Israel vs. Palestine, Round XCIV

Published by marco on

It’s hard to tell which round they’re on, but Israel is winning this one decisively; as of this morning, the score—in human lives, of course—is nearly 400 to 2[1], according to the BBC. Israel would dispute this—of course—because they don’t agree that Palestinians are human. According to Israel, there is no such thing as a Palestinian civilian, since, in the words of one commenter[2], “[t]hey’re all guilty, and paying the price for their recklessly voting into power the murderous zealots of Hamas.”. If that argumentation rings a bell, it’s probably because it was expressed by the world’s leading fugitive, Osama Bin Laden, as a justification for the attack on the Twin Towers. In what can only be a remarkably improbable coincidence, everything Israel kills is either not human or not a civilian, keeping their hands clean vis-a-vis international law.

 Gaza Apartment BuildingPalestine uses nearly un-aimable rockets, most of which fall into the desert, but is accused of “targeting” civilians. They are so spectacularly bad at killing people with rockets that “[o]ver the last seven years only 17 Israeli citizens have been killed by Palestinian rocket fire.”[3] Israel, on the other hand, does not explicitly target civilians, instead killing them purely by accident by the hundreds. Israel claims that Hamas militants deliberately hide among the civilians, leaving them no recourse but to blow the whole lot to kingdom come. Palestine is not offered the luxury of using the same argumentation to justify their attacks.

Gaza has the densest population of any state in the world. Children make up 50% of the population. And yet, almost no one in the U.S. opens their mouth in protest when Israel executes strafing run after strafing run on Gaza. Israel’s official argument that they do this to prevent further rocket attacks is hogwash; their claim that they do not target civilians similarly so. So what are the facts of the situation? A relatively good summary can be had in the article, Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood by Mustafa Barghouthi. It’s written by a Palestinian living in Gaza, but the information contained therein is corroborated by the other articles and interviews cited in this article[4].

And the savior of the moment, Obama? Surely he has something suitably progressive to add to the matter? Don’t bet on it; his allegiance to Israel[5] is strong and oft-stated, so don’t expect anything beyond a “no comment,” according to No Comment and No Leadership From Obama by Joshua Frank ( And then there’s good old Dennis Kucinich—Congressman from Ohio and former presidential candidate. As the rest of the Congress fall all over themselves expressing support for Israel’s slaughter, Kucinich criticizes Israel; wants U.N. probe (The Hill). Kucinich is calling the bombing collective punishment—and rightfully so—which is banned by the Geneva Conventions. Of course, the years-long blockade of Gaza is also collective punishment, but the U.N. has never been able to pass a resolution condemning Israel for it because of the ubiquitous U.S. veto.

And good old Cynthia McKinney—former Congresswoman and presidential candidate—is on a boat headed to Gaza with 3 tons of food; they were rammed by an Israeli vessel today. That’s about it for people not drinking the Israeli kool-aid in Washington. Which is appalling, considering even the Israelis themselves aren’t buying it…and neither are their major newspapers; it’s only the ever-faithful American press that believes every word uttered by the Israeli and U.S. governments. The article, Rockets in Beersheba? Don’t be ridiculous by Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post), interviews Israeli citizens, who openly mock their leaders with “resounding disbelief”. In the words of one outspoken citizen:

“What does it matter where they say the rockets will come from?” Agron continued. “Iraq, Gaza, Iran − nothing’s going to happen, and I won’t be caught running around, not for a gas mask and not for a bomb shelter.”

Israelis may not fear for their lives, but the Palestinians are being strangled by more than just military attacks. The article, If Gaza falls… by Sara Roy (London Review of Books), points out that, because of Israeli blockades, food delivery is down to 6–11% of the minimum required to keep people from starving to death. This December, there were fewer than 5 trucks delivering food and medical supplies per day, on average, when, three years earlier (before the blockade tightened), there were over 550.

On top of this miserable situation comes this attack on Gaza, which has no precedent. The article The neighborhood bully strikes again by Gideon Levy (Ha'aretz) (again, from a leading Israeli newspaper) tells us:

“[w]ithin the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, […] Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom. […] What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country.”

He goes on to write that only “diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire” are worth anything at all and, stating a fact that you will never hear in the American media, notes that the ceasefire was “initially breached, one should remember, by Israel when it unnecessarily bombed a tunnel”.

He says that “Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel’s overreaction.” In both these statements, he is correct. Gaza is a city of refugees with people eating grass and dirt to survive because there isn’t enough food and there isn’t enough fuel with which to cook. Hamas is foolish because they should have expected this reaction—one they have provoked before, though never with so ferocious a response[6]—and yet they provoked it anyway, expecting perhaps a different response from the international community.

Ban Ki-moon is calling for a stop to the violence, but his hands are tied by the looming U.S. veto in the U.N. The Palestinians are in a situation perhaps unlike any other on this planet—and that includes many unfortunate areas in southeast Asia and the entire continent of Africa—they are desperate and they are interred in their own country and they are being slowly starved to death. Why are they expected to be the reasonable and restrained ones? Most likely, the implicit reason is because they are the massive underdog and should know their place. They should instead be begging Israel to only starve half of their children to death and trust in Israeli benificence.

Another light in the darkness in U.S. coverage turns out to be none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski. He’s no hero—he is famous for having nurtured the Mujehaddin in Afghanistan as Carter’s National Security Advisor—but at least he argued reasonably and from historically justifiable information in a recent interview with Joe Scarborough (Huffington Post) (the link contains a nine minute video, which is quite good and highly amusing at the end).

Brzezinski says that the response is way out of proportion to any morally justifiable response[7] to which Scarborough responds truculently, “what would you recommend they do?” in a tone that suggests the only possible answer is a military one.[8] Brzezinski says that Israel should instead work to drastically limit casualties; Scarborough ripostes smugly, asking how one does that in an urban area (again, assuming that the attack has to occur). Brzezinski says “Well, then you don’t [attack],” which clearly does not compute with Scarborough, to whom military confrontation is the only viable answer to pretty much any question.

Brzezinski would not be swayed and analyzed the issue very well. The idiot on the other side of the table, on the other hand, finally garnered this response from Brzezinski:

“…you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it’s almost embarrassing to listen to you.”

Point, set and match.

Scarborough sulked like a child, stating that Zbigniew’s interpretation—the correct one, in the opinion of the rest of the world—went against the collective wisdom of the “entire foreign policy community”; he is completely unaware that his “sources” feed him only propoganda that has nothing to do with reality.[9] By claiming that everyone else in the American media and foreign policy establishment also believed this propoganda, Scarborough succeeded only in generalizing Brzezinski’s remark[10] to apply to most of the television coverage of the Middle East in America. If you don’t know the basics and believe utter fabrications instead, you should sit down, shut up and let the grownups do the talking.

[1] The figure coming out of the Gaza Strip keeps increasing as Israel is bombing pretty much round-the-clock. There are also, at last count, over 1400 wounded. Israel has either 1, 2 or 4 casualties as a result of the rocket attacks. The count differs depending on source because they’re all using a different metric (do heart attacks count?) and using different time frames (2-4 weeks). Most reliable sources call the rocket attacks more “annoying” and “provocative” than effective.
[2] Attached to the article Gaza by Abbas Raza (3 Quarks Daily).
[4] Including the Israeli sources and the interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski as well as reports by the BBC, which treat certain things as fact despite the efforts of the U.S. and Israeli governments to create their own reality.
[5] An allegiance shared by 99% of the American legislature in a propaganda feat that shows we really can beat the Rooskies at anything.
[6] Unlike the unlucky Lebanese to the north, who endured a ferocious attack in the summer of 2006 in which Israel bombed much of their southern infrastructure back to the stone age, including hitting their roads, bridges and power plants—much of which is banned under the Geneva conventions as lack of escape routes and power quickly cause humanitarian crises. As a parting gift, they delivered over one million cluster bombs in the last 24 hours before the ceasefire went into effect. Israel the state could not care one bit less about international law. It does not apply to them.
[7] Echoing Levy from Ha’aretz, who said that the attacks “exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom.”
[8] This is hardly surprising as Scarborough and Fox News are not known for their nuance or abhorrence of violence (when it’s not happening to them). Endlessly tiresome and banal, but not surprising. As a matter of fact, we can just extend that statement to blanket much of the mainstream media in the States, which hardly ever has a problem with state violence enacted by the U.S. or one of its allies.
[9] The issue in question was whether Arafat “walked away from the table” when he had a chance to make peace. Repeating this myth, believed only in America—even the Israelis don’t believe it—was a clear sign for Brzezinski that his time was being wasted.
[10] And there is no validity to the argument that Brzezinski was being rude; he was invited as an expert on foreign affairs and he was placed opposite a complete neophyte spewing complete nonsense and arguing very loudly, as if volume would somehow validate his point-of-view. There is no reason for a well-spoken and well-informed expert to have to deal with that level of ignorance and Brzezinski basically said so. Don’t expect to see him back on Fox News again now that he’s no longer a reliable talking-points cheerleader.


#1 − More Pictures

marco (updated by marco)

The photo attached to the article itself is quite tame. In the ensuing days since publication, these far more devastating ones have appeared: