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Israel: the drums of war beat « Previous | |Next »
December 30, 2008

One always hopes that things will improve in the Middle East. These are always dashed. This time round in the circle of violence Israel's strategic objective in bombing the Gaza strip appears to be to "neutralise" Hamas, and so forcing the movement to accept a new ceasefire on Israel's terms.

It is always more complicated than that, isn't it, given the imposition of a total blockade which prevented basic goods, like food stuff and medicine, from entering the Gaza Strip. Israel choked off supplies after Hamas won the elections almost 2 years ago. Israel wants to topple the Hamas regime, rather than end the siege of Gaza and allowing freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank could rehabilitate life in the Strip. The problem is that the state of Israel does not accept that Hamas rule in Gaza is a fact, and nor does it accept that it is with that government that Israel must reach a situation of coexistence.

What then is the justification for this kind of attack on Hamas' centers of operation in Gaza is justified? Tom Segev observes that both the justification given for the assault on Gaza and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another. in which the lethal logic of belligerence dominates.

The first assumption is that:

Israel is striking at the Palestinians to "teach them a lesson." That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception: We are the representatives of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and morality, while the Arabs are a primitive, violent rabble, ignorant children who must be educated and taught wisdom - via, of course, the carrot-and-stick method, just as the drover does with his donkey.

The second assumption is that:
The bombing of Gaza is also supposed to "liquidate the Hamas regime," in line with another assumption that has accompanied the Zionist movement since its inception: that it is possible to impose a "moderate" leadership on the Palestinians, one that will abandon their national aspirations.

The head of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrall, has drawn a comparison between the Israel Defense Forces offensiv in the Gaza Strip and the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which Hezbollah waged against Israel in southern Lebanon.

What we can infer is that there is war between Israel and Hamas. Israel's opening salvo is not merely another "surgical" operation or pinpoint strike. This is the harshest IDF assault on Gaza since the territory was captured during the Six-Day War in 1967--it is "shock and awe" designed to deal as serious a blow as possible to the Hamas chain of command in order to throw its operating capabilities off kilter.

The third assumption is that all of Israel's wars assume that Israel is only defending itself. That ignores a circle of violence in which the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a lengthy siege that destroyed an entire Paalestinian generation's chances of living worthwhile lives.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:21 AM | | Comments (12)


Israel could march everybody in Gaza single file into a gas chamber and at the end still think they are right.

israel says that it is the sole representative of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and democracy in the Middle East. Another example of the Enlightenment turning in and devouring itself.

True Les. And their powerful friends would likely be cheering them on.

From the rhetoric that's coming out at the moment it's pretty clear Israel intends to wipe the place out.

Not one word, of course, about the rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.

it is the Israeli right which constantly berates the government and the IDF for not bombing Gaza into a parking lot, for not shooting and starving and freezing innocent civilians to death. However, it is clear that bombings alone can shut down Hamas' growing ability to launch mortars and missiles at Israel's home front. The IDF will become a focus of attacks if it enters and remains in Gaza, just as it was during the first Lebanon war.

a circle of violence implies Hamas fires rockets, Israel will strike Hamas, it will strike and be struck, strike and be struck. And so it goes on eternally repeating itself.

Israel's leaders know well that given the situation in the Gaza Strip, it will be very hard to reach a total and unequivocal military solution.

True the circle or cycle of violence could have been spelt out more --Ezra Klein does a good job here:

The point is simple: You can argue, as Israel is arguing, that their air strikes are a response to Hamas's missiles. But to the Palestinians, Hamas's missiles were a response to the blockade (under international law, a blockade is indeed an act of war). Israel, of course, would argue that the blockade was a response to Hamas's past attacks. And Hamas would argue that past attacks were a response to Israel's unceasing oppression of the Palestinian people. And Israel would argue that...

The provocations and cassus belli travel as far back as anyone might care to trace. Hence the idea of a circle of violence. A circle of violence in which Israel acts like a colonial government in Gaza

The current violence, which doesn't promise to change anything about the conflict but instead radicalize those involved with it.

Deborah Storie, the deputy chair of TEAR Australia is right in pointing out that "War will not bring peace"(December 29, 2008, The Age) in Afghanistan. Had Israel spent all the current invasive military expense on the poor in Gaza, giving them food, helping them build shelters, supplying free education etc., or simply paying cash to them, Hamas will have difficulties in fighting Israel. The tactic of giving special privilege to a minority group has been successfully used in Tibet and Xinjiang by the Communist Party of PRC. That’s why the rebels have been relatively mild. Of course, it is also related to the very tight control over everything from freedom of speech to movement etc. in China.

Is it really in the interests of either side to permanently stop the violence? Where would political power lie on either side if neither had a permanent enemy?

Gaza doesn't have the resources to really change anything, but Israel and everyone else involved always stop just short of doing anything to actually bring about change, either through violence or negotiations. The whole thing is a permanent state of going through the motions with the occasional massacre to reinforce relevance.

With an election coming up in Israel and a new president due to move in to the White House, there is a sudden, urgent, totally coincidental need to deal with Hamas? I don't think so.

you could argue that the Western and Israeli policy towards Gaza since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2005 is one huge strategic error.

Thus there was the refusal to deal with the Hamas Government elected in January 2006, the siding with Fatah in the subsequent internal dispute and the imposition of an effective blockade on Gaza that amounted to collective punishment.

True enough Peter. But like every other historical aspect of the thing, we could spend eternity arguing over who made the original strategic error in pre-biblical times.

I notice that demonstrators in London threw shoes at Downing St, as an expression of contempt for their gormless government.
The silence from the the West has been shattering, reeking of unspeakable cowardice and evil, like the the behaviour of Israel.
I do hope the likes of Karsten do not then start to whinge and carp when inevitable reprisals from embittered middle easterners lead to another 11/9 or Bali.