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Finkelstein: Israel seeking Arab obeisance

Definition of obeisance: An attitude of deference or homage.

The following is full text interview with lecturer, author and renowned Palestine-Israel scholar Gary Norman Finkelstein in New York.

Press TV: Nearly a week of violence in Gaza. What do you make of the situation there?

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* Finkelstein: It is hard to make any definite judgments about the military situation. The goals of the Israeli government it seems to me are pretty clear. Number one Israel wants to reestablish what it calls its deterrence capacity. That is a technical term that the Israelis use. It basically means to restore the fear of Israel among the Arab states in the region.

After the defeat inflicted by Hezbollah and the inability of Israel to launch an attack on Iran it was almost inevitable that they would attack Hamas, because Hamas is defying the Israeli will. According to the Israeli papers, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was planning the attack before the last ceasefire and they were just waiting for a provocation from the Palestinians.

On November 4, the Israelis broke the ceasefire with Hamas knowing full well--and if you review the Israeli papers, they say so knowing full well that when they killed six militants in Gaza the Palestinians would retaliate and then Israel would have the pretext to invade. Therefore, the first goal was to restore the fear of Israel among Arabs by inflicting a bloodbath in Gaza.

Press TV: Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel has affected almost what it called the infrastructure of terrorism presumably meaning Hamas. This while apparently heavy civilian casualties have been incurred inside Gaza. How do you see the imbalance in the loss of life in Gaza? How successful do you think that Israel has been in wiping out Hamas or the resistance if you will?

* Finkelstein: Well the purpose was to inflict massive casualties immediately. The Israelis, after their attack on Lebanon in 2006, realized that their error was that they did not unleash the full might of their air force in the first few days. In in the first two days of Lebanon war, they killed about 55 Lebanese and then they targeted the Dahia suburb of Beirut. After the war, they began talking about the Dahia strategy which meant to obliterate anything which went against their rule. And what you saw in the first couple of days in Gaza was the application of the Dahia strategy to commit a bloodbath and slaughter of such huge dimensions that they thought it would deter the Arabs in the future from defying Israeli rule.

Press TV: Speaking of deterrence, Hamas said that it would retaliate. How great a response do you thinK Hamas can give Israel? Could one expect something like the one Israel received from Hezbollah in 2006?

* Finkelstein: I think it is impossible to predict those things. But, it is clear that Israel is faced with a dilemma. In the case of Lebanon during the first few days they apparently destroyed (Hezbollah's) long-range and medium-range missiles, but they couldn't destroy the short-range rockets being used against the Israel unless they invaded. They tried to invade, but they couldn't and the rocket attacks continued. And now they have the same problem in Gaza.

In order to end the rocket attacks they have to invade and clear all the areas where the rocket launchers are located one by one. But, if they invade there is the possibility of them being caught in a guerrilla war which they plainly cannot win in Gaza. So they are not sure at this moment how to proceed.

Press TV: Israeli foreign minister (Tzipi LIvni) also says that Israel wants to negotiate peace with what she calls moderate Palestinians. On the other hand, we see Mahmoud Abbas saying that peace talks are meaningless under the current situation wherein Israel is targeting all Palestinians, so where does that leave Israel?

* Finkelstein: Well we have to be clear what Israel means by moderate Palestinians. The Hamas leadership in recent years has signaled that it is willing to negotiate a two-state settlement according to the June 1967 border and also the resolution of the refugee question. That means that Hamas has signaled to do what the international community has wanted Israel to do over the past 30 years.

Israel rejects such a two-state settlement because it wants to continue its control of the West Bank. So for Israel a moderate Palestinian means the one who rejects all the terms proposed by the international community, a Palestinian who rejects the position of Hamas. For Israel a moderate Palestinian is a Palestinian who is willing to do whatever Israel wants: is a Palestinian who is willing follow Israeli orders.

Press TV: Observers say that avceasefire is the best Israel can achieve from this. How is the war affecting Israel?

* Finkelstein: It is hard to say that whether Israel is in a position for a ceasefire. If Israel accepts the ceasefire I don't think Hamas would accept it if the Gaza blockage continues. It was due to the continuation of the Gaza blockade that Hamas rejected renewal of the truce with Israel. If the blockade is not lifted it is just a slow death for the Palestinians. If Israel agrees to lift this blockade along with a ceasefire then it will in effect have given in to the conditions that it refused last week. So it's really unclear that Israel would propose a ceasefire that Hamas would accept and vice versa.

Press TV: Israel says that its war is with Hamas, but it has prevented the flow of international aid into Gaza and prevented journalists from covering what is going on there. There is a saying Persian if you cannot help then don't prevent help from others.

* Finkelstein: Well we have to be clear that Israel's war is not with Hamas but with the international community, including Iran. Israel is defying the international community, including Iran on the two-state settlement.

Added: Jan-1-2009 Occurred On: Jan-1-2009
By: red_pill
Iran, News, Middle East
Tags: Israel, Hamas, Arab, West Bank, Gaza, Norman Finkelstein, Finkelstein
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