Why They Hate Us
Ah, a new year and a new war. OK, the Israeli attack on Gaza isn’t a new war, it’s just another chapter in an old war. And what a crappy ugly misunderstood war it is. I have pretty much avoided commenting on the Palestine situation, partly because it is such an unpleasant and controversial subject…but mostly because the general level of ignorance about the topic is almost breathtaking. So, might as well wade into the new year by trying to dispel some of the miasma that drips from the so called news media.
The first thing that is ridiculous about this situation is that it is presented as some sort of conflict between two more or less equal parties, as if the Palestinians had some say in the matter. The West bank and the Gaza strip are Israeli occupied territory, they conquered them in 1967 and have ruled them since. Israel controls their borders, their airspace, their power, their water…everything. Israel has also simply seized much of the West Bank and has built settlements and crisscrossed it with roads and security walls that the Palestinians may not use or cross. The Palestinians have citizenship in no country and live in stateless limbo and grinding poverty completely at Israel’s mercy. Think about that, millions of people born in Israeli occupied territory…and they can’t even get passports.
And the situation in Gaza is far worse. It’s one of the most densely populated strips of land on Earth, completely cut off from the outside world. Most of the population lives in near starvation, medical supplies are almost non-existent, and just in general it is simply an open air prison camp run by Israel. And yet somehow, it’s the prisoners fault that the Israeli’s have unleashed the world’s fourth largest military on them? A military assault that was in the planning stages for months? Yes, Hamas or someone fired some toy rockets at Israel, a stupid and counterproductive thing to do. Of course Israel also violated the cease-fire on numerous occaisions as well as committing other crimes against the people of Gaza…but that’s completely overlooked in the western news.
Let’s discuss the Hamas “rockets” while we are at it. The media makes it seem like these rockets are some sort of fearsome weapon that is a terrible threat to Israel. They speak of “barrages” of rockets, and rockets “raining” down on Israel. In fact, these are home-made rockets with a few pounds of home-made explosive that fly a few miles. Despite firing hundreds of them over the years they’ve only killed and wounded a minuscule handful of people. A single Israeli warplane carries more explosive than every rocket Hamas has ever launched added up. To put it mildly, the Hamas rockets aren’t a threat to Israel, Israel’s response is like machine gunning your neighbour’s home because his kid fired bottle rockets into your yard. To call Israel’s “response” disproportionate is too mild a word.
And I say “response” because this operation has been planned for months. And it has nothing to do with stopping Hamas’s toy rocket attacks. This is first and foremost about Israeli politics. There’s an election coming up and the ruling party was down in the polls, and since Israel is easily the most militant country on Earth, nothing like killing some Palestinians to get votes. It’s working like a charm, they are going up in the polls about a point for every 50 dead Palestinians. Yeah, democracy at work. This was also timed to occur before Barack took office, Israel knew Bush wouldn’t do a thing and now Barack is basically checkmated before he even swears in.
This was also about gutting the Saudi proposed peace plan that was actually making a lot of progress. The Saudis had proposed that all Arab governments would recognize Israel, guarantee peace, and would recognize Israel’s control of Jerusalem in return for Israel returning to the 1967 borders. Phew, close call, but that’s pretty much a dead letter now. And shows pretty much what the Israeli rulers are all about, they don’t want peace, they want all of Palestine for themselves without the people living there.
I should also mention that this attack is guaranteed to fuel anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli extremism everywhere. It won’t hurt Hamas of course, if anything it will make them more popular than ever. Which is why Israel funded and encouraged Hamas from the beginning, Israel desperately needed extremists in Palestine after the PLO recognized Israel and wanted to make peace.
A a final note, American foreign policy in the Middle East. There hasn’t been one for at least a decade, the US under Bush is simply a cheerleader and sponsor for Israel. What Israel wants and does, the USA supports whole hog. It’s obscene actually because it serves neither the interests of the USA or Israel to simply give carte blanche to whatever the Israelis do. There was a time when people in the Middle East saw the USA as a party who was trying to solve the problems with Israel and Palestine, those days are long gone.
You want to know why Arabs and Muslim’s hate the USA in ever greater numbers? Just turn on the TV and watch the world’s greatest military pounding defenceless Palestinian slums with barrages of US made and supplied weapons and munitions.
Happy New Year everyone, fasten your seat belts and hang on, 2009 is going to be quite a ride.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I think it’s a Getty or AFP image. I just love the dog.)