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The Other Side of Gaza

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'The real horror of Gaza was its utterly mindless disproportionalism.'

By Shafiq Morton - Cape Town

The Israelis invaded Gaza the day I went on leave. My Blackberry started buzzing with messages, and did not let up for 22 days. One of my contacts in Gaza City SMSed me on the first night of bombing: "WE R NOT ALONE. ALLAH US. 3 YEARS SIEGE. WE STILL STRONG."

I have kept those messages. Some are angry, some are desperate and some are heart-rending. All in the upper-case, they tell the story of Gaza in terse electronic shorthand: "SLM. 22 MASJIED DESTROY. 2,100 HOUSES DESTROY. 4,000 BUILDING DESTROY".

Or, "SLM…BRKG NEWS…DIS A.M. 6 CHILDREN MARTYR" was a disturbing message that woke me from a deep sleep at 3 am one morning.

As I was on leave, it was a strange feeling. I'd be on the beach with sand between my toes, and the Blackberry would vibrate and remind me of Gaza. I did a few radio and TV commentaries, but with the luxury of no impending deadlines, was able to spend time observing the disturbing events from a distance.

There were several things about "Operation Cast Lead" that struck me immediately. Anger in the Arab street stood out in sharp contrast to the coyness of its leaders in capitals such as Riyadh, Cairo, Damascus and 'Amman. Protest in the capitals of Europe also contradicted the EU's deference towards Israel.

And in the United States – a country renowned for Zionist lobby groups such as the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and 80 million pro-Israeli evangelicals – the hush of President George Bush was conspicuous.

But for the first time, I saw the Israeli hasbara press corps (whose job it is to spin Israeli policy) under serious Jewish scrutiny. Western media houses faithfully lapped up the memos issued by the National Information Directorate, but usually staid intellectuals such as Avi Shlaim and Henry Siegman were not letting them off the hook.

This was something I'd not seen before.

Avli Shlaim, an Oxford professor of International Relations, wrote in The Guardian (7 January) that the Palestinians were being blamed for their own misfortunes. The Gaza assault was simply a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, he said.

Gaza was a "uniquely cruel case of de-development" and a classic instance of colonial exploitation. He added that the idea of establishing a "Greater Israel" beyond the 1967 Green Line was one of the most "prolonged and brutal occupations of modern times".

Avli Shlaim, who once proudly served in the Israeli military, is not known to be regularly given to such public indignation.

Henry Siegman, professor at the University of London, an ordained orthodox Rabbi, former director of the American Jewish Congress, Director of the Middle East Report and the Synagogue Council of America, penned a scathing critique in the London Review of Books (January 29) bluntly entitled "Israel's Lies".

He slammed Western governments for unconditionally accepting the Israeli hasbara that Hamas was responsible for the violence. "Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce…" he wrote, saying that Israel had not released, but increased, its stranglehold on Gaza during the truce.

Siegman's criticisms are interesting. He has traditionally been regarded as a proponent of "moral equivelance" in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But here he was, openly slamming the disproportionate nature of Israel's actions in Gaza.

Even in South Africa, unexpected voices spoke out. Nobel Prize winning author Nadine Gordimer, who was happy to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary last year, rebutted the Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation's support for "Operation Cast Lead".

So did former chief justice, Arthur Chaskalson – as did a group of over 130 concerned Jews.

Indeed, one wonders just how many people must have been appalled at Israel's endeavours to explain away the horrendous toll of civilian casualties in Gaza. Their inference, that Hamas was part of an international jihadi network and was using women and children as shields, was amateurish in the extreme.

I don't know how many times Hamas spokesmen have said that their fight is for Palestinian rights, and that their struggle is a local one. Exporting resistance has never been on the agenda. But I wonder who in Tel Aviv has ever been listening?

Undeniably the real horror of Gaza was its utterly mindless disproportionalism. Less than 20 Israelis have died at the hands of home-made rockets fired from Gaza since 2001, but some 5,000 Palestinians have perished in Gaza and the West Bank in the same period.

I don't condone killing on any side (and kill figures are always obscene) but there is a point to be made.

Then there was the Kafka-esque scenario of the "victim" possessing F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, tanks, troops, artillery and over a million kilograms of "state-of-the-art" explosives. This is while the "perpetrator" had old-fashioned AK 47's, handguns, Molotov cocktails and hand-made rockets without homing devices.

This disproportionality was reflected in Israeli and Palestinian versions of events. The hasbara corps would argue with passion that the 500 or so tunnels dug under the border fence in Rafah were used exclusively for arms smuggling. The Gazans would reply that without these tunnels, they would have starved to death during the blockade.

"These tunnels are for business. We use them to bring in petrol, food, clothes and building material. How do you think we survived the Israeli blockade since 2006?" I was told by a Gazan on the phone.

That "Operation Cast Lead" was as much about Israeli politics (as anything else) was strongly evident. Yet it was hardly mentioned in the media. Dubbed "Molten Lead" by Gush Shalom's Uri Avneri, there was an inherent cynicism about the Gaza operation. For it revealed the moral decrepitude of Israeli domestic politics.

Whilst Gaza 2008 was the ultimate attempt to destroy the Palestinian political process, its catalyst was the Israeli electorate. The ruling Kadima party – an uneasy coalition of Likudniks and Labourites led by a former Sharon apparatchik, Ehud Olmert – was facing ignominious defeat at the polls scheduled for this month.


Smelling victory, Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu – a Teflon version of Sharon if there ever was one – had said his first act as Prime Minister would be to smash Hamas. Strong leaders win elections in Israel, and so Kadima had to do something in response to Netanyahu's jibes.

Or as Haidar 'Eid, a Gazan political analyst told me: "Israeli elections are won through Palestinian blood."

But I think that the raison d'etre for "Operation Cast Lead" goes a lot deeper than Israeli elections. It goes beyond the politics of sidelining Hamas, a democratically elected government crudely regarded by the US and Israel as "terrorist" – and uniquely capable of threatening world peace (according to them) with fertiliser-powered rockets.

In other words, the rank fear of an Islamist regime living cheek-by-jowl with Israel is an issue – but it's certainly not the only one. There's the question of economics too.

In 2002 I was told by a member of the Islamic Movement that a truly "sustainable society" was the ultimate Palestinian ideal. "Economics is our way to liberation. Self-sufficiency is what we want," he said.

I still have the notes – and the Arabic phrase – in one of my notebooks. My observation then was that the Israelis would not like to hear this. Little did I know those six years ago how "Operation Cast Lead" was going to prove me right.

Yet when I came across an article written by Ottawa University economics professor, Michel Chossudovsky, I was still gob-smacked. According to him there were gas fields off the coast of Gaza.

Chossudovsky is a well-respected academic; a man not given to wild speculation, conspiracy theory or rumour. He is a writer who quotes copious sources. And he wrote at globalresearch.ca's website:

"The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline".

Citing the involvement of the British Gas Group and its partner, the Athens-based but Lebanese-owned Consolidated Contractors International Company, Chossudovsky says a 25-year exploration agreement was signed in 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

According to the professor, 60% of Gaza's offshore gas fields (worth 4 billion dollars) belong to Palestine.

However, any prospect of drilling, exploitation and the building of pipelines were sidelined by the death of Yasser 'Arafat, and the heavy hand of Ariel Sharon. When he took power in 2001 he stated that Israel would never buy energy from Palestinians.

In 2003, the burly Israeli Prime Minister vetoed an initial agreement that would see British Gas supplying Israel with gas from Gaza. In 2006 British Gas was close to signing a deal to pump gas to Egypt when British Prime Minister Tony Blair stopped it.

In 2007 the issue resurfaced again when Ehud Olmert proposed that Israel buy gas from the Palestinian Authority. This deal was scuppered when the Israeli security establishment alleged the Palestinian Authority would use its 1 billion dollar profits to buy arms.

Further Israeli skulduggery to avoid honouring an energy contract with the Palestinians saw British Gas closing their offices in January 2008.

But here, according to Chossudovsky, the plot thickens. For in June (when the six-month truce with Hamas was being negotiated) Ehud Barak was already planning "Operation Cast Lead". And, at the same time, the Israeli government was calling on British Gas to return to Israel to enter into talks with it.

Chossudovsky reports that as recently as November 2008, the Israeli Finance Ministry had approved of further energy talks with British Gas.

So what does this mean for Gaza?

It means a new chapter in the history of Palestinian disempowerment. For not only will Gaza's residents have to confront their historic memories of stolen land and dispossessed towns and villages, but their children will also have to face the humiliating prospect of their natural resources – the very key to their economic independence – being pilfered from right under their noses.

-Shafiq Morton is a Cape Town based photo-journalist, author and radio show host. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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14 comments

9 Feb 2009 @ 19:20 by vaxen : Turbo Vestri...
"The few who shared his [Nietzsche's] views understood that German national revival at gunpoint was a poor substitute for true national revival, such as was needed to repair a decadent regime and society. . . In such a situation the military state would sanctify flawed values, such as nationalism, belligerence, and the idolization of a national security doctrine, above all others. Militarists know no other way of functioning but to manipulate people's prejudices against those perceived 'others' through social and political toughness." - Avraham Burg

martha : Shattered self
And when your faith is shattered and you are at your lowest point you can rebuild your spirit. It is through the willingness to transform you grow up and come into your power. And with that power comes a love for humanity. By making mature choices you transform yourself, your country and the world.  



9 Feb 2009 @ 20:15 by vaxen : NCN?
"I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of all things, my son, never live under a slavish bond." - Sir William Wallace's Uncle  


10 Feb 2009 @ 06:02 by koravya : Them articles
are out there.
I been readin' some of 'em.
Some kind of cultural sickness in there
when slaughter becomes the modus operendi.
Yeah, I can imagine argumentative conversatons
going on about my people, and our people, and your people,
Tit-for-tat this-for-that and their attendant
senseless name-calling accusations.
Be that as it may,
All I can do from here,
is hope and pray
that things may get better,
and that those who Are working for peace,
may find our listeners.
JA  



10 Feb 2009 @ 09:20 by vaxen : Amen...
Slaughter is very profitable for some. Age old delusions counter any offensive to the war planners games of economy and mirth and Malthusian dementia. Ecocide, when the Eugenics krewes are out there in their high chairs of government stealing the lifes blood of the human beings whose support they garner and spending, spending, spending...

Did you catch the insane Obama's speech tonight? I couldn't watch it for the arrogance of the fool thinking we can't see through his smarmy charade. I did catch one of his Freudian slips, though. It concerned his bottom line and the flow of credit "...to the banks, I mean, the businesses." What a charlatan!

Good to see you JA. Heard you had a conversation with a mutual friend tonight. Glad of that and glad you're who you are. There's an army of angry men in America who see through the One World Government charade of all the Obama's and their Ilk from the IMF and BIS all the way down to the bank on the corner. RIpe are the times for revolution thus the silent weapons for quiet wars brigade is oput in force chemtrailing our skies with barium sulphates and spreading virae like they were going out of style.

Peace to you, bro, and thanks for you presence here at NCN... :)

http://www.lewrockwell.com/crovelli/crovelli23.html  



11 Feb 2009 @ 01:17 by vaxen : #AskIsrael
Tue, Feb 10, 2009
8:16 PM ET
Israeli Consulate
http://www.twitter.com/israelconsulate

#Israel elections, 88% counted (# of seats): Kadima 29; Likud 27; Israel Beitenu 15; Labor 13; Shas 11; #AskIsrael

To follow goto: http://tweetgrid.com/ Choose your grids type in the hash (#=hash)...  



11 Feb 2009 @ 02:56 by a-d : The
BUREAUACY; The intstitutional SYSTEM whose SOLE PURPOSE is to PROTECT the CORRUPT ONES/The MAFIA called "Government" and the guys behind, that really pull the Strings... is the SAME everywhere!... Why???? because stealing is stealing regardless what Flag http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=30317 is trying to cover up the stealing, lying & cheating and murdering other people is lying & cheating and murdering regardless what "GOD" is giving the Permission --or even demanding-- to do so etc etc ....

SELFISHNESS at the EXPENSE of OTHERS is STILL SELFISHNESS at the EXPENSE of OTHERS!!!.... There is NO EXCUSE or OTHER JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THAT --or is there?????....; )
http://nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

America, here we go again.... copycat by yet another group aspiring the "Government" Seat... why???... Because that is where 'you' have to be to do the Big stealing,lying, cheating, murdering ABOVE the "LAW" --as it were!...trying desperately to fill the holes in 'your' Heart & Soul ("life") and make the BUCK, ( supposedly able to compensate for these!... ) In other words: where the REAL "Untouchables" "live" --and die... How many Nations have done this by now? ... and here we go again! http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=85271§ionid=351020202
And here; ABOVE the "LAW": No matter what INSTITUTIONAL commision is doing what in order to find out the truth!.... it will always end up to find the Bad guys to be the Good Ones and hence allowed to remain 'Above the Law'... UNTIL ONE DAY WE WILL HAVE a Group of(GRASSROOT-) PEOPLE DOING the INVESTIGATION FOR the PEOPLE!
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/?q=node/268

Though things discussed in this link are only touching your article peripherally --or maybe it is the opposite: touching at the CORE of 'Everything'-- it is quite interesting -and so are the comments there, some of which are VERY poignant!
http://whatreallyhappened.com/content/do-you-think-history-holocaust-needs-be-objectively-re-examined  



11 Feb 2009 @ 07:53 by vaxen : Yes...
Some very good links and I thank you very much for them. The world doesn't want to know the truth, per se. But there are individual human beings who do. Collectively we constitute a new republic. Heh! Interesting that Aushvitz was built after WWII for the typhoid epidemic. Lots of interesting facts here and there that the 'true believers' will never know or even if they did...accept. So...we march on into the new dawn of endless discovery. Exciting isn't it?

I found the comment about Einsteeins crap and Alfred Nobel particularly interesting but it is good to know, overall, that we are never alone in our questing. Also that we are free...

Thanks A-d. Thankyou very much. Hope all is well and that Alex is doing better each day and that you all are warm and happy. See ya later dear A-d and thankyou again for the comments and the links.

PS: Looks like our nemisis (You know who) is really going bonkers. Take a dip into the chat rooms if you feel up to it and have a good laugh or shed a tear for the poor dear.

Have you read jazzolog's In Memorium yet? I think I'll publish the comments for the fun of it. ;)

Oh here is some fruity loops for the fun of it, too:

medicinedreamer@98.151.20.30:. . . 2009-02-11 01:45:52
Wishing and denying the truth it doesn't make it real for anybody else but yourself, and I don't even believe even you buy your own b.s. Furthermore, you refuse to accept anything anybody else says, so you are denying everybody else a right to their own feelings and thoughts. You are the one who has a grudge and can't give it up. You can't stop yourself. Nobody talks to you or about you and you have to go on the attack to start things up again - over and over and over. It's a sickness that the majority doesn't want around here. After being on the internet for a long time and going to various web sites that have chat rooms, I found that each site has its resident nut job/asshole/menace or two, and you're the main one for NCN. I am sure that makes you very proud. Too bad you can't put it on a resume. Now leave us the hell alone - we want NOTHING to do with you.

Over at the bar and grill there are quite a few little gems. Notice the inane generalisations and the tone, the general tone, of the rant. getting close to the edge I think. I must say I pity her but what can ya do? How would you handle it?  



11 Feb 2009 @ 17:44 by a-d : Hmmmm, Deary,Vax....
I think this time you mis-understood what I personally found "Poignant" in the article and especially in Comment nr.4.No matter how lunecrist one's question/ing is , people still have (to have) the RIGHT to state it! (I personally find it "interesting" that he comes up with "no Auswhich: ahh...built AFTER the war". BS Auswhich WAS, whether with gas(cyanide)chambers or "only" de-liceing shower... THE POINT IS MAN'S CRUELTY TO MAN!
People have to have the right to ASK QUESTIONS and even to question things told to us!.... not least because we've been lied to sooooooo much!...as it turns out when taken a deeper look into the Issues at hand.
How can it be right to question and denying one genocide over another?????? T CANNOT...yet it is MADE CRIMINAL to express distress over ANY other genocide except the "ONE and ONLY TRUE ONE". .... or to dare to say that there indeed have been hundreds and hundreds of (other) geoncides... NOT OK ACCORDING TO TODAYS "LAWS"... by the ones with MONOPOLY on being the ONLY VICTIMS on EARTH!

I also find the HISTORY "LESSON" inComment 4 quite wonderful: how those Powers that Be fight eahcother as soon as the Common Enemy is by shared effort been "taken care of" sufficiently: The 'CHURCH' goin after the 'State'.The State then getting upset with the Church and trying to outdo each other...even killing their own in the process --if it seemed good for one's OWN personal gain...

This whole notion of being protective and caring of one's own in these levels of "reality" is laughable! The SELFSIH Prick is always closest to himself and willing to "sacrifice ANY thing ANYbody, whom he thinks can turn out to further his own Cause... Once again: it ALL boils down to: MAN'S CRUELTY TO MAN!!!... forget the FIG-LIEFS..all equally phony.all equally non-shielding!  



11 Feb 2009 @ 18:59 by vaxen : Well...
I've found most people worldwide to be pretty kind and really good. I don't think it is an overall 'mans cruelty to man' kind of thing but rather a few, perhaps offworlders, exploiting a lesser developed creature via a higher technology. Human kind, per se, is pretty good at core. Now once you begin to investigate the PTB... well, things get rather 'shocking.'

Thanks for the comment. The Shoah is politisized to the nth degree so finding little tit bits of history such as that Aushvitz was built after WWII to take care of disease? Well, that interests me specifically...

One World Government a by a very feudal elite does not! Regardless of what race they assume, what visage they assume... they're alien to humanity, anti-human.

:)  



11 Feb 2009 @ 21:44 by b : First of all
Israel has its own oil and has constroled the off shore oil and gas and routinely slant drill. That would have been shared with the pals after the Clinton agreement which yasser killed. In addittion Israel hase seven oil refineries near Haifa that were never hit during the summer Hizbullah war. Winning and losing still exist. The losers don't yet get to dictate to the winner.  


11 Feb 2009 @ 22:54 by vaxen : Hi bee...
No one has won...

http://twitpic.com/img/1fsxb-14eb4fef2fd60e7b5a60bfb6a091fb10.49934cea.jpg
=
http://www.rove.com/
=
http://www.twitter.com/KarlRove  



12 Feb 2009 @ 08:37 by vaxen : And...
from the lovely Colonel Karen Kwiatkowsky...

http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski224.html  



13 Feb 2009 @ 06:11 by koravya : Good one
from Karen.  


13 Feb 2009 @ 23:43 by vaxen : Yah...
She's a doll. Thanks JA. Hope you have a happy Valentines day. Blessings, bro...

http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/karen5.jpg

Sorry, she's already married. Shucks!  



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