Sunday, January 4, 2009

The First Gaza War

As far as I am concerned, it started in 1948 and never ended.

"The First Gaza War

January 4th, 2009

The First Gaza War

It started out as a week of pounding and killing of innocents from the air and sea, now the land offensive against the inhabitants of Gaza has commenced. Israel has demonstrated that it has overwhelming military power to bring about chaos, to destroy the infrastructure of a tiny impoverished land, and sow terrifying fear. Israel has also shown that it is completely indifferent to any sense of humanity toward the people of Gaza.

It is truly disgusting – though hardly unexpected – that mainstream western media has accepted without much interrogation Israel’s propaganda machine. Watch the commentary on CNN or BBC – Israel claims that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but we do know that food, water, and electricity are in dire supply. We know the bloodied bodies of children are brought to hospitals (if you can call them that) only to be provided a tiny space on the floor. We know medicine and other basic medical supplies have all been but depleted. We know that the people of Gaza are trapped like prisoners in this densely populated place. We know all of these things because Gaza has been sealed off from the world by Israel. Getting out of Gaza is almost impossible and getting help into Gaza is almost just as hard. Nonetheless, western mainstream shows the pictures of one reality while providing commentary generated by Israel.

At this point, Israel is winning on both the military and the media front.

* It continues to use disproportionate military force under the cover of its media machine supported by Washington. Starting this war was easy for Israel. Winning this war won’t be easy. What does winning mean?

* How many people will Israel have to kill before it eliminates Hamas? Thinking counter-intuitively, this war actually has seen Israel de facto recognize Hamas as the legitimate power in Gaza. Any international aid that is provided to Gaza will have to go through Hamas first – again more recognition of Hamas as the legitimate representative of Gazan civilians.

* Can Israel truly eliminate Hamas? This is unlikely. Hamas has grown in popularity because of Israel’s aggression. But if it can completely destroy Hamas, who will be Israel’s “partner” in Gaza when the military phase has come to an end? It is hardly likely that Israel plans to occupy Gaza indefinitely after killing so many civilians.

* The First Gaza War is playing with diplomatic fire. There is an unspoken agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority (read: Mahmoud Abbas), Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to isolate Hamas. The longer the war continues and the body count increases, the more likely so-called “moderate” (read: U.S. controlled) Arab regimes will be put under pressure to do more than speak out on behalf of Gaza.

* Why has Israel invaded Gaza? Why not bounce the rubble until there is no one left? As of this writing, the U.S. appears to have no problem seeing Israel ethnically cleanse Gaza to the last man, woman, and child. Remember Stalin’s favorite phrase: “No people, no problem.” It seems to me that domestic Israeli politics and the ego of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as the ambitions of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, play a very important role in this conflict. Of course, this doesn’t mean much to the people of Gaza. Olmert wants to make up for his humiliation during the war against Hezbollah in 2006 (or the Second Lebanon War). Livni may face more than political humiliation if things go wrong. (And, in my humble opinion, I can’t see how things can go “right”).

* What about the West Bank? Again the western mainstream remains silent (because it doesn’t want you to think about it). If elections were held in the West Bank today, Hamas would win by a long shot. Fatah is a dead man walking and Abbas knows this – and Israel fears this. Hamas is an idea – not merely an organization. This is why Israel’s military adventure will end in tragedy for all concerned.

We are witnessing the First Gaza War – there surely will be another. One does not have to agree with or like Hamas – I certainly don’t, but because there has not been an honest and reasonable approach to finding a peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hamas is a popular and legitimate reality and it will only get stronger because of this conflict.

Double standards, hypocrisy, the murder of innocent civilians, and the unwillingness by Washington and the western mainstream media to recognize that a Palestinian child’s life is just as worthy as an Israeli child demonstrates that Israel has again embarked on a conflict that only sows the seeds for the next.