April 19, 2008

World’s ‘Unwavering Commitment’ to Inequality

Posted in Israel-Palestine tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by Mazin

Ramzy Baroud,

Death hovered over Gaza long before locally-made Palestinian rockets struck near the Israeli southern town of Sderot on Feb. 27, killing Roni Yechiah and sparking an Israeli retaliation that has claimed over hundred Palestinian lives.

Yechiah’s death was actually the first of its kind in nine months, and understandably so. The crude Palestinian rockets were often criticized even by Palestinians as useless in the tit-for-tat style of war under way, while easily used by Israeli officials as a “casus belli,” or at least as an excuse for keeping Gaza contained, besieged and on the brink of starvation.

For Israel the rockets are important as a pretext to maintain a state of siege against Hamas and wage a low-intensity warfare that creates permanent distraction from the confiscation of Palestinian land and the expansion of illegal settlements. It also provides a justification for slowing the peace process.

While pro-Israeli pundits in the US and elsewhere are prepared to defend Israel’s actions, many Israelis are no longer buying into their government’s pretexts.

According to a recent Tel Aviv University Poll, cited by the Israeli daily Haaretz on Feb. 27, “Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.”

The mayor of the Israeli town of Sderot — which borders Gaza and is the main target of rockets — had also told the British newspaper, The Guardian, on Feb. 23, “I would say to Hamas, let’s have a cease-fire. Let’s stop the rockets for the next 10 years and we will see what happens.”

Hamas was actually first to issue calls for cease-fire. In fact, for years it has held true to a self-declared abstention from carrying out any suicide bombings inside Israel.

Meanwhile, the uneven numbers of casualties speak volumes.

While Yechiah’s death is tragic, he was the “first person killed by rocket attacks from Gaza since May 2007, and the 14th overall since the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian armed clashes in September 2000,” according to a Human Rights Watch press release on Feb. 29, citing Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

B’Tselem reported that “1,259 of the 2,679 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip (since September 2000) were not participating in hostilities when they were killed, and 567 were minors.”

According to a news agency report published in Al-Arabiya website, as of Feb. 22, 190 Palestinians were killed since the resumption of the peace process following the Annapolis talks last November. That number increased when the Israeli Army escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing 34 Palestinians in 48 hours between Feb. 27-28, not counting several other Palestinians killed in the West Bank during the same period.

Despite the facts, Israel’s actions are repeatedly accepted by most media as a legitimate ‘response’ to Palestinian violence.

In an article published days before Yechiah’s death, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the death of three Palestinians who were killed by Israeli tank missile. The men were picnicking at the time, according to eyewitness accounts. However, the article seemed to report an entirely different story, featuring a photo of a Palestinian rocket that hit an empty field.

“Deadly rain,” read the caption, conveniently forgetting that the rockets had not caused any deaths. The article also undermined the fact that the killed Palestinians had been picnicking, citing this as yet another Palestinian ‘claim.’

Donald Macintyre of the British newspaper, The Independent, who is usually much more objective than his counterparts elsewhere, reported on the killing of four Palestinian children: “Four boys playing football have been killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes…as Israel responded to the death of a man from a barrage of rocket attacks with a bloody escalation of violence.”

The perpetuation of the idea of Israel always ‘responding’ to events and never initiating them is indeed unfair.

When the utter desperation of Gazans forced them to storm massive walls separating them from Egypt in search of food and medicines, their cry fell largely on deaf ears. Palestinians were herded back into Gaza, and the border was sealed once more, followed by an escalation of troop levels alongside it (reportedly beyond those set in a 30-year-old peace accord).

Besieged, browbeaten and starved — in a way that all major human rights groups have decried as illegal and inhumane — Palestinians are told to expect more of the same.

Only this time the terminology used is much more frightening. Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with a ‘holocaust’, stating that, “the more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger “shoah” (Hebrew term of Holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

Since the Nazi Holocaust, the Hebrew term has been used almost exclusively to describe the tragic event. While many media commentators jumped to limit the damage caused by Vilnai’s revelation, the acknowledgment of the Israel-imposed crisis on Palestinian — and the term ‘bigger’ in particular — is but another fleeting reminder of the horrors under which Gaza lives, and Gaza alone is blamed for.

As Palestinians hurriedly buried their dead, US and Israeli celebrities — including Sylvester Stallone, John Voight and Paula Abdul — rallied at an Los Angeles benefit concert for Sderot. Speaking via satellite, US presidential nominees Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama also expressed their unquestionable allegiance to Israel, as if only Israel’s dead counted, only Israel’s security mattered.

Clinton — as the other presidential contenders — received another golden opportunity to express her ‘unwavering commitment’ to Israel.

When will US officials begin to acknowledge that both Palestinians and Israelis have equal rights and equal responsibilities?

When will the media begin to provide the needed context and stop manipulating terms and numbers in such a way that the Palestinians are always at fault?

When will we all accept that military occupation and state-sponsored terror beget violence and breed more terror, and how this will always be the case in Palestine — as anywhere else — as long as the circumstances remain unchanged?

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2 Comments »

  1. Ari said,

    To whoever wrote this bleeding heart piece of shit,

    People like you are the reason why Israel concedes more and more of her lands to the lawless arabs, only to be returned with more violence and more attacks against her. These arabs leaders are the reason they live in such destitute. Maybe if they cared more for their people, instead of trying to kill innocent Israelis, we wouldn’t be in this situation. The IDF (honored just to mention them), must patrol these people in their own lands to make sure they don’t go around blowing themselves up whenever they feel like it. Until they prove, and as most of us have come to accept, they never will, that they can live peacefully, side by side with Israel (a jewish state), there is no reason to feel compassion for these people, as they are the cause of their own problems. The only solution, as they certainly don’t listen to reason, (they are all brainwashed to hate the jews and blame everything wrong in the world on us from childhood on, try visiting a mosk or madrassa in the West Bank or Gaza, or just watch what they promote on their own t.v. stations), shock and awe! As they promote jihaad and push their youth to become martyrs for Allah, the only way to get the message across that Israel exists, and not only exists, but thrives as jewish state, the only jewish state, for all jews on this planet, given to us by the G-d of Abraham, and beacon of peace and democracy in the land, we must let them know that we are here, and are not going anywhere. The price of jewish blood is no longer cheap. Bomb them into submission, scare them into the realization that any attack on us will be visited upon them 1000 fold. We have the ability to do so, and as time goes on, and no end to the conflict ever appears to be in reach, this is the only way to make them understand.
    Israel is for the jews!

    -Proud supporter of Israel and all that she stands for!
    -Happy 60th birthday!
    -Ariel

    Like

  2. Mazin said,

    Here is a letter that I read in a newspaper relating to this :

    Israel at 60

    One does not “move on” by ignoring the past. In fact, unless and until past wrongs are made right, nothing changes. Unresolved “pasts” tend to morph into future conflicts. To say the “Israelis and Palestinians live in the same land with divergent national narratives” is an understatement. It’s like saying Jews in 1930s’ Germany had a different worldview than Aryans. The question is, who has the power? The sides are not equal. Did anyone realistically expect the Wehrmacht to talk peace with Warsaw’s Jews? It didn’t have to because it had all the power.

    There is a difference between right and wrong, victim and perpetrator. To say “both” Palestinians and Israelis are guilty of violence is to ignore the initial cause of the problem: the stealing of Arab land by Jews. To say a person fighting to regain stolen property is as guilty as the thief is to talk gibberish. It’s also hypocritical to condemn Arab resistance while lauding Jewish terror groups — such as Irgun, Palmach, Haganah, etc., which were used to create Israel.

    Israel is a militaristic state whose economy is subsidized by America. Palestinians have no similar support or strength. The “conflict” is one-sided, like Mike Tyson fighting Woody Allen. America feeds and trains Mike. It starves Woody, ties his hands behind him, then pays the referee to make sure Tyson is the winner. And we all act like it’s a fair fight.

    “The two-state solution” will not work. It’s too late. Too little land is left for the Palestinians, and Israel has been unmasked as a socialist bully with no constitution, no borders, and, increasingly, no conscience. It’s a racist regime, little different from World War II Germany. It has devolved into a theocracy of mad hatters.

    The difference between Nazis and the Ashkenazis is the former only had a few years to implement a “solution” and no mass media. Today, the Internet precludes Israel from using similar tactics. Instead, it patiently takes 60 years to slow-cook the Palestinian goose. At 60, Israel is an apartheid state that oppresses others. Why celebrate that? Do we laud the Third Reich for creating autobahns, color film, tape recorders and other advancements? Or do we hold it accountable for having lost its soul?

    Israel, alas, has become blight onto other nations.

    Bern Mass, United States

    Like


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