Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pappé, Avnery, and Hass - Oy Vey!

"Any state that perpetrates occupation cannot be called a democratic state." - Ilan Pappé

In addition to Gideon Levy, there are three other active Israeli journalists and writers whose voices I truly value (though my admiration is not limited to only these three - and it would have been four if Tanya Reinhart, Israeli linguist and activist, had not prematurely passed away in March 2007). These are people who have the courage to speak truth in the face of such brutal (and ruling) opposition. These people live in a land plagued by Zionism, they know how it works and whom it hurts and what its destructive consequences have been over the past century - they don't view Israel and Palestine from thousands of miles, a couple continents, and a few vast bodies of water away like the rest of us. And they are all Jewish.

Ilan Pappé, Uri Avnery, and Amira Hass all demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Judaism is not synonymous with Zionism - just as being Chinese isn't the same as being Communist or being an American isn't the same as being Democratic. (Just look at Dick Cheney. Wait, actually, don't.) It's a philosophy, a belief-system, enacted as a system of government and policy, nothing more. They show the world that criticism of Israel is not identical to anti-Semitism, that they are not one and the same.

These people "get it," even though they may not always agree (see Pappé's response to Avnery's article, "The Bed of Sodom" of April 2007.

Please read what they have to say.



"If you don’t understand colonialism, ethnic cleansing and the war for freedom, you can’t understand Palestine"

Israeli historian and professor Ilan Pappé was born in Haifa to German-Jewish parents who had fled Nazi persecution in the 1930s. After years of being involved in political activism, Pappé supported the boycott of Israel in 2005, including the academic boycott, as well as initiating the annual Israeli Right of Return conferences, which call for the unconditional right of return of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948. In 2007, Pappé left his position as a senior lecturer of Political Science at the University of Haifa, claiming that he found it "increasingly difficult to live in Israel" with his "unwelcome views and convictions," and joined the History Department at the University of Exeter in Britain.

Palestine 2007:
Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank

Ilan Pappé
The Electronic Intifada, 11 January 2007

A general view of Har Homa settlement, built on the land of West Bank city of Bethlehem, and considered by Israel to be part of 'Greater Jerusalem', 29 November 2006. (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson)
On this stage, not so long ago, I claimed that Israel is conducting genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip. I hesitated a lot before using this very charged term and yet decided to adopt it. Indeed, the responses I received, including from some leading human rights activists, indicated a certain unease over the usage of such a term. I was inclined to rethink the term for a while, but came back to employing it today with even stronger conviction: it is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip.

On 28 December 2006, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem published its annual report about the Israeli atrocities in the occupied territories. Israeli forces killed this last year six hundred and sixty citizens. The number of Palestinians killed by Israel last year tripled in comparison to the previous year (around two hundred). According to B'Tselem, the Israelis killed one hundred and forty one children in the last year. Most of the dead are from the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli forces demolished almost 300 houses and slew entire families. This means that since 2000, Israeli forces killed almost four thousand Palestinians, half of them children; more than twenty thousand were wounded.

B'Tselem is a conservative organization, and the numbers may be higher. But the point is not just about the escalating intentional killing, it is about the trend and the strategy. As 2007 commences, Israeli policymakers are facing two very different realities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the former, they are closer than ever to finishing the construction of their eastern border. Their internal ideological debate is over and their master plan for annexing half of the West Bank is being implemented at an ever-growing speed. The last phase was delayed due to the promises made by Israel, under the Road Map, not to build new settlements. Israel found two ways of circumventing this alleged prohibition. First, it defined a third of the West Bank as Greater Jerusalem, which allowed it to build within this new annexed area towns and community centers. Secondly, it expanded old settlements to such proportions so that there was no need to build new ones. This trend was given an additional push in 2006 (hundreds of caravans were installed to mark the border of the expansions, the planning schemes for the new towns and neighborhoods were finalized and the apartheid bypass roads and highway system completed). In all, the settlements, the army bases, the roads and the wall will allow Israel to annex almost half of the West Bank by 2010. Within these territories there will be a considerable number of Palestinians, against whom the Israeli authorities will continue to implement slow and creeping transfer policies -- too boring as a subject for the western media to bother with and too elusive for human rights organizations to make a general point about them. There is no rush; as far as the Israelis are concerned, they have the upper hand there: the daily abusive and dehumanizing mixed mechanisms of army and bureaucracy is as effective as ever in contributing its own share to the dispossession process.

The strategic thinking of Ariel Sharon that this policy is far better than the one offered by the blunt 'transferists' or ethnic cleansers, such as Avigdor Liberman's advocacy, is accepted by everyone in the government, from Labor to Kadima. The petit crimes of state terrorism are also effective as they enable liberal Zionists around the world to softly condemn Israel and yet categorize any genuine criticism on Israel's criminal policies as anti-Semitism.

On the other hand, there is no clear Israeli strategy as yet for the Gaza Strip; but there is a daily experiment with one. Gaza, in the eyes of the Israelis, is a very different geo-political entity from that of the West Bank. Hamas controls Gaza, while Abu Mazen seems to run the fragmented West Bank with Israeli and American blessing. There is no chunk of land in Gaza that Israel covets and there is no hinterland, like Jordan, to which the Palestinians of Gaza can be expelled. Ethnic cleansing is ineffective here.

The earlier strategy in Gaza was ghettoizing the Palestinians there, but this is not working. The ghettoized community continues to express its will for life by firing primitive missiles into Israel. Ghettoizing or quarantining unwanted communities, even if they were regarded as sub-human or dangerous, never worked in history as a solution. The Jews know it best from their own history. The next stages against such communities in the past were even more horrific and barbaric. It is difficult to tell what the future holds for the Gaza population, ghettoized, quarantined, unwanted and demonized. Will it be a repeat of the ominous historical examples or is a better fate still possible?

Creating the prison and throwing the key to the sea, as UN Special Reporter John Dugard has put it, was an option the Palestinians in Gaza reacted against with force as soon as September 2005. They were determined to show at the very least that they were still part of the West Bank and Palestine. In that month, they launched the first significant, in number and not quality, barrage of missiles into the Western Negev. The shelling was a response to an Israeli campaign of mass arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in the Tul Karem area. The Israelis responded with operation 'First Rain'. It is worth dwelling for a moment on the nature of that operation. It was inspired by the punitive measures inflicted first by colonialist powers, and then by dictatorships, against rebellious imprisoned or banished communities. A frightening show of the oppressor's power to intimidate preceded all kind of collective and brutal punishments, ending with a large number of dead and wounded among the victims. In 'First Rain', supersonic flights were flown over Gaza to terrorize the entire population, succeeded by the heavy bombardment of vast areas from the sea, sky and land. The logic, the Israeli army explained, was to create pressure so as to weaken the Gaza community's support for the rocket launchers. As was expected, by the Israelis as well, the operation only increased the support for the rocket launchers and gave impetus to their next attempt. The real purpose of that particular operation was experimental. The Israeli generals wished to know how such operations would be received at home, in the region and in the world. And it seems that instantly the answer was 'very well'; namely, no one took an interest in the scores of dead and hundreds of wounded Palestinians left behind after the 'First Rain' subsided.

The bar set continually higher: Palestinians pass by a pool of blood after the Israeli shelling of a residential area in Beit Hanoun in the northern of Gaza Strip in which at least 18 people were killed, 8 November 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)
And hence since 'First Rain' and until June 2006, all the following operations were similarly modeled. The difference was in their escalation: more firepower, more causalities and more collateral damage and, as to be expected, more Qassam missiles in response. Accompanying measures in 2006 were more sinister means of ensuring the full imprisonment of the people of Gaza through boycott and blockade, with which the EU is still shamefully collaborating.

The capture of Gilad Shalit in June 2006 was irrelevant in the general scheme of things, but nonetheless provided an opportunity for the Israelis to escalate even more the components of the tactical and allegedly punitive missions. After all, there was still no strategy that followed the tactical decision of Ariel Sharon to take out 8,000 settlers whose presence complicated 'punitive' missions and whose eviction made him almost a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the 'punitive' actions continue and become themselves a strategy.

The Israeli army loves drama and therefore also escalated the language. 'First Rain' was replaced by 'Summer Rains', a general name that was given to the 'punitive' operations since June 2006 (in a country where there is no rain in the summer, the only precipitation that one can expect are showers of F-16 bombs and artillery shells hitting people of Gaza).

'Summer Rains' brought a novel component: the land invasion into parts of the Gaza Strip. This enabled the army to kill citizens even more effectively and to present it as a result of heavy fighting within dense populated areas, an inevitable result of the circumstances and not of Israeli policies. With the close of summer came operation 'Autumn Clouds' which was even more efficient: on 1 November 2006, in less than 48 hours, the Israelis killed seventy civilians; by the end of that month, with additional mini operations accompanying it, almost two hundred were killed, half of them children and women. As one can see from the dates, some of the activity was parallel to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, making it easier to complete the operations without much external attention, let alone criticism.

From 'First Rain' to 'Autumn Clouds' one can see escalation in every parameter. The first is the disappearance of the distinction between civilian and non-civilian targets: the senseless killing has turned the population at large to the main target for the army's operation. The second one is the escalation in the means: employment of every possible killing machines the Israeli army possesses. Thirdly, the escalation is conspicuous in the number of casualties: with each operation, and each future operation, a much larger number of people are likely to be killed and wounded. Finally, and most importantly, the operations become a strategy -- the way Israel intends to solve the problem of the Gaza Strip.

A creeping transfer in the West Bank and a measured genocidal policy in the Gaza Strip are the two strategies Israel employs today. From an electoral point of view, the one in Gaza is problematic as it does not reap any tangible results; the West Bank under Abu Mazen is yielding to Israeli pressure and there is no significant force that arrests the Israeli strategy of annexation and dispossession. But Gaza continues to fire back. On the one hand, this would enable the Israeli army to initiate more massive genocidal operations in the future. But there is also the great danger, on the other, that as happened in 1948, the army would demand a more drastic and systematic 'punitive' and collateral action against the besieged people of the Gaza Strip.

A source of satisfaction for Israel: Palestinians inspect a burnt vehicle belonging to Colonel Mohammad Ghareeb, the deputy chief of preventive security in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The vehicle was burnt during factional clashes between Fatah and Hamas. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)
Ironically, the Israeli killing machine has rested lately. Even relatively large number of Qassam missiles, including one or two quite deadly ones, did not stir the army to action. Though the army's spokesmen say it shows 'restraint', it never did in the past and is not likely to do so in the future. The army rests, as its generals are content with the internal killing that rages on in Gaza and does the job for them. They watch with satisfaction the emerging civil war in Gaza, which Israel foments and encourages. From Israel's point of view it does not really mater how Gaza would eventually be demographically downsized, be it by internal or Israeli slaying. The responsibility of ending the internal fighting lies of course with the Palestinian groups themselves, but the American and Israeli interference, the continued imprisonment, the starvation and strangulation of Gaza are all factors that make such an internal peace process very difficult. But it will take place soon and then with the first early sign that it subsided, the Israeli 'Summer Rains' will fall down again on the people of Gaza, wreaking havoc and death.

And one should never tire of stating the inevitable political conclusions from this dismal reality of the year we left behind and in the face of the one that awaits us. There is still no other way of stopping Israel than besides boycott, divestment and sanctions. We should all support it clearly, openly, unconditionally, regardless of what the gurus of our world tell us about the efficiency or raison d'etre of such actions. The UN would not intervene in Gaza as it does in Africa; the Nobel peace laureates would not enlist to its defense as they do for causes in Southeast Asia. The numbers of people killed there are not staggering as far as other calamities are concerned, and it is not a new story -- it is dangerously old and troubling. The only soft point of this killing machine is its oxygen lines to 'western' civilization and public opinion. It is still possible to puncture them and make it at least more difficult for the Israelis to implement their future strategy of eliminating the Palestinian people either by cleansing them in the West Bank or genociding them in the Gaza Strip.


For more articles by Ilan Pappé, check out his website and the ZNet archives.



Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, left-wing peace activist, and former Knesset member, who was originally a member of the right-wing Revisionist Zionist movement, Irgun. He has worn all possible hats of an active Israeli citizen from being an Israeli fighter in 1948, elected to the Knesset for three terms (1965-1969, 1969-1973, 1979-1981) and later turned to left-wing activism, founding both the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in 1975 and the Gush Shalom movement in 1993, which he continues to lead as of 2007. He is a devout secularist and strongly opposed to the Orthodox influence in religious and political life.

Worse than a Crime

Uri Avnery, 26 January 2008

IT LOOKED like the fall of the Berlin wall. And not only did it look like it. For a moment, the Rafah crossing was the Brandenburg Gate.

It is impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing everybody they meet - to feel so even when it is your own government that erected the wall in the first place.

The Gaza Strip is the largest prison on earth. The breaking of the Rafah wall was an act of liberation. It proves that an inhuman policy is always a stupid policy: no power can stand up against a mass of people that has crossed the border of despair.

That is the lesson of Gaza, January, 2008.

ONE MIGHT repeat the famous saying of the French statesman Boulay de la Meurthe, slightly amended: It is worse than a war crime, it is a blunder!

Months ago, the two Ehuds - Barak and Olmert - imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and boasted about it. Lately they have tightened the deadly noose even more, so that hardly anything at all could be brought into the Strip. Last week they made the blockade absolute - no food, no medicines. Things reached a climax when they stopped the fuel, too. Large areas of Gaza remained without electricity - incubators for premature babies, dialysis machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of thousands remained without heating in the severe cold, unable to cook, running out of food.

Again and again, Aljazeera broadcast the pictures into millions of homes in the Arab world. TV stations all over the world showed them, too. From Casablanca to Amman angry mass protest broke out and frightened the authoritarian Arab regimes. Hosny Mubarak called Ehud Barak in panic. That evening Barak was compelled to cancel, at least temporarily, the fuel-blockade he had imposed in the morning. Apart from that, the blockade remained total.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid act.

THE REASON given for the starving and freezing of one and a half million human beings, crowded into a territory of 365 square kilometers, is the continued shooting at the town of Sderot and the adjoining villages.

That is a well-chosen reason. It unites the primitive and poor parts of the Israeli public. It blunts the criticism of the UN and the governments throughout the world, who might otherwise have spoken out against a collective punishment that is, undoubtedly, a war crime under international law.

A clear picture is presented to the world: the Hamas terror regime in Gaza launches missiles at innocent Israeli civilians. No government in the world can tolerate the bombardment of its citizens from across the border. The Israeli military has not found a military answer to the Qassam missiles. Therefore there is no other way than to exert such strong pressure on the Gaza population as to make them rise up against Hamas and compel them to stop the missiles.

The day the Gaza electricity works stopped operating, our military correspondents were overjoyed: only two Qassams were launched from the Strip. So it works! Ehud Barak is a genius!

But the day after, 17 Qassams landed, and the joy evaporated. Politicians and generals were (literally) out of their minds: one politician proposed to "act crazier than them", another proposed to "shell Gaza's urban area indiscriminately for every Qassam launched", a famous professor (who is a little bit deranged) proposed the exercise of "ultimate evil".

The government scenario was a repeat of Lebanon War II (the report about which is due to be published in a few days). Then: Hizbullah captured two soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, now: Hamas fired on towns and villages on the Israeli side of the border. Then: the government decide in haste to start a war, now: the government decided in haste to impose a total blockade. Then: the government ordered the massive bombing of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hizbullah, now: the government decided to cause massive suffering of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hamas.

The results were the same in both cases: the Lebanese population did not rise up against Hizbullah, but on the contrary, people of all religious communities united behind the Shiite organization. Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the entire Arab world. And now: the population unites behind Hamas and accuses Mahmoud Abbas of cooperation with the enemy. A mother who has no food for her children does not curse Ismail Haniyeh, she curses Olmert, Abbas and Mubarak.

SO WHAT to do? After all, it is impossible to tolerate the suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot, who are under constant fire.

What is being hidden from the embittered public is that the launching of the Qassams could be stopped tomorrow morning.

Several months ago Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It repeated the offer this week.

A cease-fire means, in the view of Hamas: the Palestinians will stop shooting Qassams and mortar shells, the Israelis will stop the incursions into Gaza, the "targeted" assassinations and the blockade.

Why doesn't our government jump at this proposal?

Simple: in order to make such a deal, we must speak with Hamas, directly or indirectly. And this is precisely what the government refuses to do.

Why? Simple again: Sderot is only a pretext - much like the two captured soldiers were a pretext for something else altogether. The real purpose of the whole exercise is to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza and to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank.

In simple and blunt words: the government sacrifices the fate of the Sderot population on the altar of a hopeless principle. It is more important for the government to boycott Hamas - because it is now the spearhead of Palestinian resistance - than to put an end to the suffering of Sderot. All the media cooperate with this pretence.

IT HAS been said before that it is dangerous to write satire in our country - too often the satire becomes reality. Some readers may recall a satirical article I wrote months ago. In it I described the situation in Gaza as a scientific experiment designed to find out how far one can go, in starving a civilian population and turning their lives into hell, before they raise their hands in surrender.

This week, the satire has become official policy. Respected commentators declared explicitly that Ehud Barak and the army chiefs are working on the principle of "trial and error" and change their methods daily according to results. They stop the fuel to Gaza, observe how this works and backtrack when the international reaction is too negative. They stop the delivery of medicines, see how it works, etc. The scientific aim justifies the means.

The man in charge of the experiment is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a man of many ideas and few scruples, a man whose whole turn of mind is basically inhuman. He is now, perhaps, the most dangerous person in Israel, more dangerous than Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu, dangerous to the very existence of Israel in the long run.

The man in charge of execution is the Chief of Staff. This week we had the chance of hearing speeches by two of his predecessors, generals Moshe Ya'alon and Shaul Mofaz, in a forum with inflated intellectual pretensions. Both were discovered to have views that place them somewhere between the extreme Right and the ultra-Right. Both have a frighteningly primitive mind. There is no need to waste a word about the moral and intellectual qualities of their immediate successor, Dan Halutz. If these are the voices of the three last Chiefs of Staff, what about the incumbent, who cannot speak out as openly as they? Has this apple fallen further from the tree?

Until three days ago, the generals could entertain the opinion that the experiment was succeeding. The misery in the Gaza Strip had reached its climax. Hundreds of thousands were threatened by actual hunger. The chief of UNRWA warned of an impending human catastrophe. Only the rich could still drive a car, heat their homes and eat their fill. The world stood by and wagged its collective tongue. The leaders of the Arab states voiced empty phrases of sympathy without raising a finger.

Barak, who has mathematical abilities, could calculate when the population would finally collapse.

AND THEN something happened that none of them foresaw, in spite of the fact that it was the most foreseeable event on earth.

When one puts a million and a half people in a pressure cooker and keeps turning up the heat, it will explode. That is what happened at the Gaza-Egypt border.

At first there was a small explosion. A crowd stormed the gate, Egyptian policemen opened live fire, dozens were wounded. That was a warning.

The next day came the big attack. Palestinian fighters blew up the wall in many places. Hundreds of thousands broke out into Egyptian territory and took a deep breath. The blockade was broken.

Even before that, Mubarak was in an impossible situation. Hundreds of millions of Arabs, a billion Muslims, saw how the Israeli army had closed the Gaza strip off on three sides: the North, the East and the sea. The fourth side of the blockade was provided by the Egyptian army.

The Egyptian president, who claims the leadership of the entire Arab world, was seen as a collaborator with an inhuman operation conducted by a cruel enemy in order to gain the favor (and the money) of the Americans. His internal enemies, the Muslim Brothers, exploited the situation to debase him in the eyes of his own people.

It is doubtful if Mubarak could have persisted in this position. But the Palestinian masses relieved him of the need to make a decision. They decided for him. They broke out like a tsunami wave. Now he has to decide whether to succumb to the Israeli demand to re-impose the blockade on his Arab brothers.

And what about Barak's experiment? What's the next step? The options are few:
1. To re-occupy Gaza. The army does not like the idea. It understands that this would expose thousands of soldiers to a cruel guerilla war, which would be unlike any intifada before.

2. To tighten the blockade again and exert extreme pressure on Mubarak, including the use of Israeli influence on the US Congess to deprive him of the billions he gets every year for his services.

3. To turn the curse into a blessing, by handing the Strip over to Mubarak, pretending that this was Barak's hidden aim all along. Egypt would have to safeguard Israel's security, prevent the launching of Qassams and expose its own soldiers to a Palestinian guerilla war - when it thought it was rid of the burden of this poor and barren area, and after the infrastructure there has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation. Probably Mubarak will say: Very kind of you, but no thanks.

The brutal blockade was a war crime. And worse: it was a stupid blunder.


For more articles by Uri Avnery, check out his website and the ZNet archives.



Amira Hass, born in Jerusalem, is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. She was educated at the Hebrew University, where she studied the history of Nazism and the European Left's relation to The Holocaust. Frustrated by the events of the First Intifada, she began her journalistic career in 1989 as a staff editor for Ha'aretz and started to report from the Palestinian Territories in 1991. She is the only Jewish Israeli journalist who lives full-time among the Palestinians, in Gaza from 1993 and in Ramallah from 1997.

They neither see nor remember

Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, 23 January 2008

The security establishment was quick on Monday to boast of the success of its tactic of escalation against Gaza: Look, the number of Qassams declined. By the time these lines are published, the security establishment may spin another logical axiom: Since we renewed the supply of diesel fuel on a one-time basis, the Palestinians have gone back to firing Qassams. The conclusion: Continue the escalation. The logic of escalation is the middle name of the current defense minister, Ehud Barak, and many Israelis are adopting it.

Barak was prime minister in September 2000, when the Israel Defense Forces responded with escalation to popular demonstrations against the Israeli occupier and to the throwing of stones: lethal fire against civilians, among them many children. Not surprisingly, the Palestinians did not understand the lesson and turned to escalation tactics of their own. That is how we reached the point where we are now - homemade rockets of all kinds, which become even developed, the more Israel escalates its punishment measures in response to them.

Books, articles and one or two films have have already discussed, albeit tardily, the foolishness of the tactic of escalation. But that does not matter to those who support the application of more and more pressure on the 1.5 million residents of the Strip. This shows that they - like their defense minister and the rest of the political leadership - are suffering from four failings: amnesia, shortsightedness, disorientation and learning disabilities.

Amnesia allows exponents of this position to ponder the ostensibly welcome results of the escalation for a period of time ranging from days to months. Israelis forget the deadly Israeli attack that preceded the last Qassam barrage. And because they do not connect today's Qassams to those killed at the beginning of the intifada, that is, to the steps of escalation that the army took seven years ago, they cannot imagine what the result will be of the interruption to the water supply due to the power cuts; the collapse of the sewerage system; the insult inherent in dealing only with food and the cold. Because of amnesia, Israelis do not think about the future: about the Palestinian, all-Muslim, all-Arab attitudes and positions that are being formulated at this very moment, which will end up shattering any temporary calm.

The shortsightedness of those who support escalation allows them to watch television broadcasts from Gaza - of children crying and spokesmen pleading or raging - and feel these are signs that the current escalation is working. They do not see beyond the screen. They do not see the mutual help, the resourcefulness and the humor people are showing, the stubborness and the political and popular pressure on their Egyptian neighbor.

Disorientation causes supporters of escalation to believe that Gaza is really a separate geographic and demographic region, that it does not not belong, that the fate of its inhabitants means nothing to Palestinians in other areas. Disorientation causes Israelis to relate to the Green Line and treat it as sacred only when Palestinians cross it and strike at them. They forget that they - that is, we Israelis - are crossing the Green Line at any given moment: with settlements and gunfire and separate roads, shelling and bombardment and military orders. And this began long before any Palestinians learned how to manufacture Qassams.

It all connects to learning disabilities. The escalation, its proponents are convinced, will lead to popular pressure on the Hamas government. But the Palestinians do not forget that various forms of siege and closure, economic attrition, land expropriation and foot-dragging in negotiations, are testimony to the failure of the Palestinian Authority and its elected president, Mahmoud Abbas, much more than they are to the failure of Hamas.

Those who champion escalation ignore the fact that hermetic closure of all crossings into Gaza reminds the world what it loves to forget: Israel is the occupier. The aggressor. The learning disabled and the short-sighted do not see the moral - and not just security - bankruptcy of the escalation policy. Others will do that in their place.


For more articles by Amira Hass, check out this extensive archive and the ZNet archives.


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