Like a rapist who tells their victim that if they don’t resist it won’t hurt as much Israel continues to pummel the Strip. On NPR this morning (why do I still listen?) the news was led by reporting that Hamas is continuing its rocket fire. Tzipi Livini, whose cynicism is surprising in someone so mediocre, was in Europe claiming that there was “no humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza. How does her definition of “crisis” include a couple of homemade rockets largely falling in open areas but not the land, sea and air bombardment of the most densely packed humanity on earth?
Cynthia McKinney (her account here) was among those brave blockade breakers whose boat, The Dignity, was rammed by Israel- firing live rounds in warning- trying to enter Gaza with aid. Fortunately no one was hurt. Obama has signaled his support to Israel by a convenient “no comment”. Last year he made as much as he could of his fawning visit to Israel, after an initial fawning speech to AIPAC. Holding up an “I (heart) Sderot” t-shirt, he made a point to visit Israeli towns close to Gaza. He did not visit Gaza.
A US spokesperson was asked about the 300 plus dead (as of yesterday) and said something like “we don’t do body counts” and then proceeded to talk about the three Israel’s killed. As usual all of the reporting was from the perspective of Israel. Far better news coverage can be found in the Israeli press than the American.
The news today promises to be as awful as yesterday’s. Demonstrations are happening, including most importantly in Egypt, but if you’re like me Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” is going through your head (sans the ham-fisted keyboard)and you wish there was assistance more immediate that could be offered. Today is a demonstration in Ann Arbor after a spirited one on Tuesday that also saw thousands demonstrate in Dearborn, a predominantly Arab suburb of Detroit.
To cleanse the pallet of the distasteful American media I am posting three from our side. Beginning with Norman Finkelstein interviewed on the Israeli assault
And an article by Mark Steel:
So what have the Palestinians got to complain about?
When you read the statements from Israeli and US politicians, and try to match them with the pictures of devastation, there seems to be only one explanation. They must have one of those conditions, called something like “Visual-Carnage-Responsibility-Back-To-Front-Upside-Down-Massacre-Disorder”.
For example, Condoleezza Rice, having observed that more than 300 Gazans were dead, said: “We are deeply concerned about the escalating violence. We strongly condemn the attacks on Israel and hold Hamas responsible.”
Someone should ask her to comment on teenage knife-crime, to see if she’d say: “I strongly condemn the people who’ve been stabbed, and until they abandon their practice of wandering around clutching their sides and bleeding, there is no hope for peace.”
The Israeli government suffers terribly from this confusion. They probably have adverts on Israeli television in which a man falls off a ladder and screams, “Eeeeugh”, then a voice says, “Have you caused an accident at work in the last 12 months?” and the bloke who pushed him gets £3,000.
The gap between the might of Israel’s F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters, and the Palestinians’ catapulty thing is so ridiculous that to try and portray the situation as between two equal sides requires the imagination of a children’s story writer.
The reporter on News at Ten said the rockets “may be ineffective, but they ARE symbolic.” So they might not have weapons but they have got symbolism, the canny brutes.
It’s no wonder the Israeli Air Force had to demolish a few housing estates, otherwise Hamas might have tried to mock Israel through a performance of expressive dance.
The rockets may be unable to to kill on the scale of the Israeli Air Force, said one spokesman, but they are “intended to kill”.
Maybe he went on: “And we have evidence that Hamas supporters have dreams, and that in these dreams bad things happen to Israeli citizens, they burst, or turn into cactus, or run through Woolworths naked, so it’s not important whether it can happen, what matters is that they WANT it to happen, so we blew up their university.”
Or there’s the outrage that Hamas has been supported by Iran. Well that’s just breaking the rules. Because say what you will about the Israelis, they get no arms supplies or funding or political support from a country that’s more powerful than them, they just go their own way and make all their weapons in an arts and crafts workshop in Jerusalem.
But mostly the Israelis justify themselves with a disappointing lack of imagination, such as the line that they had to destroy an ambulance because Hamas cynically put their weapons inside ambulances.
They should be more creative, and say Hamas were planning to aim the flashing blue light at Israeli epileptics in an attempt to make them go into a fit, get dizzy and wander off into Syria where they would be captured.
But they prefer a direct approach, such as the statement from Ofer Schmerling, an Israeli Civil Defence official who said on al-Jazeera, “I shall play music and celebrate what the Israeli Air Force is doing.”
Maybe they could turn it into a huge nationalfestival, with decorations and mince pies and shops playing “I Wish We Could Bomb Gaza Every Day”.
In a similar tone Dov Weisglas, Ariel Sharon’s chief of staff, referred to the siege of Gaza that preceded this bombing, a siege in which the Israelis prevented the population from receiving essential supplies of food, medicine, electricity and water, by saying, “We put them on a diet.”
It’s the arrogance of the East End gangster, so it wouldn’t be out of character if the Israeli Prime Minister’s press conference began: “Oh dear or dear. It looks like those Palestinians have had a little, er, accident. All their buildings have been knocked down – they want to be more careful, hee hee.”
And almost certainly one of the reasons this is happening now is because the government wants to appear hard as it wants to win an election. Maybe with typical Israeli frankness they’ll show a party political broadcast in which Ehud Olmert says, “This is why I think you should vote for me”, then shows film of Gaza and yells: “Wa-hey, that bloke in the corner is on FIRE.”
And Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues, and the specially appointed Middle East Peace Envoy, could then all shake their heads and say: “Disgraceful. The way he’s flapping around like that could cause someone to have a nasty accident.”
And David Finkel of Solidarity writes what’s
Behind the Gaza Massacre
The horror in Gaza is not some kind of accident or unexpected disaster. It is a result of events and decisions years in the making. It cannot be understood apart from years of United States policy in the Middle East. And it is most definitely not an act of “legitimate Israeli defense against unprovoked Hamas rockets.”
The bombing of Gaza is the massacre of a civilian population. Homes in refugee camps, hospitals, a university and its dormitories with students sleeping inside, vital infrastructure – all have been hit by Israel’s “precision bombs.” Targets destroyed in the name of “destroying terrorist structures” include police stations and recruits, who are ordinary people not military personnel. Journalists are barred from entering Gaza, so direct accounts of the carnage come mostly from Palestinian bloggers or desperate United Nation relief officials.
The military operation has clearly been planned for months. All during this time, Israel has tightened the blockade of Gaza, with complete United States government approval – cutting off essential medicines including insulin, reducing critical food supplies to barely above starvation level – fully realizing that the Hamas authorities in Gaza would eventually respond with rockets at southern Israeli towns. That was exactly the pretext that Israel’s government wanted.
Horror in Gaza
Several hundred Gaza residents, including noncombatant women and children, have been killed and thousands wounded. Even before this onslaught, however, they have been dying from lack of medicines blocked by the Israeli siege. A recent solidarity delegation to Gaza, traveling by boat in defiance of the blockade, was asked by their Palestinian hosts to bring thousands of children’s hearing aids – because children in Gaza have catastrophic hearing loss from Israeli noise bombs as well as jets’ routine sonic booms.
The Israeli assault is intended to break the back of the Hamas government in Gaza, but it will fail in this, as the Palestinians of Gaza will rally behind Hamas in their solidarity against attack. Therefore, the massacre of Gaza’s people can be expected to continue until international outrage forces it to stop. That outrage is quite rightly directed as much at the American government as it is at Israel. The Bush administration, with its proclamation that the elected Hamas Palestinian government “are nothing but thugs,” is giving open full support to this crime against humanity.
Palestinians and their supporters are sickened by the complicity of Arab governments, particularly Egypt, in the Israeli-U.S. attempt to destroy the leadership that was chosen through a free election in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The European Union, whichextends special trading privileges to Israel, has also done nothing to stop the Israeli blockade of Gaza and now the slaughter of its population. The pressure to force the bombing to end must come from below, from the Global Justice movement and from the outrage of people throughout the Middle East and the world.
Much of the world is awaiting with great hope the arrival of the Barack Obama presidency. Mr. Obama was elected, let us remember, with great majority support both from Jewish and Arab Americans, and his victory was greeted with elation in the Arab world and Israel alike. Tragically, his statements before the election, and his silence now, offer little reason to expect the Obama White House to change U.S. policies which are leading Israel, as well as the United States and the Middle East, toward mutual destruction.
What needs to change? The fiasco known as the “peace process” since the early 1990s has produced no peace, because it was always built on two false assumptions. The first was that Israel would keep the promises it made to halt settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and allow a viable Palestinian state to emerge. No Israeli government ever intended to do so. The second assumption was that the Palestinian population would quietly surrender in the face of overwhelming firepower to whatever terms the United States and Israel would dictate. They haven’t surrendered, and they won’t now.
The Arab American community and supporters of the Palestinian people poured out in Dearborn, Michigan on December 30, lining the sidewalk on Warren Avenue for a full half mile. At least two thousand people participated in this protest against Israel’s murderous bombing of the population of Gaza, so many that a memorial service for the Palestinian martyrs planned for the evening had to be postponed as the crowd overflowed the hall. Another mobilization will occur at Dearborn City Hall on Friday, January 2.
Under this “peace process,” the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza have created a reality worse than existed in South Africa. The world must stand up against this to force the change that is necessary if there is to be peace for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. The growing international efforts for boycott and sanctions deserve full support, to end the Israeli occupation and force the slaughter in Gaza to stop. The only other possible outcomes, all too clearly foreshadowed by what we must call the Israeli-U.S. massacre in Gaza, are new forms of apartheid and ultimately genocide too horrible to contemplate.