Friday, January 16, 2009


I was going to stop posting about Gaza, but I got a comment on one of my prevous posts saying that Israel was perfectly willing to stop killing Palestinians, if only Palestinians would let Israel live in peace. I found the comment deeply offensive, because it cried many crocodile tears about the Palestinian kids who had to be killed, because of Hamas. It's Israeli bombs that are killing the kids, dropped into a crowded refugee camp with no escape. Since the bombs have hit schools, hospitals and UN buildings -- places where you might expect to find frightened or injured children and theri families, I think we can assume that the bombs were aimed at the kids. If you don't want to kill kids, then don't do it. If you do it, don't tell me you don't want to.

What follows is by Norman Finkelstein, author of five books, including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry, which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions. He is a crabby scholar, who will tell you more than you want to know about Israel and Palestine. I have copied five paragraphs. The rest can be found at the Counterpunch website.

...The main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one; to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international consensus, they had joined most of the international community, overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas...

Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution entitled “Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question.” And every year the vote is the same: it’s the whole world on one side; Israel, the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989—in 1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.

We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League, favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by the United States. That’s the problem...

I think it’s fairly clear what needs to happen... The United States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community, have to abide by international law. I don’t think international law should be trivialized. I think it’s a serious issue. If Israel is in defiance of international law, it should be called into account, just like any other state in the world.
A final remark by me. The comment on my post said Israelis would never put down arms until Jews were safe. I spent six years in Detroit when the murder rate was 800 a year. The city was full of people with guns, defending themselves against their neighbors. It did not make for safety. Law makes us safe. "The land is built on law" as the famous Icelandic saga says. Justice makes us safe. Respect for our neighbors makes us safe. Negotiation and cooperation make us safe.

Is there never an argument for violence? I'm not sure. But I am sure that violence does not make people safe.