Sunday, January 04, 2009


Some thoughts on the Israeli action against Gaza.

Firstly, the defence used by Hamas and their supporters that the rockets fired into Israel haven't killed many people misses the point.

It's not that there have been 15 or 20 Israelis killed. It's that 3,000 rockets have been fired. They may not be weapons of mass death but they are certainly weapons of mass terror. Can you imagine what it must be like knowing you're within range of those rockets?

This, though, does not in any way justify the Israeli action. When the death toll is 100 Palestinians for every Israeli, this is disproportionate retaliation; it is a war crime.

When at least a third of the casualties are unarguably civilians, this is collective punishment; it is a war crime.

Why are Hamas missiles terrorist action deserving of war crimes yet Israel's extra-judicial killings of Hamas politicians isn't even worth mentioning?

The idea that Hamas weapons are cruelly placed close to civilians is horseshit of the highest order; when one and a half million people live in an area the size of the Isle of Wight, where the hell is the area away from civilians?

And can people stop saying Obama is any kind of hope? In July he was asked if he thought Israel should negotiate with Hamas.

I don't think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.

The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. And so I can assure you that if - I don't even care if I was a politician. If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

He didn't say if the same thing applied to Palestinians suffering Israeli missiles.

He defended Israel's attack on Syria and avoided answering whether he'd support similar Israeli action against Iran. He did, though, warn of the dangers of Iran getting nuclear weapons.

Whatever remains of our nuclear non-proliferation framework, I think would begin to disintegrate. You would have countries in the Middle East who would see the potential need to also obtain nuclear weapons.

That started happening when the first middle eastern country got nuclear weapons. But shhh, let's not mention them. When the US government commissions reports into the weapons of mass destruction of other countries, there's always one omission.

The agencies provide their assessment of programs in Iran, North Korea, India, Pakistan and others, but Israel (and Egypt) are omitted. This pattern is repeated across the board.

For example, the 2003 report on the ballistic and cruise missile threat from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center lists 18 nations with missiles, including U.S. allies Bulgaria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Yemen, and Egypt — but not Israel.

Yet, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East with nuclear weapons and an array of medium-range missiles that could deliver them.

The US government gives billions of dollars a year in military aid to Israel. Obama will continue that. Having the US as arbiter is like watching Northwich Victoria play Manchester United and saying it'll be fair if Alex Ferguson is the referee.

While those of us over here vent spleen on blogs and have our marches - including the inspired shoe-throwing at Downing Street - we know that the Israeli government is unaffected. So does it make any difference? Largely not. But yes it does, if it emboldens some to take practical action.

In August a group of international activists including Holocaust survivors loaded a boat with the kind of essential supplies the Israelis were blocking and sailed it to Gaza. After a hair-raising game of bluff with the Israeli navy, they broke the illegal Israeli sea blockade and delivered their cargo.

Once there, they sailed out with Palestinian fishing boats (the Israeli military had been illegally attacking them in Palestinian waters).

One of their number is there again now as part of the International Solidarity Movement, going to where it's most useful as a human shield (the idea being that the Israelis are less likely to commit atrocities with internationals there). There is - and be warned, it is harrowing stuff - Tales To Tell, a blog from the thick of it.


Unknown said...

Good post, just to let you know you need to edit that link to Tales to Tell

merrick said...

Thanks Jules, 'tis amended and working now.