dr. Gary Samore, a Clinton assistant, says, “I do not think the United States is looking for an excuse to attack Iran [but] if the diplomacy fails there could be military attack on Iran’s facilities.” There are others that actively call for a military assault of some sort on Iran: Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, calls for the revision of international law allowing an Israeli-US military assault on Iran ; another call has been made for “a pre-emptive military strike against all of the facilities…associated with weapons production;” some try to be more subtle, saying “regime change can come from within. Sometimes a bit of outside help is needed.” Whether the Bush administration would be foolish enough to attack Iran or not is arguable, but the consequences would be extremely large, as Iran is larger, more heavily populated, and a more ethnically unified country than Iraq, with a strong capacity to advance retaliatory strikes. It is at this point that the nuclear considerations return, as tactical nuclear weapons, ‘nuclear bunker busters’, could be utilized on the Iranian facilities: “On the road to Damascus [below], the road to Tehran, the road to Riyadh, the neo-cons would be much more tempted to go nuclear.”  There are many other ramifications that could follow an attack, none of which would be considered as legitimate reason not to attack, given the lack of intelligent reasoning used with Iraq. Michael Ledeen, whom we have met before, says, “the defeat of the mullahcracy and the triumph of freedom in Tehran would be a truly historic event.” Ariel Sharon supports the efforts to attack Iran as “Iran is the center of ‘world terror’, and as soon as an Iraq conflict is concluded, I will push for Iran to be at the top of the ‘to do list’.”
Syria is another country that the U.S. has been making noises about. Its obvious connection to Israel is with the occupied and annexed Golan Heights (not internationally recognized), where again Jewish settlers are ‘establishing facts’ on the ground. David Wurmser, whom we met as a neocon earlier, “has for years called for a strike against Syria.” Global positioning receiver system parts supposedly originated in Syria (or in the CIA back rooms), and Syria is accused of hosting and directing terrorists as well as Baathist regime remnants from Iraq, both cited as reasons for attacking Syria. The noises do not stop with Iran and Syria, but spread out in one degree or another to all the countries of the Middle East, except for a few of the smaller Gulf States that have allowed unrestricted use of certain areas for military garrisons. They all focus back on the Israeli-Palestine issue, all the roads lead – through Palestine - to Jerusalem.
With the death of Yasser Arafat, Bush’s public position, along with many in the Israeli government and its new Labour-Likud coalition, is that perhaps now peace may be at hand. With the first announced withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians are seemingly on the road to realization of their homeland dream. However, as part of Bush’s success was the linking of America’s war against terror with the Israeli war on Palestinian insurgency in the eyes of the Christian right, “Bush’s political base has no interest in making any concessions to the Palestinians,” and are “actively opposed to a Palestinian state.” Still, an election for the Palestinian leadership is being held within the publication time of this article and the moves to ‘unsettle’ the Gaza strip are starting to look as if they are going forward. What do these two moves – the election and the withdrawal from Gaza - signal for those involved?
Back to Frank Gaffney, who sees Sharon’s actions as a “grim forecast for the people of Israel. Their foes are implacable and being emboldened.” If these implacable foes are the Arab people, it is not supported by the Arab League, nor do they appear ‘emboldened’ by it. Amr Musa, the Arab League chief, indicated that there was not a glimmer of hope that the peace process is on the verge of recovery as political positions in Israel and the US had not changed. He continued, “I fear that all that is going to be proposed to the Palestinians is the creation of a rump state of a provisional nature which is just ridiculous because by consolidation the status quo a time-bomb is being laid.”
While George Bush speaks of “historic and courageous action…to implement a vision that allows for contiguous territories so that a Palestinian state can emerge,” Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s senior adviser, says the intention is “to avoid any peace negotiations with the Palestinians and to thwart the emergence of a Palestinian state.” Weisglass disclosed more fully, “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process” in order to “prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders, and Jerusalem…the Palestinian state with all that it entails has been removed indefinitely from the agenda.” Another Knesset member “knew all along that what Sharon wants is to deepen Israeli rule in the West Bank, perpetuate the occupation, and create non-contiguous Bantustans surrounded by settlements” although she would support the so called ‘disengagement’ hoping it might set a precedent for the West Bank. This could represent the previously presented idea of actions of convenience, or could be perceived as well as a form of appeasement. Either way, Sharon is getting his way, by trading off a less valuable territory geopolitically - with a large, young, and hostile population - for a larger more valuable territory geopolitically and culturally.
Gaza of course is not the only ‘land deal’ ongoing in Palestine. According to the Haaretz newspaper, “Israel is continuing to establish facts beyond the Green Line” – another interesting spin on settlement and displacement of Palestinian lands. The fence is still being designed and used to cut-off lands, in the particular cited incident it “brings to the Israeli side of the fence 50,000 Jewish settler in 10 settlements in the territories, four Palestinian villages, in which there are 18,000 inhabitants and many lands belonging to Palestinians from the Bethlehem area.” Other developments include Sharon’s interpretation of Bush’s letter of support, which “recognized Israel’s right to retain some key West Bank settlements as part of any peace accord with the Palestinians.” Consequently “3,500 new housing units in the Jewish settlements” are being built as “an attempt here to expand the built up area in order to increase the size of the areas that will be annexed to Israel in the future.” Thus the withdrawal from Gaza, combined with the fence ‘annexations’ and the increase in housing units, signal diverse moves in the larger geopolitical manoeuvring towards the consolidation of Israeli power and settlement in the West Bank. “Israel prefers land over peace. This is what the world community ought to understand.”
The question of ‘land for peace’ appears to be a non-starter, but is rather a move to consolidate West Bank settlement and further disenfranchise the Palestinian people. What then becomes of the election for the Palestinian government? That the Palestinians are capable of mounting an election speaks well just for that very accomplishment unto itself, given the conditions of occupation, harassment, and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian activists. But will it hold any real meaning in the establishment of a truly independent Palestinian state? The views of the Christian Right in America, supporting the Zionist Right in Israel as reviewed previously would lead one to believe that not much can be accomplished with an election. Internally in Israel and Palestine there are other actions that indicate the elections will not be as ‘democratic’ as the government spin-doctors would have the public believe.
The head of the Palestinian election committee, Ali Jarbawi, accuses Bush of using the elections to “appoint certain people who would carry out the Israeli and American agenda,” while Sharon “knows quite well, that genuine peace demands a certain price which he and his government are not willing to pay.” Another view from Ira Sharkansky suggests that the Israeli definition of the “right people” would not be met by the election. These views are eerily reminiscent and analogous of the American Founding Fathers and their presentations in the Federalist Papers. James Madison, in arguing for “The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection”, argues that the public view should pass through the “medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country” and be “least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” The latter ‘considerations’ could be interpreted as minority opinions – in this case Palestine - or opinion contrary to what those in ‘power’ wanted –Palestine versus Israel - progressive rather than conservative, that the establishment – in this case Israel - did not want to acknowledge. However Madison phrases it differently, as a wealthy landowner would, that it [the electoral college] would render decisions “superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice” as if all opposing views were wrong. Alexander Hamilton supported this view in his paper “The Mode of Electing the President” saying that a “small number of persons…will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” Interesting views from statesmen from a newly revolutionary state, supported by French ideals of ‘liberte, egalite, et fraternite’, who did not want the rabble and insurrectionists to take control of the new government. In those terms, yes, American style ‘democracy’ may come to Palestine, but only if the ‘people’ are kept out of the way.
Other recent developments indicate the true nature of the Israeli position as well. Jerusalem is to remain a united city and to this end several campaign workers have been “summoned for questioning by the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, and warned not to put up posters or canvass in Jerusalem.” An Israeli police spokesman indicated that normal “electioneering without prior approval is not permitted and anything that shows evidence of sovereignty.” Another campaigner suggested, “This election is a challenge to Israeli authority….The reality on the ground is very different from the statements they are making to the media.” Another recent action has been limiting the number of polling booths in East Jerusalem (which was annexed by Israel in 1967) forcing most of the one hundred twenty thousand voters to negotiate the separation wall in order to vote. “Ariel Sharon has admitted that the arrangements are designed to show that Israel has sole sovereignty in East Jerusalem.”
With the occupation ongoing, with the occupation still being aggressively pursued, with many Palestinians in prison, with roadblocks ubiquitous, with the wall still being constructed, with no demands being put forward to the West Bank settlers for removal of their towns, indeed with them still being increased in size, the Palestinian election could be a mockery of democracy. But the fault does not lie with the Palestinians, it lies with the occupying Israeli forces and the Americans that support them. That the Palestinians are anxious to prove themselves in a democratic fashion - and to date there have been no indications otherwise - is even more profound in the face of such staggering odds to real democracy. A vote does not make a democracy, and both the Israelis and Americans are fully aware of that. The Palestinians however, can turn it into a true democracy, as far as they are allowed to under the circumstances. Will it fail? Probably yes, but only because the same frustrations, the same roadblocks, the same prisoners, the same wall building, the same Likud political positions, will continue after the elections regardless of any positive efforts on the part of the Palestinians towards a peaceful resolution. Will the Israeli’s blame the Palestinians? Of course, as they have turned the victim into the perpetrator and the strongly delivered rhetoric and spin against Islam and terrorists and evil tribal peoples will be used to argue that point – without consideration of their own actions in the occupied territories.
At this point in time, with elections arriving in Iraq and Palestine, with threats and posturings made against those that are ‘evil’, with an American government with a renewed mandate to pursue its unilateral path through the world, using full spectrum dominance if it wishes, it is hard to remain optimistic that events will turn out peacefully for the world over the next few years. Add that the support behind the American government is to a large degree the American Christian right combined with the neoconservatives (and they are more than likely to be one and the same). The prophecy they rely on cannot be based on rational humanistic ideals as the two are fully incompatible. As Michael Evans sees it, “Prophecy declares that Jerusalem will be united and in Jewish hands when the Messiah comes. The battle being fought over Jerusalem is not politics – it’s prophecy.” One cannot expect a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian situation when such rhetoric – that actually looks forward to the violent end of times – is the basis of government decision on both sides of the Atlantic.
There is a considerable mix of purely secular motivations towards any form of resolution in the Middle East. Oil is the biggest consideration, as the U.S. recognizes and has recognized for the last century that it will heave to rely on Middle East oil to keep its industrial and military gears running smoothly. The military will be happy with garrisons in the various “-stans”, in Iraq, with a satellite nuclear power guarding the neighbourhood for themselves, watching over the oil and any Russian or Chinese intentions in the area as their demands increase, regardless of the democratic level of the various governments. Israel, without prophecy, wants room to expand, wants to control the best agricultural land and the best water resources in that sector of the Middle East and at the same time create an industrial work force from the disenfranchised Palestinian people removed from their traditional agricultural pursuits. But all the rational reasons for actions on the ground must be examined in light of the irrational motives of prophetic visions.
I wish I could provide rational alternatives, or even well reasoned emotional alternatives, that could make significant changes and halt the carnage and destruction that is taking place in the name of God, for the price of a tank of gas. The Palestinians are doing the most they can do under the circumstances – holding democratic elections that unfortunately may only lead, due to Israeli and American intransigence, to renewed counter-insurgency.
I would not at this point be terribly optimistic about the chances for the Palestinians establishing a truly independent country with their own democratic leadership. For various reasons, Israel wants control of all of Eretz Israel and America wants Israel to have it. And so I return to the introduction. Iraq is under assault and occupation. Syria, Iran, Lebanon and others are under threat. Israel’s goal is but a chapter of the overall American Christian right’s goal. It will be a pathetic self-fulfilling prophecy if the goals of Israel and America are achieved. Goodbye Palestine….
 Gaffney cited by Jim Lobe, “Neo-cons: around the globe in seven steps”. www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FK16Aa01.html.
Eastland, Terry. “Gerson Talks Religion”. www.weeklystandard.com December 23, 2004.
 _________ “Pressure Builds on Rumsfield”, www.csmonitor.com, December 20, 2004.
 Herbert Bob. “Shopping for War”. www.nytimes.com. December 27, 2004.
 Herbert, ibid.
 Deen, Thalif. “More US-UN tension in the cards”. www.atimes.com
 Samore cited by Chris Sands, “US Fears Escalation with Iran is Imminent”. www.palestinechronicle.com . December 22, 2004.
 Afrasiabi, Kaveh. “How Iran will fight Back”. www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FL16AK01.html. December 16, 2004.
 Gerecht, Mark. “The Struggle for the Middle East”. Iraq, Iran, and Democracy. January 01, 2005.
 _________ “Regime change II” Investor’s Business Daily. www.yahoo.com November 18,2004.
 Escobar, Pepe. “Evildoers, here we come”. www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FL17AK01.html. December 17, 2004
 Ledeen and Sharon, cited in Escobar , ibid.
 Mitchell-Salem, Maggie. “U.S. and the Middle East: The next 4 years”, The Daily Star, www.dailystar.com. November 06, 2004.
 Gaffney, Frank J. “’Wither’ Israel?” www.townhall.com . December 13, 2004.
 _________ Amr Musa cited in “Arab League: No Palestine Soon”. http://english.aljazeera.net. December 28, 2004.
 Dov Weisglass cited by Lynfield, Ben “Israel takes U-turn on road map”. www.csmonitor.com. October 07, 2004.
 Zehava Galon cited in Lynfield, ibid.
 __________ “Without unnecessary provocation”. www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/521440.html. December 31, 2004.
 Evans, Michael D. The American Prophecies. Warner Faith Books, NY. 2004.
 __________ “Without unnecessary provocation”. www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/521440.html. December 31, 2004.
 Amayreh, Khalid “Palestinian elections unsettle Israel.” http://english.aljazeera.net. November 15, 2004.
 Amayreh, Khalid. “Palestinian elections unsettle Israel”. http://english.aljazeera.net. Novmeber 15, 2004.
 Federalist Papers, Federalist No. 10, Friday, November 23, 1787
 Federalist Papers, Federalist No. 68, Friday March 14, 1788.
 Urquhart, Conal. “Israel accused of obstructing Palestinian election in east Jerusalem.” The Guardian. www.guardian.com. December 28, 2004.
 Urquhart, Conal. “Israel stops Palestinians voting in Jerusalem.” The Guardian. www.guardian.com. December 30, 2004.