Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Under the Radar: Gaza's Plight . . . and a Growing Rage

Electronic Intifada publishes a Sara Roy piece from the Harvard Crimson (Dr. Roy is affiliated with Harvard) on the economic destruction of Gaza - a subject about which she is likely the leading Western expert and has published frequently. This has been ongoing for years. Gazans were on the brink long before the Hamas take-over there, but the situation worsened terribly with the devastation inflicted by the Israeli bombardment and invasion (Operation "Cast Lead") of December 2008 - January 2009.

Now, of course, all the focus is on Iran's power struggles (although that too is fading from the media limelight somewhat) and Michael Jackson's never-ending death (which, Tom Engelhardt has noted, sucked all the energy out of the media room even as US drones and airstrikes were obliterating scores of "militants" in Pakistan and Afghanistan). The president's White House meeting with the heads of the top organizations of the Israel lobby (who seem to have hammered him pretty hard to make nicer with Israel on the settlements issue, and to get tougher with Iran; to his credit, he refused) is getting lots of coverage (including in Israel).

Gaza, meanwhile, has slipped almost completely off the radar. (The guys at Mondoweiss note, by the way, that there was evidently no room at the White House meeting for the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee. And, of course, it would be unseemly for Mr. Obama to consult with a Palestinian representative from Gaza, right? I mean, gosh, they're all terrorists . . . aren't they?)

For a bit more insight into the distribution of bad guys in this scenario, you might want to have a look at the Mondoweiss site's coverage of the interviews and films that Max Blumenthal, a writer and independent journalist, has been making featuring young Israeli students on the streets of Tel Aviv. The racist hatred of Arabs - not to mention our own president - is staggering, and instructive. As Blumenthal notes,
Uncomfortable as is may be for many to confront, Israeli resentment of Arabs, minorities and designated foreign enemies ranging from the Iranian people to Barack Obama is not a phenomenon exclusive to the denizens of fanatical settlements in the West Bank. The trend now hovers well above the surface in the mainstream of Israeli society, including throughout Tel Aviv. It is reflected most apparently in the almost total national support for Israel’s brutal, maximalist war on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009, the subsequent election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ascent of Avigdor Lieberman and his proto-fascist Yisrael Beiteynu party
This is not your Israel of Leon Uris novels any more. Not that the Exodus generation (made so famous by Paul Newman in the early 1960s Otto Preminger movie) was all sweetness-and-light when it came to the Arabs, but these kids are the voices of Israel's future. And when you add to theirs the voices of the "hilltop" kids - i.e., the young, often gun-toting Jews who refuse to abandon their illegal hilltop trailers in the occupied West Bank and occasionally rampage through Palestinian villages . . . well, the future looks very dim, even with all of Mr. Obama's good intentions, and the fact that an increasing number of Americans want him to get Israel to scale back its settlement ambitions.

Meanwhile, a lot of young men and women across the world - in teeming cities in Iraq and Pakistan, small villages in Afghanistan, refugee camps in Lebanon - are angry as hell with the US's inaction against Israeli injustice and racism, as well as the US's actions that have caused the deaths of tens of thousands in all those places, and more. All of that anger provides tons of motivation - to kill US troops, and to go after American civilians who, by and large, have been all too willing and happy to ignore that anger, or at best shake their heads, mutter "why can't they all just get along?", and then hit the remote button.

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