Saturday, August 9, 2014

Put the Blame on Hamas

Some have asked, “Why doesn’t Gaza just kick Hamas out, after all, they use human shields?” 

Years ago, in the heart of the Civil Rights struggle, I remember people saying, “If we can just get rid of that Martin Luther King, Jr., everything will be OK.”  So, they did. They got rid of him. King was assassinated, only to have us learn that the problem had never been King.  The problem was segregation.  When I first got involved in speaking out for justice for the Palestinians, I remember people saying, “If we could just get rid of that Yasser Arafat, everything would be OK.”  And they did, by poison or stress, we don’t yet know, but they got rid of Arafat, only to learn that the problem never was Arafat.  It was occupation.  One people taking the land, labor and resources of another people, simply because they have the power to do it.

Today, Israel assassinates Hamas leaders, kidnaps and imprisons them by the hundreds and misrepresents their goals and reason for being.  It amazes me. Israel shuts down and puts a siege on Gaza, chokes the very life out of its citizens, and I still hear people say, “If we could just get rid of that Hamas, everything would be OK.”

Does anyone think the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians really started with the election of Hamas in 2007?   The tension started 64 years ago when the Haganah, Stern Gang, Irgun and Palmach drove 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, many of whom became refugees, some of whom are still living in Gaza. Then in 1967, by means of a trumped up war which Israel was assured of winning, Israel started an occupation.

The editors of The Nation magazine write about the violence in Gaza:

Unless the deeper issues are addressed, the cycle will continue – the cycle not of violence, but of impunity. Impunity is what happens when an aggressor fractures the norms of international law and basic human rights, yet is never held to account, and so is free to commit the same crimes again and again. That is what we are seeing now, and that is exactly what the Goldstone Report – the findings of the UN investigation of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 - so presciently warned against.[1]

But Hamas uses human shields.  At least, that is what Netanyahu said. Remember, “We use missiles to protect our people. They use people to protect their missiles.”  Sounds good, and the media loved it. It’s just not true.  Netanyahu uses missiles, bombs and rockets to kill people to protect Israel’s occupation and goal of taking over all of Palestine. He cries “human shields to cover up the blood on his hands.

Gary Burge, professor of theology at Wheaton College specializing in religion and politics in the Middle East, wrote:

The current strategy has been to use the “human shield” argument. This is common in Ukraine, where both Ukrainian nationalist and pro-Russian separatist blame civilian casualties on the other side “because they use human shields.” It has also been used by the Assad regime in Syria.  The U.S. used it in the battle for Fallujah in 2004. Now the same is being used in Gaza, and the Israelis have repeated this argument to the American media ad nauseam.[2].

The people of Gaza are being killed, not because they are being set up by Hamas, but because there is no place to run. No bomb shelters, forest in the hills or even UN schools are safe from Israel’s superior military assault.  They have no Iron Dome. Burge says, “Israel runs the risk of winning the war and losing all credibility in the world community.”

I hope we can keep our eye on the ball as to who is ultimately responsible for the violence in Gaza.  It is just too easy to put the blame on Hamas. 

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                August 9, 2014

[1] The Nation,  August 4, 2014, p. 3.
[2] Gary M. Burga, “But They Use Human Shields!” Huffington Post July 31, 2014. 

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