Warning: Fairly graphic images. Don't scroll if you don't want to see them.
I'm speechless about what's happening in Gaza. Up until now I haven't known what to say, it's made me so sad and angry. So now I'll say something controversial. Actually, I don't think it's possible to talk about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without saying something that someone will find controversial, so there you go.
Was it completely naïve of me to hope that the Jewish people who have been through so much torment and hardship, a people who have been so appallingly treated throughout history, that those men, women and children who have made Israel their home might wish to treat others the way they would like to have been treated themselves?
I have Jewish friends who are sickened and appalled by what the State of Israel is doing (and has been doing) in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. I agree with them. They feel that in no way do Israel's attacks on the Palestinian people represent them as members of the international Jewish community.
It seems to me that attacking and killing innocent people - and then going on TV and lying about it - is no way for a "civilised" country to behave. Israel, have you no shame? Have you no heart? No soul?
From The Guardian:
9 January 2009: Children make up more than half of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants, and as such have found themselves in the firing line since Israel began its offensive against Hamas. Using unprecedented force, the Israeli army has launched raid after raid against the tiny, overcrowded territory, with the inevitable consequence that children have figured heavily among the casualty numbers. According to UN figures, more than 250 children have been killed and 1,080 wounded - about a third of the total casualties - since the offensive began on December 27.
I've been looking at pictures online because I wanted to show you what this war really looks like, but there are many I just can't include. They are too terrible. I'm sitting here in tears. I don't think I need to show you a picture of a decapitated child for you to understand that war is hell, and that the innocent are suffering and dying.
Is this child a terrorist?
Is this one?
Was this child a terrorist too?
From The Independent:
Rules of engagement: Is Israel in breach of the laws of war?
Critics of the Israeli invasion of Gaza say that the military response has been disproportionate and in breach of international rules of war. According to international agreements based on principles dating back to St Thomas Aquinas and enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, Israel should adhere to rules on:
Proportionality - No more force should be used than is necessary, and casualties should be kept to a minimum. The response should be in proportion to the level of the threat.
Civilians - Should not become victims of the war and have the right to be protected and their safety ensured.
Children - Are not to be treated as combatants; medicines, food and clothing should be allowed through.
Targets - Only military targets should be attacked and indiscriminate bombing is forbidden.
Weapons - White phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but Israel has argued that there is nothing to stop it being used as a smokescreen.
I know there are many who live in Israel who do not agree with what their government is doing to the Palestinian people. I know there are many Jews around the world who think it's wrong. And there are certainly millions of non-Israelis around the world who are condemning Israel's actions in Gaza and elsewhere right now.
But insofar as the Israeli government represents the will of its people, I have to ask the question "why have the oppressed become the oppressors?" Why is it that the Jewish people have, for so many years, caused so much hardship, torment and death to the Palestinian people? Shouldn't simple human empathy and understanding have stopped Israel from behaving that way? Or is it true that - like abused children who grow up to be abusers themselves - the State of Israel just cannot help itself?
You tell me - because right now, that's what I see. I see the Jewish people who have suffered deeply and horribly, turning around and treating the Palestinians in a way that - although not comparable in scale or atrocity to what the Jews suffered during the holocaust - is nonetheless unacceptable, inhumane, cruel, and arguably illegal.
And until the US stops with the unconditional support of all actions Israeli, and until both the Palestinians and Israelis can stop with the fighting and start with the talking, and until the rest of us have the courage to stand up and say what we think - even though we know we'll probably get accused of being anti-Semitic for saying it - I don't know how peace can ever come to that part of the world.
And every day until then more children will die, and more hearts will be hardened against Israel and everything it stands for, and the possibility of peace in the Middle East will move further and further away.
And a couple more...
January 6 - The Israel Rules
Because Israel came into existence in the shadow of the Holocaust, and because it was immediately attacked by Arab states bent on destroying it, it has become an eternal victim in America's eyes. The historical truths of Israel's creation, above all the fact of Palestinian dispossession, simply cannot compete with the tragic, beautiful myth of an embattled people, the survivors of one of the worst genocides in human history, returning to live in their historic homeland.
The enduring power of this myth is understandable. The idea that history's "ultimate victims," as the late Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said sympathetically called the Jews, created their own state by expelling its native inhabitants, is appalling. It seems almost cosmically wrong: A story this dark should not, cannot, close without a happy ending.
January 6 - The Gaza Bloodbath
If Israel wants to prevent Hamas from "obtaining legitimacy," then the real objective of the invasion is to either severely undermine or topple the regime. All the talk about the qassam rockets and the so-called "Hamas infrastructure", (the new phrase that is supposed to indicate a threat to Israeli security) is merely a diversion.
What really worries Israel is the prospect that Obama will "sit down with his enemies" - as he promised during the presidential campaign - and conduct talks with Hamas. That would put the ball in Israel's court and force them to make concessions. But Israel does not want to make concessions. They would rather start a war and change the facts on the ground so they can head-off any attempt by Obama to restart peace process.
January 7 - What Kind of Security Will This Barbarism Bring Israel?
Israel's disregard for innocent human life is not motivated only by a desire to forestall the political consequences - especially during an electoral campaign - of Israeli military casualties. It is also a clear indicator of the contempt that Israel has for Palestinian life in general.
The cold, hungry, tired, desperate, and terrified men, women and children that Israel is now sweeping away by the dozen in balls of fire and showers of shrapnel are the very same people that it had already reduced to what one UN official months ago warned was "a subhuman existence," the deliberate product of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for over three years, beginning in 2005, before the election of Hamas.
They are the same people whose political and human rights Israel has been stifling since the occupation of 1967 - twenty years before the creation of Hamas. They are the same people who were ethnically cleansed from their land in 1948 because, as non-Jews, they were inconveniently cluttering up the land that European Zionists wanted to turn into a Jewish state, no matter what the land's actual population had to say about it.
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Monday, January 12, 2009
Warning: Fairly graphic images. Don't scroll if you don't want to see them.