Wednesday, January 14. 2009
Paul Woodward: Olmert's bitch. The story of why Condoleezza Rice couldn't vote for her own UN resolution:
Paul Woodward: Israel's Arab political parties banned from upcoming election. More pointedly retitled for the WarInContext link: "Israel finds a spirit of unity in its righteous fury." Woodward quotes Ilan Pappe:
This gets to the core reason why any debate about what Israel is doing is so tiresome: the whole endlessly repeated party line is nothing more or less than the result of self-obsessives winding themselves up with love of their own rhetoric. It makes them blind, as could hardly be more clear here. After all, how many times have you heard Israel praising itself as the Middle East's one and only true democracy. Other governments which go through the motions of democracy, like Iran, are dismissed because they disallow any real opposition to the ruling ideology. Israel just did the same thing, without the least self-consciousness. Pro-Israel advocates often referred to Israeli Arabs as proof that Israel is a liberal, open society. That was never really true: Israeli Arabs were under military rule until 1967, at which point the military's focus shifted to the Occupied Territories; even so, Israeli Arabs have always been discriminated against. The situation only got worse when Barak refused to form a coalition government with Arab parties, preferring to undermine his political base in order to prove his dedication to purely Jewish interests. Worse still when Likud insisted that any referendum on a peace settlement should only be voted on by Jews. Worse still with Kadima leader Tzipi Livni going around urging Israeli Arabs to join their brethren in Gaza. Then there are parties even further to the right, pushing for forced transfer of Arabs both within Israel and the Occupied Territories. The logic of this progression of self-absorbed rhetoric is toward mass slaughter -- genocide.
One thing I would like to see is for whatever Palestinian authorities there are -- admittedly it's hard to be one under current circumstances -- to embrace the Law of Return and urge Jews to immigrate to Palestine, to live as free and equal citizens in a state that represents all Palestinians. That in a single stroke would cut the legs out from under Zionism.
Not much, other than to remind Palestinians and the world at large how far Israeli politicians will go to make election points. Still, as far as Olmert-Barak-Livni went, anything short of genocide will leave them open to charges that they didn't go far enough:
Letter in the Wichita Eagle today, from M.E. Skelton:
This makes a big deal out of the very limited degree of autonomy given the Palestinian Authority in Gaza in 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords -- subsequently revoked by Barak and obiterated by Sharon in 2001. Even a casual reader of the letter should then raise an eyebrow over Israel's "withdrawing the last of its citizens and soldiers from Gaza in 2005": that they still had citizens and soldiers to withdraw suggests in itself that Gazans hadn't really enjoyed self-rule since 1994. No mention that Israeli soldiers returned in 2006, not so much to re-occupy Gaza as to wreck it. Or that since then Gaza has been strangled, resulting in one of the world's worst starvation crises.
By the way, has anyone been counting the number of rockets and bombs Israel has launched in the last two weeks?
The second paragraph is a peculiar mix of gratuitous macho and ignorance. Hamas partisans should get out of the neighborhoods where they live, abandoning their families, to expose themselves in unpopulated areas (in Gaza?) where Israeli assassins can pick them off? IDF soldiers are no different: they don't abandon their women and children to go off and fight like chivalrous knights. Rather, they operate from the relative safety of aircraft and tanks, with body armor and overwhelmingly superior firepower -- neither side sounds all that cowardly to me, but the Israelis personally risk far less in such an asymetrical struggle.
I have no idea why part of the PR spin after 9/11 was to characterize the terrorists, who gave up their lives for their misbegotten ideals, as cowardly, but in Israel's case the most likely explanation is that they're desperately looking for a way to blame Palestinians for Israel's overkill. The implicit point is that Israeli slaughter of "Hamas terrorists" is some sort of law of nature -- something that just automatically happens, as opposed to the fruit of policy decisions.
The final sentence -- "All Israel wants to do is survive" -- is plainly false. Survival is a defensive posture. What Israel is doing in Gaza is pure offense. The more common mantra here is that "Israel has the right to defend itself." One can argue over that, but in this case such argument is irrelevant, since Israel is not defending itself in blockading and laying siege to Gaza. Israel is engaged in an aggressive act of war, taken with little or no concern for the destruction they cause, and little or no effort to resolve their grievances peaceably. They don't just want to survive. They want to wage war, and that is what they're doing.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry