Why I Will Continue to Protest Israeli Aggression

Published: Thu 22 Jan 2009 10:53 AM
Why I Will Continue to Protest Israeli Aggression
Dr. Jeanne Guthrie - Wellington - Scoop Reader
Israel seeks “total capitulation to Israel’s terms coupled with an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Israeli actions.’’ In Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, Dr. Sara Roy, a Harvard researcher of 30 years on the Palestinian plight and herself a child of Holocaust survivors, pulls no punches in her informed assessment of Israel’s long-term strategy.
That judgment does not comport with the popular image of Israel as victim. What does the evidence support?
With its nuclear weapons, powerful military, technologically advanced state and a steadfast U.S. patron, Israel has no peers in its neighbourhood. Within Gaza, Hamas has rockets, a highly irregular militia, no state whatsoever and fair-weather patrons.
Contrary to popular reports, Hamas had successfully reigned in those rockets during the 2008 ceasefire. According to Ethan Bonner of the New York Times [19 December 2008], "Hamas imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets. Israeli and United Nations figures show that while more than 300 rockets were fired into Israel in May 10 to 20 were fired in July, depending on who was counting and whether mortar rounds were included. In August, 10 to 30 were fired, and in September, 5 to 10."
Bonner also observed the suffering during that period when Israel did not deliver the promised relief supplies into Gaza. He wrote: “Hamas thought it was going to get: a return to the 500 to 600 truckloads delivered daily before the closing, including appliances, construction materials and other goods essential for life beyond mere survival. Instead, the number of trucks increased to around 90 from around 70.’’
Israel claims that it launched the invasion to bring an end to the rocket fire from Gaza. Since the invasion began, we have learned that some 14 Israelis have been killed with four of those deaths attributed to rocket attacks. According to Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner, “The [Palestinian] Kassam [rockets] have terrorized the 25,000 people in Sderot and its environs, but have caused very, very few deaths or serious wounds. By contrast, Israel has terrorized 1.5 million Gazans, locked them inside their awfully narrow borders, throttled their economy, and killed and seriously wounded thousands of them…[24 December 2008]
Derfner argues that Israel’s true intentions are more complex. He wrote: “BUT ISRAEL wasn't willing to live and let live with Hamas - it was intent on making them cry uncle or, ideally, on getting rid of Hamas altogether by turning Gaza's population against them.’’
On 28 December 2008, Amnesty International documented that: “This latest Israeli onslaught brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year to some 650, at least a third of whom are unarmed civilians, including 70 children. In the same period, Palestinian armed groups have killed 25 Israelis, 16 of them civilians, including four children.” []
In the 60 years of its statehood, Israel has consolidated its power. Since the 1967 war in which it captured the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza, it has continuously flaunted U.N. resolution #242 as it has systematically engineered the dispossession of the Palestinians. Similarly, it has ignored the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights with the complicity of its powerful patron. As Sara Roy observed: ’’the U.S. will, in the end, accept, as it always has, what Israel wants and does.’’ [Failing Peace: Gaza & the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. 2007]
While Israel has nuclear weapons, it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its patron [the U.S.] supports that position. Determined to remain the lone nuclear player in the neighbourhood, it manipulates its patron to deny this ultimate weapon to Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or other regional threat.
How has Israel amassed such power? It employs the tried and true tactic of “divide and conquer’’ so successfully used in the Middle East by the British Empire. Since the 1967 war, it has enjoyed the unconditional support of the American Empire.
It first divided the Occupied Territories by establishing Israeli settlements within the Golan Heights and West Bank, a practice it continues. Today, slightly more than 50% of Golan’s population is Jewish.
Subsequently, it supported the establishment of an arm of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which subsequently morphed into Hamas. According to UPI correspondent Richard Sale, "Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel 'aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),' said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies. []
With Palestinian loyalties divided between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah, there is no unified will to confront Israel. Israel used the same tactic in Lebanon in 1982 when it aligned itself with the Christian Phalange in that most uncivil war. Today, it endeavours to employ a similar strategy with Syria.
Nazareth-based English author & former Guardian reporter Jonathan Cook documents in Israel and the Clash of Civilizations how Israel benefits from the chaos around it at a cost that it accepts. After three weeks of Gaza aggression, Israel has suffered 14 deaths compared to 1300+ for the Gazans. He concludes that Israel and U.S. policymakers have been "captivated" by the idea that the Middle East can be remade by "spreading instability and inter-communal strife."
Cook quotes from Naomi Klein as to how Israel profits economically from the continuing conflict with its neighbours. It has developed state-of-the-art security/surveillance and military technology that are eagerly sought by insecure nation-states. ‘’Israel now sends $1.2 billion in “defence” products to the United States—up dramatically from $270 million in 1999. In 2006 Israel exported $3.4 billion in defence products—well over a billion more than it received in US military aid. That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world, overtaking Britain.’’
Contrary to the popular impression that Israel moved out of Gaza and let the Palestinians have it, they left and isolated the 1.5M Gazans, controlling them with endless checkpoints and restrictions. For example, Gazans are prohibited from entering the West Bank and entirely banned from living there.
Indeed Victoria University’s Hanlie Booysen in the 2008 Centre for Strategic Studies’ report The Occupation is the Problem: Palestinian History, Politics and the Prospect for Peace observed that: “Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in August 2005 did not end the occupation of the Gaza Strip, but turned the densely populated coastal strip – 45km long and 5-12km in width (365km²) into an open-air prison with Israeli control over all entry and exit points, the coast and airspace, plus a buffer zone along the entire eastern frontier that gobbles up 17% of Gaza or 35% of its agricultural land; a typically controlled ghetto in other words.” []
The Israelis also left Gaza with damage so severe that Harvard’s Sara Roy refers to it as the “de-development of Palestine.” According to Dr. Roy, “the demolition of homes [some 4600 between 2000 and 2004], schools, roads, factories, workshops, hospitals, mosques and greenhouses, the razing of agricultural fields, the uprooting of trees, the confinement of the population and the denial of access to education and health services as a consequence of Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints—has been ruinous for Palestinians, especially those in the Gaza Strip.”
Gaza may be the 4th most densely populated area in the world after Monaco, Singapore and Gibraltar [Wikipedia]. Incredibly, 50% of the population is under age 16. A 2004 Harvard study concluded that within a few years, Gaza’s labour force will be ‘’entirely unskilled and increasingly illiterate.” Before the current conflict erupted, the unemployment rate exceeded 40% of the workforce.
Recently, that same aforementioned Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington wrote: “Gaza’s economy had already collapsed long before the current fighting began and now has far greater problems. Its infrastructure is crippled in critical areas like power and water. This war has compounded the impact of a struggle that has gone on since 2000. It has reduced living standards in basic ways like food, education, as well as medical supplies and services. It has also left most Gazans without a productive form of employment. The current war has consequences more far-reaching than casualties. It involves a legacy of greatly increased suffering for the 1.5 million people who will survive this current conflict.’’ [The War in Gaza, 14 January 2009 ]
The popular image of Israel as victim has been carefully manufactured and nurtured. As a result, even reasonable, peaceful people might want to shoot back if on the receiving end of the Hamas rockets.
That same Jerusalem Post journalist, Larry Derfner, offers this explanation of Israel’s behaviour: “THIS IS crazy. Israel is the superpower of the Middle East, but because we still think we're the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, or the Israelites under Pharaoh, we spend a lot more time fighting our enemies than we might if we looked at the whole picture, not just our half of it.’’
However as civilized members of the global community, the weapon of choice would be words, rather than bullets. There is no contest between the State of Israel with its nuclear weapons and the world’s 4th-5th-6th most powerful military [depending on the source] against Hamas, a stateless, dispossessed political organization with no powerful patron.
Israel’s aggression toward its neighbours creates new enemies for it daily. Those enemies are good business for Israel’s high-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling and prisoner interrogation systems.
It is also creating a new generation of Hamas freedom fighters, who will continue the resistance. The children of Gaza today will not regard Israel as a good neighbour.
I think that if a “foreign tribe” forcibly and illegally claimed my land as the Zionists did in 1948, I would resist. I believe that if that foreign tribe occupied for some 42 years the scraps of territory ostensibly left to me, I would resist.
After 42 years of Israeli occupation and aggression the dispossessed Gazans resist with their only weapons—which are NOT NUCLEAR warheads. If those Hamas rockets had killed 300+ Israeli children, would you be silent?
In view of the facts cited above, some people might believe that Israel is acting like an "intransigent, belligerent bully." Would they be wrong?
I decided they were not and took to the streets ...I will march again.

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