January 15, 2009

jump off the cliff notes


From Tony Karon:

“Over a seven year period preceding the current Israeli operation, the total number of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets fired from Gaza was seventeen. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza three years ago, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza has exceeded 1,700. That kill ratio has been maintained in the current offensive, except that no Israeli civilian has been killed by the rockets fire since it began—the only Israeli fatalities have been soldiers.

Hamas did not fire rockets between June and November because it was observing a cease fire brokered by Egypt. As part of that ceasefire, Israel was supposed to lift the economic siege which one Israeli leader, in the charming spirit of the Wehrmacht, described as ‘not starving the Palestinians, but putting them on a diet.’ Israel didn’t lift that siege because it was hoping that this ‘diet’ would force Palestinians to overthrow the government that they had elected. After Israel broke the ceasefire on November 5th, Hamas resumed large scale rocket fire. But Hamas made clear that it would cease hostilities as soon as there was a truce agreement that included opening the crossings to allow transfer of commerce and food.

At the time, Israel had already had its boot on the throat of the Palestinians in Gaza for eighteen months. When Palestinians lashed out with the only means at their disposal, Israel complained that it was under attack and had to ‘defend’ itself by invading Gaza. As veteran Israeli peace campaigner Uri Avnery wrote last weekend, ‘It's like saying that in 1941, a gang of terrorists called the Red Army took the civilians of Leningrad hostage, forcing the Wehrmacht to bomb them and starve them, just as when the cowardly Churchill gang used the people of London as human shields in 1940, forcing the Luftwaffe to bomb them.’

The people of Gaza are predominantly a refugee population. Their parents and grandparents lived in homes and owned farms in Ashkelon, Ashdod and other Israeli areas into which Hamas fires rockets these days in largely symbolic defiance. (This is ‘armed propaganda,’ which is what all terrorism essentially is: not changing a power relationship so much as drawing attention to it.) That’s why Palestinians want Hamas rather than a Petain figure like Abbas to be their voice in dealing with Israel. Gaza has always been more militant than the West Bank precisely because of its demographic history and makeup.

Israel could have stopped the rocket fire from Gaza by simply putting itself in the position of its adversary. What would Israelis do if they had been forced off their land into a ghetto and then placed under siege? Remember the Warsaw Ghetto? In 1999, the man running the Israeli military campaign, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, was asked by a journalist on the campaign trail what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian. His answer said it all: ‘I’d have joined a terror organization.’”

Posted by Sasha at January 15, 2009 04:15 AM | TrackBack