Just a quick reminder of who exactly broke the cease fire maintained by the Hamas (the same one that wants the destruction of Israel)
And here is the amiable and agile Mark Regev in action in Channel 4, fending off inconvenient questions about the purity of arms of the Israeli military.
That the Gaza invasion is meant to serve the electoral ambitions of Israeli politicians was made clear by Jonathan Cook earlier in two separatepieces. Now Johann Hari gives some of the historical context behind this utterly futile massacre which are not being adequately presented in the BBC/CNN/Faux news international MSM.
Here is an extract from the article that is worth recording here separately, only because it makes nonsense of the assiduously fostered Israeli self-image of being victims of Hamas terrorism:
Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don't take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, "told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms." Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.
The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, "they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future." Instead, "they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967." They are aware that this means they "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.
The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: "Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas."
Hari's reasons for Israel's behaviour: an Israeli conviction that peace must be imposed on the Palestinians on terms that favour Israel exclusively. This is now a commonly accepted interpretation. In an essay titled The Charter of the Israeli State, Avigail Barbanel, a psychiatrist and former Israeli citizen who has abandoned the Zionism of her childhood and youth, analyzes this strange and persistent intransigence:
The development of the state of Israel and Israel's behaviour in the region have always been consistent with its charter. Israel sees that it would need as much land and natural resources as possible (such as water, which is scarce in the region), in order to accommodate the 13 millions Jews who are expected to flock to it from around the world, ‘when’ a new era of Jewish persecution begins. Israel would have to have enough housing, infrastructure and a functional economy. It would have to be a modern state in which Western Jews accustomed to technology, capitalism and affluence can feel comfortable. There is nothing inconsistent or strange in what Israel is doing to the Palestinians if you understand this charter. It surprises me that this is never discussed openly in any political analysis that I see.
At the heart of this conflict is not economics, oil, ‘war on terror’, religion or various regional loyalties. Rather it is an age-old psychology of persecution and survival to which all other considerations are subservient. Israel's loyalties are utilitarian. There is no great love there for any other peoples or countries. Israelis always think in terms of what is good for the Jews and what isn't, and they watch the world carefully from within this prism. Israeli children learn to see life from this point of view from a very young age. I was the same when I was growing up.
Only when we grasp this we can understand why negotiations with Israel mean so little; why Israel has never stopped building settlements on Palestinian land and has been consistently expanding its territory; why it's making life for Palestinians inside and outside of Israel so unbelievably hellish; why it's brutally restricting them to ever diminishing territories and why Israel is responding to Palestinian resistance with such disproportionate and overwhelming violence. Breaking down Palestinian resistance is critical from Israel's point of view not only because of the pain that Palestinian armed resistance causes in Israel, but also in order to destroy any aspirations Palestinians might have to return to their ancestral lands. Israel simply cannot afford this if it wants to stay an exclusively Jewish state.
Israel is a country based on racist considerations because of its very charter, and the circumstances through which it came into being. From the point of view of Israelis accepting the one-state idea, would change Israel into just another country where Jews live among non-Jews. The whole idea of a Jewish safe haven would have to be abandoned and there will be no guarantee that the new pluralist state would take in Jews if they were ever in need of rescue. Israeli Jews and many Zionists around the world believe that to ask them to live together with the Palestinian people is to ask them to go back to a state of insecurity and potential victimhood. They simply do not believe that this is reasonable, and therefore would never willingly agree to any solution that compromises their safe haven. This is one of the reasons Zionists counteract any criticism of Israel with persistent cries of anti-Semitism. They really believe that to end the exclusively Jewish state would leave all Jews anywhere in the world, vulnerable to another potential Holocaust.
It is clear to me that if justice is to be achieved for the Palestinians this fear-based, racist and immoral ideology has to be overcome because the fear of one people cannot and must not justify the destruction of another. But I do not believe that the Palestinians can afford to wait until Jewish psychology changed by itself, and Jews felt sufficiently safe in the world to let go of the idea of an exclusively Jewish safe haven.
I believe it will take serious international pressure on Israel, or a real change of heart on the part of Israelis for a one state solution to become a reality. I would like to be optimistic and think that this change of heart will happen eventually but am not sure I can. My doubts come from my own experience — after all it used to be my psychology too. Thus, in order to save the Palestinian people the world must take decisive action in this conflict, as it did in South Africa, or continue sacrificing one people for the sake of another.
The question now is: should the rest of the world simply stand by and watch, and leave the Israeli Samson, blinded by fear, to bring down the entire edifice of the middle east on the heads of all the people of the region? Or should Israel's friends shake its politicians and generals out of their disastrous mindset for Israel's own good, and for the good of the middle east? This is the plea the Lebanese The Daily Star makes in its editorial:
...A week into a campaign that has killed more than 400 people - dozens of them children or other innocent civilians, and dozens more just young men who signed up to serve as police officers at a time of widespread unemployment - Israeli leaders are now talking about a political solution. Was it really necessary to shed so much blood to learn that just as Israel's 2006 goal of "eliminating" Hizbullah was futile, the same would be true of Hamas now? Was it really necessary to make orphans, widows and grieving parents of so many people to learn that killing Arabs will not make their grievances go away? Hizbullah and Hamas exist in their current forms because Israel has insisted on making violence its primary method of communication; war will only make them stronger and more committed. A full and fair peace, on the other hand, might convince them concentrate their efforts on other areas.
Israel's recent leaders have failed each and every test put before them. More importantly, they have, in effect, betrayed both their own people and their co-religionists abroad who have supported them for decades. If heavy pressure is not at last applied for the current generation to be replaced, the Israeli government will continue to be a menace to its neighbors, to US interests in the Middle East, and to the long-term welfare of the Israeli people.
And this is the country that India's current crop of "leaders" across the political spectrum regards as an ally that will help us achieve great power status!
One of my favourite blogs about Palestine is Lawrence of Cyberia. LoC is the ultimate antidote to the lies and distortions of the Hasbara crowd - more effective than most other bloggers and internet activists I know who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The long silences on his blog are to me a promise of a burst of articles that take my breath away with the force of their analysis. I'm just a trifle jealous of his ability to hunt out the telling quote, photograph or statistic, and embed it in compelling arguments or analysis that shine a bright light on the utter hypocrisy or hollowness or mendacity of the Zionist position, in a way that is never Jew-baiting, always acknowledging the suffering of ordinary Israelis caught up in this conflict, and that is an expression of his passionate humanity. Show me one blogger for the Zionist side who is able to acknowledge the suffering of Palestinians, and dispense with the strategy of demonizing them or portraying them as sub-humans not worthy of compassion or any other humane consideration.
Read his imaginatively empathetic transference of the Palestinian situation to America for his American readers. If what has been happening to Palestinians had been happening to us, he tells his fellow Americans, we would have reacted in the same way that the Palestinians are doing now. He urges Americans to strip away all the fake justifications that the media and the US government are constantly presenting for their unconditional and fulsome support of Zionism. It's a simple and compelling logic, but it becomes even more forceful in LoC's pen.
Or take his recent analysis (or his earlier one) of the many "generous offers" that the Zionists claim to have made to the Palestinians, only to have them refused.
Another long time favourite (in fact, since its founding by Ali Abunimah and associates) is Electronic Intifada. Its coverage of the daily reality on the ground in Occupied Palestine has been thorough and compassionate to the suffering on both sides, although obviously it will focus more on Palestinian suffering. I have recently sceptical of the idea of one country proposed by Abunimah as a solution for the Palestine-Israeli problem - the idea of a single bi-national state where Palestinians and Israelis co-exist as equals. This is not because I prefer the fraudulent two-state solution, but because the governments of the world - both western and Arab, both in Muslim and putatively Christian or "enlightened" countries - have shown that they can gaze calmly at the economic strangulation, humiliation and massacre of Palestinians by Israel...and either do nothing, or support the perpetrator, or blame the victim!
Ran Ha Cohen, another powerful writer on Palestinian-Israeli matters, (read his other regrettably rare articles on Antiwar) delivers a reminder that could have been written at any time:
all heard of the 4 innocent Israelis killed on Thursday (25.12)
near Tel-Aviv by a suicide bomber, the first such successful operation
since early October. But who noticed the 4 innocent Palestinians
killed alongside with a Jihad activist assassinated in Gaza the
same Thursday? Or the 8 Palestinians killed in Rafah on Tuesday?
Or the 5-year-old Palestinian child – yes, Mohammad Al-Arej was
five years old – and the 16-year-old Palestinian boy, both killed
near Nablus on Sunday? Or the 10 Palestinians killed and 31 homes
destroyed by Israeli forces the
Meanwhile, Mark Steel in the Independent wields his sarcasm to
blistering effect in revealing the extent of western hypocrisy about
Gaza. You wouldn't think it was possible to be funny about such a
tragic situation, but there you are.
Let's not forget that the occupation is the real reason for the rockets and the resistance from Palestine. And that armed resistance against occupation is still legitimate. The Israelis keep bringing up the rockets on Sderot, but seriously, does anyone believe that Gaza would be the land of milk and honey without those rockets? Just ask a Palestinian from the West Bank!
What exactly are the Palestinians in Gaza being punished for?
For the terrible crime of hitting towns in Israel with their utterly laughable Qassam rockets. The kill rate of Qassams is given in footnote 3 of the Wikipedia entry on Qassam rockets, quoting Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs figures: between June 28, 2004 and May 12, 2008, 15 people have been killed. The Israeli MoD considers the rockets "more a psychological than physical threat".
The BBC reports on its website on 21 January 2008: "Qassam and other rockets have killed 13 people inside Israel, including three children." Always truthful and accurate in its reporting, in keeping with its reputation for objectivity, the BBC does not tell you the time period over which these 13 people have been killed.
To get a comparison between the kill rate of Qassams at Isaelis and the kill rate of the Israeli "Defence" Force against Palestinians, see this factsheet. It shows that the Israelis have killed 100 Palestinians for each Israeli killed. The Gaza Palestinians should not complain at their good luck in being occupied by the most moral army in the world.
So why are these rockets being launched? Because of resistance to an armed occupation.
"But the Israelis left Gaza three years ago! So where's the occupation?" is the moronic question that is raised in response to the O-word.
Look at it this way. A band of violent and weapons-wielding psychopaths have entered your house, raped your wife, terrorized your children, destroyed your possessions, and made it all but impossible for you to live in peace and dignity. They claim to be defending the rights of two of their own people who have forcibly taken over the best parts of your house. Neighbours complain loudly, but do nothing to help you, except occasionally send you some arms and money. The psychopaths on the other hand have a much more powerful but equally psychopathic friend who almost every day sends them fresh truckloads of money and arms that are much more powerful than yours. Eventually, because they find that they are spending too many resources on defending too few of their people, they depart from inside your house, but park just outside where they control your entry and egress from your own house, as well as any resources that flow in. The waste that you generate simply accumulates in your house making it impossible for you to lead a minimally healthy life.
This is not my hyperactive imagination. Listen to Sara Roy who as a Harvard academic has meticulously documented, in a way that few western scholars have exceeded, the effects of the occupation on Gaza. The occupation effectively remains because the Israelis have decided to starve the Gazans in their strip, by allowing a minimal supply of electricity, medicine, food, oil, water and other essentials like medical treatment to trickle through. This, together with the closure and blockade of the Gaza strip into a prison, has had catastrophic impacts on the Palestinian economy and society that are also documented by Roy. This is illegal collective punishment for the Qassam rockets which, though themselves illegal, are part of a legally recognized right to resist occupation. But when it comes to the security of the Israelis, the solicitous concern of the "civilized" west knows no bounds. Moreover, there is no demand on the Israelis to also adhere to the law and abandon their occupation and their economic strangulation of Gaza and the West Bank. Consequently, the slow and agonizing destruction of an entire people carries on under the indifferent gaze of western governments whose claim to be "enlightened" and "civilized" and whose lectures to the rest of the world on human rights grow more hypocritical everyday.
In her lecture, Roy goes on to detail the dangerous paradigm shift that has occurred in framing the problem of the Palestinians. The term occupation is now gradually being abandoned in diplomatic discourse, as it becomes more and more a condition that Israelis can live with. The Israeli occupation has become normalized.
If the rest of the world can sleep peacefully with the it, even the abandonment of the two-state solution and insistence on a single democratic state of two people enjoying equal rights will fail to provide a solution. What will form out of this struggle is a country brutalized by its blatant racism and civilized barbarity, in a world that accepts its violence as a civilized norm.
Meanwhile over in Zionistan, "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing," exults Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defence official on Al-Jazeerah.
So, once again: what are the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank being punished for? For continuing to resist the 60 year old Israeli occupation, despite its barbarity, its flagrant violation of law, despite the claims of the rest of world to have reached a higher level of civilization while wringing their hands in helplessness at the slaughter, and even exulting at its continuation. In a way, the Isrealis too need to be pitied. They have not been able to avoid preventing their well-grounded fear of extermination, entirely understandable in 1948, from turning into psychopathic behaviour by 2008. Indeed they have been encouraged to do so. The tragedy is that the Palestinians have now sworn to respond in a way that is simply going to reinforce and accelerate the Israeli descent into collective pscyhopathy.
What is it about Israel that makes US politicians become invertebrate before a lobby representing Israeli (specifically right-wing Zionist Likud) interests in the US? (Perhaps they don't become invertebrate....)
For the last few weeks we have been treated to videos of all three US presidential hopefuls ritually prostrating themselves before AIPAC, swearing allegiance to Israel as if the country were as important as the US constitution. In fact, given how the current administration has defied the US consitution, and given the impunity that Israel enjoys in Washington, it would appear almost as if the well-being of the state of Israel is regarded as being far more important than the US constitution to most US politicians. Bear in mind that AIPAC is the organization whose officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman have been indicted for trying to obtain state secrets from the Department of Defence official Larry Franklin, currently serving a 12 year prison sentence for spying.
Can anyone explain this peculiar and unprecedented subservience of a supposedly "Great Power" to one of its satellites? Uri Avnery, the Israeli former Member of the Knesset and long-time peace activist, attempts an explanation in terms of the psychological identification of most influential Americans with the Zionist myths regarding the creation of Israel, and its similarity with America's own creation myths. I find this unconvincing, because it fails to explain the much greater even-handedness with which several US administrations treated Israel BEFORE 1967.
To see how absurd this ritual obeisance before the AIPAC has become, see Jon Stewart lampoon the presidential candidates. This itself may mark a culturally significant watershed - almost as significant as the publication of Walt and Mearsheimer's tome on Israel-US relations that is highly critical of the way in which the US has increasingly put the interests of Israel ahead of its own. That book caused a firestorm of abusive as well as some sober discussion that has since died down. As Mondoweiss points out, Stewart's lampoon wouldn't have been possible without Walt/Mearsheimer.
Some seed of doubt may have been planted in the public perception of Israel in the US, but it will still be a long time before this shift manifests itself in policy. For one thing, the US people have to cure themselves of their ADD syndrome with respect to events in the Middle East. (I have been looking at the Google news since yesterday page for any mention of the fact that Kucinich has tabled a motion for impeaching Bush. You will find it there, but only after you have keyed in a search request. That's how "man bites dog" gets almost no coverage at all. I mean, what's lying your country into war, causing the death of over a million people, and destroying an entire nation compared to getting blown by an intern, right?) Secondly, they have to control their government and the media, not let the government and media define for them what to think. Thirdly, these doubts have to become sufficiently widespread before they begin to influence policy. What bet these conditions will not happen in my life time? But an imminent US-backed Israeli attack on Iran might open enough eyes in the US...unless (heaven forbid!) it closes them permanently.
According to a STRATFOR intelligence briefing that was passed on to me (presumably available only to subscribers), entitled "Why the PKK is baiting Turkey", the PKK's attacks on Turkish troops are intended to draw Turkey into an incursion into northern Iraq. The eventual aim is to revive the revanchist hopes of unifying the Kurdish people, now spread over Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, into one nation. But the Kurds of northern Iraq are not really interested, according to this report. They have tasted prosperity and comparative peace, and wish to enjoy the prospects of growing rich with the oil that they have in their own territory, preferably in a federal Iraq that allows the Kurds to sell their own oil to the international market. Hence the desperate attempts to provoke a Turkish attack into northern Iraq, "in hopes that the confrontation between Turkey and the PKK will become a confrontation between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds". The PKK expects that once this happens, the US will support the Kurds against the Turks.
The problem with this analysis is that it leaves out of account the fact that both the US and Israel have, for reasons of their own, been supporting the Kurds, initially against Saddam Hussein, and now against Iran, for some time. Not only do the US and Israel hope the oil resources of Mosul and Kirkuk will fall into the laps of their oil companies, but it will hopefully split up Iraq permanently, and give them a friendly power right at the border with Iran and the Sunni provinces of Iraq. Sen. Joe Biden has already proposed a bill to divide Iraq into three areas, according to the relative local majorities - partition and rule, in the grand colonial manner familiar to South Asians from their recent history. US and possibly Israeli special forces have been operating inside Iran alongside Kurds trained by them, planting spying devices to detect signs of nuclear activity, and also encouraging the Mujahedin-i-Khalq, an armed group of Iranian "terrorists" (in the US State Department definition) dedicated to the overthrow of the present Islamic regime in Iran.
Moreover, the PKK that’s attacking Turkish military units inside Turkey has little popular support among Turkish Kurds. The latter have benefited from the investment in the local economy and the greater cultural freedoms that the AKP government has been providing in the region over the last few years. They also have rather dire memories of the last disastrous confrontation with the Turkish army in the 1990’s. Former PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan too has reportedly lost interest in confronting the Turkish state. (No surprises there!)
For some reason that I don’t entirely understand, the possible role of Israel in promoting the recent surge of violence from the PKK is being ignored even by al Jazeera. It’s probably not a direct role, and may well be a spillover that the Israelis did not intend, but are not in a position to control. The Kurds in northern Iraq have received arms from the US and training and other kinds of support from Israeli special forces and academics and politicians because Israel is interested in cultivating the Kurds to gain a foothold within Iran. In fact, Israeli support for Kurdish revanchist aspirations was already the subject of a long investigative piece by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker on June 28, 2004. Some of this support has spilled over into groups operating under the name of PKK in Turkey and PJAK in Iran.
Turkish-Israeli “friendship” is now as fragile as Turkish-US friendship, primarily because the redrawing of the borders in the region to the advantage of Israel has long been an ambition of both the US and the Israelis. [See “The Clean Break” document and its analysis.] Ankara has opposed a break up of Iraq (along for instance the Biden proposal) right from the beginning, because they perceive it as a potential source of support for attempts to create Kurdistan at their expense. Israel on its part has not taken too kindly to Ankara wooing Basharul Asad, inviting Khaled Meshal of the Palestinian Hamas to visit Ankara from his sanctuary in Damascus to publicize the plight of the Palestinians, and the new alignment with Iran under the AKP against Kurdish attempts to revive attacks on both these countries.
The US is easily in a position to control the Kurds if they wanted to, either directly or through their puppet al Maliki in Baghdad. So why don’t they? It can't be out of sympathy with Kurdish national aspirations. After all, as the Kurds were reminded by Henry Kissinger, no less, when he refused to send arms to the Iraqi anti-Saddam resistance, "the US government is not an eleemosynary institution." Probably because they have their hands full just dealing with the failing or failed “surge”, and the renewed bisectarian unity that is forming among the Iraqis against US occupation. Besides, if the US foreign policy advisers had a clue, they would have figured out long ago the real cost of the support for the Armenian genocide resolution in the Senate, in terms of increased popular hostility against the idea of supporting the US through the base at Incirlik.
Today's Zaman, a Turkish news daily sympathetic to the ruling AKP, has reported that Erdogan will press Olmert to give up Israeli support for the Kurdish militants in Turkey. Let's see how far Olmert will comply. He will probably plead ignorance, or that the Israeli government have no control since those training and arming the Kurdish fighters are private military contractors. After all, instant and plausible deniability is why governments hire PMC's in the first place.
It's been a while since I wrote about Palestine. This is not for lack of concern at the slow near-death experience that Palestine is undergoing as a nation, under the watchful yet uncaring eyes of the rest of the world. It is partly out of a sense that there is no light to be found amidst the encircling gloom. The sadness of dying hope, represented by the spectacle of Palestinians killing each other, juxtaposed with the crowing delight of those inflicting the humiliation and torture (Dov Weisglas's hoping that the Palestinians would turn into Finns, his putting them on a diet, and other witticisms) is altogether too painful to watch.
But hang on! I know the comparison is fraught with risk of being misleading because of the very different motivations and circumstances, but what happened during the much less violent Indian independence movement? Didn't the British try and suppress it with the help of Indian policemen? Were not the Indian elite at the time - the Lords and Ladies and Sirs, never mind the Rai Bahadurs and District Magistrates and other titles and appointments of distinction - equally complicit in strengthening the sinews of empire?
So the Israelis too need their own friendly Palestinians to administer their occupation. That was the whole point of Oslo, not to give Palestinians their own state under the UN resolutions of 1967. And now in Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad , they think they have their men. If they can somehow dowse the flames of Palestinian nationalism, then they can take care of that other "existential threat" - Iran. Didn't its President already declare his determination to wipe Israel off the map? (Actually, no, but who cares, when the Goebbelsian formula of tireless repetition seems to be working so well?) That's the message of the witty Weisglas again.
But the fact that some Palestinians are disposed to run a Vichy-like government under Israeli management tells us as little about the death of Palestinian aspirations as the two hundred year collaboration of Indians with the British told us about the prospect of Indian independence. (Of course, some would say - I would - that it's precisely because of the two hundred year partnership in our own oppression have we failed to entirely disinherit ourselves of the oppressive apparatus of empire. The government of India rules the Indian people with the same institutions and laws, with the almost same sense of arrogant superiority as the British ruled us, NOT with a sense of being the servants of a democratic republic accountable to the people. But I digress.)
So once the Palestinians have been lobotomized, pacified, hunted down, and the last embers of their resistance to Israeli occupation extinguished to the satisfaction of the triumphalist Weisglases of Israel, what will Israel do? Virginia Tilley's answer to this question, written almost a year ago, is still worth reading in its entirety for its passionate denunciation of Israel's slow genocide of the Palestinians. The question with which she ends her philippic is still being ignored by the "civilized" world.
I'm not a great football fan myself, nor do I normally see a funny side to the ongoing tragedy in Palestine. But here is an example of the grim humour that some people bring to the I-P situation that I couldn't resist recording in its entirety.
I have few heroes. But one thing that I find heroic is the ability to transmute one's personal suffering into a mission to ease the sufferings of others, or fight injustices done to them. There are more than a few instances of this heroism on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
I wrote earlier about Rami Elhanan. Here and reproduced below is a speech by his wife, Dr. Nurit Peled Elhanan, who is a Lecturer in Language Education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem specializing in discourse in Israeli education with emphasis on visual and verbal presentation of Palestinian and non-western Jews. In September 1997, Nurit’s daughter Samarder was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. She and her family are members of the Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace. Her two elder sons are active in the peace movements of the Refusenik and Combatants for Peace, a new movement of Israeli and Palestinian ex fighters. Dr. Peled Elhanan is the recipient of the European Parliament 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Thought. She is now touring the US together with a Palestinian women (Hanan Abu Ghosh) who lost her 17 year old brother to Israeli gunfire. (Paragraph substantially quoted from the Qumsiyeh link above.)
Education or Mind Infection?
Speech given at Connecticut College, New London, September 27, 2006
I would like to dedicate these words to all the Palestinian boys and girls, and to all the Lebanese boys and girls, and to all the Iraqi boys and girls who have been massacred by mind-infected Israeli and American soldier boys, and who have recently joined my own little girl in the underground kingdom of dead children, which is growing under our feet as I speak. I would like to tell them not to worry. You will be well received there, children, and no one will hurt you just because you wandered off on your way to school or because you wore a scarf on your head or because you lived in a certain place. Rest in peace, everyone is equally worthy in your new world. This is the world where Israeli children dwell side by side with Palestinian children. There they lay, victims and murderers, whose bloods have long been absorbed by the holy land which has always been indifferent to blood. There they rest, all of them, victims of deceit.
All of you dead children were deceived, because your death has achieved nothing at all and the world goes on living as if your blood had never been shed. Because the leaders of the world keep playing their murderous games, using you as their dice and our grief as fuel for their killing machines. Because Children are abstract entities for generals and grief is a political tool. Living at both sides, that of the victims and that of the killers, I keep asking myself, what are the means by which good Israeli children are turned into murdering monsters, what are the means by which they are so mind-infected as to kill and torture and humiliate other children, their parents and grandparents, and sacrifice their own life for nothing but the folly and megalomania of their chiefs. In the so-called Western enlightened world everyone feels very well-founded when they blame Islam for suicide bombing and terror. But who would ever blame Judaism for murder? And yet, Ulta Orthodox Jewish children who have never left Brooklyn know that to kill Arabs is a ‘mitzva’ (holy commandment) for they are ‘vilde hayeths’ (wild beasts). And Israeli children actually commit the crimes of slaughter and torture. Neither Judaism nor Islam nor any religion for that matter are the cause for murder and terror. Racist education is. American imperialism is, and Israeli ruthless regime of occupation is. The women and children who suffer most from western violence today are Muslim women but racism has its way and the blame for their suffering is attributed to their being Muslim.
The western world today is infected with fear of Islam and of the Muslim womb. Great France of liberte egalite and fraternite is scared of little head-scarved girls, Jewish Israel calls in public speeches and schoolbooks the Arab citizens of Israel a demographic nightmare and the enemy from within. As for the Palestinians refugees living under occupation, they are defined in Israeli History schoolbooks as a ‘problem to be solved”. Not long ago the Jews were a problem to be solved.
This in spite the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. The people who are using the most sophisticated disastrous weapons to kill thousand of innocent civilians are not Muslim. They are Christian, and Jewish. Nevertheless people who belong to the Judeo-Christian cultures, who support American-British and Israeli crimes against humanity, and particularly against Muslims all over the world, people who send their children to fight these ruthless useless wars in the name of democracy and freedom which are cover names for greed and megalomania, dare call themselves enlightened and blame it all on some imaginary clash of civilizations.. What does this fear-stricken world offer as a solution to Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghan people who are harassed, abused, tortured and famished by western crimes and exploitation? The general offer this enlightened world gives them is: Be like us. Constitute a Democracy like ours, embrace our values which despise you, which consider you an inferior primitive lot to be cultivated or cleansed away.
This, ladies and gentlemen is the attitude that permit American soldiers to rape, torture and kill Muslim men women and children by the thousands, that permits Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women to strip in front of their children for security reasons, jailers to keep them in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without clean water or clean mattresses and separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to destroy their water wells, to uproot their trees and to prevent them from working their fields. This is what permits Israeli pilots to drop a hundred bombs of one ton a day on the most crowded area in the world - Gaza. This is what permits Israel to issue racist laws that separate mothers from fathers and children. Palestinian Iraqi and Afghan women are mothers like me. And when they lose a child, even if it is one of 12, their pain is equal to mine. But in addition to losing their children they also lose their homes and their livelihood and their future because the world does not listen to their sufferings and does not punish their murderers. Their honour as women and mothers is crushed. Their identity is destroyed and their cry is not heard. their faith and customs, their centuries-old ways of life are disregarded and despised.
Not only American soldiers but also Israeli soldiers who actually perform massacres of ‘Arabs’ - Palestinian or Lebanese - may never see an Arab human face until they are drafted to the army, but they learn, for 12 long years, that these people are primitive, bear children in order to send them to the streets and throw stones at our peace-keeping soldiers, uneducated because they don’t receive our education, conniving and dirty because they have different notions about politeness, they dress differently and cover their heads with different pieces of cloth. Well, from my experience there are many more Kafiehs in the camp of peace lovers than there are kippas. Israeli children are deprived from knowing their immediate neighbours, their history and their culture and their merits. Israeli children are educated to see their neighbours as an unwanted element. This is not education, this is mind infection.
The scientist Richard Dawkins was the first to speak about viruses of the mind. Children, because their minds are gullible and open to almost any suggestion, are not immune to mental infections of all sorts of propaganda and fashion. They are easily persuaded to pierce their faces and tattoo their bottoms, to turn their hats around and bare their bellies, to believe in angels and fairies. They are equally easy to acquire political beliefs and to appropriate mental maps which will later influence their decisions on the question of the future borders of the state and on the necessity of war. All of Our children are mind-infected from an early age. So that by the time they are old enough to become real soldiers, they have already learned to be good soldiers, which means their minds are totally infected and they are incapable of questioning the ‘truth’ that has been inculcated to them. This is part of the explanation one can give to the terrible deeds that are committed today by good Israeli boys, who are characterized once and again as “people of values”. Therefore it is high time to ask, what values are these? The following lines are part of a personal preface by Tal Sela, one of my university students to his term-paper, which included the analysis of a History textbook:
On the 5th of September 1997 I found myself in Lebanon , on a rescuing mission . All my friends were in the battle, 12 soldiers were killed. The following days I was happy: ” I am alive, I survived” I said to myself. However, a year later I was in deep depression. Sad and morose. I decided to consult a psychologist. After a few sessions I was able to gather up my forces again, both physical and moral. I could reorganize my thoughts. Then I understood that the mental crisis I had was in fact a moral crisis, a crisis of consciousness. What I actually felt was frustration, shame and anger. … How could I be so gullible and let myself be duped? How can I explain that a man of peace, exposes himself to such a morbid experience of his own free will? Today, like every two weeks, I drove peace activists to the military check-points of the Israeli army in the occupied Palestinian territories. I saw an officer put tight handcuffs on a taxi driver because he failed to obey the soldiers’ order to park here and not there. “We told him a thousand times” the soldiers said. The man was lying on the ground in the worst heat of the summer, thirsty, for hours on end. His friend was luckier: He had to stand on his feet, in a cell, without handcuffs. What pushes these young Israeli boys to play the role of supreme judges until they lose all judgment? In my opinion it is the Grand Zionist Narrative which serves as a collective conscience to the whole Israeli society, explicitly as well as implicitly. This grand narrative is the system of values that makes us belong to this particular collective.
This is the system that dictates the relationships between us and the Palestinians. How else can one explain young people who were educated to love their neighbour as they love themselves killing their neighbours, destroying their educational institutions, their libraries and their hospitals, for no apparent reason other than their being neighbours? The only explanation is that their minds are infected by parents, teachers and leaders, who convince them that the others are not as human as we are, and therefore killing them is not real killing; it has other legitimating names such as “cleansing” “purifying”, “punishment”, “operation”, “mission”, “campaign” and “war”. Although I speak about Israeli boys this is not an Israeli affair because, as you know, the epidemic is worldwide. My nephew, Doroni, 7 years old, who lives in the US, came home on Halloween day and said he wanted to be a soldier, and then to go to Iraq and save America. How many American young men, ignorant as he is of the absurdity of this statement, actually went to Iraq and died there without knowing why, but with the words “save America” on their lips? The question is, how were these false values imprinted on their minds and how can they be erased?
The human psyche, says Dawkins, has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. We all suffer because of labels, but only those of us who died because of labels have realized that the way to fight labels is to refuse labels. The way to defeat false value systems is to expose them. The viruses of the mind are only partially weakened by young people like Tal and other Israeli refusniks such as ‘Combatants for Peace’. But most of our mind infected children would not be free of the grip of those viruses until they find their final rest in the evergrowing, underground kingdom of dead children . Only there will they realize that is doesn’t matter whether their head was bare or not in a synagogue or a church or a mosque, whether they were circumcised or not, whether they pronounced forbidden words, ate pig or cow or whether they had a hot chocolate after their salami pizza just before they were blown up by someone who didn’t. Israeli, American, English, Italian mothers raise their children with all the love and care in order to sacrifice them to the god of death, as if their uterus is a national or rather an international asset. and fathers urge their children to commit themselves to armies whose interests have nothing to do with defense. And when these children die for the profits of somebody else their parents bear it with dignity and pride, as they were taught, put their dead children’s photographs on the mantelpiece and sigh: He was so handsome in uniform. It is time to tell these parents that no-one is handsome in the uniform of brutality. It is time to tell them uniforms and ranks and medals have become ugly. Tell them their dignity and pride are misplaced. It is time to tell Jewish people that the only way to discourage anti-Semitism is by condemning the only government in the world who deliberately sends young Jewish boys and girls to their certain death and who persecutes to the point of genocide a whole Semitic nation, explain to them that it is the Jewish government and the actions of its army, not some primordial hatred for the Jewish race, which are the reasons for the invention of the new sign we often see in pro-Palestinian demonstration, where the Star of David is equated with the swastika.
It is a terribly hard task for people who were educated in Israel or in the USA or in any other ‘western’ ‘democratic’ country, to admit we were raised on false racist values. On heterophobia. The only thing that can enhance such a change of spirit is the constant image of the mutilated small bodies of the victims of these values . Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jews. On this day people are required to ask forgiveness. Not to forgive but to try and be forgiven. I would like to quote one stanza from a poem written by the late Hanoh Levin, one of Israel’s greatest playwrights, in the 1970s:
Dear Father, when you stand on my grave
Old and tired and very lonely,
And you see how they burry me in the ground
Ask me to forgive you my father.
We must all ask our children’s forgiveness for not being more alert, for not fighting hard enough to keep our promises for a better world, for not refusing the evil viruses before and for letting them be the victims of the horrible, mental infection we are all suffering from, to look at their innocent, astonished, disillusioned small faces and ask ourselves: why does that streak of blood rip the petal of their cheek??
Read this report from Al-Jazeera about EU and US representatives visiting Fatah training camps in Jordan.
Governments outside the EU and the US - whether democracies, such as in Palestine, or dictatorships such as Saddam's Iraq - are judged only by what they do in conformity with the wishes of the so-called "international community" (i.e., US, with EU/UK as junior partner). So if the democracy of Palestine decides to resist the EU/US-sponsored occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories, then the people have to be punished by financial strangulation, in addition to the violence being inflicted by Israel, and now by the US/EU trained Fatah, on the Palestinian people. No matter how many Palestinian lives lost or destroyed, no matter what the indignities and suffering and humiliation inflicted on them while conducting their daily lives, the Israeli occupiers must be allowed to live in peace!