Madness in Gaza

Israel, a state entity, is committing war crimes in Gaza. They have blockaded and imprisoned an entire civilian population in the Gaza strip, over a million people, and have now launched air strikes against civilian targets with the expected results: the deaths of hundreds, among them women and children and innocent men. The Israeli attacks are the disproportionate response to escalating firing of rockets into Israel from the Gaza strip. The Israelis claim they will continue their brutality until it "changes [the] behavior" of those they blame for the rocket attacks. Any person with more than two neurons firing knows what kind of behavior these attacks will call forth. This is an endless cycle of violence and counterviolence. Each side can claim a pretext for retaliation, although the imbalance in power makes the Israeli side orders of magnitude more brutal and more vicious:

An Israeli woman was killed Saturday when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Netivot in southern Israel, about six miles east of Gaza, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. Two other Israelis were in "medium to serious" condition at Soroko Hospital in Bersheba, he said.

Wounded people could be seen lying in the streets of Gaza City, and passers-by were doing what they could to summon help.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees urged the Israeli government to stop its bombardment.

"UNRWA recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns. However, its actions should be in conformity with international humanitarian law, and it should not use disproportionate force," the agency said in a news release. (CNN)

The death toll in Gaza is now (Saturday night) put at 225, with 400 injured but it is clearly much greater and mounting by the hour under this brutal attack. The Israelis will say that they had no choice but to respond to the rocket attacks. The Palestinians will say they had no choice but to respond to the starvation and Israeli attacks on their own population.

While the imbalance in power provides an asymmetry, I'll be even handed in my labeling. Trying to achieve political ends by violence against a civilian population is terrorism. By this standard, calling Hamas militants terrorists is justified, although by that standard there are a lot of terrorists in the world who are employed by countries, including our own. On the other side, the collective punishment of a civilian population is a war crime, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Israeli leaders are war criminals. We have some of those, too.

I don't want to side with terrorists or war criminals. But the Israeli attack is madness. It is also vicious and cruel. Any country that justifies cruelty and viciousness has lost its way.

Firedog Lake is providing good coverage.

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You're up late revere, goodness !

Religious wars have raged forever and will continue. Do I envision an end to religious wars ? No. Do I envision half the population putting their very lives on the line and holding governments around the globe accountable ? Yes.
Do I see the government squashing these brave souls efforts ? Yes.

Meanwhile, and from a comment at firedoglake,
CTuttle December 27th, 2008 at 7:22 pm 13
In Hawaii, Obama Monitoring Gaza Conflict
President-Elect Has Received Intelligence Briefings, But Stresses "One President At A Time"

According to an Obama transition aide, the president-elect discussed the Mideast situation today with Secretary of State Condelezza Rice. They discussed the situations in Gaza and in South Asia. The president-elect appreciated the call and the information from Secretary Rice. He will continue to closely monitor these and other global events. The call lasted approximately eight minutes and was initiated by the president-elect, the aide said.

While Obama and his family vacation in a multi-million dollar rental home in Hawaii.
This is not setting a good example for the American people.

The only way to end the cycle of retaliation in Gaza is to adopt a radically new strategy.

The only option I see that might have a chance of working however remote, would be to send a UN peacekeeping force to Gaza to prevent attacks on Israel and for Israel to refrain from further attacks while the UN force was in place.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

The thing is, nobody in power dares say anything publicly. You can not criticize Israel and until people start looking at why this is so, nothing will change.

BTW, our treatment of the American Indian is not much different than what Israel does today, not what we did in Iraq not too long ago. Just to be fair, and not to justify what Israel is doing.

But this is a good opportunity for Obama to show he is about change, but in fairness to him, he can not really say much until he becomes President.

"They have blockaded and imprisoned an entire civilian population in the Gaza strip, over a million people"

Sunshine - you have no idea what you are talking about. The Gaza strip has a border with Egypt, and Israel has no physical control whatsoever over that border since we withdrew from Gaza. Perhaps you would care to rub two neurons together and ask yourself why the Egyptians have sealed their border with their dear brethren in Gaza?

"The Israeli attacks are the disproportionate response to escalating firing of rockets into Israel from the Gaza strip."

And precisely what kind of response would you consider 'proportionate'? Should we exchange rocket fire on a one to one basis? Where are your two neurons now? We tried disengaging from Gaza and leaving them to their own devices, as a result we are faced with a neighbouring statelet run by a gang of terrorists who think they have the right to randomly murder our citizens whenever they feel like it. If you lived next door to a criminal gang, what would be the 'proportionate reaction' you would consider if they fired a few rounds into your house every few days at random? How 'proportionate' would your response be when one of your children is killed by one of those random bullets.

I am all for criticism, but to have any validity it should be constructive criticism, not knee-jerk reactions like the above post. Why did the esteemed Revere not post a cry to Hamas to desist from rocket fire last week, or last month or last year? Why did the esteemed Revere not join our government's call to Hamas to maintain the cease fire when they announced that they were not bound by it any more?

This is an ugly situation. Ugly. And the pictures of dead and maimed, bombed out buildings and burning fields do not show the real intentions of peace-loving Israelis who've been pushed to the point of saying, "Enough is enough." No one takes pleasure watching innocent lives destroyed in the crossfire. But look closely at the newsreels from yesterday and you'll see most of the injured brought to Palestinian hospitals are young men in uniform -- who would be building and launching missiles at our villages and towns, if they had been left to their own devices.

Billions and billions of dollars of international aid have been poured into Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian leadership has siphoned much of that into amassing personal wealth, while doing little to build schools, hospitals, universities, sewage treatment, trash disposal, shelters or enterprises. Until they use their capital to build a viable and sustainable society rather than trying to destroy ours, until they take responsibility for reigning in their extremists and bringing them to justice (as we do in Israel), rather than glorifying them as heroes and martyrs, there will be no viable Palestinian state -- not because of what we are forced to do to defend ourselves, but because of what they are failing to do, because they are choosing to destroy rather than build.

We deplore you, men and women of moral character and good intentions, not to be taken in by thugs who play on your sensitivity and morality. We left greenhouses, roads, schools and business parks when we withdrew from Gaza. These were demolished rather than seized and converted into foundations to build from. You mean well. But your sensitivity and desire for justice is being misused by murderers and thugs who call themselves "freedom-fighters," and who embrace your language to justify intentions that are as heinous as the Nazis of 60 years ago.

We acceded to their demands and made part of our historical homeland Judenrein, because it was not part of the pre-1967 borders. It was an experiment. We hoped it would lead to peace and be the first building-block in a peace-loving Palestinian state. If our hopes and prayers (and the sacrifices of our fellow citizens who were put out of their homes and workplaces) had been answered positively, a free and independent Palestine would be a reality today. But the experiment failed. It failed, not because of what our enemies would have you believe about Israel, but because the thugs made sure the experiment failed, in order to keep the populace down and keep themselves in power.

Men and women of character and high principles have asked us to choose a proportionate response. We agree. A "proportionate" response to rocket fire and suicide bombers is to seal the border and prevent further arms smuggling. A "proportionate" response to polemics about destroying Israel altogether would be to ignore the hate-mongers. We did that. And we hoped and prayed that the million and a half "innocent" Palestinian "victims" would drive the thugs, the murderers, the hate-mongers, the thieves who steal international aid from their midst. If that had happened, the borders would have been re-opened, the roadblocks dismantled, entrepreneurial co-operation would have accelerated and we would have celebrated the waving of a Palestinian flag over a free and independent Palestine with our neighbours.

But, instead, this populace has rallied behind the thugs, revered them, glorified them and has protected and harboured them. What a tragedy. Far too many of the million and a half Palestinians choose to be accomplices to the murderers, thieves and thugs, rather than "just saying No."

As our friends and our friend's children are being mobilised throughout Israel to defend the lives of our fellow citizens in the South, you do not see the agony in the eyes of the normal Israeli citizens who've donned their uniforms, in the eyes of wives and parents and children. That's not shown on TV. You don't see our desperate wish that a "proportionate" response (closing arms-smuggling tunnels and borders) had mobilised our Palestinian neighbours to call on the thugs to stop the violence. You don't see our children half-sleeping at night in shelters (because that does not make a vivid or riveting news story). You don't see the hundreds of Israelis who abandoned homes, communities, businesses in Gaza and are heartsick not just because they were displaced, but because their sacrifice has not led to a single thing of value. You don't see these, because it isn't shown on the CBC, BBC or CNN. But that doesn't mean it isn't there.

You mean well. We understand how much you are sickened by the pictures you see on TV. We hear your calls for a proportionate response to hate-mongering, theft of international aid and rocket fire on civilian homes. We hear your calls for dialogue. And we wish those measures had worked.

We applaud you for your outrage. And we implore you to direct it to the correct address. As soon as the other side is willing to commit, not just to a cease-fire but to a cessation of hostilities and not just to taking international aid but using it to build a viable society, we're ready to embrace them as partners. Use your desire for good to make it happen!

By merom klein (not verified) on 28 Dec 2008 #permalink

Mike, Meron: You and I have a lot in common. We are all of us Jews. We all of us live in democratic countries that are seen by the rest of the world as pariahs. We live in countries where there is substantial disagreement amongst the citizenry about what is right. We live in countries that have been attacked by religious fanatics. We try to use logic and rationality. But we come to different conclusions.

There is probably not a Jew in the world whose family was not touched or affected in some way by the Holocaust. That is certainly true of my family. I daresay there is not a Palestinian in the world who cannot say the same about the israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I am sure every Gazan knows someone or has a family member who has suffered at the hands of Israel. Those are facts. The question is what one makes of those facts. Mike, Meron, do either of you for a moment believe that Israel's response will produce anything but more violence? Do you believe you can bomb a population into submission?

I won't get into an argument about Egypt, a corrupt and right wing and oppressive government. The idea that they are the "bretheren" of Gazans because they are all Arabs is not helpful thinking nor is it realistic or accurate thinking. In fact it shows little thinking at all, just a kind of racialist view of Arabs.

I was as critical of my own country for its actions after 9/11 as I am of Israel's today. I consider US leaders to have committed war crimes (and still to be committing them) and to have engaged in policies that are counterproductive and harmful to our national interests. I also think they are morally wrong. In the fear and anger after the 9/11 attacks my fellow countrymen were overwhelmingly willing to trust our fate to leaders who have been shown to be thugs, liars and incompetents. I opposed them from the outset, not because I approved of the 9/11 criminals or sympathized with Saddam Hussein's corrupt and vicious government. To say that opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq is tantamount to giving the taliban and Saddam a pass is just plain incorrect.

I have much more in common with you and with Israelis in general and even with the right wing thuggish Israeli leaders than I do with Hamas. I am an atheist, so I have no sympathy for an ideology (Islamic fundamentalism) that is irrational, oppressive and corrupt. That is not the issue. By the logic of the Haaretz columnist, israelis are "selective aggressors of the Right." You choose when it's OK to act immorally, depending upon your interests. I think that is faulty logic in both directions.

The actions of the Israeli government have shamed it just as George Bush's actions have shamed mine. My response was not to go along with whatever my leaders said or did but to oppose things I felt were wrong. Many Israelis are responding as I did. Many are not, including you. We disagree. And in that I feel you have lost your way.

Of course only one side can comment - the Jews - as they have destroyed any communication ability for the other side.
When you dare to look at the mirror you must be really ashamed!

"most of the injured brought to Palestinian hospitals are young men in uniform"

Well, yes, the Israelis blew up most of Gaza's police force. So now it will be completely impossible for the Palestinian authorities to even try to enforce any future cease fire. I wonder what Merum would call it is someone bombed the Israeli police force. Terrorism or a war crime, perhaps?

"I won't get into an argument about Egypt, a corrupt and right wing and oppressive government. The idea that they are the "bretheren" of Gazans because they are all Arabs is not helpful thinking nor is it realistic or accurate thinking. In fact it shows little thinking at all, just a kind of racialist view of Arabs."

Sunshine, dismissing somebody else's comments as 'little thinking at all' because they don't fit into your preconceptions suggests that you don't really want to think. 'Tis much easier after all to feel self satisfied in your very own propaganda-generated fantasy. I would just point out for any open-minded readers out there that not holding the Egyptians or Palestinians to the same standards as you see fit to hold us is an all too common example of closet racism.

"Do you believe you can bomb a population into submission?"

No we don't. We never said we did. In fact your posts remind me of the definition of dialog in the Middle East, as defined by the late Shaike Ophir (one of our great comedians) in his skit The English Teacher. Dialogue, my dear is just like monologue. Monologue is one person talking to himself; And then a dialogue is two people talking to themselves...

Mike: I see instead of engaging in a dialogue you are content (or have no other recourse) but to call me a closet racist. We've seen plenty of that here in the US from the avid supporters of the Iraq War, too. Suggest the other person is a traitor. I fear you in the Israeli far Right will reap the whirlwind, which is your fate to choose, but you will drag many innocent others down with you.

If the cap fits, wear it. How else would you describe somebody who doesn't want to countenance the possibility that an Arab government (Egypt) might actually have rational reasons for their policies?

You seem to use the epithet "far right" to dismiss any opinions contrary to your own. Strangely enough, I belong to the Israeli left, but please don't let any minor things like facts affect your preconceptions.

The issue has always been about survival. The Palestinian people have endured incredible hardships and sanctions for decades. The lapdog western media refuses to talk about these terrifying conditions in which they are forced to live under and the real reasons why the so-called war continues with the active support of the United States.
No other nation on earth receives the same military and financial support as Israel.

Mike: You seem to use the epithet "far right" to dismiss any opinions contrary to your own. Strangely enough, I belong to the Israeli left, but please don't let any minor things like facts affect your preconceptions.

On the contrary. I use it for people who espouse and support far right political positions. I don't care if you are comfortable wearing that hat or not. It fits. I have nowhere said I don't think an Arab government can't have rational policies. Israeli governments can even have rational policies. The bottom line is whether they do or not. You are not a person of the left, as much as you might fancy yourself that way. You are just an ordinary angry, scared and not particularly compassionate person with the usual prejudices. "Good citizens" like you who follow talking points and don't question your government's policies got my country into the mess we are in and we hurt many others in the process. You have many predecessors in history. You are following suit. Congratulations (that's sarcasm, just so you'll know).

I have no solutions. All I have ever learned in life is that it takes two to tango. Both sides are equally stubborn and incorrect in the approach to a solution. The only way forward is to act to REFRAIN from violence.
Having said that, I wish it was a fair fight. Homemade ineffective junk that is scary because no one knows what will be hit vs the most effective killing technologies every designed by man. It just doesn't seem like a balanced fight to me. I was a little angry and mostly sad when I saw this, the most stupid of fights, reignite.
So much for peace on Earth.
I hope, because prayer is a farce, that these so called leaders [bullies more the like], realize how inept violence is at achieving peace.

May this at least find you safe when so many sleep in fear.

Let them kill each other till the cows come home. That's how each tribe's religious forefathers would have done it.

If you criticize Israel and you're not jewish, you're an antisemite.

If you criticize Israel and you're a jew, you're a self-loathing antisemite.

But you're in good company; Noam Chomsky is apparently one of those.

Evidently pushing this "logic" to its conclusion, you have to admit that if people as smart as Chomsky are "antisemites", then it might just be the right thing to be ...?

The Palestinians have faced decades of continuous attack from Israel, in the form of settlement building in blatant defiance of international agreements on the treatment of occupied land to which Israel is a signatory. The only thing that has ever worked at stopping those attacks is killing Israelis and when the Palestinians did halt attacks on Israel in the 1990 Israel responded not by removing settlements not by freezing settlements as they stood nor even by continuing expansion at the existing rather by accelerating settlement. Israel has done nothing to indicate anything like a sincere desire for peace, the shameful cowardice of the Israeli government in the face of less than a hundred violent racist religious fanatics in the centre of Hebron preferring retaining control of 20% of the city and thousands of Palestinians to removing a handful of bigoted thugs from their enclave. Israel has failed to respond positively to several Hamas ceasefires and indeed initiated attacks during the ceasefires, which hardly gives Hamas a reason to extend their ceasefire. No wonder that many Palestinians now believe that only the destruction of Israel can bring them freedom.

By Brett Dunbar (not verified) on 29 Dec 2008 #permalink

Suppose Israel were blockaded by a pan-Arab nation with, say, extensive foreign support (perhaps from an oil-hungry US) in a similar way as Gaza has been. Periodically, some Israeli terrorists/patriots (take your pick) might manage to cobble together or sneak in some missiles or mortars, and kill some random Arab schoolchildren. Then, I suppose it would be okay for the pan-Arab nation's US-supplied jets to blow up a bunch of Israelis?

Of course, it wouldn't be okay. The current situation is okay right now because Israel is our ally, for both strategic reasons (nobody is as reliable a friend as the guy who has essentially no friends but you) and domestic political ones (Jewish and evangelical voters care, most Americans otherwise are vaguely pro-Israel and frankly don't much like Arabs).

And the criticisms of Israel rather than Hamas come from a simple fact: Israel is a first-world liberal democracy, and most people expect it to live up to first-world liberal democracy standards. Hamas is a gang of religiously-motivated thugs. Nobody expects anything good from that crowd. This is a double-standard, of course, but it's not exactly an unreasonable one. By the same token, most of us would like to see the US return to decent treatment of prisoners, even though Al Qaida, the Taliban, and various Iraqi terrorists leave their luckless prisoners in bloody pieces.

By albatross (not verified) on 29 Dec 2008 #permalink

There seems to be nothing equivalent to Israeli occupation of the West Bank, except maybe China's occupation of Tibet.

If Israel is to be held to first world standards, why hasn't it been forced to leave the occupied territories?

I don't see Israel as a liberal democracy, but rather as a theocratic state with more than a tinge of racism. After all, the founding law of the land is the "Right of Return". The basic rule is that anyone with a Jewish mother or grandmother has the "right" to settle in Israel.

So, they think that one's future or destiny is determined by the accident of one's birth.

The closest parallel to Israel's occupation of the West Bank that I can think of is Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara, there are a few differences notably Western Sahara is a UN member state, unlike the Palestinian Authority, but the similarities are striking, a more or less democratic government is occupying a neighbour and settling civilians on the territory of said neighbour. The situation with the Turks in Northern Cyprus is a little less similar but still comparable.

By Brett Dunbar (not verified) on 30 Dec 2008 #permalink

I do have a solution, a solution that will work, and which will be cheaper in blood and treasure than the status quo, but which neither side will be willing to implement.

The solution is for Europe and the US to buy out the right of return of the Palestinians. The only reason that Israel exists is because of European guilt over the Holocaust and Evangelicals wanting to accelerate the Rapture.

There are about 10 million Palestinians. $50k per person would only be $500 billion. With that money they could buy a homeland somewhere, build an infrastructure to give them decent lives.

kinda makes me long for the days when Jews were merely orchestrating the background financial pictures of long forgetten republics...( The South, and Jeremiah Benjamin, treasurer of the Confederacy), or minding their own business (pimping underage goy girls in Russia)...

And, BTW, why is it that we have to hear over and over about the relatively few killed in the Jewish Holocaust, as compared to the many others?

Oh yeah " one Jewish fingernail is worth more than one thousand Arab lives (um...this particular Jewish racists name eludes me at the moment...but the sentiment is what guides Jewish plitics here at home, and in Gaza)

By the real schlemiel (not verified) on 01 Jan 2009 #permalink


I agree with many points that you posted here. Until the Arabian countries like Iran (which is going to have nuclear weapon), etc honor that Israel has the right to exist, it is moral for the West continues to respond like what the United States has supported.

The big problem that I see is that Israel has Arab population more than 1 million, and Israeli Arabian population is growing faster than Israeli Jew's. Please read this:…

I thought the threats mentioned in the above article are true dangers for Israel. A person without spiritual fatigue will struggle until the mission is fulfilled.

I wonder if anyone could help me with a little statistical information?

In the UK we tend to have a lot of fireworks around November the fifth in remembrance of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up parliament and I know their are a lot of fireworks used elsewhere to celebrate new year. We often have some rather nasty injuries caused by fireworks and my question is does anyone know if more Israelis are injured by fireworks or by Hamas rockets annually. I know they use very similar targeting systems and avionics.

JJ: Don't know. I think there have been a total of 45 Israeli deaths from rockets since 2005. The figure I saw was that this was a risk of 1 in 2 million. I'll look around a bit to see what I can find. If you find something, post it here.

Insinuating that deliberate fire of rockets with 10-20 kg warheads by a terrorist organization is similar to accidents from a fireworks show is truly sick.

Mike: He asked a question. But when it comes to "truly sick," I think you are somewhere in the neighborhood. Perhaps just a subclinical case. A national sickness, maybe. It seems to be endemic in your region. Get well soon.

As I suspect Revere realised my comment was semi-facetious. I am making a serious point that the main stream media are reporting Israeli rocket attacks into Gaza and visa-versa as if they were in some way comparable, which they are not. As Revere points out the total fatalities from Hamas rockets in the last three years are of the same order as one air to surface missile fired into the local Gazan police station. You may call Hamas a terrorist organisation and I may view them as the legitimate democratically representatives of the Gaza prison camp. If a terrorist is someone who tries to achieve their objectives by cowing their enemy into submission by acts whose primary purpose is to strike terror in the civilian population then I would argue that the IDF are text book terrorists. Why are police stations and similar terrorist targets? Because those who work there are employees of local government or because they have guns? Hamas are terrorists and the IDF are not because we are using your definition or the US State departments? Are Fatah terrorist and if not why not? If so why are the US arming them? Are the US States sponsors of terrorism? If not why not? They are arming one side in this conflict and the other side really do not seem to have any real weapons and yet Iran and Syria are accused of arming them and being States sponsors of terrorism.

Is their any consistency or logic in the US/Israel position? And to my eternal shame my government (British) are to gutless stand-up for common sense or common decency.

The British sense of fair play RIP.

To our readers: The troll signing himself Mike_F is one Michael Fainzilber, apparently some kind of lab person at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He has peppered this thread with contentless but rude comments and now has sent the following email to the publisher:

One of your bloggers is encouraging comparison of terrorist rocket fire to fireworks accidents - see and scroll down to the bottom of the comments.

I submit that this crosses the border from free speech to tacit support for a terrorist organization. If these comments are not removed within 48 hours, I will forward this e-mail to law enforcement authorities in the USA.

Feel free to read the comments just above this and judge for yourself. Maybe in Israel people aren't allowed to say things that offend Mr. Fainzilber but in the US it is a constitutionally guaranteed right. If you want to see tacit support for terrorists and war criminals, just read Mr. Fainzilber's comments. He is just another bully, plain and simple.

Meanwhile, I'm sure law enforcement has better things to do than deal with emails from cranks.

This bloody hilarious firework! We just celebrated New Year, so I've followed JJ's first context. Sunshine, with his good use of BBC information, this firework suddenly derived into intentional frigidity, sex or perhaps lots of masturbations. Or who knows next?

To people who has resided by the threats of terrorists' attacks, I didn't feel the true sense of English humor by saying the derivation, especially after people has brought up the feedback.

Sunshine? Or Alzheimer?