With today's news of IDF air strikes abruptly ending the lives of some 140+ Gazans, I can't help but feel an abject sense of horror at the fact that most Americans will probably find some way to blame the Palestinians for bringing this on themselves. Nevermind the fact that it was Israel who initially broke the ceasefire. Forget the fact that Israel kidnapped two civilians from Gaza before Corporal Gilad Shilat became a household name. Nevermind that Israel's strangulation of the Gaza Strip began immediately after the so-called disengagement and before the electoral victory of Hamas.
I remain confounded by the American progressive movement's widespread refusal to stand behind the Palestinian people as they are subjected to an endless barrage of colonialist, racist aggression.
Their timidity in the face of blatant war crimes and melting away at the mere mention of the word "Sderot" is nothing short of pathetic. We cannot seriously expect Hamas to end their barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel until the Israelis make good faith efforts to recognize the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people. Condemnations of Hamas should be considered utterly worthless unless they are made by people who condemn Israel's daily violations of human rights.
When Chris Hedges asked U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory Richard Falk about the situation in the Gaza Strip, here is how he responded:
"A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live."
Gaza now spends 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. There are few drugs and little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication. Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment, including one of Gaza’s three CT scanners, has been destroyed by power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care, including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel. The statistics gathered on children—half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 17—are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.
The West Bank, despite the fact that it is ruled by a virtual client of U.S./Israeli interests, is fairing little better. The colonist population is increasing at an alarming rate. Plans for forcing all West Bank trade through a new network of crossing points continue despite international criticism. The "Judaization" of Arab sections of Jerusalem through demolition and settlement is also continues to go on unimpeded by the so-called peace process. This pattern of demolition, restriction, and colonization that I documented months ago is never ending. How can we possibly expect the Palestinians to not resist?
There is clearly very little incentive for Gazans to ditch Hamas as long as the the West Bank remains under the iron fist of the IDF and its most fertile lands in the hands of the colonial settlers. There is also no real incentive for Hamas to end its rocket attacks on Israel as long as we make regime change a condition for removing the blockade on Gaza. The only temporary solution to the current crisis is another ceasefire in which Hamas agrees to halt its rocket attacks and Israel agrees to end IDF assaults and ease its embargo on Gaza. We should remember that Hamas largely stuck to the ceasefire while it was going on and even arrested members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades for shooting rockets into Israel. If Israel continues to play with fire, then the incoming Obama administration should consider withholding military assistance.
There's no excuse for putting up with Israel's bullshit anymore. We give more governmental foreign aid to them than any other nation in the world. We therefore have a direct moral responsibility for their actions and should see to it that they abide by the rules set by our own peace process.
Edit: More thoughts from Lenin's Tomb.
In Waco, Tex., where President Bush is vacationing, a White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said: "Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people. The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza."
Edit 3: Sigh:
"There was no immediate comment on the Israeli air strikes on Gaza from Obama, who is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, or his staff."
Disappointing, but not surprising.
Edit 4: Essential reading from Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, "Gaza massacres must spur us to action."
"I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel's attacks, and others will follow.
Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.
Edit 5: Noted middle aged man with a ponytail who gets outraged by Dunkin' Donuts ads Chuckie Johnson decides to send some traffic my way. Good for him. Maybe he'll appreciate a re-enactment of one of his greatest moments:
Since the media’s barrage of images of Corrie looking Caucasian and saintly has not abated, every time I cover a story about her I’m going to repost one of these photographs, unmasking the hidden face of Rachel Corrie.