Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The 2014 Assault on Gaza: Israel’s Intentionality; with Remarks on Left Zionism

Operation Protective Edge begins July 8, 2014
 “Locals describe intense bombardmentBBC radio report, July 29, 2014

 On August 7th    near the end of the first three- day cease fire and the exit of Israeli ground forces, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, producer and guiding spirit, cited some of the grim statistics. In addition to about 1900 deaths, and many more injured, Democracy Now reported that some 500,000 Palestinians have been displaced with 187,000 still living in U.N. emergency shelters. An estimated 10,000 homes completely destroyed, and 30,000 homes partially destroyed. At least at least 11 UNWRA officials  in Gaza were killed and electricity, sewage and water facilities were destroyed.

 How much of this carnage did Israel intend? The question seems almost silly.  Professor Noam Chomsky, on Democracy Now’s August 8, 2014 program addressed the question with his usual incisive clarity.

It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call "mowing the lawn." That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them.  (See below for another definition of “mowing the lawn.”)

About a week earlier on Democracy Now‘s July 30, 2014 broadcast ("They Thought They’d Be Safe. They Were Wrong": 20 Gazans Killed in Israeli Bombing of U.N. Shelter) , a correspondent described Israeli bombing protocols.  Viewers were informed that the assaults on Gaza

are always heavier at night. They continue throughout the day, but the heaviest assaults come at dark. And we wake up to see many people dead and to hear their stories and to see people burying their dead. And these people at this U.N. school in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza were killed while they slept. Many of these people had come from border areas. They had heeded Israel’s warnings. Some came after leaflets were dropped on their areas, others came after their homes were destroyed by Israel, and they thought that they would be safe in a United Nations-run school. They were wrong.

None of this is new or even strange to many readers familiar with the issue. But perhaps because I was inured to (or cynical about) most major media coverage, I was more than surprised to see in the New York Times some of the details of Israel’s battering of Gazan industry.    ( “Conflict Leaves Industry in Ashes and Gaza Reeling From Economic Toll”) The Times gave the story a generous half page on A10 for August 7th and included a photo of a bombed out Gazan factory. The story went into some of the details of the destruction of 175 of Gaza’s most successful industrial plants.

The Times quoted Ali Hayek, head of Gaza’s federation of industries “whose group represents 3,900 businesses employing 35,000 people.” Mr. Hayek believes that the “occupation intentionally destroyed these vital factories that constitute the backbone of society.” (The Times article included a statement from the IDF “categorically” denying that factories were targeted;  only “facilities  and locations that have been involved in manufacturing or launching rockets” were attacked.)

 The Times article ended with a quote from Ahmad Tawasi, 30, a technician at Al Awda Co.’s  180,000 –square foot factory which had employed  600 workers. Mr. Tawasi said that if his home was destroyed he could “earn enough money to rebuild.  But without the factory, he said, ‘I don’t know what will happen.’”

The WWII Comparison

One of my colleagues likes to compare Israel’s barbarism to the Nazis. I tend to  avoid such equations  since they often provide interlocutors  with a knee-jerk, simple, means of  running away from  the issue.   Also, comparing Nazis to Israelis tends to blur the unique elements that distinguish each historical era, For example, Hitler had the military and political wherewithal to direct the death of about 6 million Jews, Gypsies, etc., and to oversee another two score or so millions of deaths of others, including about 5.6 million Germans.

Although the combined casualty lists in Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009, about 1400 killed);  the eight-day aerial assault o f November 2012, 100 Palestinian deaths); and the July - August 2014  assault on Gaza do not bear comparison with Hitler’s numbers,  I take my friend’s  larger point. The critical factor is the intentionality. What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians in Gaza amounts to the most brutal and merciless savagery that current political circumstances allow. The death and devastation especially in the current assault has gone well beyond that which might have been predicted outside of elite Tel Aviv councils before July 8, 2014. 

There’s another and deeper personal connection. As a member of a family that narrowly managed to escape Hitler's exterminations, I grew up wondering how ordinary Germans were able to rationalize and live with the horror that their government was perpetrating.  Part of the answer must lie in the power of denial facilitated by media and government propaganda. An ambiguous, even uncertain example that somehow stuck out for me was the brief comment, as reported in the New York Jewish Week (April 8, 2014),   of a woman pained at news reports of civilian Palestinian casualties. At a  “communal dialogue” at a Jewish Community Center in Manhattan,  entitled “Israel Talks,” a woman affiliated with a  Jewish Reform Temple  who described herself as “deeply attached “ to Israel, asked, in regard to the ongoing Gaza operation, “Why do they strike at hospitals? Their mistakes are so painful.”  

I wondered if she, unlike many of her co-religionists, understood on some level that there was Israeli intentionality behind attacks on hospitals, UN shelters, schools, etc. Of course, in the end, at least in public, she felt that she had to come down on the side of “mistakes.” Was it because he was a member of the Reformed congregation rather than Orthodox that she was unable to filter out news of some of the effects of the Israeli assault? I felt certain that while she could not accept  Noam Chomsky’s characterizations , yet perhaps it was possible that there was more of the Palestinian truth that  she might be able to absorb.

Interview with a victim –what means terror?

At the end of July, Democracy Now interviewed  Amer Shurrab  a Palestinian  from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, currently doing his graduate studies in the U.S.. Shurrab is one of the survivors of a family ravaged by Israeli firepower and oppression. Five years ago, in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead operation, Amer’s two brothers were killed. They were shot while driving home  in the Fukhari region, in the middle period of a  “cease fire,” a few hundred yards after getting clearance from an Israeli tank crew.  In the end, Amer’s brothers died from their wounds when the Israelis refused to allow an ambulance to the scene for 20 hours.

Amer’s personal horror was compounded in July 2014 when he learned that four of his cousins had been killed in Gaza. On the question of intentionality, Shurrab was clear:  "Israel is deliberately targeting civilians from day one of this attack. …They have been bombing houses, wiping entire families to try to scare people into submission."

Shurrab’s last phrase raises the questions of whether it is Israel’s intention to “scare the people into submission? I doubt it. Palestinians have had more than six decades since 1948 to be familiar with the terror of Israel’s “purity of arms,” lately including drones, F-16s, shrapnel and phosphorous bombs, explicit graffiti and human waste left by departing Israeli soldiers.

Far from requiring Palestinian submission, it seems that, on the contrary, Israel deliberately provokes rocket attacks and as much Palestinian resistance as they can manufacture in order to create pretexts for their assaults, for mowing the  lawn.  And by “mowing the lawn,” we mean periodic pogroms on a scale of Cast Lead and Protective Edge. These large operations are intended emphasize the message that Palestinians  are not wanted in the land and that they will be made to suffer more and more until that time when one way or another they can be removed entirely.

 A review of the timeline of the 2014 assault by Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the  Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, writing for the London Review of Books, (“Israel Mows the Lawn”)  helps set the context. Rabbani writes that, stymied by Palestinian diplomacy, Israeli Prime Minister,  Benjamin Netanyahu, seemed “a drowning man” when he was thrown a “lifebelt” with the  disappearance of three settler youth on June 12, 2014.  Rabbani  sees a connection between  Netanyahu’s escalation and the   June 2, 2014 inauguration of a new Palestinian Authority government following the April reconciliation agreement between  Hamas and Fatah. Despite the lack of evidence that Hamas had anything to do with the teens’ disappearance, Netanyahu

held Hamas directly responsible and launched a hostage rescue operation’ throughout the West Bank. It was really an organized military rampage. It included the killing of at least six Palestinians, none of whom was accused of involvement in the disappearances; mass arrests, including the arrest of Hamas parliamentarians and the re-arrest of detainees released in 2011; the demolition of a number of houses and the looting of others; and a variety of other depredations  … On the night of 6 July, an Israeli air raid resulted in the death of seven Hamas militants. Hamas responded with sustained missile attacks deep into Israel, escalating further as Israel launched its full-scale onslaught.

Rabbani’s  timeline adds piquant substance to the conspiracy theory that the teens were murdered, not by Palestinians, but in a false-flag operation  by the Mossad in order to create a suitable  pretext for the coming operation against  Gaza. (See Cintayati, “10 Reasons .. Hitchhikers June July 2014 was an Israeli False Flag”)

The U.S. Role

BBC radio interviewed a Palestinian with U.S. citizenship who voted for Barack Obama twice. The unnamed Palestinian said:  “It was a mistake [to support Obama.]   He  helping Israel.” 
                                                           4 August 2014

One of the points, touched on from time to time on Democracy Now’s  coverage is that the U.S. has done little or nothing to stop the slaughter.  On the contrary, President Obama seemed effectively to be smoothing the way and condoning the butchery, even past the point of previous Israeli operations.  On Democracy Now’s August 6 broadcast, professor and author Norman Finkelstein, a well known critic of Israeli policy, emphasized that the U.S. was uncritically signaling its full support for the Israeli assault when it repeatedly insisted that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

The July 31, 2014 edition of Democracy Now provided a lesson in how the U.S. can get caught in the middle as it attempts to balance its role as neutral observer with its unconditional support for Israel. On July 31 the U.S. condemned Israeli shelling of a UN school (see above) killing at least 20, but “refused to blame or condemn Israel for carrying it out.” That same day the Pentagon “confirmed its approval of an Israeli request to restock Israel’s supplies of ammunition.” Weapons  to be restocked included “mortar rounds for tanks and ammunition for grenade launchers.”  The very next day, Democracy Now reported that the U.S. got much more specific in its condemnation. The shelling of the school, Washington said, was “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.”

At first I wondered why the U.S. would make public its restocking of Israeli weaponry since officials were well aware of international condemnation of both the U.S. and Israel. Later I theorized  that  the White House  decided it needed to reassure both the public and Congress that despite it’s denunciation of the Israeli shelling it continues its solid support of Israel.

It’s a world tragedy that President Obama has turned out to be as hostile to the Palestinians – not to mention other Arabs and Muslims, and others -- as were his predecessors. In his five years in office, I don’t recall him once acting in a way that would help Palestinians in a matter of any significance.  

The Limits of Left Zionism

One of the highlights of Democracy Now’s coverage was its interview with the charismatic Yonatan  Shapira, a former Israeli captain and Air Force pilot. Shapira was one of the organizers in 2003 of 27 Air Force pilots who refused to participate in Israeli military operations against Palestinians.

One point he made in the interview could serve as a reply to those who justify what the Israelis are doing as self-defense. He uses the analogy of the rapist and victim. Apologizing for his strong language, he imagines the Israeli onslaught as “gang rape.”

I would imagine it as gang rape. And forgive me for using this hard language, but when you have a group of people raping someone, and this person that is being raped [is] starting to scratch, the first thing you want to do in order to stop the scratches is to stop the rape. And what Israel … is trying to do is to continue the rape and deal with the scratches.

And I say, stop the rape, stop the occupation, stop the apartheid, stop this inhumane ghettoization of Palestinians, and then—then—we can start talking, and we can reach peace agreements and all these beautiful words that now don’t mean anything for us.

Yonatan is probably as good as it gets as a representative of the Israeli left. Yet I couldn’t help wondering what he meant by “stopping the apartheid.”  If he’s a Zionist, as I suspect, he would intend Jewish primacy over non-Jews. I guess also that like many left Zionists, he favors the Two -State Solution not as something real for he must understand that that no present or foreseeable Israeli government will permit an independent Palestinian state in the Middle East. This has been the case ever since November 1947, when the UN General Assembly passed the Partition Resolution opening the way for the Jewish state.

The so-called Two-State Solution is merely a talking point, a way of putting off serious consideration of a modus vivendi for both peoples.  I’s also a deliberately fanciful means of thinking about the “the demographic  problem” – the higher Palestinian birth rate  -- as well as the issue  of according human and national  rights to Palestinians.  As long as the Two-State Solution remains “on the table” Yonatan  can picture in his mind a future resolution that will deal with the practical problem that Palestinians face as all the land for their “state” is gobbled up dunam by dunam (about a quarter acre), not to mention the daily oppression and humiliation they undergo.

It’s a separate question to ask whether leftists like Yonatan worry that despite their opposition to certain Israeli policies, their moral and political support for Zionism – a Jewish state in the former Palestine – indirectly aids those policies including ongoing, never-ending pogroms – mowing the lawn?  Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian  takes up the question of “The Liberal Zionists,” in an article in the New York Review of Books  . He points to the phenomenon on the Israeli left of “shooting and crying” (yorim u’vochim) defined as condemning “the horror of killing Arabs … while the killing … continues.” The critique is that by doing both –crying and shooting -- the left has its cake – expressing condemnation for Israeli policy – and they eat it too – they enjoy the benefits of continued Jewish supremacy.  

The Wish and the Dream

I later wondered if I could be wrong about whether or not Yonatan is a Zionist. Is it possible that he’s anti-Zionist?  Wishful thinking soon inspired some daydreaming. I  imagined Yonatan seeking me out to say that  like me, he has dropped his Zionism; that he has come to believe  that Palestinians  and Israelis ought to be  equal before  the law. He has decided that Jewish preeminence in Israel/Palestine was no longer acceptable.

In my daydream Yonatan was super serious and as charismatic as ever, intent on the struggle to find a way for the twelve million souls between the Jordan and the Mediterranean to share the land in a spirit of equal justice, respect for human rights and democracy for all. In that case, he explained, it could make the need for U.S. resupply, or drones, or F-16s, or hostile graffiti, supererogatory.

The End


alex said...

In your answer to the question how can Jews (you didn't actually use the word but it was implied by analogy to the question of how could Germans accept Hitler's genocide), accept what Israel is doing to Palestinians in Gaza) you provided this answer:
"There’s another and deeper personal connection. As a member of a family that narrowly managed to escape Hitler's exterminations, I grew up wondering how ordinary Germans were able to rationalize and live with the horror that their government was perpetrating. Part of the answer must lie in the power of denial facilitated by media and government propaganda. An ambiguous, even uncertain example that somehow stuck out for me was the brief comment, as reported in the New York Jewish Week (April 8, 2014), of a woman pained at news reports of civilian Palestinian casualties. At a “communal dialogue” at a Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, entitled “Israel Talks,” a woman affiliated with a Jewish Reform Temple who described herself as “deeply attached “ to Israel, asked, in regard to the ongoing Gaza operation, “Why do they strike at hospitals? Their mistakes are so painful.”
Your answer is the "media and propaganda"
But although the Main Stream Media has pretty much mimiced the pro Israel Line you didn't mention that so too and to a greater extent with the exception in degree of Haaretz and The Forward, has the Jewish Media. And most importantly you neglected to mention the support that the established Jewish Leadership, (e.g..11 Jewish Organizational Leaders tell UN Chief Ban that the war crimes investigation of gaza will be biased against Israel) an important element of the Israel Lobby has given Israel's war crimes.
Nor have you mentioned that the pro Israel line is expressed by many Rabbis in their synagogues.
Actually the similarity between The Catholic Church's support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War by the Catholic Church and what the established Jewish religious figures are doing for Israeli fascism and agression is striking

Ronald said...

Thanks Alex, for your welcome comments and for helping to continue the conversation. I was put in mind of those rabbis who use international condemnation of Israeli atrocities to circle the wagons and defend Israel. I wondered what these rabbis actually believed when they said that first the PLO and now Hamas intend to destroy Israel. Are they not aware that it is Israel’s aim and practice to destroy the Palestinian nation? What do they make of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands in 1948? Is this not the purposeful destruction of a people? What do they make of a decades- long military occupation of millions of Palestinians? What do they make of the obliteration of 400+ Palestinian villages in 1948-1949?
The rabbis’ collective response seems to be denial in the service of tribal loyalties for the purpose of subjugation and conquest.

Ronald said...

Thanks, Ronald.

Ronald said...

Bob wrote:
Thanks for your blog postings. Hope you are well. I just celebrated my 85th birthday. Bob

Ronald said...

RS wrote:
thanks very much for sending-- an excellent piece.
when i was in israel years ago on an
article assignment on border cities around the
world i ended up hanging around with a bunch of
semi-retired i.d.f. officers; ALL were devoid of
racism and wanted a political solution that would
allow all parties to live in dignity, prosperity and
peace. in contrast, it's depressing how often the settlers'
spokesmen today are from AMERICA, and brought their
homegrown US racism with them to Israel.
the public rhetoric here during this latest gaza
invasion has been surreally partisan, with journalists
punished for the slightest hint of sympathy toward
"collateral" civilian KIAs, Hillary Clinton tying
herself up in coils of illogic trying to blame attacks on
UN refugee centers and schools on the dead victims, and
the outright suppression of news (on one of the worst
days of bloodshed, the NY Times ran their lead story
on Gaza on PAGE NINE--- appalling.
if the netanyahu government had spent half the money it
expended ravaging gaza on fostering economic development,
education and reconstruction there it would have seriously
and permanently weakened the terrorist threat from gaza,
but alas violence and bullying are politically addictive,
and a hard habit to kick--one must admit that one's
myth of moral exclusivity has been false all along, and that
one's enemies despite their race or religion are human beings
with legitimate rights and desires of their own.

And one can't ignore the cynical role the "defense industries"
and their political partners in both the US and Israel (and Egypt,
Iran, etc.etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam) have played all along,
in stoking the flames of paranoia and hatred simply to make money--
terrible, but true.

Best always, Rob S.

Ronald responded:
Thanks, Rob. Much appreciated.
I think you're right about the strong drift to the right -- there and probably elsewhere.
We can only hope that Israel may have overplayed its hand. I gather Hamas hopes that they can hold out for an end to the siege. But the Israelis have always been clever and with Hillary and Cuomo on their side....
Best wishes,

Ronald said...

PT wrote:
Decent analysis, Ronald, until the fatal error at the end, assuming that Rothschild-Zionist/Illuminati puppet Obama has any autonomy or any say in the matter :-) How is it that Republicrat and Democan presidents have the same policies if they’re not controlled by the same power hierarchy. Can you tell any essential difference between Bush/Obama? Please say. Of course, you know Obama’s related to Cheney, too, right? That Kerry and Dubya are cousins? That it's one, big, happy occultist, satanic, pedophilic, psychopathic family running the show and wearing many masks to titillate the Drama analysts and keep them at work misleading the public? :-) The whole scam is good for jobs, I guess.


Ronald said...

Thanks, Peter, once again for your substantive comments.
Yes, I agree that there’s no essential difference between Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and Obama. They’re all intent on destruction via U.S. diplomatic, military, political, and covert power.

Yet, at the same time I find it interesting to differentiate among the two camps. The Bush people have an essentially forward looking ideology of war making and extending U.S. power and hegemony and maximum confrontation and international destabilization. I say forward looking because they think that their way is the only proper means of confronting the left at home and abroad and wiping out the left socialist/progressive agenda.

I see Obama, on the other hand, as having an essentially nihilist view aimed at destroying and of taking revenge at a U.S.-led world order. I see him with a sociopathic agenda driven by his view of the white world which he sees as essentially crushing the body and spirit of black people, his people. It’s what drives him and gives him energy. He’s against the left, represented by his mother who disillusioned him by mating with a black man and hiding from him the personal and racial ramifications of a black man in a white world – an uncompromising truth he had to learn on his own. Interestingly his ruthlessness and lack of compassion extends also to his own race. He has no interest in alleviating a jot of the inequality or injustice.

Essentially LObama carries the bitterness of a Clarence Thomas masked by his early understanding that he could advance in his mother’s white world by subterfuge, by presenting a non-threatening demeanor, by pretending to be a white black man. His nihilism is not dissimilar to that of the 20th century most powerful and effective nihilist, someone with the charisma of an Obama who was equally unhappy in his own skin (the former because he was a homosexual) and who also hated the world.

So in Obama’s world, the world we inhabit, the world he has created, what we see as tragedy internationally and domestically, he sees as victories, achievements. He’s the opposite of disengaged or timid. Like the 20th century monster, he’s achieving his goal of destruction.

Ronald said...

P. responded to mine.

Interesting though the psycho-differentiation and analysis might be, the results are the same. But the the point remains that neither camp is autonomous. And if what you say about Obama’s attitude is true, the crushing irony for him is that he must serve the ancient, white power hierarchy because he knows they brought him up and can easily bring him down. Reminds me of the joke about the new president being seated in a room filled with cigar-smoking barons. The lights go down, a screen comes up showing the assassination of Kennedy. The lights then come up, and a voice says “Any questions?”

The destruction of which you speak is not as much a goal as it is a consequence of the struggle for power and control. Any means is ‘allowed' as long as you don’t give away the game. Except that the Illuminati do ‘feed’ energetically on fear and pain (as well as blood). While some players believe it us “US power and hegemony” they’re advancing, they’re blinded by the Drama and cannot see the bigger picture, or that the US is merely a tool. A tool built by, and fully in the hands of, the Elite—from Day One. America/US IS an Elite operation (a corporation still largely owned by the British Crown and not independent at all) and the illusion of freedom. The ‘petty’ motives of these players serve the larger Agenda that only those at the top of the compartmentalized power pyramid are aware of and orchestrate.

There are only two kinds of government/political system on the planet: Overtly oppressive and covertly enslaving (illusions of freedom). And they are played off against one another on the global stage. This is the Drama, the great polarity which is exploited to reflect ‘good and evil.’ But the key is, the Elite operate on both sides and fare just as well in either scenario, although covert control is preferred. Essentially, descendants of the ‘crowd’ that created the US also created the Third Reich and the USSR—not to mention Israel :-)

The various psychologies of ‘leaders,’ etc are virtually unimportant except as they can be turned to serve the Masters from their little compartments.

BTW, homosexuality, or male to male sex, is rampant among the Elite class. It is used in trauma-based mind control, and if Kay Griggs is telling the truth, it’s a rite of passage to the upper echelon of military power. And did you know that many/most of those raped in the military are men? Nixon said after his visit to Bohemian Grove, “It’s the faggiest goddam thing.”