(Has Israel finally jumped the shark? It's clear that the attack on the Palestinians has resulted in a massive amount of civilian casualties that can't be merely explained away by claiming that Hamas is using all of these people as human shields. The civilian populace was targeted and murdered with the same casual disregard as the militants. Schools, mosques and the infrastructure in Gaza generally, has been smashed, and the IDF has rolled out experimental weaponry to try out on the Palestinians as if they were lab rats. The Palestinians are certainly captive, but although the U.S. mainstream media is absolutely uncritical of Israel's atrocities, the web is alive with criticism. Here are 6 very useful articles that I found with a quick look on the web over the last couple of days. -- What has this got to do with 9/11? Arguably, Israel would have acted with much more restraint without the 9/11 inspired "War on Terror" to use as a justification for this ramping up of slaughter. This is the horrible legacy of the un-investigated murders of 9/11.)
1. Norman Finkelstein on Russia Today - 1.21.2009
If you only have time to watch a brief video, Finkelstein gives an excellent wrap-up of the Gaza incursion, and its inherently brutal aftermath;
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2. London Review of Books - Israel's Lies - 1.29.2009 (paper issue date)
This strong critique of Israel's attack comes from a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, and the current director of the US Middle East Project in New York. Henry Siegman provides historical context and a lot of facts to demolish the propaganda currently being pushed by big media. Strongly recommended for reading in its entirety... we need to get Siegman in touch with Nafeez Ahmed for an education on "al Qaeda";
"Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.
I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.
Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’..."
3. Norman Finkelstein - Foiling Another Palestinian "Peace Offensive": Behind the bloodbath in Gaza - 1.19.2009
Finkelstein expands exponentially on the ideas introduced in the Russia Today interview. Well worth reading in its entirety;
"...As Israel targeted schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, and U.N. sanctuaries, as it slaughtered and incinerated Gaza's defenseless civilian population (one-third of the 1,200 reported casualties were children), Israeli commentators gloated that "Gaza is to Lebanon as the second sitting for an exam is to the first -- a second chance to get it right," and that this time around Israel had "hurled [Gaza] back," not 20 years as it promised to do in Lebanon, but "into the 1940s. Electricity is available only for a few hours a day"; that "Israel regained its deterrence capabilities" because "the war in Gaza has compensated for the shortcomings of the  Second Lebanon War"; and that "There is no doubt that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is upset these days....There will no longer be anyone in the Arab world who can claim that Israel is weak."
New York Times foreign affairs expert Thomas Friedman joined in the chorus of hallelujahs. Israel in fact won the 2006 Lebanon war, according to Friedman, because it had inflicted "substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large," thereby administering an "education" to Hezbollah: fearing the Lebanese people's wrath, Hezbollah would "think three times next time" before defying Israel. He expressed hope that Israel was likewise "trying to ‘educate' Hamas by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population." To justify the targeting of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure Friedman asserted that Israel had no other option because "Hezbollah created a very ‘flat' military network...deeply embedded in the local towns and villages," and that because "Hezbollah nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians...to restrain Hezbollah in the future."
Leaving aside Friedman's hollow coinages -- what does "flat" mean? -- and leaving aside that he alleged that the killing of civilians was unavoidable but also recommends targeting civilians as a "deterrence" strategy: is it even true that Hezbollah was "embedded in," "nested among," and "intertwined" with the Lebanese civilian population? Here's what Human Rights Watch concluded after an exhaustive investigation: "we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages." And again, "in all but a few of the cases of civilian deaths we investigated, Hezbollah fighters had not mixed with the civilian population or taken other actions to contribute to the targeting of a particular home or vehicle by Israeli forces." Indeed, "Israel's own firing patterns in Lebanon support the conclusion that Hezbollah fired large numbers of its rockets from tobacco fields, banana, olive and citrus groves, and more remote, unpopulated valleys." ...
... The justification put forth by Friedman in the pages of the Times for targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure amounted to apologetics for state terrorism. It might be recalled that although Hitler had stripped Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher of all his political power by 1940, and his newspaper Der Stuermer had a circulation of only some 15,000 during the war, the International Tribunal at Nuremberg nonetheless sentenced him to death for his murderous incitement..."
4. Inter Press Service - Alarm Spreads Over Use of Lethal New Weapons - 1.22.2009
"Eighteen-year-old Mona Al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realised it was gone - completely severed by the weapon that hit her.
Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organisations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.
Mona's doctors at Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been "sliced right off with a knife." ...
... Mona's injury is characteristic of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). DIMEs are munitions that, packed with tungsten powder, produce an intense explosion at about the level of the knee, with signs of severe heat at the point of amputation..."
5. medialens.org - THE BBC REFUSES TO BROADCAST GAZA CHARITY APPEAL - 1.23.2009
"Numerous members of the public have written to us expressing their bewilderment at the violence of Israel's 22-day attack on Gaza killing upwards of 1,300 people and wounding 4,200. To many witnessing the onslaught on their TV screens (especially Al Jazeera) this appeared to be an act of state sadism.
Israeli forces repeatedly bombed schools (including UN schools), medical centres, hospitals, ambulances, UN buildings, power plants, sewage plants, roads, bridges and civilian homes.
On January 15, Helpdoctors.org reported that Al Quds hospital had been "again the target of bombing". Some 50 patients, 30 in wheelchairs, fled as the burning hospital was "totally destroyed". (http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.helpdoctors.org...)
The hospital's medical director said, "My heart is crying," as he described how intensive care patients and premature babies in incubators were wheeled onto the street in the middle of the night. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7833919.stm) ..."
6. Informed Comment - Ibrahim: Al-Qaeda wants to Hit the US Again and turn Obama into another Bush - 1.24.2009
Several people have commented that "revenge" for the Gaza incursion would make excellent cover for a new False Flag attack in the U.S.; Juan Cole believes in the "official" defintion of "al Qaeda", and I include his article at the bottom to showcase the reasoning that is no doubt being tossed around in certain circles, but also to point users to his blog which can be very useful at times;
"Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that Shaikh Najih Ibrahim, the leader of the fundamentalist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya in Egypt, said Friday that his organization fears that al-Qaeda will launch an attack on the United States shortly, in revenge for Israel's assault on Gaza, with the aim of turning Barack Obama into "another George W. Bush."
Ibrahim's group called on al-Qaeda instead to observe a 4-month ceasefire toward the United States, so as to give Obama a chance to show he is really different.
Ibrahim said, "A repetition by al-Qaeda of new operations" [against the US] "will be a victory for Israel and a victory for the point of view of George W. Bush, underlining that violence is the natural character of Muslims." ..."