By N Oji Mzilikazi
26 July 2014 updated August 18, 2014
The adage, “If you play with fire, you could get burn,” is totally apropos to the Israeli Gaza offensive.
Hamas intimately know that aggression against Israel is going to be met with swift and deadly retribution. Yet, unless it is tact to morally shame Israel in the eyes of the world, knowing that the military heavy-handedness by Israel Defence Force(IDF), always results in high numbers of Palestinian civilian deaths including children, and millions in damage to property, Hamas persists in the futile act of firing rockets into Israel, given Israel’s early-warning and Iron Dome defense systems.
Hamas has yet to understand that terrorists acts and/or waging war against Israel is lose-lose proposition.
Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, the 23-day bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009, resulted in over 1,400 Palestinians killed, over 300 of them children, over 5,300 injured, over 1,600 of them children and approximately 20, 000 homes completely or partially destroyed, and 36 UN schools damaged.
More importantly, Hamas has yet to understand that Israel can never be morally shamed. The cliché, “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” along with the invocation of the Holocaust and charges of anti-Semitism as cards of trump ensure that Israeli “excesses” and wrongs are excused, and muted to no criticism of Israel come from her “friends.”
Thus we see many powerful governments holding the “Israel can do no wrong” position, and their ministers, politicians, and prominent persons in their society acting as de facto Israeli agents. Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird immediately come to mind.
In January 2009, Canada was the only one of 47 nations at the United Nations Human Rights Council to oppose a resolution condemning Israel for grave rights violations in Gaza.
In November 2012, Canada was one of nine nations that voted against the United Nations motion to recognize, grant Palestine “Non-member observer state.”
Passed by 138 member countries, Baird called the successfully vote “an impediment to peace.” And to show the displeasure of Canada’s ruling Conservative Party, Baird temporarily recalled senior Canadian diplomats from Israel, the West Bank and UN missions in New York and Geneva.
It seems ever since Baird was installed in office, not a week goes by without him engaging in publicly waving pro-Israeli and philo-semitism (love of Israel) flags.
Interestingly, in Israel’s current defensive war against Hamas, and allegations of abuse and war crimes by Israel, the silence from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office is remarkably deafening. As the saying goes: “Silence = Consent.”
The United Nations is an august body. Every once in a while the United Nations is at odds with Israel, much to the ire of Israel and her supporters.
At the 2007 Conference on the Future of the Jewish People held in Jerusalem, Irwin Cotler, Canada former justice minister and attorney-general, criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for passing resolutions against Israel. And in standard propaganda rhetoric, Cotler said there was a gathering storm against Jews that’s unmatched since the 1930s.
At the 2009 conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism held in Israel, Cotler again blasted the United Nations.
Cotler submitted that anti-Semitism simultaneously seeks to mask itself under the banner of anti-racism and “under the banner of human rights, to invoke the authority of international law and to operate under the protective cover of the UN.” Ergo, accusing Israel of human rights abuses is to be perceived as disguised anti-Semitism.
In line with the delusionary narrative that Israel as a victim of Nazi Germany can never become an abuser or practice apartheid, the United Nations is being blamed for the rise of anti-Jewish sentiments and anti-Semitism, since it dared condemn Israel for acts committed in its current Gaza offensive.
Is it any wonder that United Nations buildings and United Nations schools in Gaza are always shelled by Israel in times of conflict?
On January 15, 2009, several white phosphorus artillery shells hit a UN headquarters in Gaza City, destroying tens of tons of humanitarian aid. The shelling was said to be accidental *wink, wink, wink.
This past July, some 3,000 plus Palestinians sought shelter in a United Nations school. The school was shelled. 16 persons were killed, and countless numbers injured.
Though the United States strongly condemned the shelling, it resupplied Israel with munitions — to continue its relentless bombardment of Gaza. Such is power of Israel.
Embrace of the narrative that to critique Israel is to give ammunition to its haters has long been tact to silence criticism, as well as a talking point in defense of Israel. That strategy is at the heart of actor Jon Voight’s excoriating fellow actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz for signing a letter condemning Israel over its current foray in Gaza.
Voight’s July 2014 screed accused Bardem and Cruz — and not actions by Israel herself in Gaza, of “inciting anti-Semitism all over the world.”
Who wants to be accused of anti-Semitism? As a card of trumps, the accused are forced to defend, defend, defend… and any legitimate objections or arguments they have or hold are immediately dismissed. Then there is the backlash…
Lillian S. Robinson is the Principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University and a member of the Montreal Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation. Robinson had an op-ed piece in the February 26, 2001, Montreal Gazette titled, Israel doesn’t represent all Jews. Reaction was condemnatory and brutal.
Joe J. Koltai letter to the editor called her a traitor and an “apologist for our destroyers.” Tommy Schnurmacher of CJAD radio, in his March 4, 2001, rebuttal piece, Israel has a right to self-preservation, stated he was “deeply troubled by Robinson’s bizarre assault on the only democracy in the Middle East.”
While Israel’s defenders love to lay claim to the beauty and openness of democracy, Jews at odds with Israeli policies are pilloried, and tagged with the self-hating label. Dissent is treason, and warrants exclusion.
As noted in the Montreal Gazette, July 4, 2007, the Canadian Jewish Congress refused to grant membership to the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians who opposed the Israel occupation.
In a democracy, in our democracy, the law authorizes one to use only as much force as is necessary to subdue a person, or to ward off a threat.
Ignoring proportionality has resulted in persons charged for their use of excessive and/or deadly force in the protection of person, family and property. Ignoring proportionality has resulted in complaints, protests and riots over the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.
While Israel has the right to defend herself with a military response and/or military operations to acts of aggression by any nation seeking its destruction, when it comes to Palestine, the Israeli military machinery goes into overdrive — world opinion be dammed! And excessive force by Israel is par for the course — and defended with righteous zeal by its government, Zionists, and pro-Israel supporters and pro-Israel lobbies worldwide.
In January 1988, Colonel Yehuda Meir ordered troops under his command to break the arms and legs of Arabs arrested during the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Though, at the start of the uprising, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that Israeli soldiers would use “force, might and beatings” to quash the Palestinian revolt, and soldiers testifying at Meir’s court-martial trial claimed it was Rabin that issued the original order, Israel’s Knesset refused to investigate the allegations against Rabin.
Meir was the sacrificial lamb for that brutally injurious policy.
Why Israel’s constant military heavy-handedness when dealing with Palestinians? Land and security!
A nation forced into reconstruction is unable to pursue military aggression — for quite a while, and makes for peaceful co-existence. Hence Israel’s Gaza offensive always comes with relentless shelling; destruction of homes, buildings and infrastructure to send Palestine back into the Stone Age.
It is strategy to demoralise; crush the spirit of the Palestinian people. Then there is the underlying subtext of ethnic cleansing to seize and occupy Palestine land, and its facilitation by belief, perceptions that Palestinians are less than human.
As reported in The New York Times April 1, 1988: Standing atop an ancient West Bank castle, Yitzhak Shamir, Israel Prime Minister, told reporters: “We say to them (Arabs/Palestinians) from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us.”
The “inferiority/grasshopper” ideology drives the intensity, forcefulness and callousness of Israel’s response to attacks by any Palestinian organization, and their wanton disregard for the lives of innocent Palestinians that border on human rights abuse — and war crimes that are always framed as something other than.
In the Telegraph, 18 December 2009, article: Israel may be a difficult ally – but its leaders are not war criminals, by Con Coughlin, Coughlin states: “Western pleas for restraint and a ‘proportionate’ response are invariably ignored, as Israel’s overwhelming military superiority is brought to bear against its foes.” And why are western pleas ignored by Israel?
The answer lies in the guilt trip Israel has been able to inflict on western nations on account of the Holocaust. The guilt trip facilitates impunity, and impunity fuels the lack of restraint. It is precisely the lack of restraint that leads to the commission of war crimes.
It is the lack of restraint that saw Israeli soldiers “mistakenly” shelled a community centre in the Lebanese village of Qana, killing 106 of its occupants in 1996.
It is the lack of restraint that substantiates the “less than human and smashing grasshoppers” Israeli ideology.
Canada National Post columnist Jonathan Kay would like us to believe that the lack of restraint and the smashing of “Palestinian grasshoppers” are not policy or military culture.
Kay states in a March 2009 article: “No army — even one serving a humane, democratic nation such as Israel, tragically well-practiced in the art of counter-terrorism — is staffed by unbroken legions of angels. There are always bad apples.”
Ergo, the “aberrant few” that in his words “fell under some of the lunatic and sadistic impulses that have been known to grip soldiers in times of war,” are to be blamed.
During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF rabbinate informed soldiers: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral.” And right-wing rabbis called on soldiers to not “show concern for a population that surrounds us… it is not innocent.” (Haaretz 26/01/2009)
The religious blessing; legitimizing mercilessness and cold-heartedness towards Palestinians cannot but encourage human rights abuse and war crimes.
It is racism, (and to Jews, anti-Semitism), to attribute the alleged sins, crimes and shortcomings of an individual unto an entire people or nation. But when it comes to Palestinians, it is okay for Jews to view them as constituting a monolith; to paint the entire Arab/Palestinian populace of Gaza with one brush stroke.
In an August 5, 2014, op-ed in Y-net, retired Major-General Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council stated: “In Gaza, there is no such things as innocent civilians.”All are guilty — for being Palestinians.
Eiland statement speaks to a mindset; a military culture that guarantees collective punishment, a high body count of innocent Palestinians.
In response to global outrage against Israel for alleged violations of human rights during Operation Cast Lead, Israel Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann told participants at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “International law recognizes that in certain circumstances, innocents can be hurt.” (Jerusalem Post February 18, 2009)
Disingenuous doesn’t fully describe Friedmann’s assertion. The right to do something does not necessarily make it the right thing to do. Furthermore, innocent men, women and children have been killed without “certain circumstances” in play.
In October 2004, an Israeli army officer identified only as Captain R, emptied his weapon; repeatedly shot Iman al-Hams, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza, despite warnings from another solder that described al-Hams as a little girl approximately age 10, and scared to death.
The army’s account of the events was only contradicted when a tape recording of the radio exchanges between the soldiers were played on Israeli television.
Not only was al-Hams shot in cold blood, but the captain was recorded saying: “Anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed.”
This past July, NBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin, witnessed the deaths of four Palestinian boys, ages 9, 10, and 11. Moments earlier, the boys were playing soccer with journalists on the beach including Mohyeldin. Their killing was framed as accidental and not a deliberate targeting.
Mohyeldin’s report resulted in him being pulled from Gaza by NBC, for supposedly “security concerns.”
In the 16 January 2009, Haaretz article, The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza nursery schools, Gideon Levy states: “A significant majority of the children killed in Gaza did not die because they were used as human shields or because they worked for Hamas. They were killed because the IDF bombed, shelled or fired at them, their families or their apartment buildings. That is why the blood of Gaza’s children is on our hands, not on Hamas’ hands.”
Levy statement is true today as it was then. But when Israeli government talking points serve as truth, articles and editorials about the humanity of the Israelis and the terrorism of the Palestinians dominate mainstream media.
The dehumanization and demonizing of Palestinians (none are innocent) explain why Palestinian deaths are so readily dismissed. As reported in the Independent (UK) earlier this month with supporting video, Joan Rivers stated about the high Palestinian casualty: “When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead, you deserve to be dead. Don’t you dare make me feel bad about that.”
Rivers also stated that the democratically elected Hamas government was “re-elected by a lot of very stupid people who don’t even own a pencil.” Israel’s Knesset has its fair share of hardline MPs that are rabidly anti-Arab and racist, but it’s all good…
The dehumanization of Palestinians is so commonplace; the Times of Israel (August 1, 2014) had no qualms about publishing Yochanan Gordon obscene post: When Genocide is Permissible.
Given the past and recent history of genocide against Jews (Hitler’s Final Solution), one would think no Jew would ever engage in any genocidal discourse against others, much more entertain or embrace the ideology.
Gordon peddles the tired line that Israel hands are being tied by world leaders that “have insisted they are such good friends with the Jewish state.” But there will “come a time where Israel feels threatened enough where it has no other choice but to defy international warnings.”
When has Israel ever listened to its “friends”?The historical record is Israel has repeatedly gotten away with biting the hands of every western nation that “feeds” it, as well as with atrocious acts incongruous with a democracy.
Their fawning sycophants aka friends never take any sort of meaningful action whatsoever. They won’t even go so far as to impose conditions on their aid to Israel. They simply wring their hands and grind their teeth in exasperation while pledging unconditional support to Israel.
Gordon ends his post with: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?
Gaza is small, one of the most densely populated territories in the world, and one that is subjected to economic warfare — air, land and sea blockade by Israel. Yet there is expectation that Islamic militants in Gaza ought to have clearly identifiable army bases and so on. As such, using residential homes to cache weapons is evil, and put civilians in the line of fire.
On July 27, 2014, Bob Schieffer, the host of CBS Face The Nation, reiterated the obscene assertion by Golda Meir, the former Israeli Prime Minister that is always peddled and accepted as unquestionable fact, that Palestinians are forcing Israel to kill their children — to build sympathy for its cause.
In doing so, the esteemed Schieffer lends credence to the belief that Israel has no choice in the matter. Hamas like other Palestinian “terrorist” organization hides behind children. Hence, the killing(s) of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers is not a war crime per se.
If, according to the Israeli narrative, children are being sacrificed by Hamas, and they are not equally targeted by Israeli soldiers, how it is this past July, various media reported groups of joyous Israelis’ chanting to the effect, “There are no schools in Gaza because all the children are dead?”
Palestinians protestors throw stones because they don’t have guns. Yet, Palestinian stone throwers have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers.
Hamas do not have the sophisticated weaponry Israel has, yet Israel has no qualms about using their superior arsenal against Palestinians.
White phosphorus bombs are lethal. White phosphorus bombs were used by Israel in Operation Cast Lead. After steadfastly denying using them, Israel admitted to its usage.
In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, Amnesty International catalogued the weapons used by both Hamas and Israel. Amnesty reported that among other armaments, white phosphorus and flechette shells were used by Israel. Flechette shells sprays thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts.
In light of the condemnation of Israel over its use of white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead, Israel amped up its use of Flechette shells in its current Gaza offensive dubbed Operation Protective Edge.
Operation Protective Edge has already resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority being civilians, including more than four hundred children, and destruction to untold number of homes and buildings.
There is nothing above ground in Gaza that Israel does not have the coordinates for. Given Israel’s adeptness at precision strikes; its long history of targeted killings of persons deemed terrorists and/or enemies of the state of Israel is proof enough, the idea of a mistake in an Israeli strike or errant mortar are nothing but B.S.
What’s happening in Gaza is not solely a Palestinian and Jewish problem. It is our problem as well. Its reverberations can affect us all. Furthermore, people, especially children socialized by dehumanization, oppression, war, dispossession, and privations will grow up — and pose a threat to social and global stability.
Would that Israel’s friends speak sternly to her and bring this heavy-handed offensive to an end. Then again, when has Israel ever listened to anyone?