Sitting in a recliner, coffee at hand, laptop on lap (which is aching; only 2 weeks since my left hip was replaced) . . . and pondering how it is that I can sit here comfortably and securely, even as the newly re-elected president of my country essentially condones Israel's murderous bombardment of the tiny, over-populated enclave that we call the Gaza Strip.
Some of today's reporting is here from the New York Times, here from the Washington Post (which notes the IDF's destruction of two buildings used by journalists in Gaza. The IDF's rationale: Hamas was using the journalists as "human shields." Oh.) The death toll in Gaza is near 50 - and despite Bibi's insistence that the IDF is being extremely careful not to target civilians (like journalists?), the pictures coming out of Gaza suggest that, as ever, the "most moral army in the world"'s resort to disproportionate force is wreaking lots of "collateral damage." (A sample of pix is here . They're heart-rending.)
Who's to blame? The WaPo runs a useful chronology of recent events, most of it lifted from work by Emily Hauser and posted by Robert Wright at The Atlantic. At The Daily Beast, Leslie Gelb, one of the champions of the mainstream US foreign-policy establishment, assigns some blame to Israel and the US, but lays "the lion's share" of it on Hamas. (Interesting expression, that; reminds me of the seminal role Great Britain played in the creation of the Zionist colonial-settler state in Palestine.) After all, says Gelb,
Hamas pledges to destroy the state of Israel. Hamas-lovers lose all credibility when they ignore that fact.
Well, yeah, that's indeed in the Hamas charter. But a recent, well-regarded academic study of Hamas (I own the book, but in my current circumstances am not up to retrieving it from my stacks) noted that several Hamas figures have expressed regret that that passage was ever included in the charter as well as willingness to ignore it if the Israelis were willing to negotiate in good faith on Palestinian statehood. My point here is that Israel hawks keep throwing up that passage in the Hamas charter as an argument-ender (as Gelb does), but that many in Hamas have moved on in their thinking - as have many in the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' parent organization, which now leads the new Egyptian democratic government, and upon whose support Hamas in Gaza surely has to rely.
IMO, a much better take on the current crisis is that of Juan Cole (at Informed Comment), who lists the Top Ten Myths about the Israeli Attack on Gaza ais nd provides a much deeper historical underpinning than do the reports in the MSM.
But the commentator who perhaps best gets to the heart of the matter is Rami Khouri. Khouri notes (in a Daily Star essay posted at Agence Global) that the Palestinian resistance in Gaza now possesses longer-range rockets that
"generate a significant new dimension of psychological fear in Israel that mirrors the fear and tension that Israel’s aerial attacks have long inflicted on Palestinians and Lebanese. The ability of Palestinians today to fire rockets deeper into Israel, and, presumably, with more accuracy in due course, is just one indicator of the fact that time is not on Israel’s side. "
(BTW, the NY Times also has a report on these rockets titled "Arms With a Long Reach Help Hamas." The report is by long-time NYT Israel hand Ethan Bronner, whose continued role with that paper has been criticized by many, given that his son is an Israeli soldier.) But Khouri goes on then to make his much more important point:
As long as the crime of dispossession and refugeehood that was committed against the Palestinian people in 1947-48 is not redressed through a peaceful and just negotiation that satisfies the legitimate rights of both sides, we will continue to see enhancements in both the determination and the capabilities of Palestinian fighters -- as has been the case since the 1930s, in fact. Only stupid or ideologically maniacal Zionists fail to come to terms with this fact.
As a former anti-Vietnam War protester, I remember distinctly a much-used chant of that era of civil-rights and anti-war protest:
"No justice, no peace."
Pitifully few members of the mainstream foreign-policy establishment in the US - not to mention the Congress and the American electorate - evince any awareness that the Arabs of Palestine were done horrific injustice by the Zionist ethnic cleansing that made possible the creation of Israel in 1948. None of the negotiations and agreements between Israel and various Arab parties since that time have ever come close to rectifying that injustice. In a region of the planet where values of upholding honor and exacting vengeance for its violation run so deep, people across the Arab world, as well as Muslims in Iran and Turkey, have been left to seethe for decades about Israel's refusal even to recognize even that an injustice was done, and about the United States' unwavering support of Israel's refusal.
This same injustice, of course, underpinned the motives of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda in launching the attacks of 11 September 2001. It continues to fire the fury of jihadists across the planet, many of whom are itching for opportunities to lash out at Israel's American enablers - be they soldiers in Afghanistan, or civilians in oblivious repose in the security of the American "homeland."