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Israel escalates war « Previous | |Next »
January 4, 2009

Things continue to get worse in the cycle of violence that is the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Israeli tanks and troops have entered Gaza after a week-long air force offensive has claimed more than 460 Palestinians.


Aniel Barenboim says:

Palestinian violence torments Israelis and does not serve the Palestinian cause; Israeli retaliation is inhuman, immoral and does not guarantee security. The destinies of the two peoples are inextricably linked, obliging them to live side by side. They have to decide if they want to make of this a blessing or a curse.

Hamas has consistently rejected a ceasefire in Gaza until Israel agrees to end its three-year blockade of the territory. Israel continues the blockade and the military until Hams stops firing Qassam rockets at Israel. It is a toxic catch 22 situation.

The Israeli blockade tactic appears to be that, if Israel starved Gazans, than that will force Hamas to stop the attacks. That tactic hasn't worked since the siege that has only served to strengthen the Islamist Hamas group. The US-Israeli strategy on Hamas in Gaza has been a spectacular failure because it is fatally flawed (by its inability to relinquish the goal of reversing the results of the 2006 Palestinian election by anti-democratic means). The fundamental flaws in Israel’s policy over Gaza is its refusal to recognise political reality and there is little chance of it militarily eliminating Palestinian resistance.

Despite this the Mubarak government in Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah have actively colluded with Israel, first to unsuccessfully overthrow Hamas from Gaza through force, and then to choke the Palestinians in Gaza by denying them basics such as food, clean water, medical treatment and a decent education.

Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the 15 years of collaboration with Israel has yielded more settlements, thousands of house demolitions, kidnappings and massacres in the Palestinian territories. Hamas still stands firm in Gaza. Why would Hamas settle for a cease-fire that removed the threat of Israeli bombs, but did nothing to relax Israel’s chokehold on its economy?

Tony Karon observes in Rootless Cosmopolitan about Zionism (contemporary Jewish nationalism):

Zionism rationalizes conquest and colonization as “redemption” of Jewish territory on behalf of the world’s Jews. It treats the Palestinians only as an obstacle and threat to its own purposes, not as people with the same rights as Jews and with legitimate claim to the land on which they were born....The end of the Zionist moment leaves Israeli Jews facing — although in many cases not necessarily facing up to — the reality that the people with whom they’re going to share the Holy Land are not the rest of us Jews, who have no intention of moving there, but the Palestinians, who they found there and displaced and dispossessed, and continue to rule over — supposedly in our name, but without our consent.

The common Israeli view is still Zionist---it sees the Arabs and Iran as pits of Islamic terror and anti-Semitic savagery that want only to kill Jews and annihilate Israel.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:49 AM | | Comments (16)


Those who support Israel say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate while under rocket fire. Fair enough.

But they demand that the Palestinians negotiate with Israel whilst under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank.

Looks onesided to me.

Israel's political narrative is that it is a victim. Ehud Barak has described Israel as "a villa in the middle of a jungle"– a place of civilisation surrounded by savage hordes. The inference is that Israel represents a foothold of Western values on the edge of the Arab world, which, with the rise of fundamentalist Islam, is perceived as a growing threat to the West.

Many Israelis who see themselves in terms of this narrative. They are convinced that the rest of the world does not understand their plight, that the only important issue is to stop the Hamas rockets, and that the suffering of the people in Gaza is their own fault for tolerating Hamas leadership.

All the signs are that the Israeli state is still fully committed to the Zionist goals of creating a Greater Israel that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.

Tom Lehrer back in the 1960s had a phrase as pertinent to the issue of this post as it was then to the policy of mutually assured destruction and Cuban missile crisis... it was about political leaders "performing escalatio" on each other.

What is it about the nature of humans that boosts the standing of political leaders who perform escalatio?

There was also a wonderful cartoon of Kruschev and Eisenhour, each in a guillotine, and each holding the rope preventing the blade dropping on the neck of the other.

While Chris Patten (especially in "What's Next? Surviving the 21st Century") can argue persuasively about the Westphalian system of nation states being the best option for most of the open sores afflicting humanity, I cannot see how the current system where states claim their insular law can trump international law will ever lead to a satisfactory outcome for the Unholy Land that has been troublesome since the Philistines were busy inventing the alphabet.

Paul McGeough in the SMH says that the lsrael's insistence that the massive military exercise was about putting a halt to Palestinian rockets being fired into or near communities in the south of Israel never rang true.

Measure it by the number of rockets - 8000-plus over eight years - and indeed it sounds like a genuine existential threat. Consider the toll - 20 Israeli deaths spread over eight years, which is about half the number of deaths in just a month of Israeli traffic accidents - and it all loses its oomph as a casus belli.Israel does not want to deal with Hamas - it wants to annihilate the Islamist movement.

The objective of a complete overthrow of Hamas explains the choice of targets in Operation Cast Lead. Instead of just smugglers' tunnels and weapons caches, buildings that might be described as symbols of Hamas power - universities, ministerial offices and police stations - have been taken out.

I see that the US--the Bush administration--- continues to veto any movement towards a ceasefire in the UN Security Council. As in Lebanon it stands behind Israel. The Bush administration shows no interest in brokering a ceasefire in the Middle East or diplomacy based on the two state solution.

There is now 500 Palestinians killed, including 87 children, from the Israeli attacks.

Israel says it only wants to end the "terror", but considering its targets, including a shopping centre overnight, it looks rather more as though Israel wants to end even the remote possibility of a Palestinian state.

Neither side cares much for civilians and has been happy to use them for political purposes, but only one side is capable of the total destruction of the other. When Israel has finished with Gazan infrastructure, will it stay and claim the place or apply more pressure to Egypt to take over responsibility?

Meanwhile back at the ranch another "Hero" has died bravely fighting the "Enemy"

Rudd's words

it increasingly looks like the latter option ---destruction of all infrastructure. I see that the little American---Rudd--- is repeating the American/israeli line on the war. It is all about Hamas' rockets nothing about the Israeli seige.

you mean Afghanistan--the "good" war? Afghanistan has re-emerged as the central front in the war against terrorism.As the British and Russians learnt in the past, military might is no guarantee of victory in Afghanistan. After seven years the war is going badly. for the Coaltiion.

Lyn asks

When Israel has finished with Gazan infrastructure, will it stay and claim the place or apply more pressure to Egypt to take over responsibility

One scenario is that Israel is engaged in a long term strategy to make life so impossible for the Palestinians that they will be driven to seek refuge and sanctuary in Jordan/Egypt, leaving Gaza clear for Israeli territorial expansion.

I thought that too Anon, except Israel has also shut down the Gaza/Egypt border and bombed the tunnels there. They say it's to stop arms going in to Gaza, but it also stops Gazans from getting out.

Where's Tony Blair? Isn't he the Middle East Quartet special representative? I haven't heard a word from him in the media about the need for peace or a ceasefire. Maybe he is holiday? Working the phones and avoiding the media? He refused to call for a ceasefire when Israel was similarly engaged against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Should Rudd fly in, do his diplomatic thingy, and sort it, before flying onto Paris and Washington via Kabul and Beijing. He says he has the diplomatic solution for the conflict is his overnight bag.

Lyn, good point.
Maybe Israel has cut a deal with Egypt? That would force the Palestinians into Jordan. The Israeli's are making daily life intolerable for the Gazans ---they are denied adequate food, water electricity and medical supplies by the siege/blockade.

So far Israel has failed to force Palestinians to abandon Gaza. its the only strategy that makes sense of what is happening re the overkill and Israel's indifference to the civilian deaths.

Israel is spurning all ceasefire talk and is now talking about the fighting going on for weeks.

Any war that the white man wagers against the dirty skins is a good and just war eh

I'm not thinking about what either side is saying, but what they're doing, and the means they have available to them.

It looks to me as though Israel's first priority is to destroy any possibility of a viable, and potentially internationally recognised, Palestinian state. You can't have a state without infrastructure.

There are also asides.

Egypt will be reluctant to take on responsibility for Gaza because they have their own Muslim extremists to worry about. At the same time this gives them an opportunity to gain diplomatic cred.

International aid to Gaza has to be trucked in via the crossings at the Egyptian and Israeli borders, which means there's a lot of cream to be skimmed during reconstruction.

Israel and Hamas both have an interest in maintaining hostilities, Israel for the massive support it gets from the US and Hamas for the moral support it gets from Arab nations.

The timing suits Israel's domestic political scene, which happily coincides with the American one.

It helps that neither side views the other as quite human.