Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is Israel's Gaza War a New War Crime?

By Dennis Bernstein
January 17, 2009

The use of the internationally banned substance white phosphorus in highly densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip gives new meaning to the phrase "white power." White western supremacy enforced by latest advanced weaponry.

Read on.


knowbuddhau said...

Thanks for the powerfully written essay. I agree: this is about white Western male dominance and the tragic failure to see that every act of oppression has an equal and opposite effect on the oppressed. The power of oppression is ultimately self-defeating.

The Cult of Power
[[[Full-spectrum dominance / "the morale of the state"///[[[{{{Protestors}}}]]]800]]]

Full-spectrum dominance over the morale of the state powered by the sacrificial imprisonment of 800 protestors.

Our More Perfect Union

This should go without saying: the more we are oppressed, the stronger our resistance becomes

1100 dead Gazans compared to 10 dead Israeli soldiers. Now that's what I call "leveraging." The difference is of two orders of magnitude; two "powers."

Israel is razing Gaza to the negative second power, aka "bombing them back to the Stone Age." The US is supplying the weaponry for Israel to exalt itself to the second power, aka deus ex machina aka "Shock & Awe."

So there stands proud Israel over prostrate Palestine, propped up and powered by machines of war made in the USA. There's no question that our actions are monstrous. The question is: Which one is Dr. Frankenstein, and which the Monster?

Anonymous said...

What an innovation! Let's hear it for the IDF, going down in history as first military to use a prohibited weapon -- white phosphorus -- on a civilian population (mostly kids0 AFTER entrapping Gazans. (Or did they learn it from US, their sponsor in the ME, in Fallujah?)
Let's give credit -- and culpability -- where it's due.

Anonymous said...

If you had rockets reigning down on you for years, and an elected regime sworn to destroy you, all measures would be taken to protect its citizens. Unfortunately, the arabs know one thing - strength. The antisemitic hatred is taught in many schools throughout the arab world. Their culture of child abuse-pseudo martydom through homicide bombing is encouraged. Women are totally oppressed. Just today there is an uproar over trying to outlaw child marriages of girls as young as 8 years old. You apologists have it ass backwards....

Anonymous said...

Anyone watching videos of Israeli massacre from Gazan streets, hospitals, homes notices how the color of these beautiful Palestinian children's skin screams out at you. Undeniable -- this slaughter and our (US) killing of at least 1 million Iraqis -- has something to do with skin color.
Those of us who value a dark-skinned child's life equal to one with white skin aren't automatically anti-semetic.
Nor does labelling Arabs those "who only understand force" explain Zionists' knee-jerk response to militarism vs. negotiations and diplomacy. We all see what they 'understand' by simply viewing these same atrocities.

Anonymous said...

by David A. Harris
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
January 26, 2009

Dear Ms. Trine Lilleng,

You were an unknown Norwegian diplomat till this month.

No longer.

As first secretary in the Norwegian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, you recently sent out an email on your office account in which you declared: "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany."

Accompanying your text were photos, with an emphasis on children, seeking to juxtapose the Holocaust with the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Clearly, you are miscast in your role as a diplomat, all the more so of a nation that has sought to play a mediating role in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In fact, you're desperately in need of some education.

Let's begin with your current posting. You've been in Riyadh since 2007.

If you're so anguished by human rights violations, perhaps you could have begun by devoting some of your attention - and email blasts - to what surrounds you.

Or were your eyes diplomatically shut?

Have you failed to notice the many legal executions, including beheadings, going on in your assigned country?

Have you ignored the often abysmal treatment of foreign workers, many from Asia, who also happen to be disproportionately counted among the victims of Saudi capital punishment?

Have you neglected the gender apartheid that surrounds you? Did you ever look out of your car to notice that Saudi women are proscribed from driving, and that's hardly the worst of it?

Have you checked the skyline of Riyadh or Jeddah lately to count the number of church spires or other non-Muslim houses of worship?

Have you bothered to inquire about the fate of homosexuals?

Okay, you were AWOL on those issues. Maybe you just didn't want to offend your hosts by speaking the truth, or maybe you're suffering from that diplomatic disease known as "localitis" or "clientitis."

But surely a woman like you, with such capacity for empathy for those in far-away places, and especially for children in danger, couldn't remain silent about other human rights transgressions, could she?

After all, could an individual so deeply moved by the plight of Palestinians in Gaza remain silent about what a New York Times columnist earlier this month described as "hell on earth" - Zimbabwe? Could a person so anguished by the fate of Palestinian children stay mum about a country where a girl's life expectancy at birth is 34, much less than half that of her Norwegian counterpart, and where the health care sector has vaporized, all thanks to the one-man rule of Robert Mugabe?

Could such a dedicated humanist possibly avert her eyes from the deadliest conflict since the Second World War, which has killed over five million people, many of them children, in the Congo in the past decade - not to mention the documented and widespread use of torture, rape, and arbitrary detention?

An observer of such acute sensitivity could hardly hold her tongue while Afghan girls attempting to go to school have been doused with acid by those who wish to deny young women access to education, reminiscent of the five years of Taliban rule, could she?

In neighboring Pakistan, where you served in the Norwegian embassy for three years, the beleaguered human rights community must have been fortunate to have such an impassioned voice for all that's wrong in this failing state. Or was that voice, perhaps, on mute?

The children of Sderot, the Israeli town near the Gaza border, have been in desperate need of just such a spokesperson as you for the past eight years.

After all, their town has been in the crosshairs of literally thousands of missiles and mortars fired from Gaza. Those Israeli children live with all the signs of trauma, knowing that, with only 15 seconds warning, they could be hit at any time in their schools, their parks, or their beds. Yet, during my visit there last week, for some reason, those children and their parents had yet to hear you speak out for them. What a pity!

And the children of Iran could use your help as well. According to human rights groups, Iran has no compunction about executing children or those who were children when their crimes were allegedly committed.

Oh, and by the way, your compassionate help would also undoubtedly be welcomed by others under the gun in Iran, including women's rights activists, union organizers, student protesters, independent journalists, reformist politicians, and religious minorities. And let's not forget, once again, the children of Israel, who, according to the Iranian president, don't have a right to live.

But wait! A Google search about you reveals nothing, not a single word, regarding your views on Zimbabwe, Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sderot, or Iran. Or, for that matter, Burma, Darfur, Syria. Shall I go on?

Only Israel, faced with those who wish to destroy it, manages to prompt your impassioned correspondence and righteous indignation. Why?

No less, your stunning lack of education extends beyond the contemporary world to 20th century history, specifically the Holocaust.

Your invocation of the Holocaust to describe what's taken place in Gaza is, frankly, nothing short of obscene.

Your claim that the grandchildren of the survivors are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them goes beyond any norm of decency, much less honesty.

Approve or disapprove of the Israeli military operation, but there is no basis whatsoever for such a comparison.

When Israel entered Gaza in a war of self-defense in 1967, the population was 360,000. After Israel withdrew totally from Gaza in 2005, it was estimated at 1.4 million.

Would that the Jewish population under Nazi rule had quadrupled!

When Israel entered Gaza in 1967, life expectancy for women was 46. When it left Gaza, it was 73.

Shall we even bother to discuss life expectancy for Jews under Nazi occupation?

The Second World War in Europe lasted from September 1, 1939 to May 8, 1945 - 68 months in all. That means an average monthly extermination rate of nearly 90,000 Jews.

Compare that to the total number of victims in Gaza over three weeks - roughly guesstimated at more or less 1,000 - and recall that the majority were armed fighters committed to Israel's destruction, who used civilians, including children, as human shields, mosques as arms depots, and hospitals as sanctuaries.

Believe me, Ms. Lilleng, if the "grandchildren of the Holocaust survivors" had wanted to do exactly what the Nazis did to their grandparents, they would have unleashed their full air, land, and sea power. They would have thrown the Israel Defense Forces' ethical guidelines to the wind, kicked out the UN and Red Cross personnel on the ground, stopped humanitarian transports of food, fuel, and medicine, prevented media reporting, and left absolutely nothing - and no one - standing.

Unless, of course, they needed slave labor, in which case they would have carted off the able-bodied to work in Auschwitz replicas until they dropped. Or material for ghoulish medical experimentation, in which case, in the spirit of Mengele, they would have kept Palestinian twins alive temporarily.

But Israel didn't do any of these things. It's a peace-seeking democracy dedicated to the rule of law - unlike so many of the countries whose horrific sins you blithely choose to overlook.

What are we to make of your selective moral outrage and rank hypocrisy?

You ought to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself why Israel, and only Israel, makes your blood boil and leads you to speak out, even at the risk of grossly distorting both reality and history.

The answer, Ms. Lilleng, should be painfully obvious.

Anonymous said...

“Before [peace can be attained] terrorist Hamas must be totally eliminated.”

Israel’s Defensive Response to Gaza
Was Israel using “disproportionate force?”

Having absorbed over 10,000 rockets aimed at its towns and cities and having issued innumerable warnings, Israel finally decided to defend its citizens. It bombarded Gaza by air and by sea and ultimately invaded it. The “world community” is concerned and enraged about Israel’s having used “disproportionate force” in its response. Is that a valid complaint?

What are the facts?

Some History: In order to understand what is happening, some historical review is in order. Israel captured Judea/Samaria (the “West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, in a defensive war against three Arab states. Since then, Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan. It has returned the vast Sinai to Egypt. Attempts at peace with Syria have been unsuccessful so far. Although there have been many attempts to make peace with the Palestinians, Israel’s most immediate neighbors, that has until now proven to be elusive. There have been any number of “interim” agreements, but a final peace agreement covering all aspects and all demands has not yet been reached.

With the concurrence and support of the US and of Israel, the Palestinians installed a Palestinian Authority (PA) to represent and to govern them. In order to move the peace process forward, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to unilaterally disengage from Gaza. It was a very difficult and wrenching decision because 9,000 Israeli citizens who had been living there for generations had to be evacuated. Twenty-one communities had to be dismantled. Since then, there is absolutely no Israeli presence – civil or military – in Gaza.

In June 2007, Hamas wrested control over the Gaza Strip from the PA in bloody fighting. Hamas, classified as a terror organization by the United States and by most civilized nations, is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel and for “carrying the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Immediately after seizing power, Hamas began to fire rockets into Israel. It is estimated that so far close to 10,000 rockets have been launched, 3,000 alone in 2008. Even one rocket would be considered an act of war by any country. Constant barrages of rockets on Israel by Hamas are obviously intolerable. If a neighboring country would fire rockets against our cities we would respond with massive force. And that is exactly what Israel is doing.

Was Israel’s Response Disproportionate? Article 51 of the UN Charter is quite clear that any nation has the right to engage in self-defense against armed attack. The response has indeed to satisfy the principle of proportionality. But it is not correct to claim that Israel has violated that principle by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets. There is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of civilians, which is what Hamas is doing by lobbing its rockets into Israeli cities without strategic significance, and the targeted killing of Hamas militants. The law is clear that any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.

In its air and ground operations against Gaza Israel went to unprecedented lengths to avoid killing civilians. In an area such as Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world – and in view of Hamas’s custom of locating its rocket launchers and other military installations in the middle of residential areas and even in mosques, using civilians as shields – that becomes particularly difficult. In what is certainly unique in the history of warfare, Israel, in its respect for human rights, dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Gaza and placed telephone calls to warn residents of non-military installations to get out of the way of military action. The accusation that Israel is using “disproportionate force” is absurd.

What were Israel’s war aims? The “world” most insistently demanded that an immediate cease fire be arranged. Remarkably, that same “world” did not utter a word or lift a finger when thousands of rockets fell on Israel. Israel cannot be expected to terminate its defensive action in Gaza until a comprehensive solution to the crisis can be reached. One can only surmise
what Israel’s war aims were, but in all likelihood, at the very minimum the following: • Full dismantling of all military power of Hamas, including destruction of stockpiles of rockets and other weapons. • Increased Egyptian supervision of the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt. • Return of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel cannot possibly conclude a peace agreement with those who are sworn to destroy it and continue on that path. The PA, though still nursing impossible dreams of the division of Jerusalem and the “return” of the 1948 refugees, is amenable to diplomacy and can be dealt with. Final solutions have so far been unavailable, but there is indeed hope for ultimate success. The US government will wish to play a positive role in that. But before that, terrorist Hamas must be totally eliminated. That is the principle and the main goal of Israel’s action against Gaza.

Anonymous said...

Myth: The “Palestinians” are a nation and therefore deserving of a homeland.

Reality: The concept of Palestinian nationhood is a new one and had not been heard of until after the Six-Day War (1967), when Israel, by its victory, came into the administration of the territories of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip. The so-called “Palestinians” are no more different from the Arabs living in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, than Wisconsinites are from Iowans.

Myth: Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip are “occupied Arab territory.”

Reality: All of “Palestine” — east and west of the Jordan River — was part of the League of Nations mandate. Under the Balfour Declaration, all of it was to be the “national home for the Jewish people.” In violation of this mandate, Great Britain severed the entire area east of the Jordan River — about 75% of Palestine — and gave it to the Arabs, who created on it the kingdom of Transjordan. When Israel declared its independence in 1948, five Arab armies invaded the new country in order to destroy it at its very birth. They were defeated by the Israelis. The Transjordanians, however, remained in occupation of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and East Jerusalem. They proceeded to drive all Jews from those territories and to systematically destroy all Jewish houses of worship and other institutions. The Transjordanians (now renamed “Jordanians”) were the occupiers for nineteen years. Israel regained these territories following its victory in the Six-Day War. Israel has returned the entire Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. The final status of the “West Bank” will be decided if and when the Palestinians will finally be able to sit down and seriously talk peace with Israel.

Myth: Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) are the “greatest obstacle to peace.”

Reality: This is simply not correct, although it has been repeated so often that many have come to believe it. The greatest obstacle to peace is the intransigence and the irreconcilable hostility of the Arabs. Not more than 150,000 Jews are settled in these territories, living among about 1.4 million Arabs. How can Jews living there be an obstacle to peace? Why shouldn't they live there? About 1.2 million Arabs live in Israel proper. They are not an obstacle to peace. Neither the Israelis nor they themselves consider them as such.

Myth: Israel is unwilling to yield “land for peace."

Reality: The concept that to the loser, rather than to the victor, belong the spoils is a radically new one, never before thought of in world history. Israel has emerged victorious in the five wars imposed on it by the Arabs. In order to make peace, it has returned over 90% of the territory occupied by it, specifically the vast Sinai Peninsula, to Egypt. That territory contained some of the most advanced military installations in the world, prosperous cities and settlements, and oil fields developed entirely by Israel that made it independent of petroleum imports. In the Camp David Accords, Israel agreed to autonomy for Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) with the permanent status to be determined after three years. But no responsible Palestinian representation has been available to negotiate with Israel about this.

All these myths (and others we shall talk about) have poisoned the atmosphere for decades. The root cause of the never-ending conflict is the unwillingness of the Arabs (and not just the Palestinians) to accept the reality of Israel. What a pity that those of the Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens have lived and continue to live in poverty, misery and ignorance. They could have chosen to accept the proposed partition of the country in 1947, would now have had their state alongside Israel for almost sixty years and could have lived in peace and prosperity. They could have kept hundreds of thousands of refugees in their homes and could have saved tens of thousands of lives. Peace will only come when the Arabs finally accept the reality of Israel. And that is not a myth — that is a fact!