The above video is a panel I produced with Lubna Masarwa, Middle East Eye’s Israel-Palestine bureau chief, Shir Hever, an Israeli-German political economist and myself: “Israel’s War on Gaza and Civil War at Home.” It was a comprehensive look at the issues leading up to the current conflict and the impact they’ve had on Israel at home and abroad.
Today, Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians called a General Strike for the first time since 1936. It marks yet another sign of increasing solidarity between the two separate communities. It also marks a rise in defiance by Israel’s Palestinian citizens of their second-class status. In fact, a Haaretz op-ed called the internal violence besetting Israeli towns with mixed ethnic populations a “civil war.” The war against Gaza is also perceived by Palestinian inside Israel as a war against them. This is an unprecedented development. I just published a new piece in Jacobin Magazine on this subject: Palestinians Are Refusing to Be Trampled. Please give it a read.
One thing you have to admire about the IAF: they only hit high-value targets. Like the media building in Gaza which housed offices for 20 different foreign news outlets. Nothing says terrorism like a warren of offices in which reporters file stories and report the news.
Allegedly there was an unspecified Hamas terrorist operation in the 12-story building, so down the whole thing went. The Intercept published a heartbreaking story of a distinguished Gaza photo-journalist whose father had been killed by Israel in 1987. In 2008, as he himself was covering the Israeli assault on Gaza, he was struck by a missile which tore off both his legs. Now, he travels in a wheelchair, but continues his career with even greater commitment. The accompanying image features him outside the ruins of the press building.
A few days ago, Israel destroyed the home of Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas. It was an act of gratuitous revenge. Can you imagine a Palestinian rocket or Iranian missile striking and destroying the prime minister’s home on Balfour Street in Jerusalem? What would the reaction be from the world? In this case…dead silence. During the War of 1812 the British actually did burn down the White House. As he watched it burn on a British prison ship, Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Imagine what act of supreme bravery, patriotism or desperation will emerge from a young Gazan inspired this act of state-terrorism.
Two days ago, Israel announced that its next target would be schools. As I read this I said to myself: oh my God, schools? How low have they sunk? Sure enough, earlier today Israel destroyed a six-story building used by the Islamic University, which housed its library, bookstore and publishing house. It was the only library and publishing house in Gaza. But apparently books have somehow become terrorists and must be obliterated. I’m sure that this will advance Israel’s goals to rid Gaza of the scourge of Hamas terrorism.
Sara Netanyahu: “Let the country burn”
As civil war inside Israel rages between the Palestinian and Jewish communities, Judeo-Nazi vigilantes prowl the streets hunting for “Arab” prey. They burn businesses and Palestinian vehicles. They seek out Palestinian homes and throw Molotov cocktails inside where little babies are sleeping. The nation is coming apart at the seams. It brought to mind from Israel’s Kan news a recording of Sara Netanayhu from 2002 in which she complains about Bibi’s critics inside the Likud. The conversation must be read to be believed:
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 25, 2018
“Sara: They don’t understand one thing: the country is ablaze, there are terror attacks. And above and beyond all the political disputes there is only one man who can save the country. And when I hear all the claims [against Bibi] by Likud activists, I say to hell with it, If that’s what interests them, to hell with it. Bibi is a great leader for this country. A leader on a national scale.
Does everyone in this country want to be slaughtered or burned alive [in terror attacks]? Yallah, why should he make all this effort [for the country]? We’ll go live abroad [if the Likud doesn’t want him]. Let the country burn. Without Bibi, the country will fall apart.
It brings to mind two sayings made famous by French kings: “apres moi, le deluge;” and “L’etat c’est moi.” There is both supreme narcissism and megalomania in her statement. And it’s frightening that the Netanyahus have placed the fate of the entire nation on a sacrificial altar for the sake of their own personal interest.
Israel is indeed burning. And it needn’t have happened. The street riots in East Jerusalem, the Border Police shutting down the Damascus Gate, the police defiling the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Israeli assault on Gaza. All of it serves no strategic national interest. It serves the interest of one man. As long as there is war and Palestinian blood flowing in the streets, no rival coalition can be formed to drive him from office. And with no such government, he continues to rule and can connive to avoid his legal fate in the corruption trial in which he’s enmeshed. If convicted, he will be forced from office. But as long as he remains prime minister he can pass laws and concoct stratagems to “avert the evil decree.”
Joe BIden: Ask me a question on Gaza and I’ll run you over
Biden continues his shameful betrayal of any moral stance on the Gaza slaughter. He flew to Detroit to get behind the wheel of a massive Ford F-150 electric truck. But before he was able to step on the accelerator, he was met at the airport by two members of Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Debby Dingel, who each have major Arab constituencies. They weren’t happy. An aide recounted in more refined language what Tlaib must’ve told the president:
“Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated,” the aide said Tlaib expressed to Biden. “The U.S. cannot continue to give the right-wing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians. Atrocities like bombing schools cannot be tolerated, much less conducted with U.S.-supplied weapons.”
“Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights,” the aide said.
After he listened to them, he proceeded to don his sunglasses and get behind the wheel of the monster truck. But not before a reporter tried to slip in a question. She asked if she could pose a question about Gaza. His response? “No, you can’t. Not unless you get in front as I step on it.” The barely concealed rage of his answer betrays how disgusting his approach has been.
CNN’s Jake Tapper offered this accounting of the president’s approach to Israel. And it truly is one of the most depressing things you’ll ever want to read in the midst of mass murder:
Sources tell me that much of what we’re seeing and not seeing from the White House has to do with lessons learned by Biden…from the tense relationship between then-President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the belief that having a public spat with Netanyahu actually would mean reducing American influence with him. Particularly since Netanyahu is in the middle of a domestic political crisis and would in all likelihood welcome any opportunity to portray himself as defending his people from both Hamas rockets and international scolding, showing that toughness and independence from American meddling just reinforces his brand domestically.
That’s the theory. And White House officials believe…that poking Netanyahu with congressional floor speeches or U.N. Security Council resolutions will not move Netanyahu at all.
While there is no doubt that Obama’s approach to Israel was an abject failure, it was not because he was too tough on him. It was because he was not willing to expend the political capital to bring Netanyahu to heel and compel him to accede to American demands for a peace agreement. If you want to get anywhere with any Israeli leader there comes a point when you have to bring down the hammer. If you don’t you’ll get strung along endlessly. That’s what happened to Obama. He just didn’t have the stomach for a knife fight with Bibi. So the latter danced rings around him.
The ridiculous idea that Biden needs to treat Bibi with kid gloves and that this will somehow make him more amenable to American wishes is pure delusion. In fact, this is precisely the approach the Israeli leader would prefer, because he can smile, nod his head at the president, and proceed on his merry way. Do not forget this is the same Netanyahu who told a house full of settlers years ago: “America, don’t worry about America. I have them wrapped around my little finger.” And indeed he is right. He does.
If Tapper is right and this is indeed Biden’s approach, it is obscene and means that scores, if not hundreds more Gazans will die on an altar dedicated to Biden’s cravenness.