(a rare political essay on my poetry blog)
Some of you you may remember me talking about the sale of so-called 'smart' weapons from the U.S. to Israel a month or so ago; I sent out several emails about it. I and most other conspiracists were certain that they were purchased to bomb the nuclear installations of Iran before the end of the Bush administration. Little could I know then that such massive weaponry would be used against the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants in the name of eradicating Hamas. Gaza is a tiny, massively overpopulated place, much of which looked like rubble long before the current air strikes; since everyone is generally living shoulder to shoulder, there is no way that 100s, perhaps 1000s in the end, of civilians would not die, given the current strategy, 'smart' bombs or no 'smart' bombs. Just the sheer number of them.
No one can convince me now that U.S. intelligence wasn't in on the planning of this military action in Gaza, from pre-sale to attack. Our senators, representatives and the big guns of the Bush administration all knew this was coming, and that must, by definition, include President-elect Barack Obama. If you consider the coming inauguration, the 'out with the old, in with the new' mentality that is being celebrated, the timing for this engagement could not be more perfect because Obama has the exact excuse he needs not to touch this hot potato: he is not yet president and there can only be but one president at a time. Fabulous, dahlingk, you are off the hook! You can ride into town later looking like the original White Knight, with your fingers crossed behind your back and all your Clinton advisors speaking in tongues!
Yet, when this comes, we should think back to Obama's big trip to the middle east in July when he spent about one hour with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, then visited the southern city of Sdrot where kasam rockets have fallen and continue to fall during this engagement. Obama stood, just like Hillary Clinton stood before him, with his back to the separation wall and his arm around our 'bestest friend' in the whole wide world, Israel, the one that offers us in return the love and admiration of the rest of the west and middle east. "The way you know where somebody's going is where have they been," he said in Sdrot. "And I've been with Israel for many, many years now." I thought at the time that at least he breached the wall, whereas during Hillary's visit she refused to cross over into that living hell. It's easier to ignore a thing and hate it if you can't see it.
So magnaminous, so good the Zionist heart! Regarding the settlements which have arisen like mushrooms in a forest and flourished during the last eight years, no one can say there is any interest in Jerusalem's tourist business, which existed before as the life blood of the Palestinian Jerusalemites for the entire last century. There have been many land and hotel deals between rich Israelis and government officials. This may seem like a small point, but is it? What's the big deal about Jerusalem to the Palestinians anyway? More and more sequestered to smaller and smaller areas, left without services for which they are taxed, and those outside the city barred from entering it on holy days, they should simply give it up, lay down and accept the will of Israel (and the Christian west for that matter)!
"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided!" Obama sternly uttered during the AIPAC conference on the anniversary of the June 5, 1967 war and Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Now I can say, thank you, Mr. President-elect, for that fast-forward look into the future of the American stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I'm glad you spoke to AIPAC. Too bad I didn't take you seriously and chose instead to look back at your days of youthful bluster when you would show up at Palestinian events in Chicago and speak to their cause. Oh but I'm beginning to hate myself for my blind optimism on your foreign policy. But I knew that it was doomed when you put Hillary in charge of it. (Didn't everyone?)
I am declaring that the U.S. Congress sold the weapons to make this engagement happen. So much for our stated mission in the middle east, to make people free; so much for democracy and democratic elections, at least in Gaza, where everyone who knows anything about elections said that it was the most democratic election the middle east has ever experienced. No, what matters is that Hamas won and Hamas is listed as a "terrorist organization".
Moreover, Europe really has no right to stand on its pacifistic pedestal at this point and rail against the bombing; they joined the blockade from the beginning, just as they did the Iraq sanctions, helping the U.S. to set up the scenario for the invasion to come. Shame on all of us!
No, this whole thing was set up long ago, before the so-called ceasefire began and ended in which none of Israel's promises were kept and the people were locked in their pen and left to offer peace signs to their occupiers of 60 years, with cries of "We love to be hungry! We love to be idle! We love to have no life, no hope. We love to give up our farms and homes! Please take more! Take it all!" No, the disengagement from Gaza and the building of the separation wall was a grand experiment gone terribly wrong, then bombed.
As the U.N. envoy on the ground in Gaza describes the scene today, "It is hell". Do we need to know more? YOU BETCHA! How did this happen? Who planned it? When was it planned? Who knew the plan in advance? These are my questions tonight as I write. I want to know who the criminals are in this country who plotted this action with the Israeli government and army over many months. We can deal with the Israelis later.
Tonight over 600 people's lives have been snuffed out in ten days. Tonight I call for a revolution of thought, as some people did on 9-11. Why are kasam rockets falling on southern Israel? When and how were those settlements built? What should Palestinians do after 60 years of occupation? Is it true that if there were no resistance, no kasam rockets, there would be a win-win situation for both sides in this conflict? I doubt it; and why? Because Israel has not given one inch on the policy that Ariel Sharon articulated long ago, that he could live with a Palestinian state with much reduced population living on Israel's border as long as it was controllable. Then ask yourself how Israel reduces the population.
Jan 8-- I saw an excellent report with Phyllis Bennis, director of The New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of many books including Understand the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. It does echo many of the points in this essay.