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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hamas and Israel separately announce Gaza ceasefire

Hamas and Israel separately announce Gaza ceasefire

I’m glad Israel has decided to stop the intense siege, but Rice went too far in saying it will lead to stabilization and normalization. Before the most recent 3 week long attack, Israel had already created a massive humanitarian situation or open-air prison. That’s not normal and that’s not what we should strive for.

Grudging and generous compromise for Israel means a choice between a ground war or a “pull out” with a blockade. This is not compromise. This is not acceptable. We should be talking about borders, one vs two states, and compensation in negotiations. These are compromises. Talking about freedom of movement, getting food and aid, freedom to go to school, freedom to work, rebuilding, not demolishing homes, taking responsibility for killing so many civilians, ending the ban on self-defense, and ending the occupation and collective punishment aren’t negotiable; they are rights.

Israel is allowed to shell the coast and it isn’t called a breach. It is always assumed to be a response or retaliation. Palestinian rockets are always provocation and never in response or retaliation. Those things seem to be irrefutable facts in our country and media. But is it true?

Israel’s unilateral moves, like disengagement or ceasefire, are hailed as brilliant and something Palestinians should be grateful for. The crisis is deemed over by the Western media. A closer look at the ceasefire reveals Hamas left at the negotiating table that Israel claims they are never at. You see, negotiations would probably lead to discussions of ending the blockade, alleviating the humanitarian crisis Israel has caused, and maybe even lead to the greater underlying problem of collective punishment and the occupation. This is all very unpleasant for Israel, so a unilateral act relieves them of any responsibility and they can continue to flout international law without consequence in their little imaginary world, which all but the Occupied Territories seem to be willing participants.

And if Israel’s rights are derived from the fact that it is a democracy and Hamas is not, then Israel must take on responsibilities of a democratic state as well. It must face consequences for building on someone else’s land and possibly committing war crimes. We must also ask, why do Israelis deserve the rights afforded citizens of a state, but Palestinians (regardless of who they elect) do not? You can’t say you won’t talk to terrorists. That’s a subjective term these days anyway. Israel was founded by terrorists trough terrorism, so if you’re rejecting Hamas, you also have to reject Israel on principle. The only way forward is to talk. Talk to all involved, not just who Israel deems acceptable. Don’t demand all violence stop before talks begin. That is a circular problem. Israel wants us to stay in that circle so they don’t have to take responsibility for the death and destruction they’ve caused. They want us to be sufficiently close to the conflict to see their side and support them, but far enough away to not be able to get to a solution. A solution would mean sharing the land, the possibility of losing a Jewish majority due to a birthrate problem, and equal rights for all. Maintaining a Jewish majority seems to take priority over even the lives of their own citizens they claim to protect.

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