By Jim Miles – Canada
I write simply not to remain silent in the face of U.S. and Israeli aggression against the Palestinian population in general, and the Gaza population in particular.
Where to start? There are so many other writers and spokespersons appearing regularly on the internet alternate media that speak clearly, passionately, and knowledgeably about the Israeli atrocities in Gaza. On the regular media, the corporate controlled agenda continues its endless reiterations of the Israeli line that their purpose militarily is to stop Hamas’ rockets, a position so grievously out of context and so contrary to the obvious war crimes being committed against the people of Gaza. The governments of the west, part and parcel of the same agenda, proffer up political platitudes about regretting civilian casualties, about proportionality, about the right of Israel to defend itself. The reports themselves disingenuously seek "balance" by equating the ineffective and feeble rocket attacks with the thunderous bombardment of U.S. Hellfire missiles fired from U.S. helicopters and war planes, the use of phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs, and other modern creations of "precision" warfare.
Many citizens of the west buy these positions, some because they "don’t want to go there" – that is, they do not want to enter into discussions that might reveal their own lack of information or reveal their own biased position that seeks only what it wants to hear.
Most of the pro-Israeli arguments I hear against voices that speak against Israeli atrocities repeat the same tired attributes of the pro-Israeli government lines, narrowly focussed on the missiles, always the missiles, never the context of occupation, deprivation, and ethnic cleansing.
Despair and Incomprehension
My emotions start from full cynicism and despair about the situation arising from the seeming hopelessness of the Palestinian situation, while at the same time the Palestinians, battered, maimed, murdered, with civil infrastructure being destroyed as military targets, remain defiant of the onslaught overwhelming their personnel and resources – without recourse except to the only apparent alternative – capitulation to Israeli desires – "a land without people." Intermingled with these emotions run rage, disbelief, an odd sense of admiration for the Palestinians for that very defiance in face of truly overwhelming odds.
My intellect asks why do the western governments not speak more clearly against Israeli atrocities? Fear of the U.S.? In that regard Venezuela and Bolivia, both of whom have seen much disruption from U.S. actions, are to be considered with high regard. More is needed. The UN is useless simply because the U.S. simply ignores its pronouncements, acting in favour of its favourite client state, Israel. Too many of the western governments simply carry the same view as the U.S. wanting to protect and maintain their own elitist power without worrying what happens to a few thousand dead Palestinian children and citizens and much of the infrastructure required for operating a civil society.
If the Palestinians are deprived of a civil society as they have been for years – and more particularly the last year and a half, and then even more narrowly focussed on the last truce – what other response could be expected – it was either capitulation or struggle for freedom. Why cannot western sources understand this? Perhaps more pointedly, why do they wilfully choose to ignore the ongoing atrocities of occupation perpetuated by the Israelis and the U.S.?
The Arab governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt assume similar positions to the U.S. Fear? Convenience? Money – oil? Survival of the elites? All of the former? It is unrealistic to expect the Arab countries to react militarily, as Israel would resort to nuclear weapons if ultimately threatened with survival, and generally from history more war does not create peace, other than the ‘peace’ of the dead.
However, the complicity of these three governments in Israeli atrocities is fundamental to understanding the situation. Could they have not disagreed when Israel informed them of their intent? Were there not some sanctions that could have been effective? The opening of the Rafah crossing? A verbal reprimand made beforehand that would put the whole operation out in the open before the fact? Compliance and complacence on the part of the neighbouring Arab states that have sided with Israel demonstrates that the elites of those countries would rather continue being the elites while only paying lip service to the destruction of Gaza.
The Obama Future
The immediate battle is now over, conveniently before Barak Obama is sworn in as President, although his abstinence from this issue has been a mark against his young presidency. The rest of the world can only have the "audacity" to "hope" that Obama will surprise us all and somehow craft an effective peace in the region. It would necessitate a strong stance against AIPAC, the Israeli firsters, and the U.S. apocalyptic Christian right, but maybe that is why he is keeping quiet. Only time will tell. And probably only a short time will tell. I would remain sceptical of my own conjecture for an equitable peace.
The answers are relatively easy, in contrast to the many diplomats and politicians who tell the commoners that these are ‘sensitive’ issues that require ‘complex’ solutions. If those in power truly wanted peace and were willing to give up some of their own elitist ambitions for power and control, a much more democratic and equitable world would be forthcoming. Obama will have to work on huge problems: the environment, the economy, foreign relations. All of them are inter-related and one cannot truly be solved without affects on another. As well as the Israeli/Palestine problems domestically as above, a lot will depend on the hold that the military-corporate structures retain on political power.
The Gaza/Palestinian Future
Will the Arab states now step forward and help rebuild Gaza? Will Israel let them? Will the U.S. put pressure on to allow this to happen? Will the U.S. contribute equitably to Palestine as much as it does to Israel to ensure economic prosperity and the health and welfare of the people? $3 billion a year would do wonders for the people of Palestine if used properly for rebuilding destroyed infrastructure in all of Palestine, not just Gaza. Will the UN be able to administer a neutral guard that would permit Gaza borders crossings to be opened to the goods and services of a civilian population? Will Egypt do the same at Rafah?
Will the waterfront of Gaza become a recognized territory of Gaza, allowing trade and commerce from other states? Will the skies of Gaza be open to international airlines? These last questions underscore the issue of occupation – as long as there are no open borders, then Gaza remains a prison camp, or at best a controlled canton of no-class citizens. It remains ‘occupied’ whether Israel actually has any infantry there or not and still controls the borders.
And what of the rest of Palestine, the West Bank, now effectively divided and conquered in small cantonments, with a leadership that apparently acquiesces to Israeli desires? Where will the arguments proceed concerning the currently forgotten wall, the settlements that absorb so much of West Bank land, rural and urban, the checkpoints, the control over infrastructure, the economy and, as with Gaza, the overall geography?
My writing is mainly questions but my questions have the root of the answer within them: a response that will carry either the wilful ignorance of a narrowly defined apocalyptic vision of a god given right to a piece of land against created terrorists, combined with the corporate greed for regional control under the guise of a war on terror; or a broader answer that reflects the humanitarian religious views of acceptance, peace, cooperation, understanding, and freedom for all people, in Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, an equitable existence for all people of all faiths in the region.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.