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Four Points about the Israeli assault on Gaza

Right now bombs are falling on Gaza.    

The Israeli Defense Force is bombing Palestinian civilian neighborhoods. 
Palestinian civilians are being injured, civilians are dying. 

Here is what is actually happening on the ground:

“According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) report on Sunday November 11, five Palestinian civilians including three children had been killed in the Gaza strip in the previous 72 hours, in addition to two Palestinian security personnel.

Four of the deaths occurred as a result of Israeli military firing artillery shells on youngsters playing soccer. Moreover, 52 civilians had been wounded, of which six were women and 12 were children.”

The “official” narrative, spun by the Israeli military and taken up wholesale by US corporate media, portrays the Israeli attacks as a “response” or “retaliation” against earlier Palestinian rocket attacks.      Here are four facts that are being deliberately and willfully neglected in the current coverage of this Israeli assault.   It is imperative to consider these as a corrective to the campaign of media misinformation.

1)     The Israeli “response/retaliation” narrative is a myth.  
This myth is a common one that depicts Israeli aggressive actions against Palestinian civilians always and only as a justified “retaliation.”    What this narrative leaves out is the broader context, one that goes back to the illegal Israeli occupation of Gaza, the economic choking of Gaza that has resulted in a 50% unemployment rate, and a deliberate Israeli policy of actually starving Palestinian civilians to death.    

What this “retaliation” narrative also leaves out is the much more recent history, including Israeli attacks on Gaza in November that preceded any Palestinian rocket attacks.

Given the vast amount of misinformation and the deeply entrenched nature of the “retaliation” myth, I am going to quote this timeline in full, which shows how over the last week it was actually Israeli forces that invaded Gaza and escalated the crisis.   Jadaliyya has a thorough listing of these Israeli attacks.   

I. TIMELINE: ISRAEL’S LATEST ESCALATION IN GAZA

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8
Following a two-week lull in violence, Israeli soldiers invade Gaza. In the resulting exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters, a 12-year-old boy is killed by an Israeli bullet while he plays soccer.
Shortly afterwards, Palestinian fighters blow up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel frontier, injuring one Israeli soldier.


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10
An anti-tank missile fired by Palestinian fighters wounds four Israeli soldiers driving in a jeep along the Israel-Gaza boundary.
An Israeli artillery shell lands in a soccer field in Gaza killing two children, aged 16 and 17. Later, an Israeli tank fires a shell at a tent where mourners are gathered for a funeral, killing two more civilians, and wounding more than two dozen others.


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11
One Palestinian civilian is killed and dozens more wounded in Israeli attacks. Four Israeli civilians are also injured as a result of projectiles launched from Gaza, according to the Israeli government.
During an Israeli government cabinet meeting, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz urges the government to “cut off the head of the snake… take out the leadership of Hamas in Gaza.” He also calls for a cutting off of water, food, electricity, and fuel shipments to Gaza’s 1.7 million people.


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12
Palestinian militant factions agree to a truce if Israel ends its attacks.


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14
Israel breaks two days of calm by assassinating Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing. According to reports, at least eight other Palestinians are killed in Israeli attacks, including at least two children. Palestinian militant groups vow to respond.


Needless to say, these attacks are uniformly ignored in US corporate media, including New York Times.

2)   Palestinian Civilian casualties are not covered.
As the Israeli bombs continue to fall on Gaza, much of the American media speculation focuses on the Palestinian rockets, which while reprehensible caused no Israeli deaths.     What is not covered is the loss of human life and injury that Israeli attacks have already caused in Gaza.  It is these types of images (to the right) that we are not often seeing, and will likely not see, in American media.    

As many have documented before, there is a vast asymmetry in the way American media covers Israeli and Palestinian loss of life.    
This asymmetry shapes the way in which most Americans come to view the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Here are images that we in the United States do not see on our mainstream media.

Here is Jihad Mashrawi, who works for BBC Arabic services in Gaza, holding his martyred one-year-old son who was killed by the Israeli attack.   
Where is the American coverage of Mashrawi?  
Where is the outrage over the murder of a one year old?   Was this one-year old a terrorist? 

These images, and more, are from here.

 
Here is an image of one of the Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombs.  
What is the response of the American establishment to this child?  What is our response?  
What word does the murder of a child deserve other than terrorism?        

3)  Morally bankrupt response of American government
As soon as the conflict started—which now we know came after the Israeli officials checked with the Obama administration—the American government stated:

"We stand by our Israeli partners in their right to defend themselves against terrorism."

Will the American government merely serve to parrot what Israeli military officials say?
Will American media outlets ask the US spokesperson if the US will stand with Israel as Israeli bombs kill Palestinian children? 

Here was the fuller US response:

"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," the statement said. "There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately."

The American response continues to be one of “condemning” Palestinian attacks, but remaining silence in face of Israeli atrocitis.  
Why the double speak?  
Are the Palestinian lives worth any less than Israeli lives?    
Are they the children of a lesser God?

What’s so hard about saying it loud and proud:  we condemn any attacks on civilians, anywhere, by any one, to any one, under any circumstance. 

What is so hard about standing up and proclaiming boldly and lovingly that we hang on to faith in a God who adores all of humanity equality, regardless of gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and wealth?  
What is so hard about proclaiming that we see our humanity as being linked together, and that the suffering of any one member of humanity affects all of us?    
What is so hard about proclaiming that we speak out of a deep pain that is rooted in an equally deep love for all of God’s children, today including the children of Gaza, and the children of Israel.

 

Not only would that stance be morally righteous, it would also begin to restore American moral credibility in the international stage, something that has been vastly eroded to a large extent due to a one-sided US support for Israel.

At least the French issued a morally even-handed response:
"France is extremely concerned by the deterioration in the situation in Gaza and in the south of Israel... (and) calls on both parties to refrain from any escalation of violence," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.  [Through AFP]

The call has also been echoed by the United Nations:  The secretary general Ban Ki-moon “calls for an immediate de-escalation of tensions."

4)  This Israeli assault is hurting US standing in the Middle East
There is little denying that at least one part of the Israeli assault is about Netanyahu asserting his warmongering, aimed squarely at President Obama.
Granted, President Obama has not been a meaningful participant in the peace process, and actually obstructed the Palestinian bid for statehood. 
Nevertheless, Netanyahu has made no secret of his disdain for the President, and had done more than any other foreign head of state to sway the US elections towards his old friend Mitt Romney.   

Many had hoped that in his second term, President Obama would finally be able to make meaningful moves towards a just peace settlement in Palestine/Israel.    
The Israeli assault seems like a cold-hearted and brutal pre-planned event to push the United States into an ever-tighter embrace with Israel precisely at a time that evenhanded and judicious discernment is needed to move from a one-sided support to a meaningful and lasting peace settlement.

More important, however, is the response of the Egyptians.  
Israel has relied for decades on a peace treaty with Egypt.    
However, the response of the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, indicates that this Israeli assault may well cost the US yet another important ally in the region.   

Morsi’s party, the Freedom and Justice Party, has issued the following statement:

Israel's return to the policy of assignation of leaders from the Palestinian struggle groups shows that the Israeli occupation wants to drag the region towards instability.
But the occupying state has to understand that the changes the Arab region, and especially Egypt, have witnessed will not permit that the Palestinian people be put under the hold of the Israeli offence in the same way as the past.

Now more than ever, the United States is in need of working with regional allies to achieve peace, precisely at a time that the world community is rapidly moving away from unipolar politics.   
Our one-sided and fanatic support of Israel undermines those essential countries, like Egypt and Turkey, whose populations unambiguously call for a just and meaningful peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

For background information on Gaza, readers are invited to consider this informative site.


For those who wonder what the voice of people in Gaza may sound like these days,
I suggest this spoken word performance from Rafeef Ziadah, a brave and courageous Palestinian woman.

“We Palestinians teach life after they have occupied the last sky. We teach life after they have built their settlements and apartheid walls."

Is that the voice of every Palestinian?  No, but it is the voice that we need to heed today, the voice of all those who teach life.  

May there be a better future for all the Palestinians, all the Israelis, and all of us who teach life.  
May that better future be here now, and may we be participants in making it so.

Many of the images are from here.
 

Tags: assault, gaza, israel, netanyahu, obama, palestine, terrorism

Comments

  1. Thanks for the insightful and informative article.

  2. Excellent statement but nothing new. This asymmetry has been going on since before the founding of the state of Israel! One small correction: in the third line under section 2 you should say “deaths” rather than “casualties” since you have earlier mentioned four Israeli soldiers being wounded and the word casualties includes wounded.

  3. It is so tough to read these words, & know that they cut
    to the core of what goes on as international diplomacy &
    military/political engagement between long-standing enemies.

    The asymmetry of power is so evident that it is hard to pivot
    & turn towards moral truth & rigorous efforts at balance, justice,
    & then peace for Palestinians/Israelis beginning w/Gaza.

    This essay shows just how deep is the injury, how difficult the
    path ahead, to any meaningful dialogue, much less a restarted
    peace process.

    Could Bill Clinton find a way through this morass? George
    Mitchell was defeated, & Jimmy Carter is repeatedly ignored,
    but I still have a hope - small but refusing to die - that Clinton
    might be the right emissary for an impossible task.

    May peace move from the sky to the land, w/more bravery
    & imagination & good will, than now seems possible!

  4. Why can’t Islamic nations and american Muslims get together on this and let the white house know, that they have one voice on it?

  5. Please add one more point:
    The Israeli government benefits from the fear induced and the world-wide sympathy for the Jews in So. Israel! They keep the conflict going, knowing full well that a truce would work - IF they did not break it whenever they want to kill Palestinians. The man they assassinated, Ahmed Jabari, who was vilified by israel,was the one who managed to keep the rockets from firing from other factions in Gaza. In other words, they killed the person who managed to keep truces in the past! Gershon Baskin reports that Jabari was key to working on a long term truce to stop the violence (they HAD to take him out - he was threatening peace!)

  6. Excellent piece, please keep them coming. The public needs to hear this.

  7. UN Urges Indonesia to End ‘Hatred Toward Religious Minorities’
    Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/un-urges-indonesia-to-end-hatred-toward-religious-minorities

  8. Thank you for this. God bless.

  9. If the lives of Pakistanis, Afghans, Somalis, and Yemenis murdered in US drone attacks don’t mean anything to the Obama administration, then why should the lives of Palestinians?

    Outrageous statement from the White House.

  10. Thank You

  11. Thank You for   the INSIGHT….TOTALLY AGREE…...

  12. I have been in facebook discussions with a friend who is a Rabbi and some of his friends who live in Israel. I have said that I cannot choose sides, because I am a peace activist. Until I read on this page “MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12
    Palestinian militant factions agree to a truce if Israel ends its attacks.
” I had not read or heard that information. I have seen reports of Israeli leaflet drops about how Gaza citizens can get out, get food delivered and have been invited (though, I cannot afford to make the trip) to get a lesson from a 3 year old on how to duck and cover when air raid sirens go off, from the parent. Thank you for this timeline. I will post a link to this page in the conversation I spoke of, and ask if anyone has an IDF timeline. This should not be hard since both sides are now posting on twitter about their attacks.

  13. Thank you for your article, too many people do not understand what is truly happening.  I am in the West Bank now and the non-violent protests are being attacked with force by the IDF as well.  Pray for a seize fire and for peace! 

    And remember the words of Desmond Tutu… “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality” ~Desmond Tutu

  14. Daniel Dworsky Theres a 40- 60 day correlation here in Israel between our elections and our assasinations of high profile enemy leaders, Save 1998 we haven’t missed one. Remember the guy in the wheelchair with the squeaky voice? The other guy with out cellular call waiting… With out fail the mother of this or the gates of whatever open up and Bruce Springtein is singing “We shall overcome” horribly wrong on FM 88. Everyone is hip to the fact that things move slower people are nicer to each other and that we are all united as righteous victims. What we are people are morons. Knee Jerk reactionary irresponsible sheep or wolves. It all depends on how well duped or just plain cynical you choose to be. I live here I served in the army here. I retrace my steps in Palestine trying to repair my part in the ethnic cleansing of the area where the city of Ariel now thrives. I feel like I’m on the Titanic with prior intel and everyone on or off the boat is working for the iceberg.

  15. There will never be peace as long as Hamas keeps firing their rockets and forcing civilians to stay in the line of fire in the hopes of having more civilian casualties. As long as they keep firing, Israel will always fire back. Israel has a right to defend itself.

  16. If Palestine were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel - Benjamin Netanyahu

  17. Dear Dijon, this language of the imminent destruction of Israel is precisely one of the myths that has to be dismantled.  You’re talking about a nuclear power, with over 250 nuclear warheads, and one of the strongest militaries in the world.    As for Netanyahu, forgive me if I am not particularly interested in hearing about war and peace from a man who as we speak is dropping hundreds of bombs on an urban population in Gaza.   

  18. On a lighter note; Israeli peace activists in Israel have been receiving regular heart felt invitations to bunk in Ramalah where it’s “safe” from the missiles. That made me smile. When you give good people the tiniest excuse to be decent they’ll hardly ever disappoint you. We have a lot of good people on both sides if this mess. We have a lot of good people about to do terrible things from which they will never recover body, soul, or in innocence. I beg my fellow Zionists Pre and or post Veterans, students children friends and colleagues to stand down. We are not seeing the whole picture. Just below that powerful excitement, rage and fear is that nagging sensation that maybe we are locked into the wrong course of action. It feels like a war. Everyone is nice to each other, They drive better- only 30 over the speed limit rather than blowing the doors off the passenger side of your car. People are more tolerant and less pushy at the supermarket. and they even tolerate Bruce Springstein’s rendition of we shall overcome on FM88 Accordian? Allegro? Really? For my rockers Allegro is 120bpm like 60 minutes or the start of a lecture from your grandmother. I’m glad we all learned something here today.

  19. Really??? Tell me who plays soccer bombs are flying around… Especially considering the Israeli army sends thousands of leaflets written in Arabic over Gaza to warn of upcoming strikes and asking the population to stay away from terrorist activity from Hamas members. Consider also that kids in the South of Israel and lately in a more extended area have no life when rockets are falling all over: at that point, unlike in Gaza, no kids are allowed outside and they literally spend their life in bomb shelters!
    This propaganda disguise the real face of Hamas whose members literally operates in the midst of the population to render the Israeli task much more difficult (many Israeli missiles are redirected to explode in empty spot when the terrorist target enter crowded areas at the last moment)! What in the world are you thinking??? That the people who compose the Israeli Defense Force are Palestinian haters, really? They have kids too and they protect them, whether Jewish or Arabs (20% of Israeli population is Arab), unlike many in Gaza who have already shown how they send the kids on the front line or to play on a roof of building used as an explosive depot!!! The IDF film its strikes and film terrorist activity in Gaza, why don’t you take a look at them to see what kind of “fighters” are operating in Gaza threatening both their own people and Israeli.

    If you are truly honest with yourself, you will look for ALL the information and you might find out that some are extremely contradictory, then you might be able to assess what info is brought to you. For instance, check what happened to the 6 Palestinians that were executed on the spot accused of being “spies” for Israel and ponder if you really care to defend the men who dragged bodies behind a motorcycle throughout the streets of Gaza (pictures are available online and Anderson Cooper witnessed and reported the atrocities). Check the videos of the butchery that took place in Ramallah in 2005 when 2 Israeli soldiers got lost in the wrong area. And check the pictures of the huge sign posted in Gaza city thanking Iran for its support… Iran has a history of supporting authoritarian regime.

    On another note, who is supporting the Palestinian economy while Hamas is committed to destroy everything at any cost? It is Israel first. Who destroyed the infrastructure that was given to the Palestinians when Gaza was handed to them in 2005, simply because it was Jewish-built? How are the the millions of dollars in Foreign Aid to the PA spent? Certainly not on a water plant that could not only provide the Palestinians with clean water but also create substantial benefit as the excess could be sold to Jordan… And this could have be done not just one time but the money is gone and we have yet to see any structure built for the people with it!!!

    Please inform yourself before judging the conflict choosing to support terrorism, because this is what is done. If you want to support the Palestinians and help them build a life, you might need to consider helping Israel to get rid of the terrorists in Gaza, then peace and prosperity will flow from it…

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