“This Time We Went Too Far”

Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

By Norman Finkelstein

Editors’ Note: This article is excerpted from Norman Finkelstein’s important new book about the Gaza conflict, “This Time We Went Too Far” published this month by OR Books. To purchase a copy of the complete book please visit OR Books. This book is not available from bookstores or other online retailers.

March 06, 2010 "CounterPunch" March 03, 2010 – Public outrage
at the Gaza invasion did not come out of the blue but rather marked the
nadir of a curve plotting a steady decline in support for Israel. As
polling data of Americans and Europeans, both Gentiles and Jews,
suggest, the public has become increasingly critical of Israeli policy
over the past decade. The horrific images of death and destruction
broadcast around the world during and after the invasion accelerated
this development. “The increased and brutal frequency of war in this
volatile region has shifted international opinion,” the British Financial Times editorialized one year later, “reminding Israel it is not above the law. Israel can no longer dictate the terms of debate.”

One
poll registering the fallout from the Gaza attack in the United States
found that American voters calling themselves supporters of Israel
plummeted from 69 per cent  before the attack to 49 per cent  in June
2009, while voters believing that the U.S. should support Israel
dropped from 69 per cent  to 44 per cent. Consumed by hate, emboldened
by self-righteousness, and confident that it could control or
intimidate public opinion, Israel carried on in Gaza as if it could get
away with mass murder in broad daylight. But while official Western
support for Israel held firm, the carnage set off an unprecedented wave
of popular outrage throughout the world. Whether it was because the
assault came on the heels of the devastation Israel wrought in Lebanon,
or because of Israel’s relentless persecution of the people of Gaza, or
because of the sheer cowardice of the assault, the Gaza invasion
appeared to mark a turning point in public opinion reminiscent of the
international reaction to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in apartheid
South Africa.

In
the Jewish diaspora official communal organizations with longstanding
ties to Israel predictably lent blind support. But, at the same time,
newly minted progressive Jewish organizations distanced themselves to a
lesser or greater degree. Whereas in the past mainstream Jews actively
supported Israeli wars, most registered ambivalence during the
invasion, apart from a contracting older minority that came out
swinging in Israel’s defense, and an expanding younger minority that
scathingly denounced it. Between the increasing estrangement of younger
Jews from Israeli bellicosity and the increasing qualms of Jews
generally about supporting it, the Gaza massacre signaled the break-up
of hitherto blanket Jewish support for Israeli wars. In addition,
whereas the antiwar demonstrations in most Western countries were
ethnically heterogeneous (including significant numbers of Jews), the
“pro”-Israeli demonstrations were composed almost exclusively of Jews.
The fact that active opposition to Israeli policy, say, on college
campuses, has spread beyond the Arab-Muslim core towards the
mainstream, whereas active support for Israel has shrunk to a fraction
of the ethnic Jewish core, is a telling indicator of where things are
headed. The era of the “beautiful” Israel has passed, it seems
irrevocably, and the disfigured Israel that in recent years has
replaced it in the public consciousness is a growing embarrassment. It
is not so much that Israel’s behavior is worse than it was before, but
rather that the record of that behavior has, finally, caught up with
it.               More…………………..

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