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Zionist society 'thirsty for blood'.

Byline: TOM HANRATTY

A VISITING American -Jewish political scientist last night described Israel as a "Sparta-like society consumed by revenge and the thirst for blood".

The motive behind Israel's attacks against Gaza also centred on the upcoming elections in Israel, according to Professor Norman Finkelstein.

This is coupled with Israel's need to restore its "deterrence capacity" and the threat posed by a new peace initiative, he added.

"The jockeying for votes was no doubt a factor in this Sparta-like society consumed by revenge and the thirst for blood, where killing Arabs is a sure crowd-pleaser," he said.

"But as Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has pointed out, Israel went through a very similar war two-and-a-half years ago in Lebanon, when there were no elections." he explained.

Prof Finkelstein said that the motives behind the Israeli attacks also lie elsewhere, which is the need to restore its "deterrence capacity" and the threat of a new Palestinian peace offensive.

He was speaking at the first of two lectures on the Israeli-Gaza conflict at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence and Spa in Manama on the invitation by the Palestine Support Society.

Prof Finkelstein, who has written a number of books on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, focused at the lecture on what he sees as the real motives and reasons for the Israeli attack.

"The expulsion of the Israeli occupying army by Hizbollah in May 2000 posed a major new challenge to Israel's deterrence capacity," he said.

"The fact that Israel suffered a humiliating defeat, one celebrated throughout the Arab world, made another war well-nigh inevitable.

"Israel almost immediately began planning for the next round, and in the summer of 2006 found a pretext when Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and demanded in exchange the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.

"Although Israel unleashed the fury of its air force and geared up for a ground invasion, it suffered yet another ignominious defeat.

"After the 2006 Lebanon war, Israel was itching to take on Hizbollah again, but did not yet have a military option against it.

"In mid last year Israel desperately sought to conscript the US for an attack on Iran, which would also decapitate Hizbollah and thereby humble the main challengers to its regional hegemony.

"Israel and its quasi-official emissaries such as Benny Morris threatened that if the US did not go along then non-conventional weaponry would have to be used, and that many innocent Iranians would die.

"To Israel's chagrin and humiliation, the attack never materialised and Iran has gone its merry way, while the credibility of Israel's capacity to terrorise slipped another notch."

Prof Finkelstein said it was time for Israel to find a defenceless target to annihilate. "Enter Gaza, Israel's favourite shooting gallery," he added.

Slaughter

Prof Finkelstein said another goal for Israel's Gaza slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation.

"For the past three decades the international community has consistently supported a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict that calls for two states based on a full Israeli withdrawal to its June 1967 border," he said.

"In addition, Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire it entered into with Israel in June 2008.

"The Islamic movement could thus be trusted to stand by its word, making it a credible negotiating partner, while its apparent ability to extract concessions from Israel enhanced Hamas's stature among Palestinians.

"For Israel, these developments constituted a veritable disaster.

"It could no longer justify shunning Hamas, and it would be only a matter of time before international pressure in particular from the Europeans would be exerted on it to negotiate."

Prof Finkelstein said that the prospect of a US administration negotiating with Iran and Hamas, and moving closer to the international consensus for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict, would have further highlighted Israel's intransigence.

"In the mid-1970s, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) mainstream began supporting a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border," he said.

"In August 1981 Saudi Arabia unveiled, and the Arab League subsequently approved, a peace plan based on the two-state settlement.

"Israel reacted in September 1981 by stepping up preparations to destroy the PLO.

"Fast forward to last year and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated in early December that although Israel wanted to create a temporary period of calm with Hamas, an extended truce would harm the Israeli strategic goal, empower Hamas, and give the impression that Israel recognises the movement."

Prof Finkelstein said that Israel had been planning the attacks on Gaza since as far back as March, 2007, and had only negotiated a truce in June of that year because the Israeli army needed time to prepare.

"Once all the pieces were in place, Israel only lacked a pretext," he said.

"On November 4, while the American media were riveted by election-day, Israel broke the ceasefire by killing seven Palestinian fighters, on the flimsy excuse that Hamas was digging a tunnel to abduct Israeli soldiers, and knowing full well that its operation would provoke it into hitting back.

"After Hamas predictably resumed its rocket attacks 'in retaliation', as it was put by Israeli intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, Israel could embark on yet another murderous invasion in order to foil another Palestinian peace offensive."

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jan 27, 2009
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