It's happening slowly, but it is happening. Blinkered American opinion is shifting. With each atrocity committed by the bloodthirsty Israelis, more Americans lose their ability to rationalize the inexcusable.
More to the point: for those who insist that others put themselves in the position of a resident of Sderot -- as though that will, by itself, prove the justifiability of the Israeli attack -- the idea literally never occurs to them that they ought to imagine what it's like to live under foreign occupation for 4 decades (and, despite the 2005 "withdrawal from Gaza," Israel continues to occupy and expand its settlements on Palestinian land and to control and severely restrict many key aspects of Gazan life). No thought is given to what it is like, what emotions it generates, what horrible acts start to appear justifiable, when you have a hostile foreign army control your borders and airspace and internal affairs for 40 years, one which builds walls around you, imposes the most intensely humiliating conditions on your daily life, blockades your land so that you're barred from exiting and prevented from accessing basic nutrition and medical needs for your children to the point where a substantial portion of the underage population suffers from stunted growth.
So extreme is their emotional identification with one side (Israel) that it literally never occurs to them to give any thought to any of that, to imagine what it's like to live in those circumstances.
The excuse for the current massacre of Palestinian civilians comes down to so-called "rocket attacks" on the border town of Sderot. Those attacks took 13 victims in eight years, and not one of the victims is recent. Adam Horowitz has been to Sderot:
But I was surprised to find that although the people of Sderot who I met wanted the missiles to end they understood that militarism would not protect them.
The people I met with were not calling for war, they were calling for negotiation.
Julia Chaitin, a senior lecturer at the Sapir Academic College near Sderot, has written these words:
And so this is an unnecessary, cruel and cynical war -- a war that could have been avoided if our leaders had shown courage during the months of the cease-fire to truly work toward creating better lives for people whose only crime is that they live in the south.
But I know the answer to our conflict will not come with this war. We will know peace only when we accept the fact that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have every right to lives of dignity. We will know peace only when we recognize that we must negotiate with Hamas, our enemy, even if we are devastated that the Palestinians did not elect a more moderate party to lead them. We will know peace only when our leaders stop considering our lives cheap and expendable, and help us create a beautiful, green Negev, free of fear and despair.
The current destruction of Gaza reminds me of the Ardeatine massacre of World War II. On March 23, 1944, Italian partisans in Rome launched an attack on a facist convoy, killing 28. Hitler ordered the reprisal killing of 50 Italian partisans for every dead fascist. The German security commander in Rome, Herbert Kappler, "downsized" this directive to a 10-to-1 ratio. As a result, 280 Italians (mostly civilians) were murdered in the Ardeatine caves, an atrocity which has lived in the annals of infamy.
Ten-to-one reprisal killings. During World War II. And people are still angry about it.
And now, in retaliation for 15 rocket attacks over the course of eight years, Israel has decided to massacre an entire civilian population. The proportions are much worse than 10-to-1, worse than Hitler's suggestion of 50-to-1.
And yet here in America, there are still people -- if we can use the term "people" to describe such pitiless brutes -- who would consider this "retaliation" against the Palestinians justified. Most of these brutes are not Jews but so-called Christian Zionists.
Consider the historical irony, as you compare Gaza to the Ardeatine massacre. Hitler was far kinder to the Italian partisans than Israel is to the Palestinians.
Too many Jews learned the wrong lesson from World War II. The victims of persecution came to equate strength with a willingness to persecute others. Like many other peoples in many other times and places, a large number of Jews were seduced into the false belief that the hardest heart beats longest.
But history teaches a very different lesson. Hitler's Germany did not last. The Third Reich was destroyed for its evil. Germany was divided like an earthworm. Yet it recovered. Who can deny that -- in the long run -- the best thing ever to happen to Germany was the eradication of its government and its (temporary) loss of national sovereignty at the end of World War II?
I'm afraid that it is far too late to realize Julia Chaitin's dream. I fear that the time for negotiation has passed.
Israel must be destroyed, just as Hitler's Germany was destroyed. All Jews throughout the world must forevermore rid themselves of the lunatic, racist dream of "Jewish state." Jews living in Israel will either agree to live in a single multi-ethnic democracy in which everyone ruled (directly or indirectly) by the government has an equal vote -- or they will die in their madness.
Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my soul for this beautifully written post. This is an issue that has been front and center with me for 20 years (and I am neither Jewish nor Muslim), and expressed everything I wanted to say with far more eloquence.
Israel is a thuggish, apartheid country that needs to be brought--forcibly--into the modern century and decide that it will either join the common, decent, democratic human family, or perish. There is no other solution to this problem. And the two-state solution (which some Israelis favor) is just more of the same, with the same problems of territory and land and water rights--only a one-state solution will work. As to Israeli fears that allowing Palestinians full citizenship--and most important, the right of return for all Palestinian refugees--will lead to reprisals and backlash, all we can say is, ye have reaped the whirlwind.
Enough is enough. Israel must either grow up and stop behaving like a psychopathic and well-armed bully or the rest of the civilized world must,and will, shun it as a rogue state.
Sadly, only a complete reversal of American policy towards Israel can bring about this change, but that will require leadership that is apparently lacking at all levels of our government.As witness, our recent veto of the cease-fire as being "unfair to Israel." Perhaps we too can only be moved by a worldwide shunning and shaming into doing the right thing. At any rate, whatever it takes, the time is long overdue.
posted by DancingOpossum : 11:56 AM
A U.S. President could stop the massacre damn quick.
If Obama were so inclined and the least word of it leaked out, I think there would be non-amateur attempts to assassinate him.
As of right now, as I understand it, it will be another 12-36 hours before the UN can "get all the wording right," due to stallkig by Tony Blair and GW Bush, so the Israeli military and government have at least another couple of days to continue slaughtering innocent women, children and men.
Good report, Joseph. This is a terribly difficult situation to present rationally and well. about. Kudos.
There are a lot of Israelis who agree with you but, remarkably, their voices simply are not heard in the US. Even Olmert himself has acknowledged that Israel is in danger of becoming an apartheid state (it's there already, if you ask me), but if any prominent US politician were to utter these words...
And here's the problem: the US does not support Israel. It supports the most reactionary, right-wing, hardline factions of Israeli politics. For whatever reason, these factions have somehow succeeded in portraying themselves as the one, true voice of Israel, to the exclusion of the moderate, pro-peace forces. How that came about, how the Israeli moderates got shunted off to the sidelines in the US political discourse, is a mystery to me. I suppose part of it has to do with the end of the Cold War: back then, the US tended to keep Israel on a shorter leash so as to avoid provoking a nuclear war with the Soviets. That threat being gone, Israel has in effect been allowed to slip the leash even though we are still responsible for the damage it does.
You stated 15 rocket attacks in 8 years. What I heard on the news was something like 70 rocket attacks in the last 8 months.
If it has been only 15 rocket launches in 8 years, I would probably agree that is not enough to warrant an attack. However, if it has been 70 rocket attacks in the past 8 months, I would also agree that is something that has to stop.
Are there any ongoing internet diaries that briefly detail every day life in this area of the world rather than sweeping explanations that try to explain war in a soundbite?
What exactly are the humiliating things Palestinians are put through on a daily basis, what exactly are the life threatening situations the Israelis go through as well? Are the Palestinians really malnourished and have stunted growth, and if so, why exactly? If it is true, is there no way to communicate this to the world other than to let the Israeli's know by using violent means against them?
I wonder if this is the crisis Biden warned us about, predicting that Obama would do something his supporters would not approve of and asking their forbearance in advance.
Well, the crisis is here, Obama is showing himself to be a "good friend of Israel", his supporters are probably not liking that one bit, so the obvious question is: did Biden know of the Israeli offensive plans in advance, or was this just a lucky guess?
Very good question, Mike J. It does make one go "hmmmmmm...."
Alessandro, the straightforward facts you ask about are readily available but it's perhaps understandable that you're not aware of them given the completely pro-Israel bias of mainstream media reporting on the conflict.
But to start:
Here's a report from a coalition including Oxfam and Amnesty International that came out before the current conflict started, that details in extremely clear and distinct language the extent of Palestinians' suffering, which it calls a "humanitarian implosion":
Here's a detailed rebuttal of the claims put out by Israel's public relations team and government, about the current conflict, which finds most of them to be completely false--and also finds Israel guilty of war crimes on numerous counts, by the editor of the online journal Foreign Policy Journal:
You can find many articles that support everything these writers, and Joseph here, are saying, from a wide variety of sources: the conservative blog antiwar.com and the far-left magazine Counterpoint; in the clearly pro-Gaza Palestine Chronicle and in columns by Gideon Levy at the leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.
In short, none of this is secret, or privy to a select few only, nor is it dependent on any particular political position. Critics of Israel aren't anti-Semitic or biased; they are just well-informed.
posted by DancingOpossum : 4:34 PM
thank you, joseph, for clearly and eloquently stating the reality of what is to come for Israel. I have no stake in this subject except wanting to live in a world where tolerance and dignity are the world's highest goal for humankind. windsun
posted by Anonymous : 4:51 PM
It's a sad day when Rense has been right all these years.
posted by MrX : 5:29 PM
There was a demonstration on campus today protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine... "Israel what do you say, I charge you with genocide," was the most memorable chat. They also handed out little sheets, to which I confess I have NOT fact checked, but was still interesting:
- From 12/27/08 to 1/5/2009 541 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2500 wounded. My note: That is only 9 days!!!!) -Israel has the fourth most powerful military on earth. -Israel control all entrances and exits to Gaza, creating what is effectively a large open-air prison. It has routinely prevented food and medicine from entering Gaza, creating, according to relief agencies, "catastrophic" conditions. -Israel uses U.S. supplied F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and naval gunboats against a mostly unarmed population... and the onslaught continues. -American taxpayers give Israel $7 million PER DAY. It is one of the wealthiest nations. -While the media report Israeli violence as retaliatory, the fact is that in every cycle of violence Palestinians are killed first and in far greater numbers. -Israel declares that they are specifically hitting "terrorist" and "military" targets but it has bombed mosques, universities, and just recently a United Nations School. -International aid agencies warn of looming disaster on the Palestinians with supply shortage inflicting more suffering on families. -The U.N. special reporter for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, former Princeton law professor Richard Falk, calls what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza "a crime against humanity." http:www.un.org/unrwa
---back to my comment again--- From the oppressed to the oppressors in two generations... I think I have whiplash!
posted by Anonymous : 5:46 PM
Terrific post, Joseph. You have articulated what a lot of people have been thinking for years, especially here in New Mexico with its large Indigenous population.
A couple of days ago I heard a local antiwar activist on the radio, talking about a planned march and rally here in Albquerque in support of the Palestinian people. (Unfortunately I tuned in too late to hear when it was going to be, so I need to find out. I do remember her saying it would be coordinated with a nationwide day of protest, so I'm thinking it may be this coming weekend.)
Anyway, the activist--who is Jewish herself--was at some pains to draw the same parallel you have between Palestinians and Native Americans.
Earlier that same day, I heard Amy Goodman interview an Isreali man, apparently a resident of that city in southern Israel that's been getting the brunt of the Hamas rockets, the name of which city escapes me at the moment.
He said a rocket had fallen in his back yard that very day, and his children had been sleeping in their bomb shelter for over a week. He was an angry man.
However, his anger was directed at his own government; he was furiously angry with them. His sympathies, OTOH, were entirely with the Palestinians.
We're all Palestinians now.
posted by LandOLincoln : 5:53 PM
Avi Shlaim, an Oxford professor of international relations and a former member of the Israeli army, discussed in an article in the Guardian how Israel's actions against the Palestinians far outweigh anything that Palestinian militants have done.
"Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza... Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate.... In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children."
"Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza."
Given that the United States has used its veto to prevent the UN Security Council from doing anything to criticise the Gaza massacre, it would be good if American diplomats were awarded persona non grata status too.
If organised Zionists in Venezuela or elsewhere give any kind of support (including propaganda support) to the terrorist forces committing this massacre, well it may be time to consider whether expelling them wouldn't also be a step forward.
Israel has now condemned Venezuela as a "terrorist state". (See the above link).
The line (and it is very clear) is as follows: 1) a world war has begun, 2) this war will dominate life, and will last for at least a generation, 3) there are only two sides: pro-Zionist or terrorist.
I suspect factions in various countries are scared to stick their necks out because of the possibility of rapid and dire economic consequences. Maybe some retired diplomats or former intelligence officers might say something, people like that. That's all. Otherwise the punishment may be bankruptcy, Iceland-style. Which is of course on the cards for many countries anyway, although it's hard to predict which ones.
Set the Venezuelan action against the pathetic attitude of the Egyptian government, who are refusing even to open the border to Gaza, i.e. are participating indirectly in the Zionist massacre.
Meanwhile the disgusting New York Times leads on 'Israelis honouring their fallen soldiers'.
As most readers of this blog will know, the Gaza massacre was not an 'unproportional' response to the loss of Israeli lives in rocket attacks. It wasn't even a response. On the contrary, the Zionists deliberately wrecked the ceasefire, as they deliberately wrecked the Palestine part of the Camp David agreement, and they deliberately wrecked the Oslo accords (hello 9/11). The Gaza massacre is strategic. Marwan Barghouti writes sense when he says it is also about showcasing weapons (including depleted uranium), but that isn't the be-all and end-all.
In which context...
The film 'Defiance' has just been released in America and premières in London tomorrow. It's being massively advertised on hoardings in London. Comments?
People are wittering on in the UK saing Marks and Spencer might go bust. It won't. Look at all those premises, on every high street and now on dozens of important transport routes (motorways) and hubs (railway terminals). The government minister in charge of 'relations with the City of London', Paul Myners (appointed at the same time as Peter Mandelson) used to be at Marks and Spencer. A former head of MI5, Stella Rimington, became a director of Marks and Spencer. They won't go bust any more than Halliburton will. Except maybe as a scam.
posted by b : 6:26 AM
Anonymous, those facts on the leaflet you were handed at the rally -- sadly and shockingly, all true. The only ones in contention are the size of Israel's army (some sources I've read say it's the third largest in the world, not the fourth) and the amount of $$$ we give them. Yeah, minor difference. Either way, yes, most of its weaponry is paid for or supplied by the U.S.
Israel is also notable for being the only "democracy" to continue trading with apartheid South Africa when the rest of the world was boycotting it. Kindred spirits? Politicians and historians have drawn parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa for decades.
posted by DancingOpossum : 9:55 AM
Sorry but the fact Israel is being attacked is enough. They have a right to defend themseves and because of anti-semitism in the Middle East, they cannot back down from groups which wish to destroy them. It's 3k of 1.5M. Clearly Israel could kill more.
Are these pictures of the nursing home in Israel that was bombed???
posted by Anonymous : 1:13 PM
I just love it when people harp about "antisemitism in the Middle East," as if the Arabs themselves weren't Semites. LOL!
posted by LandOLincoln : 3:56 PM
Why does a fascist ethnic-supremacist regime have the right to defend itself?
I don't support the killing of anyone, but I despise arguments based on the right to exist of ethnic-supremacist regimes. Israel should go into the dustbin of history along with the American Confederacy.
The problem with arguing by shouting things is that often what's being hollered is only shouted because it's misdirectional or false.
Cf. "Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel", a vile line euphorically proclaimed by Barack Obama. In fact, I don't think any country in the world recognises de jure Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, east or west. Certainly the US, UK, Russia, France, and China don't. And obviously it is divisible, just as any other city is.
Cf. 'terror' and 'terrorism', when the biggest terrorist force in the region is patently obviously the State of Israel.
posted by b : 4:11 PM
From the Desk of Ms. Vandal:
@DancingOpossum, The leaflet said "most powerful" not largest. Is it possible that they are the third largest, but the fourth most powerful due to some technology we have not given them yet?
I profess a huge deficit in knowledge about this region and the politics of Middle East, preferring to the study of the Middle East as it pertains to the time of the Roman Empire (ancient history is my new thing).
But the Middle East is a quagmire that stems from the beginning of recorded time... conflict has always existed there. And that is not going to change no matter how you draw the figment lines on a map. There is no elegant final solution.
Israel, as a country, is much younger than our own, yet as a nation, far older. They are fueled by some rationale we cannot fathom. Is there any parallel in United States history that allows us to relate to this current situation? (and my answer is, I certainly hope not, but then again, I am an optimist).
Thank you for letting me vent.
posted by Anonymous : 8:52 PM
Thank you for a great article and although I disagree with you on a point or two I'll say this, you mostly nailed it and that in today's sad excuse for journalism is a coup!
Glad to see the MegaPhone crowd is trying to react to your well written article. You can always tell a MegaPhone poster :)
Check it our yourself: http://giyus.org/
Megaphone can be used to counter Israeli mass propaganda efforts on the web,
posted by Anonymous : 12:47 AM
the cease fire was broken on nov 5th by israel. no one in the u.s. noticed because everyone was voting for (chump) change.
posted by Anonymous : 1:25 AM
The bible tells us that from the very first creations, man was born to kill ( from the first two brothers , onward).
It looks like from thereon war was good for business that has only gotten worse.
"war is a racket"
posted by Anonymous : 1:26 AM
the cease fire was violated by israel on november 5th to coincide with the u.s. elections.
posted by Anonymous : 1:28 AM
I am a Canadian citizen. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which serves as the legal basis for our society, has equality for all races and religions as one of it's principle tenets. Could any readers hazard to guess why the current Canadian government offers unconditional support for the nation of Israel, a nation state that confers the rights of citizenry to a specific ethno-religious group? Does the West still require a military outpost in the form of a nation state to keep the arabs down? I say this in reference to a hundred year old policy of the British, that of driving a wedge between the African and Asian arabs. At this stage of the game, all Israel is doing is enraging the Arabs living under decrepit old shit-bags like Mubarak, which would seem to undermine the position of the Anglo-American financial block.
posted by Anonymous : 1:52 AM
Don't ever forget - the Egyptian high-ups made lots of money supplying cement for the apartheid wall, and Abbas and his friends did too. That's why Abbas lost the election, and had to be putsched back with American help (on behalf of Israel). Mubarak is such a puppet of America and Israel that he won't even open the border to a civilian population in a neighbouring region who are being massacred. A similar point could be made about Abbas. But today is Friday and who knows what will happen this afternoon when normally something like a quarter of a million people go to the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) for prayers.
posted by b : 6:33 AM
Thanks for exposing the shift in opinion.
Israel is a fat spoiled child who is totally out of control.
Don't forget you - me - all of us have a vote . Yes - it's a democratic world . If you don't agree with the conflict - if you think both sides are part of the problem - that both sides need their heads bashed together - that both sides need to grow up - then you can indicate this . When you are shopping at the supermarket etc. - check where the goods are produced and then make a decision as to whether to buy or to look for an alternative .
posted by Anonymous : 10:45 AM
"the cease fire was broken on nov 5th by israel. no one in the u.s. noticed because everyone was voting for (chump) change."
bwahahaha...laughing through tears at that.
And b, I think what Hugo Chavez did is admirable. Venezuela has long supported the Palestinian cause as have most civilized countries.