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SUFFERING, SPIN AND SILENCE July 18, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Israel-Palestine.
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The “massacre” in Gaza is troubling.

The Israel Government claims the right of self-defence, and that the elected Hamas government in Gaza is a terrorist organization. Could this in practice be a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Israel has impunity to commit, what would be normally ascribed as war crimes, such as bombing a hospital. Israel’s ace is American support and protection.

What benefit does the US get out of the special relationship with Israel, and as a corollary the oppression of Palestinians? The answer to this question is not immediately obvious

Israel expects not that the status quo will be preserved but that it will be tilted even more in it’s favor. Hamas has the mana that arises from military success against Israel, which makes it attractive to an oppressed people. Their is a recipe for a tipping point, a game changing disaster. The return to the status quo is untenable and unjust from a Palestinian viewpoint.

Now that Palestine has been reduced to two enclaves, with the West Bank subject to ongoing house demolition and settler encouchments and Gaza subject to effective full blockade, particularly with the ascent of the Egypt “military dictatorship”.

Silence is complicity. Chris Hedges argues, to an American (more exactly a USA) audience that failure to take action, by which he meant civil resistance (ie any public protest to petition the Government today in the land of liberty and the Constitution) and BDS.

He writes in Truthdig:

The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of Israel’s most brilliant scholars, warned that, followed to its logical conclusion, the occupation of the Palestinians would mean “concentration camps would be erected by the Israeli rulers” and “Israel would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.” He feared the ascendancy of right-wing, religious Jewish nationalists and warned that “religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism.” Leibowitz laid out what occupation would finally bring for Israel:

The Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.

Israel is currently attacking a population of 1.8 million that has no army, no navy, no air force, no mechanized military units, no command and control and no heavy artillery. Israel pretends that this indiscriminate slaughter is a war. But only the most self-deluded supporter of Israel is fooled. The rockets fired at Israel by Hamas—which is committing a war crime by launching those missiles against the Israeli population—are not remotely comparable to the 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs that have been dropped in large numbers on crowded Palestinian neighborhoods; the forced removal of some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes; the more than 160 reported dead—the U.N. estimates that 77 percent of those killed in Gaza have been civilians; the destruction of the basic infrastructure; the growing food and water shortages; and the massing of military forces for a possible major ground assault.

When all this does not work, when it becomes clear that the Palestinians once again have not become dormant and passive, Israel will take another step, more radical than the last. The “process of destruction” will be stopped only from outside Israel. Israel, captive to the process, is incapable of imposing self-restraint.

A mass movement demanding boycotts, divestment and sanctions is the only hope now for the Palestinian people. Such a movement must work for imposition of an arms embargo on Israel; this is especially important for Americans because weapons systems and attack aircraft provided by the U.S. are being used to carry out the assault. It must press within the United States for cutoff of the $3.1 billion in military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel each year. It must organize to demand suspension of all free trade and other agreements between the U.S. and Israel. Only when these props are knocked out from under Israel will the Israeli leadership be forced, as was the apartheid regime in South Africa, to halt its “destructive process.” As long as these props remain, the Palestinians are doomed. If we fail to act we are complicit in the slaughter.

So how, in very general terms, was the Occupation, dispossession and oppression of Palestine established? History is the present, and if so, presages, if not informs the future:

Five years before the Federation of Australia, Palestine was recognizably Arabic and Islamic, with some Jewish migrants from Europe who are beginning to make their mark (although not shown in this footage):

(via Juan Cole):

So 1896 establishes a baseline.

What is the Israeli Government up to? Do they know, or are they simply passive violent actors caught in the context of their own creation? So it is the wholly the work of the current right wing Israeli Government. Max Blumenthal provides an alternative view:

Max Blumenthal continues to be contentious and provocative:

Max Blumenthal: It was not the right-wing Russians or the gun-toting settlers who carried out the Nakba. The Nakba is the legacy of Zionism’s putatively socialist wing. It was the grandfathers and mothers of the “enlightened public” of today’s Israel who literally drove tens of thousands of indigenous Palestinians into the sea in 1947-48 all along the Mediterranean coast, or who marched them at gunpoint to Ramallah.

In the years leading up to the Nakba, during the 1920s and ’30s, Socialist Zionists implemented the project of Kibush Ha’avodah or the “Conquest of Labor,” establishing Jewish-only businesses and residential communities while organizing boycotts of Jewish businesses that hired Arabs. That meant attacking fellow Jews who didn’t uphold the same concept of separation and maintained business and community ties with Palestinian Arabs.

So the legacy of the Zionist left of Tel Aviv is the Nakba, and the perpetuation of the Nakba is required to preserve Tel Aviv as one of the most homogenous cities on earth. There are fewer Arabs in Tel Aviv, one of the largest cities in the Middle East, than there are in Chicago, the largest city in the American Midwest. Just think about that for a second. How do you accomplish such a remarkable feat of social engineering without massive violence?

Social Media is personalizing the murder of war:

Anas

Malaka Mohammed:

My sister: “it’s the third time they call us now.”
I: “who?”
She: “Israeli Occupation Forces. They ask us to evacuate by tonight.”
I: “What will you do?”
She: “Nothing. There is no safe place in Gaza. But you know what is the good point here?”
I: “What?”
She: “If we’re killed, you will stay alive. It’s good that you’re away. We will have one member of our family alive. I love you. Stay. Tell the world what it is like to live in Gaza.”

Another personal story and observation from Gaza:

A Night Amid Four Lanterns
By Tawfiq Abu Shomar

I did not know that my bed would be on the agenda of the Israeli Apache tonight, and that it would be as close as a few metres to its bombs, on 16 July 2014 at dawn (3.10 am).
How was the war pilot able to bombard a whole storey of an apartment tower (al-Walid Tower) consisting of 15 storeys, each storey having 5 apartments, each apartment having an average of 6 human beings, and with it a twin apartment tower with the same number of storeys, apartments and people. How could he do all this without taking account or consideration of the number of the children beds in both towers, as those children were dreaming of dancing and playing in open spacious playgrounds?

I shall be haunted by this image of the pilot who has executed this operation. Will he be able to eat his breakfast with the same appetite with which he had eaten his meals before the operation?
Then, after the pilot had completed his day’s work, would he return home smiling and laughing?
Wouldn’t his memory somehow preserve the image of the children shredded toys, fragments of their colouring pencils and sketchpads among the rubble he had caused?

Wouldn’t he be haunted by the saving coin box belonging to a child who lived in one of those apartments, which his bombs have just destroyed – a child who had hoped to insert a dollar in his kitty to buy sweets for the approaching Eid festival?

What would the pilot say to his daughter and son upon arriving home? Would he say “I have just saved the People of Israel from terrorism in the Palestinians cradle; I have destroyed their toys, their books, and their dreams”?!!

Or would he perhaps tell them that their fathers and grandfathers have taken over the land of milk and honey, our land, the Promised Land, and thus because they are descended from that ancestry, they deserve to be killed.

The eyes of a Palestinian child, who has been martyred among the rubble of his own home, are able to chase the killer of children from the cradle to the grave.
(Translated from Arabic by Ahmad Hadi Shboul)

On Friday morning Mona in Gaza reported (before the Israeli army invaded):

Non stop air strikes …
Death toll is increasing as well as casualties…. Hend abu Hharbeed 11 years old the .nephew of khayry MECA …let us play and heal project psychologist .was killed on one of the air strikes in beet hanoun. My deep condolences to Khayry and the family

The current massacre and invasion seem a massive failure in the effective of International Law. Destroying civilian infrastructure is – of course – a war crime under the Geneva Convention. The following are also war crimes under the Geneva Convention:

  • The indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force
  • Collective punishment for the acts of a few
  • Targeting civilians

That list does not included the bombing of hospitals. Indeed, the UN has repeatedly found Israeli’s actions in Gaza to be a war crime.

The Center for Constitutional Rights:

We condemn in the strongest terms the Israeli government’s indiscriminate killing and collective punishment of civilians in the Gaza Strip and call on the Obama administration to press for an immediate cease-fire on all sides that takes into account the need to end the inhumane and unlawful seven-year closure of Gaza. The blockade has resulted in severe shortages of water, food, electricity and medical supplies, the denial of freedom of movement to the Palestinians of Gaza and near economic collapse. As of today, 158 Palestinian civilians have been killed in this latest assault, including 36 children and 29 women; over a thousand have been injured, mostly civilians. A center for people with disabilities, a mosque and a hospital have been shelled, and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed, causing the displacement of thousands of civilians.

This aggression is possible only because of unqualified U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine and apartheid policies in the region. Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in support of Israel’s “right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel” yet made no mention of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the scores of Palestinian civilians killed nor Israel’s mass destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and housing; a similar Senate resolution is scheduled for committee mark up today.

Meaningful pressure by the U.S. government on Israel, including withdrawal of its unconditional support, is the first step to stop further senseless loss of life. But to help break the cycle of continued occupation, repression and violence, the entire international community must also seek meaningful accountability for the serious violations of international law that have occurred.

Raji Sourani, Director of CCR ally organization the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, wrote this week, “It is a constant cycle of illegality that has returned us to this point. Illegal attacks are used to justify illegal attacks, and on it goes. There are two constants: the continuous suffering of civilians, and total impunity for those suspected of committing war crimes.” The Center for Constitutional Rights joins the call for an immediate end to this vicious cycle.

Noam Chomsky:

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing… You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense.”

Richard Falk in Al Jazeera:

For the third time in the last six years, Israel has cruelly unleashed the full fury of its military machine against the defenceless 1.7 million people of Gaza, inflicting heavy civilian casualties and further devastation on the long besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip.

With cynical disregard of the realities of this latest confrontation between Israel and Palestine, instead of condemning such recourse to massive violence as “aggression” that violates the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles, the reaction of western diplomats and mainstream media has perversely sided with Israel. From the UN Secretary-General to the president of the United States, the main insistence has been that Hamas must stop all rocket attacks while Israel is requested ever so politely to show “maximum restraint”.

Up to now, the Israeli attacks have caused over a hundred deaths (more than half of whom are women and children) and several hundred injuries, while the reported firing of over hundreds of rockets from Gaza have yet to cause a single death or injury, although there are reports that nine Israelis sustained injuries while fleeing to shelters.

Granted that such indiscriminate rocket attacks are unlawful forms of resistance, but to single out this lesser type of violence and overlook the greater violence distorts the context in biased and unacceptable ways. Surely, the greater occasion of terror is that being inflicted on the hapless Gazans as disclosed by comparing the casualty figures, and surely the political condemnation by responsible governments and even more so by the UN should be directed at the aggressor, who also happens to be the only political actor with the means to end the escalating violence.

The international reaction to this latest crisis confirms for all with eyes to see that geopolitical alignments, not law or justice, dominate the diplomacy of leading western states and the UN, when it comes to the Middle East, and especially if it concerns Israel-Palestine, and never more so than in relation to Gaza.

The greater occasion of terror is that being inflicted on the hapless Gazans as disclosed by comparing the casualty figures, and surely the political condemnation by responsible governments and even more so by the UN should be directed at the aggressor…

After several days of the Israel attack, self-servingly code-named “Protective Edge” by Israel, US President Barack Obama has offered to mediate a return to the 2012 ceasefire that had been arranged through the good offices of Egypt after the earlier onslaught on Gaza.

Whether the US government, the undisguised patron and unconditional supporter of Israel, has the credibility to play such a mediating role is rather doubtful. It is possible that Hamas, weakened by developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, and by the desperation of a terrorised and totally vulnerable people, might accept such a move even if excluded from participating directly in the negotiations, which would mean depending on the Palestinian Authority to represent Gaza’s interests.

After all, Hamas, although prevailing in fair elections back in 2006, remains “a terrorist organisation” according to the western diplomatic establishment, even though it has been in recent years mostly on the receiving end of Israeli state terrorism, and should be allowed to act diplomatically on behalf of Gaza.

At present, the issue may be moot as Benjamin Netanyahu belligerently insists that no amount of international pressure will lead Israel to stop its attack until the goals of the military operation have been attained.

An aspect of the distorted approach to responsibility for the violence in Gaza is the refusal of the West to take note of the connection between Protective Edge and the June 12 kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli settler teenage children and the surge of revenge violence, which culminated in the grisly murder of 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

As Paul Woodward observes:

What Israel wants is for the Palestinians to cower in silence — for “quietness” to be imposed by force.

Who, among the international spectators, wants justice and a fair go – which would cover all?

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