Arbeit macht frei—German sign
“We even gave them one hour of ‘siesta’ after lunch, as their culture demands, but they ran away as soon as the first missiles fell.” This is the summary of the heartbreaking claim that appeared in The Marker on March 23, 2013. It was a sharp reminder that The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Fields Affair is still well and alive. Daewoo, a Korean corporation, is developing the Israeli gas fields and is constructing a private electricity production plant near Dimona; from summer 2013 it will provide 440MW of electricity, about 4% of Israel’s consumption. 700 Koreans working there were truly surprised to find out that Israelis consider “siesta” a Korean word; they were also surprised in January 2013, when they became the target of missiles shot from Gaza.
As expanded in German Machine, Russian Workers and Israel’s Largest Nuclear Shelter, whenever possible, Israel attempts to acquire technology instead of developing it. This strategy dates back to the days when Shimon Peres decided that the Weizmann Institute of Science would adapt French nuclear technologies instead of developing them from scratch. After the first Eastern Mediterranean gas fields were found, Israel started a frantic search for partners owning the required technologies.
In parallel, an aggressive attempt to secure its military control of the area took place. The main two problems were the disputed maritime border with Lebanon and the Palestinian claims on fields in front of Gaza. The first event deteriorated into a war of words that led to the formation of unexpected alliances. Turkey, Iran and Northern Cyprus joined Lebanon. Cyprus and Greece joined Israel while gas-thirsty Spain attempted to secure Israeli supply.
Azerbaijan had a significant interest in Israeli hegemony while Russia was also interested in it, both mainly due to the Israeli capability to shorten their supply lines through the Ashdod-Eilat pipeline. Egypt was in turmoil and Gaza was under siege. The chances that a regional war would erupt were high. Israel gave the Gaza Marine field to the Palestinians and bought their quiet; only the Turkish issue was left open. Yet, the gas reserves are so large that world players stepped in.
World War I gas masks in trenches
Uncle Obama Steps in
As far as I can tell, most Americans don’t like their country being called an “empire.” Most of them feel outraged will hearing terms as “neo-colonialism” aimed at their country, which they ironically call “Land of the Free.” The Land where NSA, FBI and CIA Agents are Free. Most of them consider atrocious the idea that corporations act as colonialist agents. Can McDonald’s be considered a colonial agent? Yet, America’s favorite colony started its empire that way. The English East India Company was founded in 1600, as The Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies.
In 1612 Mughal Emperor Jahangir granted it the rights to establish a factory and trading post, in the port of Surat on the western coast of India. The company soon became immensely successful, establishing many similar outposts. Following Robert Clive’s victory in the 1757 Battle of Plassey, the British enclaves became independent and begun being consolidated into a new empire. Where there wasn’t a strong local government, the British simply took over the Indian states.
In stronger areas, Indian rulers acknowledged the company’s hegemony in return for limited internal autonomy. After the empire was consolidated, all pretensions were dropped. The company was replaced by the British Raj, a ruthless colonial regime which lasted until India got independence in 1947. An empire based on wild capitalism, the British provided minimal freedom to their subjects. This is true regarding most of the European Westphalian states. The Dutch also wanted an empire of their own.
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) began the conquest of the Indonesian archipelago from 1603, when the first trading post was established. In 1800, the bankrupted party was dissolved, and its possessions nationalized as the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch East Indies colony became modern Indonesia following World War II. Needless to say, also here the conquerors were after material profits and kept their colonies underdeveloped. Nowadays it is America’s turn; Empire and McFalafel.
As of now, this deal has not been concluded. In other words, the USA drills and operates the larger part of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Fields. There is enough gas there to provide Israel’s entire energy consumption for decades. The country will slowly move from its coal-operated electricity plants to gas-operated ones, and much gas will be left for the Americans to play with. Even the gas consumed in Israel will generate commissions for the Americans. In this context, the humble and compassionate public request of President Obama from Netanyahu to end the conflict with Turkey, expressed during his recent visit to Israel, must be seen in a new color; “Imperial Cold” is its name.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.