One fact that gets little attention in the debate over Israel’s attack on Gaza is Israel’s role in the rise of Hamas.
That’s right. Never mind that the rockets fired out of Gaza are amateurish things that could be crafted from hobby shop supplies, causing barely one percent as many casualties as Israeli reprisals. Never mind that the rockets — reprehensible as attacks on civilians are under any circumstances, regardless of Israel’s provocations — are fired by desperate people from inside Israel’s Warsaw-Ghetto-on-the-Mediterranean, out into the settler nation that drove them out of their homeland. Never mind that rocket firings have often occurred in response to unilateral Israeli violations of ceasefires.
Never mind all this. Hamas — which the Israeli state propaganda apparatus presents to the Israeli public and the world as an existential threat comparable to the Bugs in “Starship Troopers,” whipping the people of Israel into the kind of frenzy where they sit on hillsides cheering the bombing of hospitals — was actually created in part by the intelligence apparatus of the state that claims to be fighting a life-and-death war against it.
Anthony Cordesman, a strategic analyst of Middle Eastern security issues at Center for Strategic Studies, says Israel aided Hamas back in the ’70s as a counterweight to the PLO. An anonymous former CIA official concurs that Israel secretly supported Hamas as a religious challenger to a “strong, secular PLO.” The upsurge in popular support for Hamas in the ’80s — resulting in part from the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and in part from the PLO moving its headquarters to Beirut — caught the Israeli leadership off-guard.
Some allege that Israeli support for Hamas goes back even further, and that Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities supported the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and foundation of Hamas in the ’60s. At the time Hamas was hostile to Palestinian nationalist organizations, and directed most of its violent energies against Fatah, PFLP and PLO forces in the Occupied Territories. (Sources: Richard Sale, “Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel,” UPI, June 18, 2002; Robert Dreyfuss, “How Israel Backed Hamas,” Institute for Public Accuracy, July 22, 2014).
And unfortunately, some geniuses in the Israeli security state just preferred having a scary theocratic outfit like Hamas as the main face of the Palestinian enemy, rather than an organization calling for a secular Palestinian state where Arabs and Jews can live together in peace. Hamas makes a much better Goldstein in the Two-Minute Hate.
This is a disturbing pattern. Hamas was originally an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza (which had been quietly supported by the US in the 1950s as a religious challenge to Nasserism and Baathism). Al Qaeda emerged from the US-sponsored Mujaheddin guerrillas fighting Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. ISIS originated in similar US aid to anti-Assad rebels in Syria. And then these movements, created with the help of black-budget aid and training by the CIA, Green Berets or Mossad, are in turn used to scare the domestic public into supporting criminal wars abroad with large-scale atrocities against civilian populations.
Two take-home lessons: First of all, the state’s official narrative about “foreign threats” is quite likely to be an outright lie — I mean a lie on the scale of Germany putting operatives in Polish army uniforms and then using “Polish attacks on our ethnic German brothers in Danzig.” And second, there’s a good chance the foreign bugaboo is blowback from the state’s own policies. States try to legitimize their policies of class rule and empire by appealing to a common “national interest” shared by all, high and low. But their actual policies, stripped the patriotic hogwash, are meant to serve the interests of the rich folks who control the state. And they’ll most likely bring death and destruction home to their own people, as Americans learned on 9/11 and Israelis are learning now.
Don’t trust the state. It’ll just get you killed — maybe on a battlefield overseas, maybe in your own home.
Translations for this article:
- Italian, Gaza: I Nodi Vengono al Pettine.