commonsense 710 for jan 18 2009
by John Maxwell
It’s a time-tested method used for more than four thousand years; people always get killed but nothing is ever settled.
God confided to Moses that he was giving the Israelites title to the land of Canaan. There was one small problem: lots of other people were already living in Canaan and had been for ages. So, in order to enforce the Israelites’ title, Joshua had to clear the land.
The book of Joshua tells of the labours of the hero and the Israelites as they laid claim to their divine endowment smiting cities and their rulers right left and centre … ‘So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.
And finally, ” … Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.”
Palestine did not long rest from war. The first kingdom of Israel lasted a few generations before splitting in two, largely owing to the arrogance of Rehoboam, a precursor to Ariel Sharon. Sharon also came a cropper trying to exterminate the Palestinians and has lain comatose now for most of a decade.
Before his unfortunate seizure Mr Sharon’s government had been accused – by the International Committee of the Red Cross – of war crimes against the Palestinians. In 2001 the Red Cross condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as equivalent to war crimes under international law. “The transfer, the installation of population of the occupying power into the occupied territories is ... an illegal move and qualifies as a grave breach," said ICRC's René Kosirnik at a press conference in Tel Aviv … equal in principle to war crimes."
Later, when Mr Sharon was attempting to pulverise the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat, Sharon’s soldiers targeted not only journalists, but Red Cross and Red Crescent ambulances, doctors and nurses, women and children as well as Palestinian policemen and Arafat himself.
Since Mr G.W Bush was at that time trying to assemble support within the Arab world for a posse to go after Saddam Hussein the US President did not find Sharon’s behaviour ‘helpful’. Then as now, the Israeli government demonstrated a contempt for its patron the US, and Mr Bush was very upset. He was sufficiently upset not only to withhold $800 million in aid promised to Israel by the outgoing Clinton administration, he decided to support a Security Council resolution which spelled out, for the first time , the right of Palestinians to their own independent state. This commitment got lost somewhere between Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
The political nous and social evolution of Sharon’s successor may be gauged by a tale told by Mr Olmert himself. In the Israeli leader’s version of why the US had abstained on a UN resolution attempting to get Israel to play by the rules, Mr Olmert gave himself a starring role.
"When we saw that the secretary of state, [Condoleezza Rice] for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the UN resolution ... I looked for President Bush and they told me he was in Philadelphia making a speech," Olmert said .
"I said, 'I don't care. I have to talk to him now.' They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, 'You can't vote in favour of this resolution.' He said, 'Listen, I don't know about it, I didn't see it, I'm not familiar with the phrasing.'
"He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it - a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged."
Now! Aint that Sump’n !
Or, as they say in Peoria – WOW!!!
Mr Olmert does not perhaps know that waiting to succeed Miss Rice is a woman who is not partial to being kneecapped by a self-important, obnoxious, sexist, Middle Eastern potentate, and we may credibly suspect that Mrs Clinton and her boss and the entire Obama Cabinet may soon be itching to put Israel in its place.
Successes of the Blitzkrieg
What has Israel achieved in nearly three weeks of its Gaza blitzkrieg?
• As the Guardian says “The extraordinary number of civilian deaths, and of children in particular, is for many a defining and shocking feature of this 18-day offensive. The figures are stark. At least 910 Palestinians are dead, among them 292 children. At least 4,250 are injured, among them 1,497 children. Many have injuries that will leave them permanently disabled and facing more operations and months or years of rehabilitation therapy”
More than half of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants are children.
• Israel has reduced to rubble the physical infrastructure of Gaza, destroying, schools, community centres, homes and apartments as well as farms, shops, factories, and places where people might seek shelter in emergencies.
About two-thirds of the territory's 1.5m people have no electricity; the rest have only an intermittent supply, the UN says. Hospitals are overloaded with the injured, and 500,000 Gazans still have no access to running water. "Israeli bombardment is causing extensive destruction to homes and to public infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip and is jeopardizing water, sanitation and medical services."
•The indiscriminate destruction is not only intended to terrorise and intimidate, it is clearly also, maliciously intended to destroy social capital, to maim the society’s ability to recover and to take care of itself. It is punishment of people,as human beings, innocents with no argument with anyone and to make sure that, as after a ferocious natural cataclysm, a tsunami, a Katrina, there is not only enormous material loss but deep emotional scarring and wounds that may never heal.
• The blitzkrieg has destroyed Fatah and all Palestinian opposition to Hamas. In the West Bank strongholds of Fatah everyone is now for Hamas. In the Egyptian Hospitals outside Gaza news agencies are reporting that people who are wounded, people who were never politically active, want to go back to Gaza to fight for Hamas. The conversion rate is quite remarkable and even moreso on the Arab street in places like Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem.
•Despite public vows by Israeli politicians to destroy Hamas's military capability, Israeli officials said Tuesday that the movement had lost only a fraction of its fighters and retained a large stockpile of rockets and other armaments. A "few hundred" Hamas fighters have been killed, out of a total force of 15,000, according to a senior Israeli military official.
To say that the government of Israel may be wrong or evil, is interpreted not as a political judgment but as an expression of racist prejudice. Criticising Israel is attacking Jews and Jewishness and is therefore anti-semitic.
‘ … those countries that count’
The Israeli government’s attitude to external criticism may be gauged from the following quotation:"The tone of the criticism is moderate, restrained, more balanced, at least in the case of those countries that count," a senior government official said.
Such extreme positions have provoked a backlash inside and outside of Israel. Some of he world’s most prominent Jews have publicly condemned the actions of the Israeli government and one of the best known – journalist Naomi Klein has joined other people, Jews and Gentiles, in calling for an economic boycott of Israel.
As the Guardian, no enemy of Israel said on Tuesday: “That is why the talk elsewhere is now of boycotts, of arms embargos, of revoking trade agreements, withholding financial support and cancelling export credit guarantees. These are not all appealing options, nor should they be yet necessary. But a country which truly rejects the collective concerns of the international community leaves its friends, never mind its enemies, running out of road.” (my italics)
That such a situation should come about is remarkable sinceis almost impossible for Hamas to have its case presented fairly. In the great western world where the press is free it seems impossible to find any big news agency which conveys the real grievances and arguments of the PALESTINIANS, let alone Hamas. As Mark Levine points out in the Huffington Post: The claim that Hamas will never accept the existence of Israel has proved equally misinformed, as Hamas leaders explicitly announce their intention to do just that in the pages of the Los Angeles Times or to any international leader or journalist who will meet with them.Levine: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-levine/who-will-save-israel-from_b_156943.html
What has changed has much to do with the arrogance of Israel. By banning independent journalistic coverage of the blitzkrieg the Israelis have eliminated much of the usual spin that favours Israel and demonises the Palestinians. When the public and the press have to depend almost entirely on video, photographs and statistics, the truth has a better chance of surfacing.
Amira Hass, a journalist and daughter of Holocaust survivors writes:
“History did not begin with the Qassam rockets. But for us, the Israelis, history always begins when the Palestinians hurt us, and then the pain is completely decontextualized.
‘ …Gaza is not a military power that attacked its tiny, peace-loving neighbor, Israel. Gaza is a territory that Israel occupied in 1967, along with the West Bank. Its residents are part of the Palestinian people, which lost its land and its homeland in 1948.
In 1993, Israel had a one-time golden opportunity to prove to the world that what people say about us is untrue - that it is not by nature a colonialist state. That the expulsion of a nation from its land, the expulsion of people from their houses and the robbery of Palestinian land for the sake of settling Jews are not the basis and essence of its existence. -http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1055241.html
Somewhere near the beginning of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring she has a wonderful paragraph about what she calls ‘biocide’ – the indiscriminate broad spectrum war against insects and other “pests” that, she warned us – nearly a half-century ago – was doomed to failure. This was because the barrage of pesticides was not only poisoning us but simultaneously, accelerating the forced evolution of many life forms. In what she called a triumphant affirmation of Darwin’s thesis of natural selection she predicted what we have since seen happening – the evolution of super pests, insects, bacteria and diseases, making inconsequential our efforts at pest extermination..
The Israeli government is the only government I know of with a state policy of targeted assassination. While the government did not declare that assassination of Hamas leadership was a priority in Gaza, it clearly was, as the attacks on the homes of leaders demonstrated.
Sharon tried to exterminate Fatah and got Hamas.
Has Israel already found its next Rehoboam? Its next exterminator?
(Endnote: Democratic Israel has banned from contesting elections two small Arab political parties. Will any notice be taken by the free world’s press? Stay tuned)
Copyright ©2009 John Maxwell