Israel and Peace – mutually exclusive terms

Gazan father weeps before dead son

Bombs are raining down on Gaza. In that tiny, densely populated strip of land on the Mediterranean, under merciless siege for the past 18 months, there is nowhere to hide, no sophisticated air raid shelters or safe zones. When the chilling phone call comes from the Israeli psyops that one’s home is near a target, there is nowhere safe to go. The initial Israeli attack however was reportedly a surprise.

It is well worth considering that 55% of the 1.5 million Gazan population are under the age of 18. Israel has killed 31 children and wounded 140 thus far in the past 4 days of its pogrom from a total 360 375 people killed and counting.

Israeli politicians and their complicit foreign muppets coldly bleat about how Hamas must stop its barrage of homemade rockets which have killed 4 people during Operation Cast Lead.

Seamus Milne observes:

During the last seven years, 14 Israelis have been killed by mostly homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments in the world. And while no rockets are fired from the West Bank, 45 Palestinians have died there at Israel’s hands this year alone.

Yet Israel refuses to seek a truce – they have more killing in mind and a powerful military funded gratuitously with yankee dollars with which to accomplish their goals.

Are they are enjoying this slaughter, this reenactment of the Shoah which was visited upon them long ago and with which they have threatened the people of Gaza this year? Will they stretch out their criminal collective punishment of the Gazan people until that mindless fool Bush is out of office?

How does Israel benefit from its vile acts of genocide? As Johann Hari accurately comments (the whole story is essential background to the current disaster):

Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, “they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware that this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on “their” side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: “Israel’s war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth… If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas’s court – it is in ours.”

The last thing Israel has ever wanted in its blighted, ugly existence is peace – it has proved this time and time again. Until it has expropriated all it wants from the Palestinians, it is in the interests of the Zionist enterprise to divide and conquer using Hamas and Fatah as pawns, manipulate international opinion, run a concentration camp in Gaza and get away as it usually does with endless bloody murder.

Israel on twitter

Boing Boing posts an alert that Israel is utlising Web 2.0 to interact with the world, with an inaugural citizen’s twitter conference to be held today between 1 – 3 pm EST.

If you are twitter shy, you can follow the conference here and here.

Our questions?

@IsraelConsulate what is your understanding of the word “apartheid“?

@IsraelConsulate why did Israel break the ceasefie with Hamas with incursions in November? http://is.gd/e7c0 #AskIsrael

In contravention of international maritime law, Israel is compounding its criminal travesties with an assault on civilian emergency supply ship Dignity.

So we’ve asked another question:

@IsraelConsulate why is Israel attacking a civilian mercy ship? #AskIsrael #gaza http://is.gd/e8n6

Israel Go Home NowIsrael’s current massacre in Gaza has been characterised by United Nations regional envoy, Richard Falk “as a massive violation of international law because it was punishing an entire population for the actions of a few” – thus an extension of the collective punishment of the blockade inflicted on the civilians in Gaza over the past year.

Falk also accused Israel of “targeting civilians and of a disproportionate response to the threat posed by Hamas’s equally illegal rocket attacks on its southern border.”

Israeli Foreign Minister and electoral hopeful Tipsy Livni’s response, backed by the usual muppets in the US administration? The attacks were needed “to change the reality on the ground. That reality … was one where Hamas continued rocket attacks on the people of southern Israel without retaliation.”

Yet it was Israel which deliberately broke the ceasefire with Hamas last November after which were rockets fired in retaliation that Israel then used as propaganda in a transparently deceitful attempt to justify the present pogrom against the people of Gaza, further claiming spuriously that civilians are not being targeted.

From Jews for Justice for Palestinians:

“The Israeli government steadily sought to break down the ceasefire, not just in Gaza since early November, but also in the West Bank. Israeli forces have carried out an average of 33 incursions, 42 arrests or detentions, 12 woundings and 0.84 killings a week in the West Bank during the ceasefire. The tactic has been to continue attacking Hamas and other militants in the West Bank, provoking responses in Gaza, and to use the responses as the pretext for the massive attacks of the last 24 hours.”

Israel rejected Hamas offers for an extension of the cease fire:

“On 23rd December Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire if Israel would undertake to open border crossings for supplies of aid and fuel, and halt incursions. For those of us appalled at the collective punishment involved in the ongoing siege, and concerned that Israelis should not fear death or injury from Qassam rockets, that seems a truly reasonable response.

For Israel to reject it bespeaks a bankrupt body politic especially since the army and the politicians are acting against the wishes of the Israeli public. It is after all the civilians on both sides who will bear the brunt of this dangerous folly.”

Other sources indicate the planning of Israel’s attack on Gaza occurred over several months, so it’s fair to assume the Israeli incursion provocation in November formed part of the strategy to exonerate the Zionist enterprise from blame.


Israel is refusing any truce with Hamas
and has foreshadowed weeks more collective punishment. Does this mean its government believes its propaganda campaign is working and they can continue to bomb Gaza with impunity, with little to no censure from the international community?

What does Israel really hope to achieve with its abominable slaughter and destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure?

In an excellent dissection of the issues, Hugo Foster discusses the counter-productivity of Israel’s attack on Gaza:

The assumption that hurting Palestinian civilians, either through air strikes or through starvation and power cuts, will make them rebel against their leaders is farcical. Hamas is a religious nationalist movement that above all aspires to defend Palestinian land and security, something that the majority of Gazans believe is worthwhile. This has been shown to be so time and time again.

The EU, France, Russia, UN and belatedly Britain have condemned the ongoing air strikes. But the US, the one power with any real hold over Israel, has shamefully refused to follow suit, urging Israel simply to avoid civilian casualties. As one Jerusalem Post commentator writes, ‘The [US] State Department’s reaction seemed to be a repetition of the one we heard two years ago [regarding the July war in Lebanon], but with Hamas replacing Hezbollah and Gaza standing in for Lebanon: the war is Hamas’s fault, Hamas should stop shelling Israel with rockets, Hamas is a terror organization, the people of Gaza are suffering because of Hamas’.

This kind of nonsense, in ignoring the true dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, will in the long run do nothing for Israelis or Palestinians. Our leaders should remember that most of Gaza’s inhabitants are children of refugees, the sad legacy of protracted conflict in the Middle East, and a reminder that all attempts to date to produce a military solution to the Palestinian question have fundamentally failed. And any government not yet convinced as to just how explosive the issue of Palestine is across the Middle East need only look at the ripples of civil unrest reported in just about every capital city in the region in the last three days.

Nir Rosen describes the counter-productive consequences of Israel’s hideous, masochistic strategy:

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas’s military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

In the Independent, Robert Fisk makes some comparisons between Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and British responses to the IRA:

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army’s “research and assessment division” announced that “no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them”. Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn’t want to lower ourselves to the IRA’s level.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated “terrorism”. So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.

The plight of the Gazan people inflicted by the 18 month long blockade and the perfidy of exceptionalist Israeli propaganda is further highlighted in the video below.

Video now gone from youtube.

Happiness chemicals

Muso extraordinaire Darren Hanlon, bringing in 2009 on the Fringe!

Imagine there’s no heaven, I wonder if you can …

“A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” – Nelson Mandela

Ghazza bombed againmilitary might against the occupied and oppressed in a blockaded prison camp, Israel getting away with murder for the past 60 years. As Shalom Rav says:

How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens?

We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It’s a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I’ve been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.

So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

Jewish Voice for Peace pleads for an end to the insanity:

Jewish Voice for Peace joins millions around the world, including the 1,000 Israelis who protested in the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. We call for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli.

Israel’s slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world.

In resisting these humiliations, Hamas resumed launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, directly targeting civilians, which is also a war crime. Over the years, these poorly made rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis since 2004.

Every country, Israel included, has the right and obligation to protect its citizens. The recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza shows that diplomatic agreements are the best protection for civilian life.

Moreover, massive Israeli air strikes have proven an indiscriminate and brutal weapon. In just two days, the known death toll is close to 300, and the attacks are continuing. By targeting the infrastructure of a poor and densely populated area, Israel has ensured widespread civilian casualties among this already suffering and vulnerable population.

This massive destruction of Palestinian life will not protect the citizens of Israel. It is illegal and immoral and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And it threatens to ignite the West Bank and add flames to the other fires burning in the Middle East and beyond for years to come.

The timing of this attack, during the waning days of a US administration that has undertaken a catastrophic policy toward the Middle East and during the run-up to an Israeli election, suggests an opportunistic agenda for short-term political gain at an immense cost in Palestinian lives. In the long run this policy will benefit no-one except those who always profit from war and exploitation. Only a just and lasting peace, achieved through a negotiated agreement, can provide both Palestinians and Israelis the security they want and deserve.

While the eve of destruction incorporating stock market crashes exhaled in the last panicky gasps of the print media is ever-present, over in the corner governments are getting busy with plans clamp down on our internet access as if our connections weren’t slow enough already. And now there’s shallow pontifications from UK “Culture” Secretaries … the pestilent, sanctimonious drive for control spreads fast.

The only thing worse than filthy web sites, are the filthy politicians who assure you that they are not launching their campaign to restrict free speech as a campaign to restrict free speech.

The Fringe is preparing a list of the best of the lists of whatever it was about 2008 that got you going. Meanwhile, we’re listening to our collection of live-streaming Darren Hanlon gems.

Collective punishment, collective guilt

Once again, Israel uses its grotesquely disproportionate US funded weaponry to wantonly slaughter Palestinians. About 100 people were obliterated this time, including 19 children.

Israeli commandant, Barak, foreshadowed an increase in military extermination operations in Gaza in order to bring down the democratically elected Hamas government. Ugly threats mean ugly responses including increased radicalisation, not less, against your apartheid state, Ehud.

From Gush Shalom:

This is not a conflict between two equal forces. The most powerful army in the Middle East, backed by the world’s single remaining super-power, is daily using tanks, fighter planes, helicopters and gunships against the lightly-armed militias and overcrowded population of a small area whose people have lived under occupation and in poverty long before the present siege.

Israel

Israel’s expressed intentions:

“We are justified in bombing Palestinian civilians including women and children because Palestinian fighters are using them as human shields.”

Israel’s real intentions:

“Hey you mob, get your fighters to stop fighting us or we will kill you all, women and children included. And we will take more of your land, with any luck, all of it.”

Then, last week Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened the Palestinians with genocide, veering toward the real intentions above:

The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.

Shoah means Holocaust in Hebrew. It can also mean disaster – either way, Vilnai’s threat is repugnant and arrogant.

Thus does the racist oppressor state use innocent human lives as bargaining chips with the leaders of the Palestinian concentration camp inmates it has tormented for the past 60 years. Jonathan Swift would smile in recognition of their rhetoric.

Israel’s government seems incapable of realising that the more collective injustices it perpetrates against its hapless victims, the more rockets will come. Humans do not submit to oppressors committing heinous acts. They fight until the oppressor is vanquished or a peaceful solution found. With no hope, there is only despair, and nothing to lose by fighting back to the death if necessary. Yet Israel habitually does not recognise Palestinians as human at all, which perhaps explains why its leaders appear unable to grasp these simple truths.

Eissam Younis, director of the Al Mizan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, said :

the Israeli army was “intentionally and systematically targeting civilians” and criticised world powers for their muted response.

“Israel puts itself above the law because the international community is always silent,” he said.

Tariq Dardouna, a Palestinian resident trapped in his house in east Jabaliya, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces were targeting civilians.

“The Israeli army opens fire at everything in our area, including children and houses. There are injured children bleeding inside their houses,” Dardouna said.

Following Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza, the West Bank offices of democratically elected Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, were destroyed by Israeli plane strikes. Another 5 people were killed. Israhell complained when Abbas cut off negotiations and condemned the attacks.

“It’s very regrettable that what is happening is more than a holocaust,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.

“Children who are barely five-months old are being bombed by the Israeli army.”

“We tell the world to see with its own eyes and judge for itself what is happening and who is carrying out international terrorism.”

Perhaps it will be his offices struck next. Then Israel can joyfully proclaim as it has been wont to do in the past that it has noone with which to negotiate, conveniently placing the blame back on its miserable victims.

Barak no doubt is preparing the way to make support for the Zionist uber state and its abominable pogroms a central issue in the United Stupids election where Obama appears to have the lead at present. Barack may be forced to barrack for Barak and Israel’s acts of attrition, or face an uphill battle in the US election.

For peace to come to the Palestinian region, it is essential that the US is led by someone in step with the rest of the international community and who does not favour privileged Israel with its mansions and swimming pools over the needs of those whom it oppresses and from whom it has stolen and continues to steal, with the pallid, erroneous excuse that Israel is the only democracy of the region.

Bush to visit apartheid state

Bush’s upcoming visit to Israel is unlikely to stimulate any relief for the collectively punished, long-suffering Palestinians, despite vague waffle by Olmert on illegal settlement evacuations. Israel has a political half nelson on the US, who are blinkered by pro-Israeli propaganda, who do not realise or do not care that they are co-conspirators in war crimes and heinous human rights abuses. For the uneducated, the Israelis are always the good guys and the Palestinians the bad. Nor do any of the Democrat presidential candidates offer any hope for change. The Israel First Zionist lobby is too strong – to speak of justice for Palestine would be electoral suicide. Why the presidential hopefuls speak of Israel as a democracy is mystifying – perhaps it is a reflection of the lack of real democracy in a country primarily driven and controlled by big money lobbies and corporations.

Jonathan Cook analyses the Barak Oslo offers and makes some chilling conclusions about Olmert’s present political plans toward those hapless people the apartheid State of Israel currently occupies and from whom it blithely and cynically continues to steal land:

In truth, Israel’s need for recognition as a Jewish state is proof that it is not a democratic state, but rather an ethnic state that needs to defend racist privilege through the gerrymandering of borders and population. But in practice Olmert may yet use the recognition test to back Abbas, a weak and unrepresentative Palestinian leader, into the very corner that Arafat avoided.

Before Annapolis, Livni declared: “It must be clear to everyone that the State of Israel is a national homeland for the Jewish people,” adding that Israel’s Palestinian citizens would have to abandon their claim for equality the moment the Palestinian leadership agreed to statehood on Israel’s terms.

Olmert framed the Annapolis negotiations in much the same way. It was about creating two nations, he said: “the State of Israel — the nation of the Jewish people; and the Palestinian state — the nation of the Palestinian people.”

The great fear, Olmert has repeatedly pointed out, is that the Palestinians may wake up one day and realize that, after the disappointments of Oslo and Camp David, Israel will never concede to them viable statehood. The better course, they may decide, is a South African-style struggle for one-person, one-vote in a single democratic state.

Olmert warned of this threat on another recent occasion: “The choice … is between a Jewish state on part of the Land of Israel, and a binational state on all of the Land of Israel.”

Faced with this danger, Olmert, like Sharon and Barak before him, has come to appreciate that Israel urgently needs to persuade Abbas to sign up to the two-state option. Not, of course, for two democratic, or even viable, states, but for a racist Jewish state alongside a Palestinian ghetto-state.

With Bush also wanting a two state solution by the end of his disastrous term of office, the future of Palestinians looks as usual, bleak.