Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Slaughter in Gaza--Again

It seems as if I’ve written about this before, and I have—twice: once in the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza (over 1400 Gazans killed), and again in 2012 when Israeli forces again invaded the “largest open-air prison in the world,” the Gaza Strip. It's the most densely populated urban region in the world: 1.5 million inhabitants with no air defenses or air-raid shelters or heavy weapons of any kind. I used the same language then, too, as I described in 2012 the latest massacre in the Gaza Strip by the full panoply of modern weapons that Israel, with immense help from the United States, has managed to amass over the years. The blog was called “You Cant Kill Them All,” (Nov. 12, 2012) but it made the point that it wasn’t for lack of the Israeli desire to do just that, as this comment from Gilad Sharon, Ariel Sharon’s son, made quite clear:

We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire. (emphasis added)
Now we have the Israelis doing just this, flattening not only entire neighborhoods, but hospitals and UN schools and every other conceivable place of refuge for Gaza’s residents, refugees all from previous Israeli war crimes, who are expected—because of Israel’s ‘humanitarian’ warnings to get out of their homes in advance of shelling—to take refuge in just these places. And so we have the usual justifications for Israel in the mass media outlets who parrot everything said by the Israeli prime minister, and United States officials up to and including Barack Obama who parrot the underlying justification: Gaza started it with rocket fire and the digging of tunnels, and Israel has a right to defend itself (and, which the President does not express of course, experiment with new weapons and forms of ammunition which will benefit our own eager military).
            But of course Gaza didn’t start it, nor did Hamas. The three settler teens who decided to hitchhike in Palestinian territory (current settlements, including Kiryat Arba, are built smack in the middle of the Palestinian city of Hebron so that many homes and businesses in Hebron’s Old City have been shuttered to accommodate the illegal settlers; perhaps one reason the teens felt they had the “right” to hitchhike in hostile territory), were kidnapped to be held for ransom, and then killed by the panicked pair operating on their own, who apparently realized that the cell phone call by one of the kids would soon bring IDF forces down upon them. This led to Israel’s blaming of Hamas and bombing of Gaza for revenge (not to mention a Palestinian teen burned to death in Israel) and Hamas rockets being fired in response, and the eventual Israeli ground invasion.
            In a very real sense, though, it doesn’t matter who started it, or what the proximate justifications trumpeted throughout the world by Israel’s propaganda machine consist of. The truth is that the Israelis do not want a separate Palestinian state, they do not want a single Israel with Palestinians included, they want a Jewish state, and the Palestinians—the original, indigenous inhabitants of all this territory—are in the way. They have always been in the way, they continue to be in the way, and they will always be seen as subhuman obstacles—in the way. Given this indelible “demographic” fact, the real solution the Israelis seek is to make the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and even the neighborhoods and cities in Israel where Palestinian ‘citizens’ of Israel live—to make them all unbearable. Unlivable. That’s what the slow starvation and blockade and periodic invasions and destruction of Gaza are about. That’s what the Jewish settlements right in the middle of Palestinian cities in the West Bank are about. That’s what Israel’s insistence on getting Palestinian leaders to agree to Israel’s right to exist—not just to exist as a state, but as a Jewish state—is about. Because once you grant that Israel has a right to provide preferential status to any Jew throughout the world (which it has done from the beginning), over any Palestinian no matter how ancient his or her pedigree or claims in the land of Palestine—once you grant that right, and the corollary right to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel, then Palestinians are no more. And that is exactly what Israel wants.
            Here is how Ali Abunimah, of Electronic Intifada, put it in a recent piece (

Simply put, Palestinian parents are trampling all over Israel’s right to maintain a Jewish majority by having children, and their babies, by virtue of not being born to Jewish parents, are violating Israel’s right merely by living and breathing. Israelis themselves see the births of non-Jewish babies—whether to Palestinian citizens of the state or in the occupied territories –—as an assault on their rights and on the very existence of Israel. The routine use by politicians and media of the term “demographic threat” to describe these babies attests to this phenomenon.  “The most pungent expression of this fear,” David Hirst reminds us, came from Golda Meir, who was Israeli prime minister in the 1970s. “The Palestinians’ birth-rate was so much higher than the Jews’ that her sleep was often disturbed, she would say, at the thought of how many Arab babies had been born in the night.”

This makes it vividly clear why one of Israel’s legislators recently expressed the hope that the invasion now going on would finish off the Gaza Strip for good. Or why another gave vent to his desire that the “snakes” to which Gazan mothers were giving birth would be exterminated. Or why killing Palestinian children by bombing them or imprisoning them or beating them is looked upon by Israelis with such indifference. It also explains why the so-called ‘peace process’ recently abandoned by Secretary of State John Kerry was in fact a failure and why it never had a chance of succeeding from the outset. Israel does not want a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. Israel does not want a two-state solution or a one-state solution or any state solution. What Israel wants—and it is a horror to say it—is a final solution. That solution, however it is achieved (making life in the occupied territories such a living hell—without water, without electricity, without jobs, without a safe roof anywhere—that Palestinians will flee), is the reduction in the Palestinian population, the cessation of Palestinian births, the expulsion of whatever Palestinian people remain from the land they call Eretz Israel—the land they insist their God gave them for their Jewish state.
            This is the process that is going on right now. And as long as the world allows this organized slaughter of a defenseless population to go on, there will be no justice, no peace, no coexistence. There will be only what we have had since at least 1967: a slow holocaust, a daily genocide carried out in the bright light of day as the politicians and pundits and moneyed interests prate about fairness and justice and rights to defense and the search for a ‘reasonable partner for peace.’ And the world’s population nods in agreement or turns to another channel with less disturbing images for the children.

Lawrence DiStasi

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