By Dan Lieberman
Gresham’s Law briefly states "Bad money drives out good money." A corollary has: "Bad news analysis drives out good news analysis." Reports and dialogues on the events in Gaza give the impression that a mighty Hamas has wantonly attacked Israel, pulverized its southern cities with missiles and a patient Israel ran out of patience and finally retaliated.
The drama has subtext; undisclosed reasons for Israel’s attack, unstated significance of the escalated conflict, and a non-clarified future for its final denouement. Search the entire landscape and we encounter happenings beyond the horizon. Missing from the debate are the disastrous consequences to the world community due to Israel’s aggressive actions.
Media references to President-elect Barack Obama’s July 2008 speech during a visit to Israel in which he stated, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing,” incorrectly inferred he was speaking in late December 2008.
If the president-elect expressed himself in late December 2008, he might have said: “If my land was being blockaded so that my children were being impoverished and intermittently starved, their parents unable to find employment, all of them caged in a fenced area and not permitted to fish, fly or travel more than a few miles, while supersonic planes disturbed each night of their sleep and created a daily fear of a military incursion that could kill them, I would do everything to stop that and expect the Palestinians to do the same?” He could add, “ I certainly would refrain from making things worse and ask for a continuation of the truce,” which is what Hamas did.
The media has not properly related the fact that Hamas did not stop the truce; the truce expired and not solely due to Hamas.
In order to continue the truce, Hamas issued two responsible demands (1) Israel halt its devastating economic blockade of Gaza, and (2) Israel observe a truce in the West Bank as well as Gaza. When Israel refused to meet these humanitarian demands, Hamas refused to continue the truce, an event Israel, who reluctantly agreed to the first truce, knew would happen.
During the years 2001-2007, the PLO and Fatah, who controlled Gaza, fired unguided rockets and mortars at Israel and increased the launching numbers each year. Those same years witnessed Israeli incursions into Gaza that destroyed Palestinian infrastructure; Arafat’s headquarters, airport, roads, factories, homes and also lives. Sanctions and a crippling blockade followed the mayhem. So, why did Israel accuse Hamas of incitement and escalate its punishment when the pattern had been the same for years? Did Israel welcome the aggressive behavior so its military could have reasons for more aggressive retaliation? Certainly seems that way. In addition to the casualties, the shocking Israeli actions have had a disastrous political consequence.
The Bush administration heralded a new dawn for a Middle East that was willing to accept the democratic process. The Palestinians responded with the election of Hamas to authority. And what happened? Hamas faced a “heads” you lose and a “tails” you cannot win game, engineered by the western democracies. If Hamas remained out of the political process, its cadres might have been routinely attacked. By being part of the democratic process and winning an election, Hamas and the Palestinians have been pulverized, which informs the Arab world and its Islamic organizations: No matter what you do, whether you stay out of the political process or enter the political process, you will be pulverized. What behavior can we expect from people who know they are going to be pulverized? Noting the decimation of Hamas after its application of Bush’s concept of democratic participation, won’t they react more aggressively? Due to Israel’s aggressive attacks, the world can expect to suffer increases in terrorism and rebellion. Jewish communities will be targeted. Without neglecting the intensive killing, this is the major derogatory result of Israel’s war on Gaza.
The launching of 200 unguided rockets and mortars to Israel, although they did not inflict human damage and did not have Hamas’ name on them – the projectiles are fired by several militant organizations – is inexcusable. Isn’t there a question here that demands an answer? Why were projectiles that inflicted no great damage fired into Israeli territory? Showing potential force without inflicting damage signals a threat. The strong signal intends to force an adversary to a negotiating table for a compromising truce and serves as a call to the world to note the seriousness of the situation. Why didn’t Israel try some form of negotiation, some form of indirect contact that would have not compromised Israel security? Would it not have made its people more secure by signifying it did not intend to suffocate the Palestinians with an illegal embargo and was willing to compromise? Why didn’t the world bodies immediately intervene and propose a compromise that would ameliorate the explosive situation? The reason: Nobody recognizes Hamas and therefore won’t talk with the authority Result: The only other route to resolve the situation is violence and casualties.
An honest presentation would include the observation that the initial 200 launches after the ‘truce’ ended caused no human damage and insignificant physical damage. Nevertheless, more emphasis has been given to artillery shells that damaged Israeli sidewalks than those that tore apart the bodies of 250 Palestinians. Videos show the rockets from Gaza mainly puncture without generating much explosive power. Secondary damage results from shrapnel and some structure collapse. A single Israeli missile has reduced buildings and their occupants to dust. Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, January 2, 2009, verified the observations:
“The threat that Hamas’ ballistic capabilities pose to the people of the Negev is less serious than initially presumed and the residents of the targeted areas are not demonstrating signs of panic, according to an interim analysis by the Israel Defense Forces of the situation nearly a week after the launching of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.”
Too often, we have mendacious and “plugged in” reports, such as that from Bob Joseph of CNN. From a CNN transcript;
BOB JOSEPH, REPORTER: As strategically targeted as Israel is, because of what Hamas is doing and because of them putting their missiles in playgrounds, near schools and hospitals, they have created an environment where they ensure that some civilians can get hurt. And what they target themselves is, they target children and schools and hospitals. That is what makes Hamas the most evil entity — one of the most evil entities on this planet.
According to Bob Joseph, rockets and mortars that have no guidance system or explosive power and have not struck any hospitals or playgrounds and might have slightly damaged one school, are targeted missiles. Israel’s massive number of well guided missiles that have hit universities, mosques, UN schools, children playing in fields and apartment buildings are not evil and are excusable.
In one attack on a UN school, The Guardian, 6 January 2009, reports:
“The civilian death toll in Gaza increased dramatically today, with reports of more than 40 Palestinians killed after missiles exploded outside a UN school where hundreds of people were sheltering from the continuing Israeli offensive.”
Israel insists that mortars were being launched from the school courtyard. Despite the threat and charged emotions, wouldn’t a humane invading military exercise care before sending shells into a school because some person was supposedly shooting from a schoolyard adjacent to where hundreds of innocent persons had taken shelter? Israel has lowered the bar to where completely one-sided warfare that includes harming and terrifying innocent civilians to any limit becomes acceptable. A world composed of maddening leaders has now made us all potential victims to any transgression on the all powerful.
Israel, for 60 years, has used security considerations as a reason for warfare and has not gained ‘security.’ Either Israel is using the wrong tactics to achieve security or security is a cover for other objectives. Considering that Israelis, most of whom only arrived in the last 40 years, live prosperously while Palestinians who tilled the land for generations live at subsistence levels, something must be skewed in the debate of who is doing what to whom. A militarily and economically strong Israel, which shows no damage to its infrastructure or property, poses as the victim, while the militarily and economically futile Palestine territory, which has had its infrastructure and property expropriated and often reduced to rubble by Israeli attacks, is labeled the aggressor.
Hamas might be an obstacle to peace, but the organization is not the principal obstacle. The principal impediments to peace are the illegal occupation and settlements, seizures of Palestinians lands, abusive checkpoints “and the blockade of Gaza. Does Israel have a security problem that can only be ameliorated by overpowering military force or is Israel using security considerations as an opportunity to humble the Palestinian people before consolidating its territorial gains and expansionist aims?
Every day it becomes clearer that the Gaza engagement is only a stage in Israel’s testing of new weapons and new strategies for its predictable battles with Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and who knows who else. Israel has more serious enemies then all other nations combined. The attack on Gaza explains that situation. We await endless wars by an apparent out of control military machine that will be followed by escalating threats to the world due to the increasing violence – a thoughtful gesture from world leaders supposedly dedicated to protect their citizens.
Designated by critics as the Prussia of the Middle East, an army that has a nation, Israel must recognize that a population already under siege due to sanctions and embargo while living precariously with lack of food, water, electricity and other essentials of life, is at the tipping point of total destruction. The only way for the Gaza Palestinians to leave the fenced and blockaded Gaza and escape the onslaught is by death. Can we assume that many Palestinians, the oxygen sucked from their lungs by the missile blasts, in their last gasp note a relief in their intensive suffering and murmur the words once spoken by Martin Luther King, “Free at last, free at last, thank God, I’m finally free at last?”
How many of the world’s peoples are scheduled to utter similar words in the near future?
– Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has written many articles on the Middle East, which have circulated on websites and media throughout the world. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.