On Netanyahu on Gaza

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2009-01-04

(Dear Marian,) I watched the Netanyahu video, and I am amazed.

Why do you accept the self-serving statements of a right-wing Israeli government official as being THE TRUTH or as any true reflection of the background or reasons for a war against a captive impoverished people -- why do you simply accept his bland, self-righteous distorted representations without any reference to the CONTEXT, the BACKGROUND of the genocidal policies of the Israeli military in the Gaza strip?

Because if you allowed yourself to read some commentary and news analysis -- from people on the Israeli left (all Jews) and from journalists in Israeli universities and Israeli newspapers, you would amaze yourself at what information you are missing!

I actually gagged at Netanyahu's statement that the Israeli military is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. He, with his friends Bush, Cheney, et al. can lie in their teeth with impunity, and the American press simply ignores it. As NYTimes journalist Chris Hedges says, in an article in the blog Truthdig.com (and this is part of the info you recently called "icky" and didn't want to hear about):

Can anyone who is following the Israeli air attacks on Gaza -- the buildings blown to rubble, the children killed on their way to school, the long rows of mutilated corpses, the wailing mothers and wives, the crowds of terrified Palestinians not knowing where to flee, the hospitals so overburdened and out of supplies they cannot treat the wounded, and our studied, callous indifference to this widespread human suffering -- wonder why we are hated?

By now the toll of the Palestinian dead is over 500, the wounded over 2000 since the air attacks began 9 days ago. As Hedges points out, "Israel uses sophisticated attack jets, drone bombers, helicopter gunships and navy vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums -- to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no army" -- Israel calls it a "war to the bitter end" (Ehud Barak) It is no war. It is a turkey shoot -- It is murder. But Israel presents itself as righteous, the only victim.

But, you ask, why is Hamas lobbing rockets into Siderot? Aren't they asking for it? Why don't they stop? Well, there is some more information you are missing also. Did you know that Israel has held a siege, a blockade of Gaza since Hamas won (freely and fairly) the election in 2007? Meaning that Israel declared Gaza a closed military zone, surrounding Gaza -- as an outdoor prison -- by barbed wire fences and walls and closed checkpoints, and the Israeli military cutting off, as it pleased, deliveries of fuel, gas, medical supplies, grain, even cutting off UN refugee relief aid. The foreign press has been barred by Israel from entering Gaza to report on the dire situation. Western medical teams recently have also been barred.

Princeton University professor Richard Falk is the U.N. special rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine. He called what Israel was doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza "a crime against humanity." Falk (who is Jewish) condemned the ongoing collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as "a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention." Of the ongoing blockade he stated, "It is an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health."

A recent study quoted by Falk talks about the statistics gathered on children -- half of Gaza's population is under the age of 17 -- about 45 percent of the children have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth. There are reports that the continuous sonic booms from Israeli overflights day and night have caused psychological problems and also deafness, especially in children. Malnutrition is very high, and there are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Falk says of the blockade: "I don't know of anything that exactly fits this situation. People have been referring to the Warsaw ghetto as the nearest analog in modern times." (The irony is grotesque.)

Before the air assaults Gaza was without power 12 hours a day. Most of Gaza including the hospitals were continually lacking power. Hospitals had generators but now are lacking fuel. There are few drugs and little medicine. With the bombing assaults now, the hospitals are denuded of supplies to assist the thousands of wounded, and hospital supply storage facilities have also been bombed. Falk says, "There is no modern occupation that endured for decades and involved this kind of oppressive circumstances...The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a crime against humanity..."

Netanyahu's bland statements reveal nothing of all this context -- nor anything about the facts of the breaking of the cease-fire that Hamas signed in July. It was a 6 month truce agreement to be renegotiated in December, the truce which was strictly upheld by Hamas (That was revealed in the London Guardian newspaper which printed an Israeli government graph showing the total halt of rocket attacks) Netanyahu says nothing about the fact that it was ISRAEL that violated the truce on November 4th when it initiated an armed attack with extra-judicial killings of six Palestinians. IT WAS ONLY THEN THAT HAMAS RESUMED FIRING ROCKETS AT ISRAEL.

Netanyahu also suppresses the fact that Hamas has repeatedly proposed long-term truces with Israel and offered to negotiate a permanent truce -- and Israel simply ignored those requests or outright refused. (And the whole other question of the continuing stealing of land and crops and outright illegal expropriation by Israeli settlements that continue daily is always in the background, -- in spite of the promises made under the Road Map not to build new settlements -- not to speak of the many other brutal injustices and humiliations by Israeli policies too numerous to set down here)

Falk says about the rocket attacks by the Palestinians, "Israel has put the Gazans in a set of circumstances where they either have to accept whatever is imposed on them or resist in any way available to them. That is a horrible dilemma to impose upon a people. This does not alleviate the Gazans for accountability for doing these acts involving rocket fire; it is also criminal, but it is a crime for survival. Israel must take responsibility for creating these circumstances."

If Israel wants peace and "quiet" it must halt the bombing campaign -- and end the criminal Gaza blockade, as a simple first step. If Israel continues on its destructive path, the brutal occupation of the West Bank and the ongoing massacres in Gaza will never bring peace to Israel.

As Chris Hedges writes,

The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of the oldest forms of warfare. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate violence and abuse...All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus...The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals...[who] enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will one day be the violence unleashed on Israeli children...