mercredi 7 janvier 2009

What Is Wrong with this Picture?

An Essay on the U.S. Role in the Current Israeli Campaign
against Hamas


(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.

http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2009/01/07/phyllis-bennis-title-tk/#respond

Israeli Jets Drop 'Small Smart Bomb' in Gaza Strikes

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/12/israeli-jets-dr.html#more

Paper: Gaza Campaign Planned Months in Advance

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/12/newspaper-gaza.html

10 commentaires:

Pris a dit…

I'm going to send this link to my friend in Cairo. His feelings, exactly. The U.K. has called for a stop of arms sales to Israel. Will this ever happen here? I doubt it.

Stirling a dit…

Agreed. The US has been arming Israel (as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, etc.) since 1970. The profiteers are not going to give up without a fight. I look at it this way - if we couldn't agree to stop selling and using land mines, what other morally corrupt decisions wouldn't our country make in our name?

John Walter a dit…

I enjoyed reading this, Laura. I understand both sides in this conflict, but I agree with you that Israel has used disproportionate force that is not only inhumane against an almost captive population, but savagely ironic, as were the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camp massacres back in the Eighties which Sharon allowed to happen.
I disagree with you on your declaration about Congress, which is just hyperbole on your part, as well as a lot of your other angry points about Jerusalem, which is an intractable issue that involves realpolitik and not wishful thinking that can´t be backed up by military force (and the Arab League is useless, and the surrounding Arab states have lost 5 consecutive conflicts to Israel, and the Israelis have over 200 nukes, etc. etc.)

I understand your outrage, Laura. As someone who has moved more to the center from the far left over the years, I respect your humanitarian feelings but also have to remind you that giving up Jerusalem is not giving up an inch. Iran has called for Israel to be wiped out; most Arab countries try to act like it doesn´t exist; and so the Arab countries that support the prisoner in the apartheid like cage that is Gaza are also not giving an inch, either.

Israel just has to realize that massive attacks like this just drop dragon´s teeth where once there were families and in a generation there will be seven thousand Palestinian suicide bombers for the seven hundred Palestinians killed in the last two weeks.

The issues have to be resolved by diplomacy, and the Americans desperately need to tilt it back away from the neocon, Christian right End of Days backing of Israel where Bush took our policy.

Moineau En France a dit…

thank you for responding, all. i appreciate it very much, including letters i have received off the blog, both with and against my "prejudice" which it was called. and i will admit a prejudice in the face of mass death, but i will not admit ignorance. i may not live there, but i have studied all the issues, and while i have more to learn, as do we all, because much of what goes on is covert, what is evident is that 700 are dead.

i agree with you, john, there is hyperbole in this essay and yes, sarcasm too, and outrage. i was not looking to present a publishable opinion piece, but an expression of my feelings which run deep. that is why i allowed it here, on a poetry blog. it's about my perception and i'm sure i speak for many, perhaps not for you, but for many still. and i'm glad to stir up the rhetoric, it's needs a good thrashing!

i agree with yours and others' comments that the arab league and the arab states are useless and speak to this "cause" with forkèd tongue, as i have seen the palestinians suffering in their countries equal to the suffering in gaza, or worse.

but i know for a fact, and i'm sticking to it, that jerusalem is a money maker, and adds to the outrage, another of the livelihoods taken from the palestinians, whether it be olives or flowers, tourism, water, garbage, or mosques. nothing moves or is allowed to move. life is stagnant except when it explodes. a sad end for all, on both sides.

i agree with your last statement about diplomacy and could just leave it there, open ended; but with the clintonites in charge of foreign policy, i am dubious about obama's vision, if he ever had one. sure, they know how to run a government, the assembled expertise is admirable. but in the area of foreign policy, we remember how many died and how many were set up to die with their free enterprise modus operandi. clinton stood in the front of the u.n. and declared that free enterprise was the be all, end all of our foreign policy. where's the humanity in that? we can just become like china, that's the bush agenda anyway, slaves of us all.

you are right about these big military actions, john. bombs on both sides and not a wit of forgiveness. without forgiveness, peace cannot enter any heart. i'll forgive if someone asks it and doesn't step on my hands again. as i said to someone, i'm for a gandhian approach, but will anyone join me of these two peoples? one has to be fearless to join that cause and it seems too much water (or it blood?) has flowed under the proverbial bridge. the hatred is ripe in the people on both sides. one glance at the commentary under any article of "ha'aretz" will kill any hope of a settlement. madmen and women and so many of them.

with so many dying as i type, it's almost the beginning of the end. and there i'll end it. i'm disgusted with it all.

and for anyone who thinks it's just the palestinian cause to which i so simply rally because i dared to write this personal essay, i want to make it clear that i take suffering anywhere seriously. i died many times during the iraq war this six years, as i pictured myself in the war zone with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. the adrenaline alone might have cured me but it would be temporary... who needs that kind of rush? it's deeply damaging.

we have damaged an entire generation in the middle east with our interventionism. and you think we should do more, and with clinton at the helm? if you prove me wrong, i will rejoice and you can throw it in my face forever: i won't mind. i'll laugh at myself as the fool that i am and be glad.

Haze a dit…

The situation is complex, so tragic, so goddam screamingly heart-wrenching. An intelligent, passionate view on the matter....

Moineau En France a dit…

thank you, haze, for weighing in. i can't tell you how i appreciate it, as i feel great anxiety tonight with lebanon getting more viscerally involved and israel responding, of course. what will be next i cannot fathom w/ all these proxy wars, and among countries with nuclear weapons. may wisdom set in before it's too late! 2009 has arrived.

Moineau En France a dit…

THUR, JAN 8--I added an excellent link to the end of the article that leads to a discussion with Phyllis Bennis on GritTv with Laura Flanders.

Anonyme a dit…

“How did this happen”? Hamas

“Who planned it”? Hamas

“Tonight I call for a revolution of thought.” How about for starters Hamas stop the rocket launches into Israel?

The Arab world and Hamas have vowed to eradicate Jewry and Israel. How else should Israel respond to Hamas rocket attacks and the Arab worlds view and consistent hostile approach to Israel?

Israel is a tiny country. The Arab world has more land than G-d and could together easily create a homeland for the Palestinians … but they do nothing but egg them on in their terrorist attacks upon Israel.

Yes, this was a good essay but one with which I do not agree.

Liz Rice-Sosne

Moineau En France a dit…

no problem, liz, we've just been reading and listening to different histories. there are two sides in this debacle. do you ever look at alternative media like "democracy now" or "grit tv with laura flanders"?

i try to look at as much as i can because there really are thousands of stories here. xoxoxox

Anonyme a dit…

Laura,
Bill Moyers did a good piece tonight in his journal on the situation. Don't get me wrong Israel's response will do nothing but perpetuate the situation [the oldest ongoing war in history]. I do not agree with Israel's tactics and they have played right into the hands of their haters who now have European anti-Semitic terrorist act on the rise. I care little for AIPAC and wish to remain constant allies ... BUT, I do not appreciate the sort of alliances that we have made with Israel. That said, the Arab world could easily end this and every other act of war between Israel and Palestine but they do not wish to do so as they wish to obliterate Israel.

Democracy Now yes. I am not familiar with Flanders.

Happy New Year!!!

Liz Rice-Sosne