December 29, 2008

The butcher butchers

I have no ability for crafting words to match the outrage. Israel is doing what it knows best. No sane person can expect anything else from it. It kills and bombs and destroy because the alternative is compromise and compromise is not acceptable. They know very well that there is no half-way. Keeping the colonial ("Jewish") state requires the genocide of the Palestinian people. They cannot do it in one big swoop. But they think they'll do it slowly. If 60 years weren't enough, history willing they hope to get another 20-30 years to 'finish the job' Ben-Gurion left unfinished, as Benny Morris noted. They can't accept less because they see compromise as the beginning of defeat. And they are probably right. But they will be defeated anyway. They will be defeated. Even their friends begin to sense that. Perhaps that is worth a full quote:
Israel's friends need to cry out. It's enemies can mourn but be comforted by the knowledge that it is Israel, not Palestine, that will ultimately pay the price for this. As a life-long Zionist, I am utterly confounded. (TPM cafe)
It's hard to argue with someone who is saddened by the knowledge that justice will eventually be served. I guess it will be kind of sad, like when they opened the bunker and found the lifeless body of Eva Braun. But the breathtaking capacity of Israelis and their apologists to wallow in kvetcherei, even as they bomb and kill and starve and maim (the post is even titled, "Gaza Horrors: The Victim Is Israel") is nauseating. If you prick them, do they not bleed?

Here is Zvi Barel from Haaretz explaining what exactly the terms are which Israel cannot accept.
Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire. Are conditions enabling the return of a ceasefire no longer available? Hamas has clear conditions for its extension: The opening of the border crossings for goods and cessation of IDF attacks in Gaza, as outlined in the original agreement. (Haaretz, Dec. 28, 2008)

The Palestinian condition for renewing the cease fire is simple and seemingly not very onerous, that Israel let them live. Israel is bombing Gaza because it cannot accept even that much. Israel broke the cease fire. And Israel refuses to let it resume because the condition, that it actually ceases fire, is too much for it. There is something beyond macabre here, something that contains the whole conflict in a nutshell. The condition for ending the violence is that Palestinians accept Israel's right to use violence as it see fits. Peace equals War.

Tom Segev goes (almost) all the way in Haaretz exposing the colonial roots of Israel's fantasies:
Israel is striking at the Palestinians to "teach them a lesson." That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception: We are the representatives of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and morality, while the Arabs are a primitive, violent rabble, ignorant children who must be educated and taught wisdom - via, of course, the carrot-and-stick method, just as the drover does with his donkey.

The bombing of Gaza is also supposed to "liquidate the Hamas regime," in line with another assumption that has accompanied the Zionist movement since its inception: that it is possible to impose a "moderate" leadership on the Palestinians, one that will abandon their national aspirations.

As a corollary, Israel has also always believed that causing suffering to Palestinian civilians should make them rebel against their national leaders. This assumption has proven wrong over and over. (Haaretz, 29 Dec 2008)

I say almost, because Segev forgets that in the history of colonialism education and extermination are inseparable twins.

This is the long term picture, but Israel has shorter term goals as well. As in the attack on Hizbullah in 2006, one goal is to degrade the military capabilities of Hamas, developed mostly over the last three years. The strategic imperative here is the need to remove public pressure for compromise. Unfortunately, Israelis put pressure on their government and demand compromise only when they hurt badly. The right-wing mayor of Sderot shocked the Israeli leadership when he backed negotiations with Hamas. Keeping Hamas militarily weak is therefore a necessary condition for avoiding negotiations (and conversely, the best strategy for bringing about the "two state solution" would be to arm Hamas. Now here is a task for J-Street if they were serious!)

Finally, there are electoral considerations. As Defense Minister, Barak's last chance to remain politically relevant is a swift military success. In the words of Jamal Zahalka, "Barak is trying to win votes in exchange for Palestinian blood." Of course, that is an unfair portrait of Barak, who would just as well sell his mother to win votes. It isn't entirely his fault that Palestinian blood commands a higher premium among Jewish Israeli voters. But Barak is going here for broke. Anything short of a decisive victory will help Netanyahu more. And a decisive victory, while not impossible, is very unlikely.

Unfortunately, Hamas does not have the capacity of Hizbullah to materially harm Israeli cities. Unless the Herrenvolk army stupidly gets bogged down in a land invasion, there will be little military pressure on Israel to end the killing, and the butchery can continue until enough international outrage forces a pause. That isn't going to be quick, especially as some Western leaders will no doubt be eager to help Barak and Livni do well in the elections. But a lot of it is up to people all over the world, how fast we organize, how much we up the ante, how much other governments, Western as well as Arab, feel that they can lose as the blood keeps flowing.

Finally, a litle non-random roll call:

Barack Obama:
US president-elect Barack Obama is "monitoring" the deadly violence in the Gaza strip and spoke to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the situation, his aides said Saturday. (AFP)
The moral leadership! The Lincolnian eloquence! The progressive commitment! Aren't you just floored?

Meretz USA, the so-called soft-Zionist U.S. branch of Meretz, has yet to notice that there is a bloodbath in Gaza. Maybe they also didn't notice that their mothership, Meretz Israel, was egging the army to launch the carnage. Peace Now international also hasn't notice the carnage. It is fair to say that these old "peace" group are moribund, which is not exactly devastating. The action on the soft Zionist side has moved to the newly formed J-Street. J-Street did issue a statement. It is laced with the normative racism that "understands" and "justifies" mass murder, and exudes the obligatory piety with which the white world always blames the victims. But at least J-Street calls for "immediate, strong diplomatic intervention by the United States, the Quartet and allies in the region to negotiate a resumption of the ceasefire." I guess we should count our blessings.

Nanci Pelosi, the butcher's groupie, gets all excited, in the best U.S. tradition of cheering genocide:
"When Israel is attacked, the United States must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic ally." (Ynet)

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