Monday, July 21, 2014

Israel Attacks Gaza and Kills Palestinians: Again

As you may have read in the news the State of Israel has launched military attacks by land, air and sea against the Palestinians in Gaza. Israel claims to be trying to degrade Hamas' military capacity and prevent Hamas from launching rocket attacks against Israel. As virtually every US politician who sees himself or herself as a national figure has rushed to the nearest microphone to intone, "Israel has the right to defend itself" and "No country could accept rockets being fired into its territory". Those are true statements. What you won't hear many, if any, US politicians say is that Palestinians also have the right to defend themselves against Israel. As Palestinians are literally children of a lesser God in the view of many in the "West" the idea that they have the right to resist is something completely alien to the narrative. The other idea which is completely alien to the narrative is the idea that massive and exponentially disproportionate retribution isn't always actually a moral or even useful method to respond to violence or resistance. At the time of this writing, a little over 400 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, most of them non-combatant men, women and children. That's what happens when people with a first rate air force, navy and army drop bombs on and shell people who lack any air force who live in an area roughly the size of Detroit. Children have been deliberately targeted while playing on a beach. Hospitals and disabled centers have been attacked.                                          
It's simply impossible to oppress, demean and humiliate a group of people without simultaneously coming up with an ideology that transforms your oppression into sober, fair minded treatment and the people being subjugated into either irrational, mindless beasts howling for blood or folks who are sadly simply culturally deprived and don't understand all the benefits your "oppression" provides them.

This is something which is true in Israel today but it bears repeating that this is something which is true across humanity in every time and place. It's exactly because we all have shared humanity that in order to brutalize another human being we have to find some sort of method of denying their status as human beings. This was true with British colonists in Kenya or French colonists in Algeria who murdered, tortured and raped indigenous people who resisted their invasions and depredations. It was true with European settlers in Australia and the Americas. It was true with White American slave owners or supporters of Jim Crow and Black Americans. It was true with Arab slave owners in Africa. It's true with Hindu caste systems. And so on. Any time someone is on top and doing their best to keep someone else on the bottom they come up with justifications. And nobody likes being dominated, humiliated or exterminated. They resist, often even when resistance seems or actually objectively is, futile. So the current "round of violence" against Palestine is thoroughly predictable. But even using that frame of "round of violence" ignores the root cause of all the violence. It's the occupation stupid! The Israelis have been occupying and/or controlling the West Bank and Gaza for longer than I've been alive. Palestinians inside those territories are regularly and routinely brutalized or killed. In Gaza, particularly, they lack access to clean water, medicine, food, housing, almost everything that makes life worth living. 

The Palestinians have no representation, no way to address grievances, no protection against the Israeli military. That's what happens under military occupation. This is made worse by the fact that thanks to American and European diplomatic and military support Israel is convinced that it can have peace, military occupation and increasing numbers of Jewish settlements. The moribund peace process has only seen an increase in the amount of West Bank Jewish settlements. Israel has embarked on ethnic cleansing in the West Bank. Some Israeli politicians are openly calling for ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza. Knesset Member Moishe Feiglin is open about what he wants: 
After the IDF completes the "softening" of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.
Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package.
Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked echoes and goes beyond Feiglin's statements by explicitly calling for the death of Palestinian mothers and the destruction of their homes. She has endorsed a call for utter war against all Palestinians, viewing them all as worthy of death. How about that idea that female leadership will lead to less war and violence? Yeah, not so much. Shaked may lack testosterone but she has no deficit of hatred and bile.
"They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists," Shaked said, adding, "They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists." "Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."
One would wait in vain for any prominent American politician to condemn those ugly racist statements. All they will do is bleat about how Israel has the right to defend itself and the Palestinians must accept Israeli hegemony. I see no difference between what these Knesset members called for and the insane justification for a local murder of a two year old. The Israeli brutalization of the Palestinians also requires a torturing of the English language. NJ Governor and possible Republican Presidential candidate Chris Christie, a supporter of Israel, was nonetheless compelled to apologize after he mistakenly used the term "occupied territories" when referring to the occupied territories.  Occupation supporters such as casino mogul Sheldon Adelson prefer the terms "disputed territories" and certainly won't be writing checks to any politician who doesn't use the proper terminology. So, what is the solution to this? While one prominent anti-war libertarian thinks that Israel as it exists today must be dismantled, I think that just as the Palestinians aren't going anywhere, neither are the Jewish Israelis. I think the two-state solution is dead and has been dead for quite some time. Israel has no intention of removing its hegemony from either the West Bank or Gaza. The only long term solution is one state for both Jews and Palestinians, with equal rights for all. That seems like a pipe dream now. But as the family of murdered Jewish teen Naftali Frenkel said in a statement, "There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder". That is the message that needs to be nurtured and grown in Israel, not the weed of Jewish supremacist ugliness. In the same way that IRA bombing attacks in England did not result in massive indiscriminate bombardment of Dublin, Israel needs to find a different way. Because morality aside, what it's doing isn't working.

The Palestinians do not currently have nor are they likely in the near future to gain the military power to break the siege of Gaza or eject the West Bank settlers. And despite the constant invocation of "tiny Israel surrounded by 300 million Arabs who hate them", it's also very unlikely that other Arab nations will be riding to the Palestinian rescue. You may have noticed that those nations have their own problems. And none of them have a military that is remotely comparable to Israel's, let alone America's. But unless Israel thinks that it can openly get away with genocide or expulsion, the Palestinians will still be there. So long term, one state with equal rights for all and special rights for none is the only way. Otherwise, sometime in the distant future, when the Israeli and West Bank Arab population has far outstripped the Jewish population, there may be a settling of accounts that might not be to Israel's benefit. Right now the US needs to enforce a cease fire. Short term, politicians in the West, particularly the US, must turn off military, diplomatic and financial aid to Israel. Stop giving them weapons. Stop letting the tail wag the dog. Stop sharing intelligence. That's the only thing that has a remote chance of making Israeli politicians see the light. It is close to being too late. My only remaining hope that if the filthy apartheid state of South Africa can reform and become an imperfect democracy for all of its people, then so can Israel. But it's going to have to be forced into doing so. Of course at a minimum that would require a President who wasn't afraid to tell Israel "No". And we haven't had that for a while. #FreePalestine.
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