When I first wrote about the Israeli assault on Gaza, beginning over the post-Christmas period, I noted that two important dates needed to be kept in mind when watching the conflict. One, was the Presidential inauguration of Mr. Obama on January 20th, and the other was the Israeli general election in early February (in which by the way, during the conflict, Israel outlawed the two main Israeli Arab political parties, representing the 20% of the Israeli population classified as Israeli Arabs). I stated that Israel was seeking to inflict as much damage to Gazan infrastructure before the inauguration of Mr. Obama, and that they would holt their hostilities just prior to the inauguration date.
Well, surprise surprise, this evening, three days prior to the inauguration date, Israel has declared a ceasefire. A unilateral one at that, and one where it is not clear yet whether this includes the withdrawal of Israeli troops or is Israel re-occupying Gaza? Nor has Israel realised even the most limited objective of the invasion, ending Hamas fired rockets into Israel.
Israel may well be thinking that in announcing this ceasefire they will end the political pressure it has increasingly faced by mass public protest throughout the world. It is true that there will be less people going on marches and the like now, without bombs falling on Gaza. But it is equally true that this conflict has radicalised a whole new generation who are fed up with the hypocrisy of Israel and the Western imperialist powers. The ramifications of this conflict are far from over despite the delusions of Israel. The damage they have wrought on Gaza will be reaped as future terrorist atrocities on the innocent civilians of Israel. The puppet states of the Middle East and North Africa have lost what little credibility they may have enjoyed and are propped up now by little than their US financed, armed and trained security apparatuses. And throughout Europe activists are disillusioned with their governments and the ineffectiveness of popular demonstrations.
Today activists decided to escalate their militancy with the invasion and ‘peoples decommissioning’ of a UK military contractor’s factory. It is likely that this will be only the beginning of increased militancy.
Israel’s ‘unilateral ceasefire’ is seen as little more than a shallow political calculation based on perceptions on a still pro-Israel but not as strong so Obama presidency. Naturally, I am happy that this means the people of Gaza can begin to put their lives back in order as best they can under situations and likely further military aggression from the Israeli forces. But quite frankly this gesture only reinforces the perceptions of the aggression as being calculated to exact damage prior to the Obama presidency, and to be blunt its too little too late.
This current period, from the 9/11 atrocities an on may well be characterised as that of chickens coming home to roost, of reaping what the imperialist West has sown in the previous period through Cold War neo-colonialism and neo-liberal economics. Unfortunately this bitter harvest looks set to continue and it is best that we hasten the negation of this socio-economic system that is rotten to the core and replace it with a new system founded on popular economic and political democracy. It may be that the system can co-opt the challenges it will face, that it can survive this period. May be. All I know is more and more people are losing whatever illusions they may have had about this economic s(hit)ystem and democ(k)racy.
Too little, too late.