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Middle East

Aug 28, 2014

Mike Carlton: Gaza is Israel's Vietnam, with Hamas victorious

Benjamin Netanyahu has ensured that no Israeli will ever again know peace, writes former ABC war correspondent and naval historian Mike Carlton.

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So Hamas wins. No matter how Israel and its friends spin it, the raw fact is that this “indefinite ceasefire” leaves Hamas unbeaten in Gaza.

Bloodied and battered, yes, with an echelon of its senior military and political leadership killed by Israeli airstrikes. But it is only down, not out. It lives to fight another day, which means that Benjamin Netanyahu and his hard-Right Likud-coalition government have failed, and disastrously so, in their stated aim of ensuring Israel’s security by a crushing military and economic dominance of the Palestinian people. They rolled the dice. They lost.

This is the nature of asymmetrical warfare. As we saw in Vietnam, one side deploys overwhelming military and technological muscle — and the propaganda to go with it — to crush its weak and primitive opponent. Entire American infantry and air cavalry divisions, hundreds of thousands of men and machines, were hurled against an enemy that lived in tunnels and moved by stealth and guile. It was B52 bombers and napalm against little guys wearing rubber tyre sandals and driving clapped-out Russian tanks. For years the United States navy and air force bombed the bejesus out of Hanoi and the Ho Chi Minh supply trail down along the Cambodian border with Vietnam. Henry Kissinger strutted his diplomatic magic in Geneva and Paris.

And it failed. Utterly. Voltaire got it right: God is not always on the side of the big battalions. Having beaten their French overlords, North Vietnam’s political and military leadership ratcheted the theory up a couple of notches. They recognised that their regular northern army — and their subordinate southern Viet Cong cadres — could never defeat the United States in the field. But they knew they didn’t need to. No matter what their casualties, no matter how many thousands of their young men they committed to certain death, all they had to do was to still be standing when the Americans lost the will to fight and the shooting stopped. And they were.

So is Hamas. As its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Tuesday: “Hamas is grateful to the people of Gaza who sacrificed their homes, children and money. We announce the victory today after achieving our goals. Netanyahu has failed to force Gaza to surrender. Yes, we defeated them by our standing and our resistance.”

The figures are horrifying. Agence France Press estimated that more than 2000 Palestinians were killed in seven weeks of war, including 493 children. Some 10,000 people were injured, 3100 of them children, of whom around 1000 will suffer some permanent disability. And about 475,000 people have been left homeless.

“The entire history of this benighted land tells us there is nothing more certain. No Israeli now alive will know peace.”

By contrast, Israel’s ambulance service counted just five civilian deaths and 37 injuries — only one critical — from Hamas rockets and mortars over the 50 days. Technology again; Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence worked brilliantly.

But to what end? American historian Barbara Tuchman nailed what she called the march of folly: the wooden-headed (her words) pursuit by nations of policies catastrophically against their own interests. Her examples included the Spanish King Philip II’s dispatch of the Armada against Elizabethan England, George III’s attempt to crush the rebellious 13 American colonies and, yes, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in Vietnam.

To which illustrious roll we can now add the name Netanyahu. His reckless folly has ensured that Hamas and Islamic Jihad now have an abundant source of recruits for their next generation of fighters. They will be those who survived this latest war, those children who saw their parents or their brothers and sisters blown to pieces and their homes, schools, and entire neighbourhoods obliterated. And they will rise again. The entire history of this benighted land tells us there is nothing more certain. No Israeli now alive will know peace. Hamas can resume the strategy and tactics of terror at any time it chooses.

None of this is even vaguely understood by the powerful and sophisticated Likud lobby in Australia. The faintest criticism of Israel is always met with concerted howls of “anti-Semitism!” It is a facile libel flung about by the comfortable kaffeeklatsch of Sydney and Melbourne, well-upholstered burghers who have never actually experienced a flicker of anti-Semitism in their gilded lives, let alone the Gestapo knock at midnight or even a rocket landing down the street. In doing so, they demean the memory of those who truly knew what it meant: the dead of Auschwitz.        

The final word can be left to 327 Jewish survivors and descendants of victims of the Nazi genocide who signed an open letter to The New York Times this week:

“We unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

“We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

“We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia …

“Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by… Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

“We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. ‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

But then, they’re probably anti-Semitic.

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54 thoughts on “Mike Carlton: Gaza is Israel’s Vietnam, with Hamas victorious

  1. Kevin Herbert

    Mike C’s mention of opportunistic’anti-semitism’ is very well explained in a great piece from the Bilzerian Report on the rise of fake anti-semitism.

    The report is one of the most incisive sources of analysis on US politics.

    “The stigma of anti-Semitism is the most pernicious of all accusations of racism because Jewish activists and media owners have propagated the myth that one form of racism i.e. anti-Semitism, is worse than others. Thus they’ve propagandised for 40 years that the discrimination against Jewish people deserves to be denoted by a separate term – which happens to be incorrect and racist in its own right because Arabs are Semites, but yet not considered important enough to be included in the meaning of the phrase.
    To suggest as you do that the discrimination against Jewish people is more deplorable than the discrimination against other races is to suggest that Jews are more important than other races, which is a racist notion in itself.
    Racism in any form is despicable, and should be condemned, but accusations of racism should never be thrown around spuriously or for political gain, as you’ve attempted to do.
    The definition of anti-Semitism has become so broad, and the label of anti-Semite so loosely applied, that it can now be used to describe almost any academic, author, activist, or correspondent that says anything critical about Israel or Jewish persons, regardless of the validity.
    Jewish activist Norman Finkelstein says that, “new anti-Semitism is neither new, nor anti-Semitism.” “Finkelstein argues that organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have brought forward charges of new anti-Semitism since the 1970′s not to fight anti-Semitism, but rather to exploit the historical suffering of Jews in order to immunize Israel from criticism.”
    According to the Anti-Defamation League, “new anti-Semitism” can include legitimate criticism of Israel if the author does not equally criticize other countries that demonstrate similar behavior. This ridiculously faulty premise ignores the fact that many activists and journalists choose to singularly focus their attention on a certain region, country, or cause”.

    Personally I reject the term ‘anti-semitism’ as ethno religious supremacism, as do the rapidly growing number of Aussies & fair minded people globally.

    Racism is racism…end of story.

  2. Glen

    Laos border indeed Phil … and those US bombers are still giving. I took this photo in 2000: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unexploded_ordnance#mediaviewer/File:X%C3%A9p%C3%B4n_bomb.jpg

    How’d ya like that in the middle of your street? (Incredibly no one was injured. Many in the most bombed country on earth have not been so lucky.)

  3. Sim Schenkel

    Vietnam and any other past conflict has absolutely no relevance here. It’s just another way of mudslinging at Israel, and just seeing what will stick. Vietnam was an ideological battle – this conflict, for Israel, is about survival of its citizens against a trigger-happy neighbouring terrorist regime. You admit in your article that Hamas employs terrorist strategies against Israeli civilians, yet at no point do you acknowledge Israel’s rights to defend itself from these attacks. What nation would sit idly by while their civilians were subjected to relentless rocket attacks, kidnappings, murders and infiltrations by hidden tunnels? If Australia was subjected to the same actions by a neighbouring country, what would it do? If even one rocket was shot into Australia, Australians would demand a swift and powerful response.

    Hamas has no interest in peace with Israel – it hasn’t (and never will) accept a two-state solution. It will only accept the annihilation of Israel, as is its stated manifesto, at the cost of bodies (Israeli, Gazan or otherwise). This corrupt, tyrannical, jihadist regime cares nothing for the wellbeing of Gaza’s innocent civilians. Hamas has been the recipient of significant international financial aid and instead of using this aid for the benefit of its people, it has been squandered on building an underground terrorist infrastructure and its weapons arsenal. Hamas’ leader, Khaled Mashal, is reported to have a net worth of 2.5 Billion dollars, who lives a life of luxury in Qatar, and you can be certain that money isn’t being used to build road, schools or hospitals.

    It astounds me that usually rational people lose all sense of reason when it comes to discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict. Certainly there has never been a self-proclaimed “war correspondent” who has corresponded from so far from the war itself, by lobbing self-righteous invective from the least war torn locale of Sydney’s northern beaches.

    Utilising Holocaust imagery again shows how cruel, malicious and twisted your reality has become. You, as a white middle-aged, middle-class, Australian have never felt the pain of discrimination or racial prejudice, so spare us your holier-than-thou bullshit. I hope you re-read your articles in time and cringe with shame at your contribution to the cycle of hate that fuels this conflict and does nothing to progress peace.

  4. Ken Lambert

    Mike Carlton conveniently fails to mention a few relevant facts in his potted history and fashionable pro-Hamas rave.

    The North Vietnamese conquered the South with a conventional attack with lots of Russian gear in 1975 after Nixon was gone and the US Congress failed to supply arms and air support to the south. Our first boat people were those south Vietnamese chased out by the Communists.

    Would Mike have agreed with Gough in opposing the Fraser Govt acceptance of these boat people? – “Comrades these people will never vote Labor”!

    Perhaps Mike can also enlighten us on the MO of Hamas…..fire off rockets in an indiscriminate targeting of Israeli cvilians – a war crime, while hiding your launchers in schools and hospitals. Do this hundreds of times and deliberately provoke retribution by those you attack.

    Mike could also explain how Israel demolished a multi-story building with only a few injuries and no deaths….why Mike thats because the dastardly Israelis rang up and gave the inhabitants 10 minutes to get out.

    So its more like your Nazis laying on a train to the channel ports rather than to Auschwitz isn’t it Mike?

    Mike could also explain the dynamic of Hamas and Fatah….bretheran who fought each other in a brutal terror campaign? What are the West Bankers doing to help their mates Mike?

    Finally, that asymmetric battle fought by Virginian planters against George III. It seems that the French had some role in assisting the planters and the victory kept black Americans in slavery for another four score and 7 years. Indeed had the planters been defeated we would have been spared the likes Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Dubya and possibly the Kardashians; and the self-governing Commonweath of America would have played cricket.

  5. GideonPolya

    Excellent article by Mike Carlton, a top Australian columnist forced out of his job by the traitorous Zionist Lobby not satisfied with its 100% support from the Coalition and Labor Right (aka the Lib-Labs, Liberal-Laborals).

    This latest Apartheid Israeli Gaza Massacre in the Gaza Concentration Camp has so far been associated with about 2,100 Palestinians killed (550 being children) and 10,000 wounded (3,100 being children), 475,000 made homeless, 250,000 with homes destroyed and 1.8 million (half of them children) traumatized – and all this mass murder in response to zero Israeli deaths from Gaza rockets in the year before the invasion, 28 Israeli deaths from Gaza rockets in 14 years (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel ) or 2 per year as compared to 130 Israelis murdered by fellow Israelis each year (see Gideon Polya, “Mike Carlton, top Australian columnist, forced from job for criticizing Apartheid Israeli Gaza Massacre”, Countercurrents, 08 August, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya080814.htm ).

    Yet this is a mere portion of an ongoing Palestinian Genocide that has been associated with 2 million Palestinian deaths since 1936 from violence (0.1 million) or violently-impose deprivation (1.9 million), 7 million refugees and the ethnic cleansing of 90% of Palestine. Israeli apartheid is worse than South African Apartheid, forbids 6 million exiled Palestinians from even stepping foot in their own country, Palestine, and denies 72% of Israel’s 6 million Palestinian subjects human rights and the right to vote for the government ruling all of Mandatory Palestine (democracy by genocide). (see “Palestinian Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/ ).

    However there is an even worse genocidal reality. Apartheid Israel and its Western backers are variously involved in the ongoing Palestinian Genocide, Iraqi Genocide, Somali Genocide, and Afghan Genocide (post-invasion violent and non-violent excess deaths 0.3 million (1967-2014), 4.6 million (1990-2014), 2.2 million (1992-2014) and 5.6 million, respectively; post-invasion under-5 infant deaths 0.2 million, 2.0 million, 1.3 million and 3.0 million, respectively; refugees totalling 7 million, 5-6 million, 2 million and 3-4 million, respectively, plus a further 2 million NW Pakistan Pashtun refugees) (see “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ).

    And it gets even worse still. 17 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease on Spaceship Earth with the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI) One Percenters still in charge of the flight deck (see Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes n avoidable mortality-related a history of every country since Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ).

    Decent, anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish Australians who utterly abhor Apartheid Israeli racism, child abuse and genocide will reject the racist, pro-Zionist Lib-Labs, vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.

  6. Kevin Herbert

    Sim Schenkel:

    1. Aussie Jews, particularly those under 40, are rapidly departing the Zionism ‘no matter what’ ship of their parents’ generation. The same thing is happening is the US & Europe…visit Norman Finkelstein’s compelling, scholarly work on this very point.
    The pre internet days where the Zionist bullies & their US MSM boosters held sway over global & Aussie opinion, are gone…….for good.
    Australians now look to the Australian Jewish Democratic Society for leadership on Israeli issues..ECAJ, the ADL etc etc don’t have any credibility based on their continuing support for the apartheid/ethnic cleansing/ war criminals who run Israel.
    2. Palestinians are the indigenous people of the area going back to 9000 BC. Denying their existence is pure racism, as is compellingly presented by the Uni of Tel Aviv’s Prof Shlomo Sands’ scholarly 2006 book ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’. The Zionist narrative re the return to the Middle East, is a religious myth. If you have scholarly proof that Sands’ is wrong, let’s see it
    3. Hamas has repeatedly agreed to recognise Israel & has never said they want to eradicate Jews. You are repeating vile Jewish Hasbara propaganda.
    4. There is overwhelming evidence that it’s the racist Jews in Palestine who are the problem. They want all Palestinian land. Here’s but a few extracts that prove this key point.
    • “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.

    • First World Zionist Conference plans ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1897 AD: “(Palestinians) …… Obstacles that need to be cleared from our difficult path”: future Israeli President Weizmann

    “We must expel Arabs and take their place”

    • “What we want is that the whole and unified land be Jewish. A unified Eretz Israeli would be no source of satisfaction for me– if it were Arab. . . . My assumption …… is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning. . . .We shall organize . . . a superior army ……… At that point I am confident that we would not fail in settling in the remaining parts of the country, through agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbors, or through some other means.”
    “But if we are compelled to use force – not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev or Transjordan (Palestine), but in order to guarantee our right to settle there – our force will enable us to do so.”
    Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion (Grun) 1937.

    • “There were no such thing as Palestinians. ……… They did not exist.”
    Sunday Times (15 June 1969), The Washington Post (16 June 1969) Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. PURE RACISM

    • “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” — Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 (Source: N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1). MORE JEWISH RACISM

    • “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
    …. “examine the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations”.
    “policies of discrimination and containment”
    “Your (Palestinian Christian) children will never have it good here.”
    Israel Koenig, Israeli Government Policy

    • Dahiya Docrine: Israeli General Gadi Eizenkot, from 2006. “We will wield disproportionate power against [them] and cause immense damage and destruction. ….. It’s a plan that has already been authorized…… Harming the population is the only means of restraining Nasrallah.”

    • “I want the majority of the land with the minimum amount of Palestinians,” Danon, israeli Deputy Defence Minister

    • Naftali Bennett, the economy minister and leader of the most powerful political party on the right, has said: “I will do everything in my power to make sure [the Palestinians] never get a state.”

    • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
    ” …..that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” Ie No Palestinian State.

    For racist hasbara bigots like you & ‘Ken Lambert’, it’s over. Israel is now sliding rapidly to its ultimate demise, and people like you are responsible for that outcome.

  7. Mike R

    Good to see , post crucifixion, the resurrection of Mike Carlton even if it took a bit longer than the original. Not unexpectedly his headline analogy above has precipitated a barrage of outpourings from almost the entire wolf pack. I am sure the others will make haste to return from their duties in the North Atlantic.

    Analogies like comparisons can be odious. As a rhetorical device, the free dictionary reference sums it up well “A form of logical inference or an instance of it, based on the assumption that if two things are known to be alike in some respects, then they must be alike in other respects”..

    In other words the beauty of argument by analogies is that that it draws attention to some aspect where the analogy may be appropriate while ignoring other aspects that are inappropriate. Everyone can choose bits and pieces that suit their own narrative. For those who like to engage in partisan rhetoric then Hamas is the Viet Cong and/or the French resistance or from the diametrically opposite viewpoint, Hamas is ISIL or al-Qaeda .

    If Mike Carltons’ attempt at generating an analogy between the Vietnamese/US conflict and the Hamas/Israeli conflict is more than just a rhetorical device that is meant to inflame both sides, then he would need to provide convincing evidence that the latest victory of Hamas is part of a process that will result in,

    1. Israel pulling out of the Middle-East (like the US withdrawal from Vietnam), and going home (wherever that is) or exiting to somewhere else (say Macquarie island) and also

    2. the end of the occupation of Gaza by Israel, which is only relevant to those who may have slept through the past 8 years.

    In the absence of evidence for the above , his piece above is merely another exposition of his prejudices that adds nothing new or particularly interesting to the debate (other than indicating that he has yet to recover from his blown head gasket and could do with a rebore). Why bother?

  8. Kevin Herbert

    Owen Begbie:

    what’s your source for Hamas alleged intention to destroy Israel?

    BTW here’s their 10 point proposal for peace rejected put of hand by Israel, which are reasonable by any measure.

    1.Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border.

    2.Freeing all the prisoners that were arrested after the killing of the three youths.

    3. Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people.

    4. Establishing an international seaport and airport which would be under U.N. supervision.

    5. Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers.

    6. Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the U.N. and some Arab nations.

    7. International forces on the borders.

    8. Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

    9. Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement.

    10. Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip.

    After all, Israel is an illegal occupying force under International Law both in Gaza & the West Bank, and it’s clear that until it returns to the Green Line, it’s clearly in breach of international law. When Bibi & co front the ICC in the Hague, the game will change dramatically.

    It’s clear that global opinion has now effectively turned against Israel, and the surging BDS will drive it to its knees economically.

    After 2016, it’s clear that the US will begin to disengage, and if the Knesset doesn’t have a plan by then, I suppose the Samson solution will be it’s only card left.

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