Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dear Israel: There will be no "war to the bitter end" in the Holy Land - only bitter war

Once again, blood is being shed in the Middle East:
Israel obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of what the defense minister described Monday as a "war to the bitter end," striking next to the Hamas premier's home, and devastating a security compound and a university building. The three-day death toll rose to 364 on Monday, with some 1,400 reported wounded, according to Palestinian medical officials. The U.N. said at least 62 of the dead were civilians, and medics said eight children under the age of 17 were killed in two separate strikes overnight.
What are these Israeli strikes supposed to accomplish? Peace? Stability? Security? Because the only thing that attacks on Gaza will accomplish is an increase in hostility and hatred, on both sides. Violence begets violence.

Hamas is culpable, too. They could have done more to stop militants from firing rockets and mortars into southern Israel.

They share the blame for this ugly explosion of brutality. Neither Hamas or Israel seems to truly desire an end to the violence.

If they did, they'd stop attacking each other.

There can be no "war to the bitter end" in the Holy Land because there can't be an end. Not with the United States providing unconditional support to Israel, and not with Arab states like Saudi Arabia providing unconditional support to the Palestinians. Right now, there's enough fuel to keep this fiery conflict burning for centuries - well beyond all our lifetimes.

If Israel's leaders truly desire peace, they would not be directing the Israeli military to launch such ferocious attacks on Gaza.

Israel has now been choking the Gaza Strip for years, not only restricting the movement of people, but preventing food and supplies from reaching Gaza. Sometimes, the borders are opened to allow supplies through, but not often enough.

Consequently, about eighty percent of the population in Gaza is living in poverty, and people are dying because they can't get medical treatment.

And yet, Democratic leaders in the United States are busy releasing statements of sympathy and support for Israel. No condemnation of Israel's blockade of Gaza. No acknowledgment that there simply isn't a military solution to the hostilities in the Holy Land. We keep hearing, over and over again, "Israel has a right to defend itself." How many times have U.S. politicians uttered those words?

What about the Palestinians? Forget about any supposed right they might have to defend themselves. What about their human rights? To be treated with dignity? To have access to food, clean water, and shelter?

The United Nations' Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, explained a few weeks ago that what Israel is doing is unacceptable.
Such a policy of collective punishment, initiated by Israel to punish Gazans for political developments within the Gaza strip, constitutes a continuing flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
That's not to say that attacks by Palestinian militants against Israelis are just - they're not. But Israel is punishing all Gazans, not just those responsible for inciting violence. We're willing to bet that Israelis wouldn't like it one bit if roles were reversed and it was Palestinians that were choking Israel and stopping the flow of food and medical supplies.

The United States could and should help to ease tensions by ending unconditional support for Israel and instead insisting that Israel work out a peace agreement that has teeth with the Palestinians. Not a vague and useless "road map", but a realistic path towards peace that involves the international community.

When such an agreement is reached, both the United States and Arab states like Saudi Arabia should insist forcefully on its implementation.

There can't be peace in the Holy Land unless the world stops taking sides. If we're the trailblazing nation that we often boast we are, then we'll take the lead instead of waiting for the Saudis to do so.

If we truly want to facilitate in bringing peace to the Middle East - and that should be our objective - our loyalty must be to a peace agreement.

We can't play the blame game again.

Neither the United States nor any other nation should be providing a blank check to any of the parties in the conflict.

If we continue to allow ourselves to be used as an ammunition depot, the bloodshed will continue. History tells us that. How many U.S. presidents have tried to broker a lasting end to the violence in the Holy Land and failed?

Barack Obama is destined to fall into the same trap if he doesn't make some serious changes to our foreign policy.


Blogger responder said...

If Israel's leaders truly desire peace, they would not be directing the Israeli military to launch such ferocious attacks on Gaza.

What would you suggest as a non-ferocious attack?

Israel has now been choking the Gaza Strip for years, not only restricting the movement of people, but preventing food and supplies from reaching Gaza. Sometimes, the borders are opened to allow supplies through, but not often enough.

you fail to mention that - in the midst of this 'war to the bitter end' Israel is permitting - on the Third day of fighting - some 100 trucks to cross into Gaza with supplies.

The Israelis finally get enough of the constant rain of rockets on their border towns and villages, fired by Hamas and strike back to stop it.

Yet somehow, Israel gets scolded...

It seems everything would be fine if only Israel simply didn't respond to any provocation, under any circumstances - that it ignores any future rocket attacks because well... that's the best Hamas can do, and hitting back with any firepower is just damn unfair.

Death or injury by rocket in Ashkelon, Ashdod, and other towns in southern Israel is bad, but - hey - not something to "overreact" to. Is this the inevitable message to Israel?

What would be a "proportionate" response? If anything - Israel clearly done everything in its power to avoid loss of life. It has - for several days - warned that the rocket-fire from Gaza should stop. Once it did react, Israel engaged in pinpoint targeting of military facilities operated by Hamas, and has gone so far as to send messages in Arabic to residents of Gaza, warning them that if they allow their homes or businesses are sheltering Hamas weaponry, they will be destroyed. Even according to Palestinian sources, the overwhelming majority of victims of Israeli bombs thus far have been Hamas fighters. This is perhaps the least extreme response that any sovereign nation faced with such a situation can be expected to do.

Even then - the response is deemed unproportional? It would appear that Israel is not entitled to any act in self-defense because no matter how many rockets are launched into Israeli territory, any Israeli response ultimately terms it the aggressor in the Gaza situation.

only a barbarian can remain untouched by the suffering of innocents, including Palestinian women and children. But much of the rest of the world long ago decided that it would no longer be moved by the suffering of Israelis, nor impressed by their patience in the face of such provocations.

There are few news-reports telling of a Jewish mother holding her children with the sound of exploding rockets, of wailing sirens, of the rubble of a Jewish town with tendrils of smoke climbing to the sky. Just the occasional impersonal statistics.

there is another reality on the ground available to anyone willing to look. One place for example is Barzilai Hospital in the town of Ashkelon, near the border with Gaza. The doctors have moved the most essential wards underground. Since rockets (fired by Hamas) have hit near the hospital and the surrounding neighborhood - the hospital now takes only emergency cases. Jewish and Palestinian children lie side by side in an underground ward.

The tragedy is that none of these rockets and bombing campaign are necessary. The Palestinians could have had a two-state solution if they would only take it. But it seems they are determined to win a one-state solution bought at the price of the destruction of the Jewish state. This is the reality that Israel's critics in the West willfully choose to ignore.

Would Israel have blockaded the Gaza-strip just for the sake of it? was it not in response to infiltrations from gaza which inflicted death and tragedy in Israeli civilians that caused Israel to cordone off the Gaza strip? Gazans would regularly trade and indeed seek employment in large numbers beyond the borders of the Gaza strip before rockets and artillary firings began.
Israel's closure of the Gaza strip followed the Hamas uprising. However had Hamas been peaceful, there would be no justification to leave the crossings closed.

Now imagine that Hamas announced, sincerely, that its goal was no longer to annihilate Israel, but to establish a peaceful Islamic entity/state willing to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a lasting agreement - and then acted on that announcement by ceasing all violence aimed at Israel and offering to commence negotiations immediately. Is
there any doubt that the blockade would end? Would Israel refuse to cooperate with a peaceful Hamas and the international community to return Gaza to the incredible rates of economic growth (and beyond) it achieved under the first 20 years of the Israeli occupation?

Hamas, however, is not interested in a peaceful settlement with Israel, and, while its leaders hide in underground bunkers, Hamas appears to be perfectly willing to fight Israel to the last Palestinian civilian.

December 30, 2008 5:19 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home