Israel, Gaza & Hamas

From NYT:

When President-elect Barack Obama visited Israel in July — to the very town, in fact, whose repeated shelling culminated in this weekend’s new fighting in Gaza — he all but endorsed the punishing Israeli attacks now unfolding.

“If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to everything in my power to stop that,” he told reporters in Sderot, a small city on the edge of Gaza that has been attacked repeatedly by rocket fire. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

I ask you, how many Israeli children have been killed in their beds by rocket-fire from Hamas?  The answer is, zero.  How many Palestinians have been killed by Israeli aggression in Gaza in the last several days?  More than 300.  How many Gazans will be killed before the Israelis are finished there?  Unknown, but more than zero.

The renewed fighting — and the international condemnation of the scope of Israeli’s response — has dashed already limited hopes for quick progress on the peace process that Mr. Bush began in Annapolis, Md., in November 2007. The omission of Hamas from any talks between the Israelis and President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls only the West Bank, had always been a landmine that risked blowing up a difficult and delicate peace process, but so have Israel’s own internal political divisions.

It appears that the landmine represented by the exclusion of Hamas exploded.  Israel has never been known to show restraint in these circumstances.  That makes them perfect allies for the United States of America.  I’ll be impressed if Obama exerts pressure on Israel to end the suppression of Gazans and its aggression toward the Palestinian people.  I’ll be similarly impressed if he exercises such restraint in Afghanistan.  Surprised and impressed.

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From Richard Falk at The Nation:

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas’ diplomatic initiatives to reestablish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law – regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

UPDATE:

Glenn Greenwald has this:

Opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are so entrenched that any single outbreak of violence is automatically evaluated through a pre-existing lens, shaped by one’s typically immovable beliefs about which side bears most of the blame for the conflict generally or “who started it.”  Still, any minimally decent human being — even those who view the world through the most blindingly pro-Israeli lens possible, the ones who justify anything and everything Israel does, and who discuss these events with a bottomless emphasis on the primitive (though dangerous) rockets lobbed by Hamas into Southern Israel but without even mentioning the ongoing four-decades brutal occupation or the recent, grotesquely inhumane blockade of Gaza — would find the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinians to be a horrible and deeply lamentable event.
But not The New Republic‘s Marty Peretz.  Here is his uniquely despicable view of the events of the last couple of days:

So at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites in just about three minutes, maybe five. Message: do not fuck with the Jews.

“Do not fuck with the Jews.”  And what of the several hundred Palestinian dead — including numerous children — and many hundreds more seriously wounded?  

What’s come to be is that anyone who dares critisize Israel on any grounds is automatically an anti-semite who wants to see Israel blown into the sea.  Let me make it clear that I believe Israel has acquired a “right” to exist, or should I say, co-exist, in the Middle East.  I do not blame Israelis or the state of Israel for all of the violence in that area.  Neither do I think that it will ever suffice to say “There are arguments on both sides, so anything Israel does is ‘ok'”. 

I would like readers to consider this – if the Palestinians together or Hamas and Gazans specifically, were able to blockade Israel for months (or a minute?) , causing starvation and mass suffering among the populace, and then kill and injure its citizenry with the full force of a mighty army (which the Gazans will never have), how would we respond?  To say that Israel’s disproportionate response to Hamas is illegal and immoral is not to say that lobbing rockets at Israel is ok.

Barack Obama sanctioned Israeli aggression because of Hamas rocket attacks.  Why doesn’t the corollary apply?

Greenwald again:

… “if a foreign power were brutally occupying my country for four decades — or blockading my country and denying my children medical needs and nutrition and the ability even to exit — I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.  And I would expect Palestinians to do the same thing”?  But the last thing that our political class ever extends is reciprocal, two-sided analysis to this dispute.

Greenwald also gives us this interesting article by Gideon Levy at Haaretz Israeli News, “The neighbourhood bully strikes again” and points out that no American politician could get away with such a position.  Likely no Canadian politician either.

Here, Dawg gets pounded in the Canadian blogosphere for his “anti-semitism”.

And here’s a comment by someone who styles him/herself “Western Canadian” at small dead idiots animals:

Hammer the shit out of them Israel and close your borders to them. If the general population wonders where their next meal is coming from they might take exception to the militants setting up shop in their neighborhoods and do something about it, maybe.

Close the borders?   If people wonder “where their next meal is coming from”?  If?  The people might “do something about it”?  Give me grace, people who have been the subject of violence and repression over the period of four decades are supposed to have the ability to affect political decisions?  We’d all do well to consider the conditions in which people really have a choice.

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