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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2009 arrow January 14-15, 2009

January 14-15, 2009
WAWA Blog January 14-15, 2009: ISRAEL IN GAZA: A CRITICAL REFRAMING from ICAHD, more facts from Finklestein and WAWA  
From Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

ISRAEL IN GAZA: A CRITICAL REFRAMING

 

Israel's core messages, listed below, argue for the justice of its invasion of Gaza in late December, 2008, cast Israel as the victim and endeavor that its "war on Hamas" not be seen against the background of prolonged occupation, closure and sanctions, but of the broader Western "War on Terror." The alternative view presented below argues otherwise. As Israelis committed to human rights, international law and a just peace as the only way out of our interminable and bloody conflict with the Palestinians, we contend that security cannot be achieved unilaterally, especially as Israel shows no signs of fully relinquishing its 41 year Occupation so that a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian may emerge. In that context, Israel's attack on Gaza can be considered merely another attempt to render its Occupation permanent by destroying any source of effective resistance. The immediate pretext of Israel's attack, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, does not explain the disproportionality of its attack, especially given the unrelenting sanctions, attacks and assassinations carried out by Israel throughout the cease-fire. Indeed, we argue that Israel could have avoided all attacks upon it over the last twenty years, as well as the rise of Hamas to power, if it had accepted the PLO's offer of a two-state solution proffered already in 1988 and has entered into negotiations in good faith. Instead, Israel, the strong party in the conflict and the sole Occupying Power, chose to dramatically increase its settler population, construct a permanent infrastructure of separation and control, remove "Greater Jerusalem" from Palestine and encircle the West Bank with its expanded borders: that of the Separation Barrier incorporating Israel's major settlement blocs and the "security border" of the Jordan River. Israel is not a victim; it is the active perpetrator of a permanent apartheid regime over all of Israel/Palestine. It is toward that goal that Gaza is being violently pacified today, Israel's killing with impunity scores of Palestinian civilians constituting nothing less than State Terrorism.

 

The following pages present the essential elements of the Israeli government's framing of its assault on Gaza, followed by a critical re-framing that introduces context, policies and aims which the government's version purposely omits. 

 

·         Israeli PR: Like all countries, it has a right and duty to defend its citizens.

 

An alternative framing: To pursue offensive policies of prolonged occupation as well as sanctions, boycotts and closures which rob another people of its rights, aspirations and very livelihood, and to then refuse to truly engage with that people's elected leaders (a policy preceding Hamas's rise to power), is what puts your own people at risk. To expect your citizens to live in security while a million and a half subjugated people just a few kilometers away live in misery is both unrealistic and presumptive. Israel will only be able to defend its citizens – which is indeed its duty – if it addresses the causes of their insecurity, which is a 41 year-old occupation which the oppressed will resist, by "legitimate" means or not.  

 

·         Israeli PR: Israel had no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of 8,500 Hamas rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past eight years that have killed 20 Israeli civilians.

 

An alternative framing: Israel had a choice. In the past three years alone Israel – together with the US, Europe and Japan – imposed an inhumane siege of Gaza while conducting a campaign of targeted assassinations and attacks throughout the cease-fire that left 1,700 Palestinians dead. This war is no "response:" it is merely a more deadly round of the tit-for-tat arising out of a political vacuum. Hamas firings on Israel were for the most part, if not exclusively, responses to Israeli actions either not reported in the press or discounted as legitimate unilateral action – such as assassinating leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations, often with a high toll in civilian casualties. To present the "barrage" as an independent variable disassociated from wider Israeli policies that led to them is disingenuous. Indeed, had there been a genuine political process which offered the Palestinians hope for self-determination, the rocket firings could have been avoided altogether.

 

·         Israeli PR: Hamas is a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel or enter into a political process.

 

An alternative framing: "Terrorist" is a problematic term. States always use it to delegitimize and demonize non-state actors who resist their oppressive policies, as apartheid South Africa did, for example, with the ANC. The term assumes that states, bad as they may be, have the right to employ military force as they see fit. If, however, we take "terrorism" to mean the killing, harming or intimidation of non-combatant civilian populations, then states are far more terroristic, kill far more innocent civilians, than do non-state groups. In the eight years since the second Intifada broke out (September 2000), almost 500 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinians while almost 5000 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israelis. All attacks on civilians are unacceptable, no matter how just the cause. Yet it is only the Palestinians to whom the term "terrorist" is applied.   

 

An alternative framing: Presenting Hamas as merely a "terrorist organization" removes the political element from their struggle and presents them as a criminal organization. This not only distorts reality in a fundamental way but, by preventing negotiations, it ensures the perpetuation of mutual suffering. Hamas has its military wing – though nothing compared to the Israeli army – but it is essentially a grassroots religious-political movement that democratically won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and earned the right to establish a government – which was denied it by Israel, the US…and the Fatah part of the Palestinian Authority. It does deny Israel's legitimacy, as any colonized people would, and there is no reason why it should accept the loss of 78% (or more) of its historic homeland. But Hamas has agreed, as a signatory to the "Prisoners' Document" and in repeated public pronouncements, to respect the outcome of negotiations of other Palestinian parties (like Fatah) with Israel, if they result in a complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. So despite its militant and scary image, despite the fact that it will not legitimize what it considers another people's colonization of its homeland, Hamas does accept, as a practical political matter, a two-state solution. Given the fact that negotiations with Israel since the Madrid Conference of 1991 have yielded nothing – indeed, Israel's massive settlement enterprise has perhaps eliminated the possibility of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel – Hamas's resort to armed resistance is understandable. All attacks on civilians are prohibited in international law. In this regard both Hamas and Israel engage in terrorism, with the later taking by far the greatest of civilian dead, injured and traumatized. 

 

·         Israeli PR: There is no occupation – in general, but specifically in Gaza. Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 with the "disengagement." Gaza could have flourished as the basis of a Palestinian state, but its inhabitants chose conflict.

 

An alternative framing: Israel claims there has never been an occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; instead, these are "disputed" territories with no clear claimant – and certainly not the Palestinians who, in Israel's view, do not constitute a people with rights of self-determination in the Land of Israel and who never exercised sovereignty over any part of Palestine. This position is rejected utterly by the international community. Indeed, the Road Map initiative uses the term "occupation" explicitly. Neither does it accept Israel's claim that the occupation of Gaza really ended with "disengagement" in 2005, since occupation is defined in international law as exercising effective control of a foreign territory, which Israel obviously does over Gaza.

 

To then argue that Gaza could have developed under these conditions is unfair and unreasonable. Neither Israeli control exerted over Gaza since 1967 nor the economic closure imposed upon it in 1989 ever ceased, even if Israel removed its settlers and army. Gazans were never allowed  to open their sea or air ports, nor were any conditions conducive to economic development allowed to develop. And then, in early 2006, less than six months after "disengagement," Gaza was sanctioned and hermetically isolated by Israel and the international community as punishment for voting the wrong way. John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, wrote that this was the first time in history the oppressed was sanctioned and the Occupying Power freed of any responsibility. Economic development, not to mention a political process which might have prevented the violence on both sides, was actively prevented by both Israel and its international supporters, which share responsibility for the present tragedy in Gaza. 

 

Let us also remember Israel's special responsibility towards the people of Gaza. These "civilians" are, for the most part, refugees driven from their homes in Israel in 1948 and their descendants, people dying and suffering at the hands of Israel for the past 41, if not 60, years. This adds a particular poignancy to the assault – yet another assault. 

 

·         Israeli PR: Only Hamas violated the cease-fire, and thus it carries full responsibility.

 

An alternative framing: Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce (through Egypt) by which Israel would allow the opening of the Gazan border crossings (at least partially) in return for a end to rocket fire on Israel. Hamas largely, though not entirely, kept its part of the bargain; Israel almost never did. Killings of Palestinians from the air continued, and on the American election day in early November it attacked the tunnels (which functioned as alternative means of supplying Gaza in the absence of open borders, which would have allowed control over the movement of arms), killing a number of Hamas people. In response Hamas launched rockets and….the truce began breaking down. 

 

·         Israeli PR: There is no humanitarian crisis; Israel is only attacking the "infrastructure of terror."

 

Alternative View: Being the elected government, all the infrastructure, from traffic cops (non-combatants under international law) to schools to military installations, "belong" to Hamas. It is clear that Israeli attacks go beyond "the infrastructure of terror." Gazan sources claim that some 5000 homes have been demolished and the Islamic University has been severely damaged. According to the UN OCHA report of January. 5, the tenth day of the war:

ü       "More than a million Gazans still have no electricity or water, and thousands of people have fled their homes for safe shelter;.

ü       Gaza's water and sewage system is on the verge of collapse, 75% of Gaza's electricity has been cut off;

ü       The sewage situation is highly dangerous, posing serious risks of the spread of water-borne disease;

ü       Hospitals are unable to provide adequate intensive care to the high number of casualties. There is also an urgent need for more neuro-, vascular-, orthopedic- and open heart surgeons.

 

·         Israeli PR: Israel only targets Hamas fighters.

 

An alternative framing: Who's a "Hamas fighter?" The graduating class of traffic cops that was slaughtered in the first aerial attack on Gaza? Professors and students who attend the "Hamas" Islamic University? Family members of Hamas military figures? People who voted for Hamas? Attacking a grassroots political-religious-social movement engaged in military resistance to occupation in densely crowded urban settings makes it either impossible or inconvenient for an invading army to distinguish between civilians and fighters.

 

·         Israeli PR: Civilians may die, but it's because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.

 

An alternative framing: Gaza being such a barren, exposed and tiny area (360 sq.km./223 sq. miles, half the size of London), separating civilian from military areas, though desirable, is impossible, especially since, in concept, Hamas is a people's militia. It's worth noting, however, that Israel's military headquarters are located in the center of Tel Aviv, the military headquarters over the West Bank are in the densely populated Neveh Ya'akov neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel's center for biological and chemical warfare is located in the town of Ness Tziona, close to Tel Aviv, its main weapons development centers or in Haifa, and most settlements in the West Bank have military camps embedded within them – or vice versa.

 

Hamas, of course, as both a government and a military organization, carries responsibility for protecting the civilian population and keeping the fighting away from them. In a situation where this is impossible, as in Gaza, an invading force like Israel should avoid engagement, or engage only when legitimate military and political aims (such as defense) are genuinely endangered – which is not the case here. Israel has political and negotiating options that can end both the immediate threat of rockets and the longer-term conflict, but it chooses not to use them.

 

A terrifying development: According to the Israeli press, Israel has decided to ignore the distinction between civilians and combatants which lies at the root of international laws of warfare. Citing what the IDF calls the "Georgia rules," the two military correspondents of Ha'aretz (Jan. 6 and 7) explain:

 

[IDF Chief of Staff Gabi] Ashkenazi had said in earlier discussions that use of major fire power would be inevitable even in the most densely populated areas. The Israeli solution was thus to be very aggressive to protect the lives of the soldiers as much as possible. These are 'Georgia rules,' which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last summer. The result is the killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night, massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military targets from the homes of civilians…. 

 

The incident in which some 40 Palestinian civilians were killed when Israel Defense Forces mortar shells hit an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp Tuesday surprised no one who has been following events in Gaza in recent days. Senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower. "For us, being cautious means being aggressive," explained one. "From the minute we entered, we've acted like we're at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground ... I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock. Maybe someone there will sober up before it continues."

What the officer did not say explicitly was that this is deliberate policy. Following the trauma of the war in Lebanon in 2006, the army realized that heavy IDF casualties would erode public (and especially political) support for the war and limit its ability to achieve its goals. Therefore, it is using aggressive tactics to save soldiers' lives. And the cabinet took this into account when it approved the ground operation last Friday, so it has no reason to change its mind now.

Nor is it likely that Tuesday's incident, with its large number of civilian deaths, will result in an immediate cease-fire…. Until Tuesday's incident, the world appeared relatively indifferent to Palestinian civilian casualties. On Monday, 31 members of the Samouny family were killed when a shell hit their house in Gaza City; that same day, 13 members of the Al-Daiya family where killed by another Israeli bomb. Yet international media coverage of these incidents was comparatively restrained.

 

This is an absolutely unacceptable development in modern warfare – particularly urban warfare which involves and entraps large populations of civilians – and must be condemned and rejected by the international community. If the Israeli-Georgian "rules" become a de facto norm of warfare, the entire edifice of human rights and international which has been constructed over the past 60 years will collapse and we will enter into a new age of barbarism. Again, All attacks on civilians must be opposed, whether sanctioned or not by military doctrine.  

 

·         Israeli PR: Hamas is a global problem, part of Islamist fundamentalism together with Iran and Hezbollah.

 

An alternative framing: Hamas was allowed by Israel to develop as a political force in Occupied Palestine in the late 1980s in order to counterbalance the secular PLO, which Israel regarded then as its real enemy but today considers a "moderate" force which should be supported in order to counterbalance Hamas(!). It has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, but is a particularly Palestinian phenomenon that arose in response to increasing Israeli repression, the loss of Palestinian land, rights and honor, and the corruption and high-handedness of the ruling Fatah party. It cannot be conflated with the Shi'ite Hizbollah (which emerged in Lebanon only in the wake of threw 1982 war), al-Qaida (which has a completely different global agenda and ideology) or Iran (in which the theocrats were an organized but quite small political force until the U.S. overthrew Iran's democracy in 1954 and installed the repressive regime of the Shah – for whom Israel trained his dreaded SAVAK security police, noted for their widespread torture of "dissidents"). Painting Hamas as part of a global conspiracy when it's a product of the Occupation itself is disingenuous and a gross distortion of history. Indeed, as the history of Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian clerics shows, Israel itself had played a significant role in the rise of political Islam.

 

An alternative framing: have to get beyond such simplistic and self-serving terms as "terrorists" and "terrorism" – especially since the Western politicians that use them refuse to apply them to themselves, as in the case of Israel in Gaza. It will do no good to dismiss Hamas as a "terrorist organization." The issues, grievances and demands upon which it arose must be addressed. From the point of view of its voters, who include many who do not share Hamas's religious or political agenda, Hamas is a quintessential liberation movement, a Palestinian liberation movement. Attempts by Israel to delegitimize Hamas and disassociate it from the Palestinian people, even to have the gall to suggest that the carnage created by Israel in Gaza will benefit the people by "releasing them from Hamas's grip," only serve – as they are intended to do – to neutralize Hamas as an effective source of resistance to Israel's Occupation.

 

·         Israeli PR: In attacking Hamas in Gaza, Israel is only doing its part in the West's War on Terror.

 

An alternative framing: This brings us to why Israel actually attacked Gaza and why the slaughter has gone on far beyond Israel's declared goal of ending the rocket fire through negotiations. Immediate causes played their role, to be sure. Public pressure to end the rocket fire, especially in an election period, could not be ignored, nor the need to assert national pride. But this does not explain the immense scale of the operation; the rocket firings were the immediate trigger (and Hamas may have erred in its brinksmanship), but not the true reasons, which were several.

 

First, the invasion of Gaza was an exercise in pacification. On one level, it is an attempt to destroy Hamas as a political force, the only effective Palestinian resistance to Israel's ability, through the Annapolis Process, of imposing an apartheid regime on Palestine. On another level it seeks to pacify the Palestinian people by delivering "a message:" If you keep resisting, this is what is waiting for you. You have no hope to force Israel to withdraw from its settlements and expanded borders. Second, it is an attempt to resuscitate Israel's image as an effective ally in the War on Terror after the humiliation of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. This is crucial for Israel's security politics, especially vis-à-vis the US, and the Palestinians are paying the price for Hizbollah's success. Third, it is an exercise in urban warfare, an opportunity to field-test new weaponry and tactics of counterinsurgency in dense urban environments that can be exported – both as part of Israel's security politics (earning its place with the Big Boys at the table of the War Against Terror) and as part of its economic export strategy (60% of Israeli export firms deal in security). "Tested in Gaza" (or Nablus or Fluja) is one of Israel's most effective marketing pitches.

 

Gaza demonstrates in microcosm the shift in Israeli priorities and policies as its long-standing commitment to hold onto the Occupied Territories for both nationalist and security reasons comes into conflict with its broader regional and global agendas, centered today around its campaign to neutralize Iran's nuclear potential. The Saudi Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League, holds out the tantalizing offer of Israeli integration into the Middle East – meaning that Israel, whose foreign policy interests match those of the "moderate" Arab states, could assume a regional role. But because of public opinion in the Arab and Muslims worlds, this offer is good only if Israel relinquishes enough of the Occupied Territories that the Palestinian leadership could sign off on an agreement. Hence Israel's courting of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Mubarak and even Assad of Syria and the Saudis. And hence Israel's readiness to offer Abbas yet another "generous offer – short, however, of dismantling its major settlement blocs, relinquishing control over "greater" Jerusalem or giving up control of the border with Jordan, for which no Israeli government has a mandate. Caught between the necessity of maintaining its settlements – a position Netanyahu still endorses – and its desire to assume a role as one of regional hegemons, Israel is trying to find a way to finesse its way through. This explains Olmert's sudden readiness to change direction and talk of the necessity for a two-state solution, as well as the hasty Annapolis Process. Hence Abbas and Mubarak's support for Israel's action in Gaza (with mild, perfunctory criticism of its excesses). Their virtual collaboration with Israel raises even further in the eyes by many Palestinians and other Arabs the standing of Hamas as the only genuine source of resistance.

 

So there are high stakes involved in the Israeli-Hamas war, which diminish the seemingly decisive role the firing of rockets into Israel had. We do not believe that Israel can either impose an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people nor sustain its Occupation. If anything, as is becoming obvious, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, emblematic as it is throughout the entire Muslim world and beyond (among, for example, progressives civil society on every continent), will impact negatively on European and especially American efforts to stabilize the global system, and in particular the volatile Middle East where the US remains bogged down. It is our role as proponents of human rights, international law, decolonization, the integrity of cultures and a just peace in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere to highlight the injustice and unsustainability of Israel's Occupation both on the ground and globally, the quicker to bring it to an end. May the suffering of the both peoples in this war on Gaza, one oppressed and the other held hostage to an image of the Palestinians as "permanent enemies," be the last straw. A just peace in Palestine will relieve a major obstacle towards global justice.

 

·         Israeli PR: Israel, acting as any life-loving nation would, has a right to be a normal country living in peace and security.

 

An alternative framing: By now you should be empowered to provide a critical response of your own.

 

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Please visit
http://www.icahd.org

 
Seeing Through the Lies The Facts About Hamas and the War on Gaza
By NORMAN FINKELSTEIN
Jan. 13, 2009 Counterpunch
 

The record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At that point-and now I'm quoting the official Israeli website-Hamas retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched the missiles.

Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as well. According to Ha'aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to yesterday's Ha'aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one; to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman's language basically means Israel's capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international consensus, they had joined most of the international community, overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas.

As was documented in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair by the writer David Rose, basing himself on internal US documents, it was the United States in cahoots with the Palestinian Authority and Israel which were attempting a putsch on Hamas, and Hamas preempted the putsch. That, too, is no longer debatable or no longer a controversial claim.

The issue is can it rule in Gaza if Israel maintains a blockade and prevents economic activity among the Palestinians. The blockade, incidentally, was implemented before Hamas came to power. The blockade doesn't even have anything to do with Hamas. The blockade came to-there were Americans who were sent over, in particular James Wolfensohn, to try to break the blockade after Israel redeployed its troops in Gaza.

The problem all along has been that Israel doesn't want Gaza to develop, and Israel doesn't want to resolve diplomatically the conflict, both the leadership in Damascus and the leadership in the Gaza have repeatedly made statements they're willing to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border. The record is fairly clear. In fact, it's unambiguously clear.

Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution entitled "Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question." And every year the vote is the same: it's the whole world on one side; Israel, the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989-in 1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.

We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League, favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by the United States. That's the problem.

Well, the record shows that Hamas wanted to continue the ceasefire, but only on condition that Israel eases the blockade. Long before Hamas began the retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinians were facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the blockade. The former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, described what was going on in Gaza as a destruction of a civilization. This was during the ceasefire period.

What does the record show? The record shows for the past twenty or more years, the entire international community has sought to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border with a just resolution of the refugee question. Are all 164 nations of the United Nations the rejectionists? And are the only people in favor of peace the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Australia? Who are the rejectionists? Who's opposing a peace?

The record shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David, then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn't make any concessions. Every concession came from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance with international law.

The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.

Now, the important point is, on all those questions, the Palestinians were willing to make concessions. They made all the concessions. Israel didn't make any concessions.

I think it's fairly clear what needs to happen. Number one, the United States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community, have to abide by international law. I don't think international law should be trivialized. I think it's a serious issue. If Israel is in defiance of international law, it should be called into account, just like any other state in the world.

Mr. Obama has to level with the American people. He has to be honest about what is the main obstacle to resolving the conflict. It's not Palestinian rejectionism. It's the refusal of Israel, backed by the United States government, to abide by international law, to abide by the opinion of the international community.

And the main challenge for all of us as Americans is to see through the lies.

Norman Finkelstein is author of five books, including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry, which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions. He is the son of Holocaust survivors. This article is an edited extract of the views of Finkelstein given at DemocracyNow.org. His website is www.NormanFinkelstein.com

Finkelstein is the scholar whose tenure was blocked when the long arm of the Israel Lobby reached into the Catholic university, DePaul, and overturned the decision of the tenure committee to tenure Finkelstein. 

 http://www.counterpunch.org/






WAKE UP time from the Holocaust Hangover...


 I had no clue when I gave ‘birth’ to my website, on the 22nd of July 2005, three weeks after my first of six trips to Israel and occupied Palestine what I was really doing-but I felt called to DO SOMETHING and I also intuited the presence of Dorothy Day who agitated church, state and media in her DAY; the 20th century, by giving VOICE to the voiceless in the still a penny a paper The Catholic Worker.

Seeing with my own eyes the facts on the ground and feeling in my own gut a little of what life is like under occupation, I got VERY PISSED OFF and had to DO SOMETHING, and that lead to WAWA.

My government and mainstream media do NOT tell the truth and the spin they spin makes me want to puke.

Not all members of the once upon a time internationally recognized transparently democratically elected members of Hamas are terrorists.

And democracy cannot be spread through the barrel of a gun.


Criticizing the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic, just as dissenting from the neo-con ideology is not unpatriotic; in fact it is much more in line with our founding fathers;

"Soon after I had published the pamphlet "Common Sense" [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion... The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."-Tom Paine 

But what really gets my Irish up, is that so many American Christians have no clue about the Christian Exodus from the Holy Land which began in 1948 when innocent people were forced to flee from their homes for fear of their life after they learned  of the barbaric terrorism perpetuated by Zionist imperialist in the massacre at Deir Yassin.

“Early in the morning of Friday, April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. It was several weeks before the end of the British Mandate. The village lay outside of the area that the United Nations recommended be included in a future Jewish State. Deir Yassin had a peaceful reputation and was even said by a Jewish newspaper to have driven out some Arab militants. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and one plan, kept secret until years afterwards, called for it to be destroyed and the residents evacuated to make way for a small airfield that would supply the beleaguered Jewish residents of Jerusalem.

“By noon over 100 people, half of them women and children, had been systematically murdered. Four commandos died at the hands of resisting Palestinians using old Mausers and muskets. Twenty-five male villagers were loaded into trucks, paraded through the Zakhron Yosef quarter in Jerusalem, and then taken to a stone quarry along the road between Givat Shaul and Deir Yassin and shot to death. The remaining residents were driven to Arab East Jerusalem.

“That evening the Irgunists and the Sternists escorted a party of foreign correspondents to a house at Givat Shaul, a nearby Jewish settlement founded in 1906. Over tea and cookies they amplified the details of the operation and justified it, saying Deir Yassin had become a concentration point for Arabs, including Syrians and Iraqis, planning to attack the western suburbs of Jerusalem. They said that 25 members of the Haganah militia had reinforced the attack and claimed that an Arabic-speaking Jew had warned the villagers over a loudspeaker from an armored car. This was duly reported in The New York Times on April 10.

“A final body count of 254 was reported by The New York Times on April 13, a day after they were finally buried. By then the leaders of the Haganah had distanced themselves from having participated in the attack and issued a statement denouncing the dissidents of Irgun and the Stern Gang, just as they had after the attack on the King David Hotel in July 1946. A 1987 study undertaken by Birzeit University's Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society found "the numbers of those killed does not exceed 120".

“The Haganah leaders admitted that the massacre "disgraced the cause of Jewish fighters and dishonored Jewish arms and the Jewish flag." They played down the fact that their militia had reinforced the terrorists' attack, even though they did not participate in the barbarism and looting during the subsequent "mopping up" operations.

“They also played down the fact that, in Begin's words, "Deir Yassin was captured with the knowledge of the Haganah and with the approval of its commander" as a part of its "plan for establishing an airfield."

“Ben Gurion even sent an apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But this horrific act served the future State of Israel well. According to Begin:

“Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of "Irgun butchery," were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.” [1]

  The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land has escalated in recent years to reduce their numbers from 20% of the total population of the Holy Land, to less than 1.3% since 1948. The reasons for the exodus of the most well educated and consistently nonviolent members of society are the now 40 years of occupation and oppression that has resulted in lack of economic opportunities, The Wall which divides them from their land, resources, families and holy sites and the increasing sense of hopelessness that fuels militancy and the growth of fundamentalism within all three branches of Father Abraham's offspring's.

Palestinians are inherently peaceful people who have been made to pay for the sins of The Third Reich and it is way past time for the world to WAKE UP from the holocaust hangover that has allowed America’s best friend in the world to become the biggest bully on the planet.

International Law demands that occupation is to be temporary, maintain the status quo, not pilfer the resources of the occupied, nor transfer the occupier’s population into occupied territory. But Israel does not adhere to international law; they follow the law of the jungle.


American media reports much about Islamic fundamentalism, but not on the inherently anti-Semitic cultish and escapist theology of Christian Zionism or the ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Holy Land. On July 19, 2007, Haaretz reported “The end of Zionism” regarding the increasing numbers of youth who refuse to serve.

“Some young people explain their evasion of service by their loss of confidence in the leadership, the cases of corruption and the state's abandonment of its soldiers. But there is also an accumulated weariness with the state of war, which has already lasted 60 years, and many young people, along with their parents, are no longer willing to sacrifice their lives on the altar of the settlers' expansionist dreams.

“After all, 25 percent of those eligible for the draft never serve at all (11 percent receive exemptions for yeshiva studies, 7 percent for health reasons, 4 percent reside abroad and 3 percent have a criminal record). Of those drafted, 17.5 percent do not complete a full three years of service. The sharpest rise in the number of draft-dodgers is among the ultra-Orthodox. In 1974, they comprised only 2.4 percent of those eligible for the draft. Today, the figure is 11 percent.

“Against this background, it is shocking to learn that yesterday the Knesset decided to extend the so-called Tal Law…a cynical, immoral law that absolves a significant portion of Jewish Israelis from the need to either do army service or work for a living. The fact is that 80 percent of ultra-Orthodox men do not work; instead, they live on government grants and stipends and the earnings of their wives.

“The secular donkey does not merely bear the military and economic burden; it also continues to expand the scope of government support for ultra-Orthodox education, including even the most extremist strains. About two months ago, the Knesset, by a large majority, approved the so-called Nahari Law, which compels the municipalities to grant equal funding to ultra-Orthodox schools that are not part of the official education system. These are extremist institutions…they do not teach mathematics, English, nature, science, civics, geography or history. In other words, they deliberately fail to train their graduates for a life of work and productivity. So these graduates have no choice but to cling to the coattails of ultra-Orthodox activists.

And where will the new funding for these extremist schools come from? [2]

Every day the U.S.A. provides over $7,023,288.00 to the Israeli government and military and over $108 Billion since 1948. “Generous as it is, what Israel actually got in U.S. aid is considerably less than what it has cost U.S. taxpayers to provide it. The principal difference is that so long as the U.S. runs an annual budget deficit, every dollar of aid the U.S. gives Israel has to be raised through U.S. government borrowing.”- Richard Curtiss [3]

On July 19, 2007, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Professor Albert Aghazarian, addressed nearly three dozen international and Palestinian youth and this reporter who had gathered for Sabeel’s 2nd International young Adult Conference: 40 Years in the Wilderness…40 Years of Occupation...

He said two things that have not left my conscience since: “In a nutshell, there is a deep schizophrenia in the Holy Land; what we see, hear and talk. Zionism is the original sin; Zionism is an untouchable icon. You can curse Mohammad, you can curse Mary, but not Zionism…Do your best, and as long as you give it your best shot, don’t worry about the rest.”

But injustice is unsustainable and all things must pass...

“There is a time for everything; a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” –Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7, 8

May that time for Peace be NOW and true peace must be based on Justice: Equal Human Rights for All and the upholding of International Law.


1. http://www.deiryassin.org/mas.html

2. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/883868.html

3. http://ifamericansknew.org


 

   
 
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