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Birth Pangs of a New Mideast Ceasefire

Day 8: Gaza death toll 140 Palestinian dead, 1,000 wounded.  5 Israeli dead.

In the title, I deliberately echoed Condi Rice’s infamous saying from the last Lebanon war, in which she offered Israel free rein to reshape Lebanon in its image (an attempt that failed miserably and left Hezbollah firmly in the political driver’s seat there).  The ceasefire cobbled together by Egypt, the U.S. and others on behalf of Israel and Hamas was supposed to go into effect by midnight local time.  Due to last-minute reservations expressed by Israel, it has been postponed till at least tomorrow.

I tried to determine what those reservations might be.  My Israeli source says the fact that two Israelis were killed today plus an apartment building in Rishon Lezion suffered extensive damage, which prevented Barak and Bibi from wanting to be seen as accomodating Hamas.  I do so love it when Israeli Jews talk about the “Arab mentality” and things like honor or “saving face.”  Those phenomena don’t affect Israel’s Ashkenazi Jewish leaders, do they?

All this maneuvering and counter-maneuvering is why I’ve likened this ceasefire to a difficult labor (I was going to call it “hard labor,” which is another thing entirely, but also apt).  I also wanted to evoke the deja vu nature of the current predicament.  We’ve seen ceasefires come and go, mostly broken by Israel at will, whenever a human target of opportunity comes along.  Why does anyone think this one will work when it appears to be in neither side’s considered interest?

Interestingly, an unnamed U.S. official calls says of the Gaza war, “this nonsense can’t go on,” while Robert Fisk calls it the “garbage war.”  Just about right, I’d say.

Yet another anonymous “senior” U.S. official makes this dubious statement about Egypt’s interests.  In noting that Pres. Morsi is between a rock and a hard place in terms of his people’s deep anger at the Israeli massacre, the former says:

…”If he responds fully to public opinion, he risks what we have been trying to do for peace and stability in the region…”

What specifically has the U.S. been trying to do for peace and stability in the region?  How have these efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict borne any fruit?  What precisely can Obama point to as indication of a success or even prospect of success, that would draw Morsi to the U.S. vision?  Our branding Hamas “terrorist” and refusal to deal with it has been a winner.  The siege too has really shown those Gazans who’s the boss.  And our refusal to recognize a Palestinian state, that’s made us golden in the eyes of the Arab world.  What more could anyone expect us to be doing for peace and stability in the region?

Here’s yet another example of the “constructive” role the U.S. is playing in the midst of this crisis.  Russia sponsored a Security Council statement that condemned the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  Apparently, the statement was insufficiently sympathetic to Israel and didn’t call for an end to rocket fire from Gaza.  So the U.S. vetoed the resolution without so much as an attempt at compromise.  Next, Russia plans to table a stronger resolution that would also likely force a U.S. veto.  Have you noticed that the most positive, constructive resolutions proposed in the UN concerning Israel-Palestine all end up vetoed by the U.S.?

They used to call the Soviet ambassador to the UN Mr. Nyet.  Maybe it’s time to start calling Susan Rice Ms. No.

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The Crisis in Gaza event I’ve organized for this coming Sunday evening here in Seattle will also cost nearly $500.  I’d be delighted to receive donations to defray those costs.


{ 58 comments… add one }
  • mary November 21, 2012, 12:40 AM

    At the end of the day, the US holds most of the cards in the form of money and diplomatic support for Israel. So it stands to reason that Obama could have put the brakes on Bibi at any time, thereby saying over 100 Palestinian and Israeli lives and over 1,000 injuries.

    I am so fed up with this “special relationship” the US has with Israel. IMHO, it ought to dump this bitchy girlfriend and hook up with Egypt instead. Traditionally, Egypt has been the center of the Arab world for ages, and it still has a power influence and is widely respected worldwide. An alliance with Egypt would be much more logical, and more advantageous, than with this shitty little country that is an illegal occupier, infiltrates US politics with money and “friendships,” and refuses to sign the NPT.

    By building a friendship with Egypt, there would be a much greater chance of peace, and Egypt would prosper with the money that would have been given to Israel and spent on weapons being used to kill Palestinians. Without US support, Israel cannot maintain its occupation of Palestine, so that would be another problem solved. There would be a coalition of Arab countries, led by Egypt, that could end the war in Syria as well.

    • Royfus November 21, 2012, 6:32 AM

      Egyptians have been protesting and shouting death to America for a long time, what do you think would make them a good partner for the US? Egypt needs to repair itself and find some success before it can be respected diplomatically by the US and the world. Most Arab countries are not stable or secular right now making a relationship with them unreliable and shaky at best.

      • mary November 21, 2012, 7:11 AM

        I am an American living in Egypt. Most Egyptians have not been “protesting and shouting death” to anyone. However, they deeply resent Mubarak’s fealty to the zionists and the US as it serves the zionist agenda. And why do you think a country must be secular to be stable or reliable? Is Israel secular?

        • Royfus November 21, 2012, 7:18 AM

          So what makes Egypt a good partner for the US? Other countries don’t owe you anything and don’t have to be your friend if it is not in their interests. Secondly, there are many successful secular countries and few religious ones. When religion trumps law or human rights, issues will arise and this is why secular countries are more stable and reliable partners.

          • mary November 21, 2012, 10:21 AM

            Secular countries like, say, the Jewish State?

            Don’t be obtuse. Logically it makes more sense to ally with a country that has influence in the region. What would have happened tonight without Egypt brokering the ceasefire? Who else would have been able to accomplish it?

          • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:49 PM

            When religion trumps law or human rights, issues will arise

            And they do every day–in Israel, which fits this description to a T.

          • mary November 22, 2012, 1:41 AM

            Egypt was instrumental in obtaining the ceasefire. I rest my case.

          • Richard Silverstein November 22, 2012, 1:55 AM

            And U.S. officials are trying to domesticate Morsi by claiming he chose “pragmatism over ideology” in pressuring Hamas to accept ceasefire. I was going to say “disgusting” but it’s worse than that because it reveals an incessant U.S. need to co-opt or defang enemies and competitors instead of understand them.

          • mary November 22, 2012, 5:08 AM

            Of course, there is a need to discredit Morsi, and to make it look as though he adopted the pro-US and pro-Israel stance from which he negotiated. I highly doubt this to be the case, and the colonialist need to look as though the US totally controlled the negotiations is pathetic. In fact, the US seems to be a fading star in the ME. Please don’t forget how Morsi jumped into the pool while Obama was still in Bangkok calling the attack on Gaza a “crisis du jour”.

      • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:52 PM

        Getting mighty uncomfortable living in that part of the world, are you? Arab Spring got you down? Too many of Israel’s Arab friends mowed down in the prime of their tyranny?

        • Royfus November 21, 2012, 11:41 PM

          I don’t live in that part of the world, lucky me. I do however fear that the area will become a chaotic mess of disorganized governments, but I also hope for the best….ps: Why not report Israeli injured count so we have a fair comparison and also to make yourself seem less one-sided?

  • Royfus November 21, 2012, 4:39 AM

    [comment deleted for comment rule violation–do NOT repeat yourself or the comments of others]

    • mary November 21, 2012, 5:15 AM

      How many injured Israelis is not the point unless you want to highlight the enormous disparity between the numbers of injured Israelis and injured Palestinians. Go ahead, post it yourself if you want to see it. What do you hope to prove, if not that the numbers are staggeringly disproportionate?

      • Royfus November 21, 2012, 6:19 AM

        Clearly it is the point when it listed at the top of the article as it will be read first. I want to understand where the writer is coming from. If he is ommiting necessary facts he is no longer impartial and is fairly biased. I understand the disproportionality, but ignoring all Israelis injured is a mistake and a damage to his credibility all together. If he doesn’t address this we must assume he is ignoring the Israeli side at his convinience to push a purely palestinian agenda.

        • mary November 21, 2012, 7:08 AM

          Why do you think Richard must be unbiased? He is not allowed to express his points of view? This is a blog, not CNN.

          • Royfus November 21, 2012, 7:28 AM

            An opinion based on false information is hardly worth anything. Richard may side with whoever or whatever he wants but to try to put out misleading information or ommiting important facts ruins his credibility to an educated person who does not blindly follow another’s statements. If you still find his actions agreeable then you should also agree that this blog is a pro palestinan propaganda blog with little education value or credibility. His integrity is at stake not his beliefs.

          • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 6:36 PM

            this blog is a pro palestinan propaganda blog

            You’ve just earned yrself moderation by violating another comment rule. No one lies about my blog & ascribes views to it that are false. Break the rules again & you’re gone.

          • Bob Mann November 21, 2012, 8:40 PM

            It’s hard to tell which posts these comments at the bottom are directed towards. I’m wondering if that is just an issue with my browser or something that others are seeing as well.

          • mary November 22, 2012, 2:11 AM

            Simply click the “reply” button under the original comment that begins the thread you are commenting under. (You will see that comments under the original one are indented while the original comment is flush with the left margin). When you post your reply it will appear as the last comment on that thread.

            It works for me most of the time :)

          • Andy November 22, 2012, 11:58 AM

            I see it as well. (FYI: I use Opera when reading Richard’s blog.)

          • Deïr Yassin November 22, 2012, 3:57 PM

            @ Bob
            No, I have exactly the same problems.
            Particularly Richard’s responses – on a blue background – are mostly at the bottom, and often I don’t know who it is directed at. That’s why I try to write @ because sometimes the comment ends up somewhere else.

          • Richard Silverstein November 23, 2012, 2:21 AM

            I will try to quote the passages I’m referring to in my comments to help indicate who I’m responding to.

          • Adar Arnon November 21, 2012, 9:46 AM

            For example, saying classifying 100 gazans as dead civilians, while COUNTING the terrorists who were killed in action, while trying to shoot a missile at Tel Aviv, and on the other hand saying that 5 Israelis have been killed, and omitting all the wounded, and omitting that TODAY a bus in Tel Aviv was exploded by a terrorists, an act of terror in which 25 were wounded, makes the reporter uncredible.

          • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:44 PM

            I’m delighted for you to call me “uncredible” (not an English word, but we get your drift) because my readers will know that coming from you it means that precisely the opposite is the truth.

          • Royfus November 22, 2012, 8:01 AM

            I like the intellectual sticking of the glue back to me on that one, pretty awesome, but I did provide a reason for all of my statements and you still haven’t. It’s not really fair for you to turn the insult backwards on me without some fact or reasoning to back it up. Shall we not treat others with the same respect we wish to receive? Common Richard tikun olam must share some solidarity with the golden rule

          • mary November 21, 2012, 10:25 AM

            Omitted information is not false information. You’re simply nitpicking. If you don’t like the blog, why are you reading and commenting on it?

            I have been reading Richard’s blog for years. His purpose is not propaganda except to those whose hasbara conflicts with it.

          • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:50 PM

            Actually, on any given day you might find more accurate, unreported stories about the Israeli Arab conflict here than on CNN.

    • Brian November 21, 2012, 8:24 AM

      While were on the subject of bias and omitting facts, here’s another: “We’ve seen ceasefires… mostly broken by Israel at will, whenever a human target of opportunity comes along.”

      I think you meant to type: So, we’ve seen ceasefires come and go, mostly broken by the Palestinians, whenever an opportunity to launch a rocket comes along.


      • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:45 PM

        Blah, blah, blah. S-n-o-o-z-e.

  • pabelmont November 21, 2012, 5:48 AM

    USA normally has complex reasons for military/diplo action. Why Libya but not Syria? Oil? Human rights? The Lobby? USA’s MIC? Once burned twice shy? Prefer Assad to AlQaida? Testing our own (or Israel’s) weapons or tactics may be major reasons we encourage Israel in its crimes of military aggression. Pure “conservatism” (not wanting to upset an established USA line of behavior, irrespective of usually bad outcome, from fear of a worse outcome of doing otherwise) may be parts of the reason. USA’S MUCH VAUNTED DEMOCRACY is *NOT* part of the reason, especially since Obama held the USA (even Florida) against AIPAC, Benyameen N-hu, et al.

  • Igor November 21, 2012, 5:53 AM

    The point is, what could be the number of dead and injured Israelis if Israel wouldn’t take any action to defend itself. I don’t think that in such case you would write an article about it.
    Did you try to count how many Palestinians have been killed by their own so called “government”?
    Hope you’re updated by the latest murders they have performed publicly…
    Hope you can see that the first ground invasion has been made by Hamas trying to kill civilians using explosives on a bus in the heart of Tel-Aviv earlier today.
    I know that your answer would probably include that Palestinians were also killed today, try something different and try it without insulting if you can…

    The numbers disproportion can be easily explained (but not justified) by the success of Israeli army to defend its citizens. If it wasn’t the “Iron Dome”, maybe I wouldn’t be alive and writing this comment. Of course you wouldn’t consider me as a great loss and probably ignore it…

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:59 PM

      When you insult dead Palestinians with your pro Israel propaganda that allows for no sense of humanity to Israel’s victims then you can be damn sure I’m not going to shower you with flowers. If you don’t like the reception, you can return to Times of Israel, Bibiton or JPost for your daily dose of canned reality.

      • Igor November 22, 2012, 12:12 AM

        Interesting. Your comment doesn’t address anything I wrote…

        • mary November 22, 2012, 1:46 AM

          Igor, Hamas didn’t blow up that bus. Stop spreading false information, please.

          How pathetic, that you must stoop to rummaging through Palestinian statistics of wrongdoing to justify all the war crimes Israel has committed. I wonder how that feels.

  • Adar Arnon November 21, 2012, 6:27 AM

    Dear Richard,
    I wonder why you wrote nothing about the bus explosion that Hamas has organized in the center of Tel Aviv today. Actually, I am not surprised. You say you are objective, but you are biased and present a terrorist organization as if they are saints. Hamas are like Al’Qaeda. 20 people were injured in a bus explosion in the middle of Israel, yet you say nothing.
    And by the way – Hamas does not recognize Israel. It publicly calls to using civilians as human shields, murdering jews and Jihad.
    You are an American, and I am terrified by your ability to close your eyes in front of the truth

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:56 PM

      When you write anything about the 80 or so Gazan civilians murdered by your security forces then I’ll put pen to paper for the Tel Aviv bus victims, none of whom were killed. When you write anything about the 20 Gazans KILLED today on the same day these Israelis were injured in a bus bombing, then I’ll stand up for Israeli victims.

      I have always decried terror from both sides. You haven’t read enough of this blog to know anything about my views on this. So don’t show your ignorance nor try my patience for your lies.

      Your last statements about Hamas are either ignorant or lies. You may not post lies in the comment section. This is a violation of the comment rules. Any claim you make MUST be supported by credible sources. You can’t find any credible source for the human shield claim because it’s absolutely false. In fact, the IDF uses Palestinian children as human shields as reported by the Israeli media.

      • Nimrod November 22, 2012, 3:48 AM

        Richard, do you have statistics regrading the casualties in Gaza – how many were combatants, civilians and children?

        According to Ba’atzelem, until the 19th, out of 102 Palestinians dead, 62 were combatants, 10 women, 19 under the age of 18, and the rest were men.

        They don’t provide data about the casualties in the last two days.

        • Richard Silverstein November 24, 2012, 3:40 AM

          I don’t believe you’re quoting B’Tselem figures accurately. Besides I don’t see how an Israeli NGO not permitted access to Gaza could know how many Gaza dead were combatants or civilians. Palestinian human rights groups uniformly every day put the figure of civilians at around 60%, which I believe.

  • bar_kochba132 November 21, 2012, 7:52 AM

    Should there be a cease-fire and Mursi agrees to monitor and enforce it, would he enter the ranks of the “Zionist
    puppets” like Mubarak is considered by the “progressives” community?

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 6:34 PM

      You’d enjoy that wouldn’t you–transforming another Arab leader into a toady for Israel? You’ve had quite a bit of past success at this. But not any more. Arab Spring saw to that.

      • mary November 22, 2012, 1:54 AM

        No, I don’t think he would. It was refreshing, to say the least, to see an Arab leader hold on to his ideals throughout this whole horrible rampage. Morsi opened the Rafah crossing to all Egyptians wishing to help or stand in solidarity. He sent his own cabinet members into Gaza, something else Mubarak would never do. Egyptian doctors were allowed to cross into Gaza to provide medical assistance and equipment, approximately 2,000 Gazans were allowed into Egypt, and severely wounded Gazans were taken for treatment to Egyptian hospitals. Morsi is standing tall right now. And you can probably thank Islamic principles for Morsi’s success in brokering this ceasefire. So much for those scary Islamists, right?

  • Adar Arnon November 21, 2012, 11:07 AM

    By the way, everyone who is reading this blog should notice: the ceasefire has started 5 minutes ago, yet Hamas still keeps firing rockets. The alarms keep ringing in Be’er Sheva and all the cities in the south of Israel.
    This is just a comment about Richard saying that “We’ve seen ceasefires come and go, mostly broken by Israel at will.”.
    So, you should know that Hamas deliberately keeps firing rockets and killing civilians, with no regard for any ceasefire that might be in effect.

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:43 PM

      BTW, for all hasbarists reading this blog, Israel killed nearly 20 Gazans today on the same day they knew the ceasefire would be implemented. So you’ll have to forgive Hamas for not being terribly eager to end their attempts at revenge.

      Further, I’d suggest if you want to improve communication between Hamas commanders and their soldiers in the field so that the latter will know when to stop firing, that you stop killing Hamas leaders who you track through their use of cellphones. Plus, you might want to ask Motorola, who does such a good job of providing technology that helps Israel enforce the Occupation, to provide up to date communications systems for Hamas military leaders to talk to their troops in the field. It would stop the rocket firing much sooner.

  • Arie Brand November 21, 2012, 1:11 PM

    Pabelmont, testing weapons or tactics doesn’t sound all that complex a reason to me. But you might be right. I fear that ever since Truman (who lied about the necessity of using those atom bombs on Japan – the Japanese had already indicated a willingness to surrender provided they could keep their emperor) the USA has been turned into a garrison state that endures until the day of today. Monstrous sums are spent on its military apparatus that has to find ever new enemies to justify that suicidal extravagance.

    Here in Australia two ex-prime ministers (Malcolm Fraser conservative – Paul Keating labor) have come out to warn against this country’s entanglement with the “land of the free” lest we are dragged into a conflict with China which looms on the horizon as a new enemy for the US and the subject of a new Cold War (Russia no longer obliges though Romney tried to suggest it could).

    The warning has fallen on deaf ears. The present Labor government maintains that we need a “strong ally”.

  • Bob Mann November 21, 2012, 1:45 PM

    The baby has arrived. Very good news indeed.

    And there was much rejoicing!

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 6:31 PM

      This is a baby born with such physical impediments and deformities that it has at most a few yrs to live before the next war.

      • mary November 22, 2012, 2:04 AM

        Since this whole thing was all about Bibi’s re-election, I give it a few months. The blockade has to come down. That is what I think is going to be the bone of contention, but of course I also expect at some point Israel will begin violating the ceasefire, which is merely a memorandum of understanding and not a formal truce agreement.

  • Therese November 21, 2012, 1:52 PM

    Arie, I think you are so right to point out the China issue. Largely ignored, it is developing on many fronts, and Japan, also, is a player. This is fairly difficult for Australia, given our web of relationships in the region. However, being an unthinking tool of the US is not recommended, even if one has reservations about some of China’s policies. But if you look at the forces who got the current Prime Minister into power … ah, I think key interests have been bought up like goods for sale.

    For the Tikkun Blog – I can’t find the paypay button for ordinary donations. There is a subscription button, which, alas, I can’t quite committ to at present. But I make regular small donations for all my blogs, and this one deserves a very proper donation, in these times.

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:38 PM

      I agree that it’s annoying that you can’t make a one time donation using this Paypal button. I’m going to install two different buttons, one of which will allow this. My apologies.

  • Dorothee November 21, 2012, 3:49 PM

    About numbers:
    Who counted the at least 6 people (men, I suppose) who were shot by Hamas as collaborators -should there not be a separate category?
    link to dailystar.com.lb
    And what would be the time span for counting injured Israelis?

    • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 6:30 PM

      Listen, Israel has executed those it accused of spying or collaborating with the enemy, including the British. But you don’t know anything about this do you? Are you simply ignorant or a hasbarist or both?

      • Chulent November 21, 2012, 7:03 PM

        So, two wrongs make it right?

        • Richard Silverstein November 21, 2012, 10:33 PM

          You entirely missed the point. I will not allow hasbarists to get away with claiming it is only the Palestinians who are uncivilized, brutal, etc. The two sides are almost mirrors of each other in both their vices and virtues.

      • Dorothee November 22, 2012, 2:39 AM

        This was not my point! I recently saw a film about the very despicable way Israelis treat their “informants”!
        I just wanted to make sure their numbers should be considered separately because both sides are to be blamed!
        As a German, I am not familiar with your expression ‘hasbarist! – I try to see from both perspectives.
        And I refuse to be called ignorant.

  • Arie Brand November 21, 2012, 5:11 PM

    I find this continuous demand by Israelfirsters for what they imagine to be “journalistic impartiality” absurd. Let us reduce the situation to its simplest proportions. Let us imagine a home that is invaded by a well armed intruder. In the ensuing struggle the relatively defenceless owner manages to get a few punches in before he is being beaten to a pulp. The invader now demands that in the description of the incident equal attention will be paid to those few punches.

    All attempts to picture this conflict as a struggle between two equal partners are basically mischievous. The distinction between the thief and his victim, between the oppressor and the oppressed, between the invader and the invaded is basic and clear to most people (provided they have the information to distinguish who is who).

    The British MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, who was brought up in an orthodox Jewish Zionist environment, took exception, at the occasion of “Cast Lead”, to the IDF’s description of a great number of the Palestinian victims as “militants”. One could as well have called Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto “militants”. He also said that his grandmother was not shot in her bed by a German soldier to provide cover for Israeli soldiers doing the same to Palestinian grandmothers.

    Let us listen again to his famous speech in the House of Commons:

    link to youtube.com

  • Arie Brand November 21, 2012, 7:12 PM

    Richard, was your comment placed under the comment you are referring to?

  • Mary Hughes Thompson November 21, 2012, 7:15 PM

    President Obama’s definition of a militant: “Obama has defined a “militant” as “all military-age males in a strike zone,” and clearly Netanyahu and his hasbarists including Oren and company agree. Therefore one must consider this to apply equally to “all military-age males” in Israel, and probably “all military-age females” too since women are required to serve in the IDF. And why do the Palestinians have to give up their weapons while Israel continues to increase its arsenal (at enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers)?

    My other issue is those infernal drones Israel has been using for years to torture the people of Gaza by making sure no man, woman or child in Gaza ever gets a good night’s sleep. I knew about them, of course, but until the last few days when I listened almost non-stop to the livestreaming from Harry Fear in Gaza via link to ustream.tv I had no idea how vile they are. This is psychological warfare and it should not be allowed to continue. Last night I turned up the volume on my computer and tried to sleep, to get an idea of what it must be like for the people of Gaza. Needless to say I didn’t sleep. It goes on and on as I write this, buzzing in my head and filling my room with noxious droning… on and on… louder and louder, waning slightly and then coming back louder than ever… as those disgusting machines fly back and forth over every inch of Gaza. Can someone tell me why Israel is allowed to continue this barbarous practice.?

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