Posted on04 December 2011.
Max Blumenthal, despite previous disagreements, is one of my favorite liberal writers on the Palestine issue. Unfortunately, being a liberal, there are certain things that Blumenthal has decided not to understand. Chiefly, the role of these
in politics, and especially in Western policy towards the Middle East and our captive little inciter of the highly profitable regional arms race, Israel.
Consider this recent commentary on why Germany has chosen to sell a subsidized Dolphin attack submarine to Israel. Blumenthal writes correctly that Israel will receive the submarine at a “steep discount subsidized by German taxpayers.” He writes incorrectly that the only “explanation for the sale is persistent Holocaust guilt.” And he doesn’t say at all who the money is going to, or how much of it they will get. The submarine’s normal price is 540 million dollars. The German government will pony up a third of that price, while Israel will shoulder the other two-thirds.
And who benefits from the arms sale?
Some Googling confirmed that the Dolphin’s manufacturer is Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH, part of the industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems AG. ThyssenKrupp’s largest shareholder is the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, an important German philanthropic foundation, created by and named for Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the former owner and head of the Krupp company.
As for the Krupp company? It was central to German rearmament in the lead-up to the Second World War. During the war, it employed 10,000 prisoners from the concentration camps, particularly Auschwitz, and over 23,000 prisoners, or slave laborers – other estimates put the number as high as 100,000. Krupp manufactured artillery, armor plate, V-boats, and warships. It contributed substantially to the Nazi war effort and the shoah that went along with it. As Hermann Goering said in a 1936 speech to the Reichsgruppe Industrie, “the battle which we are approaching demands a colossal measure of productive ability. No limit on the rearmament can be visualized. The only alternative in this case is victory or destruction. If we win, business will be sufficiently compensated.”
So we have a company sodden in the blood of Jews and other victims of the Nazi regime, now making money from Israel and the incessant wars it provokes – and, of course, from the last victims of the Nazi regime: the Palestinians, who paid the price in land for the German Judeocide. That’s how it usually works. As a truly and intolerably haram source, Karl Marx, writes, “capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.”
In this case, that includes the capital being transferred from American, Israel, and German taxpayers to those who profited six decades ago from Jewish suffering in the charnel houses of Europe. For Germany, it is a twofer: Blumenthal quotes German military correspondent Dan Williams, saying, this is “part of Berlin’s commitment to shoring up a Jewish state founded in the wake of the Holocaust.” German guilt-money, paid to Israel during the 15 years after the founding, contributed substantially to the build-up of the Israeli military-industrial complex. That blood money was also an ablution. Instead of being dissolved so that the proceeds from their suffering could at least be distributed amongst the victims, Krupp and I.G. Farben contributed their bit to the “reparations.” And then rather than facing war crimes trials, their owners kept profiting away.
But that was then. Now, the “specter of the Holocaust” is an open manipulation of the memory of German mass-murder and the cynical use of German guilt to subsidize domestic capital. In this, German industry is taking part in a game long perfected by the American arms-industrial core, which for years has enjoyed a 2.3 billion dollar subsidy in the form of the American “aid” package to Israel, never mind the loot it hauls in from the arms exports to a deliberately militarized region which spends its oil wealth on the consumption of high-tech junk.
Meanwhile, Iran, since the 1979 revolution against the Shah a symbol of defiance and independent nationalism, is reduced here to its role as a problem for Israel. As Blumenthal writes, with nuclear-armed Dolphin submarines perhaps capable of putting out to sea and menacing Iran, “Israel can leverage its enhanced nuclear capacity and reputation for irrational, “mad dog” behavior to bully the West into tightening sanctions on Iran” – which no power centers in the Western countries wish, of course.
Reality is a little different. And this is not about whitewashing the Israel lobby, which has been at the forefront of agitating for both sanctions and war against Iran. But it is, perhaps, about meticulously, if inadvertently, cleansing the blood-stained history of capitalist empire. That empire is global, and it hates Iran: for its support of Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, the axis of resistance to American-Israeli rule in the Middle East, for the victories of the Iranian people, manifest in Iran’s social welfare state and high percentage of state spending routed to domestic needs, and finally for the threat of the Iranian example to the rest of the world, and especially to the rest of the peoples of the Middle East.
The American government for decades has been worried about the region spinning out of control, with independent nationalist government arising in the sheikhdoms and most importantly, in Saudi Arabia. In the words of George McGhee, in 1950, at the time the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs, “[the Mossadeq syndrome] would have been quite possible in Saudi Arabia.”
As eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are convulsed with protest, perhaps that is still possible. And it is a certain kind of symbolic violence to the truth of that struggle to simply brush it all aside with the wave that these policies are merely about protecting and armoring Israel. They are not.
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