Archive for the ‘Israeli / Palestinian’ Category
I do not understand the uproar against the words used by President Ahmadinejad at the UN Racism Conference in Switzerland. And what I specifically do not understand is why people feel compelled to add to the uproar, when it is as clear as daylight that he went to Geneva with the one and only goal of… causing an uproar, in order to go back home as a national hero right in the middle of his re-election campaign.
The most appropriate reaction to President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks is therefore not a theatrical walkout in front of the TV cameras, nor a flurry of comparisons to Nazi Germany or calls for the “free world” to “wake up”.
We just have to call President Ahmadinejad’s behavior for what it is: electoral posturing, if not outright buffoonery. And far from an episode for the annals of Persian pride, just another of his “pickaxe blows” against the good international standing of the great people of Iran.
A brief history of suicide bombing in the Muslim world, as reported on the Suedeutsche Zeitung starting from Gilles Kepel’s book “Die Spirale des Terrors” (French original: “Terreur et martyre“):
- In the 1980’s, during the extraordinarily long Iran-Iraq war the almost-exhausted Islamic Republic started sending children to clear out minefields (using their bodies that is), following an establish Shiite tradition of self-immolation
- Around 1993, Iranian propaganda spread news and use of the technique to Hezbollah, their (Sunni) Lebanese allies, of course only and just to fight the Israeli occupation of Palestine, shifting therefore the phraseology from “self-immolation” to “martyrdom operation”
- Initially, Sunni scholars were not in favor of “martyrdom operations”. That all changed around 1996, with the “added bonus” of Israeli civilians being thrown in the lot of “legitimate targets” (you know, most of them were and still are bound to serve in the military at some point in their life)
- After a series of bloody suicide bombings afflicting Israel for quite some time, the top was obviously reached with the 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers
- Tragedy (ironic, but still tragedy) struck the “suicide bombing appreciation society” in the Muslim world after Iraq was invaded in 2003, and Sunni terrorists started to use suicide bombings against…Shiites!
So it has all gone around full circle. Supreme sense of irony from Fate (or God), isn’t it?
One ray of hope to conclude: despite the Madrid and London bombings, plus others in Kenya and elsewhere, suicide bombing organizers have seen things going downhill since.
It must be quite hard to argue for the legitimacy of an originally-Shiite technique to be used to kill Shiites. And what kind of “Islamic freedom fighter” can think in his right mind that the way to free Muslims is by killing them?
No surplus of scruples, in the Israeli Government…now they are not even trying to hide the fact that all 22 days of Gaza bombing may have been a last-chance effort at pounding Hamas and the Palestinians, before Obama could stop everything.
JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israel plans to have its troops out of Gaza as soon as possible […] The official, who declined to be named, said that the withdrawal could be complete before U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes his oath of office in Washington at noon ET Tuesday — 7 p.m. in Israel — though commanders have not been given that deadline.
I have already made the point that Hamas (and Fatah) have singularly failed to protect/improve/do anything good about the lives of the Palestinian people they are at least pretending to lead. This makes the life of an inhabitant of Gaza worth more or less nothing, not only in the eyes of the “enemy” (Israel) and of the “bystanders” (USA, Europe, etc etc), but paradoxically also in the mind of Hamas (and Fatah).
One important point concerning the above is that it is too easy to explain it as an “act of evil” by “terrorist” or “quasi-terrorist” organizations such as Hamas and Fatah. It should go without saying that any strategy long-sustained by different persons must have an underlying logic (however twisted). And one of the reasons why Hamas (and Fatah) are not even trying to lessen the number of Palestinian deaths makes perfect, twisted sense considering the particular situation in Palestine.
When Armenia attacked Azerbaijan to keep control of Nagorno-Karabach for example, there was an Armenian side, an Azeri side, and a piece of land they were fighting about. Likewise for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, where the piece of land was the whole of Kuwait; and for Argentina trying to regain the Malvinas/Falklands.
In the case of Palestine, it’s the weaker side that yells about grabbing the enemy’s land, and all of it, but without a “motherland” where to start from. And such an idea has become such an overwhelming goal, that everything else is getting absolutely disregarded: including the tiny piece of land they actually do have.
The Palestinians under Hamas are being lead into pretending they don’t have a land (Gaza), in order to get a land (Israel). Nothing gets built, and living conditions deteriorate. True, there is an Israeli blockade but (a) if weapons are routinely smuggled in, there should some sign of at least of an attempt at doing something; and (b) it’s not by shooting rockets at random that you’ll free yourself from a blockade.
What I am saying goes even beyond that, though. Fatah (and Hamas) clearly do not see Gaza or the settlement-free areas of the West Bank at all as their homeland, and are bound to ruin and pillage them all as the “real thing” is either East Jerusalem and/or the whole of Israel.
Like the driver of a rental (therefore, temporary) car, they will do very little to keep their own stuff clean. And to protect their own people.
In fact, I cannot see any bigger threat to the existence of Hamas (and Fatah) than if peace were to happen: suddenly, after decades focused together by a common enemy, the various forces on the Palestinian side will feel absolutely and finally free. I do not think that’ll be a good spectacle to watch.
Right now instead, with Gaza the wrong side of hell, Hamas is comfortably certain that no Gazan will dream of the status quo: and further war (and power to Hamas) is guaranteed.
Can a sane solution to the Palestine problem be found among Gaza (and West Bank) inhabitants? Only if a miracle will happen. Still, it is not impossible. If your neighbor is polluting whatever land you’ve got: if you don’t clean it, who will?
I do consider myself a “friend of Israel” (as if any Israeli would care) as I do not find any other meaningful way for a European born in the 1960s to relate to the Jewish state. It’s not that anyone in my family has participated in the killing or even the persecution of Jews in the 1930s/1940s (none has, as far as I know…but then, few if any of them had any chance to do bad, or good at the time).
So it’s not a matter of atonement as much as a point of decency: if the culture I was born in as European killed itself and six million Jews in the process (plus a lot of Russians, homosexuals, roma etc etc), it has to be beyond me to make any judgement against the right of the Jews to live in the one state where they would not feel persecuted.
That said, it is as a friend of Israel that I feel great sadness in seeing a country built upon such an ideal, to end up persecuting a people. Something has gone very wrong, as it is obvious when the main reason for a war and 1,000 dead are two democratic elections: the one bringing Obama to the White House, and the one taking place in a few weeks in Israel itself. The former, providing the Olmert Government with the incentive of doing something before the new US President vetoes anything; and the latter, providing it with the incenting of doing something in order not to appear weak next to the fiery intentions of Bibi Netanyahu.
I do not believe your sanity can survive your willing brutalization of somebody living next door. Such a blatant show as these days’, of electoral prowess built upon hundreds and hundreds of corpses, is for me the most recent evidence that, if the state of Israel were a person, it would have been long diagnosed with a plethora of neuroses.
I am ware of the fact that peace may be dangerous for the very existence of Israel as the one State for the Jews, as it would “call the bluff” on many contradictions of the Israeli society. Still, with all its collective mental illness Israel is a democratic nation: as such, it’s the only place where a sane solution to the Palestine problem could surface without any divine intervention (=miracle).
Somebody, please, rise to the challenge, before the brutalization bite back. If you keep teaching your guys how to kill their neighbors physically and politically, you run a very high risk that some of them will start killing their own people, physically and politically.
23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” […]
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
Well, there are at least two righteous people between Sderot and Gaza…
Many thanks to the Editorial Board at the International Herald Tribune for publishing a letter of mine on the Jan 9, 2009 printed paper, under the headline “When governments fail” (a modified version of yesterday’s blog “Are Palestinian Lives Truly Worthless?“):
David Brooks’s analysis (“The confidence war,” Views, Dec. 7) is missing the fact that the very strategies of successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian Authority and now Hamas have been based on the utter disregard of the value of the lives of individual Palestinians.
This has been true especially in the last decade or so. One side casually bombs crowded residential areas from afar only to release increasingly hypocritical apologetic press releases afterward. The other side sends youths on suicide missions or unleashes them armed with stones to throw at armored tanks – while proclaiming that thousands and thousands of dead women and children are a price worth paying for victory against “the Zionists.”
As shown repeatedly during the last century, it should be the job of international institutions to push hard for the safeguarding of lives, especially when the local governments are clearly unable or unwilling to do so. But I am afraid that with the way things are going, we can only expect a future made of innumerable deaths.
I’ll expand briefly upon that to argue why Israel is not the actual problem for the Palestinians, at the moment.
True, most of the actions undertaken during the latest conflict situation by the Jerusalem Government are at the edge or beyond the very limits of International Law and War Law. It also does look especially fishy how the Gaza invasion coincides with upcoming Israeli elections…one of the luckily few occasions where a democracy makes liberal use of somebody else’s blood for a few votes more.
But that’s less important to Palestinians than the gigantic failure of their leadership(s) to do anything positive on their behalf.
Like it or not, when there is a war one side usually shows little interest in protecting the other side’s civilian lives (it depends on the war, and on the propaganda, but the overall trend is alas towards more civilian deaths). However deplorable, if Azerbaijan declares war against Armenia (just an example) it goes without saying that Azerbaijanis will rather kill Armenians, and Armenians Azerbaijanis.
Usually, that is accompanied by each side trying as much as possible to protect its own: therefore Azerbaijan will do its best to defend Azerbaijanis, and Armenia Armenians. Sometimes that doesn’t actually work out as proclaimed (see Russian botched kidnap rescue attempts) but one can assume that at least the intention is always there.
That is not what happens for Palestinians. They must be the only people on Earth deliberately put in harm’s way by their own leaders. I am sure that even the incredibly locked-up Burmese junta, and the paranoid hermit North Korean state-wide prison, would try to lower casualties among their own citizens in case of war much, much better than Hamas (or Fatah for that matters) have ever managed even to imagine, let alone do.
In fact, just like in Communist states of old (USSR famine in the 1930’s, China famine in the 1950’s), in the world as seen by Hamas people are not people, but pawns to use for a higher ideological purpose (namely, the destruction of Israel). Horribly, a dead Palestinian child becomes more useful to them than a live Palestinian child, as it does make Israel look an abominable entity that doesn’t deserve to seat among Nations.
Whatever Israel has done or is doing, things don’t have to be the way they are. Resistance is a natural reaction to occupation, but suicide (or worse: making sure some of yours get killed for your political advantage) is not.
As suggested in the blog and the letter to the IHT, we would go a long way towards improving the Palestinians’ situation if only we could protect the people from Hamas (and from Fatah).
Now of course one would have to understand what brought Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to a situation that is perhaps worse than Somalia’s and definitely makes Haiti looks like Heaven on Earth. One would not do wrong by considering the issue of politicide by Israel, but that is as relevant to today’s situation as reconsidering the opportunity of wearing warm clothes in a snowstorm is to somebody that has already caught pneumonia.