Monday, January 12, 2009

Gaza slaughter

News reports indicate that hundreds of Gazans have been killed or wounded in the Israeli invasion. Almost all of them are civilians.

A few days ago, Andrew Sullivan offered the following enigmatic comment:

"This is instructive:

"'In 2002, at the height of the second intifada, more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed, compared with about 400 Israelis. In the past eight days of war, more than 460 Palestinians were killed, and four Israelis died by rocket fire.'

"From 2-1 to 100-1 in six years is a big gain in killing efficiency. Just so long as the Israelis never expect any actual relationship with any actual Gazans, it works after a fashion. But does it deny Hamas a psychological victory?"

Is the only issue here one of "psychological victory"?

During World War II the Nazis infamously massacred ten civilians for every one of their soldiers killed. Now the Israelis have boosted the ratio to 100-1.

At the same time, by a curious coincidence, movie theaters are showcasing a series of new films on the Holocaust, with the ferocious "Defiance" at the head. Once again, it seems that the Holocaust is being deployed as a heat shield to mask outrageous Israeli behavior.

Mass slaughter continues to go on in Darfur. In the Congo, some four million people have been killed. When will there be high-budget films on these holocausts? The reason they are absent, of course, is that there are very few Darfurians or Congolese in influential positions in the US media and government.

I have no brief for the Palestinians. They are killing gay men. But the misdeeds of the Palestinians cannot excuse what is going on in Gaza now--not to mention the shameful complicity of George W. Bush.

The US media are slavishly copying the talking points of AIPAC. The central theme of these pieces is the childish bleat: "they did it first." That is not even true. It is the Israeli blockade, an act of war, that constituted the first aggression that launched this sequence of hostilities.

UPDATE (Jan. 10). One meme that is going the rounds among the vociferous defenders of Israel's "incursion" into Gaza is as follows. "Supposing that Mexicans had been firing rockets into San Diego. How long to you think it would be before the US would take action?"

The comparison is preposterous. If we had subjected Mexico to a blockade so that no sea or air traffic could go in or or out, and no Mexicans could ever leave, so that they were reduced to the direst misery, how long do you think it would take for Mexicans to act? They would fire rockets if they could. And, as someone has suggested, let's turn the tables. Imagine that the Mexicans had successfuly invaded San Diego, and forced its inhabitants into a giant prison in Death Valley. Then what?

All these scenarios are hypothetical. Instead of entertaining such parallels, which can go on endlessly, we need to concentrate on what is actually happening in Gaza. That is difficult because the Israel Defense Force, in defiance of a decision by their Supreme Court, has imposed a news blackout. To be sure, some photographs of the atrocities are getting through. But Israel-firsters don't want our media to print them.

Shamefully, the US Senate has u n a n i m o u s l y passed a resolution in support of Israel. The House of Representatives is preparing to do the same. Those actions tell the whole story. We do not control our foreign policy in the Middle East. Another country does.

SECOND UPDATE. In the House of Representatives, at least Rep. Ron Paul has had the courage to speak out. The following is Rep. Ron Paul's statement on H. Res. 34 entitled "Recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

"Madame Speaker, I strongly oppose H. Res. 34, which was rushed to the floor with almost no prior notice and without consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution clearly takes one side in a conflict that has nothing to do with the United States or U.S. interests. I am concerned that the weapons currently being used by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza are made in America and paid for by American taxpayers. What will adopting this resolution do to the perception of the United States in the Muslim and Arab world? What kind of blowback might we see from this? What moral responsibility do we have for the violence in Israel and Gaza after having provided so much military support to one side?

"As an opponent of all violence, I am appalled by the practice of lobbing homemade rockets into Israel from Gaza. I am only grateful that, because of the primitive nature of these weapons, there have been so few casualties among innocent Israelis. But I am also appalled by the long-standing Israeli blockade of Gaza – a cruel act of war – and the tremendous loss of life that has resulted from the latest Israeli attack that started last month.

"There are now an estimated 700 dead Palestinians, most of whom are civilians. Many innocent children are among the dead. While the shooting of rockets into Israel is inexcusable, the violent actions of some people in Gaza does not justify killing Palestinians on this scale. Such collective punishment is immoral. At the very least, the U.S. Congress should not be loudly proclaiming its support for the Israeli government's actions in Gaza.

"Madame Speaker, this resolution will do nothing to reduce the fighting and bloodshed in the Middle East. The resolution in fact will lead the U.S. to become further involved in this conflict, promising "vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." Is it really in the interest of the United States to guarantee the survival of any foreign country? I believe it would be better to focus on the security and survival of the United States, the Constitution of which my colleagues and I swore to defend just this week at the beginning of the 111th Congress. I urge my colleagues to reject this resolution."



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