Clearing the Air — Israel and Palestine

Gaza "Hell on Earth" Source - Imgur

Gaza “Hell on Earth” Source – Reddit /u/jjlew080

I’m about to do something that anyone who aspires to a political career in the United States ought not do — I am going to criticize the Israeli government. I have been tempered in my response, and my outrage on social media thus far. I haven’t remained totally quiet to the suffering of the Palestinians, I couldn’t, but I haven’t spoken my mind either. I have refrained from posting much on my twitter or this blog because I know there will be ramifications. If not today, then someday. For every action there is a reaction; free speech is not without consequences. But I can no longer be muted by my ambitions. I am and have always been a humanist at my core and if speaking my conscience on the issue of Israeli aggression disqualifies me from public service to the people of the United States then so be it. I’d rather speak freely with a clear conscience than censor myself for the prospect of political gain.

Preface #1: I believe Israel has the right to exist, and defend itself from actionable dangers. As do the Palestinians. I am not, nor have I ever been an anti-semite (though I know accusations will come flying my way simply for thinking of criticizing the Israeli state). I think there ought to be a clear distinction between Zionism as a political philosophy and Judaism as a religious practice. Finally, I have a great many friends who are either dual Israeli-US citizens or simply Israeli citizens. I love them very much, and despite this idealogical difference, I hope to remain close friends.

Preface #2: I am in no way excusing the actions of some Palestinians, I am simply assessing proportionate levels of violence and reacting to what I see on a human level. You may notice I don’t mention Palestinian violence in this post except here. It’s not because I condone it or don’t believe it exists, rather I think it’s a predictable human response to an otherwise hopeless situation. I condemn Hamas violence just as I condemn Israeli violence. There’s just way more violence to condemn on the Israelis side.

As you’re likely aware unless you’re totally out of touch with civilization – there is violence again in the land of milk and honey. More accurately, the people of Gaza are under siege. I would like to take a few moments and clear up some misconceptions I’ve encountered quite frequently, on the internet, in passing conversations, and in talks with my own family.

Israel is our closest ally:

I think this misconception stems predominantly from the fact that so many of our representatives foolishly believe or purport to believe this statement. For instance, imbeciles like Lindsay Graham continue to spout nonsense along the lines of, “they’re [Israel] asking for our help, they’re our best friend in the region, one of our best friends in the world.

Not only is that a childish way to conduct statesmanship, it’s also stupid and inaccurate. Nations are not people, they do not form friendships. Nations have interests, and those interests are suited by strategic partnerships with allied nations. For instance – Bahrain is a US ally in the middle east. It’s function in the strategic partnership is to house the entire 5th fleet as well as most US naval assets in CENTCOM. In return President Obama calls for democratic elections in Egypt and Tunisia but looks the other way on human rights violations when the government of Bahrain violently suppresses its peaceful protestors. See Amber Lyon’s documentary that was censored by CNN for more information on this subject.

All one need do to drive home the point that Israel is not our closest ally is listen to the CIA. They consider Israel to be the greatest intelligence threat in the middle east. Hear Dr. Michael Scheuer, formally of the CIA where he led the unit tracking Bin Laden, on the issue.

They are not alone. According to a Stratfor document that was published by Wikileaks:

“Israeli intelligence remains a hostile intelligence agency and is number
1 on the FBI list of intelligence agencies of greatest concern to US
intelligence. However, we can’t say (or out) they are # 1 on the list.”

Is that the kind of behavior one can expect from our closest ally?

While it’s true that the United States does provide Israel with roughly three billion dollars annually in aid (most of which is used to purchase US weaponry), Israel and the United States are not allies as the word is traditionally understood because they do not have a mutual defense treaty — one of the cornerstones of an alliance.

They also took weapons technology that the United States sold them and passed that information onto China! That was our little secret, Israel…

Israel is the most stable country in the region:

This is also patently false. While the bar for stability is set pretty low in the middle east, the Israeli government has managed to earn the title of “biggest threat” to peace among its neighbors. When polled 95% of respondents from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said they viewed Israel as the greatest threat to the region with the United States following closely behind at 88%. Israel is guilty of violating more UN resolutions than any country. They are illegally armed with nuclear weapons and have threatened to use them, if they deem it necessary. 

If that constitutes stability I’d hate to see them unstable.

Israel is the only democracy in the region:

Wrong again. Israel is not a democracy, at least not a substantive one. Those aren’t just my words either.

As journalists Arjan El Fassed and Nigel Parry astutely note in their 2003 article:

“For over a decade, the Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI), a non-partisan Israeli research institute founded in 1991 and based in Jerusalem, has been studying the quality of Israeli democracy and how well it functions. The result is “The Democracy Index”, a long-term, comparative study of some thirty-one indicators measuring Israeli democracy against that of thirty-five other democracies. The index includes a public opinion survey component reflecting how Israelis view their democracy.

Today, on 22 May 2003, the IDI will present its 2003 Democracy Index findings at a special conference under the joint auspices of Israel’s President, Moshe Katzav, and the Institute itself.

Describing the 2003 Index’s findings as “alarming,” the IDI asserts that Israel’s political system has not yet acquired the characteristics of a substantive democracy.”’

Disturbing Trends in Israeli Culture:

On August 1st, 2014 an individual by the name of Yochanan Gordon, son of the founder of the Five Towns Jewish Times, penned an article entitled “When is Genocide Permissible.” Now if you’re like me — the answer to that question/statement is a pretty obvious never followed by a healthy sized dose of what the fuck is wrong with you?

The article was quickly taken down. But the fact that it was published initially is disturbing enough. It means that it represents at the very least a fraction of what the public perceives to be acceptable. Taken in context with other stories like the Israeli PM who claimed Hamas is committing “self-genocide” (whatever the fuck that means) and this professor calling for the rape of women whose husbands and brothers are associated with Hamas — it begins to reveal a sickness that is present in some portion of the Israeli psyche. One where Palestinians are viewed as others, less than, dehumanized to the point where any Israeli action is justifiable, including beating children and mass murder, which unquestionably is taking place.

Whether you want to label it genocide is semantics. I have not employed the phrase to describe this situation, I simply quoted an Israeli MP who did and provided an article where someone mused about the justifications for genocide before cooler heads prevailed and the article was pulled (though not before the internet grabbed screenshots and caches). Whatever you want to call it the facts on the ground point to mass murder by cutting edge weaponized technology (provided by the USA) on a virtually defenseless people.

What do you call bombs dropped wantonly on an open air prison that is 11 miles wide and home to 1.8 million people who are blockaded on all sides? What is it called when you target schools and hospitals? It’s as close to shooting fish in a barrel as one could get on the geopolitical stage. Furthermore, Israel has destroyed the Palestinians’ only power plant, leaving many without water or sanitation. Also, when did shelling journalists or first responders become permissible behavior? I’m no international law expert, but these appear to be war crimes.

 

On top of that the Israeli government and military continue to demolish Palestinian homesburn farms, and build 1,500 more settlement homes on occupied territory.

This does not bode well for peace. I can’t imagine a pathway to peace without an immediate end to the blockade, serious and genuine negations about borders, and a long term solution to refugee resettlement.

For disturbing but important pictures about the struggles in Gaza see this link here. But I must warn you — the images are graphic and will upset you.

To see what it’s like to spend an hour in Gaza — see this video.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

 

Articles, Politics