Gaza: And So It Begins

It really began yesterday with a massive Israeli air assault but it has continued throughout the day and night today.

The tragic murder of eight Israelis has brought out the full force of the Israeli military. While it goes without saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, this seems less like self defense at this point and more like bloody, wonton retribution. As of tonight, Israel has changed it’s story several times about who they believe to be responsible for the terror attacks late last week and yet they are stepping up their assault on Gaza. Unfortunately,the mainstream American and Israeli media have been far too quick to unquestioningly repeat Israel’s early claims of who was responsible.

Some journalists and commentators over at the Israeli blog +972 said the week before last that the only thing that could save Bibi Netanyahu from the political impact of the #j14 social protests which brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets in Tel Aviv and throughout Israel, was a security crisis. Perhaps in hindsight this is significant or perhaps it’s a bit too conspiratorial, but here is an excerpt from the +972 post of August 8th:

All this time, Netanyahu is quietly trying to bring about a security crisis. The Israeli Air Force bombed Gaza a couple of times until the desired couple of flying pipe bombs flew out, but Hamas itself cracked down on the launchers. In the West Bank, the IDF is arresting people and carrying out raids deep in Area A. This weekend, an actor from the Freedom Theater in Jenin was arrested, and several hours later the theater itself was raided, as were villages in the Hebron area. Nothing will help Netanyahu more than an outburst of violence on the borders. In this he is aided by the same man foiling his dairy reform – race-baiter extraordinaire Foreign Minister Yvette Lieberman, supreme leader of the aforementioned Yisrael Beitenu party.

Lieberman has taken to warning of an impending bloodbath in September, ahead of the UN vote on recognizing the amorphous “Palestinian State.” According to Lieberman, the Palestinians are planning all sorts of devilry and violence. And the fact that the Palestinian Authority is calling on its people not to confront Israel in September? Or the fact that the IDF itself says it has no clue where Lieberman is getting his prognosis? Never mind! Fearless leader knows best. And if the Palestinians don’t rise up, we’ll push and prod and provoke them till they do.

Some photos from the assault on Gaza (yesterday and today) via the blog Occupied Palestine (warning: some are graphic)

How will the U.S. respond if this continues? The State Dept., White House and Quartet have already issued statements condemning the terror attack in Israel last week, which is of course appropriate because the attack should be denounced in the strongest terms, but what statement will they issue if the assault on Gaza turns into another Cast Lead? Will we just hear about Israel’s right to self defense? Will we hear anything about the death of Palestinian women and children? In other words, will the U.S. and Quartet respond to the deaths of innocent Palestinians in the same way they responded to the deaths of innocent Israelis? Or is there no such thing as an “innocent Palestinian?”

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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16 Comments on “Gaza: And So It Begins”

  1. thainjacobs Says:

    Thanks for this. Everyone should have to look at the impact of war rather than just sitting back, sipping a latte and urging on one side or the other.

    Those people in the pictures don’t really look much like terrorists to me. Of course, I don’t really know what a terrorist looks like.

    Opposition leader Tzipi Livni is urging a full scale war with Gaza- so much for the opposition. She’s as bloodthirsty as Bibi is. Her parents were Irgun terrorists and proud of it. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Naturally, Clinton and Obama and the traitors in Congress will cheer on this senseless killing in the name of self-defense. In fact, Clinton has already come out saying she hopes Israel will deal with those responsible. I’d like to see Hillary live in Gaza for 24 hours without her security detail, her chef, her personal aides, etc. I’m sorry, I no longer support Hillary or Obama. If she ran in 2012 I wouldn’t support her. She’s as much of a Zionist as the rest of her NY delegation is. She lives and breathes Zionism and has surrounded herself with Zionists and Lobby hacks at the State Dept. Not a single Arab liberal among them. In fact, if you go back to the 1990’s it was Bill Clinton who purged the State Dept. of all the moderate Arabists and replaced them with Zionists like Indyk and Grossman, Ross, Steinberg etc. Thanks Bill.

    As of now, it still isn’t clear who is responsible for the attack on Israel on Thursday or who is sending rockets into Southern Israel. I don’t think it’s Hamas because they have had a ceasefire with Israel- what do they gain from breaking it and attacking Israel? Hamas knows that Israel wants nothing more than to level Gaza like they did in Cast Lead- Gaza still hasn’t recovered from that 2009 shellacking.

    Whoever is sending these rockets into Israel is trying to sabotage a peace agreement and also trying to sabotage PA efforts of a statehood declaration. Any momentum Abbas had is gone because the world will side with Israel and already American Zionists and Israeli leaders are saying this is why there can be no peace with the palestinians. Of course, if there were two states with fair borders it’s likely none of this would happen. That’s the irony- the ongoing conflict ensures that the cycle of violence never ends and then the peace rejectionists get up and say “see, this is why we can’t have peace!”


    • Carolyn-Rodham Says:

      Maybe I just can’t quite give up on Hillary, but the Quartet did issue a statement yesterday At the same time, the statement expressing concern over the unfolding situation in Gaza, “which is being subjected to ‘retaliatory action’ by the Israeli Air Force.” The quartet called upon the parties in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to show restraint. The Arab League has already condemned Israel’s full-scale war on Gaza and Egypt says Israel’s tepid apology for murdering its citizens was “insufficient.”

      Although the US may not come right out and criticize Israel’s self-serving, irresponsible over-reaction, I think the world leaders will and that we’re seeing the beginning of Israel’s total isolation in the world security and the end of any true and lasting security for Israel. They aren’t our sole friend in the Middle East — they’ve become our greatest liability. We are now their only friend in the world community (though friends tell friends not to rush headlong into disaster). Nice going, Bibi.
      the end of


      • thainjacobs Says:

        Where did you see the Quartet statement?

        Here’s the thing- retaliation against who? Just anybody? If someone puts a fertilizer bomb in a trash can in my neighborhood and the police think it was someone who lives here, should the police go shoot everyone in every house on the street as retaliation? Because that is essentially what Israel is doing.

        This is what it is- whenever Israel gets hit it lashes out like an angry wounded bear at anyone and anything. Guess what? That’s illegal under international law but because Israel is our “special” friend that takes the short bus, we rubber stamp it.


        • Carolyn-Rodham Says:

          This was on the CNN website — but not a complete statement, admittedly:

          On Saturday, the Mideast Quartet — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — issued a statement voicing its concerns over “the unsustainable situation in Gaza as well as the risk of escalation” and the group of negotiators “calls for restraint from all sides.”


  2. thainjacobs Says:

    Will the Quartet issue a statement condemning the killing of innocent Palestinians? I doubt it because that would take COURAGE, something that zionist asshole Tony Blair doesn’t have. The only one on the Quartet who has an ounce of courage and commitment to human rights is Lady Ashton, who always comes out strongly against settlements and the blockade.

    That Quartet statement, despite calling for restraint, also seems to greenlight retaliation. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth. I still can’t find the whole Quartet statement but just parts of it quoted in news articles.

    Obama and Hillary said nothing during the slaughter of Cast Lead so I’m sure they won’t say anything now out of fear of upsetting the pro-Israel mafia.


    • Stacy Says:

      Thain, I understand you are disappointed in Hillary, as I am, but don’t put all the blame on her- yes, she has always been a believer in Zionism, perhaps out of necessity given the politics and demographics of NY. Can you imagine if you or I ran for office in NY (if we lived there?) We’d be tarred and feathered for being an enemy of the Jewish state simply because we ask questions. I do think Hillary, Obama and pretty much everyone in Washington DC lives inside a bubble and that they have no clue what goes on in Gaza or the Palestinian territories because I don’t think they WANT to know. If Hillary saw the pictures I posted above she might feel some inkling of sympathy but then she would probably rationalize it by thinking that if the Palestinians would only step smartly to US and Israel’s dictates and warnings, they would be safe. That’s how Washington thinks, otherwise how could they sleep at night?

      Being pro-Palestinian never got a single politician elected to any office. The only way that changes is by writing, calling members of Congress. The other side is more organized, has more money and more political clout. Sitting on our asses and doing nothing in the face of that just ensures that time and time again, they win. The irony of course is that in the long run, it’s really Israel and the US lose by supporting such disastrous policies.


  3. Stacy Says:

    Another thing- how convenient is it for Israel that 81 members of Congress are in Israel right now? According to Politico, Sen. Leahy’s legislation to withhold funds to Israeli special forces for human rights abuses is now dead in the water because the 81 members of Congress will come back from Israel and demand he take it off the table.

    Now, not only will Israel have even 1 penny reduced from their foreign aid package, you can be sure it will be increased. How convenient given Ehud Barak was just in Washington arguing Israel needs more Iron Dome systems and more money due to the increased uncertainty of the Arab Spring? How nice that this situation has fallen in Israel’s lap? The social protests in Israel have been pushed off the front page, everyone is rallying around Israel in a time of crisis, there will be NO way in the world for the US to pressure Bibi to negotiate based on ’67 borders etc. etc. This is a dream come true for Israel. How sick is that?


  4. Steve Says:

    Here’s the thing, the timeline is becoming important. Bibi says PRC is behind attacks, that they are affiliated with hamas (and al qaeda?) and retaliates immediately. Then IDF says no, they never said PRC is behind attacks. Hamas denies they are behind attacks but then after 24 hours of Gaza being pounded, Hamas says they have to break the ceasefire (which Israel already broke) and fight back to protect Gaza so now, yes, Hamas is firing rockets into Israel. As a result, Israel apologists are saying that all the attacks including the original ones were the result of Hamas. That seems to be a lie. Hamas joined the fray only after Israel attacked Gaza. Don’t expect the WaPo or NYT to note this timeline or distinction. Now Hamas has offered Israel a ceasefire, which Israel will likely reject.

    I see Stacy is on twitter trying to find out who is responsible for the original attacks, to no avail I might add. Stacy- you should not have tried to get that information from a reform Rabbi in Florida although I respect your willingness to engage in discussion. 😉 He’s just trumpeting the same line- “hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction, blah, blah, the PRC is behind it, blah blah.”


    • Stacy Says:

      Yeah, you know what? I give up. If Jewish americans and Christian Zionists want to run around playing the victim, more power to them. I guess we all have our fetishes, some more psychologically damaging than others. I have no interest in trying to engage these folks with facts anymore nor do I have any interest in trying to open up a dialogue- it’s impossible to do, I’ve tried many times and it always ends the same way. Unfortunately, that means I will have to avoid all discussions with my inlaws who have started sounding a lot like right wing Islamophobes, parroting whatever Ynet or JPost says.

      Basically, if Israel wants constant war, then that is what they will get.


  5. Steve Says:

    Your only mistake was to try to engage a so-called “liberal” Rabbi. There is no such thing as a liberal Jew when it comes to Palestine, you know that! I couldn’t help but notice when you provided evidence and confronted him with his snotty sarcasm, he took his ball and went home. So typical. When confronted with facts, run and hide.

    It’s time for the Jewish community to take a big long look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what it is we stand for and whether we want to be known as the people who suffered and then turned around and did to others what was done to us. There’s a psychology to this victimhood nonsense- for some reason we NEED to be the victims even as we work, live and play at the highest echelons of power within society. It’s not 1930 anymore- it’s time to let go of that.


    • Carolyn-Rodham Says:

      I really think Bibi miscalculated on this one. No-one will be taken in by this “We have a right to defend ourselves from (vastly outmatched) Palestinians who may or may not have been responsible for the bus attacks by launching a full-scale assault on Gaza.” No-one except those bleeting sheep in our own Congress, that is — even they can’t be fooled by Bibi, they’re just too chicken to say the emperor has no clothes.

      I actually think this may end up strengthening the Palestinian’s hand at the UN in September. It will leave the US in the unenviable position of allying ourselves with the most reviled country in the Middle East.


      • Pilgrim Says:

        Carolyn-Rodham, I devoutly hope you are right.


      • Steve Says:

        I don’t know. Seems to me the lobby and the Jewish community are rallying around Israel. All I’ve heard on Twitter, the blogs and Jewish friends and extended family is some version of “see, Israel is under constant attack, they must defend themselves!” a friend of mine said that at our “liberal” synagogue, the Rabbi was stressing the importance of standing with Israel.

        The same thing happened during and after Cast Lead- people mindlessly supported Israel’s war crimes and then spent two years attacking and ostracizing Judge Goldstone until he was forced by the Jewish community in South Africa to renounce some of his findings.

        So while I hope you are right I don’t know who all these people are that are going to see through Bibi’s cynical plan. I don’t know who will stand up and support the statehood bid. We are apparently trying to strong-arm France, Germany and the UK into voting against- those are the only countries we really care about.


    • Pilgrim Says:

      Thanks for that interesting link, Steve.


  6. Im Says:

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has historically attracted extraordinary, and largely disproportionate, international attention. Not because of its ferocity: The number of Palestinians killed by Israelis (and vice versa) over the past six decades is probably smaller than the 9,000 Muslim Bosnians massacred in Srebrenica in July 1995 by their Serb and Croatian compatriots[2] and decidedly smaller than the death toll from other conflicts throughout the globe that range in the hundreds of thousands if not millions.[3]

    Nor has this obsession been driven by humanitarian considerations. Not only is the Gaza Strip not in the throes of a deep crisis, but the humanitarian situation there is better than in some of the countries whose ships have been sent on occasion to break “the siege” of Gaza. Infant mortality in the Gaza Strip, for example, is 17.71 per thousand births compared to Turkey’s 24.84 or the global average of 44[4]; life expectancy in Turkey is 72.23 years whereas in Gaza it is 73.68, much higher than the global average of 66.12, not to mention such Arab or Islamic countries as Yemen (63.36), Sudan (52.52), or Somalia (50).[5] Even by more advanced indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, Gazans are in a much better position than many of the world’s inhabitants.[6] In the words of the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, no Israel-lover by any stretch of imagination, “an average Congolese citizen would probably have sold his mother into slavery to be able to move to the West Bank.”[7]

    But whatever its underlying causes, the intense international meddling in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, whether by governments or by NGOs, has become a major obstacle to the peaceful resolution of this century-long feud.

    Rights Defenders or Peace Averters?

    The two-state solution—Israel plus a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital—has long been identified by the majority of the international community, or at least by the West, as the key to Arab-Israeli peace. In these circumstances, one would expect the international community to help remove the main obstacles between the two sides by allaying Israel’s security fears and by devising economic and demographic proposals for the resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem. Yet an examination of the international intervention in the conflict reveals a highly disturbing pattern: The greater the intervention, the more both sides harden, not moderate, their positions. Rather than facilitating peace and reconciliation, the international funds invested in the conflict have produced an organizational and ideological infrastructure that inhibits the chances for a future agreement.

    More specifically, the European Union as a whole and the European states individually finance a long list of associations dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are part of a wider conglomerate seeking to perpetuate the conflict.[8] The political discourse has fundamentally changed, and this is no longer the era of peace organizations but rather that of human rights organizations, many of which are deeply involved in protecting Palestinian “rights.”

    Granted, there are Palestinian rights that deserve support and protection. But there are just as many false claims for rights that are designed to harm Israel and prevent reconciliation rather than improve the Palestinian condition. Foremost among them is “the right of return”—the standard Arab and Palestinian euphemism for Israel’s destruction through demographic subversion. For example, in an internal meeting in March 2009, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas acknowledged that the repatriation of even one million Palestinian refugees “would mean the end of Israel.”[9] In fact, there is no such right. It does not exist; nor has it been recognized or implemented on the political level, virtually anywhere in the world, and certainly not as a tool to destroy an existing nation-state. Only last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against a Greek demand for a “right to return” to the Turkish part of Cyprus stating that there is no such absolute right.[10] But this does not prevent many groups from cultivating this destructive fantasy.

    For argument’s sake, imagine that the international community convinces Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA president Abbas to return to the negotiations table, and that news of an agreement leaks out. The broad contours of such an agreement would presumably be along the principles laid down by President Bill Clinton in December 2000 (about 95 percent of the West Bank given to the Palestinians with Israeli compensation in kind for annexed territories; Jerusalem partitioned on a demographic basis; no return of refugees to Israel with the problem solved by an international effort) or the not-so-different Ehud Olmert proposals at the 2007 Annapolis summit, most of which were apparently accepted by the Palestinian leadership in the ensuing negotiations.[11]

    Would this breakthrough be welcomed by these NGOs? Hardly. A significant number of human rights groups will do precisely what they have been doing in previous years: They will conduct an international campaign against the agreement claiming it “fails to address the basic rights of the Palestinian people,” first and foremost, the “right of return.”

    These groups are part of a new empire—an empire comprised of official, international bodies such as the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, the U.N. General Assembly, and the many “human rights” groups that voice a similar position. The automatic majority bloc of nondemocratic states in international bodies is a sad testament to the state of the world community; the identification of human rights organizations with this dark majority is a tragedy for world human rights. There is little discussion of the lack of human rights in such brutal dictatorships as Syria or Libya; but there is a disproportionate focus on Israel by these bodies,[12] which in turn creates the false impression that Israel, and not such states as Sudan or Iran (or North Korea for that matter), is the foremost threat to world peace.

    How has this come to pass? The West finances an extensive network of NGOs with funding often going to projects feigning defense of human rights. In reality, the absolute majority of these groups has a radical, political agenda, which at times is not only anti-Israel or anti-Zionist but also anti-West.[13] There are many in the West who hope that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will help resolve the wider conflict between East and West. This is an illusion. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists would have difficulty finding Israel on the map.

    Rejectionist Network

    The EU supports dozens of Israeli groups dealing with the conflict, but only a handful of these deal with the conflict’s political dimension, notably the Israeli group Peace Now and the Israeli-Palestinian Geneva Initiative, both of which support the two-state solution. By contrast, there are numerous groups that, while paying lip service to the two-state solution, reject Israel’s right to exist.

    Consider the Israeli-Arab groups Adalah[14] and Mossawa[15]—both of which are openly opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state—that is to its very existence—and support the “right of return.” Or consider the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, headed by Jeff Halper, who roams the world lambasting not only Israel but also “global capitalism.” He has gone so far as to deride the 2002 Saudi peace proposal as an attempt “to placate the Arab street” and to accuse Arab leaders of seeking Israel’s regional hegemony in order to tighten their grip over their oppressed masses.[16] Furthermore, the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions publicly supports the “right of return” and the total boycotting of Israel. Yet this radical group is financed by the EU to the tune of €169,661 (US$232,198, for the years 2010-12).[17]

    On the Palestinian side, the Dutch government funds the militant website The Electronic Intifada,[18] whose cofounder Ali Abunimah considers PA president Abbas a “collaborator.” Not surprisingly, Abunimah is fiercely opposed to the peace process, subscribing instead to the “one state solution”[19]—the replacement of Israel by an Arab and Muslim state in which Jews would be reduced to a permanent minority as dhimmis, historically accorded a legally and socially inferior existence in Islam.

    Likewise, the Ramallah-based Palestinian group al-Haq receives support from the Swedish, Dutch, and Canadian governments,[20] presumably to bolster its formal human rights agenda. Yet this organization is openly committed to the “right of return,”[21] as is the Ramallah-based, Palestinian-run NGO Development Center. Funded by the World Bank and a string of European states, including France, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, it disburses millions of dollars to Israeli and Palestinian associations, supposedly for the protection of human rights. But a glance at the list of the supported groups or their leaders readily reveals that most of them are also involved in political activism[22]—including promotion of the “right of return”—and many of them support the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

    This hydra-like BDS is supported by dozens of different organizations. The EU or individual Western states do not directly finance the movement, yet they fund numerous groups that subsidize and support it. What makes this matter particularly galling is that the ultimate goal of the BDS movement is not just the end of the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza, but rather Israel’s demise.[23] The leaders and members of the BDS movement travel around the world and speak on human rights, democracy, and equality. But behind this lip service to universal values underlie the same extremist objectives preached by al-Qaeda, the Iranian ayatollahs, or Hamas: rejection of the two-state solution and castigation of any Israeli-Palestinian cooperation or Palestinian concessions for the sake of peace, as collaboration with one of the world’s worst ever regimes. As one of the movement’s leaders, Omar Barghouti, candidly admitted: “The end of the occupation is not the end of our struggle.”[24] Paradoxically, Barghouti is a student at Tel Aviv University, the same university he wishes to have boycotted.


    A vast and intricate network of NGOs, funded by the European Union and individual European states, is busy fanning Palestinian and Arab rejectionism, whether through the promotion of “the right of return,” support for the BDS campaign, or discouragement of acceptance of Israel.[25] Not all members of this network are in contact with one another, nor do they necessarily share the same specific goals. Yet they are unified by principled and ideological opposition to the two-state solution, and by implication—to Israel’s very existence. Should Israeli lawmakers be faulted for trying to resist this trend?


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