Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Review of Gazan Horror

America, wake up

By John Mayfield
Published: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:01 PM CST, The Tribune, Ames
The Israeli government’s slaughter of the people in Gaza that has gone on, as of this writing, more than 19 days is a human-made catastrophe of apocalyptical proportions. Life in Gaza has become hell on Earth.

When we hear that 4,000 plus people have been injured, this does not mean scratches or bruises. It means children, women and men forced to have amputations. We receive photos of people sliced open with shrapnel or burned in the horrible way phosphorus sears right down to the bone.

We read physicians’ accounts of patients faced with long-term suffering because Israeli explosives are a new kind of slow-killing machines: Dense Inert Metal Explosives or depleted uranium shelling that leads to cancer and slow, painful deaths. All the while, Israel claims it is not targeting civilians; that destruction of Hamas is their goal and their right, regardless of the consequences.

There are those in Israel and here in America who object to this justification not only because it is a moral outrage against a helpless people, or even that Israel is destroying itself in this tragic bargain with evil, but because the rationale is a lie. Israeli and Jewish writers continue to tell us with amazing consistency that this bombardment to stop ineffectual rockets of rebellion is just a cover for the real reason behind the onslaught.

Jewish writers tell us that it is a result of Israel’s determination to never, ever allow a Palestinian state to exist and to set the stage for perpetual war in the Middle East. You may not have heard of these writers, but they are world famous and they are all saying the same thing, this killing is about the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, an act that ironically, cannot fail to unite those who would continue violence rather than end it.

Uri Avnery, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass beg us to understand what’s behind the carnage. They are Jewish, they are Israeli, and they have watched first hand as this battle has evolved. Foreign corresponds who join this chorus include Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Justin Raimondo, Tony Karon and Joe Klein.

American Jews of conscience who take more heat from Zionists in America than others are Harvard’s Sara Roy, MIT’s Noam Chomsky, NYU’s Tony Judt, The Nation Magazine’s Naomi Klein and Henry Siegman, Wisconsin’s Jennifer Lowenstein, Chicago’s Norman Finkelstein and the UN’s Richard Falk. If these people of international stature are willing to put themselves and their careers on the line to stop Israel’s slaughter, where are the rest of us?

The 85-year-old Israeli writer, Uri Avnery, a veteran of the Israeli fight for independence, tells us that Israel’s idea that “the state must defend it’s citizens” is a “ridiculous propaganda device” since Israel is the occupier and oppressor not the occupied and oppressed.

Why should Israelis be safe, but millions of Palestinians whose lives are controlled by Israel face unimaginable danger and starvation every day of their lives?

The idea that Israel has to defend itself against a hapless people, he tells us, “has been accepted as the whole truth” He adds, however, “War, every war, is a realm of lies.” “The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself.”

The government can no longer see the truth. Few mention that the Qassams are retaliation for a two-year Israeli siege that has caused a man made human rights disaster for the million and a half inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

That Hamas held a two-year truce and for this received nothing from Israel but closed borders, continued incursions, killings and under-reported bombings, indicates the problem is not a one-sided issue. Do not the Palestinians and their elected Hamas government have a right to defend themselves?

For those who are indifferent to this horror, consider this: Whatever happens, even if the current violence ends without a single Hamas defender standing, Hamas wins. They win in the eyes of the downtrodden whether they survive or not.

Writer Chris Hedges explains, “Hamas cannot lose this conflict.” Israel, he tells us, “is delivering a package of facts for the world to see, truckloads of maimed and dead.”

We cannot look away forever. The reality show comes in waves of truth that no lie can vanquish. Says Hedges, “Hamas fighters, armed with little more than light weapons, a few rockets and small mortars, are battling one of the most sophisticated military machines on the planet ... The Israeli assault, by destroying Hamas as an [elected] governing force, has opened a Pandora’s box of ills. Life will become a nightmare for most Palestinians and, in the years ahead, for most Israelis.”

America can stop the insanity. Why don’t we?

John Mayfield

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reframing of Zionist Propaganda by ICAD

Israel in Gaza: A Critical Reframing
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Photo courtesy of AP

Israel’s core messages, listed below, argue for the justice of its cause in Gaza, cast Israel as the victim and ensure that its war is seen not in terms of occupation but of the broader Western struggle against terror. The critical reframing we offer, that of Israelis committed to human rights, international law and a just peace as the only way out of this interminable and bloody conflict, argues that security cannot be achieved unilaterally while one side oppresses the other and that Israel’s attack on Gaza is merely another attempt to render its Occupation permanent by destroying any source of effective resistance. It argues that Israel could have avoided all attacks upon it over the last twenty years, and the rise of Hamas, if it had genuinely negotiated a two-state solution with the Palestinian leadership. Israel, the strong party and the Occupying Power, is not the victim. Indeed, its attack on Gaza is a form of State Terrorism.

  • Israeli PR: Like all countries, Israel has a right and duty to defend its citizens. Israel, acting as any life-loving nation would, has a right to be a normal country living in peace and security.

    Critical Reframing: To pursue offensive policies of prolonged occupation as well as sanctions, boycotts and closures that impoverish a civilian population, and to then refuse to engage with that population’s elected leaders, is not defending ones’ citizens. To expect your citizens to live in security while a million and a half subjugated people just a few kilometers away live in misery is both unrealistic and presumptive. Israel will only be able to defend its citizens – which is indeed its duty – if it addresses the causes of their insecurity, a 41 year-old occupation.

  • Israeli PR: Israel had no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of 8,500 Hamas rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past eight years that have killed 20 Israeli civilians.

    Critical Reframing: In the past three years alone Israel – together with the US, Europe and Japan – imposed an inhumane siege of Gaza while conducting a campaign of targeted assassinations and attacks throughout the cease-fire that left 1,700 Palestinians dead. Hamas’ barrage did not exist in a vacuum. This war is no “response:” it is merely a more deadly round of the tit-for-tat arising out of a political vacuum. The rocket firings could have been avoided had there been a genuine political horizon. To present the “barrage” as an independent event disassociated from wider Israeli policies that led to them is disingenuous.

  • Israeli PR: There is no occupation – in general, but specifically in Gaza. Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 with the “disengagement.” Gaza could have flourished as the basis of a Palestinian state, but its inhabitants chose conflict.

    Critical Reframing: Economic development, not to mention a political process which might have prevented the violence on both sides, was actively prevented by both Israel and its international supporters, which share responsibility for the present tragedy in Gaza. At no time since the “disengagement” did Israel ever relinquish or even loosen its control. The closure remained in force, including by sea; Gazans were never allowed to reopen their sea or air ports; nor were any conditions conducive to economic development allowed. Israel’s claim that there has never been an occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza is rejected by every member of the international community. Neither does it accept Israel’s claim that occupation ended in 2005, since the definition of occupation in international law has to do with exercising effective control of a foreign territory, which Israel obviously does over Gaza.

  • Israeli PR: Only Hamas violated the cease-fire, and thus it carries full responsibility.

    Critical Reframing: Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce (through Egypt) by which Israel would allow the opening of the Gazan border crossings (at least partially) in return for an end to rocket fire on Israel. Hamas largely, though not entirely, kept its part of the bargain; Israel almost never did. Killings of Palestinians from the air continued, and on the American election day in early November it attacked the tunnels (which functioned as alternative means of supplying Gaza in the absence of open borders, which would have allowed control over the movement of arms), killing a number of Hamas people. In response Hamas launched rockets and….the truce began breaking down.

  • Israeli PR: Israel is only attacking the “infrastructure of terror” in Gaza and only targets Hamas fighters.

    Critical Reframing: Being the elected government, all the infrastructure, from traffic cops to schools to military installations, “belong” to Hamas. It is clear that Israeli attacks go beyond “the infrastructure of terror.” Who’s a “Hamas fighter?” The graduating class of traffic cops that was slaughtered in the first aerial attack on Gaza? Professors and students who attend the “Hamas” Islamic University? Family members of Hamas military figures? People who voted for Hamas? All, but for those actively participating in hostilities, would be defined as civilians under international law.

  • Israeli PR: Civilians may die, but it’s because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.

    Critical Reframing: Israel’s military headquarters are located in the center of Tel Aviv, the military headquarters over the West Bank are in the densely populated civilian settlement Neveh Ya’akov in East Jerusalem, the Pentagon is located in downtown Washington D.C. and the British Ministry of Defence is located in central London. Hamas, of course, as both a government and a military organization, carries responsibility for protecting the civilian population and keeping the fighting away from them but the question that should be asked, and never is, is why western nations who do the same are not faced with such criticism?

  • Israeli PR: Hamas is a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel or enter into a political process.

    Critical Reframing: Which Israel should Hamas recognize? 1947 U.N. partition borders? 1967 borders? With annexed East Jerusalem? With the settlement blocs? So long as Israel refuses to define its borders then there is only an abstract concept available for recognition. Hamas has openly declared that it will de facto recognize Israel on the 1967 borders. Israel has made no such offers to any Palestinian faction, government or representatives.

  • Israeli PR: Hamas is a global problem, part of Islamist fundamentalism together with Iran and Hezbollah and therefore Israel is only doing its part in the West’s agreed-upon War on Terror.

    Critical Reframing: Hamas started as a social welfare organization that was allowed by Israel to develop as a political force in Occupied Palestine to weaken the standing of the secular PLO. There also, was no Hezbollah prior to the 1982 Israeli invasion. The theocrats in Iran were an organized but quite small political force until the U.S. overthrew Iran’s democracy. The local population will always resist when foreign countries try to oppose their will and the resistance will not always be pretty. Painting Hamas as part of a global conspiracy when it’s a product of the Occupation itself is disingenuous and a gross distortion of history. http://www.icahd.org/eng/