Monday, December 29, 2008
Let's begin with a fact. Gazans chose Hamas in a fair election to represent them. The Palestinians in Gaza's choice neither sat well with the Palestinian Authority nor Israel nor the United States nor some Arab government and members of the European Union. Under international law, Hamas is a legitimate government, even though the US and Israel have branded it a 'terrorist state'. Saying this, it is important to put Israel's over the top bombing of Gaza, into perspective. It is no secret that Hamas doesn't recognise the Israeli state; two, that Israel has conducted at times low level and at other times like today open warfare against Hamas; that Jerusalem has unsuccessfully tried through starvation, assassinations, bombings, temporary invasion, closed borders, the withholding of food, medical supplies, heating oil, and other basic essentials for daily life, among other things from the Palestinians in Gaza, as a spur for them to rise up and overthrow Hamas. It hasn't happened, and it won't, for the simple and plain reason that the Palestinians recognise Israeli policy for what it is: collective punishment of a people against a government that it freely elected! It is also true that Hamas retaliated against Israel by launching home made Qassam rockets on Israeli settlements near them. Rocket attacks have not made life easier for Israel but on the whole, it has not brought the degree of fear, death, and destruction that Jerusalem has visited on Gazans.Hamas is not as skilful as Israel in presenting its case, but in the latest Israeli massive bombings of Gaza, one thing is sure, as Andrew Cordesman rightly observed in the 28 December edition of 'the Washington Post', that the Israeli bombings won't have a decisive effect on Hamas; on the contrary, it will cement Gazans' bond more firmly with it.Some might say, well, the fault lies with Hamas for not renewing the cease fire truce with Israel. And they may be right. But Hamas was at its wits end by the never ending embargo imposed by Israel on the necessities of daily life and the selected and targeted assassinations, and so it responded by lobbing rockets again in Israel. A move which Jerusalem anticipated and welcomed and accordingly responded with all stops pulled out.In today's edition of Ha Aretz [29 December 2008], Gideon Levy's 'The neighbourhood bully strikes again' exposed Israel's hand. 'For two and a half years, the [Hamas government] have been caged and ostracised by the whole world. The line of [Israeli thinking] that states that through war [the Kadima led government] will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another friendlier to [Israel] is no more than lunacy.Levy goes on to posit that war against Hamas will refurbish Israel's bloodied coat of arms in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Far from it, it will expose Israel's weakness in suppressing Hamas and transforming Palestine into a colony. If anyone is looking for a parallel, he should simply cast an eye on the US/Nato war in Afghanistan against the resurgent Taliban. The simple fact that the might of Nato forces cannot mate Taliban shows that they are on the short end of the stick of victory. And so is Israel in Gaza.The world's media with some exceptions, have virtually ceased to exercise critical thinking, and have swallowed whole hog Jerusalem's and Washington's version of events. If the Israel generals had any sense of history they would know that the carpet bombing of North Vietnam, nor the fire bombing of Hamburg nor the destruction of Rotterdam brought the 'enemy' to its heels. It takes troops to occupy the land with its moon like cratered landscape, and Israeli military occupation is fraught with death and loss of honour. Jerusalem is trying to win points on the cheap, but that won't wash well. As Ethan Bonner in 29 December 'New York Times' on line writes, the Kadima government and its Labour minister of war Ehud Barack are looking to winning the February elections, and war against Gaza for Barack means making people forget his disastrous defeat in Lebanon at the hands of a weaker Hezbollah.No matter which way you slice it, Israel has no clean hands in the massive bombing of Gaza. It makes it look like a helpless Goliath against a stubborn, but determined Gazan David.