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112 responses to “Eyeless in Gaza IV (Open Democracy edition)”

  1. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Whoever it was who lobbed rockets at Isrel from Lebanon… well, it wasn’t Hezbollah. That’s a small relief.

  2. Katz

    I’m curious to know whether Israel apologists believe that UNWRA and the Red Cross are part of a conspiracy to tell lies about the IDF deliberately targeting neutral non-combatants.

    If UNWRA and the Red Cross are not part of any conspiracy, what is the explanation for the coincidence that both of these bodies have accused the IDF of deliberately targeting neutral non-combatants?

    On military matters, which are oddly overlooked, given the fact that this is a war, it is clear that Hamas did not learn the right lessons from Hezbollah’s victory over Israel in 2006. It is not enough to provoke Israel into waging a ground war. It is also necessary to have the appropriate ordnance and methodology to meet the invasion.

    Hezbollah understood that Israel’s tanks were the most vulnerable element of the IDF. Accordingly, they armed themselves with some elegant Russian-made anti-tank weaponry, which made it impossible for Israeli tanks to remain in hostile territory. Without tanks, ground troops could not operate.

    But it was always a fantasy that Hamas might mount any credible military resistance to the IDF in Gaza. If they believed they could, their sanity needs to be questioned. Alternatively, perhaps Hamas believed that Gaza would serve as a detonator for uprisings in the West Bank and perhaps elsewhere. So far, this hope has been disappointed.

    All in all, Hamas appears to have mishandled themselves quite badly.

  3. Integral Torque

    Hamas “Governance” and the Lack of Progressive Protest

    On democracy in Gazan governance – which I think is on-subject here.
    In the interest of facts.
    CAVEAT: I have so far found only one other independent source confirming this.
    CAVEAT: This is intended to be about governance inside Gaza and not with the current war.

    QUOTE: “Hamas rules with an iron fist even now,” said one resident. A political activist who says he supports neither Hamas nor Fatah …. … Hamas operatives have executed several people it classified as collaborators. Members of the group have confirmed the executions … said the victims had admitted giving information to the Shin Bet security service … or had already been sentenced to death by a Palestinian military court [WTF??] but the sentences were delayed for various reasons.

    Independent sources said that among the dead were those not known publicly to have been collaborators, as well as others long suspected of cooperation with Israel, or those arrested and later released.

    Estimates of the number of suspects executed range from 40 to 80, but …. it is virtually impossible to verify the numbers or identities of the dead.

    Executions are carried out secretly. In Rafah, for example, at least some of the victims were killed in a caravan … and the victims’ relatives were invited to take away the bodies.

    Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053825.html [emphasis added]

    So what’s the progressive take on this?
    Is this not just an Argentinian Right Wing Death Squad-like murder campaign? Complete with “military courts” and arbitrary arrest, condemnation and execution, all in secret?
    This is apparently illustrative of Hamas Government actions, how does it differ from that of military criminal-warlords? If Hamas is acting like the Pinochet junta, why are Progressives not protesting about it?
    Where is the recognition of basic human rights in this situation?
    What the hell are Progressive DOING supporting ANY Government that acts like this?

    IT

  4. Michael

    Katz,

    Of course. Both UNRWA and the Red Cross employ actual Palestinians, so naturally they are not a valid source of information.

  5. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    What the hell are Progressive DOING supporting ANY Government that acts like this?

    Well, they’re probably distracted at the moment by the IDF’s bombing campaign. You know, the one that killed 758+ people in the last couple of days. A bit more than the “40 to 80” mentioned by “Haaretz”.

  6. Robert Bollard

    What has the internal politics of the Gaza Strip have to do with anything? It’s the same argument that has always been used to justify colonial and imperial interventions. As the gunships go in and begin to shoot the disruly natives you disract attention by accusing the native’s traditional leaders of behaving barbarously. Evelyn Waugh wrote a largely forgotten apologia for Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia in which he pointed out how unspeakably hideous Haile Sellassie’s regime was. As it happens, Waugh’s allegations of Abyssinian tyranny were largely accurate – more so than Internal Torque’s regarding Hamas (was it an “Argentinian-style Right Wing Death Squad” then that was hiding out in the UN school?). Was Mussolini’s invasion then justified? Of course not.

  7. myriad

    Well I think it’s also stuff like
    this Integral Torque, that makes it rather difficult to get a clear view on Hamas.

    For eg, if you look back over the other ‘eyeless in gaza’ threads on this blog, you’ll see lots of comments talking about Hamas killing off it’s political rivals, without apparently being aware of, or perhaps deliberately not mentioning that there was an Israeli & US funded attempted coup against them. While Hamas’ actions overall I think are deplorable, they were democratically elected, the fact is we don’t actually know what a (an?) Hamas government would have looked like sans attempted foreign-backed attempted military coup.

    It also frequently goes unmentioned here that it’s not just Hamas that fires rockets at Israel, in fact the 97% drop in rocket fire as part of the various negotiated ceasefires with Israel was ironically almost certainly due to a) Hamas stopping firing itself and b) pretty ruthlessly subduing the other marginal militant extremist groups that refused to obey the ceasfire.

    The realpolitik of Palestinian politics since the death of Arafat in particular is one of various shades of militant extremist groups duking it out for control, and then continuing to use force to maintain it. But none of this changes that Hamas was freely and fairly elected, and we never got a chance to see how they would have acted without immediate military pressure against them. The fact that they have tried to adhere to the ceasefire would suggest though that they are certainly not the most extremist group in Palestine, and for all their rhetoric and charter which people love to quote, were quite capable of negotiating with Israel. Which is actually why I think they are seen as even more of a threat by the Israeli right wing – they need an unreasonable bunch of Palestinian extremists in control so they can further justify the wall, the incursions and blockades and military action etc.

    Of course, the most deplorable thing about the whole situation is that politically, what we’re seeing is Livni and Barak proving they are ‘hard’ enough on the Palestinians to defeat Netanyahu in the coming elections, and the west is letting them sacrifice what will no doubt end up over a thousand Gazan lives because that prospect is worse. It’s sickening.

  8. Michael

    Thanks Mark, some good links.

    Rogers was particularly interesting in linking the destruction of the PA with what is going on in Gaza now. Baruch Kimmerling called it ‘Politicide’ – the destruction of the social and political fabric of a group, preventing independent politiccal development. And Israel did quite a thorough job on the PA – targeting radio and TV, offices, administrative centres etc. One especially important target was the complete land registry files for all Palestinian owned land. The IDF stole them from Orient House and they have never been returned.

    Just as the PLO in Beirut and the PA in the West Bank were more political threat than military, so is Hamas in Gaza, and it’s getting the same response. A range of political and administratvie centres have been destroyed. Israel was keen to ensure that Hamas did not get the chance to demonstrate any potential for governance or the ability to build the mechanisms of a state. The blockade was part of that strategy – cutting supplies of food, medicines and electricity didn’t stop for rockets for a second, but they did send a message to ordinary Palestinians about what life was to be like under Hamas.

  9. Michael

    Holy heck Batman, could this be true?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/08/barack-obama-gaza-hamas

    If it is is would represent the change in stategy, rather than just style, that is rquired to achieve anything more than just another pointless ‘peace process’.

    An early indication that there might be something to this is a reaction/warning from one of Clinton’s Camp David advisors, Aaron David Miller,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2009/jan/09/israel-obama-middle-east

  10. myriad

    It would be a small but welcome sign if it’s true, Michael.

    Personally I’m finding Obama hiding behind the whole “I’m not inaugurated yet” charade pretty reprehensible, the very large and real sensitivies around I-P politics in the USA notwithstanding. He had plenty to say on the economic crisis and the terrorist attack on Mumbai. There’s no reason he couldn’t have at the very least come out and deplored the loss of civilian life and urged Israeli restraint at least (even if he added the usual blah-blah on “Israel’s right to defend itself” it would be a stronger statement than his long silence and piss-weak eventual statement to date).

  11. Lefty E

    Let’s hope so Michael. Obama’s on the record already as rejecting dead, business-as-usual thinking on talking to Iran, for example.

    It really is a counter-productive neo-Con sacred cow – and a inconsistent one, since the door has nearly always open to North Korea throuhgout.

  12. Integral Torque

    No. 5 Down and Out of Sài Gòn … theyre probably distracted at the moment by the IDFs bombing … killed 758+ people in the last couple of days. A bit more than the “40 to 80? mentioned by “Haaretz”.

    So the 40-80 Palestinians shot by their own government after secret “trial” by a “military tribunal” doesn’t matter to you? What about the idea of human rights inside Gaza? Why not? Because it’s not the IDF doing the killing? I thought human rights were universal!

    No 6 Robert Bollard
    What has the internal politics of the Gaza Strip have to do with anything?

    Um. How about the subject of this thread?

    No. 7 Myriad
    Well I think … makes it rather difficult to get a clear view on Hamas. … Hamas killing off it’s political rivals, without apparently being aware of, … coup against them.

    Good point. Does that means that an external attack excuses this sort of criminal/warlord behaviour by the government so threatened? If so, the pro-Israeli side can use that reasoning too. That’s interesting. Is it arguable that Israel’s actions are justified on the grounds of them protecting the human tights of their own population because of the issue Sai Gon raises above, the human rights of ‘ours’ matter more (maybe in a defacto sense??) than the human rights of ‘theirs’? Have to think about that.

    Your point on “… Hamas’ actions overall I think are deplorable, they were democratically elected, … don’t … know what a (an?) Hamas government would have looked like sans attempted … coup.” is also good. Does this justify drumhead courts and a quick execution on suspicion? Would we accept that from our own democratically government in similar circumstances? Execution without fair public trial and presumption of innocence (or at least no automatic assumption of guilt on accusation) does not seem to me to be something Progressives should support in any circumstances, irrespective of who is imposing such brutality. You raise a point of ‘pressure’… I dunno. Could it be that Hamas was never able to function as a government due to external pressure? From debates I have seen from within Gaza, the locals do not seem to think that, and their own ‘deer in the headlights’ response at winning the election also suggests otherwise.

    Your point on “… Hamas … pretty ruthlessly subduing the other marginal militant extremist groups that refused to obey the ceasfire.” is also good. Again, I am worried about this as an ‘end justifies the means’ argument, though. Please excuse me for not looking further at your ‘outside influences’ argument, I am trying to avoid a degeneration into discussion about the current war.

    IT

  13. Michael

    ….I am trying to avoid a degeneration into discussion about the current war.” – IT

    …which is the actual topic of this thread.

  14. Peter Kemp

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/un-stops-gaza-aid-after-killing/2009/01/09/1231004238255.html

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday accused Israel of failing to help wounded people in an area of Gaza where its rescuers found four small children huddling next to their dead mothers, too weak to stand up. It said Israeli soldiers tried to force the rescuers to leave when they finally reached the grisly scene in Gaza City’s shell-battered Zeitun neighbourhood on Wednesday, four days after safe-passage had been requested.

    The delay in allowing access to rescuers was “unacceptable,” the ICRC said.

    (Waiting for the Israeli apologists to say something like not being able to make omelettes without breaking eggs.)

  15. Brian Haill

    One of the most strikingly stupid comments in regard to the Gaza invasion crisis have come from the mouth of Israeli’s envoy to the Holy See who has slammed the Vatican’s representative for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Martino for publicly remarking that Gaza was now one big concentration camp. Such a claim has rightly been made ages ago, but it’s clearly shaken, and horrified, the Israeli Foreign Ministry that such a high ranking prelate should have repeated such a given truth.

    The Israeli diplomat, and I do speak very loosely in his case,went further, asserting that the prelate had “never even seen a concentration camp”. Given that so many millions of my generation around the world still have vivid images of those appalling Nazi concentration camps that housed and killed so many Jews..I wonder if he realises how ironic his remark was? He’d be playing right into the hands of the Nazi horror denialists.

    The editorial in today’s issue of the Melbourne Herald Sun makes the timely point that the Holy Family was obliged to flee when their lives were under threat. But they had somewhere to flee too…a welcoming neighbouring Egypt. But today’s Palestinians have nowhere to run to…nowhere They’re even ordered out of their houses so that they can be levelled.

    TRhe Gaza Strip is indeed now just one big concentration camp, and, with its borders sealed, its the only such totally enclosed war zone in the whole world today. Flashes of fish in a barrel spring to mind. And, with the Israelis shelling UN schools into which frightened Palestinians have fled with their families….and Israeli tanks killing UN workers and firing on a food convoy overnight how long does it have to be before Israel is brought to account before the International Court of Justice to answer charges of war crimes. Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute thoughly identify the necessary criteria. But we know the US would block such a move.

    Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Venezuelan government’s book. Instead of adding a further torrent of words to the global talkfest on the Gaza horror, it simply called in the Israeli ambassador and expelled him. Perhaps Australia should consider following suit as actions do indeed speak so much louder than words!

    Wednesday’s issue of The Age newspaper contained a letter from a Michael Kay of South Yarra in which he challenged Antony Loewenstein (One of the more than 100 Australian Jews who’ve repudiated Israel’s actions in Gaza) to spend a day or two in Sderot in southern Israel to experience conditions there.The Age didn’t publish my reply in which I offered to contribute to the fares of Mr Kay and 110 of his friends if they were to spend not a day or two but an hour or so in Gaza.

    On ABCTV a few minutes ago (Midday report) Obama came out with a major policy speech on the state of the US economy…despite only days ago…not wanting to say anything substantial on the Gaza invasion..declaring that US couldn’t speak with the voice of two Presidents.

    Instead, it seems, we are obliged to see the outgoing President Bush donate his final days as an open cheque to the Israeli government to do as it wants in Gaza

    Hopefully,one day, the US will catch up with the rest of the world and quickly dump their leaders once they’ve been rejected at election time!

  16. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    So the 40-80 Palestinians shot by their own government after secret “trial” by a “military tribunal” doesn’t matter to you? What about the idea of human rights inside Gaza? Why not? Because it’s not the IDF doing the killing?

    Let me be blunt. Hamas killing suspected collaborationists matters somewhat to me. Secret trials are dodgy, of course… but what country or entity takes spies lightly? Never the less, I have no doubt that innocent people were killed. Hamas killing Fatah supporters bothers me more. It doesn’t help Gaza security; it’s just one group killing off rivals. Comparing Hamas to the Argentinian and Chilean juntas is fatuous hyperbole; Hamas has not got into the habit of throwing its opponents off helicopters, or herding them into football stadiums and massacring them. Nor have they discovered how to “disappear” people, as the Argentines loved to do. When Hamas shot people in Rafah, “the victims’ relatives were invited to take away the bodies”. But are Hamas unpleasant people? Of course.

    But dead children matters to me more than dead adults. And the children killed in the current conflict have (by overwhelming margins) been killed by Israel. I care more about them than I do about dead collaborationists or Fatah members – whether real or alleged put together. So do most people. What about you, Integral Torque?

    I thought human rights were universal!

    It’s not like you care.

  17. myriad

    Integral Torque,

    the current war rather trumps concerns about Hamas’ internal domestic politics and actions, and is, as Michael noted, the subject of this thread.

    The simple answer to your questions is that ‘progressives’ weren’t given a chance to tolerate Hamas or otherwise given:

    – we never saw how Hamas would act free of tremendous external pressure (all the aid for the Palestinian government was cut off by the USA, EU etc. remember? Plus the pre-emptory Israeli blockage which as utterly crippled the Gazan strip and caused a humanitarian crisis in its own right according to independent observers such as Amnesty, the IRC and UN)

    and

    – being progressive doesn’t exist in a vacuum, ie devoid of the history of Palestinian and Israeli politics. Hamas is a Palestinian government within a continuum of the same. Ideals are excellent and necessary things, but they don’t excuse a lack of realism. What I mean by this is as much as I, as a progressive, might like to see a democractically elected Palestinian government that was a model of human rights and equality, it would be profoundly unrealistic and unhelpful to think such a government would be possible and would magicaly spring from the ashes of the destruction of the PLO, death of Arafat etc., all within an environment of increasingly intolerable pressure from Israel (the ‘security wall, the repeated illegal settlement expansions, group punishment in the form of turning off water & electricity supplies etc etc.).

    Hamas, deplorable as it may well be, may also have been a step forward in many areas, given half a chance. But as the current war abundantly shows, it hasn’t been given half of half a chance. Even more critically from a progressive point of view, the Palestinian people were given no chance to respond internally – or appeal to the international community- to actions by Hamas they weren’t happy with.

    Israel’s current invasion is deliberately targeting all government infrastructure. By the end of it, the Gazan strip, already a place of nearly 50% unemployment, thousands of malnourished and traumatised (not to mention radicalised in many instances) children, will be an even more barren and hopeless place, economically, socially and environmentally. What chance would you place on any government succeeding in such circumstances?

  18. myriad

    a good roundup of what’s been happening with another long Kos I-P fight attached, naturally. But that too provides an interesting look at how one sector of the American left community is struggling with the USA’s role.

  19. Chris

    – we never saw how Hamas would act free of tremendous external pressure (all the aid for the Palestinian government was cut off by the USA, EU etc. remember? Plus the pre-emptory Israeli blockage which as utterly crippled the Gazan strip and caused a humanitarian crisis in its own right according to independent observers such as Amnesty, the IRC and UN)

    The US aside, its a pretty strong statement when the EU cuts off aid to the Palestinian government. And from reports one of the major reasons was because the political wing of Hamas refused to renounce terrorism.

    I think these threads have been a good example of why a peace settlement will be so difficult to establish. Its such a polarising topic with most people deciding its all either Israel & the US at fault or the Palestinians with little recognition that the side they have most sympathy for is also contributing to the ongoing situation.

  20. Hal9000

    Integral Torque – I wonder where Hamas learned how to use death squads? Is there perhaps a powerful armed force somewhere in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean that has deployed death squads for decades, killing usually not only the extrajudically sentenced target, but their families and bystanders as well? Is there perhaps in existence a regime that holds over ten thousand arbitrarily detained prisoners as hostage, that routinely confiscates and destroys the property of defenceless people, and that routinely promotes to its highest offices the proud authors of gross atrocities and terrorist outrages?

    I recall an ancient inhabitant of the area saying something about motes, planks and eyes. Good advice. Perhaps we should focus on immediate priorities, like stopping providing arms and support for the chief authors of the present frenzy of violence (hint: it’s the ones with the air force, navy and armoured divisions, not the pathetic irregulars of Gaza). The last serious attempt to do this was Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 and the Israelis snapped to attention and followed orders to withdraw from Sinai within moments of his threat to withhold support.

  21. myriad

    The US aside, its a pretty strong statement when the EU cuts off aid to the Palestinian government. And from reports one of the major reasons was because the political wing of Hamas refused to renounce terrorism.

    I think these threads have been a good example of why a peace settlement will be so difficult to establish. Its such a polarising topic with most people deciding its all either Israel & the US at fault or the Palestinians with little recognition that the side they have most sympathy for is also contributing to the ongoing situation.

    Well then let me be clear personally Chris:

    1. I didn’t support the pre-emptive cutting off of aid to Hamas because they were democratically elected, and perhaps more importantly, as predicted by numerous experts at the time, all that happened is that the more extreme elements of Hamas gained greater influence, and are now actively courted and funded by Iran, with overtures from Al Qaeda as well. IOW, the policy of summarily cutting off funding to Hamas has been a complete failure at all levels, and has of course, not incidentally, added considerably to the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza. As we’ve seen for a long time, the more the Palestinians suffer, the more likely it is that extremist elements emerge to act for them, and now represent them.

    The EU in particular were in a bind, given they had Hamas listed as a terrorist organisation, and of course Hamas refused to initially recognise Israel or renounce violence. The sub-surface currents however, which are well known (see my Vanity Fair link above) is that it is more than likely that to maintain some diplomatic influence the EU aquiesced to USA and Israeli attempts to immediately cripple Hamas as a government to prepare for the attempted coup to get rid of Hamas – nice and convenient all-round.

    2. Hamas’ historic stances and actions against Israel are violations of international law, human rights and are to be roundly condemned. Their argument that their rockets represent a ‘protest voice’ is completely unacceptable, nor is their logic that they ‘can’t help’ it that rockets fall in civilian areas because they’re too poor to buy more accurate ones. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas and other groups who fire rockets on Israeli settlements intend them to terrorise the Israelis, and this is not only unconscionable, it’s entirely unhelpful because of course it inclines Israelis then to support their more and more right-wing and militant politicians. Even if you agree (and I do) with international determinations that Sderot and other townships are illegal settlements, and even if you agree (and I do) that the Palestinians have a right to self-defence in the face of Israeli aggression, the rockets are not justifiable.

    However, as the Vera Gowland-Debbas article clearly shows, Israel stands condemned for repeated, extended, unrepented and unending violations of Palestinian human rights, democratic rights and so on. Hamas is labelled a terrorist organisation, and now is in government, I guess making it a case of state terrorism. Which is exactly what I and many others view the Israeli government & its actions to be – state sponsored / initiated terrorism. Oddly no-one has defunded the Israeli government though, and certainly not pre-emptively, as was done to Hamas.

  22. Oz

    The UN Security Council has passed resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire. The US abstained.

  23. Integral Torque

    No. 16 Down and Out of Sài Gòn
    …Hamas killing suspected collaborationists matters somewhat to me. Secret trials are dodgy, of course…

    OK, we agree on this much then.

    … I have no doubt that innocent people were killed. Hamas killing Fatah supporters bothers me more. … Comparing Hamas to the Argentinian and Chilean juntas is fatuous hyperbole; Hamas has not got into the habit of throwing its opponents off helicopters, or herding them into football stadiums and massacring them.

    Hang on, they have thrown Fatah supporters off high rise buildings, and are people shot in secret in a caravan any less dead than people shot in a sports stadium? Dead is dead, how does the means of murder matter?

    … are Hamas unpleasant people? Of course.

    OK, we agree on this too.

    But dead children matters to me more than dead adults. … What about you, Integral Torque?

    People are people and dead is dead. I do not see the clear moral differences between corpses you seem to. I see a difference in INTENT. I view a person deliberately killed by being thrown from a high rise by the government as murder because it was intended to kill them. I see a person killed in error in a war by a second government after efforts were taken to avoid that outcome as different due to lack of intent. If in the second case it is proven that there was deliberate intent, there is no difference. Clear enough for you?

    I thought human rights were universal! It’s not like you care.

    I’m not the one parsing corpses here based on my level of emotional feeling about them. Those who exploit their emotions to dehumanize people, as Mark noted in the third thread, are part of the problem, it seems to me. They are standard, a dime a dozen here or at catallaxy. Makes no difference.

    IT

  24. GregM

    Integral Torque – I wonder where Hamas learned how to use death squads? Is there perhaps a powerful armed force somewhere in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean that has deployed death squads for decades, killing usually not only the extrajudically sentenced target, but their families and bystanders as well? Is there perhaps in existence a regime that holds over ten thousand arbitrarily detained prisoners as hostage, that routinely confiscates and destroys the property of defenceless people, and that routinely promotes to its highest offices the proud authors of gross atrocities and terrorist outrages?

    Phew! For a moment there I thought you might be pointing the finger at Syria or Iraq under Saddam. That would never do. To say that such paragons might be an inspiration in the malfeasance you have described would be so…unprogressive. It’s OK though, you’ve managed to ensure that all evil is slated home to the Zionist Entity.

    Do continue.

  25. Integral Torque

    No. 17 Myriad

    the current war rather trumps concerns about Hamas’ internal domestic politics and actions, and is, as Michael noted, … ‘progressives’ weren’t given a chance to tolerate Hamas or otherwise …:

    Well, I’m interested in Gaza and Palestinian democracy here. There’s plenty of focus on the war porn side of it and not much to be gained by adding more IMHO.

    we never saw how Hamas would act free of tremendous external pressure …

    OK, you have a good point here and I have acknowledged that.

    … What I mean by this is as much as I, as a progressive, might like to see a democractically elected Palestinian government that was a model of human rights and equality, …

    Why not, in Gaza, the first truly autonomous Palestinian-run entity after the Israelis packed up their settlers and left three years ago? Why not? Look, I cannot for the life of me find anything that would have stopped them. What if three years ago they’d said ‘great, that’s the back of those bastards, now, we’ll use all the oceans of aid we get to set up honest, open, democratic governance and build a second Singapore here. We’ll trade with anyone, set up industries, and turn this place into a boomtown. Then, having proven that Palestinians can do that, the Israelis will not have a leg to stand on over the West bank.’

    I can find no evidence that they even tried this, and no evidence that anyone would have stopped them. I accept your point about ‘half a chance’, it’s a good one. But why could not they MAKE that chance themselves?

    I view it as a tragedy for everyone that they did not.

    IT

  26. Oz

    You expected a million poor, starving, traumatised refugees to create a country on par with financial hub for the Asia-Pacific?

    Before Palestine could ever get to that stage the basics, like service delivery, health and education had to be put into place. Hamas was elected on that platform and 90% of their budget was put in that area.

  27. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I see a person killed in error in a war by a second government after efforts were taken to avoid that outcome as different due to lack of intent.

    You’re right. It’s not murder. It’s a couple of hundred cases of negligent manslaughter.

  28. myriad

    At the minimum Integral Torque, I’d strongly suggest you read around on the traumatisation of Palestinian youth over the last 3 decades, how it was predicted all those decades ago by psychologists that it would lead to a radicalisation, loss of hope and open courting of death amongst Palestinian youths, and just how accurate that has become.

    And here is Israel doing it all over again to the next generation of Palestinian kids, and we run the risk of sitting here in 20 years time asking ‘why’? – again.

    Basically if you can’t understand ‘for the life of you’ why one of the most brutalised, marginalise and impoverished populations didn’t manage to pull a fully-fledged democracy blinging with human rights out of its most recent destruction back when Hamas was elected, I’m rather at a loss to help other than that.

  29. Hal9000

    Interesting article by Michael Chossudovsky tracing the history of Israeli military action in Gaza and the West Bank.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11606

    His conclusion is that Israeli war aims are primarily terrorisation of the civilian population and a ‘planned humanitarian disaster’, with the long-term goal of forcing the Palestinian population out entirely. The current operation has been long planned, awaiting the opportunity that the Christmas holidays and administrative transition in the US presented.

    Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, notes that opportunities for bloodshed avoidance were ignored by the Israeli government, which also was deaf to the pleas of Ashkelon residents for a diplomatic settlement (http://www.truthout.org/)

    We should hardly be surprised at any of this, since it follows the stated policy of the godfather of Israeli politics (and butcher of Beirut), Ariel Sharon.

  30. Rob

    Let’s pick up a few points almost at random.

    myriad @ 7: “But none of this changes that Hamas was freely and fairly elected, and we never got a chance to see how they would have acted without immediate military pressure against them.”

    The EU and the US made it quite clear that the suspension of aid would be lifted if Hamas renounced terrorism, recognised the right of Israel to exist and agreed to abide by agreements negotiated by former Palestinian governments (notably Oslo). Hamas refused from the outset and still does. In the meantime, millions of dollars of aid have been channeled through NGO’s to avoid the appearance of giving to Hamas.

    Brian Haille @ 15: “TRhe Gaza Strip is indeed now just one big concentration camp, and, with its borders sealed, its the only such totally enclosed war zone in the whole world today. Flashes of fish in a barrel spring to mind.”

    Humanitarian aid is continuing to flow into Gaza despite the war. The IDF has set up a humanitarian relief co-ordination centre in Gaza.Shipments are regularly hijacked by Hamas.

    Oz @ 26: “You expected a million poor, starving, traumatised refugees to create a country on par with financial hub for the Asia-Pacific?”

    Funny how the Israelis managed it.

    myriad @ 28: “how it was predicted all those decades ago by psychologists that it would lead to a radicalisation, loss of hope and open courting of death amongst Palestinian youths, and just how accurate that has become.”

    Decades of documented, deliberate brainwashing calling for genocide of the Jews, total non-recognition of ISrael (Palestinian schools use maps that do not include the state of Israel), particularly since the second intifada, presumably had nothing to do with it.

    Meanwhile, here is Hamas in its own words.

    Couldn’t be Zionist propaganda. Oh wait…

  31. yeti

    Hamas and Fatah both have terrible human rights record. But what type of freak would use this as a justification for Israeli war crimes? It’s like defending the German invasion of Russia by citing the Communists’ human rights record, only even more ridiculous.

    And of course is has been Israeli policy, and the lack of credible resistance to it on the part of the extraordinarily corrupt Fatah leadership, that brought Hamas to power in the first place.

  32. Rob

    yeti, it could be because most of the victims of the ‘terrible human rights record’ of Hamas and Fatah have been Israelis. Israel is not waging war on Hamas to save Palestinians from Fatah.

  33. yeti

    building the second Singapore – LOL! With 1.5 million impoverished slum-dwellers under the tightest economic blockade in world history.

  34. Rob

    And for those who have been keen to quote the worst of Judaism, allow me to quote the best. From Ha’aretz:

    If there has ever been a time for prayer, this is that time.

    If there has ever been a place forsaken, Gaza is that place.

    Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer this accursed day. God whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the children of Gaza, that they may know your blessings, and your shelter, that they may know light and warmth, where there is now only blackness and smoke, and a cold which cuts and clenches the skin.

    Almighty who makes exceptions, which we call miracles, make an exception of the children of Gaza. Shield them from us and from their own. Spare them. Heal them. Let them stand in safety. Deliver them from hunger and horror and fury and grief. Deliver them from us, and from their own.

    Restore to them their stolen childhoods, their birthright, which is a taste of heaven.

    Remind us, O Lord, of the child Ishmael, who is the father of all the children of Gaza. How the child Ishmael was without water and left for dead in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba, so robbed of all hope, that his own mother could not bear to watch his life drain away.

    Be that Lord, the God of our kinsman Ishmael, who heard his cry and sent His angel to comfort his mother Hagar.

    Be that Lord, who was with Ishmael that day, and all the days after. Be that God, the All-Merciful, who opened Hagar’s eyes that day, and showed her the well of water, that she could give the boy Ishmael to drink, and save his life.

    Allah, whose name we call Elohim, who gives life, who knows the value and the fragility of every life, send these children your angels. Save them, the children of this place, Gaza the most beautiful, and Gaza the damned.

    In this day, when the trepidation and rage and mourning that is called war, seizes our hearts and patches them in scars, we call to you, the Lord whose name is Peace:

    Bless these children, and keep them from harm.

    Turn Your face toward them, O Lord. Show them, as if for the first time, light and kindness, and overwhelming graciousness.

    Look up at them, O Lord. Let them see your face.

    And, as if for the first time, grant them peace.

    No such sentiments in the Hamas video I posted.

    And now await the howl of ‘Hypocrite!’

  35. Rob

    yeti, if you had been paying attention at the time, you would have noticed that the Palestinians themselves were proclaiming they would build a new Singapore, a new Hong Kong, in Gaza.

  36. Oz

    “Funny how the Israelis managed it.”

    Rob, I’m going to shred that pathetic line in two quick points:

    1. When Israel came into existence, the people were not suffering from malnutrition, slum-like conditions and being packed into the most dense place on earth and half the people unemployed.

    2. Israel is not the “Singapore” of anything.

  37. Oz

    “Palestinians themselves were proclaiming they would build a new Singapore, a new Hong Kong, in Gaza.”

    Who knows what could have happened if not for the blockade and bombings of beaches, markets, mosques and universities. Something the Singaporeans didn’t have to deal with.

  38. Oz

    #34

    So a prayer published in an independent newspaper carries more weight than what the IDF is actually doing?

  39. Rob

    Oz @ 37, look here to find the explanation you’re looking for. Hamas issued a fatwa soon afterwards in an attempt to stem the exodus.

    As for your #36.1, Israel managed to feed, clothe, house, educate and assimmilate more Jewish refugees from Arab lands after the 1948 war than the Arabs had to accommodate from Palestine. And the Arab states refused to do any of the above, but left them festering in squalid camps run by UNWRA – where they still remain.

    As for #36.2 – no, it has excelled Singapore.

  40. yeti

    Well none of the world’s governments seem to be doing much to save the people of Gaza from the IDF, so we might as well ask God to do it.

  41. Rob

    Oz, what do you make of the fact that Hamas the other day called for Jewish children all over the world to be killed in retaliation for the attacks on Gaza?

  42. Oz

    What do I make of it? I think it’s a sickening thing to want to do.

    Presumably, you think the same. So what you do you make of the the fact that Israel is actually killing Palestinian children as we speak?

    Singapore doesn’t rely on $20 billion of US aid a year.

  43. Oz

    And your post didn’t refute the fact that Palestinians are now malnourished, poor, unemployed, have had their only power generator blown and their places of education blown up and have been pushed to a tiny strip of land and do not receive tens of billions in aid and enjoy the support of the international community.

  44. yeti

    Rob, just because you feel compelled to defend the IDF’s murder of Palestinian children doesn’t mean that the people you are arguing with are likely to feel compelled to defend Zahar’s disgusting statement.

  45. Rob

    Yes, that’s a fair point, yeti, and it occurred to me just after I published the comment. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to cancel a post. I apologise.

    Oz, 90 percent of the funds required to make Gaza and the West Bank function even as woefully as they do come from the EU and the US, thanks to Oslo. And that runs to billions. Just a few months ago the EU decided to gift an additional 7 billion to Gaza and the West Bank.

  46. Rob

    I’m referring to the latter part of yeti’s comment, of course.

  47. Oz

    Rob, the PA operating budget in Gaza is only $1.5 billion. Israel has been holding back tax money as well. The only revenue the PA collects is about $70 million in tax.

    More information and statistics here:

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/10499/#1

    The only information I can find about your $7 billion figure is of it being raised in December 2007, and it going to Abbas.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1000197.html

    So wrong on two fronts.

  48. Rob

    I was under the impression that funds to support government salaries and infrastructure in Gaza actually came from the PA, which would mean Gaza would get its (some?) share of the 7 billion. Happy to be corrected if that’s wrong.

  49. John Ryan

    Hello Rob,the ministry sent you back again did they think things are getting a bit out of hand?
    So off we go into Robs No Spin Zone,gee where have I heard those words before,thats right on FOX NEWS from a man who could not lay straight in bed,Israel and the US did fund the PA,(the old PLO) you remember them Rob they were the HAMAS of a few years ago dreadfull people so the Ministry told the world endlessly.
    Seem to remember that not much mercy was shown to the people in the occupied countrys who collaborated with the Germans,so why should HAMAS have any mercy for collaborators who tried to overthrow them.
    Gaza is was and still is a concentration camp it even has the walls around it,the longer the Israelis keep it up they are just making HAMAS more powerful more deadly and giving the people on the West Bank who are seeing their land stolen their houses demolished and the Settlers murdering them at will the idea that the PA is a coruppt bunch of colaborators who are in the US and Israelis pockets.

  50. yeti
  51. PeterTB

    “they are just making HAMAS more powerful more deadly”

    I wonder if that’s true JR. The IDF was also meant to have lost the 2006 incursion into Lebanon, but I notice that the Hizbollah are being very quiet in the current situation. Aren’t they meant to be one of the strongest supporters of the Palestinians?

    Ready and waiting for your personal attacks……

  52. Chris

    myriad @ 21:

    The EU in particular were in a bind, given they had Hamas listed as a terrorist organisation, and of course Hamas refused to initially recognise Israel or renounce violence.

    Its not without good reason that Hamas have been listed as a terrorist organisation by many countries. Why do you think it was so hard for Hamas to recognise Israel or renounce violence? Would it be politically difficult because the people of Gaza voted for Hamas in the expectation that they would continue or escalate attacks on Israel? Is it much like voters in Israel pressuring their politicians to take military action against Hamas, regardless of the civilian casualties which will occur in Gaza?

    FWIW I don’t think its unreasonable to impose sanctions on a government just because they are democratically elected if the behaviour and goals of that government are internationally unnacceptable – this goes for both Israel and Hamas.

    Given the stability of Israel I think its quite reasonable to have higher expectations and accountability for its behaviour compared to a government in Gaza which has little infrastructure. But I don’t think that publicly pressuring only one side helps in getting long term peace. In order for that to happen both sides need to admit to past mistakes (to help appease people from the other side) as well as committing to changing future behaviour.

    btw I agree with you on the alienation of Palestinian youth. The hatred is going to last for generations and you can see the effect on Israeli youth as well for pretty similar reasons.

  53. PeterTB

    “I agree with you on the alienation of Palestinian youth”

    Hear Hear. This alienation is of course the purpose of keeping the refugee camps going – after 60 years in some cases. What other reason can there be for the recipient countries not integrating these people.

    Can you imagine refugee camps with South Vietnamese, Cubans, Hungarians or Czechs still being in existence?

  54. Oz

    “The IDF was also meant to have lost the 2006 incursion into Lebanon, but I notice that the Hizbollah are being very quiet in the current situation.”

    Are you joking? Their alliance is tipped to win parliamentary elections in June and they, with their leader Nasrullah, have been condemning Israel and supporting the Palestinians everyday as well as organising and leading mass rallies.

  55. PeterTB

    yeti: HA HA HA etc

    It is pretty funny. Still, he can do no worse than Robert Fisk…….

  56. PeterTB

    “as well as organising and leading mass rallies”

    But apparently not daring to fire on Israel

  57. yeti

    Peter, are you seriously comparing Robert Fisk to Joe the Plumber? That would have to be the stupidest comment in the history of the internet.

  58. yeti

    What other reason can there be for the recipient countries not integrating these people.

    What recipient countries? This is the West Bank and Gaza we’re talking about here.

  59. Oz

    “But apparently not daring to fire on Israel”

    They wouldn’t gain anything from it. They don’t have the military capabilities to defeat the IDF, just enough to prevent an Israeli military victory against them.

    If they did attack across the border then the Israeli’s would respond with airstrikes and shellings. The Lebanese people don’t want more violence and bloodshed, especially when thousands of them were killed just two years ago and popular sentiment would shift away from Hezbollah who would be perceived as the instigators in this case.

  60. PeterTB

    What recipient countries?

    Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. And even those in Gaza don’t have to be characterised as refugee camps….unless you wish to perpetuate the ambition of the tenants to return to the smoking ruin of Israel to establish a Palestinian state. The refugee camps are a sign of the non-acceptance of the Jewish state.

  61. Rob

    yeti, some facts. The Arab states refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to settle in the Arab countries around Israel. Despite Israel offering to take back 100,000 of htem in the immediate aftermath of the 1948 war, the Arabs refused, saying the refugees would return only in the wak eof victorious Arab armies. But meanwhile, no sanctuary, no support, no housing and no funds were forthcoming from the Arab staets. Instead it was left to WNWRA to perpetuate their refugee status for generations. Even Edward Said remarked that it was easier for a Palestinian to get a job in the US than in the Arab world.

  62. PeterTB

    That would have to be the stupidest comment in the history of the internet.

    Humourless are we? Leftists don’t have to be emos you know

  63. PeterTB

    “They wouldn’t gain anything from it.”

    My point exactly. Hopefully HAMAS will learn the same lesson.

  64. yeti

    the Palestinians haven’t been able to get a fair shake from any of the Arab regimes. they’re discriminated against everywhere.

    but why should they have to leave Palestine and go and live in other countries? of course the Palestinians have a right to live in Palestine. unless you’re arguing for ethnic cleansing.

  65. yeti

    of course the rightwing Israeli leadership would like nothing more than for the Palestinians to all go to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and give the superior race their ‘living space’.

  66. PeterTB

    “but why should they have to leave Palestine and go and live in other countries”

    This is the problem. I’m unsure whether the establishment of the Jewish state was wise – but it is not going to be undone any time soon. Israel has a large palestinian population, and in times of peace it has shown an ongoing willingness to have palis travel in to work there. Tha Gazans could live in peace and prosper in their seaside state, but are not allowed to by their radical elements. As Rob has pointed out above, many of the Palestinians could have been Israeli citizens since 1948, but the arab world seems intent on “wiping Israel from the map”.

    My point about the refugee camps was not that the palis have no rights, but that they need to move on like all of those other displaced populations I referred to.

  67. yeti

    No, the Palestinians, the Arab nations, and the rest of the world know what the solution is – not wiping Israel from the map, but having two states along the 1967 borders. That plan has been on the table for decades. It is Israel and the US, alone in the entire world, that refuse to accept it, and the proof of their refusal is in the thousands of settlements that they have constructed in the occupied West Bank even since the Oslo accords.

  68. Rob

    yeti, when have Hamas or Hizbollah (the latter not Palestinian, granted, but an inspiration for many) ever said they accept a two-state solution? They reject it absolutely. As for the US, Bush was the first president to openly call for a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one. Even before that, Clinton brokered what would have been a permanent two-state solution at Camp David in 2000 – except the Palestinians (well, Arafat) refused it outright.

    Even before that they could have had a state of their own in 1947. Refused.

    Even before that, in 1937. Refused.

    I can see you get your facts from Fisk. Give me Joe the Plumber.

  69. yeti

    I don’t know where you get your facts, but it might as well be from Joe the Plumber.

    I ask you to come up with one incorrect fact published by Fisk on this topic. I asked you to come up with one single incorrect fact published by Chomsky on this topic and you have been unable to do so. I presume you have never read any books by either of them, which may explain the gaps in your knowledge.

    As for what was offered in 2000, I refer you to Tanya Reinhart’s ‘Israel/Palestine’ – it was FAR from a 2 state settlement. It did not even come close to what the Palestinians were entitled to under international law. Would you like to know the details of the Camp David summit?

    Hamas has said they will make peace with Israel within the 67 borders, even without granting them formal diplomatic recognition as long as it remains a racially supremacist state.

  70. yeti

    Here is a map of what Barak offered Arafat at Camp David in 2000.

    Note “Israeli Settlements”, “Israeli Military Areas”, “Areas to be annexed to Israel” and “Long Term Israeli Control or Lease”. Obviously Israel was to retain full control of the air space.

    http://images.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/maps/finalstatus/2000campdavid.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/maps/&usg=__XYcWxLjim68mDVK3Ab3FLCA80y0=&h=557&w=640&sz=309&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=Lm2-C7DPe_laUM:&tbnh=119&tbnw=137&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcamp%2Bdavid%2B2000%2Bmaps%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dcom.ubuntu:en-US:unofficial%26sa%3DN

  71. y*ti

    My previous comment is awaiting moderation. I will use the direct link.

    Here is a map of what Barak offered Arafat at Camp David in 2000.

    Note “Israeli Settlements”, “Israeli Military Areas”, “Areas to be annexed to Israel” and “Long Term Israeli Control or Lease”. Obviously Israel was to retain full control of the air space.

    http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/maps/finalstatus/2000wb_israeliproposal.jpg

  72. y3ti

    I keep getting put in moderation for some reason.

    Here is a map of what Barak offered Arafat at Camp David in 2000.

    Note “Israeli Settlements”, “Israeli Military Areas”, “Areas to be annexed to Israel” and “Long Term Israeli Control or Lease”. Obviously Israel was to retain full control of the air space.

    http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/maps/finalstatus/2000wb_israeliproposal.jpg

  73. yeti

    bloody hell!!

  74. yeti

    for some reason, my link to a map keeps getting put in moderation.

    Here is a map of what Barak offered Arafat at Camp David in 2000.

    Note “Israeli Settlements”, “Israeli Military Areas”, “Areas to be annexed to Israel” and “Long Term Israeli Control or Lease”. Obviously Israel was to retain full control of the air space.

  75. yeti
  76. yeti

    My apologies to whoever is moderating this thread, but I’m going to try one more time:
    http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/maps/finalstatus/2000wb_israeliproposal.jpg

  77. yeti

    Okay, the above link, which kept on getting censored by a filter for some reason, shows what Barak offered in 2000. Note “Israeli Settlements”, “Israeli Military Areas”, “Areas to be annexed to Israel” and “Long Term Israeli Control or Lease”. Obviously Israel was to retain full control of the air space. There is no way that the Palestinians leadership could have accepted this as a final settlement.

  78. Peterc

    Rob @ 39: As for #36.2 – no, it has excelled Singapore.

    You are right Rob. Israel has far excelled Singapore when it comes to waging a war that kills hundreds of civilians, many of them children, openly targets declared UN buildings and personnel, and denies civilian casualties food and water.

    This must be a good earner for you. How is the overtime going?

  79. Rob

    Great, mate.

  80. John Ryan

    I have no intention of attacking anyone PeterTB, I don,t think I attacked Rob or you. I also have a fair idea the the Ministry of Propaganda or the department for making black white, in the Israeli embassy would have spin doctors who no matter what anyone said are paid to make the mass killing of women and children look good.
    Its just that its wearing a bit thin,if you want a job go see them I sure they can accommodate you good hourly rate to ,or is it by the word,have a quick word with Rod he might have some idea,but then Ackerman needs a script writer as well,I,m sure he cant think up the rubbish he writes all by himself.

  81. yeti

    Colin Murray, a commenter on Phillip Weiss’s blog has posted an excellent summary.


    It is not self defense if one attacks first. Israel attacked first:

    (1) European Jews, survivors of and refugees from Nazi mass-murder during the Second World War, ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948, many of whom ended up settling as refugees in Gaza.

    (2) Israel invades and occupies Gaza in 1967. Occupation, and its legal responsibilities, are defined in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    (3) Israel expels Palestinians from 25% of the land within Gaza, including the best 40% of arable land, and seizes control of most most water resources. Many Palestinians are thus internal displaced, AGAIN.

    (4) Israel establishes colonies on ethnically cleansed portions of Gaza. This is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention agreement, to which Israeli is a signatory. Note that similar violations have occurred numerous time starting the day after Israel signed the accord, and continue to the present day.

    (5) Israel implements political repression and population controls measures to prevent the rise of any form of Palestinian organization, i.e., any activity such as maintaining public health records that might evolve into an embryonic government. Israel monitors and controls the movement of every single person and commercial product into or out of Palestinian areas.

    (6) Israel withdraws colonies in 2005 after continued armed Palestinian resistance convinces the Israeli government that their resources would be better spent in colonizing the West Bank.

    (7) Israel continues the occupation of Gaza by maintaining complete control of all borders, including its seaward border onto international waters, with arbitrary regulation of the movement of people and goods.

    (8) Israel makes public agreements to assist the peaceful economic development of Gaza, not with contributions of its own resources, but merely by allowing Gazan farmers to trade in the Israeli market, their access to other markets being restricted, especially to international markets via their own ports through their own waters.

    (9) Israel arbitrarily violates these agreements, and leaves an entire season of Palestinian produce to rot at Israeli border crossings, they not being permitted to move them out any other way. I saw that coming a mile away. I’m sure the Palestinians did too, but they had no choice but to plant, harvest, and hope Israel would abstain from chain-yanking writ large and, for the first time, keep to an agreement. Psyche!

    (10) Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations continue to fight the horrible oppression of their people in the only way they have: by firing home-made rockets 5-15km into Israeli territory. These rockets cause little damage and few injuries and fatalities, but serve admirably in reminding Israelis of the injustices they are committing in Gaza. I suspect that the constant reminders of guilt are as important a reason for Israeli anger as the death and destruction.

    (11) Israel intensifies its already stringent control over Gazan borders with the imposition of a starvation blockade in January 2006.

    (12)Hamas and Israel agree to a ceasefire that begins 19 June 2008. Planning for the current attack on Gaza begins at the same time. Hamas agrees to stop rocket fire and Israel agrees to lift the starvation blockade.

    (13)Israel violates the ceasefire agreement numerous times, including a complete failure to lift its blockade. The most egregious violation occurs on 4 November 2008 when Israel kills Hamas personnel in a cross-border raid into Gaza.

    (14)Hamas responds in kind, resuming rocket attacks.

    (15)Israel begins terror bombardment of Gaza, targeting civilian infrastructure (AGAIN), and kills many civilians. The Hamas response to Israeli ceasefire violations allow Israel to claim that they are acting in self-defense. Mainstream media coverage of Israeli ceasefire violations in the United States is non-existent, allowing Zionist political and media operatives to effectively sell the Israeli ‘story’, which conveniently leaves out the context of the current fighting because it would properly portray Israel as the aggressor.

  82. yeti

    Astonishingly, the New York Times has published an opinion column containing many of the facts that it routinely omits from its coverage of the issue.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/opinion/08khalidi.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

    NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip…

  83. yeti
  84. yeti

    Gaza medics describe horror of strike which killed 70

    …Mohammed Shaheen, a volunteer with Palestinian Red Crescent, was in the first convoy of ambulances to reach the site of the blast in Zeitoun since it was first occupied then shelled by the Israeli army.

    His testimony confirmed accounts, first reported in The Telegraph, from survivors of the extended al Samouni clan who said they feared between 60 and 70 family members had been killed.

    “Inside the Samouni house I saw about ten bodies and outside another sixty,” Mr Shaheen said.

    “I was not able to count them accurately because there was not much time and we were looking for wounded people.

    “We found fifteen people still alive but injured so we took them in the ambulances.

    “I could see an Israeli army bulldozer knocking down houses nearby but we ran out of time and the Israeli soldiers started shooting at us…

  85. yeti

    An absolute must-read by Avi Shlaim, Oxford Professor of International Relations, in the Guardian.

    How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

    Here is an excerpt:


    Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

    In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

    The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

    Israel’s settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

    Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

    America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

    As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel’s propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

    Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

    It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

    The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel’s terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

  86. Rob

    You seem to have gone completely insane, yeti. Sorry if I goaded you into it. And the gravatar does not become you.

  87. Mark

    Meanwhile, the Graudian reports that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is encouraging people to reproduce their spin on blogs, and providing talking points:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/09/israel-foreign-ministry-media

  88. yeti

    Chris Floyd:

    Gazing at Gaza’s Destruction: Israelis Sip Pepsi, US Progressives See ‘Silver Lining’

    His blog quotes from a McClatchy article contrasting the current situation in Sderot with that in Gaza. Includes a great picture.

    A tower of white smoke rose from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after another Israeli bombardment Monday morning, and a half-dozen Israelis, perched on a dusty hilltop, gazed at the scene like armchair military strategists.

    Avi Pilchick took a long swig of Pepsi and propped a foot on the plastic patio chair he’d carried up the hillside to watch the fighting. “They are doing good,” Pilchick, 20, said of Israeli forces battling Palestinian militants in Gaza, “but they can do more.”

    Somewhere in Beit Hanoun, Ashraf El-Masri’s family cowered in their concrete tenement home, their neighborhood surrounded by Israeli soldiers. El-Masri said that five residents had been killed by Israeli shelling that morning, and the blasts had traumatized the youngest of his nine children into a terrified silence…

    On the hilltop overlooking Beit Hanoun, Pilchick squinted into the sharp sunlight. He’d taken time off from his job at a foreign exchange bureau in Jerusalem and driven down to Sderot with a friend on Saturday, the day the ground operation opened…Sderot residents — some of them carrying binoculars — have gathered on the hilltop since the offensive began for a glimpse of the fighting…

    In their darkened home in Beit Hanoun, Ashraf El-Masri’s children were in utter distress. No one has stepped outside since Israeli ground forces entered the town Saturday night, and more Israeli shelling awakened them Monday morning, including a strike on a nearby mosque.

    El-Masri’s 12-year-old son, Abdelatif, has suddenly begun to wet the bed. His 10-year-old, Ahmad, a talented soccer player and popular kid in the neighborhood, spends the days hiding in a corner of the room where the whole family now sleeps. Four-year-old Mahmoud, usually a nonstop talker, is barely saying a word…

  89. Rob

    So that’s what I was doing. I never knew, I never knew.

  90. yeti

    Naomi Klein:

    Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction

    It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa…

  91. Mark

    Rob @ 86 – please don’t personalise the debate.

    And yeti, I apologise for your comments being held up in moderation – multiple links and long links are triggers, as is the word “moderation”. Being a Friday night, I haven’t been at the computer for some hours.

    I remind everyone of the comments policy.

  92. Rob

    Sorry, Mark, I thought yeti’s sudden assumption of a Star of David gravatar was indicative of something…. or something.

  93. Mark

    I couldn’t say, Rob – probably best not to read too much into these sort of occurrences.

  94. Rob

    Bit odd, I’d have thought, that someone who takes a virulently anti-Israel line should elect to use its national symbol as his gravatar. Hence the ‘insane’ comment.

  95. Chris

    yeti @ 81

    (7) Israel continues the occupation of Gaza by maintaining complete control of all borders, including its seaward border onto international waters, with arbitrary regulation of the movement of people and goods.

    How does Israel control the Gaza border with Egypt?

    10) Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations continue to fight the horrible oppression of their people in the only way they have: by firing home-made rockets 5-15km into Israeli territory. These rockets cause little damage and few injuries and fatalities, but serve admirably in reminding Israelis of the injustices they are committing in Gaza. I suspect that the constant reminders of guilt are as important a reason for Israeli anger as the death and destruction.

    That may well be the honest intent of those firing the rockets, but wouldn’t another side effect would be to maintain and increase the level of fear of ordinary Israelis of those across the border, making it less likely that border restrictions would be relaxed? Eg fear that if they are able to fire those sorts of rockets with the borders closed, what will they be able to do with open borders?

    Mark @ 87 – not particularly surprising really. There’s a big propaganda war going on out there and I’m sure both sides are doing their best to push their point of view out there any way they can – twitter feeds, even protests (and perhaps some useful debates) in virtual worlds like Second Life.

  96. PeterTB

    Mark: “please don’t personalise the debate”

    Mark, you’ve obviously missed John Ryan’s comments at 49 and 80 where he rather amusingly suggests that anyone – especially Rob – that doesn’t follow the HAMAS line must be in the pay of the Jews.

    Ironically, later in the thread yeti comes up with a bunch of anti-Israel links from the media which tends to cast some doubt on the effectivenes of the Jewish control of the agenda.

  97. Peter Kemp

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/09/gaza-palestinians-israel-evacuees-zeitoun

    Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, singled out the killing this week of up to 30 Palestinians in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza City, when Israel shelled a house where its troops had told about 110 civilians to take shelter.

    Pillay, a former international criminal court judge from South Africa, told the BBC the incident “appears to have all the elements of war crimes”. She called for “credible, independent and transparent” investigations into possible violations of humanitarian law.

    (The photo at the top of that link is highly disturbing.)

    From the smh

    Yesterday the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said witnesses had accused Israeli forces of what they called “one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations”.

    The UN said that “according to several testimonies, on January 4 Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians – half of whom were children – into a single-residence house in Zeitoun, warning them to stay indoors. Twenty-four hours later Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30.

    I don’t think the Israeli government is going to win a propagana victory with these obscenities broadcast far and wide. Hamas can win by simply surviving.

  98. Peter Kemp

    (Correction propaganda)
    Sadly both Hamas and the Israeli government oppose the UN call for a ceasefire. Israel probably thinks it can still grind Hamas into the dust and Hamas knows that the more Israel kills civilians, the more the world will be disgusted with Israel’s disproportionate military action.

  99. John Ryan

    Well PeterTB I notice he has not said he does not work for the Ministry,I don’t think I said you were being paid by the Ministry,just wondered if you might like a job, I was after the fact that is Rob a paid propagandist for the Ministry,they have form on this you know or is it just you did not notice.
    Sorry Mark I wont ever question the Israeli Propaganda Ministry again,the right are getting rather touchy about this methinks.
    Read post #87 by Mark and tell me if I could be right.

  100. yeti

    Rob @94, my gravatar is not very important in the scheme of things, but since you ask, I was just a bit tired of having a question mark there. I chose this gravatar to represent my support of Israel, which I show by opposing Israeli policies that are harmful to its long term interests and its international reputation.

  101. Michael

    Yeti, that is not the MFA approved way of supporting Israel.

    You have to do it the way we on ‘the left’ support Palestinians – defend every action by Hamas, always find that Hamas has acted correctly and faithfully repaeat all Hamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs talking points at every opportunity…………..though I’m still waiting for my Hamas MFA email inviting me to part of their “network of volunteers” to “balance the media”, and to tell me what the talking points are.

  102. Michael

    The text (PDF) of the UNSC Res for anyone interested,
    http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N09/204/32/PDF/N0920432.pdf?OpenElement

    Though (sad to say) a more important document has come out. Thanks to Richard Silverstein over at Tikun Olam for this one in, of all places,TIME Magazine.

    Richard also has links to several Op-Eds that popped up in the NYTs, including one by, OMG!, a Palestinian, Rashid Khalidi. Well worth a read.

  103. PeterTB

    Peter Kemp: Israel’s disproportionate military action.

    There’s that “disproportionate” word again. I still haven’t seen anyone define what they think a proportionate response would be to more than 8,000 misiles and mortars fired by HAMAS since the Israelis withdrew from Gaza.

    Your thoughts Peter K?

  104. Michael

    One wonders what the count of missiles, bombs and artillery shells fired by the IDF into Gaza is over the same time?

    No doubt the IDF would have a fair idea, but they aren’t likely to be spruiking that particular detail.

  105. myriad

    PeterTB,

    have a read of the Wall Street Journal’s Op-ed on the current war, accusing Israel of an illegal war of aggression and several war crimes. You’ll find it on the Gaza – War Propoganda thread.

    What you and others such as Rob and Despipis don’t seem to get is that International “War Law” does define proportionality, and Israel has comprehensively failed that test. It has instigated an illegal war of aggression. Illegal = not justified.

    You and I can and others can bicker all day about what is an appropriate response to Hamas’ illegal rocket attacks. It won’t change the fact that in the real world, Israel’s response was a bloody war that is massacring civilians – and Israel stands accused of deliberately targeting civilians – and this war is being judged by the world, under international law, to be illegal.

    Only the USA, once again, is standing in the way of Israel being targeted for sanctions. And I might add that the support for Israel’s war here in Australia from the major parties is also shameful.

  106. Rob

    We can all cite various contributions to the war of Op Eds, myriad.

    ” …and this war is being judged by the world, under international law, to be illegal.”

    You mean that it is by some OpEd’ists, and you agree with them.

    We’ve done the LOAC thing before, and you have not been able to demonstrate that it is not abiding by it.

    But as a matter of interest, what do you think Israel should have done to curtail the rocket attacks on its territory and citizens? You’re very full of what it shouldn’t have done.

  107. Peter Kemp

    There’s that “disproportionate” word again.

    And here’s a summary of its proof Peter TB, a ratio of around 110:1

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154826952369919.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Since firing the first Kassam rocket into Israel in 2002, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have loosed thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, causing about two dozen Israeli deaths and widespread fear. As indiscriminate attacks on civilians, these were war crimes. During roughly the same period, Israeli forces killed about 2,700 Palestinians in Gaza by targeted killings, aerial bombings, in raids, etc., according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

  108. Katz

    But as a matter of interest, what do you think Israel should have done to curtail the rocket attacks on its territory and citizens? You’re very full of what it shouldn’t have done.

    OK, let’s have a go at this.

    Israel’s problems begin in Israel.

    Governments of Israel speak for the sovereignty that is Israel. This is self-evident, but incomplete.

    Governments of Israel also speak for the sentiments and aspirations of groups that support it.

    Governments of Israel also attempt to represent the interests of those groups by pursuing policies that are calculated to achieve the long-term interests of those groups even though these policies seem to contradict the sentiments and aspirations of the groups that support the government.

    (Forgive this long-winded prologue, but it is necessary to acknowledge the importance of the fact that Israel is a representative democracy containing large groups who are deeply divided over many aspects of public affairs, not the least of which are foreign and military policy.)

    It is true to say that the parties that are more inclined to seek a negotiated settlement with Palestinians have declined in popularity and influence during the last 20 years. Messianic and chauvinist parties have risen in popularity and influence.

    Uppermost in the minds of the Olmert government has been the problem of how to prevent the further rise of messianics and chauvinists. Tragically, the Centrists who support Olmert have attempted to forestall them by hi-jacking rightist policies and by pursuing them (particularly ineptly, as it has turned out).

    So what should “Israel” (that is, the present government of Israel) do? They should be true to their own principles. Rather than pander to messianics and chauvinists, they should demonstrate to Palestinians that they are willing to address their just demands. In that way Palestinians may be persuaded to accept the truth that voting for extremists like Hamas is not in their interests. Does that mean that the government of Israel should pursue a policy of unilateral pacifism? Of course not.

    At the very least, Israeli Centrists need to explain why it is better for Israelis to vote for them rather than for messianics or chauvinists. At present Israeli Centrists appear to be noting more than incompetent copy-cats of the Right.

    If that is all Centrists can do, they may as well disband themselves.

    Hamas’ rocket attacks are simply symptoms of a larger disorder. If a military solution were possible, then it might be supportable, even if the IDF pursued disproportionate methods. But a military solution is not possible. Therefore, a political rapprochement, perhaps along the lines outlined above, is the only path towards a solution.

  109. myriad

    We’ve done the LOAC thing before, and you have not been able to demonstrate that it is not abiding by it.

    “I” don’t need to – there’s credible international observers in the form of the UN and the International Red Cross both charging that Israel has violated the rules of war, and a consensus around the world mirroring the same. The ‘Op-eds’ from informed commentators from Europe, Australia, from within Israel and now even from the WSJ are all saying the same thing. Certainly Israel is in violation of jus in bello and more are questioning whether it even meets the criteria of just ad bellum.

    For a definition of proportionality, something you have a lovely neo-con ‘understanding’ of, try here, and I would recommend reading all the articles relating to the Palestinian conflict on the same site.

    this excellent summary from the BBC also brings together expert opinion on the severe flaws (putting it nicely) in Israel’s definition of legitimate targets in the current Gazan conflict, and proportionate use of force.

    As to how to stop the rocket attacks, not an easy ask, and here the Israelis living with that terror and uncertainty have my total sympathy. Katz’s points about electing a government actively committed to peace would be a good start. Also, Israel needs to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands as decreed by the UN, and stop illegal settlements, cease building at the very least the illegal ‘security wall’ and end of the blockade of Palestinian territories and collective group punishments such as turning off the water supply.

    From that position of moral authority and good faith, it can then get a UN resolution condemning Hamas & the other fringe Palestinian groups that always seem to get forgotten, but are in fact also firing rockets and have committed the few violations there were of the ceasefire according to most accounts. Israel could look for UN intervention (physical) to prevent the rocket attacks.

    This would also demonstrate clearly to the Palestinian people that there is another option for the peace they want, other than supporting the extremist elements such as Hamas. AS has been seen over the recent couple of weeks, many if not most Palestinians don’t want Hamas, what they want is peace. But while Israel keeps providing reasons for Palestinian youth in particular to listen to extremist groups, the rocket attacks won’t stop.

    Israeli action as outlined above will also lay a just cause of precision military action if necessary – although as has now been shown time and again, the very nature of the rocket attacks makes military action a completely ineffective response, and causes unacceptable loss of civilian lives.

    Israel was in ‘secret’ negotiations with Syria, which was a very positive sign towards pressuring it and Iran to stop funding Hamas & other extremists. These negotiations need to be re-instigated as a matter of urgency. Jordan has played a very constructive role in recent years supporting moves towards a negotiated peace, and could be used more effectively too.

  110. yeti

    Rob:

    ” …and this war is being judged by the world, under international law, to be illegal.”

    You mean that it is by some OpEd’ists, and you agree with them.

    No, it was actually by an unequivocal World Court ruling in 2004.

  111. Lefty E

    Thats a great Naomi Klein piece. Ive been saying that at least since the Lebanon war. It time for global sanctions on Israel.

  112. boo

    Can’t see it happening LeftyE. Despite the US (&other) claims that sanctions did little or no damage to the civilians of Iraq & despite the fact that Palestinians continue to suffer all manner of collective punishment we’ll be told that sanctions of any kind would be too cruel an imposition on the civilians of Israel.