Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz
Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: "Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger... Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!"

Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation "Cast Lead" is only in its infancy.

Once again, Israel's violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom. What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country. History's bitter irony: A government that went to a futile war two months after its establishment - today nearly everyone acknowledges as much - embarks on another doomed war two months before the end of its term.

In the interim, the loftiness of peace was on the tip of the tongue of Ehud Olmert, a man who uttered some of the most courageous words ever said by a prime minister. The loftiness of peace on the tip of his tongue, and two fruitless wars in his sheath. Joining him is his defense minister, Ehud Barak, the leader of the so-called left-wing party, who plays the role of senior accomplice to the crime.

Israel did not exhaust the diplomatic processes before embarking yesterday on another dreadful campaign of killing and ruin. The Qassams that rained down on the communities near Gaza turned intolerable, even though they did not sow death. But the response to them needs to be fundamentally different: diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire - the same one that was initially breached, one should remember, by Israel when it unnecessarily bombed a tunnel - and then, if those efforts fail, a measured, gradual military response.

But no. It's all or nothing. The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.

Blood will now flow like water. Besieged and impoverished Gaza, the city of refugees, will pay the main price. But blood will also be unnecessarily spilled on our side. In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel's overreaction.

The history of the Middle East is repeating itself with despairing precision. Just the frequency is increasing. If we enjoyed nine years of quiet between the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War, now we launch wars every two years. As such, Israel proves that there is no connection between its public relations talking points that speak of peace, and its belligerent conduct.

Israel also proves that it has not internalized the lessons of the previous war. Once again, this war was preceded by a frighteningly uniform public dialogue in which only one voice was heard - that which called for striking, destroying, starving and killing, that which incited and prodded for the commission of war crimes.

Once again the commentators sat in television studios yesterday and hailed the combat jets that bombed police stations, where officers responsible for maintaining order on the streets work. Once again, they urged against letting up and in favor of continuing the assault. Once again, the journalists described the pictures of the damaged house in Netivot as "a difficult scene." Once again, we had the nerve to complain about how the world was transmitting images from Gaza. And once again we need to wait a few more days until an alternative voice finally rises from the darkness, the voice of wisdom and morality.

In another week or two, those same pundits who called for blows and more blows will compete among themselves in leveling criticism at this war. And once again this will be gravely late.

The pictures that flooded television screens around the world yesterday showed a parade of corpses and wounded being loaded into and unloaded from the trunks of private cars that transported them to the only hospital in Gaza worthy of being called a hospital. Perhaps we once again need to remember that we are dealing with a wretched, battered strip of land, most of whose population consists of the children of refugees who have endured inhumane tribulations.

For two and a half years, they have been caged and ostracized by the whole world. The line of thinking that states that through war we will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another one friendlier to us is no more than lunacy.

Hezbollah was not weakened as a result of the Second Lebanon War; to the contrary. Hamas will not be weakened due to the Gaza war; to the contrary. In a short time, after the parade of corpses and wounded ends, we will arrive at a fresh cease-fire, as occurred after Lebanon, exactly like the one that could have been forged without this superfluous war.

In the meantime, let us now let the IDF win, as they say. A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air yesterday, and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully's strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.

Note: Gideon Levy (Hebrew: גדעון לוי‎; born 1955) is an Israeli journalist for Israel's Haaretz newspaper, where he is also an editorial board member. He is a prominent left-wing commentator. He formerly served as spokesman for Shimon Peres from 1978 and 1982.

Here's a video clip of Zbignew Brazinski on Gaza situation:

Related Links:

Jewish Power Grows in US Congress

The Nakbah

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Marching Toward Hell

Obama's Historic Win

Are Jews Culprits of Collapse on Wall Street?


Faheemuddin Farooqui said...

This time around, The timing is very important! Bush has left the office and the president-elect Obama is yet to join.

However the representatives of USA is supporting these attacks diplomatically. This is the reaon why Hatred for USA and Israel is mounting in the whole world and nothing can end terrorism in the world till Israel/USA stop these activities.

I can guarantee 90% peace in the world if issues of Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan be resolved soon.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting commentary by Juan Cole on the Khost suicide bombing:

"Although Pakistani troops fighting in South Waziristan had found Arab passports and other effects suggesting a small presence of Arab fighters with the TTP, al-Balawi had clearly joined the movement and given it his allegiance. It seems to me an alarming development, as the Aljazeera anchor also noted, that Arab jihadi volunteers might now be enlisting under the banner of the Pakistani Taliban rather than, as in the past, al-Qaeda or one of the Afghan insurgent groups. The Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan is only about 7 years old, there never having been Pakistani Taliban until the early 21st century--it was a phenomenon of the Soviet ethnic cleansing of Afghans, which forced 3 million into refugee camps in Pakistan, where many became radicalized. (And were encouraged in that direction by the Reagan administration).

Many intelligence specialists had insisted that the Khost bombing was the work of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. But I read al-Balawi's emotionalism about the Mahsuds as a clear indication that he was working for them rather than for the Haqqanis. He must have repeated seven or eight times that Baitullah Mahsud would be avenged. The militant founder of the TTTP was killed by a US drone strike in South Waziristan in August."

"Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people."

"The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (The Israelis were trying to destroy the fundamentalist Hamas party, which rules Gaza, and gave as their pretext the occasional rockets Hamas fired into Israel, though in fact there had been a truce for much of 2008, a truce of which the Israelis coldly took advantage to plan their war.)

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an OpEd by Yosi Sarid in Haaretz about Israeli settlers campaign of terror in occupied Palestine:

Bullets are fired, trees are chopped down, fields are set ablaze, window panes are shattered and houses are subject to pogroms while the representatives of law and order keep themselves safe and at a distance.
By Yossi Sarid

It's impossible to ignore any longer the calming presence of the Shin Bet security service in our lives - from the hummus in Gaza to Noam Chomsky in Bir Zeit.

This hyperactivity demands an explanation: How can we explain that one arm is long and powerful, when it comes to those who wish to destroy us, whereas the other arm is short and delicate, when it comes to those exacting a "price tag."

At the beginning of the week, Aysar Zaban from a village near Ramallah was shot in the back and killed. He was 15 years old and will no longer throw stones at cars. They're looking for the gunman, and there's no chance they will find him.

How do I know? Very simple: Not a single settler has ever been caught. There have been hundreds of "terror-settler" events and all the avengers are still walking about free. There is evidence and there are traces, but there is no justice.

Bullets are fired, trees are chopped down, fields are set ablaze, window panes are shattered and houses are subject to pogroms while the representatives of law and order keep themselves safe and at a distance. Soldiers and policemen already understand the principle; the spirit of the commanders explained it to them.

How does a person dare make such accusations, just after Yaakov (Jack ) Teitel was finally caught? For 12 years he murdered Palestinians and planted explosive devices, and had he not made the foolish mistake of harming Jews as well - even though they were leftists - he would never have been found.

Now it has been ruled that his mental state makes him unfit to stand trial - as if Teitel has suddenly fallen ill with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The right to go mad like a cow is reserved for Jewish terrorists only.

And if he's so crazy, how was he so cunning as well, managing to deceive the Shin Bet with such sophistication for so long?

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed piece "The US as Israel's Enabler in the Middle East" by KATHLEEN CHRISTISON:

Before the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the United States never considered that Egypt was quite the strategic asset that it became when it surrendered its military capability in the interests of Israel. The same can be said about the United States’ relations with several other Arab states. Its involvement in Lebanon over the years -- including its effort to remove Syrian forces from Lebanon --
The recent Wikileaks releases of State Department cables and particularly al-Jazeera’s release of a raft of Palestinian documents dealing with negotiations over the last decade also demonstrate with striking clarity how hard the United States works, and has always worked, to help Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process. U.S. support for Israel has never been a secret, becoming less and less so in recent years, but the leaked documents provide the most dramatic picture yet of the United States’ total disdain for all Palestinian negotiating demands and its complete helplessness in the face of Israeli refusal to make concessions. It is striking to note from these papers that the U.S. role as “Israel’s lawyer” -- a description coined by Aaron David Miller after his involvement in negotiations during the Clinton era -- is the same whether the administration is Bill Clinton’s or George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s. Israel’s interests and demands always prevail.

Beyond the Arab world, U.S. policy on Iran is dictated more or less totally by Israel. The pressure to attack Iran -- either a U.S. attack or U.S. support for an Israeli attack -- which has been brought to bear for most of the eight years since the start of the war on Iraq, ...
It has been clear to most analysts for years, even decades, that the United States favors Israel, but this reality has never been revealed so explicitly until recent events laid the relationship bare, and laid bare the fact that Israel is at the center of virtually every move the United States makes in the region. There has long been a taboo on talking about these realities, a taboo that has tied the tongues of people like my interlocutor. People do not mention Israel because they might be called anti-Semitic, they might be attacked as “singling out” Israel for criticism; the media fail to discuss Israel and what it does around the Middle East and, most directly, to the Palestinians who live under its rule because this might provoke angry letters to the editor and cancelled subscriptions by Israel supporters. Congressmen will not endanger campaign funds by talking honestly about Israel. And so Israel is taken off everyone’s radar screen. Progressives may “mention Israel in passing,” as my friend told me, but they do no more. Ultimately, because no one talks about it, everyone stops even thinking about Israel as the prime mover behind so many U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East.