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Barack Obama: Dying to Give a Damn

Day 6: 95 Palestinians killed, 720 wounded.

The title of this post is harsh.  But the one I first considered was even more so: “Barack Obama, go to Hell.”  I am so glad I didn’t vote for this man for president.  At the time I cast my vote I did it thinking I was doing the right thing.  But in my heart regretting it.  If I had voted for him, now I my heart would be turning bitter as gall.

Here is what this sorry excuse for a leader had to say today in Thailand:

“[T]here is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes…

Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was that’s causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated.”

I also discovered this statement which appears to have been made separately and covers related, but different ground:

“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok at the start of a three-nation visit to Asia.

“If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable,” Obama said. “It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”

Let’s address this lame excuse for a political argument.  First, it could’ve been (and possibly was) drafted by an Aipac staffer.  It’s directly taken from pro-Israel talking points.  You’ve heard the same bullshit from Michael Oren a hundred times.  What this argument omits is that Israel has Gaza in a stranglehold.  It has turned the enclave into a virtual prison having no economy, no exports, no ability to travel in or out.  Gaza is occupied in effect by Israel.  This occupation is illegal.  Any nation has a right to resist such an occupation.

I do not support firing missiles from Gaza into Israel.  But I do not support Israel’s occupation of Gaza either.  I do not expect Gazans to roll over and play dead for Israel’s benefit or for the benefit of a U.S. president who has his head up his ass.

The real issue isn’t whether Israel has a right to attack Gaza.  The issue is how to get at the root causes of this conflict and resolve it.  F-16s, drones, targeted assassinations and helicopter gunships only kick the football farther down the road, as Mitt Romney so aptly put it (who’d have ever thought that Obama would actually follow a Mideast policy outlined by Romney).

Obama says he’s opposed to an Israeli invasion not because many Gazans will be killed (he clearly doesn’t care about that) but because Israelis will die.  Have you ever heard anything so callous?  Yes, I suppose in all the history of this conflict there have been far more callous statements.  But by a U.S. president?  Not so many.

Barack Obama: go to Hell.  You don’t give a damn.  You don’t have a moral bone in your body.  Give back that Nobel Peace Prize.  You don’t deserve it. In fact, you’ve pissed on it and turned it from gold to (cast) lead.

netanyahu election war

(Guardian, Steve Bell)

Former Israeli national security advisor Gen. Giora Eiland, on the other hand, made an amazingly forthright statement about what should be the outline for a fair resolution of the current impasse in Gaza.  For that reason, of course, it will be ignored by those in power.  But it still deserves a fair hearing:

“Israel’s bottom line interest toward Gaza is a security issue – that they won’t fire at us,” said Eiland, who also served as the head of Israel’s National Security Council. “Consequently, if we can reach an arrangement, it’s preferable to give ground on certain political issues in exchange for a better security arrangement.”

This sort of agreement would include “a mutual cease-fire and an Egyptian guarantee of not just quiet, but also that no weapons will enter Gaza,” Eiland said, adding that “this arrangement would be guaranteed by additional parties, for example, Qatar and Turkey.”

Among the political compromises that could be made in exchange for such a security arrangement, Eiland listed lifting the naval blockade of Gaza “so that the European Union member countries could send under supervision dinghies into Gaza’s port.”

Eiland also suggested that Israel recognize Gaza as a state under Hamas’ rule. “This is a country a ruled by an elected government and I expect that this government will act in a responsible manner, like a state would,” Eiland said.

“It’s not enough to say ‘Hamas will surrender,’” Eiland continued. “We need to give something, if not to Hamas, then to others. It’s impossible to reach a point where one side will surrender. Sometimes we become captive to slogans like ‘We won’t talk with Hamas.’ I say the opposite. It’s a fact that Hamas rules Gaza and that Gaza is a state. We need to recognize this and utilize the advantages this situation presents.”

The thinking is that if Israel recognizes Hamas as ruler of Gaza, it will place the onus on the Islamist group to run Gaza and fully control what happens there.  In effect, Eiland is saying to make Hamas put their money where their mouth is: you want to rule this place–do it.  And if you don’t, we and the world community who are enforcing this agreement will hold you accountable.

There is also a strategic element to his thinking that is unspoken.  If Israel breaks Palestine into two entities, then Palestinian strength and aspirations for statehood will be even more fragmented than they are now.  Hamas will have less interest in creating a coalition government with Fatah because it will control its own fiefdom in Gaza.  The West Bank and Gaza may be permanently severed.  That part of Eiland’s strategy is pernicious in the long-term.  But it doesn’t mean that much of what he’s saying wouldn’t make things better than they are now in Gaza itself.

I can’t tell you how refreshing this breeze is.  It’s a bit of truth.  And coming from a general bristling with medals and lots of dead Israeli enemies under his belt.  This is not some peacenik or “Arab lover.”  This is the very same dude who whitewashed the Mavi Marmara massacre on behalf of the IDF, for whom he investigated it.

I do have to say though that there’s a strange dynamic at work in Israeli politics: when you’re an official and within the system, you lie and say things that make you and your country sound like an idiot.  When you leave the system, all of a sudden you become a seer and things you didn’t appear to know or couldn’t say come tripping off your tongue.  The same phenomenon occurred with Ehud Olmert after he resigned his prime ministership. While he was in office he tried to sell Mahmoud Abbas a bill of goods in the guise of a legitimate peace agreement.  After he left, he called the settlements a cancer eating at Israel’s insides.

So some of this may be at work in Eiland’s change of heart, if you can call it that.  But who cares?  Truth is truth whether it comes from a sane person or a mad man.

Something further that is interesting here is that Eiland is making these statements–ones that cut to the heart of the weakness of Israel’s “mowing the grass” approach to Gaza–only five days after the start of hostilities and even before the expected invasion.  In other words, the general is already saying the emperor has no clothes.  The way this usually works is that the critics wait until a few weeks in after the soldiers and civilians have started dying in significant numbers.  That’s the time when the body politic becomes more receptive to such contrarian thinking.  So Eiland is bucking this trend and deserves credit for doing so.

al dalou gaza massacre

al-Dalou family children massacred in Gaza (Harry Fear)

When you read the following you will understand my outrage directed against Barack Obama.  Today should be the Kfar Kana or the al-Samouni moment in this war.  The former was the tragedy during the 2006 war when Israel attacked a Lebanese village near a UN base killing scores of civilians.  After that atrocity, the war was essentially over though Israel didn’t realize it at the time.  My fear is that the murder of 12 Gaza civilians in a bombing that flattened a 3-story apartment building filled with civilians will not be enough of a tragedy to end this growing madness.  More of the innocent may have to die before the world tells Israel: Dayenu!

The al-Dalou family was sheltering in its home from the bombardment.  Earlier, two male family members had left to procure supplies because they feared an imminent invasion.  They survived.  Five women, four children (all between two and five years-old) and two men died.  One of the women was 81 years old:

Khalil al-Dallu screams. “They said Mohammed was alive!” he shouts as emergency workers pull the body of a young man from a Gaza City home levelled by an Israeli strike on Sunday.  His face quickly crumples into tears as the emergency staff tell him that his cousin is in fact dead — one of six members of the Dallu family killed when an Israeli missile struck the Nasser neighbourhood, flattening the three-story building where they lived.

“The whole family is martyred!” he cries, as the body of 35-year-old Mohammed al-Dallu is placed in an ambulance.

“What was the sin of the children and the infants, Israel?” he screams, raising his hands to the sky.

The emergency workers carry on with their grim task. By the time their work is done they have pulled 11 bodies from the pancaked building and others around it.  The body of Mohammed’s wife is also retrieved, as well as those of five of their children. The body of another woman, also a family member, is also pulled out although she is not immediately identified.

The strike has also killed two of their neighbours from the Muzzana family.

Mohammed’s father, Jamal, and his 17-year-old son Abdullah, are among the survivors. When the Israeli strike happened, they were out buying food to boost the family’s stocks because they feared an Israeli ground invasion.

Jamal leans on a bloody electricity pole for support, overwhelmed at the horror and loss in front of him, his relatives crowding around as pieces of his grandchildren are plucked from their former home.  Near hysterical with anger and sorrow, Ibrahim shouts: “Don’t tell his brother Abdullah, the trauma will kill him!”  The brother, 26-year-old Abdullah, is currently studying in Turkey to become a doctor.

…  Ahmed Hato, 13, is still dazed by the sudden death visited on the family.”I was playing with the sons of the neighbours at the entrance to the street. There was a huge explosion, the earth shook and dust and rocks went everywhere. I don’t know how, but I ended up on the ground and without injuries,” he says.

Ahmed’s father can’t watch the rescue efforts, and doesn’t answer his phone. Instead he cries openly for Mohammed, whom he saw just an hour before the strike.  Mohammed, a Hamas police officer, “was a good man, moral and kind to everyone,” he says. “Everyone loved him. His death is a huge loss for the family.”

It turns out, as it often does in these sorts of IDF incursions, that the IAF was trying to assassinate the head of Hamas’ rocket warfare unit, Yechiya Rabiah (must be the guy who took over from Dirar Abusisi after his “forced retirement” at the hands of the Mossad and Ukrainian intelligence), who lives nearby.  Ooops, they got the wrong house.  Another intelligence failure.  Only killed 12 innocent civilians as a result.  Terribly regrettable.  But if Rabiah would only do the IDF the favor of living in an open field so it could kill him cleanly, these sorts of things wouldn’t have to happen.  You know how that Hamas uses civilians as human shields.

What created even more bitter irony is that just as when it dropped a bunker buster bomb during the 2006 war on Hassan Nasrallah’s Beirut hiding place, the IDF crowed that it’d taken out yet another terrorist bad guy.  Turns out that Nasrallah and Rabiah are very much alive.  What do you say in the midst of such insanity: woops?

Even an IDF journalist-stenographer like Avi Issacharoff writing in Haaretz concedes the Gaza operation is “starting to get into trouble” because too many civilians are dying.  All I can say is boker tov buddy, civilians were dying from the first moment of the fighting.  It’s just that now they’re starting to pile up like cordwood.  But if Issacharoff wants to wake up only today on day six, it’s better than sleep walking through an entire war before realizing 1,400 Gazans have been slaughtered as happened during Cast Lead.

At what point does Barack Obama become moved enough, or boxed in enough by this suffering that he’s finally got to get off his ass and do something?

By the way, Israeli polls find that while 90% of Israelis support the Gaza war (only 16% support a ceasefire), only 46% support an invasion while 32% are opposed.  That’s a sizable minority viewpoint.

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  • Johan A. van der Merwe November 19, 2012, 12:26 AM

    Obama may start doing something when he stops selling his soul to AIPAC.

  • Iman November 19, 2012, 1:33 AM

    What do you think is Obama’s motivation? Does he sincerely approve of Israel’s actions or is it politically motivated?

    • yankel November 19, 2012, 7:21 AM

      Obama first came to power convincingly effusing an impression of unusual genuine honesty.

      Yet, the rule is that everything a politician does – or chooses not to do – is politically motivated and, unfortunately, this “Big O” is no exception.

      The only mitigating excuse one can think of is the fact that – for urgent economical needs – he’s desperate for the good-will and cooperation of a hostile House owned by the Israeli lobby, which leaves him with very small manoeuvre space.

      • Eileen Kuch November 20, 2012, 9:35 PM

        Now that he’s been re-elected to a second term, Obama has no more need to kiss AIPAC’s butt. He can join the rest of the world now and denounce Israel’s genocidal crimes against the Palestinians. He cannot run for a third term in 2016; so, why grovel at the feet of the man he hates? The only reason I can see is this: He’s not the honest, straightforward man he presented himself to be; that he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that he wants to keep hidden from the public.

        • mary November 21, 2012, 4:58 AM

          What you never fail to see is party loyalty in departing presidents, and of course their concern for their “legacy” in the history books. Obama will probably want to reward Hillary’s service to him by giving her this chance to broker a ceasefire in Gaza favorable to Israel (of course there will be no ceasefire unless it’s favorable to Israel) and then arranging Democratic party and AIPAC support for her presidential bid in 2016. So of course he will not change his tune re: Israel.

    • HHW November 21, 2012, 8:47 AM

      Everything about Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine is political at its root. And it couldn’t be more elementary. Israeli motivation is realization of its ideological goal, a ‘greater Israel’. Absent a military disaster or other daunting turn of fortune, she will not be dissuaded. The turn of fortune required is obvious: a determined presidential and European campaign to drive Israel out of the West Bank so as to make room for a peace and to save her from herself.

  • Deïr Yassin November 19, 2012, 2:35 AM

    Avi Issacharoff, the IDF scribe at Haaretz, has for once a very good article: he explains why the civilian death toll is so high, and he claims that the killing of the Al-Dalou family may be a turning point and the equivalent of Kafr Qana in Lebanon.
    “As IDF strike kills entire family in Gaza, Israel is starting to get in trouble”
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/as-idf-strike-kills-entire-family-in-gaza-israel-is-starting-to-get-in-trouble-1.478879
    The pictures of these kids and what used to be their home, now a deep hole in the ground, the name of this operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ and pictures I’ve seen of Israeli soldiers praying on the Gaza ‘border’ makes me realize that this is an country that has gone mad.
    After Yisrael Katz who wants to bomb Gaza till the population flee to Egypt, Eli Yishai who says that the goal of this operation is to bring Gaza back to the Middel Ages, Gilad Sharon has an Op-Ed in the Jerusalem Post asking to flatten Gaza. Though JPost is (extreme) right-wing, I’m still surprised that they publish this (link embedded in the article by Ali Abunimah).
    Michael Ben-Ari had a rallye in Tel-Aviv asking for the expulsion of the ‘smolani’ (left-wingers) and what cannot be seen as anything else than a genocide in Gaza. Please look at the video and hear what these people say.
    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/flatten-gaza-hiroshima-and-mow-population-israeli-public-figures-urge

    • Daniel F. November 19, 2012, 4:08 AM

      @Deïr Yassin
      Below is a excerpt from Avi Issacharoff’s article;
      “Another problem with which Israel has to contend is the fact that it is doubtful whether the large number of casualties among Gaza’s civilian population actually leads Hamas leaders to reconsider the firing of rockets. Perhaps even the opposite is true. Apparently the many pictures of women and children killed in the present campaign (a total of 67 dead so far, including the organizations’ militants) help to create especially supportive Palestinian and Arab public opinion for Hamas.”
      However this does not excuse Israel.
      In the short term,a better way of combating aggressive actions from Gaza must be found.
      In the long term the solution is known.
      Time to take our heads out of the sand and be proactive.

      P.S. Could not get the the excerpt to stick

      • Deïr Yassin November 19, 2012, 12:19 PM

        Are you asking me a question ? When you mention ‘a better way of combatting aggressive actions from Gaza’, do you think my primary concern is Israel ? By the way, I think “a better way of combating aggressive actions from Israel” is a more correct description of reality.
        ****
        On a side-note: I read something ‘disturbing’ today, well it disturbed me at least. The name of the family killed in Sheikh Radwan is Al-Dalou, the street-name in Toulouse where the Ozar HaTorah school is situated is Rue Jules Dalou.

        • Daniel F. November 20, 2012, 3:33 AM

          @Deïr Yassin
          “Are you asking me a question ?”……..No, but I am saying that…..
          1)… to fully understand what is happening in Gaza one needs to examine and reveal the motives and actions of all of the players including Iran. To do anything less is to play into the hands of those who want to portray the current situation in Gaza as being nothing more than yet another example of unchecked Israeli aggression. To do anything less is to set the stage for a repeat of the same ugly scenario in the future.
          2)…Despite the culpability of others in the conflict Israel needs to examine and reinvent herself as if the solution lies solely in her hands.
          a) The term acceptable collateral damage needs to reassessed, no collateral damage is truly acceptable.
          By the better use of technology it can and must be reduced and further reduced. This is not a
          justification for the killing of innocent people but an acceptance of Israel’s moral responsibility.

          b) We have buried our heads in the sand and avoided the “Palestinian problem” for too long. It is not the
          “Palestinian problem” it is our problem and for the sake of our future generations we must give national priority
          to it’s resolution.

          c) In the interim we must act militarily as if the current situation will continue indefinitely and find new and
          innovative ways to effectively counteract and outmaneuver each and every strategic threat of those who
          wish to harm us.
          This we must do not to defeat them but to show ourselves fully capable of defending ourselves. The current
          perception that Israel is growing weaker emboldens those who wish to harm us and must be reversed. Israel
          has become corrupt, her army inefficient and ineffective, her people indifferent.

          d) However we must be ever aware that the use of force cannot replace a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
          Injustice toward the Palestinians cannot continue if we and future generations are to live in peace.
          An Israel that is both strong and just is the best deterrent to our enemies and the best guarantor of peace.

          http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4307712,00.html

        • Deïr Yassin November 20, 2012, 3:46 PM

          @ Daniel
          Oh, come on for God sake. This Iran-Iran-Iran-blahblah is just incredible. Iran is NOT a player in Gaza. Where do you guys get that stuff from ?

      • Davey November 19, 2012, 8:09 PM

        Someone seems to have forgotten why these rockets are being fired in the first place. If one understands this, it becomes clear that mounting corpses will not stop the rockets, that nothing will stop the rockets as long as the injustice meted out to Palestinians by Israel (and the West!) over generations remains unrecognized and unaddressed. Israel knows very well that the rockets will not stop no matter what they do. Palestinians are willing to endure all these assaults by a modern army, death rained from above, “surgical” strikes that lose patient after patient, all of it for generations just for the chance to keep alive and present the accumulated injustice. I truly admire these people.

        As for Obama, I sort of hope the House makes his legislation impossible and that he leaves nothing for the history books, because he is nothing. Justice for him will be having no further contribution in his name after Obamacare. I can live with that. Now.

  • mary November 19, 2012, 5:00 AM

    What was equally callous was Obama flippantly referring to the Gaza rampage as a “crisis du jour.”

    What has transpired between Obama and Netanyahu? Just 2 weeks ago Bibi was stumping openly for Romney, but now Obama is back to kissing his ring and making the most outrageously cold and heartless statements I can ever remember a president making. I hate to be vulgar, but the makeup sex must have been fantastic.

    I didn’t vote for Obama, either, and I’m absolutely sure it was the right decision. I foresee Obama’s second term as a do-nothing lame duck. He will work on some domestic issues but will kick the Palestine football down the road for certain. For all his big rhetoric in 2008 and 2009 (that silly Cairo speech), Obama has proven that he is completely feckless and utterly intimidated by Netanyahu, who has made it obvious that he despises him.

  • djf November 19, 2012, 5:16 AM

    So Gaza “has a right to resist such an occupation” but Israel doesn’t have a right to defend itself from rockets? I know what you think Israel should do in the long run. But in the short run? Also, is it really your position that Hamas doesn’t use civilians as human shields?

    • yankel November 19, 2012, 6:44 AM

      Compared with Gaza, Israel enjoys possession of some rather less populated vicinities, yet its military HQ is famously located at ‘The Dig’ (“Bor”), deep under the Quirya, at the very heart of Tel-Aviv, Israel’s most heavily populated area.

      Considering the above, “is it really your position that” the IDF “doesn’t use civilians as human shields?”

      • djf November 19, 2012, 6:58 AM

        Nice job dodging the question.

        • yankel November 19, 2012, 7:24 AM

          But this is exactly what you’re doing.

          • djf November 19, 2012, 7:37 AM

            What are you talking about? Richard cynically mocked the allegation that Hamas uses human shields. To which I asked if he actually disputed the claim. Now you’re telling me about the IDF and Tel Aviv, when I asked a question about Hamas. I wasn’t even defending the IDF in that post. It’s amazing that you can attribute only the worst motives to Israel on this blog but if you dare challenge Hamas, you can’t get a straight answer.

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 10:31 AM

            Hamas does not use human shields and numerous studies and reports including the Goldstone Report attempted to document the claim and failed. The only body that makes such a false claim is the IDF, which offers little or no proof. It seems your side confuses the issue of a guerrilla force fighting in an urban environment with using the local inhabitants as human shields. Guerrilla wars have been conducted in urban environments for decades, if not centuries, but not until the age of hasbara has Israel thought to browbeat Hamas for fighting on the terrain in which it lives and use it as a supposed moral failing, which it is not.

            In fact, the only force that do literally use human beings (children even) as human shields is the IDF. A practice the Supreme Court specifically banned and whose ruling was promptly violated by the IDF, which appears to take Supreme Court rulings as advisory rather than legally binding.

            Your comment was off topic. If you continue in this vein either you will be moderated or I will continue making mince meat out of your arguments or both, depending on my mood.

          • djf November 19, 2012, 11:15 AM

            Sorry, responded to the wrong thread. See above.

          • Racan November 19, 2012, 11:39 AM

            ” It seems your side confuses the issue of a guerrilla force fighting in an urban environment with using the local inhabitants as human shields. Guerrilla wars have been conducted in urban environments for decades, if not centuries, but not until the age of hasbara has Israel thought to browbeat Hamas for fighting on the terrain in which it lives and use it as a supposed moral failing, which it is not.”

            Touche Mr. Silverstein.

          • Royfus November 19, 2012, 12:02 PM

            I like that you have finally delivered something of value in this post. Aside from the bloodshed gen eiland idea seems like a reasonable one to end this conflict on a more positive not than its started, and possibly for both sides. Kudos for putting up a reasonable solution to the conflict vs all the reports of destruction and bloodshed which I can hear about from all the news outlets and does not touch actually solving the issues between the Israelis and Palestinians. I have learned something usefull today, thank you Richard

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 2:01 PM

            You’re welcome.

            You cannot hear any of the commentary or see any of the pictures I offer on NPR in the NY TImes, Washington Post or virtually any major U.S. paper or media outlet.

          • Royfus November 19, 2012, 12:06 PM

            The human shields he’s talking about is probably the fact that most weaponry is stored in civilian areas and residential buildings as well as the rocket fire coming from civilian and residential areas. It it therefore hard to tackle the rockets without putting civilians in harms way which I’m sure Hamas understands that and uses it strategically for their advantage, hoping to limit Israeli attacks or sway public opinion.

          • yankel November 19, 2012, 8:12 AM

            See Elisabeth’s reply just below and stop playing the fool.

    • mary November 19, 2012, 9:22 AM

      Slaughtering civilians isn’t self-defense.

      End the siege on Gaza and there will be no more rockets.

      What is your obsession with human shields? All you hasbarists love to trot out that question as soon as Israel starts butchering Palestinian children.

      • djf November 19, 2012, 9:56 AM

        Save the name-calling for the schoolyard bully. You seem awfully convinced that Hamas would stop if only the seize ended. For days now, I’ve been trying to figure out why you’re naive about Hamas but so cynical about Israel.

        • Marilyn November 19, 2012, 11:44 AM

          djf, Israel slaughtered 320 Palestinians when they were doing nothing at all in the last 3 years, they have no army, no navy and no airforce.

          It’s astonishing that the trio of mass murderers of Iraqis think that it is the Israeli’s that are the victims just as Bush and Blair claimed they were the victims of Iraqis.

        • Royfus November 19, 2012, 12:31 PM

          I also wonder what would make you so sure that ending the siege would stop the rocket fire vs more arms getting into gaza and violence escalating? I agree that it must happen eventually but it is extremely naive to assume that it would end the violence from Hamas immediately. It’s needs to be heavily monitored in some way to say the least. Hamas is a violent organization at the moment and has not indicated in any way that it will become less violent or would like to do so, that’s important, and the siege is in place for that reason, no? Please don’t respond that it is to ruin the lives of Palestinians because that’s not the reason even if it is the outcome.

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 2:03 PM

            If the siege ends in a negotiated solution and Israel recognizes Hamas, then a comprehensive agreement could be reached which would stop the tunnels & allow for inspection of all goods entering Gaza. Give Hamas enough & it will no longer have a motivation to attack Israel.

        • mary November 19, 2012, 3:12 PM

          Is it your job to analyze me? Is that in the hasbara handbook?

  • Elisabeth November 19, 2012, 7:50 AM

    djf, where would you suggest Hamas located its headquarters?

  • Tibor November 19, 2012, 10:55 AM

    Here is a more benign view of Obama`s approach, which transcends the intrinsic alliance of the US with Israel. While political considerations are always relevant there are other and directly related issues that likely have played a significant role. Primarily let`s make a big distinction in what we see now, not just in the world in general but, crucially, in the Arab world. While the latter sympathize with the Palestinian population in Gaza, these are after all they brethren, their view of Hamas is a different story. The glamour of “standing up to Israel”, which was a big thing not that long ago, lost a lot of its lure. The bearded men that promise “eternal fight” against Israel & Zionism, the US and the West (as well as others, as in Kashmir for instance) are losing ground. The attitude towards Hamas, of Arabs as well as many Gazans, is likely to be phrased as: Why did you spend so much effort on building up that missiles arsenal and posing belligerently towards Israel, including continual shooting at its civilians (which is sure to provoke any country) – don`t you see that it puts your own people in jeopardy? And, moreover, is it not all in vain and just plain vanity?
    I think Obama understood that the real dividing line is not anymore Arabs versus Israel but one that runs through the Arab world between those that yearn for normalcy and don`t want to be left behind in a fast moving world and the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah that want to keep “the flame” of the “grand resistance” and with that their own relevance and domination. Obama has chosen to side with the former.

    • Davey November 19, 2012, 8:16 PM

      By normalcy you must mean the status quo. Is this right?

      • Tibor November 20, 2012, 1:21 AM

        Not necessarily, everything is dynamic now in the middle-east. I actually hope for Egypt to take control of things there and in the West-Bank to involve Jordan in the solution. But as in the Intifada then, this explosive situation must be put to rest first. Takes time and perseverance, as with the Intifada, but I don`t doubt the outcome. Israel has the support of those who matter in this regard.

        • Deïr Yassin November 20, 2012, 3:31 AM

          Finally we got to the bone: Tibor, the ‘intellectual’ hasbarista doesn’t want any Palestinian State at all !
          Wonder what that “…and in the West Bank to involve Jordan in the solution” means. How much of the West Bank does Tibor want Israel to keep ?
          Israel might have the support of those who matter NOW but the wheel turns…..

          • mary November 20, 2012, 4:42 AM

            Seeing that Jordan was created by, and is maintained by, western interests, one can pretty much guess what Tibor is saying. He wants to involve Jordan in policing the Palestinians.

          • Tibor November 20, 2012, 4:50 AM

            Actually, I have no conspiratorial mind at all. The West-Bank cannot be indeed an independent country, it is impractical, but that does not mean that it will belong to Israel. It is here where Jordan comes to the equation. At some point this will even get the consent of the West-Bankers – and that`s part of the turning wheels… They see what happens around them in the region and a proper arrangement, which promises them what any normal person needs, may win the way. There is no `Hasabara` here, just the logic of things

        • mary November 20, 2012, 5:07 AM

          Tibor, are you saying that the Palestinians in the West Bank should be transferred into Jordan?

          • Tibor November 20, 2012, 5:44 AM

            I am thinking of a joint Israeli-Jordanian framework, which the West bank and its inhabitants in their entirety will belong to – the details to be worked out by all parties concerned. I think such imaginative plans can break the deadlock and bring prosperity to all. Of course, good will towards each other is a basic premise and vengeance, nationalistic rhetoric etc. don`t belong here – a new start, a new page in history. It happened in other places, can happen here too. Those fanatics in Gaza, the Jihad etc., with their anachronistic mindset, cannot have part of it.

          • Davey November 20, 2012, 9:22 AM

            Tibor — it is hard to think of anything more “anachronistic” than Zionism, a 19th century colonial movement. What is more “anachronistic” than a single “chosen” people as sole inheritors of a ethnically cleansed state, complete with a mythical past in a fabled place? And fascism has a modern face, i.e. the “only democracy” etc. The “fanatics” don’t stoop to biological mythology even in their worst thinking.

          • mary November 20, 2012, 10:57 AM

            So the “fanatics” in Gaza would go where, Tibor? Along with the pesky Palestinians in the West Bank, would they be palmed off on Jordan and called Israeli Jordanians? Effectively ethnically cleansing the area known as historic Palestine of Palestinians, so you hope.

            In your Orwellian dream, do you have any similar plans for the Palestinians languishing in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria? And what about the diaspora?

          • Deïr Yassin November 20, 2012, 4:00 PM

            @ Tibor
            We know that many (most ?) Israelis want to ‘hand over’ Gaza to Egypt, and some Bantoustan in the West Bank under Jordanian jurisdiction. Do you know that in the West Bank people are being killed these days by the heroic Tsahal for protesting in solidarity with their brothers in Gaza. Palestinians are one people whether within the State of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank or the disapora.
            Keep on dreaming
            PS. You didn’t tell us how much of the West Bank you want to keep for Israel. Be honest, tell us about your plan.

  • abierno November 19, 2012, 11:06 AM

    I would predict that addressing these issues with Netanyahu is problematic. Any pressure, any perceived lack of support
    has had the result of his moving intensely in the opposite direction, to prove himself. Think about settlement policy,
    think about his intrusion in the electoral process, think about his refusal to remove racist statements from his Facebook.
    If Obama were to call him out on the issues of this Gaza war, my prediction is that he would massacre the whole of
    Gaza simply to prove he could do it. Also, he has the political backing from the majority of the country to do so. No
    prior presidents other than Carter, and no European countries have heretofore placed any boundaries on Israeli violence
    towards Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine or Gaza. I would suggest that to attempt to do so now, would result in an explosive political situation (wherein we are trying not to careen over the fiscal cliff), massacre in Gaza, reoccupation of
    the Sinai (a more immediate Isaeli goal) and of course, after the Israeli election, a full on, nuclear assault on Iran.
    The stakes are high – but it is also the case that Netanyahu is predictable and he has already lost this war. Also, the invasion was ordered – but then troops were ordered to stand down. This, and the negotiations in Cairo would suggest that the
    back channel message is far different than the more telegenic communication.

  • djf November 19, 2012, 11:14 AM

    What comment of mine was off-topic? You mocked the human shield argument as an aside. I responded as an aside. It was not my main point but others responded to it so I did in return.

    Also, please don’t claim to know what my “side” is. The minute I commented here, I was put in a box label “habarist” and treated accordingly. I’m not right-wing. I’m not a Netanyahu supporter. In fact, I haven’t even made claims about the war itself. My point was mostly that how Hamas and Palestinian leadership seem to get the benefit of the doubt here, while Israeli leadership is assumed to be cynical, at best. If you think you made mincemeat of anything of my mine, you’re not paying attention.

    • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 1:59 PM

      Yes, you’re one of 50 or 60 who’ve trumpeted your enlighted liberal political views which I suppose extend as far as your fellow Jewish citizens, but not much beyond that. I’ve got news for you: if you’re a racist, lie about Palestinians or simply spout ignorant claims that makes you a hasbarist. You can have the most enlightened views in the world, but if those views only extend as far as your own kind, but stop there, you’re still a racist.

      • djf November 19, 2012, 5:06 PM

        I don’t care about 50 or 60 other commenters who may or may not have “enlightened liberal political views”. Do you just recycle these comments whenever somebody challenges you? Because it sounds like you didn’t actually read anything I wrote. What racism and lies did you conjure up and attribute to me? I probably commented a handful or so times here in the last few days, trying to raise substantive issues with your narrative. You mostly ignored my substantive points and then jumped on an aside about human shields. That’s fine; it’s your blog.

        But if you’re going to accuse me of racism, dishonestly, and ignorance, you better be able to back it up. Your own comment rules require readers to “support claims you wish to make using credible sources and links” and warn, “claims that I am a liar are ground for banning.” Let’s see you offer your guests the same courtesy.

  • Marc Silverstein November 19, 2012, 11:53 AM

    Richard, so who did you vote for?

    • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 1:59 PM

      Jill Stein, but not out of great conviction.

      • Marc Silverstein November 21, 2012, 11:14 AM

        ah ok yeah I almost went down that same path myself…thanks, Marc

  • Arie Brand November 19, 2012, 12:48 PM

    Israel could successfully peddle the “human shields” story because most people, especially Americans, do not realise how tiny the Gaza strip is. The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is more than four times bigger but has less than twice its population. In other words the population density of the Gaza strip is twice that of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. There are hardly any wide open spaces there where rocket launchers could be put away from people and as a seductive target for the IDF. So it moans about “human shields”.

    Tel Aviv metropolitan area : 1516 km2
    Population: 3,206,000
    Gaza strip: 365 km2
    Population: 1,700,000

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    • Royfus November 19, 2012, 1:02 PM

      So Hamas bears no responsibility for endangering the lives of its citizens? And are you justifying the rockets as necessary and assuming Israel should just live with the indiscriminate rocket fire against its civilians?

      • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 2:06 PM

        Are you saying that in the death of Israeli civilians during the Lebanon & current war that the Israeli government bears no responsibility for endangering their lives? Of course they do. Hamas bears even less responsibility because it did not start those wars, Israel did. As for who is responsible for killing Palestinian civilians? Israel, of course.

        • royfus November 19, 2012, 2:49 PM

          Sure but is Hamas not putting gazans at risk unnecessarily by continuing to launch pointless rockets, knowing that israel will respond, and that their response will cause casualties considering the dense population and the rockets firing from residential areas? If I was a gazan I would wonder why Hamas believes that it should put its people at risk for pointless violence on israel. The solution here should be nonviolent, otherwise Israel crushes them in a military conflict and what’s the point for Hamas? In my opinion Hamas bears a lot of responsibility as there are other nonviolent strategies it can pursue and I still have difficulty finding any logical purpose for their rocket attacks.

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 10:11 PM

            If you were Gazan and had half a heart you’d be in the Resistance, to paraphrase Barak’s famous remark. Or perhaps you’d be a collaborator turning in your neighbors to your Shabak handler?

            I do find it ever so ironic and maddening when Israeli Jews or their boosters offer their own opinion about what Hamas or Gazans or Palestinians should do, when they’d be far better off trying to change the asinine policies of their own government.

            What makes you think that your advice or judgments about what Palestinians should do have any value whatsoever?

          • Royfus November 19, 2012, 10:49 PM

            Firstly, thanks for the rudeness u must have been angered today, and don’t generalize me as anyone when you don’t know where I’m even from. I came here to find answers to some of my question and gain another perspective on this issue but u seem to be getting too rattled to answer fairly or informatively. So do you mind answering a question or are you just turning to spewing hate and judgement. What logical purpose do the rockets serve? Aside from being a product of frustration are they not pointless and self defeating? So pleae turn of your judgment meter and help disperse some information as is the purpose of this blog. We are all against suffering but I am definitely pro logic and reason and your answer is lacking any of that. No need to attack people or be rude maybe you just need to cool off a bit. A real answer would be nice and appreciated

          • royfus November 20, 2012, 10:36 AM

            [comment deleted for violation of comment rules–read them and don’t break them. Comments must be substantive and relate directly to blog post.]

  • Arie Brand November 19, 2012, 1:13 PM

    Israel can successfully peddle the “human shields” story because most people, especially Americans, do not realise how tiny the Gaza strip is. The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is more than four times bigger but has less than twice its population. In other words the population density of the Gaza strip is twice that of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. There are hardly any wide open spaces there where rocket launchers could be put away from civilians to make things convenient for the IDF. So it moans about “human shields”.

    Tel Aviv metropolitan area : 1516 km2
    Population: 3,206,000
    Gaza strip: 365 km2
    Population: 1,700,000

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    • Royfus November 19, 2012, 1:18 PM

      [comment deleted for comment rule violation–your comment was not substantive which it needs to be.]

  • Deïr Yassin November 19, 2012, 6:43 PM

    It continues into the night:
    A new family massacre: an air strike on a house in Beit Lahya killed Fuad and Amna Hijazi and their four year old twins, Suhaib and Muhammad.
    Two brothrs of 15 and 17, Muhammad and Ahmad Tawfiq al-Nasasra were killed in an air raid in Rafah.

    In the West Bank two Palestinians died today: Rushdi Mahmoud Hassan al-Tamimi , 28 years, died from injuries inflicted during a solidarity rally with Gaza on Saturday in his village of Nabi Saleh. He was shot in the stomach by a heroic IDF-soldier.
    Hamdi Mohammad Jawwad al-Falah, 22 years, from Hebron, was shot four times by live bullets from close range in the head and heart during a solidarity rally with Gaza.
    Many seriously wounded all across the West Bank.
    All on Ma’an News.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson November 19, 2012, 7:27 PM

    “Israeli polls find that while 90% of Israelis support the Gaza war…”
    I have wondered when seeing these poll results whether Palestinian Israelis get to be polled. Since I understand that around 20 percent of Israelis are Palestinian, it’s hard for me to believe they would be overwhelmingly in favor of Israel attacking Gaza and carrying out wholesale slaughter of Palestinian women and children there. Does one have to be Jewish to be considered Israeli enough to be counted?

    • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 10:07 PM

      The poll DID only include Israeli Jews, which does skew the results.

      • Mary Hughes Thompson November 19, 2012, 10:24 PM

        Claiming that “90% or Israelis support the Gaza war” when at most it’s only 90% of 80% is racist and deceptive. Clearly the vast majority of Jews in Israel are happy with what is being done in their name, but why would anyone think it necessary to lie to deceive people into thinking the percentage is even higher than it actually is?

  • dickerson3870 November 19, 2012, 9:24 PM

    ● RE: “[T]here is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes…” – Obama / “O’Bomber”

    MY QUESTION FOR OBAMA / “O’BOMBER”: What country on Earth would tolerate being subjected to an illegal blockade for more than five years? ? ? Israel is truly the “little sadist”, but Obama, AIPAC and the United States are the “Big (Global) Sadist(s)” ! ! !

    ● SEE: “U.N. experts say Israel’s blockade of Gaza illegal”, By Reuters, 9/13/11
    LINK – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/13/us-un-gaza-rights-idUSTRE78C59R20110913

    • dickerson3870 November 19, 2012, 9:50 PM

      ● P.S. MY SELF-CONGRATULATION(S): I am feeling so darn good about having voted for Jill Stein of the Green Party rather than “O’Bomber”, who obviously authorized Israel to once again “mow the grass” in Gaza in keeping with Israel’s “Iron Wall” obsession. I do not believe Netanyahu would have been able to “play” Jill Stein (“for a fool”, or “like a violin”) nearly as easily as he has been able to “play” Obama.
      I guess I should thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in a “swing state” where I might have been tempted to vote for Obama/O’Bomber as the “(not very) lesser evil”!
      Israel is truly the “little sadist”, but Obama, AIPAC and the United States are the “Big (Global) Sadist(s)” ! ! !

    • dickerson3870 November 19, 2012, 10:07 PM

      ● P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “Preparing to ‘Mow the Grass’ in Gaza”, By Paul R. Pillar, consortiumnews.com, 3/17/12
      Even as Israeli leaders focus the world on a possible war with Iran, the neocons are prepping public opinion for another bloody assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, what one article likened to “mowing the grass.”

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders seem anxious for a new war right now in Gaza. Some Israeli politicians have warned that such a war would risk undoing the success the war-mongering talk about Iran has had in diverting attention from the Palestinians’ plight and focusing it instead on the Iranian nuclear program. The successful operation of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket defensive system has relieved what might otherwise have been greater popular pressure on Israeli leaders to strike back faster and even more forcefully.
      There nonetheless is talk in Israel about launching at some point another war against Gazans. Israel’s finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, said “sooner or later, and I don’t want to quote dates, we will have to do a ‘root canal’.”
      . . . The talk reflects another Israeli idée fixe, one that is just as short-sighted as the reliance on cordon-and-swat: an absolute refusal to have anything to do with Hamas except to try to crush it (and occasionally to exchange prisoners with it). This obsession continues no matter what Hamas does and no matter how substantial a portion of Palestinian opinion it may represent. . .
      . . . The counterproductive (if one were interested in peace, that is) Israeli attitudes at play are vividly displayed in a paper published this week by Efraim Inbar and Max Singer of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a version of which appeared as an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. Their piece is titled “The Opportunity in Gaza” — it’s interesting how a violent, destructive clash is viewed as a “opportunity.”
      They argue for a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip now — one even bigger and more damaging than Cast Lead, with the objective of destroying as much of Hamas as possible. They blatantly recommend exploiting the U.S. electoral calendar, arguing that “until November, the U.S. is likely to restrain rather than promote international action against Israel in response to an action in Gaza.” They say “deterrence created by Cast Lead” is “wearing thin,” and “military action now could restore deterrence.”
      Someone should point out to Inbar and Singer than when you repeatedly have to go to war that means deterrence is not working. But they don’t seem to care, fully accepting the prospect that in the future “Israel will probably have to ‘mow the grass’ again.” There is not a single word in their paper about the lives and livelihoods of the residents of the Gaza Strip, or the effect what they are recommending would have on those lives. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/17/preparing-to-mow-the-grass-in-gaza/

      PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING THE “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION. – http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-please-restore-justice-and-pardon-my-dad

  • Aonee November 19, 2012, 11:19 PM

    Its understandable that you do not support raining iranian made missiles from gaza on israeli territory and even towns/cities.
    But can you stop if from happening?

    The answer would be a ‘BIG NO’.

  • Paddy Carpenter November 20, 2012, 2:12 AM

    What does the much trumpeted Quartet (Blair et al) say about this latest outrage?

  • Arie Brand November 20, 2012, 4:14 AM

    Tibor wrote:

    “I think Obama understood that the real dividing line is not anymore Arabs versus Israel but one that runs through the Arab world between those that yearn for normalcy and don`t want to be left behind in a fast moving world and the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah that want to keep “the flame” of the “grand resistance” and with that their own relevance and domination. Obama has chosen to side with the former.”

    This seems to me largely wishful thinking. I mean it is not impossible that the US foreign policy establishment holds this view – the country has, after all, shown a remarkable aptitude for betting on the wrong horses in the last sixty years or so – but that affairs are developing as Tibor wants them to seems to me highly improbable.

    What Israel has managed to do is to bring about an Egyptian-Turkish axis to begin with.

    The Turkish Review – “Today’s Zaman” wrote on 11/19::

    “The name is quite intimidating: “Turkey-Egypt High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.”

    The Turkey-Egypt axis represents the most important aspect of the general trend wherein they try to alter and put a stop to Israel’s attacks on Gaza. In the Middle East, the harmony emerging between Turkey and Egypt will also inflame Israel’s paranoia. The Arab Spring destabilized the delicate balance which the US and Israel have worked, year in and year out, to create through labor, money and scheming.

    We must look at Israel’s Gaza attacks as a dangerous trap set for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Is there any other explanation for the continuation of the attacks even while Morsi visited Gaza? The same trap is set for Turkey.

    Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Egypt is a critical point to see if the two countries Israel set traps for will fall into or overcome them. Israel is pressuring Turkey and Egypt to act thoughtlessly.

    Israel declared war not on Gaza but on the new order, with Turkey among its numbers, in the Middle East. However, the growing closeness between Egypt and Turkey is based on a deep mental, historical repertoire and societal support. It does not appear to be easily abandoned”

    Erdogan made no secret of what he thinks of Turkey’s former ally. The Turkish Hurriyet Daily news reported today:

    “Erdoğan described Israel yesterday as a “terrorist state” for carrying out its bombardment of Gaza,

    “Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of a mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdoğan told a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul. “For this reason I say that Israel is a terrorist state and its acts are terrorist acts.”

    Egypt’s and Tunisia’s reactions were equally harsh:

    Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Guardian (17/11/12):

    “In reflexive defense of Israel, the US government thus once again put itself squarely at odds with key nations such as Turkey (whose prime minister accused Israel of being motivated by elections and demanded that Israel be “held to account” for mounting civilians deaths), Egypt (which denounced Israeli attacks as “aggression against humanity”), and Tunisia (which called on the world to “stop the blatant aggression” of Israel).”

    Well, perhaps those harsh voices don’t represent Tibor’s dream category, those “who yearn for normalcy” (and thus won’t oppose Israel) but, as it so happens, they are far more likely to determine policies in the region.

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson November 20, 2012, 6:27 AM

    TIBOR: “I am thinking of a joint Israeli-Jordanian framework, which the West bank and its inhabitants in their entirety will belong to… ”

    How can one possibly respond to such an arrogant statement? (I’ll wait for Deir Yassin and Mary to give it their best shot)

    (Sorry, Richard, no REPLY option)

  • Zhu Bajie November 21, 2012, 8:25 PM

    I believe O. regularly rains missiles on other countries.

    • Mary Hughes Thompson November 21, 2012, 8:31 PM

      Only every other day or so, I think.

  • Davey November 20, 2012, 9:50 PM

    Well, that clears it up! Thanks for sharing.