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The Media about Gaza/Israel

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  • #16
    An Open Letter to Elie Wiesel c. 1988 by Arthur Hertzberg

    Dear Elie,

    You and I met almost half a lifetime ago, in the late 1950s, when you had just written your first book, Night, and I had just finished my own first book, The Zionist Idea. In those days very few people in America were much interested in either the Holocaust or in Zionist ideology, and so we established a comradeship of the ignored. Much more important, we were among the few who still spoke Yiddish, as we continue to do when we meet, for neither of us can let go of the world of our childhood.

    You will remember what I told you when you asked about my own family. My mother and her children were the only survivors of her family. Her father, all of her brothers and sisters, and all of their children were murdered in Poland. On the eve of Yom Kippur, in 1946, when it was certain that all were dead, my mother lit thirty-seven candles in their memory. I entered your life, so you told me, because I carried with me, then and to this day, the guilt of my good fortune, for my parents emigrated from Poland in the mid 1920s and brought me to the United States as a child; I was spared what you suffered and what you saw. We are, both of us, part of what is left of the Hasidic communities of your birthplace in Vishnitz and of mine in Lْbaczَw. What have we learned from the murder of our families? How must we live with their memory? You and I read and reread the Bible and Talmud: What do the sacred texts command us to think, to feel, and to do?

    Many Jews are deeply troubled these days by Israel’s behavior in response to the intifadah, the uprising of the Palestinians against their occupation by Israel. Both in Israel and in the Diaspora many—you and I among them—have been expressing our deep distress in public (and some even more so in private) over the rocks and firebombs hurled by Palestinians and the beatings and shootings by Israelis. You have expressed sympathy for the “anger of young Palestinians,” writing that the Palestinians are “treated as nonpersons,” as “objects of pity, at best.” “Why,” you say, “shouldn’t they have chosen violence as a means of attracting attention to their existence and their dreams of obtaining a national identity?” (The New York Times, June 23, 1988). You have deplored “the extremists in both camps.”

    I know of no one in the Jewish community who would not agree with your appeal to the Palestinians to “stop using stones and start using words.” But you do not accompany such an assertion with an appeal to the Israelis to do anything at all—in particular to move away from the policy of repression and toward negotiation. In those of your statements that I have seen, you seem to have avoided saying anything about the content of Israel’s policies. In a speech in Washington on March 13, after saying that American Jews behave “appropriately” when they question actions by Israel, you quickly added that “I am afraid of splitting the Jewish community with regard to Israel.” How appropriate are the questioners, in your view, if their questions “split” the community and thus, so you clearly imply, do harm to Israel? You have reduced the political questions before Israel to all-or-nothing choices. You condemn the “right-wing Israeli fanatics” for the “disgraceful suggestion” of transferring all the Palestinians immediately to Jordan; you are equally critical of “some liberals who are ready to give up all the territories immediately,” for there is, in your view, no one to whom to give them. Thus you are able to throw up your hands, as you have done repeatedly in interviews and statements since January, and say, “What are we to do?”

    The effect of what you have been saying is this: the present situation is deplorable, and Israel has even behaved badly on occasion, but for Jews abroad to say so is less an act of conscience than a sign of weakening resolve. All of the currently discussed political choices, from “territories for peace,” the policy of both the Labor party and the US administration, to movement toward a demilitarized Palestinian state (which at least some Palestinian leaders are willing to discuss in public), you do not mention. For all the nuances in your statements, and the distress that you feel as a Jew and as a moral human being, your position amounts to an elegant defense of the Likud hard line. When it comes to policy, you have said little that Yitzhak Shamir could not countersign. When you refer to opposition to Israeli policy you simply ignore the measured criticism that comes from the moderate half of Israel and you refer mainly to “malicious attacks,” and to “left-wing Jews who oppose Israel or its recent policies.”

    I have looked in your statements that deplore the “extremists in both camps” for a definition of who these extremists are, and I have found many paragraphs about Arabs who practice terrorism. You have even quoted from a Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, who has “recently stirred up angry passions in Israel” with a poem that has been read as demanding that all the Jews get out and leave Palestine, including Haifa and Tel Aviv, to the Arabs. These passages of yours seem to require some balancing comments. You know of the incantations by Meir Kahane and his followers in which the Jews are commanded to expel Muslims and Christians from the Holy Land. That a former chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, called the Palestinians “drugged cockroaches” has, surely, not escaped your attention. I wonder whether you, and I, would have been silent if a Russian general had uttered a comparable slur about Jews demonstrating in Red Square. You know that the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, has been saying that he will not return a single inch of the West Bank to Arab sovereignty; he has thus stalled even the beginnings of negotiation.

    A basic premise of your position is that “Israel is the only country that feels its existence threatened.” This, too, is a staple argument of Israel’s hard-liners; because Israel feels endangered, it must use force to protect itself, even if the excesses of this force are sometimes deplorable. The same rhetoric is often used by the Likud and the parties to the right of it, in order to excuse intransigence. On this issue, Israel’s moderates take a different view. Abba Eban knows as much about Israel’s strategic position in the region as anyone else, not least because he serves as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Israel’s Knesset. Speaking last March in Jerusalem to a meeting of the New Israel Fund, Eban said:

    We have reached a point at which we can say that Israel has never been stronger in power and in quantitative measure. Never has Israel been less existentially threatened. Never has Israel been more secure against external assault and never more vulnerable to domestic folly. The major perils that now face us come from within ourselves. And they would emerge from the stupendous folly of attempting to enforce a permanent Israeli jurisdiction over the one and a half million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza.
    Eban went on to argue—and he has said this repeatedly since, in speeches both in Israel and in the United States—that all who care about Israel will help her best by uttering the very criticisms that you, Elie, do not acknowledge.

    You have suggested that some of the Jewish critics of Israel’s conduct, and especially those who live outside the state, are “intellectuals who had never done anything for Israel but now shamelessly use their Jewishness to justify their attacks against Israel.” This may be true of a few, but is that all that you, who have been morally so sensitive, have heard in the outcries of Israel’s critics? You have found no place, so far, in any of your writings or statements that I have seen to suggest that there are Jews in the world who have been devoted to Israel for many years and who have expressed outrage at such actions as dynamiting houses in the Arab village of Beta. Some of these villagers had tried to protect a group of Jewish teen-agers who were on a hike against stone throwers. In the melee a girl was shot by accident by one of the group’s Jewish guards. The army then blew up fourteen houses in the village. According to accounts in the Israeli press, this was done not to punish anyone who was guilty but to appease the angry hard-line settlers in the West Bank. You were not among those who said anything in public after this and all too many other such incidents. Are such figures in the Diaspora as Sir Isaiah Berlin, Philip Klutznick, Henry Rosovsky, and the president of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Norman Lamm, and hundreds of others like them, who have spoken up in criticism of actions that they could not countenance, simply to be written off as people whose public statements endanger Jewish unity?

    “No one says,” you write, that Israel should “be above criticism.” Yet when you refer to public criticism you mainly warn of the “risk” it poses to Israel. But the view of many Israelis who have fought for their country is different. Are the reserve generals and colonels of Israel, more than 130 of them, who have launched a public campaign for territorial compromise to be discredited because they are pointedly critical of the occupation of the West Bank? They keep saying that only compromise can end the conflict, and that repression is unworkable. Four of these generals have recently been on tour in the United States, to enlist support for such views among all those who care about Israel. Is it a betrayal of Israel to take seriously what these men say?

    As you know better than anyone else, silence is a form of interference. In all your writings you have insisted that no one has the right to be silent in the face of injustice, any injustice. Those who throw up their hands and who, to use your own recent words about Israel, can say no more than that they “would like to believe in miracles” appear to have abdicated responsibility. This seems all the more an abdication now, because there is no authoritative demand from Israel that the Jews of the Diaspora be silent. On the contrary, the leaders who speak for the more moderate half of Israel have been saying over and over again that it is perfectly legitimate for Jews who care to speak their minds.

    On May 18, Shimon Peres made the point unmistakably when he spoke to the leaders of the Jewish establishment organizations in New York: “Whoever wants can be involved. We are a free people.” He made it clear beyond any doubt that dissent and criticism do not in any way weaken one’s commitment to Israel. Nor has the half of Israel that is led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir really asked the Jews of the Diaspora to leave decisions to Israel. The most effective device of these hard-liners has been to suggest that any criticism of their position is a self-hating assault on the state when such criticism is uttered by Jews, and that it is a form of anti-Semitism when it is spoken by non-Jews. This strategy is used in Israel itself. The Likud likes to call itself the “national camp”; it insists that moderates are not sufficiently patriotic, that they are enemies of the Jewish people. You, Elie, do not believe such canards. But I must ask: Are you not lending aid and comfort to this view?

    To your repeated question “What are we to do?” there are two orders of answer: political and moral. If, as you have written, “self-determination is a sacred principle,” one that you believe should apply to the Palestinians, then how and where is it to express itself? If the Palestinians were to take the step that you have suggested of choosing to talk rather than throw rocks or Molotov cocktails, are they to leave the West Bank and go to Jordan? But you have ruled out, on moral grounds, the forced transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank to the East Bank. On your own premises, Palestinian nationalism and self-determination require from the Israeli-Jewish side a counterstatement that the two peoples involved will finally enact peaceful partition, that Jews will agree that Palestinians have a right to a territorial base for their national life. It is this principle that your own statements make unavoidable—but you have avoided it. I cannot help thinking that you know, at least as well as I, that there are rhetoricians in the mainstream of Israel’s right wing who manage to find ways of asserting that they will give the Palestinians very limited local autonomy (this they now call national rights) while retaining control of land, water, and everything else that matters in the West Bank. “What is Israel to do?” It must accept the principle of partition—but to say this is to put oneself on the side of Israel’s moderates and to break one’s ties to the Likud.

    Morally, Jewish tradition commands us to act justly, especially when actions seem imprudent and embarrassing, and never to be silent, even to protect Jewish unity. This Jewish morality has taken one form, recurrently, throughout the ages. Even in bad times, when Jews were under fierce attack, their moral teachers gave no exceptions. The prophets knew that Assyria and Babylonia were far more wicked than Judea, but they held Judea to account, even as the Assyrians and the Babylonians were advancing. “Only you have I known among all the nations of the world; therefore I will hold you to account for all your sins.”

    There were other voices in the days of the prophets. The prophets Amos, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and all the rest, were opposed, generation after generation, by prophets who belonged to the royal courts, who assured the king that his conduct was beyond reproach. The biblical prophets were harassed as traitors who weakened the resolve of a small people—but it is their “treason,” and not the prudence of the court prophets, that is our unique Jewish tradition. While the official soothsayers denounced the enemies of the king, the prophets whom we revere followed after Nathan, who dared to confront King David with murdering Uriah and stealing his wife. Nathan defended this Hittite stranger against a divinely appointed Jewish king: “You are the man,” he said to David: you are morally responsible.

    In the memory of the Holocaust we have been reminded by you that silence is a sin. You have spoken out against indifference and injustice. Why are you making a special exception of Israel? Do you think that our silence will help Israel? The texts that we study and restudy teach the contrary. “Israel will be redeemed by righteousness, and those who return to it, by acts of loving kindness.” To be silent is an act of misplaced love. Such silence gives free reign to the armed zealots of ages past, and of this day. Several times in our history, armed zealots have led the Jewish people to glorious disasters. Encouragement by silence, of the kind some of the rabbis gave the zealots when they declared war on Rome in the first century, has a long history of being tragically wrong. We dare not repeat this mistake.

    The excesses of the zealots may succeed today, briefly, as they succeeded for a moment several times before, but such excesses are likely to lead again to disaster. Teachers of morality must not indulge the zealots of today, and not only because zealotry does not work. To suppress the weak because of our own supposed weakness is against the very essence of our tradition. When we were a group of hunted former slaves in the desert, Moses proclaimed, as divine teaching, that we should not oppress strangers, for we had been oppressed as strangers in the land of Egypt. This injunction is unconditional.

    We should both be haunted by one recent image. Several days after the incident in Beta, an Israeli patrol tried to stop some Arab youths to question them. The youths were unarmed; they had not been throwing rocks, and they were guilty of nothing except not wanting to be interrogated. These young men were fired on, and one was killed. Now I know, as you do, about the dangers for Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza. I have nieces in Israel’s army, and I have said to them that their moral obligation does not include allowing themselves to be slaughtered. But killing those who are simply unwilling to be questioned is another matter entirely. How can we be silent?

    I agree with you that ahavat Yisrael, the love of the Jewish people, is a great virtue, but I can find little trace in all the Jewish texts through the centuries that this love must be uncritical. Even Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, the eighteenth-century Hasid who wrote in defense of the conduct of the Jews, was not silent about their misdeeds. He accepted the moral responsibility to lead. “Love can bend a straight line”: it can mislead the lover, so that, with the highest motives, he does grave injury to his beloved. You, Elie, care far too much about the Jewish people, and about Israel, to indulge falls from grace and, de facto, to lend comfort to zealots. If you are persuaded that the policies of the Likud are right, say so, but, in fairness, cease treating so dismissively the political and moral views of the many moderate Jews who reject the politics and morality of the hard line.

    I keep thinking these days of the saying that both of us have quoted many times, and sometimes at each other, especially in those early years when we were closest. Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, the tortured Hasid of the last century, once said that when the Evil One wants to destroy us, he tempts us not through our wicked desires but through our most virtuous inclinations; we do good deeds at the wrong time, with the wrong intensity, and in a setting in which they do devastating harm. I fear that for all your love of Israel, you, in what you say, sometimes risk falling into the moral trap that Menachem Mendel described.

    You belong among those who speak the truth, even to Jewish power, and who do not look away because of real or invented Jewish weakness. We show the truest love of Israel and the Jewish people when we remind ourselves that, in strength or in weakness, we survive not by prudence and not by power, but through justice.

    Your friend,

    Arthur Hertzberg



    From The New York Review of Books, August 18, 1988, re-posted in Sephardic Heritage Update by David Shasha, July 22, 2014
    Nothing much has changed, has it?
    sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

    Gold is the power of a man with a man
    And incense the power of man with God
    But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
    And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

    Nativity,
    by Peter Cape

    Comment


    • #17
      @ In_Loos_Ptokai

      I'm profoundly impressed by words that echo what I always sensed as greatness in Jewish thinking. Morality is more than being "in the right".


      @Kevin McCabe: different people played their style. Peter Tuscher (trumpet) who has played with Ray Charles, Dee Dee Bridgewater and others. Pianist Claus Raible (who worked with Art Farmer oder Jimmy Cobb), the Serb Sava Medan (Chet Baker /Sheila Jordan) and Drummer Guido May (one time member of Pee Wee Ellis´ “Assembly“). We came a bit late as my wife was playing for refugees out of town, and while the sound was good in the over-crowded bar, the announcements were drowned in waiters getting orders and people going out to have a smake and all.
      Last edited by L'Etranger; 07-31-2014, 02:26 AM.
      Google ergo sum

      Comment


      • #18
        As I might have said several times, I have many friends in Israel, but I abhor the Israeli government, they usually retaliate more virulently and cruelly them those that perpetrated acts of violence against them. It becomes worse if innocent and specially children ( at schools ) are assassinated. Israel mostly seeks for revenge instead of anything else. I have been tired of this.
        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

        Comment


        • #19
          It is a shame so many civilians get killed, it is scandalous, I agree without reserve.
          Yet, why is the outcry so muffled when ISIS and President Assad slaughter, butcher, blow to hell so many thousands more over weeks, months and years, every day and hour even while we're writing here?
          Google ergo sum

          Comment


          • #20
            The Media about Gaza/Israel

            Originally posted by L'Etranger View Post
            Yet, why is the outcry so muffled when ISIS and President Assad slaughter, butcher, blow to hell so many thousands more over weeks, months and years, every day and hour even while we're writing here?
            Respectfully suggest that might be because we expect Israel (a democratic nation) to be a damned sight more civilised and whole heap less barbaric than butcher Assad & ISIS. Maybe that's unfair but if Israel wants to lower itself to the standards of those who oppose it they're doing a grand job of succeeding.

            Also suspect there's a perception that the conflict in Syria is between more or less equal forces whereas the situation in Gaza looks more like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly - albeit it a decidedly annoying fly - with little regard for 'collateral' civilian damage.

            From an outsider's perspective I have to wonder at the lack of apparent evidence that Hamas's rockets are actually inflicting any damage on Israel. Night after night we see filmed reports from within Gaza of the civilian casualties but never (or rarely) anything from inside Israel of the damage or casualties resulting from the rockets? Why? Is it because Western media is more interested in presenting a pro-Gazan perspective (not the same as pro-Hamas) than being fair to Israel or could it be because there isn't any evidence to broadcast?

            (I genuinely struggle to comprehend what Hamas hopes to achieve through its rocket tactics other than infuriate Israel to such a level that the IDF is given free rein to launch missile strikes on schools & refugee centres. Gaza is a scab that Israel can't help picking at despite that fact this only serves to inflame and further infect the existing sore.)
            _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
            _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
            _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
            _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

            Comment


            • #21
              In this morning's news, "Barack Obama urged the unconditional release of Hadar Goldin". That's Barak "The lord of Guantanamo, Bagram and who knows how many other illegal detention and torture* hell-holes for dominantly non-combatants, captured in other lands and illegally renditioned across the world" Obama, discussing the taking of a single POW - that being an solider captured when invading another's territory and who is part of an army that have killed well over a thousand innocent civilians including children and babies, and who have engaged in a generations-long siege that has the single specific aim of removing the Palestinians entirely from the land they have lived in for centuries.

              Yeh, go media / political balance there. Wall to wall saturation of one soldier's face. So significant when one could be talking about the total annihilation of Gaza that Israel is beginning to complete: their final solution for Gaza. And I use that term advisedly.

              *His comments come as the Senate prepares to release a report on the CIA's interrogation programme: "We tortured some folks," Mr Obama said.

              Comment


              • #22
                [QUOTE]
                Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                Originally posted by L'Etranger View Post
                Yet, why is the outcry so muffled when ISIS and President Assad slaughter, butcher, blow to hell so many thousands more over weeks, months and years, every day and hour even while we're writing here?
                Respectfully suggest that might be because we expect Israel (a democratic nation) to be a damned sight more civilised and whole heap less barbaric than butcher Assad & ISIS. Maybe that's unfair but if Israel wants to lower itself to the standards of those who oppose it they're doing a grand job of succeeding.
                Correct! The claim Israel has is quite another than her neighbours and she shouldn't be surprised to be judged by it. War cannot justify everything, which is a safe guideline even if the entire picture is still foggy. I suppose however there are more substantial numbers of the Israeli society just as disgusted by what their army has unleashed upon the "enemy" than you could expect.


                Also suspect there's a perception that the conflict in Syria is between more or less equal forces whereas the situation in Gaza looks more like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly - albeit it a decidedly annoying fly - with little regard for 'collateral' civilian damage.
                Wrong, I'd say: The death toll of civilians (eg killed during the perpetual bombardment of Homs and Aleppo and in dozens of mass executions in Syria during a conflict that is going for over three years now, and the fact that millions including half a million children are living in misery in refugee camps, does not indicate the forces there are in any way equal.
                From an outsider's perspective I have to wonder at the lack of apparent evidence that Hamas's rockets are actually inflicting any damage on Israel. Night after night we see filmed reports from within Gaza of the civilian casualties but never (or rarely) anything from inside Israel of the damage or casualties resulting from the rockets? Why? Is it because Western media is more interested in presenting a pro-Gazan perspective (not the same as pro-Hamas) than being fair to Israel or could it be because there isn't any evidence to broadcast?
                In a way it is tough luck propaganda-wise that the Israelis have a nearto perfect system of air-raid shelters and everybody knowing where to goe when the alarm comes, although often with less than a minute of reaction time ... not only Gaza is very small.
                (I genuinely struggle to comprehend what Hamas hopes to achieve through its rocket tactics other than infuriate Israel to such a level that the IDF is given free rein to launch missile strikes on schools & refugee centres. Gaza is a scab that Israel can't help picking at despite that fact this only serves to inflame and further infect the existing sore.)
                My deep suspicion is that Hamas is in a legitimation crisis. Their top supporter, Iran, who also provided the technology for the missiles, is on the verge of reasessing her policies - in face of the ISIS and Sunni Caliphate threat which regards the Shiites in Iraq and ultimately Iran as the big delish enemy. They have begun to destroy Shiite holy temples and shrines systematically and of course, more summary mass executions. A lot is moving currently, the outcome unclear. And perhaps Hamas feels that it needs to justify the costs of shipping them weapons...
                Last edited by L'Etranger; 08-02-2014, 05:30 AM.
                Google ergo sum

                Comment


                • #23
                  I've read a couple of things that lead me to believe that HAMAS isn't exactly a unified front, only recently the political wing of the organization agreed to a ceasefire while the militant wing broke it. I think it's just a fact, right or wrong, that there won't be a Palestinian state while HAMAS remains a military organization.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    At this point in the game, will Palestine exist as anything other than a scarred memory might be the question.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      One of the things that people seem to overlook during these alarmist news reports is that Gaza isn't the whole of Palestine, It's only that part of Palestine controlled by Hamas. The rest of Palestine doesn't seem to be involved in this conflict. And it's reported that before all this started, Hamas' popularity was very much on the wane among those in Gaza. Last gasp of a beleaguered regime anyone? While Israel cannot be forgiven for the harshness of their response, neither can Hamas for their provocation in their expectation of the result.
                      You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

                      -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-

                      Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

                      :-: Onsite Offerings :-:


                      "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        snip

                        Also suspect there's a perception that the conflict in Syria is between more or less equal forces whereas the situation in Gaza looks more like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly - albeit it a decidedly annoying fly - with little regard for 'collateral' civilian damage.
                        Wrong, I'd say: The death toll of civilians (eg killed during the perpetual bombardment of Homs and Aleppo and in dozens of mass executions in Syria during a conflict that is going for over three years now, and the fact that millions including half a million children are living in misery in refugee camps, does not indicate the forces there are in any way equal.
                        Which makes you wonder why there is an outcry over the refugee camps now, but people have just accepted the Palestinians living - several generations now - in refugee camps all throughout the Middle East. Israel was only accepted into the UN on the basis that it take the refugees back. Ethnic cleansing is ugly, no matter who's doing it.

                        From an outsider's perspective I have to wonder at the lack of apparent evidence that Hamas's rockets are actually inflicting any damage on Israel. Night after night we see filmed reports from within Gaza of the civilian casualties but never (or rarely) anything from inside Israel of the damage or casualties resulting from the rockets? Why? Is it because Western media is more interested in presenting a pro-Gazan perspective (not the same as pro-Hamas) than being fair to Israel or could it be because there isn't any evidence to broadcast?
                        In a way it is tough luck propaganda-wise that the Israelis have a nearto perfect system of air-raid shelters and everybody knowing where to goe when the alarm comes, although often with less than a minute of reaction time ... not only Gaza is very small.
                        I read in an email from the Simon Weisenthal Center about Hamas supposedly making children "build" "terrorist tunnels". Of course, Israel's been overflying Gaza for the last decade, and bombing it on a regular (unacknowledged) basis.

                        Now if Hamas could smuggle in cement, and if they could build tunnels successfully, and if they considered themselves in a generational struggle against an Arab-hating, Islamophobic, ethnically-cleansing regime in Israel that has the backing of the most powerful propaganda empire in the world, likewise devoted to Arab-hating, Islamophobia, and ethnic-cleansing in favour of a (transplanted) European Jewish community they refused to support when the chips were down for that community, wouldn't Hamas leaders and the military and civilian arms of Hamas try to save their children?

                        They know that their enemy is not particularly nice, nor is it capable of honouring its agreements, and the said propaganda empire is likewise refusing to support them. So they build bomb shelters and command centres and infiltration tunnels, hoping they can save their families, and the Israelis slander them and everybody believes the Israelis.
                        sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                        Gold is the power of a man with a man
                        And incense the power of man with God
                        But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                        And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                        Nativity,
                        by Peter Cape

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Governor of Rowe Island View Post
                          One of the things that people seem to overlook during these alarmist news reports is that Gaza isn't the whole of Palestine, It's only that part of Palestine controlled by Hamas. The rest of Palestine doesn't seem to be involved in this conflict. And it's reported that before all this started, Hamas' popularity was very much on the wane among those in Gaza. Last gasp of a beleaguered regime anyone? While Israel cannot be forgiven for the harshness of their response, neither can Hamas for their provocation in their expectation of the result.
                          Palestine has been spread all throughout the Middle East by first, the Yishuv's actions - Deir Yassin, anyone? - and then by Israel's actions in repudiating that ancient dictum: Hold your friends close, and hold your enemies closer.

                          With the inevitable result that the mass media, which formerly only had to deal with European-looking audiences, now has to deal with non-European-looking audiences. TVNZ gave a few examples of that in their coverage, jumping from the BBC's Gaza coverage to Kiwi Palestinians who were deeply worried about their friends and family in Gaza. (They've done the same with the horror of the ISIS/L insurgency in Iraq, with Kiwi Iraqis getting quite upset about the threat they pose to their friends and family in Iraq. Quite a refreshing change from the Arab-bashing that used to be all they could throw up in earlier decades.)

                          And actually, there are protests in the West Bank. Hamas is not as popular there, but people have relatives and friends in Gaza, and besides there's a lot of solidarity in the face of repression ... protests which the IDF meet with the traditional 5 grams of lead travelling rations ... just that the world's attention's fixed on Gaza's agony ...
                          sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                          Gold is the power of a man with a man
                          And incense the power of man with God
                          But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                          And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                          Nativity,
                          by Peter Cape

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            A comment from Noam Chomsky

                            Outrage

                            By Noam Chomsky

                            August 03, 2014 Almost every day brings news of awful crimes, but some are so heinous, so horrendous and malicious, that they dwarf all else. One of those rare events took place on July 17, when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.
                            The Guardian of Virtue in the White House denounced it as an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” which he attributed to “Russian support.” His UN Ambassador thundered that “when 298 civilians are killed” in the “horrific downing” of a civilian plane, “we must stop at nothing to determine who is responsible and to bring them to justice.” She also called on Putin to end his shameful efforts to evade his very clear responsibility.

                            True, the “irritating little man” with the “ratlike face” (Timothy Garton Ash) had called for an independent investigation, but that could only have been because of sanctions from the one country courageous enough to impose them, the United States, while Europeans had cowered in fear.

                            On CNN, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor assured the world that the irritating little man “is clearly responsible…for the shoot down of this airliner.” For weeks, lead stories reported on the anguish of the families, the lives of the murdered victims, the international efforts to claim the bodies, the fury over the horrific crime that “stunned the world,” as the press reported daily in grisly detail.

                            Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator, instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

                            The commander of a nearby U.S. vessel, David Carlson, wrote in the U.S. Naval Proceedings that he “wondered aloud in disbelief” as “’The Vincennes announced her intentions” to attack what was clearly a civilian aircraft. He speculated that “Robo Cruiser,” as the Vincennes was called because of its aggressive behavior, “felt a need to prove the viability of Aegis (the sophisticated anti-aircraft system on the cruiser) in the Persian Gulf, and that they hankered for the opportunity to show their stuff.”

                            Two years later, the commander of the Vincennes and the officer in charge of anti-air warfare were given the Legion of Merit award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” and for the “calm and professional atmosphere” during the period of the destruction of the Iranian Airbus, which was not mentioned in the award.

                            President Reagan blamed the Iranians and defended the actions of the warship, which “followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.” His successor, Bush I, proclaimed that “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

                            No evasions of responsibility here, unlike the barbarians in the East.



                            There was little reaction at the time: no outrage, no desperate search for victims, no passionate denunciations of those responsible, no eloquent laments by the US Ambassador to the UN about the “immense and heart-wrenching loss” when the airliner was downed. Iranian condemnations were occasionally noted, but dismissed as “boilerplate attacks on the United States” (Philip Shenon, New York Times).

                            Small wonder, then, that this insignificant earlier event merited only a few scattered words in the US media during the vast furor over a real crime, in which the demonic enemy might have been indirectly involved.

                            One exception was in the London Daily Mail, where Dominick Lawson wrote that although “Putin’s apologists” might bring up the Iran Air attack, the comparison actually demonstrates our high moral values as contrasted with the miserable Russians, who try to evade their responsibility for MH 17 with lies while Washington at once announced that the US warship had shot down the Iranian aircraft — righteously. What more powerful evidence could there be of our nobility and their depravity?

                            We know why Ukrainians and Russians are in their own countries, but one might ask what exactly the Vincennes was doing in Iranian waters. The answer is simple. It was defending Washington’s great friend Saddam Hussein in his murderous aggression against Iran. For the victims, the shoot-down was no small matter. It was a major factor in Iran’s recognition that it could not fight on any longer, according to historian Dilip Hiro.

                            It is worth remembering the extent of Washington’s devotion to its friend Saddam. Reagan removed him from the terrorist list so that aid could be sent to expedite his assault on Iran, and later denied his terrible crimes against the Kurds, including the use of chemical weapons, blocking congressional condemnations. He also accorded Saddam a privilege otherwise granted only to Israel: there was no serious reaction when Iraq attacked the USS Stark with missiles, killing 37 crewmen, much like the case of the USS Liberty, attacked repeatedly by Israeli jets and torpedo ships in 1967, killing 34 crewmen.

                            Reagan’s successor, Bush I, went on to provide further aid to Saddam, badly needed after the war with Iran that he launched. Bush also invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to come to the US for advanced training in weapons production. In April 1990, Bush dispatched a high-level Senate delegation, led by future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, to convey his warm regards to his friend Saddam and to assure him that he should disregard irresponsible criticism from the “haughty and pampered press,” and that such miscreants had been removed from Voice of America. The fawning before Saddam continued until he turned into a new Hitler a few months later by disobeying orders, or perhaps misunderstanding them, and invading Kuwait, with illuminating consequences that are worth reviewing once again, though I will leave this interesting matter aside here.

                            Other precedents had long since been dismissed to the memory hole as without significance. One example is the Libyan civilian airliner that was lost in a sandstorm in 1973 when it was shot down by US-supplied Israeli jets, two minutes flight time from Cairo, towards which it was heading. The death toll was only 110 that time. Israel blamed the French pilot, with the endorsement of the New York Times, which added that the Israeli act was “at worst…an act of callousness that not even the savagery of previous Arab actions can excuse.” The incident was passed over quickly in the United States, with little criticism. When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir arrived in the US four days later, she faced few embarrassing questions and returned home with new gifts of military aircraft.

                            The reaction was much the same when Washington’s favored Angolan terrorist organization UNITA claimed to have shot down two civilian airliners at the same time, among other cases.

                            Returning to the sole authentic and truly horrific crime, the New York Times reported that American UN ambassador Samantha Power “choked up as she spoke of infants who perished in the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine [and] The Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, could barely contain his anger as he recalled seeing pictures of `thugs’ snatching wedding bands off the fingers of the victims.”

                            At the same session, the report continues, there was also “a long recitation of names and ages — all belonging to children killed in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza.” The only reported reaction was by Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, who “grew quiet in the middle of” the recitation.

                            The Israeli attack on Gaza in July did, however, elicit outrage in Washington. President Obama “reiterated his `strong condemnation’ of rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel by the militant group Hamas,” The Hill reported. He “also expressed ‘growing concern’ about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza,” but without condemnation. The Senate filled that gap, voting unanimously to support Israeli actions in Gaza while condemning “the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” by Hamas and calling on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.”

                            As for Congress, perhaps it’s enough to join the 80% of the public who disapprove of their performance, though the word “disapprove” is rather too mild in this case. But in Obama’s defense, it may be that he has no idea what Israel is doing in Gaza with the weapons that he is kind enough to supply to them. After all, he relies on US intelligence, which may be too busy collecting phone calls and email messages of citizens to pay much attention to such marginalia. It may be useful, then, to review what we all should know.

                            Israel’s goal had long been a simple one: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm (though now it may demand even more). What then is the norm?

                            For the West Bank, the norm has been that Israel carries forward its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value to it, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to intense repression and violence.

                            For the past 14 years, the norm has been that Israel kills more than two Palestinian children a week. The latest Israeli rampage was set of by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited no attention, which is understandable, since it is routine. “The institutionalised disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” the respected Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”

                            Quiet-for-quiet has also enabled Israel to carry forward its program of separating Gaza from the West Bank. That program has been pursued vigorously, always with US support, ever since the US and Israel accepted the Oslo accords, which declare the two regions to be an inseparable territorial unity. A look at the map explains the rationale. Gaza provides Palestine’s only access to the outside world, so once the two are separated, any autonomy that Israel might grant to Palestinians in the West Bank would leave them effectively imprisoned between hostile states, Israel and Jordan. The imprisonment will become even more severe as Israel continues its systematic program of expelling Palestinians from the Jordan Valley and constructing Israeli settlements there, enjoying quiet-for-quiet.

                            The norm in Gaza was described in detail by the heroic Norwegian trauma surgeon Mads Gilbert, who has worked in Gaza’s main hospital through Israel’s most grotesque crimes and returned again for the current onslaught. In June 2014, immediately before the latest Israeli onslaught, he submitted a report on the Gaza health sector to UNRWA, the UN Agency that tries desperately, on a shoestring, to care for refugees.

                            “At least 57 % of Gaza households are food insecure and about 80 % are now aid recipients,” Gilbert reports. “Food insecurity and rising poverty also mean that most residents cannot meet their daily caloric requirements, while over 90 % of the water in Gaza has been deemed unfit for human consumption,” a situation that is becoming even worse as Israel again attacks water and sewage systems, leaving over a million people with even more severe disruption of the barest necessity of life.

                            Gilbert reports that “Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering immensely. A large proportion are affected by the man-made malnourishment regime caused by the Israeli imposed blockage. Prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively.” And it gets worse as the report proceeds.

                            The distinguished human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, reports that “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about ceasefire: everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: everybody is saying that.”

                            Similar sentiments have been widely voiced: it is better to die with dignity than to be slowly strangled by the torturer.

                            For Gaza, the plans for the norm were explained forthrightly by Dov Weissglass, a confidant of Ariel Sharon, the person who negotiated the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005. Hailed as a grand gesture in Israel and among acolytes and the deluded elsewhere, the withdrawal was in reality a carefully staged “national trauma,” properly ridiculed by informed Israeli commentators, among them Israel’s leading sociologist, the late Baruch Kimmerling.

                            What actually happened is that Israeli hawks, led by Sharon, realized that it made good sense to transfer the illegal settlers from their subsidized communities in devastated Gaza, where they were sustained at exorbitant cost, to subsidized settlements in the other occupied territories, which Israel intends to keep. But instead of simply transferring them, as would have been simple enough, it was clearly more useful to present the world with images of little children pleading with soldiers not to destroy their homes, amidst cries of “Never Again,” with the implication obvious. What made the farce even more transparent was that it was a replica of the staged trauma when Israel had to evacuate the Egyptian Sinai in 1982. But it played very well for the intended audience at home and abroad.

                            Weissglass provided his own description of the transfer of settlers from Gaza to other occupied territories: “What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that [the major settlement blocs in the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns” – but a special kind of Finns, who would quietly accept rule by a foreign power. “The significance is the freezing of the political process,” Weissglass continued. “And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush's] authority and permission and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

                            Weisglass explained further that Gazans would remain “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger” – which would not help Israel’s fading reputation. With their vaunted technical efficiency, Israeli experts determined precisely how many calories a day Gazans needed for bare survival, while also depriving them of medicines and other means of decent life. Israeli military forces confined them by land, sea and air to what British Prime Minister David Cameron accurately described as a prison camp. The Israeli withdrawal left Israel in total control of Gaza, hence the occupying power under international law. And to close the prison walls even more tightly, Israel excluded Palestinians from a large region along the border, including a third or more of Gaza’s scarce arable land. The justification is security for Israelis, which could be just as well achieved by establishing the security zone on the Israeli side of the border, or more fully, by ending the savage siege and other punishments.

                            The official story is that after Israel graciously handed Gaza over to the Palestinians, in the hope that they would construct a flourishing state, they revealed their true nature by subjecting Israel to unremitting rocket attack and forcing the captive population to become martyrs to so that Israel would be pictured in a bad light. Reality is rather different.

                            A few weeks after Israeli troops withdrew, leaving the occupation intact, Palestinians committed a major crime. In January 2006, they voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of the Parliament to Hamas. The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, its leaders have repeatedly made it clear and explicit that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the US and Israel for 40 years. In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.

                            True, Israel accepted the Road Map for reaching a two-state settlement initiated by President Bush and adopted by the Quartet that is to supervise it: the US, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia. But as he accepted the Road Map, Prime Minister Sharon at once added fourteen reservations that effectively nullify it. The facts were known to activists, but revealed to the general public for the first time in Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.” They remain under wraps in media reporting and commentary.

                            The (unrevised) 1999 platform of Israel’s governing party, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” And for those who like to obsess about meaningless charters, the core component of Likud, Menahem Begin’s Herut, has yet to abandon its founding doctrine that the territory on both sides of the Jordan is part of the Land of Israel.

                            The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The US and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence. By June, when the attacks sharply escalated, Israel had already fired more than 7700 [155 mm] shells at northern Gaza.

                            The US and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe, justified by the claim that Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip by force – which is not entirely false, though something rather crucial is omitted.

                            There should be no need to review again the horrendous record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises of shooting fish in a pond in what it calls a “war of defense.” Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to reconstruct somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. These have been regularly observed by Hamas, as Israel concedes, until Israel violates them with renewed violence.

                            The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault. Though Israel maintained its devastating siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israeli officials concede. Matters changed in June, when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement, which established a new government of technocrats that had no Hamas participation and accepted all of the demands of the Quartet. Israel was naturally furious, even more so when even the US joined in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine, but also threatens the long term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both of the regions.

                            Something had to be done, and an occasion arose shortly after, when the three Israeli boys were murdered in the West Bank. The Netanyahu government knew at once that they were dead, but pretended otherwise, which provided the opportunity to launch a rampage in the West Bank, targeting Hamas. Netanhayu claimed to have certain knowledge that Hamas was responsible. That too was a lie, as recognized early on. There has been no pretense of presenting evidence. One of Israel’s leading authorities on Hamas, Shlomi Eldar, reported almost at once that the killers very likely came from a dissident clan in Hebron that has long been a thorn in the side of Hamas. Eldar added that “I’m sure they didn’t get any green light from the leadership of Hamas, they just thought it was the right time to act.” The Israeli police have since been searching for two members of the clan, still claiming, without evidence, that they are “Hamas terrorists.”

                            The 18-day rampage however did succeed in undermining the feared unity government, and sharply increasing Israeli repression. According to Israeli military sources, Israeli soldiers arrested 419 Palestinians, including 335 affiliated with Hamas, and killed six Palestinians, also searching thousands of locations and confiscating $350,000. Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing 5 Hamas members on July 7.

                            Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 19 months, Israeli officials reported, providing Israel with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8.

                            There has been ample reporting of the exploits of the self-declared Most Moral Army in the World, which should receive the Nobel Peace Prize according to Israel’s Ambassador to the US. By the end of July, some 1500 Palestinians had been killed, exceeding the toll of the Cast Lead crimes of 2008-9, 70% of them civilians including hundreds of women and children. And 3 civilians in Israel. Large areas of Gaza had been turned into rubble. During brief bombing pauses, relatives desperately seek shattered bodies or household items in the ruins of homes. The main power plant was attacked – not for the first time; this is an Israeli specialty — sharply curtailing the already very limited electricity and worse yet, reducing still further the minimal availability of fresh water. Another war crime. Meanwhile rescue teams and ambulances are repeatedly attacked. As atrocities mount throughout Gaza, Israel claims that its goal is to destroy tunnels at the border.

                            Four hospitals had been attacked, each yet another war crime. The first was the Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City, attacked on the day the ground forces invaded the prison. A few lines in the New York Times, within a story about the ground invasion, reported that “most but not all of the 17 patients and 25 doctors and nurses were evacuated before the electricity was cut and heavy bombardments nearly destroyed the building, doctors said. `We evacuated them under fire,’ said Dr. Ali Abu Ryala, a hospital spokesman. `Nurses and doctors had to carry the patients on their backs, some of them falling off the stairway. There is an unprecedented state of panic in the hospital’.”

                            Three working hospitals were then attacked, patients and staff left to their own devices to survive. One Israeli crime did receive wide condemnation: the attack on a UN school that was harboring 3300 terrified refugees who had fled the ruins of their neighborhoods on the orders of the Israeli army. The outraged UNWRA Commission-General Pierre Kraehenbuehl said “I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces…. Today the world stands disgraced.” There were at least three Israeli strikes at the refugee shelter, a site well known to the Israeli army. “The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection,” Kraehenbuehl said, “the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.”

                            The attack was also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” by the normally reticent Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” he said. There is no record that the US Ambassador to the UN “choked up as she spoke of infants who perished” in the Israeli strike – or in the attack on Gaza altogether.

                            But White House spokesperson Bernadette Meehan did respond. She said that “We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza. We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza,” she added, omitting to mention that these facilities were empty and that the weapons were found by UNRWA, who had condemned those who hid them.

                            Later, the administration joined in stronger condemnations of this particular crime – while at the same time releasing more weapons to Israel. In doing so, however, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren told reporters. “And it’s become clear that the Israelis need to do more to live up to their very high standards … for protecting civilian life” – the high standards it has been exhibiting for many years while using US arms, and again today.

                            Attacks on UN compounds sheltering refugees is another Israeli specialty. One famous incident is the Israeli bombardment of the clearly identified UN refugee shelter in Qana during Shimon Peres’s murderous Grapes of Wrath campaign, killing 106 Lebanese civilians who had taken refuge there, including 52 children. To be sure, Israel is not alone in this practice. Twenty years earlier, its South African ally had launched an airborne strike deep into Angola against Cassinga, a refugee camp run by the Namibian resistance SWAPO.

                            Israeli officials laud the humanity of the army, which even goes so far as to inform residents that their homes will be bombed. The practice is “sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy,” in the words of Israeli journalist Amira Hass: “A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away.” In fact, no place in the prison is safe from Israeli sadism.

                            Some find it difficult to profit from Israel’s solicitude. An appeal to the world by the Gaza Catholic Church quotes a priest who explains the plight of residents of the House of Christ, a care home dedicated to looking after disabled children. They were removed to the Holy Family Church because Israel was targeting the area, but now, he writes, “The church of Gaza has received an order to evacuate. They will bomb the Zeitun area and the people are already fleeing. The problem is that the priest Fr George and the three nuns of Mother Teresa have 29 handicapped children and nine old ladies who can’t move. How will they manage to leave? If anyone can intercede with someone in power, and pray, please do it.”

                            Actually, it shouldn’t be difficult. Israel already provided the instructions at the Wafa Rehabilitation hospital. And fortunately, at least some states are interceding, as best they can. Five Latin American states — Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru – withdrew their ambassadors from Israel, following the course of Bolivia and Venezuela, which had broken relations in reaction to earlier Israeli crimes. These principled acts are another sign of the remarkable change in world relations as much of Latin America begins to free itself from western domination, sometimes providing a model of civilized behavior to those who controlled it for 500 years.

                            The hideous revelations elicited a different reaction from the Most Moral President in the World, the usual one: great sympathy for Israelis, bitter condemnation of Hamas, and calls for moderation by both sides. In his August 1 press conference, he did express concern for Palestinians “caught in the crossfire” (where?) while again vigorously supporting the right of Israel to defend itself, like everyone. Not quite everyone. Not of course Palestinians. They have no right to defend themselves, surely not when Israel is on good behavior, keeping to the norm of quiet-for-quiet: stealing their land, driving them out of their homes, subjecting them to a savage siege, and regularly attacking them with weapons provided by their protector.

                            Palestinians are like black Africans, the Namibian refugees in the Cassinga camp for example, all terrorists for whom the right of defense does not exist.

                            A 72-hour humanitarian truce was supposed to go into effect at 8am on August 1. It broke down almost at once. As I write, a few hours later, there are conflicting accounts and a good deal remains unclear. According to a press release of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, which has a solid reputation for reliability, one of its field workers in Rafah, at the Egyptian border in the south, heard Israeli artillery firing at about 8:05am. By about 9:30am, after reports that an Israeli soldier had been captured, intensive air and artillery bombing of Rafah was underway, killing probably dozens of people and injuring hundreds who had returned to their homes after the ceasefire entered into effect, though numbers could not yet be verified.

                            The day before, on July 31, the Coastal Water Utility, the sole provider of water in the Gaza Strip, announced that it could no longer provide water or sanitation services because of lack of fuel and frequent attacks on personnel. Al Mezan reports that by then, “almost all primary health services have stopped in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of water, garbage collection and environment health services. UNRWA had also warned about the risk of imminent spreading of disease owing to the halt of water and sanitation services.” Meanwhile, on the eve of the cease-fire, Israeli missiles fired from aircraft continued to kill and wound victims throughout the region.

                            When the current episode of sadism is finally called off, whenever that will be, Israel hopes to be free to pursue its criminal policies in the occupied territories without interference, and with the US support it has enjoyed in the past: military, economic, and diplomatic; and also ideological, by framing the issues in conformity to Israeli doctrines. Gazans will be free to return to the norm in their Israeli-run prison, while in the West Bank they can watch in peace as Israel dismantles what remains of their possessions.

                            That is the likely outcome if the US maintains its decisive and virtually unilateral support for Israeli crimes and its rejection of the longstanding international consensus on diplomatic settlement. But the future will be quite different if the US withdraws that support. In that case it would be possible to move towards the “enduring solution” in Gaza that Secretary of State Kerry called for, eliciting hysterical condemnation in Israel because the phrase could be interpreted as calling for an end to Israel’s siege and regular attacks. And – horror of horrors – the phrase might even be interpreted as calling for implementation of international law in the rest of the occupied territories.

                            It is not that Israel’s security would be threatened by adherence to international law; it would very likely be enhanced. But as explained 40 years ago by Israeli general Ezer Weizman, later president, Israel could then not “exist according to the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.”

                            There are similar cases in recent history. Indonesian generals swore that they would never abandon what Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans called “the Indonesian Province of East Timor” as he was making a deal to steal Timorese oil. And as long as the ruling generals retained US support through decades of virtually genocidal slaughter, their goals were realistic. Finally, in September 1999, under considerable domestic and international pressure, President Clinton informed them quietly that the game was over and they instantly withdrew – while Evans turned to his new career as the lauded apostle of “Responsibility to Protect,” to be sure, in a version designed to permit western resort to violence at will.

                            Another relevant case is South Africa. In 1958, South Africa’s foreign minister informed the US ambassador that although his country was becoming a pariah state, it would not matter as long as US support continued. His assessment proved fairly accurate. Thirty years later, Reagan was the last significant holdout in supporting the apartheid regime, which was still sustaining itself. Within a few years, Washington joined the world, and the regime collapsed – not for that reason alone of course; one crucial factor was the remarkable Cuban role in the liberation of Africa, generally ignored in the West though not in Africa.

                            Forty years ago Israel made the fateful decision to choose expansion over security, rejecting a full peace treaty offered by Egypt in return for evacuation from the occupied Egyptian Sinai, where Israel was initiating extensive settlement and development projects. It has adhered to that policy ever since, making essentially the same judgment as South Africa did in 1958.

                            In the case of Israel, if the US decided to join the world, the impact would be far greater. Relations of power allow nothing else, as has been demonstrated over and over when Washington has demanded that Israel abandon cherished goals. Furthermore, Israel by now has little recourse, after having adopted policies that turned it from a country that was greatly admired to one that is feared and despised, a course it is pursuing with blind determination today in its resolute march towards moral deterioration and possible ultimate destruction.

                            Could US policy change? It’s not impossible. Public opinion has shifted considerably in recent years, particularly among the young, and it cannot be completely ignored. For some years there has been a good basis for public demands that Washington observe its own laws and cut off military aid to Israel. US law requires that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Israel most certainly is guilty of this consistent pattern, and has been for many years. That is why Amnesty International, in the course of Israel’s murderous Cast Lead operation in Gaza, called for an arms embargo against Israel (and Hamas). Senator Patrick Leahy, author of this provision of the law, has brought up its potential applicability to Israel in specific cases, and with a well-conducted educational, organizational, and activist effort such initiatives could be pursued successively. That could have a very significant impact in itself, while also providing a springboard for further actions not only to punish Israel for its criminal behavior, but also to compel Washington to become part of “the international community” and to observe international law and decent moral principles.

                            Nothing could be more significant for the tragic Palestinian victims of many years of violence and repression.
                            Israel reminds me of the Catholic Kingdom of Spain leading up to 1492, the year of the Expulsion of the Sephardim. It also reminds me of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Russian Empire, to the extent that I tend to refer to it as the Second Coming of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Tsarist Republic of Israel.

                            What the Black Hundreds and likeminded people did in Odessa to the Odessan Jews is what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
                            sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                            Gold is the power of a man with a man
                            And incense the power of man with God
                            But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                            And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                            Nativity,
                            by Peter Cape

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                            • #29
                              The Horror...

                              One of my least favourite acronyms : Middle Eastern Security Situation : M.e.s.s

                              Oh it would be tempting to say " a Curse on Both Their Houses" but I will say some prayers for the souls of needlessly slaughtered children instead...
                              Last edited by Kymba334; 08-23-2014, 01:21 AM. Reason: grammar
                              Mwana wa simba ni simba

                              The child of a lion is also a lion - Swahili Wisdom

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