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Gaza: Stop the Madness

Gaza, how doth Israel violate international law and the moral obligations of nations in punishing thee? Let me count the ways.


Is this any way to conduct a national policy? You bet it isn’t. How is shutting down the power station supplying Gaza civilians with their electricity a legitimate policy responding to the Qassam attacks? How is shutting down the pumps that bring water to these same civilians going to prevent rockets from landing in Sderot? How does preventing Gazans from being able to take a dump in their own bathrooms increase the security of Israelis under barrage? How does shutting down hospitals treating dialysis patients and premature babies do anything for peace?

Of course it doesn’t. Olmert and Barak know this. So they personify the definition of the mad man: someone who persists in doing something repetitively when it has failed the first time, in the hope that it will somehow succeed the next. Olmert and his government may be prepared to commit crimes against humanity in Gaza, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world should stand by silently. The Europeans and God help us even Condi Rice need to raise their voices to stop this madness. We remember how long it took for her to signal a halt to the mayhem in Lebanon after it was clear that Israel could not win. How many people died until she summoned the courage or sanity to say “Enough?” What will it take to bring her to her senses once again regarding Gaza?

Shlomo Gazit, former IDF general and expert analyst of the I-P conflict, writes in Maariv of the need to take a new tack (thanks to Sol Salbe for translating from Hebrew). Gazit words are not new. He’s said something like this before. But they take on new urgency amid the current insanity:

…The combination of the military measures and the siege that we are imposing on the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip [is] simply not delivering the goods. The barrage of Qassam rockets on Sderot…is steadily intensifying. The captains of our ship of state…are aware that we cannot go on like this and that a different policy is required.

The Hamas leadership openly proclaims its willingness to enter into a long-term hudna, or truce. Israel says it is also willing to do so. So how come we are in no way achieving it? The stumbling block is on the Israeli side – Israel is unwilling to talk to Hamas.

Gazit proposes negotiating with Hamas to stop the Qassam firing either directly or through an intermediary such as Egypt. The goal would be a mutual ceasefire on both sides. Gazit’s way is the only way. Well, there is always the current path. But this way lies madness. Unless the world wants to see Israel committing national hara kiri in front of its eyes and taking the Gazans along with them, they have an imperative duty to speak out and end the madness.

The Associated Press just reported that tens of thousands of Gazans poured across the Egyptian border after masked militants destroyed most of the border fence outside Rafah. Why did they do it?

Masked gunmen destroyed about two-thirds of the seven-mile-long metal wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the town of Rafah and tens of thousands of Palestinians poured across the border to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade of the impoverished territory…

An off-duty Hamas security officer who identified himself as Abdel Rahman, 29, said this was his first time out of Gaza. ”I can smell the freedom,” he said. ”We need no border after today.”

Why did they do it? To buy bread for their children. To buy cooking oil to feed their families; medicine for their sick. To buy a cigarette. Unfortunately those tens of thousands of Gazans can’t pour out of Gaza to swamp downtown Ashkelon. If they could, Israelis would realize much quicker that they need to do something to end the suffering.

A day or so ago the IAF destroyed an empty Hamas ministry building in Gaza. This was somehow supposed to be a message to Hamas that would convince them to bend to Israel’s will. The former’s intelligence was so faulty that they neglected to account for the fact that there was a wedding hall next door and killed a mother and child in the process.

The claim by Israeli spokespeople that it will not let its blockade cause a humanitarian crisis is laughable in a macabre sort of way. How would they know what it’s like to be in Gaza now and whether or not their punishments constitute a humanitarian crisis? Are they without electricity in their Israeli homes? Without water? Have they visited any Gazans lately to examine their living conditions?

It’s all sheer madness.

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  • Norman Weinstein January 23, 2008, 6:22 AM

    In January of 2006 The Washington Post reported as follows:

    “RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan. 26 — The radical Islamic movement Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament, according to official election results announced Thursday, trouncing the governing Fatah party in a contest that could dramatically reshape the Palestinians’ relations with Israel and the rest of the world.

    “In Wednesday’s voting, Hamas claimed 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats, giving the party at war with Israel the right to form the next cabinet under the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah.”

    And as I recall, the election, which had international monitoring, was declared to be remarkably honest and free of chicanery, quite the opposite of our own national election of 2000. Yet Israel and America’s first response was not only to denigrate a democratic election but almost to declare it null and void. So much for the value system of two highly self-acclaimed democracies. Just as the iconic Golda Meir, had she been as wise and brave as legend puts it, given the undisputed bargaining strength of Israel after the 6-Day War, could very likely have achieved in 1969 a true rapprochement with the Arabs and a viable two-state solution that could have marked an exciting, hopeful beginning of a new era in that part of the world. Instead she yielded to the rightists, the colonialists of her party, and the rest is a tragic history of suicide bombings, Israel’s self-conversion into one big ghetto, the continued “niggerization” of Arabs, Israel’s ever expanding rogue status, and its continuing expansionist thrust, with religious fundamentalists hell-bent on conquering whatever Biblical turf their self-fulfilling wishes desired. With what is happening today in Gaza, whatever provocations exisit, we see Israel’s daily slide on a moral slippery slope leading only to more of an unacceptable same. It’s as if Hitler had not only destroyed 6,000,000 Jews but that his spirit would see to it that the ageless proverbial Jewish soul synonymous with justice and ethical decency would also be slain. Those of us Jews who are appalled at what is presently transpiring are neither self-hating Jews nor anti-Israel, but rather Jews who seek a Jewish nation worthy of the name and one thus more likely to last countless years beyond our own brief moments here on earth.

  • bar_kochba132 January 23, 2008, 6:55 AM

    Norman said:
    ——————————————————-
    Just as the iconic Golda Meir, had she been as wise and brave as legend puts it, given the undisputed bargaining strength of Israel after the 6-Day War, could very likely have achieved in 1969 a true rapprochement with the Arabs and a viable two-state solution that could have marked an exciting, hopeful beginning of a new era in that part of the world.
    ——————————————————-

    Norman, you apparently have forgotten the infamous “3 No’s” of the Khartoum Resolution
    of August 1967 (in the wake of the Six-Day War).
    (1) No peace with Israel
    (2) No negotiations with Israel
    (3) No recognition of Israel
    Given that, how was Golda supposed to make “peace” along the lines you stated above?
    For that matter, why did the Arabs create the crisis that led to the Six-Day War if at that point Israel was constrained within the holy Green Line that so many people claim today that the Arabs recognize as an international border?

  • Norman Weinstein January 23, 2008, 1:00 PM

    To bar_kochba132 – I certainly haven’t forgotten the 3 famous No’s of the Khartoum Resolution, a mantra apparently in symbiotic relationship with those powerful Israeli movers and shakers who continue on their tragic and destructive path. Reminds me a bit of our regime’s hunger for Iran to do something foolish and dangerous so we might again let slip the dogs of war.

    As seems to be your wont (from previous postings of yours), you offer only a partial quotation from or a distorted reference to the piece you are challenging. In addition to that part of my statement about Golda Meir which you selected, there is also this: “Instead she yielded to the rightists, the colonialists of her party, and the rest is a tragic history of suicide bombings, Israel’s self-conversion into one big ghetto, the continued “niggerization” of Arabs, Israel’s ever expanding rogue status, and its continuing expansionist thrust, with religious fundamentalists hell-bent on conquering whatever Biblical turf their self-fulfilling wishes desired.” There were those in her party wise enough to know that even the Khartoum Resolution was a good deal more complex than its oft-cited triple negatives, beloved of those in Israel who hunger for excuses to do whatever they feel they must. And there’s the rub, it seems to me, a possibly deliberate European literalism versus Middle Eastern rhetoric; that is, even in Prime Minister Meir’s camp the prescient ones – that is, the truly wise, even clever, and brave – read that rhetoric within its context and interpreted it not for the satisfaction of Biblical fundamentalists and militarists but as a means of seeking less violent and more acceptable answers to the dilemma. In later years a highly reputed Israeli warrior, General Yitzhak Rabin, now converted, would fall prey to a fanatic, murdered no doubt by a Biblical literalist committed to what I suppose is a Greater Israel come whatever may. Given what has passed over the last four decades, one might well conclude that the military option has increased Israel’s size with new and expanded illegal settlements along with death, destruction, the further isolation of Israel and its big brother the United States, and the moral decay that a brutal occupation engenders.

    Your chosen appellation, Bar_Kochba132, suggests that you are of warriorly bent, impatient of nuance and the possibility of a pen being mightier than the sword. If indeed you are one of those who believe God has granted Israel all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan – period – then I suspect there’s little need for us to dialogue further. However, if you believe that perhaps there might be some better ways of doing things in the Middle East for the sake of its people, including both Israelis and Palestinians, then perhaps we should talk on. And by the way I’ve just finished signing the petition issued by Avaaz.org, “…an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means ‘voice‘ in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.” Should you be interested, you can find this petition at
    http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_end_the_siege/9.php?cl=52132496.

  • Judy January 23, 2008, 2:14 PM

    The overturning of that free and fair election is the biggest crime of this whole debacle.

    Nothing moderates likes responsibility and Hamas never had a chance.

  • Joshua January 23, 2008, 8:05 PM

    Olmert himself insisted that the seige of Gaza is to make life unbearable for Gazans (in response to the daily fear that residents of Sderot have to deal with from constant Qassams). We know that such a policy will only enlarge the gulf between the two dialectics and give more support to those who launch the Qassams. Never mind the myopic hypocrisy that Olmert is suffering from when Israel violates Gaza airspace, sonic booms, and crippling sanctions that the residents of Gaza suffer from. And as of right now, it may be those very same “terrorists” who were responsible for the wall breakage, hence being Gaza’s heroes once again.

  • jeanne capozzoli January 24, 2008, 7:07 PM

    I use the above quote from Norman Weinstein “the ageless proverbial Jewish soul synonymous with justice and ethical decency” which so aptly describes my observation of Jewish culture after many years of activism and involvement in civil rights and anti-war work. Coming from the Midwest to NY, my admiration of this sense of justice will always remain with me. So it has been with disbelief to watch American Jewish organizations fail so miserably to exhibit this sense of justice when it comes to Palestinians. Fortunately, a significant number of Israelis have bravely opposed the Occupation and Settlements and the horrific treatment of the Palestinians. I cannot understand why Americans Jews do not support those in Israeli who are so similar to most Jewish Americans and instead support the extremists settlers and nationalists who are so unlike the majority of American Jews. It makes no sense to me. Furthermore, I cannot understand how there is support for policies that any intelligent person can see is detrimental to the future of both Israel and the United States. The horrific attack on Lebanon far north of the border and the use of millions of cluster bombs and now the collective punishment of over a million people in Gaza is counterproductive to say the least. It makes no sense to me.

  • Jeanne Capozzoli January 25, 2008, 1:02 PM

    I should have added that it is encouraging to learn from your blog that Israeli retired General Shlomo Gazit also thinks the seige of 1.5 million people in Gaza makes no sense. It is maddening that the America media never reports the raging controversy in Israel over the Occupation and Settlements and disgraceful treatment of the Palestinians. Only in the United States is it an unwritten rule not to not discuss this controvery in the media, Congress and among American Jewish organizations.