Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Entering the new year with a bang

First, happy new year to all my readers (no matter how few you may be). I hope the holidays were good to you.

As you no doubt are aware, Israel has once again attacked with missiles, bombs, artillery, tanks and ground troops one of the most densely populated areas in the world: the Gaza Strip.

Ostensibly, this was done to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza. Only the most apologistic of Israel's supporters really believe this. These attacks have been going on sporadically for years, with very few casualties (though every single death is awful and anyone authorizing the firing of those rockets against civilian targets should be considered a war criminal and brought to the Hague for a trial).

Now with Israel's latest application of the fifth most powerful military force in the world, not only have over 100 Palestinian women and children been killed, but more Israels have been killed in the last ten days than in the several years previous.

And does anyone really think this will stop the rocket attacks? I don't think there is a chance of that happening as long as Israel continues to treat Gaza as the world's largest open air prison, controlling (and greatly restricting) access to food, medical supplies, energy, etc.

Anyway, most seasoned observers think this invasion has more to do with upcoming Israeli elections, and the need for Labor (whose head is now the Minister of Defense - Ehud Barak, who is in my mind another war criminal who should be sent to the Hague) to show that it can be as tough on the Palestinians as the most right-wing Likudnik.

I am sure that is at least partly true. I believe, however, that the invasion and destruction of Gaza is first and foremost intended as a message for incoming President Obama. Israel (its civilian and military leaders, in any case) is showing that it controls events when it comes its own sphere of dominance. It is saying to Obama "We decide what happens around here, not you."

It is, really, quite a big and obnoxious "f#%k you" from Israel to Obama.

Think about it. With this invasion, Israel has forced a change in the agenda for the incoming President. Obama must (and intended to) focus on the economy and spend political capital immediately to get a recovery plan in place (one that helps more than financiers).

Yet now he must address the violence in Gaza, and what will he do? Is he going to do or say anything that is critical of Israel, thereby risking a firestorm of criticism in his first days in office? The Israel apologists will go ballistic: "See, we told you! He is no friend of Israel." No way. He is going to eat it, all of it. He is going to acquiesce to Israel's terrible and terrifying destruction and killing of innocents. He will join the chorus blaming Hamas entirely. And in doing so, he will send a clear message to the Arab world: expect nothing different from me when it comes to Israel.

Leaving Israel (its screwed-up, "kill now and kill later" leadership, in any case) to go further down the path to stoking flames of hatred, ensuring war, and diminishing its chances of survival as a Jewish state.

Poor Israel. Just when it most needs a real friend, it will force that potential friend to become merely another servant to the cause of Jewish extremists.


Unknown said...

Steven you have chose a very interesting topic to start out the new year; BTW - Happy New Year to you and yours. I partially agree with what you are saying and that this attack from Israel has something to do with showing Obama that he will have no control over them. This war between Israel and Palestine has been going on forever; not sure of the exact timeline but I know its been a very long time. What I think the US should do is stop giving Israel weapons and stop supporting them. The country acts like a child fighting for land. Being our religious roots came out of that part of the world you would think both sides would try and find a way to live together in peace; I know way to much to ask for. My opinion is we should get the hell out of the middle east. If the US wants to stop looking like the bully on the block, we need to get our noses out of world events that are not our problem. Spread democracy where you can but dont shove it down peoples throats. Kind of like our welcome that has been thrown back at us in Iraq, we as a country need to stop forcing our ideas on to people and let those regions work out their differences. If these places would like advice or third part mediation through the US then lets step in but stop trying to make the whole world be the US. The world spun fine when the US wasnt around so I think we can stop playing Police for every one on this planet.
I do hope the violence in the middle east settles down. It is a tragedy that people over there think war is a natural part of life. It would so improve the world if that area could just lay down their differences and work together to live together.
Peace and Well wishes

Jay said...

That is quite a topic to start off the new year. One would think there was nothing else of any significance going on in the world. Why would a country the size of New Jersey with a population of around 7 million get so much attention? There must be other places in the world where neighbors are fighting and killing each other. I wonder what makes this situation so special.

On one side we have a sovereign country which at it's birth had to survive an attempted abortion by the 7 armies of it's neighbors. On the other side we have Hamas who openly declares in their charter their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. I don't know about you but if my neighbor states that their goal in life is to kill me, my family, and my friends, well I'll take them at their word and do whatever I have to do to survive.

Why would a country with the 5th most powerful military put up with rocket attacks and mortar fire from Hamas for so many years? Why wouldn't they just put up with it for a few more years? Heck why not just open the "world's largest open air prison" and let Hamas get some really sweet rockets that could reach their highly populated cities? Maybe they just listened to Barak Obama when he visited Israel and said that if people were firing rockets over his daughters' heads he would do everything he could do to stop them. I guess when you follow the advice of the future president that's telling him , "f--k you".

For some bizarre reason you actually think Israel did this as some kind of power play to send a message to Obama so that they could continue to kill innocents? Surely you don't think Israel is intentionally targeting civilians when they call up the Gaza residents and tell them to leave their homes before they drop bombs? Have you been reading "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?

Have a happy and healthy new year.

Steven Feuerstein said...

There is no doubt in my mind that the IDF planned to kill a lot of civilians. I do not mean by this that they sat down and said "OK, in this campaign let's shoot every baby in sight."

Nothing that directly evil or obvious. Instead, they planned a military campaign involving tank fire, rockets, missiles and ground troops that would attack one of the most densely populated places on earth. Civilians were sure to die and in large numbers, and that was perfectly acceptable to the IDF and its political leadership.

Is that the same as deliberately aiming to kill children? No? Is it still morally reprehensible and a war crime? Yes.

There is no military solution in Gaza, the West Bank or that region as a whole, and yet that is precisely what Israel insists on pursuing at every turn.

The entire occupation and ongoing colonization of the West Bank (with their so-called settlements) is a military operation, impossible without the force of arms to secure it and expand it and deepen it.

Ninjababy, I think that you are incredibly naive if you think that Israeli leadership does not have a major component of everything they do an eye to how it will affect, direct and distort what goes on in the US (towards this region).

The rocket attacks from Hamas (and others not directly under their control) stopped under the truce, and Israel BROKE the truce with a military operation inside Gaza. They also BROKE the truce by never opening up Gaza so that food and supplies could ease the suffering of the 1.5 million people there.

Israel turned Gaza into a prison and it applied collective punishment (that itself is a crime) to everyone there for being Palestinian, for choosing Hamas for its leadership. Israel's policies guarantee a continuation and intensification of violence and hatred - and that seems to be just what they want.

Very sad and tragic....

Islam said...

Thank you Mr. Steven for your great and deep feelings article about GAZA

I am an Oracle Developer and like your articles in oracle magazine so much, also your technical articles at TOAD website, but i've just known that in addition to that you have fair opinions in the world events


Tharg said...

Sadly, I have had a bizarre conversation about this with a colleague from Pakistan. His take was "nasty Isral" - poor Gazans.

I said to him "if Hamas really cared about the civilians, why do they hide amongst them, thereby making them targets?" His Response was that "that's standard guerilla tactics" but Israel is nasty for striking at Hamas.

If Hamas are not coldly and cynically using civilian casualties for propaganda, they could easily isolate themselves from the populace and fight, but no, just like Saddam Hussein, the secret service had its HQ next to a hospital.

With that sort of attitude, is it any wonder that there are civilian casualties.

Just like Northern Ireland, when the populace started out supporting the IRA, it seemed like a good idea. However, once they were established, they controlled the populace. IN particular, drugs, prostitution and protection rackets were their forte. What do Hamas do to get money for missiles I wonder?

Steven Feuerstein said...

Tharg, if you'd made your comment a week or two weeks ago I could forgive your statements. But surely you have seen the news: Israeli soldiers are now confessing and giving testimony that they were ordered to fire directly on civilians, including women and children. The IDF launched a military campaign that deliberately targeted civilians and their infrastructure.

Now besides that, I generally that among both Israelis and Palestinians you will find people who lust for war and destruction and will do anything and everything to provoke the "other side" to violence. I believe that at least some of Hamas leadership is like this and definitely the current and future government is like this.

But, finally, your comment "if Hamas really cared about the civilians, why do they hide amongst them, thereby making them targets?" belies ignorance about Gaza.

Gaza is the world's largest prison with 1.5 M people crammed into a very small space, and kept there by Israeli troops.

I believe that it is simply not possible for Hamas to defend itself or fight back against an IDF invasion and NOT be all jumbled up with civilians.

In other words, whenever Israel decides to militarily attack Gaza, they will also, always and necessarily kill civilians.

It is the decision of Israel, not the actions of Hamas, which kills hundreds of Palestinian children.

It is just horrid that you give Israel a "free pass" for what it just did.

Jay said...

Steven what is "horrid" is that you defend a people who teach their children to hate. Then you rationalize their behavior with lame excuses.

Steven Feuerstein said...

Let's see, by "hate-teachers" do you mean the leaders of the hard-right, super-orthodox sects in Israel? The "rabbis" who openly call for the killing of innocents, when they are Palestinians? The rabid "ultra-nationalists" who have taken over the Israeli Defense Forces, as demonstrated by the January invasion of Gaza?

Ah, no, I bet you are talking about A R A B S.

Here's the way I see it, Jay: there are teachers of hate among Jews and Muslims alike, among Americans and Israelis and Palestinians.

I detest and denounce all. But I really doubt that you do.

I, for example, believe that there is compelling evidence that both Hesbollah *and* the IDF committed war crimes during the most recent invasion by Israel into Lebanon. Israeli and Lebanese leaders alike should be arrested and put on trial.

I believe the same thing about leaders of the IDF and the Israeli Government, and Hamas, when it comes to Gaza. There are war criminals lurking in both sets of people.

Let's apply the same, objective rule of law to both, let's no longer allow any military force to be given a green light to kill civilians.

What do you say, Jay? Are you ready to criticize Israel?

I bet you come uncomfortably close, like many Jewish Americans, to idolatry, when it comes to Israel. You never question, never challenge, always profess your love, will do whatever it takes to defend Israel.

Ask yourself this question: what would Moses do?