Sunday, March 1, 2015

Can't Have it Both Ways

Even Bibi can’t have it both ways.  On the one hand, he appeals to Jews all over the world, especially Europe, saying come to Israel, it is the only place on the globe where a Jew can be safe.

Then, he turns around and addresses our US congress declaring that Israel and all its citizens are on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth by Iran.  For two decades now, Netanyahu has declared Iran about one year from getting “the bomb,” which will immediately be dropped on Israel.

So, is Israel a safe place or not? Even Bibi can’t have it both ways.

I am inclined to think Israel is not a safe place, but not because of threats from Iran.  It is because of Gaza, West Bank and the US.  The international conscience for justice and fair play will someday turn against Israel.

GAZA – Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza which left over 2,100 Palestinians dead, including over 500 children, and destroyed thousands of buildings, including schools, mosques, power plants and water supplies, will not be forgotten anytime soon by those who suffer from it or those who have seen it.

Oxfam published on February 27, 2015 concerning the conditions in Gaza:

Since July, the situation has deteriorated dramatically. Approximately 100,000 Palestinians remain displaced this winter, living in dire conditions in schools and makeshift shelters not designed for long-term stay.  Scheduled power cuts persist for up to 18 hours a day… With severe restrictions on movement, most of the 1.8 million residents are trapped in the coastal enclave, with no hope for the future.

Bearing the brunt of this suffering are the most vulnerable, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, women and nearly one million children, who have experienced unimaginable suffering in three major conflicts in six short years.

Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam’s Regional Director said:

Families have been living in homes without roofs, walls or windows for the past six months. Many have just six hours of electricity a day and are without running water. Every day that people are unable to build is putting more lives at risk. It is utterly deplorable.[1]

Strip away my dignity, call me an animal and treat me as such, as Israel has done to the people of Gaza for 67 years, give me the opportunity and I will hit back.  Israel has a lot of making up to do if it is to ever feel safe.

WEST BANK - Though the focus of attention has been on Gaza since last year’s massacre by Israel, life in the West Bank continues under Israeli harassment.  In 2014, Israel demolished 1,177 Palestinian homes in West Bank, an average of nine Palestinian buildings per week.[2] In January, alone, Israel destroyed 77 buildings, leaving 110 people, half of whom were children, homeless in the frigid cold of winter. When a home is destroyed, Israel declares the area abandoned and confiscates it for Jewish only homes, roads, checkpoints or to make room for their apartheid wall. Israel talks of a “Two-State Solution,” if the Palestinians would just be reasonable, all the while pushing them off their land in West Bank back onto less than 39% of the least desirable land for agriculture, while systemically cutting off water and electricity. 

According to the United Nations, last year, Israel killed 54 Palestinians in the West Bank and injured 5,866 others, including 1,187 children.  The average home invasion for search and arrest was 98. There were 330 incidents of Israeli settler-related violence including the destruction of 9,400 trees.[3]

US - Of course, Israel could never keep its boot on the Palestinian neck were it not for the support and encouragement of the United States.   As I write this, there is much talk in the media about the strained relationship between Israel and the US because Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to congress in a few days.   I am sure the view from Palestine blurs when trying to see the rift.   When the Palestinian Authority appealed to the UN for help, Obama’s UN ambassador, Samantha Powers called it “deeply imbalanced.” And when Mahmoud Abbas speaks of going to the International Criminal Court, the US said it would “damage the atmosphere.”  Ali Abunimah claims that the atmosphere is already severely damaged:

I challenge Ms. Powers to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack or to the thousands who will live with lifetime injuries. … Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.[4]

And what does the US government have to say about all this?  Only that Israel has a right to defend itself.  No matter what Israel does, our US government supports it and every Palestinian knows it.  

Mike Coogan may help us to understand why such blind support by the US:

“You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on the napkin.”  These are the words of Stephen Rosen, official of AIPAC, describing the power of the pro-Israel lobby... Four years earlier, while boasting about his bad faith implementation of the Oslo Accords to a group of Israeli settlers, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “America is a thing you can move very easily.”[5]

So, as Netanyahu comes to address our Congress as to why he thinks we ought to go to war against Iran for the safety of Israel, our US media is baffled to understand why the Palestinians just can’t make peace.

Ben Gurion understood why years ago:

Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does it matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing.  We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?

And Ben Gurion knew nothing of the history above. All he knew was the Nakba of 1948. But, he also knew what Bibi Netanyahu seems to not understand. Israel can strive to be a good neighbor, or Israel can be at war until it is destroyed as a Zionist state. But, he can’t have it both ways.

Thomas Are
March 1, 2015


[1] Andrea Gemanos, Gaza Rebuilt Effort Could Take 100 Years: Oxfam, Published by Common Dreams, February 27, 2015
[2] Ben Norton,  UN: In 2014, Israel Demolished 1,177 Palestinian homes in the West Bank.  Reported in Mondoweiss, February 2, 2015
[3] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Defense of Children International.
[4] Ali Abunimah, For Suffering Palestinians, the Obama-Netanyahu “rift” is a Side Show,  Published in Huffington Post,  February 20, 2015.
[5] Announced to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg.  Reported by Mike Coogan, Netanyahu is a Paper Tiger,  Mondoweiss, February 3, 2015. 

1 comment:

  1. What would Iran hope to gain from a nuclear strike at Israel? Does Netanyahu really think they can surgically destroy the Jewish population while preserving the Arab/Palestinian populations intact?

    I'm no nuclear physicist, but the reality of nuclear destruction - blast radius, shock waves, thermal radiation, radioactive fallout - on a country as small as Israel, would definitely affect Gaza, the West Bank, as well as neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Muslim populations. Why would Iran risk becoming a pariah to the Muslim world by doing something so stupid? Not to mention the inevitable reprisals from Israel, the U.S. and others.

    There's also the Dome Of The Rock in Jerusalem, probably the most revered Muslim shrine in existence (after Mecca), sitting on the ancient Jewish temple site, that would either be destroyed by an Iranian nuclear strike, or at least seriously damaged. Again, why would Iran risk something so foolish just to kill some Jews?

    I understand there's a sizeable Jewish population living in Iran, the second largest in the world outside of Israel. If Iran really wants to kill Jewish people, why haven't they started a holocaust against the Jewish diaspora living within their borders? They haven't. And why hasn't Bibi offered sanctuary to these Iranian Jews? And would they accept even if he did?