Israeli bombs rain down on Palestinian homes. U.N. schools are obliterated, relief workers are murdered, small children cling to their dead mothers for days before they are lucky enough to be rescued alive. In some neighborhoods, the smell of death lingers in the air as Israeli troops advance deeper into Gaza and more heavily populated civilian areas in retaliation for annoying but largely ineffective rocket fire. It is a world-wide public relations disaster, even among the notably clueless United States citizenry.
As a horrified world watches Israel demonstrate its military supremacy over a poor and unarmed population, something else is happening. If you listen closely, you might hear a sad death knell in the distance, and it isn't for the Palestinians. What we may be witnessing now is Israel's slow motion suicide.
In the late 1940s following World War II, the territory then known as Palestine and now known as Israel was handed by the victorious allies, free and clear with no strings attached, to the traumatized Jewish survivors of Nazi Germany, thereby creating a Jewish home state. Complicating matters were the Palestinians already living there.
Predictably, with the new nation of Israel created by fiat, by people who neither owned the land nor consulted those who did, it came with deeply embedded seeds of turmoil. The future of Israel depended on how they handled those seeds. They could choose friendship and reconciliation or they'd get the opposite, unending conflict.
When the Palestinians were given neither a voice nor a vote – nor compensation - as they were forcibly evicted from land that had belonged to them for centuries and herded into overcrowded, poor, refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, the die was cast.
Israel has enjoyed only brief, wary, interludes of peace since. The war-with-no-end illustrates beyond question the abject failure of Israel's international policy during the nearly 60 years of its strife-ridden existence, its superior, American-made military capacity a useless menace.
Palestinian fury is now a violent, bottomless abyss shared by other Arab nations.
And Israel is a small heavily armed island surrounded by a sea of seething Arab bitterness.
Ringed by enemies, Israel could hardly survive alone, and it didn't have to.
Israel's best friend and consistent enabler is the United States, which underwrites Israel's survival to the tune of approximately 3 billion American taxpayer dollars a year, dedicated almost entirely to buying armaments for use against Israel's neighbors. Arabs hate the U.S., too.
Because Israel uses American dollars to buy its military prowess in the U.S., Israel is essentially the middle man between Uncle Sam and American weapons manufacturers, as well as an outsourced Middle Eastern military arm of the U.S. government.
The world is now changing rapidly, and for Israel that poses several troubling prospects.
First, a number of former third world countries, especially in Asia, have been developing with lightning speed and require increasing amounts of oil from the Middle East. Ominously for Israel, its Arab enemies find themselves with increasing leverage and a growing number of nascent allies, countries like China and Russia, who have little regard for the U.S. or its pet projects. Vladimir Putin is on record drawing a line in the sand, threatening retaliation for any aggression against Iran or Syria.
Worse, Israel's strong-armed backer, supplier, and buffer has come upon hard times. The U.S. is currently battling a financial meltdown due at least in part to Arab fury at our complicity in the continuing geopolitical upheaval in their lands. Although nearly unreported by the U.S. media, Osama bin Laden has been quite clear in his demands that the U.S. withdraw its forces from the Middle East and relinquish its support of Israel in exchange for safety at home and abroad. What would U.S. citizens say if they knew?
Even before the U.S. went into its current economic dive brought on by that hotbed of capitalism, Wall Street, the downward spiral had begun. Government finances were stretched thin by the Bush-and-cronies mismanagement and 'war on terror.' Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent destroying and rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq in addition to the costs of maintaining a military empire around the world; in addition to the very expensive government bureaucracies now needed to defend the 'homeland' against terrorism; in addition to a domestic social services sector in meltdown with the increasing demands on Social Security, unemployment levels anticipated soon to reach double digits, and the concomitant increases in the need for unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid.
And that's just for starters.