Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three Ways to Respond to Charles Krauthammer

Read someone like Charles Krauthammer and we have three choices.[1] 

One, we can join the popular ranks of Israel defenders. The U.S. Senate recently (July 18) passed a resolution supporting Israel’s attack on Gaza by a vote of 100 to 0. A week earlier, the House of Representatives passed a similar resolution and President Obama has been tongue tied with the exception of, ”Well, Israel has a right to defend itself.” However, defending Israel’s right to “defend itself” is a position which is becoming harder and harder to maintain.

Two, we can choose to ignore the whole situation which is what most Americans do. After all, who does not have enough to think about? And we are so busy with making a living and keeping the family happy. Rather just think about a ball game or watch a movie.

Or, three, we can push back against popular opinion, consider the obvious and ponder the history. We can listen to our hearts, but when we do, suddenly the first two options no longer appear valid. However, I warn you. This third option, of facing what you know is right, and standing up for peace through justice may well make you an outsider. That is why so few people do it.  

Krauthammer sees every act of caring for the suffering of the Palestinians as abetting terrorism and every criticism of the policies of Israel as anti-Semitic.  He shows little concern for the facts that do not support his opinions.

He writes:, “Israel accepts an Egyptian proposed Gaza ceasefire; Gaza keeps firing.”

Wow! What terms were offered for the cease-fire?  Israel will continue to blockade the borders, air and sea access to the outer world. Deny the entrance of fuel, electricity, medicines and food, to make life for the Palestinians as  miserable as possible. 

Palestinians did reject the cease fire. In spite of the pain and death they were experiencing every day, they were unwilling to go back to the “slow death” they have been enduring for 47 years. Since 2000 Israel’s right to security has killed a Palestinian child on the average of one every three days

According to the Jerusalem Post, Hamas proposed a 10 year cease-fire in return for the release of prisoners arrested during the hunt for missing Israeli teens, the opening of Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt, and UN supervision of Gaza’s port.[2]

Emily Manna, a young girl from Gaza writes:

Dear American media, I’m asking you to simply tell what’s happening in Gaza. You watched this play out. You watched a heinous murder of Israeli teens, and you saw no evidence presented that this was an action sanctioned by the Hamas organization. You watched as Israel demolished houses, arrested hundreds, and killed civilians in clashes, all in a supposed attempt to find the killers and punish them, and with no attempt at due process. You watched as Palestinians were targeted by Israelis in racist attacks, and you watched as Israeli police abused an American teen, the visible representative of the invisible masses of Palestinian teens who undergo the same and worse. You watched as Hamas said it would not tolerate collective punishment of Palestinians, and you watched as violence between Israel and Gaza followed.
         You watched, but you chose to tell Americans that Hamas simply began firing rockets at Israel with no clear rationale, and that Israel had no choice but to defend itself. You chose to give Americans a picture that portrayed an oppressed, impoverished, and desperate people as a violent, insane aggressor, and Israel, a nation with one of the world’s most advanced militaries, as a victim that must defend itself by bombing Gaza.[3]
In a post the day before, from the Jabalya refugee camp, Sarah Ali (a contributor to a collection of short stories called Gaza Writes Back) wrote:

Last night was horrible. My house shook every five minutes! Except for half an hour in the evening, we’ve been without electricity for over 48 hours. Due to the long blackout, we had no water as well. The Israelis have (again) bombed a main power generator that supplies electricity to many areas. There was Israeli shelling from the sea, air and land. I could hear the kids in our neighbors’ houses crying in terror all night. This is not about destroying Hamas; this is about destroying every Palestinian in Gaza, destroying our lives, crushing our dignity and morale. Let it be known to (Israel) that the more they kill and destroy, the stronger we become. We have nothing left to lose. Now I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce. No justice, no peace.”[4]

Killing Palestinians seems to make up the agenda for the day.  So far, in this “war” only one side has tanks, planes, gunships and drones.  Only one side has a defensive shield and safe places to hide. Not surprisingly, the casualty list is 608 Palestinians, 75% civilians, and 27 Israeli soldiers. On Sunday alone, a hundred Palestinians were killed, many of them children.

Krauthammer declared that “Hamas deliberately aims at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them.”  Of course, those Palestinian rockets are pretty crude, without any guidance system. That is why so many of them land in open areas or even back on Palestinian soil.  On the other hand, Israel has the most sophisticated rockets on the globe.  Yet, It’s disturbing how many hit mosques, schools, hospitals, water systems and electric grids. It is also funny how with all the blast and search for rockets which are supposed to be hidden in those building, very few have been found. I am sure if Israeli soldiers stumbled on a warehouse of explosives and rockets in a school it would be all over the US media.

Krauthammer writes: “Occupation? There is not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli in Gaza. It was less then 1o years ago that Israel uprooted its settlements, withdrew its military and turned Gaza over to the Palestinians.”

“Turned Gaza over to the Palestinians?”  What he does not tell you is that Israel withdrew only to the borders of Gaza. Cut off food, electricity, water, medicine and continued to restrict aid to the impoverished people of Gaza.

He says, “Israeli counterfire produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of imminent attack.”

Could he be serious? If so, he surely hopes we do not watch the evening news. Parents screaming, children running and hospitals looking like horror movies as doctors witho0ut medicines try to treat the injured.  Palestinians caged in the world largest open air prison have no place to go. Israel has the fence surrounding Gaza patrolled and electrified with both gates locked.

For those of us who chose option three, this has been a frustrating and painful week. But, nothing like what Krauthammer supports, in Gaza.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                July 23, 2014

[1] Charles Krauthammer, Gaza Situation Presents us Moment of Moral Clarity, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Saturday, July 19, 2014.
[2] Reported on  All In with Chris Hayes.
[3] Reported in Mondoweiss, July 22, 2014
[4] Pam Bailey, We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice. Reported in Mondoweiss, July 22, 2014.

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