Even if the pressures exerted on Gaza were to be acknowledged as having genocidal potential and even if Israel's impunity under America's geopolitical umbrella is put aside, there is little assurance that any sort of protective action in Gaza would be taken. There were strong advance signals in 1994 of a genocide to come in Rwanda, and yet nothing was done to stop it; the UN and the world watched while the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnians took place, an incident that the World Court described as 'genocide' a few months ago; similarly, there have been repeated allegations of genocidal conduct in Darfur over the course of the last several years, and hardly an international finger has been raised, either to protect those threatened or to resolve the conflict in some manner that shares power and resources among the contending ethnic groups.
But Gaza is morally far worse, although mass death has not yet resulted. It is far worse because the international community is watching the ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel in its approach to Gaza. Not only the United States, but also the European Union, are complicit, as are such neighbors as Egypt and Jordan apparently motivated by their worries that Hamas is somehow connected with their own problems associated with the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood within their own borders. It is helpful to recall that the liberal democracies of Europe paid homage to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games, and then turned away tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. I am not suggesting that the comparison should be viewed as literal, but to insist that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century.
To ground these allegations, it is necessary to consider the background of the current situation. For over four decades, ever since 1967, Gaza has been occupied by Israel in a manner that turned this crowded area into a cauldron of pain and suffering for the entire population on a daily basis, with more than half of Gazans living in miserable refugees camps and even more dependent on humanitarian relief to satisfy basic human needs. With great fanfare, under Sharon's leadership, Israel supposedly ended its military occupation and dismantled its settlements in 2005. The process was largely a sham as Israel maintained full control over borders, air space, offshore seas, as well as asserted its military control of Gaza, engaging in violent incursions, sending missiles to Gaza at will on assassination missions that themselves violate international humanitarian law, and managing to kill more than 300 Gazan civilians since its supposed physical departure.
As unacceptable as is this earlier part of the story, a dramatic turn for the worse occurred when Hamas prevailed in the January 2006 national legislative elections. It is a bitter irony that Hamas was encouraged, especially by Washington, to participate in the elections to show its commitment to a political process (as an alternative to violence) and then was badly punished for having the temerity to succeed. These elections were internationally monitored under the leadership of the former American president, Jimmy Carter, and pronounced as completely fair.
Carter has recently termed this Israeli/American refusal to accept the outcome of such a democratic verdict as itself 'criminal.' It is also deeply discrediting of the campaign of the Bush presidency to promote democracy in the region, an effort already under a dark shadow in view of the policy failure in Iraq.
After winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas was castigated as a terrorist organization that had not renounced violence against Israel and had refused to recognize the Jewish state as a legitimate political entity. In fact, the behavior and outlook of Hamas is quite different. From the outset of its political Hamas was ready to work with other Palestinian groups, especially Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, to establish a 'unity' government. More than this, their leadership revealed a willingness to move toward an acceptance of Israel's existence if Israel would in turn agree to move back to its 1967 borders, implementing finally unanimous Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Even more dramatically, Hamas proposed a ten-year truce with Israel, and went so far as to put in place a unilateral ceasefire that lasted for eighteen months, and was broken only to engage in rather pathetic strikes mainly taking place in response to Israeli violent provocations in Gaza. As Efraim Halevi, former head of Israel's Mossad was reported to have said, 'What Isreal needs from Hamas is an end to violence, not diplomatic recognition.' And this is precisely what Hamas offered and what Israel rejected.
The main weapon available to Hamas, and other Palestinian extremist elements, were Qassam missiles that resulted in producing no more than 12 Israeli deaths in six years. While each civilian death is an unacceptable tragedy, the ratio of death and injury for the two sides in so unequal as to call into question the security logic of continuously inflicting excessive force and collective punishment on the entire beleaguered Gazan population, which is accurately regarded as the world's largest 'prison.'
Instead of trying diplomacy and respecting democratic results, Israel and the United States used their leverage to reverse the outcome of the 2006 elections by organizing a variety of international efforts designed to make Hamas fail in its attempts to govern in Gaza. Such efforts were reinforced by the related unwillingness of the defeated Fatah elements to cooperate with Hamas in establishing a government that would be representative of Palestinians as a whole. The main anti-Hamas tactic relied upon was to support Abbas as the sole legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, to impose an economic boycott on the Palestinians generally, to send in weapons for Fatah militias and to enlist neighbors in these efforts, particularly Egypt and Jordan. The United States Government appointed a special envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, to work with Abbas forces, and helped channel $40 million to buildup the Presidential Guard, which were the Fatah forces associated with Abbas.
This was a particularly disgraceful policy. Fatah militias, especially in Gaza, had long been wildly corrupt and often used their weapons to terrorize their adversaries and intimidate the population in a variety of thuggish ways. It was this pattern of abuse by Fatah that was significantly responsible for the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections, along with the popular feelings that Fatah, as a political actor, had neither the will nor capacity to achieve results helpful to the Palestinian people, while Hamas had managed resistance and community service efforts that were widely admired by Gazans.
The latest phase of this external/internal dynamic was to induce civil strife in Gaza that led a complete takeover by Hamas forces. With standard irony, a set of policies adopted by Israel in partnership with the United States once more produced exactly the opposite of their intended effects. The impact of the refusal to honor the election results has after 18 months made Hamas much stronger throughout the Palestinian territories, and put it in control of Gaza. Such an outcome is reminiscent of a similar effect of the 2006 Lebanon War that was undertaken by the Israel/United States strategic partnership to destroy Hezbollah, but had the actual consequence of making Hezbollah a much stronger, more respected force in Lebanon and throughout the region.
The Israel and the United States seemed trapped in a faulty logic that is incapable of learning from mistakes, and takes every setback as a sign that instead of shifting course, the faulty undertaking should be expanded and intensified, that failure resulted from doing too little of the right thing, rather than is the case, doing the wrong thing. So instead of taking advantage of Hamas' renewed call for a unity government, its clarification that it is not against Fatah, but only that "[w]e have fought against a small clique within Fatah," (Abu Ubaya, Hamas military commander), Israel seems more determined than ever to foment civil war in Palestine, to make the Gazans pay with their wellbeing and lives to the extent necessary to crush their will, and to separate once and for all the destinies of Gaza and the West Bank.
The insidious new turn of Israeli occupation policy is as follows: push Abbas to rely on hard-line no compromise approach toward Hamas, highlighted by the creation of an unelected 'emergency' government to replace the elected leadership. The emergency designated prime minister, Salam Fayyad, appointed to replace the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, as head of the Palestinian Authority. It is revealing to recall that when Fayyad's party was on the 2006 election list its candidates won only 2% of the vote. Israel is also reportedly ready to ease some West Bank restrictions on movement in such a way as to convince Palestinians that they can have a better future if they repudiate Hamas and place their bets on Abbas, by now a most discredited political figure who has substantially sold out the Palestinian cause to gain favor and support from Israel/United States, as well as to prevail in the internal Palestinian power struggle.
To promote these goals it is conceivable, although unlikely, that Israel might release Marwan Barghouti, the only credible Fatah leader, from prison provided Barghouti would be willing to accept the Israeli approach of Sharon/Olmert to the establishment of a Palestinian state. This latter step is doubtful, as Barghouti is a far cry from Abbas, and would be highly unlikely to agree to anything less than a full withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 borders, including the elimination of West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.
This latest turn in policy needs to be understood in the wider context of the Israeli refusal to reach a reasonable compromise with the Palestinian people since 1967. There is widespread recognition that such an outcome would depend on Israeli withdrawal, establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as capital, and sufficient external financial assistance to give the Palestinians the prospect of economic viability. The truth is that there is no Israeli leadership with the vision or backing to negotiate such a solution, and so the struggle will continue with violence on both sides.
The Israeli approach to the Palestinian challenge is based on isolating Gaza and cantonizing the West Bank, leaving the settlement blocs intact, and appropriating the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For years this sidestepping of diplomacy has dominated Israeli behavior, including during the Oslo peace process that was initiated on the White House lawn in 1993 by the famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat.
While talking about peace, the number of Israeli settlers doubled, huge sums were invested in settlement roads linked directly to Israel, and the process of Israeli settlement and Palestinian displacement from East Jerusalem was moving ahead at a steady pace. Significantly, also, the 'moderate' Arafat was totally discredited as a Palestinian leader capable of negotiating with Israel, being treated as dangerous precisely because he was willing to accept a reasonable compromise. Interestingly, until recently when he became useful in the effort to reverse the Hamas electoral victory, Abbas was treated by Isreal as too weak, too lacking in authority, to act on behalf of the Palestinian people in a negotiating process, one more excuse for persisting with its preferred unilateralist course.
These considerations also make it highly unlikely that Barghouti will be released from prison unless there is some dramatic change of heart on the Israeli side. Instead of working toward some kind of political resolution, Israel has built an elaborate and illegal security wall on Palestinian territory, expanded the settlements, made life intolerable for the 1.4 million people crammed into Gaza, and pretends that such unlawful 'facts on the ground' are a path leading toward security and peace.
On June 25, 2007 leaders from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority met in Sharm El Sheik on the Red Sea to move ahead with their anti-Hamas diplomacy. Israel proposes to release 250 Fatah prisoners (of 9,000 Palestinians currently held) and to hand over Palestinian revenues to Abbas on an installment basis, provided none of the funds is used in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds day by day. These leaders agreed to cooperate in this effort to break Hamas and to impose a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on an unwilling Palestine population. Remember that Hamas prevailed in the 2006 elections, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank as well. To deny Palestinian their right of self-determination is almost certain to backfire in a manner similar to similar efforts, producing a radicalized version of what is being opposed. As some commentators have expressed, getting rid of Hamas means establishing al Qaeda!
Israel is currently stiffening the boycott on economic relations that has brought the people of Gaza to the brink of collective starvation. This set of policies, carried on for more than four decades, has imposed a sub-human existence on a people that have been repeatedly and systematically made the target of a variety of severe forms of collective punishment. The entire population of Gaza is treated as the 'enemy' of Israel, and little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society.
To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole. It is this prospect that makes appropriate the warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of 'never again.'
9 Jan 2009 @ 08:16 by : A Wonderful Chanukah Gift
"A Wonderful Chanukah Gift"
The blog post which was the source of the above title has left me utterly speechless, therefore I must simply quote it and use pictures to respond. The words are from the blog Maggie's Notebook (except for the photo captions in italics), the pictures are from various sources.
I woke up this morning to a wonderful Chanukah gift. The IAF attacking Gaza.
I know I shouldn't be ecstatic, that I shouldn't be joyful at the death of my fellow human,…
The Chanukah Massacre was dubbed "Operation Cast (or Solid) Lead"
so named after a Chanukah poem by H.N. Bialik, national poet of Israel
"Teacher bought a big top for me,
Solid lead, the finest known.
In whose honor, for whose glory?
For Hanukkah alone."
From now on, Hanukkah/Chanukah will always be associated in my mind with a tragic 2008 Massacre in which Israel again took a gamble that no power in the world would raise a finger to stop their 60-year long campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians but will let them have as many spins of the "solid lead" dreidel as they need to win all of Eretz Israel.
~Salmah Umm Zainab
The full blog plus pictures can be found here:
And again the url is listed at the end of the below comments from that blog.
Comment from Maggie Thornton
December 29, 2008 at 8:27 PM
The Palestinian people should be encouraged to enjoy their land and live side by side with Israel. We know that won't happen. Palestine has brought this on themselves. While the men shoot off their rockets and their mouths, their women and children die and the "warriors" do not care.
Get your history straight.
Comment from SuZ
December 29, 2008 at 8:56 PM
Maggie Thornton, I invite you, please, to get your history straight -
I hope your chillingly absent compassion is due only to ignorance. Your blog post horrified and sickened me, as does your comment here.
The Palestinian people did not bring this on themselves; they did not ask to be dispossessed and murdered and oppressed 60 years ago nor now, they merely resisted and continue to resist.
If those who have been displaced and oppressed by the state of Israel are willing to allow the thieves of their lands and destroyers of their lives to retain part of what was stolen in exchange for promises not to steal any more and murder any more, why not humbly and gratefully accept their largesse on their terms and try to reform your national character?
Comment from Kaleem
December 29, 2008 at 9:03 PM
What a response Suz1
I really appreciate your great comment with reason and logic to the morally bankrupt, insensitive comment, which speaks volumes of a fascist mindset.
Keep it up to let these nihilists have a little doze of sanity as well.
Comment from Gary
December 29, 2008 at 9:08 PM
These quality comments and exposing the evil nature of israeli fascists will never let them have a doze of sanity. The reason is simple: They didn't get a lesson from the holocaust of their fellow Jews. They are repeating the same crimes which were done to them. How can we expect them to learn from these simple posts when they couldn;t learn from the hOlocaust. They should have been sensitized by the brutality of Nazis to the extent that they should have become defenders of all oppressed and vicimized. Instead, they become the oppressers, the occupiers, the racists and ethnic cleansers. What a shame.
Comment from SuZ
December 29, 2008 at 9:08 PM
Thank you Kaleem!
Comment from Project http://Humanbeingsfirst.org/
December 29, 2008 at 10:43 PM
While the powerless' scream may not reach the monster that hides behind the nom de guerre "Maggie Thornton":
"I still curse the killers, their accomplices, the indifferent spectators who knew and kept silent, and Creation itself, Creation and those who perverted and distorted it. I feel like screaming, howling like a madman so that that world, the world of the murderers, might know it will never be forgiven."
a victor's justice at some point in the future - and there is always a future for all victims as the 2000 year history of the Jews themselves is ample testimony - may indeed reach it one day.
I fear that day - for it will not know the difference between innocent and guilty!
How can that ever be determined once the vilest criminal generation known to mankind - having suffered their own holocaust at the hands of another vilest generation - has left its innocent children behind to reap the harvest of revenge planted by their criminal elders and their criminal exponents who gleefully claim: "I feel like dancing and singing this day."?
Getting history straight is irrelevant, for that can never happen as long as power overwhelms its victims. Just look at the images of the victims and the rejoicing of their murderers and that is enough to get it straight!
There is no ignorance here - there is no banality of evil here either.
Only an 'ubermensch' exercising their god's chosen-people's imperatives upon the lesser goy.
And the reason for it isn't that abstruse either: http://www.dictatorshipwatch.com/2008/12/29/the-final-pretexts-for-population-transfer-in-the-making.html
So dance all you want Maggie Thornton. Some others will be paying for every one of yours and your brethren's dance-step in spades.
"A Wonderful Chanukah Gift"
9 Jan 2009 @ 08:21 by : The Real Crux...
Who Owns the Gas Fields
The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.
The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.
British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.
The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.
In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)
The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.
In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.
The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.
9 Jan 2009 @ 09:00 by : HAMAS strengthened...
Israel and the west will pay a price for Gaza's bloodbath
Whether the current ceasefire talks succeed or fail, Hamas has already been strengthened by the US-backed assault...
Over the last 12 days, Israel has inflicted a bloodbath on the Gaza Strip that matches the darkest days of the Iraq war. Backed to the hilt by the US author of that catastrophe, it has killed more than 650 people in less than a fortnight, including at least 200 children, and wounded three thousand. Yesterday, after killing 50 civilians in UN schools sheltering refugees - "C'est la guerre", the Israeli minister Meir Shitreet told the BBC when asked about the atrocities - the Israeli government agreed a three-hour daily lull in the carnage for "humanitarian purposes", as diplomatic manoeuvring intensified over a possible ceasefire deal. All this at the cost of only 10 Israeli dead, six of them soldiers.
But despite this gruesome demonstration of its overwhelming power, Israel once again faces the threat of political and military failure, just as it did in Lebanon in 2006. After its most pulverising assault ever on the blockaded territory, Hamas remains standing, its administration intact, its rockets reaching ever further into Israel proper. Far from turning the Gazan population against the Islamist movement, the signs are that Israel's onslaught is cementing its support.
9 Jan 2009 @ 21:04 by : Testimony:
Testimony: Israeli troops open fire on those fleeing shelling
Testimony, B'Tselem, 9 January 2009
Yusef Abd al-Karim Barakeh Abu Hajaj is resident of Johr al-Dik. The following testimony was given to B'Tselem's Atef Abu al-Rub by telephone on 6 January 2009:
We live in an agricultural area in the center of the Gaza Strip, where there are not many houses.
On Sunday [4 January] morning, 15 of us from the family were at home. The Israeli army was positioned 300 meters west of our house. The previous night, the army began to shell the area. Our house wasn't hit directly. We thought that, because we don't live in a crowded area, and no military post or governmental institution was next to us, we weren't in danger.
Around 7:00am, an Israeli tank fired at our house. We decided to leave, and went to our neighbor, Hussein al-Aydi. A little while later, we heard that the army told people to leave the houses in the area, and we decided to go to another place. We left together with the neighbor's family. Together, we were 25 persons.
When we went outside, we held up a white cloth, so the soldiers would know we were civilians. We were afraid they would shoot us, but we walked anyway, having no alternative. Women and small children were in our group. When we got to a point opposite the tanks, they opened fire at us. My mother was hit and fell down. Then my sister Majda was hit in the back. Both were killed. We ran back, toward Hussein al-Ayadi's house. Mother and Majda remained lying on the ground.
We immediately called the Red Crescent and the Red Cross to ask them to remove the bodies. Because of the shelling, nobody could get there. The next day, we realized we had to leave the area, and we fled.
Now I'm living in the school in Nuseirat. We didn't manage to coordinate removal of the bodies of Mother and Majda, and they are apparently still outside. We don't know when we can move them. It is very crowded in the school, so some of my family went to stay in other places.
B'Tselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the "Occupied" Territories...
11 Jan 2009 @ 02:59 by jmarc : The best lack all conviction,
while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
11 Jan 2009 @ 03:52 by : Thanks to jmarc
The Second Coming
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
12 Jan 2009 @ 21:51 by a-d : Second,Third,Fourth Coming of
"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat."
-- Yitzhak Rabin (a "Prince of Peace" by Clinton's standards), explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry. (Quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen's remarks to the Knesset's foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.)
13 Jan 2009 @ 18:44 by : Yeah...
We now know the face of the 'Jewish' beast for all it's worth. This too shall pass and the gluttons who once feasted on flesh and drank the blood of innocents will rot in their own stew...
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?