Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nowhere to run for those trapped in Gaza



Israel insists that its actions are targeted against Hamas militants. Yet how can they claim to be launching surgical strikes against militants when they have dropped more than 100 tons of bombs? How is it even possible to think that a large number of civilians will not be killed, maimed? How do you continue the attacks when there is overwhelming evidence of so many civilians dying, so many severely injured?

How can you say you are engaging in a military operation against Hamas militants when you have already punished the entire civilian population through months of crippling economic blockade?

The Gazans do not have a single jet fighter. They do not have a single tank. They do not have kiloton bombs. And now they have literally nowhere to run.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revenge is not Self Defense


The Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead, in Gaza has caused the death of nearly 300 people and over 600 are injured, the bloodiest attack in modern Gaza's history. More than 100 tons of bombs were unloaded on Gaza. Civilians comprise a significant majority of the fatalities and injuries. The Red Cross reports that the hospitals in Gaza are overrun with the injured and dead. I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and condemn the air strikes which Israel claims were launched in self defense against the rocket attacks of Hamas militants.

The term self defense hardly applies to the military operation taking place in Gaza. When you engage in self defense, you attack only the persons attacking you. When you attack entire neighborhoods, when you kill innocent women and children, you are no longer engaging in self defense, you are taking revenge.

The problem with revenge is that it is all consuming, blinding and follows a logic incomprehensible to all except those smitten with the desire for it. Revenge is an evil which has plagued the Middle East on both the Palestinian and Israeli side of the borders.

In such circumstances, one would hope that the international community could provide the perspective needed to broker peace, to show both sides that it is possible to douse the emotional firehouses of incendiary speech and actions. The United Nations, the European Union and even Russia have taken some responsibility in this respect by condemning the Israeli attacks. French President Sarkozy, in particular, spoke out against the "disproportionate use of force" by Israel.

While that is encouraging, it is disappointing to see that the Bush administration and Britain remain quietly, albeit staunchly, supportive of Israel's military strikes. An interesting perspective on the Bush administration's approach to Israeli policy is offered by M.J. Rosenberg in his TPMCafe blog post, "Obama needs to speak out on Gaza":

Naturally the Bush administration has no problem with this. We "shock and awed" Iraq. Now Israel is doing it to the most densely populated spot on earth.

It is not like Israel wasn't provoked. It was. Hamas's suicidal addiction to bombing innocents borders on the insane. But Israel is far from innocent. It wanted no violence from Gaza but it also maintained a blockade on Gaza that turned it into hell on earth.

Who do I blame other than Hamas and the Israelis? The Bush administration. It forced the election that brought Hamas to power against the strong urgings of the Palestinians and the Israelis. It insisted on democratic elections and then, when it didn't like the result, authorized Israel to do whatever it could to destroy the victors.

This war belongs to Bush, perhaps his Presidency's last violent legacy.

Barack Obama starts fresh. He needs to make clear where he stands. Is American policy just going to be the same as under Bush, i.e whatever Israel does is fine. Or is he going to tell both sides what he expects them to do, starting with an end to violence, terror, and blockade. Enough is enough. It's time for the honest broker to step in. That is Obama. His credibility is at stake, along with all those innocent kids under bombardment.

While I am not as confident as Rosenberg that Obama is the honest broker the Middle East has been waiting for, I do hope and pray for peace in the Middle East.

Other Articles Worth Reading:
Gaza: Silence is Not an Option by Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur
Israel is Addicted to Violence by Sean Rayment
Leaders lie, civilians die, and lessons of history are ignored by Robert Fisk
Has Israel Revived Hamas? by Daoud Kuttab

Monday, December 15, 2008