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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Context and the Conflict

When people here talk about Israel's actions, it's always in (a) "context", always a response, always self-defense from an existential threat (??), the victims are named and sympathy expressed openly, their "struggle" is likened to the hypothetical (and unrelated) situation of Mexico or Canada lobbing rockets over our border (ridiculous in part because we aren't occupying them, bulldozing their homes, colonizing their land illegally through settlements, raiding, assassinating political leaders, arresting 100s of their people a day, bombing their apartments, schools, power stations). The disproportionate response is justified by the fact the Hamas "uses civilians as human shields" (an unsubstantiated claim in the Lebanon invasion a few years ago) and the argument that one rocket for one rocket won't end the attacks. When we talk proportion, one rocket for one rocket is not what we're talking about (aside from the fact that context is again abandoned, the occupation and its crimes ignored)- what I mean when I say that is force should be proportionate to the threat. Dropping a bomb from an F-16 on an apartment block to "target" one suspect you think is in there is disproportionate and shows a disregard for human life and international law. When casualties are as lopsided in this recent conflict as they are in the greater conflict, you have to conclude the threat was never as great as was stated and deaths could have been prevented and achieved the same goal. Unless of course the goal is to terrorize the civilians, cause further "land vacancies" by death and evacuation, rather than stop rocket attacks.

When people talk about Palestinian rocket attacks, it is without any context whatsoever as though Israel generously "pulled out of Gaza and gets rockets in return". Palestinian resistance to occupation and struggle for independence and self-determination is never mentioned, though the denial of these things is a root cause of violence. Israel's infamous pull out was stated to be "political formaldehyde" by a top official, yet it has been often cited recently as a concession for peace they should be grateful for. The pull out is cited, yet Israel still controls airspace, borders, and sea which is essentially the definition of occupation. Really, they just wanted to dump the obligations involved in Occupation, which it never lived up to anyway.

People ask all the time now, would we tolerate rockets being fired on us, but NEVER ask, would we tolerate even one element of the brutal, and at times illegal, occupation??? I mean, for example, what if someone set up a trailer in your backyard, burned your house down (with or without your family inside) and moved their family in? You and some friends retaliate, your neighborhood gets flattened, and the blame is on you because after all, you started it. Never mind that you threw a rock and tanks "responded". Proportionality doesn't matter. Context doesn't matter. Palestinians don't matter. The only thing that matters are Israeli demands. After all, if you voice concern over Israel's actions, you might lose an election-- and that would be the real tragedy.

Why Do So Few Speak Up For Gaza?

Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust
By Richard Falk

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