The Lilliputians are no longer tiny people

A pointed description of the current situation was provided by Israeli analyst Ehud Ya’ari last week, when he recalled the story of Gulliver, the giant whom the tiny people of Lilliput tied up with thin strings until, contrary to the laws of physics, he could not make use of his unparalleled force.

The world super power decided that it would suit it now to conquer Iraq, divide it to cantons, as done in Yugoslavia, and subject it to the rule of drug gangs, as in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

And what can the tiny people do when this is what the giant decides? They demonstrate, first in small groups and then millions all over the world. They send human shields to Baghdad. This only makes the giant laugh. Ari Fleisher, the white house spokesman, was quick to clarify that these are Saddam’s hostages and the U.S. will view their deaths as “collateral damage”. And anybody knows that the U.S. is capable of that.

Suddenly the UN rose up. “UM-SHMUM”, as it is referred to in Israel, “half of whose delegates are from illiterate countries”, forgot apparently that its only job is to rubber-stamp U.S. moves. Ari Fleisher explained that the U.S. involves the UN as long as it is convenient to do so. When it doesn’t have the patience, it uses NATO, like in Kosovo. But nothing would prevent it from going alone. This week, at the Azores, Bush issued the “last ultimatum” to the UN.

It appears that all the Lilliputians managed to do so far is to delay the giant for a few months. But these months were crucial. Today the Lilliputians are no longer tiny people. It started with thousands of small organizations, scattered around the globe and communicating over the Internet - organizations which are connected by a shared sense that if things go on like this, the human race will destroy itself. From Seattle to Durban, from environmental and social issues to matters of equal rights, a new force was formed, organized and trained in non-violent struggle aimed at exercising democracy. This force has managed in the past months to attract the hearts and minds of the majority of the people of the world to the only way that offers hope - a way based on basic human values and the principles of international law. The governments of Europe were dragged along by their people. As Kissinger explained to CNN on Sunday, unable to hide his contempt, “Schroeder simply had no choice”. Europe’s new force is not in the military, but in democracy. Unlike the U.S., Britain and Spain, many European governments are now acting according to the will of their citizens.

Against this power, the U.S. deploys its military might - the state of the art in the killing sciences. Everything is ready for war. They have even completed the transfer of D-9 bulldozers that the U.S. bought from Israel to implement in Baghdad the lessons of Jenin [1]. This week, the Israeli army demonstrated that these bulldozers are an effective solution also for the problem of human shields, when one of them crushed to death Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old student from Olympia, Washington, who tried to delay the demolition of a house in Gaza.

And yet, the U.S. has already lost the battle. So far, U.S. power could count on on its total control of public consciousness in large parts of the world. In its past wars, the millions of Lilliputians sat glued to their TV sets and watched the propaganda broadcasts, identical on all channels. They watched and believed that the war is for sublime values of peace and justice. Now as well, obedient spokesmen explain that Saddam is Hitler and the Iraqi children must be saved from him. But who is listening? Now the truth is exposed - the U.S. is perceived as a gangster that does whatever he feels like. In the past, the U.S. committed its crimes to the sounds of cheers of the majority of the Western society. It has lost this majority. The change that has occurred in the world can no longer be reversed.


[1] Alex Fishman, Yediot Aharonot, February 28, 2003

Tanya Reinhart is a professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University, and among the Israeli signers on the British boycott petition. She is the author of ‘Detruire La Palestine - ou comment terminer la guerre de 1948’, La Fabrique 2002; Israel/Palestine- How to end the war of 1948, Seven Stories, NY, 2002. The article above first appeared in Yediot Aharonot, March 19, 2003, and was translated from Hebrew by Irit Katriel.