The incursion into Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use the lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase of the decades-long campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. The assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. It is about building ringed Palestinian enclaves where Israel will always have the ability to shut off movement, food, medicine and goods to perpetuate misery. The Israeli attack on Gaza is about building a hell on earth.
This attack is the final Israeli push to extinguish a Palestinian state and crush or expel the Palestinian people. The images of dead Palestinian children, lined up as if asleep on the floor of the main hospital in Gaza, are a metaphor for the future. Israel will, from now on, speak to the Palestinians in the language of death. And the language of death is all the Palestinians will be able to speak back. The slaughter—let’s stop pretending this is a war—is empowering an array of radical Islamists inside and outside of Gaza. It is ominously demolishing the shaky foundations of the corrupt secular Arab regimes on Israel’s borders, from Egypt to Jordan to Syria to Lebanon. It is about creating a new Middle East, one ruled by enraged Islamic radicals.
Hamas cannot lose this conflict. Militant movements feed off martyrs, and Israel is delivering the maimed and the dead by the truckload. Hamas fighters, armed with little more than light weapons, a few rockets and small mortars, are battling one of the most sophisticated military machines on the planet. And the determined resistance by these doomed fighters exposes, throughout the Arab world, the gutlessness of dictators like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, who refuses to open Egypt’s common border with Gaza despite the slaughter. Israel, when it bombed Lebanon two years ago, sought to destroy Hezbollah. By the time it withdrew it had swelled Hezbollah’s power base and handed it heroic status throughout the Arab world. Israel is now doing the same for Hamas.
The refusal by political leaders from Barack Obama to nearly every member of the U.S. Congress to speak out in the major media in defense of the rule of law and fundamental human rights exposes our cowardice and hypocrisy. Those who openly condemn the Israeli crimes, including Israelis such as Yuri Avnery, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, as well as American stalwarts Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, Norman Finkelstein and Richard Falk, are ignored or treated like lepers. They are denied a platform in the press. They are rendered nearly voiceless. Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories and a former professor of international law at Princeton, was refused entry into Israel in December, detained for 20 hours and deported. Never mind that nearly all these voices are Jewish.
Here's a spokesman for the Hamas political leadership, who miraculously got some ink in the L.A. Times, as was reprinted in the Strib yesterday:
Americans might believe that the current violence in Gaza began Dec. 27, but in fact Palestinians have been dying from bombardments for many weeks. On Nov. 4, when the Israeli-Palestinian truce was still in effect but global attention was turned to the U.S. elections, Israel launched a "preemptive" air strike on Gaza, alleging intelligence about an imminent operation to capture Israeli soldiers; more assaults took place throughout the month.
The truce thus shattered, any incentive by Palestinian leaders to enforce the moratorium on rocket fire was gone. Any extension of the agreement or improvement of its implementation at that point would have required Israel to engage Hamas, to agree to additional trust-building measures and negotiation with our movement -- a political impossibility for Israel, with its own elections only weeks away.
Not that the truce had been easy on Palestinians. In the six-month period preceding the current bombardment, one Israeli was killed, while dozens of Palestinians lost their lives to Israeli military and police actions, and numerous others died for want of medical care.
The war on Gaza should not be mistaken for an Israeli triumph. Rather, Israel's failure to make the truce work, and its inevitable resort to bloodshed, demonstrate again that it cannot permit a future built on Palestinian political self-determination. The truce failed because Israel will not open Gaza's borders, because Israel would rather be a jailer than a neighbor, and because it forestalls Palestinian destiny.
"A jailer rather than a neighbor," sums it up pretty well. He continues, mocking the complaint that Hamas does not recognize Israel:
Renewed calls today for our movement to "recognize the right of Israel to exist," in the face of murderous onslaught, ring as hollow as Israel's continuing claims to be acting in "self-defense" as its jets bomb civilians. Without debating here the Zionist state's fictive, existential "right," which of the many Israels, precisely, would the West have us recognize? Is it the Israel that militarily occupies land belonging to three of its neighbors, ignoring international law and scores of U.N. resolutions over decades? Is it the Israel that illegally settles its citizens on other people's land, seizes water sources and uproots olive trees? Is it the Israel that in 60 years has never acknowledged the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their farms and villages as the foundational act of its statehood and denies refugees their right to return? When we hear demands for "recognition" of Israel as a precondition to dialogue, what we hear is a call for acquiescence in its crimes against us.
Back to Chris Hedges:
There have always been powerful Israeli leaders, since the inception of the state in 1948, who have called for the total physical removal of the Palestinians. The ethnic cleansing of some 800,000 Palestinians by Jewish militias in 1948 was, for them, only the start. But there were also a few Israeli leaders, including the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who argued that Israel could not pick itself up and move to another geographical spot on the globe. Israel, Rabin believed, would have to make peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors to survive. Rabin’s vision of two states, however, appears to have died with him. The embrace of wholesale ethnic cleansing by the Israeli leadership and military now appears to be unquestioned.
Hedges makes this point about genocide:
The public debate about the Gaza attack engages in the absurd pretense that it is Israel, not the Palestinians, whose security and dignity are being threatened. This blind defense of Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians betrays the memory of those killed in other genocides, from the Holocaust to Cambodia to Rwanda to Bosnia. The lesson of the Holocaust is not that Jews are special. It is not that Jews are unique. It is not that Jews are eternal victims. The lesson of the Holocaust is that when you have the capacity to halt genocide, and you do not—no matter who carries out that genocide or who it is directed against—you are culpable.
Spot thinks that Israel is already dead, consigned to the dust bin of history - at least as the idea of a refuge for oppressed people. It died with the same assassin's bullet that killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It doesn't mean the death of the Jewish people; they flourish in many places. But the Zionist dream has made a fatal overreach. It's only a matter of time.