The Fishbarrel War

by GARY LEUPP

“It was just like shooting fish in a barrel,” recalled the U.S. pilot, describing the carnage along the “highway of death” stretching from Kuwait to Basra on February 26-27, 1991. While tens of thousands of Iraqi conscripts withdrew from Kuwait in compliance with UN resolutions, terrified boys commandeering school buses and milk trucks when military vehicles weren’t available, U.S. aircraft bombed as many of the helpless as possible. The point was to debase Saddam’s defeated army for the foreseeable future. Of course, Iraq remained helpless and bleeding for another dozen years before Bush II destroyed what was left of it.

Similarly over the weekend, when Israel rained down death onto the vast concentration camp which is the Gaza Strip. There was no contest. The point was to eliminate the Palestinian authority structure in place: all the government offices, all the police force. As the London Telegraph headline put it: “Israel changed the rules forever with Gaza airstrike.”

The purposewas to kill all those in the Hamas political party, democratically elected in 2006, and in the security apparatus of Gaza. As the Telegraph puts it: “Membership alone of the security structures of Hamas was yesterday turned by Israel into grounds for attack. To put on a Hamas police baseball cap is to make oneself a target. This means that any Hamas traffic cop on a street corner in Gaza – or manning a makeshift ‘border’ checkpoint – can expect to be attacked.”

Thus the Israeli state is not merely hitting civilians (which is what ordinary policemen are, in the of the U.S. government) as collateral damage, and officially regretting it as most governments do. It is targeting them. It destroyed within hours every security station in Gaza. AP headline: “Chaos in Gaza as Israel’s strikes continue.”

So the message came from on high, from the Israeli warplanes: “Vengeance is mine! Let there be chaos in Gaza!”

Israel’s applying state terror, secure in the assumption that since the U.S., EU, Japan and most other significant international players consider Hamas a “terrorist” organization, have offered only token protest of the Israeli strangulation of the Gazan population and justified the most draconian and murderous measures as understandable responses to Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli towns there will be few negative international repercussions. At the end of the day, they figure, Hamas will be so vitiated that those pathetic efforts at resistance will stop, Palestinian factions preferred by Israel and allied with Washington will regain control over Gaza, and a new U.S. administration will ascend to power just as a new chapter in Palestinian humiliation begins.

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Now of course Israeli PR people, whom foreign minister Tzipi Livni has called back from their European vacations for emergency duty, will insist with that air of self-righteousness peculiar to those who truly believe that God is on their side, or that if there is no God, there are enough people believing that there is, and that Israel somehow arose from and survives out of some unique divine favor, will ignore the most obvious truths in their desire to believe the most transparent deceptions:

We had no alternative. We had to protect our people.

How many Israelis have in fact been killed by Qassam, Grad, or Katyusha rockets, fired by Palestinians from Gaza, compared to “retaliatory” Israeli attacks? How many Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by “retaliatory” Israeli fire?

And while we’re asking questions: when Israeli officials complain of Palestinian fire hitting Ashdod or Ahkelon, do they ever think about who was living in those towns in 1948 before the Zionists established their settler-state?

There they are, 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, trapped, nowhere to go. They can’t flee to Egypt; border guards will fire on them. They can’t flee by sea. The airport is inoperative. Like fish in a barrel. At least 300 are dead at this point. This is the most intensive Israeli assault on Palestinians in over twenty years and proportionately a far more devastating blow than the loss of 3000 on 9-11 was to the U.S.

It is oh so easy to say, as White House Deputy Press Secretary Gordon G. Johndroe said Sunday, “These people are nothing but thugs. Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas.” But does this clown have any clue or care about the history the founding of the Israeli state, its inception in the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians through tactics including terror (well-documented by Israeli historians like Ilan Pappé) whose demand for justice is never going to go away?

David Axelrod, senior adviser to Barack Obama, blandly told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “Obviously…as Hamas began its shelling, Israel responded.” Is that all he thinks the audience needs to know? And to what prior history does Hamas respond? Does the candidate of “change” who has surrounded himself with intractable Israel advocates (beginning with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel), who has withheld comment during Israel’s siege while phoning Condi Rice to confer on the situation, have any understanding of the basis for Palestinian rage? Can his staff ever apply a term like “thugs” to those who committing this current fish-in-a-barrel shoot?

Does Obama have the audacity to break with the Lobby he groveled before as a presidential candidate on June 3, even going so far as do declare himself in favor of an eternal undivided Jewish capital of Jerusalem? (Official Washington policy has actually been to favor part of East Jerusalem—occupied by Israel in 1967—as capital of a future Palestinian state.)

For that I have absolutely no hope. He will leave Israel/Palestine to “experienced” people, the people the pundits have so lauded him for appointing, Hillary Clinton at the head of the pack. The people through whom he’s reassured the system that he’s absolutely not going to rock the boat. True believers in change, take notice.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece