Gaza… What the f***!!!

I can’t help seeing merit in Gaza Bleeds as Israeli Right Wing Prepares for Elections. Yes, written by Zainab S Khan on The Platform. So? Alan Dershowitz is more objective? You jest, surely… According to Khan:

So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

Obama’s speech at the Cairo University, Egypt (4 June 2009)

With these words echoing throughout the Middle East, the world was made a promise four years ago – a promise of ‘change’ and ‘freedom’. As we got sucked into the euphoria of the inauguration and momentarily turned our gaze, Israel took the opportunity to disable Gaza, bringing its people once more to their knees.  By December 2008, Operation Cast Lead was in full effect. The three-week Operation strategically bombed schools, hospitals and urban areas resulting in the deaths of 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, compared to three Israeli civilians. The people of Gaza looked to the newly elected President, only to find that his earlier sentiments had withered away with power.

As of 14 November 2012, Israel – yet again – launched a systematic attack on the largely defenceless population of Gaza. Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ has reportedly killed 45 Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and 12 children, and has caused over 400 casualties. The American response followed its usual course, as it has largely done for decades – of unwavering support: “the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defence in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians”. The hypocrisy of Obama’s words in Egypt are further highlighted as the people of Gaza once more face continuous bombardment, with no electricity and declining food and medicine. Gaza’s right to exist is again denied.

Writing this, I am left asking myself the same questions as I did four years ago. How long will Israel maintain the facade of self-defence to justify the mass slaughter of a besieged population, and what are the real reasons behind Israel’s aggression?

Israel’s disproportionate attacks have sent their PR team into overdrive…

Paul McGeough in the Sydney Morning Herald sees such a  pattern too.

We don’t have a clue how it will end, except there is a growing sense that even by regional standards, it will set a new benchmark in ugliness and that it has a special ability to draw in the rest of the region. Might be a time to tread lightly – yes?

So with all that in mind, it was courageous – in the Yes, Prime Minister meaning of the term – for Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to decide that he absolutely had to go to war against Gaza this week.

Still testing its footing after the tectonic shifts of the Arab Spring, Israel might have opted for a less aggressive test of its ”cold peace” alliance with Egypt, which, after years of dictatorship, has an Islamist administration that is required to respond to its people’s massive and heartfelt sympathy for the Palestinians.

Could Netanyahu be so cynical as to stage-manage this show of force, because he faces re-election in a matter of weeks? That’s what some commentators say. Even as he threatens war on Iran and contends with the Syrian conflict on his doorstep, might he have hit Gaza in the hope of showing the world what a bad lot the Palestinians are – on the eve of a Palestinian bid for greater recognition at the United Nations?

It has to be said that for a conflict that can cause so much pain to so many people, it may well be the leadership aspirations of a handful that drive this current chapter – and not just on the Israeli side…

He also notes today that Obama has to factor Arab Spring into reaction to Israeli-Hamas crisis.

Absolute support has been the default position of American politics for decades. But might this President see that the geopolitical reconfiguring of the Middle East in the past two years makes that historic position untenable?

The Arab Spring was a bolt from the blue – an event that most who monitor the Middle East didn’t see coming. But in it, millions of defenceless Arabs found the courage to rise to meet and to grasp the soaring rhetoric of Obama’s famous Cairo speech delivered in June 2009.

It was brilliant stuff. You remember the lines – ”I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”…

In Haaretz Khaled Diab begs: “Israelis and Gazans: Don’t buy your leaders’ rhetoric!”  Chemi Shalev notes “For Israel’s PR war on Gaza, it may be all downhill from here.”

I took the photo above in January 2009 in Sydney. It is linked to the relevant entry. See also A rabbi on Gaza from that time. And on this blog Tread warily in the graveyard called Palestine/Israel among other posts tagged “Israel”.

This letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald is truistic but nonetheless totally relevant.

My Facebook friends include people with more or less partisan views on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a result, in recent days I have had many graphic colour pictures appearing on my wall, some showing bloodied Israeli civilian casualties, others showing bloodied Palestinian civilian casualties.

What all these pictures demonstrate is that the colour of the spilt blood of innocent Israelis is exactly the same as the colour of the spilt blood of innocent Palestinians.

Paul Norton Highgate Hill (Qld)

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