Monthly Archives: July 2014

Gaza, 9/11 and the Golan Heights

The current bombardment of Gaza, together with the violent intrusion of Israel forces in that over-crowded region under ironic name “Defensive Edge” gives rise to stark questions as to  the justification for such an unequal form of combat  in which Palestinians civilians make up the majority of fatalities by a factor of 30 to 1 at the time of writing, when all but two of the 35 Israeli dead were members of the invading force caught in booby-trapped buildings during house-to-house raids in Hamas neighbourhoods. Deaths since the abortive cease-fire at the end of July have reflected the same unequal proportion on each side.   

"Protective Edge" - Israeli Phosphorous bombing in Gaza - July 2014

“Protective Edge” – Israeli phosphorus bom.

Meanwhile, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have both expressed concern about the civilian toll but have also declared themselves firm adherents of the Israel right to “defend itself” against attack from largely ineffective Hamas missiles.

Perhaps they are right. No missiles should be fired into Israeli by Palestinan “freedom fighters” unless they can tolerate reprisals, as they seem desperate enough to expect or compel the suffering population of Gaza to do. But that piece of political rectitude has to be qualified by several factors: firstly, the Palestinians of Gaza are living in virtual prison-camp conditions, and secondly the political question of the legitimacy of their captivity and, with it, the large-scale occupation of their traditional lands by their Zionist neighbours is – and will always remain – open to question. Continue reading

Politics v. Ethics in the Middle East

People are asking why no American or European politician is prepared to condemn the Israeli state in its brutal dealings with the Palestinian people whose historical home it occupies today – still less to demand the creation of an independent state for the Palestinian people in a territory corresponding to a significant part of the land they occupied until quite modern times, and which now comprises the greater part the territory of the modern state of Israel – a relatively juvenile formation that celebrates its 66th birthday this year.  

The Great Wall of Israel (West Bank)

The Great Wall of Israel (West Bank)

There must be a reason for this recalcitrance on the part of international politicians. That is to say, there must be a political explanation for it, since the ethical issues involved are fairly cut-and-dry.

Not alone does any geographically stable and ethnically distinct population obviously deserve to live in a country friendly to its culture and traditions  – or, at the very least, not overtly hostile to them – but the conduct of a war against them by the occupiers of their homeland in the name of ‘self-defence’ such as we are witnessing in Gaza today is practically indefensible in humanitarian  terms.

(In fact, the efficacy of the Israel Iron Dome anti-missile system means that its owners have extraordinary latitude in which to seek out a non-military solution to the underlying differences – differences which cast the extremism of Hamas and even Islamic Jihad in the light of an understandable reaction to intolerable oppression. )

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David v. Goliath: The Palestinian Side

A Facebook friend has provided me with a link to Judith Butler’s repudiation of Harvard’s Lawrence Summers’ view, expressed in 2003, that to criticise Israel or to boycott it is ‘anti-semitic’ in effect if not in intention – and therefore unacceptable as an intellectual stance. Well, here we go again – as she correctly implies.

Gaza childhood: innocent victims of Israeli shelling moments before their deaths.

Gaza childhood: innocent victims of Israeli shelling moments before their deaths.

I am interested in the Middle East because I lived there in the 1980s – besides which, it is normal to be interested in such conflicts especially when they involve an ethical dimension, as they almost invariably do.

In this spirit I want to make the broad point that, while I have immense sympathy with Jewish people, I also believe that the State of Israel stands in great peril of lapsing into crimes of outright racism against the Palestinian people, whose historical territory it occupied in the nation-making process and which it has subsequently colonised in succession of so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ campaigns. Continue reading