FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gaza Last Time

Half drowned in the torrents of supportive speech and prose lavished here and in Europe on Israel’s criminal onslaughts on the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza, one naturally tends to compare and contrast such paeans to those extended to kindred barbarities by Israel in the past. Is the amen chorus louder, softer or more or less the same?

If you stick to highway traffic through the columns and bulletins of the major media, aside from some passable stuff on the cable news shows, the flow of ignorant drivel seems as toxic as ever, maybe worse, since Israel has tried to empty Gaza of all reporters. The Israelis wipe out whole families, phone apartment blocks to terrify the occupants with boasts that their homes will shortly be blown up, and the Israel claque here stresses the consummate humanity of the attackers. Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post celebrates the birth of the new year by extolling Israel for being “so scrupulous about civilian life.” Professor Alan Dershowitz dishes out congratulation for Israel’s “perfectly proportionate” onslaught.

One thinks back to Martin Peretz in 1982 inscribing in The New Republic glowing sermons on the doctrines of humanity instilled in the IDF, words written not long before Israeli generals gave the green light for the killers of the Phalange to go to work, disemboweling women in the camps under the indifferent or admiring gaze of IDF personnel.

Bomb ghettos and civilians die. We write as news comes that Israeli gunners have managed to shell and kill nearly 50 Palestinians, including women and children, fleeing a United Nations-run school in Gaza. We can guarantee that Israeli claims about Hamas’s use of that school are already on the wires. Since no one is going to quiz him on the matter of bombing civilians, let us quote Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who Cockburn interviewed in Damascus last May on the subject of violent tactics. (The full interview appeared in the May 2008 print edition of CounterPunch.)

Meshal: “Unfortunately, the insistence on violent repression by our assailants leads to innocent blood on the street. Since 1996, 12 years ago, we have proposed to exclude civilian targets from the conflict on both sides. Israel did not respond to that. When Israel insists on killing our kids, our elders and senior citizens and women, and bombarding houses with the gunships, F16s and Apaches, when Israel continues these attacks, what is left for the Palestinians to do? They are defending themselves with whatever they have. Our (Qassam) missiles and rockets are very crude. Hence we fire them, within their own capabilities, in reaction to Israeli atrocities. If we had smart missiles — and we wish that some countries could give us these — rest assured that we will never aim at anything except the military targets.”

You say it’s ludicrous to allow Meshal such self-exculpation? No more ludicrous, in fact far less so, than endlessly citing Israeli generals about the essential humanity of their enterprises, since Meshal confesses to the crudity of the Qassams, whereas the Israelis ladle out bosh about the “sophistication” and accuracy of their fusillades.

Of course, the guaranteed lethal inaccuracy of all bombing and shelling in populated areas ensures that you end up with some horror like Qana in 1996 (Operation Grapes of Wrath, launched by Shimon Peres before an election), where Israeli artillerymen killed more than 100 refugees, including many women and children, in the compound of a U.N. peacekeeping force. In that instance, the response of apologists for Israel was to claim that Hezbollah had staged the whole thing and planted the bodies there.

Should we be thankful that President-elect Barack Obama initially declined all comment on Israel’s attacks? “No comment” is probably better than the likely alternative: full-throated applause, a la Bush, for Israel. Then the carnage at the U.N. school moved Obama to break his silence, saying, “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern for me.” The fact that Gaza comes first in that sentence will no doubt prompt some angry columns claiming that Obama is tilting toward the Palestinians. Of course, his consistent groveling to the Israel lobby has been widely noted. Obama’s hand-picked mentor in the Senate, after all, was Joseph Lieberman.

But if the elites are as solidly part of the amen chorus as they have been down the decades, once you leave the corporate and political highways and get on the side roads of the Internet, the picture is changing. The precipitous decline of the Old Information Order is marked in the shift in opinion, noted in a Dec. 31 Rasmussen poll showing that while Americans remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, they are split almost evenly on the question of whether Israel should attack Gaza — 44 percent in favor of the assault and 41 percent against it. The same poll showed that in contrast to solid Republican cheers, only 31 percent of Democrats are supportive of Israel’s attack, unlike their elected representatives. On Obama’s “Change” Web site, there has been pressure from the Democratic base for Obama to condemn Israel’s attacks.

That’s a faint ray of hope. Otherwise, it’s a bleak panorama. Israel’s long-term drive to leave Palestinians a few patches of ground in a balkanized West Bank continues with no serious international challenge, as does its determination never to accept Hamas — the democratically elected Palestinian government — as a negotiating partner.

Why do so if you have the United States behind you and can haul Mahmoud Abbas out of his kennel whenever necessary?

What alternative does Hamas have but the rockets?

Israel’s intransigence probably means the suicide bombers will soon be put to work again.

This article originally appeared in the January 2009 edition of CounterPunch.

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail