Norman Finkelstein: The “Big Lie” About Gaza is That the Palestinians Have Been the Aggressors

Norman Finkelstein: The “Big Lie” About Gaza is That the Palestinians Have Been the Aggressors

Extended interview with scholar Norman Finkelstein, author of the new book, “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.” The book has just been published as Israel is facing a possible International Criminal Court war crimes probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Part 2 of our conversation with the scholar Norman Finkelstein, author of the new book, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom. The book is being published as Israel is facing a possible International Criminal Court war crimes probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, included over 500 children.

In his new book, Norman Finkelstein writes, “Gaza is about a Big Lie composed of a thousand, often seemingly abstruse and arcane, little lies.” What is the “Big Lie” about Gaza, Norm?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The Big Lie about Gaza is that it’s an aggressor, that Gaza is aggressing against Israel, and Israel is reacting in self-defense. It’s a double lie. The first lie is, most of the Israeli attacks on Gaza don’t even have anything to do with Gaza. So, if you take Operation Cast Lead, in 2008, ’09, why did Israel attack Gaza? Not because of Gaza. Not because of anything Gaza did. The Israelis were very honest. This is revenge for Lebanon. In 2006, Israel suffered a major defeat in Lebanon against the Hezbollah, the Party of God. And then Israelis began to panic. They’re losing what they call their deterrence capacity. And their deterrence capacity simply means—it’s a fancy, technical term for the Arabs’ fear of us. And they worried because the Arabs no longer fear them after this—you know, not a ragtag guerrilla army, but it’s not a big thing, either. It’s about 6,000 fighters, the Hezbollah—at the time, it was 6,000 fighters. And they effectively inflicted a defeat on the Israeli invaders of Lebanon. And so they were looking for somewhere where they could restore what they call their deterrence capacity. They didn’t want to tangle again with the Party of God, with the Hezbollah, so they targeted Gaza. Had nothing to do with Gaza. The notion that they’re defending themselves against Gaza.

The second big lie is, what does Gaza consist of. When you read the official reports, even when you read the human rights reports, they talk about this big arsenal of weapons that Hamas has accumulated. Number one, how do you know how many weapons they have? If you knew how many weapons they had—have, then you must know where they are. And if you know where they are, then Israel would preemptively strike. If it’s not preemptively struck, it’s because it doesn’t know anything about the weapons. Israel plucks numbers out of thin air, and then all the official media, and even the critical human rights organizations, repeat these numbers. They talk about Grad missiles and Fajr missiles.

What is Gaza? What are its weapons? What is its arsenal? Let’s take the last attack. We have exactly—we know exactly how much damage was done by these weapons. There were 5,000 so-called rockets and 2,000 mortars fired at—mortar shells fired at Israel. So, altogether, that’s 7,000 projectiles. You know the damage done? Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it had a diary, listing all the damage done each day. Five thousands rockets, 2,000 mortar shells. One house was destroyed. One house. How is it possible that 5,000 rockets and 2,000 mortar shells can only destroy one house? Because they’re not rockets. They’re fireworks. They’re enhanced fireworks.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by that?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, they’re not rockets. The problem is—the problem is that Hamas and Israel have a mutual stake in pretending they’re rockets. Hamas pretends they’re rockets so it can show its people armed resistance works. “See how afraid they are of us?” And Israel pretends they’re rockets so it could say, “We’re acting in self-defense.” But they are not rockets. They’re just enhanced fireworks. Even if you factor in Iron Dome, OK? I don’t have the time to go into the details, but your listeners, or some of them, know, because you had Theodore—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what Iron Dome is.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: OK. Iron Dome was their anti—so-called anti-missile defense system. And they claim that one of the reasons so little damage was done was because of their technological wizardry, namely Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. Number one, Iron Dome was only located near the major urban centers of Israel. Number two, only 840 rockets were fired towards those major urban centers. Number three, Iron Dome, according to the official Israeli numbers, it deflected about 740 of those rockets. According to Theodore Postol, who you had on your program, the expert on anti-missile technology from MIT, he said its efficacy rate was about 5 percent, which means it deflected about 40 rockets. But let’s even take the Israeli numbers. Let’s say it deflected 720 rockets. Let’s take that number. That still leaves thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets which weren’t deflected. Forty percent of them landed in the border area where there was no Iron Dome. So how can it be that only one house was destroyed? Because they’re not rockets.

AMY GOODMAN: So why does Hamas do it?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Why does Hamas do it? I think part of it is because their, so to speak, claim to fame is they’re an armed resistance. They want to distinguish themselves from—distinguish themselves from the Palestinian Authority. So they claim, “We’re still resisting.” Number two, I think they really believe their own propaganda, because they see Israel saying, “You know, these rockets, they’re causing us, you know, so much damage and destruction and so forth.” I think part of it, you have to remember—no offense to them—no offense to them, but they live in a hermetically sealed society. Most of the Hamas leaders, they’re just recently out of spending 10 years in jail, 15 years in jail. They’re very inexperienced, because Israel eliminated the first line, the second line, the third line of the Hamas leadership. So, don’t attribute, you know, great strategic thinking to them. They’re living in this tiny, isolated, hermetically sealed enclave. And I think they actually have internalized a lot of the Israeli propaganda.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened in, first, Operation Cast Lead, 2008, ’09, and then Operation Protective Edge in 2014. And you referenced this in the first part of our interview, but in terms of casualties, in terms of the timing of these two attacks?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mm-hmm. Well, I don’t want to go over ground that we’ve already looked at, so let me look at the salient points for the purposes of, you know, an interview. Number one, Operation Cast Leads begins December 26th, 2008, ends January 17th, 2009—what Amnesty International called “22 days of death and destruction.” There’s a ceasefire implemented in June 2008. Israeli official and unofficial organizations say Hamas was careful to respect the ceasefire. Hamas was careful to respect the ceasefire. Israel, however, it’s preparing, it’s preparing, it’s preparing for its attack on Gaza to revenge Lebanon. When all the pieces are in place—they spent about a year of preparation. When all the pieces are in place, they need a pretext. Well, they look around for a pretext.

And they wait ’til November 4th, the historic election, when Barack Obama is voted into office. They know all the cameras are riveted on the White House, riveted on the United States. And then they go in, kill six Hamas militants, knowing full well that there’s going to be a reaction. And from that point on, it descends into tit for tat, and then, on December 26, begins the assault. It ends January 17th. And for the time—for the time, it was by far the biggest Israeli massacre committed against Gaza. And you have to bear in mind—I’m not sure how vivid your memory is, even mine is beginning to fade on it, and I study it, you know, pretty closely—public opinion radically shifted against Israel after Operation Cast Lead. It created a huge international uproar. There were, believe it or not—

AMY GOODMAN: The casualties, the number?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The death, the destruction.

AMY GOODMAN: What was it?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: There were about 6,300 homes that were destroyed, 10 Israeli civilian casualties. Palestinians, 1,400, of whom up to 1,200 were civilians. Three hundred fifty children were killed. They estimate about 600,000 tons of rubble were left behind. And there were about—believe it or not, there were about 300 human rights reports issued on what happened. And if you look at the proportions in my book, you’ll see, on Operation Cast Lead, it’s exhaustively documented across four chapters, large chapters, because there was a huge amount of information.

And it climaxed in the Goldstone Report. And the Goldstone Report was a catastrophe for the state of Israel. Goldstone is Jewish. Goldstone is a Zionist. Goldstone is a liberal.

AMY GOODMAN: Goldstone was a judge, right?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right, he was a judge, a respected, you can even say renowned, judge. And so—and most important, he’s a Zionist. He’s on the board of directors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and so on and so forth.

And now, he came out with a report that said the purpose of Cast Lead was to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population. Total disaster for Israel. And so, Israel goes at him ferociously.

AMY GOODMAN: And this—he came out with the report in?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The report comes out in 2009. They go—Israel goes after him ferociously. Across the spectrum, across the political spectrum, all levels of the Israeli society, and also in the United States, they go after Goldstone. And the tragedy then occurs. I go through the record very carefully in the book. Goldstone—it was almost a joke, because it was April 1st. It was April Fool’s Day. He drops a bombshell in The Washington Post.

AMY GOODMAN: This is 2011.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: He doesn’t say it literally, but it’s clear, the message he’s transmitting. He’s recanting the report, and he’s taking it back. I’ll tell you, I remember that day quite well. I was in a library—I don’t remember where—and it was like something died in me. Really, it was like something died in me, something you believed in, or you wanted to believe in. And maybe I was naive, but the Goldstone Report was a very weighty document. At one point, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We have—we’re facing three existential threats: Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah rockets, and the Goldstone Report.” And it was a very big problem for them. You might recall, this is the point when like—when Tzipi Livni visited the U.K., she was hit with an indictment for war crimes under the universal jurisdiction.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain who she is.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Tzipi Livni was the foreign minister during the Operation Cast Lead. And she was a really wretched human being. The day after Cast Lead, the day after it ended, January 18th, she went on Israeli television, Channel 10, and she boasted, “We carried on like real hooligans in Gaza.” She boasted, “We went wild in Gaza. I ordered it. I’m proud of it, because they’re so brazen.” They’re so brazen because they have the United States protecting them, and they carry on with this kind of impunity.

And then, along came the Goldstone Report. It was like an “uh-oh” moment, because it seemed as if, for the first time, they were finally going to be held accountable. And that’s why they went mad, the Israelis. They had to stop Goldstone. He recanted. He claimed he recanted because new information had become available since the publication of his report. But I go through it systematically in the book. No new information became available.

And then the question is: Well, if no new information became available, why did he recant? One possible explanation is because all the pressure that was being put on him by the Israelis and on his family. They tried to prevent him from attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah in South Africa. Goldstone is South African. That’s one explanation. For reasons which I can’t go into now, because it requires detail, I don’t find it plausible. I think he was blackmailed. You know, it’s the Mossad. They’re an effective spy organization. Everybody’s got skeletons in their closet. And if you don’t have skeletons in your closet, a relative does. Goldstone’s daughter did Aliyah. She’s an Israeli citizen. I think he was blackmailed. That’s where the evidence points.

John Dugard, the respected human rights—he’s considered the father of human rights in South Africa, extremely principled guy. He’s actually the real thing. He’s a principled liberal. You know, there’s the Phil Ochs song, “Love Me”—”Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” about hypocritical liberals. He’s the real thing. He’s a real principled liberal and has been very principled on this particular issue. And he wrote a very devastating article the day after the recantation. And he said the truth of why Goldstone recanted will go with him to his grave.

Then, after that, the Israelis started to go after a lot of people. You might recall the case of Robert Bernstein, who was the founder of Human Rights Watch. Then he started to attack Human Rights Watch to try to, so to speak, defang them. He had his own bombshell he dropped—I think it was in The New York Times, but I could be mistaken—attacking Human Rights Watch. So, all the pressure is now being put on the human rights community. They start going after human rights respected jurists, like William Schabas, Christian Tomuschat. All of them have to drop out. They were supposed to be on commissions investigating Israeli crimes, for example, during Operation Protective Edge.

AMY GOODMAN: And they are from?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: U.N. They were U.N. officials, but, you know, prominent—prominent jurists, respected jurists. All of them had to drop out, because Israel started to dig up dirt. And everybody’s got dirt to be dug up on. We know that. So, now the human rights community begins to panic, enters into panic mode, because the Israelis are—they’re just out of control now.

And you saw the result after Operation Protective Edge. I’m not happy to have to say it. It’s the shortest chapter in the book. You know why? There were no human rights reports. Human Rights Watch published—for Operation Cast Lead in 2008, ’09, it published seven quite substantial reports. After Operation Protective Edge, it published one tiny report, one tiny report of 15 pages. Amnesty International was the only major human rights organization that published major reports, but they were all whitewashes of Israel. They were a disgrace. I go through them systematically. The Amnesty chapter is one of the longest chapters in the book. Just going through it, as I said, Gaza is a big lie composed of tiny lies. And there’s no option except to go through it point by point and to show—

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that lack of response to what happened in 2008, ’09, to what happened, the lack of investigation and holding accountable—again, the casualty—the number of casualties was at 1,600?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: There were 1,400 Palestinians killed, of whom up to 1,200 were civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: More than 350 of them children.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Three hundred fifty children, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that lack of accountability and the reports paved the way for what happened in 2014—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Absolutely. I mean, I don’t want—

AMY GOODMAN: —with Operation Protective Edge?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s a harsh thing to say, but it was Richard Goldstone that allowed Operation Protective Edge to happen, because the Israelis were very worried after Operation Cast Lead. It looked like prosecutions were in the offing. Universal jurisdiction was happening. And then, when he killed the report, it became a green light for Israel, and it enabled them to effectively go mad.

AMY GOODMAN: You also write that the Obama administration, as well as Hillary Clinton, tried to undermine the Goldstone Report.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Look, the Obama administration was—played a really wretched role in all this. Let’s just take the obvious examples. Operation Cast Lead, it ends on January 17th. Now, remember, Obama was elected in November 2008. Operation Cast Lead ends January 17th, 2009. Obama didn’t say anything after he was elected. Do you know why it ends January 17th? Because Obama signals to the Israeli government, “Don’t mess up my inauguration, January 20th. I don’t want any distractions. You’ve got to end the operation.” That’s why they ended.

Now, you go to Operation Protective Edge, 2014. Every day, Obama or one of his officials said, “Israel has the right to protect itself. Israel has the right to protect itself,” as Israel is leveling Gaza. There was no—actually, there was no comparison between Protective Edge and Cast Lead. It was so much worse. The interesting point is, for our purposes, with Obama: How does it end? Do you know how it ends? On August 3rd, Ban Ki-moon comes under all this pressure because Israel keeps bombing U.N. schools—or, UNRWA schools, which have been turned into civilian shelters.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain how long Operation Protective Edge went on for.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, Operation Protective Edge, all told, went for 51 days; Operation Cast Lead, 22. Operation Protective Edge, 18,000 homes destroyed; Operation Cast Lead, 6,300. All the figures, they’re on a much higher—

AMY GOODMAN: And the number of people killed in Protective Edge?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Protective Edge, it’s 2,500 killed, of whom 1,600 were—2,200 killed, of whom 1,600 were civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: More than 500 children.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Five hundred fifty children were killed. And August 3rd, what happens? Ban Ki-moon, that comatose corpse, he finally comes under so much pressure, because—

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t have to attack—do ad hominem attacks on people.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, no. These people are wretched.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ban Ki-moon, when he was U.N. secretary-general.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, when he was U.N. secretary-general, he does all the bidding for the United States when it comes to Israel-Palestine. I don’t want to go through—I can’t go through this whole sordid record, but the—Israel attacked seven U.N. shelters, which were housing civilians during Operation Protective Edge. And then, on August 3rd, finally, Ban Ki-moon has to say something. And he says, “This is a disgrace, this is outrageous, attacking civilian shelters.” August 3rd, Obama, he no longer has a fig leaf. Ban Ki-moon backed out.

AMY GOODMAN: He spoke against the military invasion.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah. And now—and now Obama is alone on the world stage. So, August 3rd, the same day, Obama attacks Israel for the shelters, bombing the shelters. And now, Netanyahu, the day before, August 2nd, he says, “I’m not leaving Gaza.” After Obama says, “You can’t do this,” he leaves. Same day, August 3rd. Now, it is true, it did go on for another three weeks. It went on for another three weeks because you entered into the negotiation period, where Israel always brings in its most force to try to extract the best terms. But then there was also, you will probably remember, the beheading of the American reporter. And when the American reporter was beheaded, all the cameras again switched—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about the beheading of James Foley by ISIS in Syria.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, yeah. And then the cameras switched again, just like with the Malaysian airline incident. And so, Israel brought on full force. And then it ended August 26th. Technically the war was over. But Obama had the power, if he wanted to. Instead, he was coming out and talking about how no country in the world would tolerate rockets being fired at it, no country in the world would tolerate these terror tunnels, and just giving Israel all the pretext it wanted.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain the examples that were used—the terror tunnels, the rockets. Explain the terror tunnels and what they were.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: OK. Let’s be clear about the facts. They were not terror tunnels. There were about—according to Israel, there were about 12 to 14 tunnels that were built beneath the border separating Gaza from Israel. Now, here are the facts. And the facts are not trivial. Number one, the U.N. Human Rights Council report found, and respected Israeli journalists, Israeli—Israeli military people, they all said the same thing: The tunnels did not target civilians. Every time Hamas militants emerged from the tunnels, they had firefights with Israeli soldiers. They never went to the kibbutzim. They never targeted civilians. They weren’t terror tunnels. My guess is—it’s speculation—that they were trying to capture an Israeli soldier to do what they did with Gilad Shalit, to have a prisoner exchange. But there was never a question of them targeting civilians.

It was interesting what happened. It was, the Israeli propaganda backfired on itself. When it started to say they were targeting civilians, the so-called terror tunnels, the civilians fled. They got scared that there were going to be these Hamas terrorists emerging from these tunnels and killing them. And then they refused to return home. And when they refused to return home, Israel decided, “Well, we’ve got to tell them the truth, that they’re not targeting you,” in order to get them to come back.

Same thing happened with the Hamas rockets. They kept talking about how all these Hamas rockets are terrorizing Israel, how these Hamas rockets are an existential threat. Well, what happened? It was the tourist season. It was July, August 2014. And then Israel’s tourist industry took a nosedive. So they realized, “We better stop talking about these terror tunnels. They’re killing our business—I mean, we better stop talking about the Hamas rockets. They’re killing our business.” So, if you remember what happened, they had Mayor Bloomberg go over to Israel and say, “Everything is fine here. There’s no danger. We should open up Ben Gurion Airport,” because, you remember, Ben Gurion Airport was closed, briefly, because a, quote-unquote, “Hamas rocket” landed nearby. He said—he flew in to show it’s completely safe. So, each time their propaganda backfired, then the cat came out of the bag, and they told the truth. So—

AMY GOODMAN: In the lead-up to the Israeli military invasion of Gaza was the killing of the three Israeli teenagers.


AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened in June of 2014.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What happened was, in June 2014, a rogue Hamas cell captured and then, apparently, almost immediately—we don’t know for certain—but almost immediately, killed the three Israeli teenagers. Now, the information we have—for example, I quote J.J. Goldberg, who’s the former editor-in-chief of The Forward, and I know you’ve had him on your show, Goldberg—he said that Israel knew, from day one, the kids were dead. But they claimed to be going on a search operation.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain who killed them.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: As I said, it was a Hamas cell. We don’t really know much more than that. Apparently, it was a senior Hamas person in Jordan who gave the order. But the Hamas officials in Gaza had nothing to do with it.

But then Netanyahu used it as a pretext for launching what he called Operation Brother’s Keeper, which was a—killed several Palestinians, rampaged businesses, rounded up—I think it was about a thousand—I could be wrong, but I think it was about a thousand Palestinians in the West Bank, many of whom had been freed in a former prisoner exchange, rounded up and sent them back to prison. And then the tit for tat began with Gaza. It quickly descended, and the Israeli assault began.

AMY GOODMAN: And how do you know that Netanyahu knew that these young men, the three teenagers, had been killed almost immediately?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, right, as I said, you can only quote what the sources tell you. And people like—there were several sources that said—you know, Israel has a very efficient intelligence operation. First of all, the whole Palestinian Authority works with them. So, they’re all working in cahoots. And it’s not a big place. And it is, for what it’s worth. You know, all U.S. direct aid—all U.S. direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, the direct aid—it’s, I think, $36 million—it all goes to the Security Services. The Security Services are trained by Jordan. They’re a very efficient operation. It’s not rinky-dink anymore. They’re a real—they’re a real terror organization, the Palestinian Security Forces, professional torturers and so forth. So, it’s not implausible that, with their security apparatus working with Israel and all of the collaborators, the spies, the informal collaborators and spies, that they would find out. And Goldberg says—and Goldberg obviously has no ax to grind, he’s the former editor-in-chief of The Forward—says that Netanyahu knew almost immediately that the kids were dead. The fear that they would be used for another prisoner swap. And that didn’t happen. And then the full-scale assault on Gaza began.

AMY GOODMAN: So, in Part 1 of this conversation, you talked about the former Israeli soldiers who gave the most vivid descriptions of what took place. Now, I was going to say in Operation Protective Edge, but even before we get to the description of that attack that they gave, how do—how are those names come up with—Operation Cast Lead, Operation Protective Edge? It seems as soon as you use that word to describe what’s happened, that already is clearly a propagandistic word that justifies what’s taking place.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, actually, they were disappointed with Operation Cast Lead. I guess it’s taken—I forgot. You know, I go through it in the book, but my memory escapes me now. It comes—

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, I remember, right before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. was coming up with these kind of names, and they were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation. But then they had a problem because the acronym was OIL, “oil.” But how are these names come up with?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, they have a very sophisticated—they call it hasbara, which is translated as “public diplomacy.” They have a very—well, we would translate it as “official propaganda.” They have a very effective propaganda agency. In the case of Operation Cast Lead, they created—they already were preparing. As I said, they knew they were going to attack for about a year. They had to make sure all the pieces were in place. And one of the pieces was their propaganda. And they created an organization—it was six months in the making. And a part of it is to come up with these names. And a lot of people comment on how there’s a kind of, you might call it, immaturity about the names they choose. They had–there was a series called Hot Winter or—I can’t remember. But all of these are kinds of bizarre names.

But the important point, I think, is, you can laugh, and you can ridicule, but the propaganda is very effective, you know, because it’s what stays with you. If you take Operation Protective Edge, the three takeaways are the terror tunnels, the Hamas rockets and the Iron Dome. There were no terror tunnels. There were no Hamas rockets. And there was no Iron Dome. The three main images that were projected were all—they were just media creations. They were just propagandistic devices.

And the main propaganda, even—or especially by the human rights organizations, is the pretense that there’s blame on both sides, there’s blame—there’s death and destruction on both sides. But when you look at the numbers, I mean, it’s just ridiculous to put them in the same category. I gave you a chart, you know, to illustrate the numbers in Operation Protective Edge. Civilians killed, roughly 1,600—1,600 to six, civilians killed. Houses destroyed, 18,000 to one. Children killed, 550 to one. You go down the list. How can you create balance out of a balance sheet like that? You know? Out of a grotesquely imbalanced balance sheet like that? And what the human rights organizations do is they simply inflate what happened on the Israeli. So, for example, you take Amnesty International. One child was killed. One child was killed. They describe the child’s death over two pages. So, you say, “OK, you know, it’s a child’s death. What’s wrong with two pages?” Well, then let’s have balance. Five hundred fifty Palestinian children were killed. Did you give that 1,100 pages?

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you say “they” gave it. Who gave it?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Amnesty. You know—

AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you deal with the claim that Hamas, that Hezbollah are responsible for a high number of civilian casualties because they use civilians as human shields, particularly they use children as human shields?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, there’s a simple way to deal with it: You look at the evidence. There’s absolutely no evidence. We’ll start with Operation Cast Lead. The most exhaustive analyses were done, at that time, Operation Cast Lead, 2008, ’09—the most exhaustive analyses were done by Amnesty International and the Goldstone Report. Neither of them found any evidence that Hamas was using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Now, let’s be clear. There are a large number of supporters of the Palestinian Authority who live in Gaza. They had many harsh things to say about Hamas. But among the charges they leveled was not the charge that Hamas was using Palestinians as human shields.

You take Operation Protective Edge. Again, there is no evidence. I’ve read through all the human rights reports. None of them finds any evidence of human shielding. What they do claim they find is—there’s a technical term under international law that when you’re engaging in a military combat, you have to take feasible precautions to protect civilians, and that if you fighting in the vicinity of civilians, you are then guilty of a violation of international law. It’s not a war crime. It’s a violation of international law. They claim Hamas fired or attacked Israel in the vicinity of civilians, so is guilty of not taking all feasible precautions, which is different than human shielding, which is a conscious practice of, as it were, inserting a human being between you and the enemy, for which there’s no evidence.

But the feasible precautions—I’m not going to make excuses. I have my prejudices. I have my biases. But I’m also scrupulous. I am very careful with facts, because I know, when you make one error or two errors, you’re going to have somebody who’s going to come along and say, “This book is replete with errors, but for reasons of space, I can only mention two.” So, you’re held to a very stringent standard when you’re in my position. You can’t even make two errors. So I’m very careful. And I’m not trying to make excuses. But we have to remember two facts. What does Gaza look like? What does the law say?

Gaza—you were slightly just a little bit off in what you said during your—in the first part. It’s not the most densely populated place in the world, but it’s among the most densely populated. It’s more densely populated than Tokyo. And so, it’s very difficult to wage an armed struggle and not be around people.

Number two, the law says all feasible precautions. If you’re living in a densely populated area, then there’s not much feasibility. And so you have to show not only that Hamas fighters were in the vicinity of civilians. You also have to show they had no other option. And none of the human rights organizations were able to do so.

But then, Amnesty says something outrageous—in my opinion, outrageous. You know what it says? It says that Hamas should go to open areas and fight in the open areas of Gaza. Now, on its face, that might sound reasonable, except for, number one, there are very few open areas in Gaza; number two, the law does not say you have to do that. The law does not say you have to relocate all your troops in an open area. But then, number three, Gaza is not occupied internally by Israel. Gaza is surrounded by Israel, and it’s an occupation that is executed externally. So, here’s the problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that, that Israel will always say Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza, they pulled out in 2005.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It controls—right. It controls the airspace. It controls the exits, controls the entries, controls the waterspace. There’s a sea blockade of Gaza. It controls everything, you know? It’s the equivalent of a jailer throwing the keys to the prisoners in the cell. They get out of the cell. “Great! We’re free!” Except the jailer then walks out of the prison, shuts tight the prison gates, surrounds the prison. Well, is that free? Well, that’s Gaza. As the Conservative British Prime Minister Cameron, David Cameron, said, Gaza is an open-air prison.

So, to return to the point, it’s externally controlled by Israel, right? And it’s an unusual occupation because it’s an externally controlled occupation, a remote-control occupation. All right? Now, international law—according to these human rights organizations, they all say all of Hamas’s weapons are illegal under international law, because they’re indiscriminate. The law is, you can’t use indiscriminate weapons. Hamas’s weapons are very primitive, to say the least. So, international law says its so-called rockets are illegal, its so-called mortar shells—its mortar shells are illegal. Now, what are you left with? Amnesty says to Hamas, “You have to go into an open space, but you can’t use any of your weapons.” But if you can’t use any of your weapons, because they’re indiscriminate, how do you defeat an externally controlled occupation? The only thing Amnesty didn’t tell them to do was to line up like ducks and let the Israeli airplane come in and mow them down.

Now, you might smile at that, but that’s literally—that’s where you’re left. That’s where you’re left, with what these human rights organizations are saying. It’s not to defend Hamas. It’s just to look at the law objectively, rationally, and ask yourself, “Is what—are what the human rights organizations saying fair? Is it true?” All the human rights organizations, they’ll always say Israel used disproportionate force. They’ll say Israel used indiscriminate force.

But there’s one thing they’ll never say. You know what they’ll never say? Israel targeted the civilians. Because that’s the no-no. You see, under international law, indiscriminate attacks are war crimes. Disproportionate attacks are war crimes. Targeting civilians are war crimes. That’s the law. But then there’s public opinion. Public opinion, it’s willing to turn a blind eye to disproportionate attacks. Actually, how can you even prove an attack is disproportionate? It’s almost impossible. They’ll even say, yeah, indiscriminate attacks, because it’s hard to separate civilians from soldiers. The one thing public opinion won’t tolerate is the targeted attack on civilians. That’s exactly what Israel does in every one of its massacres, and that’s exactly the thing that the human rights organizations—now, not during Operation Cast Lead, now, after the Goldstone debacle—that’s the one thing they all shy away from. They don’t want to say Israel targets civilians.

One anecdote, quick anecdote. I was teaching a class, volunteer class, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, on freedom of speech. And some issue came up—I won’t go into the circumstances—and somebody from the audience says, “Israel doesn’t target children. Israel never targets children.” And the person who I’m interviewing for this program, a very respected professor at Columbia University, considered a left liberal, has very good credentials—I’m sure he’s been on your show at one time or another. He says, “Yes, yes. Israel would never target civilians—or, excuse me, never target children.”

Israel is always targeting children. You have so many cases, like you have children playing on a roof. Right? A drone comes in. Human Rights Watch says—its report was called “Precisely Wrong,” after Operation Protective Edge—excuse me, Operation Cast Lead. The drone comes in. Human rights report says the drone can see very clearly what it’s targeting. The drone, it could—up to the very last minute, very last minute, it could divert. Goes right for the kids.

AMY GOODMAN: The kids on the beach in Gaza is another story, from 2014.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, that’s—that’s a most important story, and I’m glad you brought it up. You had four kids. They were playing hide and seek around a fisherman’s hut, a dilapidated fisherman’s hut. There were hundreds of reporters on the beach.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, it was right in front of a reporters’ hotel.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah. Everybody sees what happens. Four kids, diminutive. Hut, dilapidated hut. Israel kills the four kids. Right?

AMY GOODMAN: With a strike.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah. That was—it came from a naval—a boat. So, what does the U.N. Human Rights Council report say, the one by Mary McGowan Davis? “Israel didn’t take all feasible precautions.” All feasible precautions? There was no battle going on. There was no—there was no combat. There were only children there. “We don’t know why Israel mistook these children for militants.” What do you mean you don’t know why? Why do you assume they did? Why do you assume they did? It was the same thing with the fellow in the—the paraplegic who they shot in the head. You probably remember—you might remember, 2002, Occupation—

AMY GOODMAN: Tamimi, 17 years old.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah. Operation Defensive Shield, outside Jenin, there’s a fellow sitting in a wheelchair. He has a flag, holding it, a white flag. An Israeli tank comes and just runs right over him, the guy in the wheelchair. Right? You might recall, when I had the debate with Alan Dershowitz, I said, “Well, Human Rights Watch documented it. Amnesty International documented it.” He said, “It didn’t happen.” And that’s a large part of American Jewry over the age of 50. “It didn’t happen.”

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, it’s interesting that you—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It happens, it happens, but it didn’t happen.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting that you say over the age of 50—


AMY GOODMAN: —because American Jewry is changing—


AMY GOODMAN: —their opinion on Israel. Talk about younger people. And talk about overall public opinion here.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, there’s a very simple way to put it. Who is President Trump’s main ally in the world? It’s Netanyahu. Eighty percent of American Jews find Trump a loathsome creature. And now they have a real problem: The main ally of this loathsome creature is the prime minister of the state of Israel, an amazingly popular prime minister of Israel, who’s been in for a very long time. And now, this is a real conflict for American Jews. Does being loyal to Israel mean we have to be supportive of Trump? It’s a crisis of values.

AMY GOODMAN: And it was happening before Trump, as well.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Oh, yeah, it was happening before, but now it’s quite—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about young people.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, there has been—you would say, there have been several turning points, beginning with the ’82 Lebanon War, then the First Intifada, then the repression during the Second Intifada, and then significantly, as I said, after Operation Cast Lead. Public opinion—in particular among young American Jews, public opinion has been shifting, I wouldn’t say against Israel, I would say away from Israel, which is different. Jews have an ethic, which I kind of understand, and I’m not exactly immune to it, about not airing dirty laundry in public. So there’s a kind of resistance, reticence, about attacking Israel in public, because you feel like you’re feeding anti-Semitism. And you get the idea. So they’re not going to publicly, in large numbers, en masse, publicly denounce Israel. But they’re not going to talk about it anymore, either, and they’re not going to support it—unless, of course, it’s an existential issue.

And that’s one of my big differences, if I can mention it, with the BDS. The thing is, when you start—

AMY GOODMAN: The Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yes. When you start threatening Israel’s existence, whether it’s through physical destruction or, let’s call it, demographic destruction, then Jews become very defensive. You know, that’s a red line. It’s a red line. If you say, “End the occupation,” American Jews will support it. If you say, “Israel shouldn’t be committing crimes, like it did in Gaza,” most American Jews are going to, you know, be willing to go there. But if you say, “Eliminate Israel,” no, you’re not going to get—then you’re going to get resistance. Mostly now, you’re going to get a slow drift into indifference, a slow drift into—it’s not a lot subject anymore.

Incidentally, just as a point of fact, because I go back far enough, in the 1960s, before the June ’67 war, Jews never talked about Israel. It wasn’t a topic. That’s why, as I said, if you look at people like Chuck Schumer, his sister, those—the issues back then were the war in Vietnam, civil rights movement. And American Jews were on the verge of making it. You were about to conquer the inner sanctums of American power. They were smart. They were ambitious. And they knew that they can do it. They didn’t care about a backwater called Israel. So this whole Israel phenomenon and obsession is relatively new among American Jews. And now, I think it’s fading. Israel has become like this the slightly meshuga—Yiddish for “crazy”—the slightly meshuga aunt in the attic. You don’t really want to talk about Israel anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: You said, when you talk about the BDS movement, when you talk about “eliminate Israel,” they’re not talking about eliminating Israel.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, as I said, there are different ways to put it. You can talk about physical destruction. You can talk about demographic elimination. And so, if the BDS platform were to be implemented, the–they talk about, let’s say, 7 million Palestinian refugees coming back to Israel. Right now, the demographics is—in the state of Israel, it’s about 15 to 20 percent non-Jews. If there were a full implementation of the law of return—the right of return, if there were a full implementation of the right of return, the demographic balance would shift roughly 70 percent Palestinian Arab, 30 percent Jewish.

AMY GOODMAN: And you’re not talking about the Occupied Territories.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, if you take the total picture, it’s about 50-50 now. If you bring in—if the refugees are returned en masse, then, of course, again, the demographic balance is going to shift radically. And so, that would be—I’m not saying I support it or not. That, for me, is an irrelevant issue, because politics is not about your personal preference. Politics is about what’s possible. And I’m saying that prospect, that prospect of a radical demographic shift in Israel, which would mean, effectively, the end of Israel as a Jewish state. It’s a demographic, it’s not a physical—and I recognize that, and the distinction is important. But the bottom line, in some regard, is the same: Israel will cease to exist as a predominantly Jewish state. American Jews will never accept that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to what—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m not saying—I’m not saying you have to defer to the opinion of American Jews. I’m simply saying—you’re asking me about the opinions of American Jews—yes, it has shifted radically from when I was growing up. However, there is a red line. And the red line is Israel is a Jewish state.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let me go to, in the last few minutes we have, Israel publishing a blacklist of 20 different organizations they will not allow into Israel right now. We’re talking about groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, CodePink, the American Friends Service Committee, as well as Palestinian solidarity groups in France, in Italy, in Norway, Sweden, Britain, Chile and other places. Your response to what Israel has done right now?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the important thing is to try to understand why they’re doing it. Now, some people claim that the reason is they fear BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. I happen not to agree with that analysis.

In my opinion, Israel has a problem, has always had a problem. The problem is, it keeps getting bad press, because when it keeps carrying out these massacres or these shootings, it gets bad press. And so, obviously, what’s the solution? Eliminate the press, eliminate the witnesses. So, during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, ’09, they prevented any reporters from coming in. So, for three weeks, it was a free-for-all. Then, after Operation Protective Edge, they didn’t let any human rights organizations in, so they couldn’t see what was the damage done. So, then the human rights organizations, what they did was, in my opinion, crazy. They said, “If Israel doesn’t let us in, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t commit the war crime.” But that just incentivizes Israel not to let human rights organizations in. You get an agnostic verdict rather than a guilty verdict.

Then, as I said before, the big chink in the armor was that Breaking the Silence, because these are Israeli combatants. And they weren’t even leftists. But they were describing what was happening. So Israel went with a vengeance, trying to get Breaking the Silence defunded, because it had a lot of European funding, claiming they were traitors, they were enemies and so on and so forth. And I don’t think—my guess, Breaking the Silence won’t do again what it did after Operation Protective Edge. It was—it was very hard to take. You know, Israel is a very nationalist society. And when you start being branded a traitor—and about 60 percent of the population said they were traitors, when they did the polls—

AMY GOODMAN: These were Israeli soldiers.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, you know, and they were being said to—about 60 percent said they were traitors.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you think—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Wait, so—and that brings me to this point. They’re using this moment—with Trump in power, they’re using this moment to try to eliminate as many witnesses as they can, keep everybody out. They want to do to the West Bank what they did to Gaza. It’s very hard for an outsider to get into Gaza. And now, the Israelis are carrying on in a very brazen way—the land grabs, the merciless killings of civilians, the brutal killings of civilians. And so, they want to clear the field of any witnesses. And they’re using the Trump presidency as a moment to seal off Gaza from any—excuse me, seal off the West Bank from any potentially hostile witnesses, to turn the West Bank into what they turned Gaza into. It’s hermetically sealed. There’s no way to witness the crimes as they unfold in real time.

AMY GOODMAN: Norm Finkelstein, in his book, Fire and Fury, journalist Michael Wolff quotes Steve Bannon boasting about the implications of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Bannon reportedly said, “We know where we’re heading on this. Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza.”

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, you know, I have no way to assess Bannon’s intelligence. Maybe he’s a smart guy. I don’t really know.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he was voicing what the Trump administration feels?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: They might feel it. I don’t really feel that, however, it has much connection with reality. That was the solution up until the 1970s, remember. Up until the 1970s, Gaza was—and the West Bank were occupied territories, and they were supposed to be returned to the people who previously occupied them, namely, Egypt and Jordan. But then that was superceded by the Palestinian national movement, the demand for an independent state, the demand for self-determination and sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza. And the whole international community embraced it. I won’t say it was a strong embrace, but technically they embraced it. And you saw it again with the vote on Jerusalem, where the international community, about 128 states, they defied Trump, and they stood, you know, pretty firmly—there were some retreats, but not so important to discuss—stood fairly strongly in favor of the solution they’ve been advocating, which is Israel’s withdrawal from the territories they occupy.

I don’t think Trump’s announcement—personally, I don’t think it’s going to have much repercussion, because, historically, the major acts which have had enduring repercussions—the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the partition resolution in 1947—they were the product of a lot of deliberation, a lot of back-and-forth. And by the time they were promulgated—the Balfour Declaration and the partition resolution—they had a huge institutional force behind them. In the case of Trump, it was like a crap deal in Las Vegas. “Adelson, I’ll do it. What the hell.” You know? And those kinds of action don’t, in my opinion—are not likely to have an enduring effect. And, in fact, the result was, it kind of—the international community dug in their feet, dug in their feet that we’re not going to acquiesce to Trump’s unilateral move.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, you conclude your book by quoting Helen Hunt Jackson, a late 19th century American critic of our policy, of the U.S. policy towards Cherokee Indians, saying, “There will come a time when, to the student of American history, it will seem well-nigh incredible” what was done to the Cherokee. You then write, “Is it not certain that one day the black record of Gaza’s martyrdom will in retrospect also seem well-nigh incredible?”

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah. When I was finishing up the book—it’s a funny thing about writing. I remember once you used the expression—we were talking privately about something—you used the expression of “reaching critical mass,” when something suddenly changes. I forget what the context was in what you were saying. And that’s some—that’s like me when I’m writing. I walk around, thinking about, thinking about, thinking about. I’m getting very agitated, agitated. And then, suddenly, I just go down and I start writing, you know? It’s there. And I wrote the conclusion very quickly—for me, unusually. It was, I think, only one or two drafts. Usually, I’m a perfectionist and go through it thoroughly. And at the end, I was immediately—I thought about, you know, what’s happening here is like—how could that be? How can it be that you have this medieval siege for 10 years? There was a period where Israel barred, prevented, prohibited chocolate, chips, chicken—chocolate, chips, chicks—from entering Gaza, on the grounds of security. How can that happen? And these people are just languishing there, in the face of the whole international community.

And I thought to myself, you know, it reminded me of what—it was a very nice book. It was called A Century of Dishonor by Helen Hunt Jackson. She writes it at the end of the 19th century. And she describes how the United States just broke all the treaties—signs a treaty, breaks it—with the Native American population. And it’s an interesting story because Teddy Roosevelt, who was a great defender of the conquest of the American West, he devotes all these pages—it’s a three-volume or four-volume, five-volume maybe, history of the conquest—to attacking her, to attacking her. “How could you say this? How could you say this?” And the book was forgotten, her little book.

And then, when the whole Native American issue was revived in the United States—didn’t happen ’til the 1970s, you’ll be surprised, even though you’re not significantly different in age from me. It didn’t happen until—cinematically, it didn’t happen until Dustin Hoffman, I think Little Big Man. It was the first cinematic depiction of what had been done to the Native Americans. When we were growing up, I was always rooting for the cowboys. “Kill those Injuns! Kill those savages!” You know, I was. I remember it. You know? And there was a cultural revolution in the United States of sorts, and we suddenly discovered the Native Americans. And when we had our cultural revolution, Helen Hunt Jackson’s book was rediscovered.

And that’s kind of how I feel about my book. It will be ignored now, because everybody’s going to hate it. I went after not just Israel, but I was pretty tough on the human rights organizations, Kenneth Roth, Amnesty International, International Committee of the Red Cross, this guy Jacques de Maio, Richard Horton from the British Lancet magazine, the medical magazine. I’m very harsh. It’ll be ignored, with the exception of Democracy Now! and a couple of others. I’m aware of that. But I’m kind of old-fashioned. I believe in—I believe in memory. I believe these things should be remembered. It’s the only—it’s the only thing you can do for the dead, you know, is to remember them. And so, for me, the book was, in large part—I want it to sit on the bookshelf, which is why I asked a university press to publish it, because libraries nowadays—

AMY GOODMAN: And the photograph on the cover? We’ll end there.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I spent a lot of time trying to find the photograph. It was a Jewish woman who took the photograph, from Gaza. She was in Gaza. And I wanted—I said, “I want it to be simple. I want it to be stark. Simple, stark”—I can’t remember the third thing. And I felt it captured it, the essence.

AMY GOODMAN: Describe it.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s a picture of a Palestinian woman from Gaza, and she’s holding her dead baby, and the baby is wrapped up in, I guess, white cotton cloth. And you can only tell it’s dead because there’s a little blood at the foot. And I’ve not been to Gaza a lot. I’ve been there, I think, twice or three times. But what struck me about being there was—I don’t know if you’ve been there—people don’t wear their suffering on their shoulder. They don’t advertise it. They don’t talk about it. It’s just very matter-of-fact. “This is our life. What do we need now to move on?” And I felt that that was the cover conveyed.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, author, scholar, his new book, Gaza: An Inquest into Martyrdom.

To see Part 1 of our conversation, you can go to I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us


Emboldened israeli Ministers Openly Call for Killing Palestinians With More Genocide


Israeli Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel. (Photo: via MEMO, file)

By Ramona Wadi

Israeli Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel wants more injured and dead Palestinians in Gaza. “What is this special weapon we have that we fire and see pillars of smoke and fire, but nobody gets hurt?” he said on local radio. “It is time for there to be injuries and deaths as well.” This was reported by Haaretz.

Ariel’s comments come at a time when, bolstered and emboldened by US support over Jerusalem, Israel is seeking to increase ways in which Palestinians are restricted even further in terms of politics, freedom of movement and resistance to its military occupation. The increasingly threatening rhetoric, combined with its often resultant violence, is a clear message that Israel wants Palestinian existence to be determined according to its own colonial needs.

Indeed the minister’s remarks are indicative of Israel’s need for violence and conflict to sustain its existence. Framing his penchant for more deaths against the narrative of the purported “Palestinian terrorist”, he also amalgamated his demands with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s comments from 2016. At that time, far-right extremist Lieberman recommended the further fragmentation of Palestinians by suggesting that the homes of those involved in resistance should be demolished, and that those who “desire coexistence” should be rewarded.

Lieberman’s differentiation of Palestinians, particularly the latter group, is a simplistic approach which negates many of the reasons why not all Palestinians are visibly involved in resistance. One obvious reason which Israel has perpetrated is the juxtaposition of survival due to extreme poverty and lack of basic necessities, and the struggle against several forms of state violence. It also refutes the fact that most Palestinians, unlike the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, do not want to live under colonial rule.

Whether Ariel’s statement suggests yet another military offensive against the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip remains to be seen. However, there is no doubt that demands for state violence against civilians will become more brazen, as Israel basks in the impunity which is sustained on two levels: that generated by its own actions and absence of accountability under the pretext of “security concerns”; and the international community’s endorsement of this false narrative.

Another ramification of Ariel’s words is the separation of the visible injuries and killings in the occupied West Bank and the silent forms of slow extermination in Gaza as a result of Israeli-imposed deprivation. Clearly, he prefers the macabre spectacle of multitudes of injured and dead Palestinian civilians in Gaza and, what is more, he is allowed to express himself in such a manner without censure of any kind, safe in the knowledge that killing Palestinians has not only become normalised, but also expected.

The dehumanization of Palestinians in the Israeli minister’s words is also reflective of how statistics contribute to the absence of Palestinians in terms of collective memory. For Israel, the numbers serve to boost the false claims of self-defense. Conversely, statistics for Palestinians depict the cycles of murder by Israeli institutions. The international community, on the other hand, is partial to the anonymity of numbers, particularly when there is no requirement other than for it to turn a blind eye until Israel decides upon the next phase of Gaza’s destruction, whereupon the UN will exhort the colonial entity’s “right” to defend itself against the colonized. In doing so, it will also affirm its contempt for human rights and resolutions by refusing to uphold the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and, indeed, their right to resist military occupation by any means available.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor (MEMO) in London, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to 

Homeless in Gaza


Ali Hassan/Anadolu/Getty Images

 Mohamed Shuman playing music near the wreckage of his family’s house, Gaza City, June 2015

On November 11, 2017, the gray streets of Gaza suddenly turned yellow as tens of thousands of people came out to wave the flag of Fatah, the party of their former leader Yasser Arafat. This was the thirteenth anniversary of Arafat’s death, and, for the first time since 2007, when the Islamic resistance movement Hamas defeated Fatah in the bloody civil war that followed Hamas’s electoral victory the previous year, it had permitted a public commemoration of Arafat Day.

By allowing the celebration, Hamas had given the first substantial sign that it was serious about a new reconciliation deal, signed with Fatah in October. According to the agreement, the more moderate Palestinian faction, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which rules in the West Bank, would also assume local administrative control inside Gaza. With such a prospect, the people of Gaza hoped that Israel might be persuaded to lift the siege of the territory, which was meant to isolate Hamas and had the effect of punishing all Gazans for having voted for the party, which Israel, the United States, and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. Some Gazans have dared to hope the deal might even pave the way for tentative new discussions about wider peace.

A carnival atmosphere took hold across the besieged strip during the commemoration, with children selling sweets and cakes. As the crowds packed into a central square, leaders of Hamas and Fatah promised to end their division and find unity. The people cheered but seemed fearful, too: after such a long time they were once again putting battered trust in their leadership to try to bring a resolution to the conflict with Israel. An eighty-nine-year-old woman named Aisha waved her yellow flag, tears in her eyes: “I can’t breathe,” she declared, “but I can cry.”

The sudden joyous outpouring reminded some of the euphoria that erupted in 1993, after Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s prime minister, signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn. But as Gazans know, Oslo failed to address what many of them believe was the root cause of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians: the dispossession of Palestinians during the Arab–Israeli war of 1948, during which the Jewish state was created. Oslo proposed to reverse Israel’s illegal land seizures of 1967, offering a “two-state solution,” with the Palestinian state constructed out of Gaza and the West Bank, joined by a safe passage across Israel, and East Jerusalem as its capital. But the negotiators did not address the long-standing claim of Palestinian refugees that they have a right to return home. Nowhere is that right as deeply felt as it is in Gaza, which holds the highest concentration of Palestinian refugees, many living within a few miles of their pre-1948 homes.

A slice of land just twenty-five miles long and seven miles across at its widest, the Gaza Strip sits at the southwest tip of Israel, bordered to the west by the Mediterranean, to the south by Egypt, and to the east and north by Israel. The other chunk of Palestinian territory, the West Bank, lies fifty miles away, with Israeli territory in between.

Until 1948 there was no “Gaza Strip”; the area around Gaza City was part of a much larger region of British-ruled Palestine known as the Gaza District, which contained scores of Palestinian villages. During the 1948 war a total of 750,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from all over Palestine. About 200,000 of those living in the south sought refuge in the Gaza City area, which Egypt had seized during the war.

In December 1948 the United Nations passed UN Resolution 194, stating that the Palestinians should have the right to return to their homes, but Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, refused, saying that Palestinians would “never return.” Within a few years Israel had erased almost every Arab village in the former Gaza District. “The old will die and the young will forget,” Ben-Gurion is said to have declared. The Arabs of Palestine, however, have not forgotten the events of 1948, which they refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe, and they have been working harder in recent years than ever before to preserve the memory of their lost homes.

Ben-Gurion also expressed the hope that the refugees would move away from camps near Israel’s border and disperse into Arab countries, but while some did move away, most have stayed in order to be close to their land. The original 200,000 refugees who fled to Gaza now number up to an estimated 1.7 million. (Each descendant of a refugee is also classified by the UN as a refugee.) And with them in the Strip live another 300,000 Palestinians, indigenous to Gaza.

Today more than two million people live in Gaza, which is surrounded by walls and fences patrolled by Israeli soldiers. Israeli drones fill the skies above, its gunboats patrol the sea. On Gaza’s southern border is the Rafah crossing into Egypt, usually closed because Egypt has cooperated with Israel’s siege.

The only point of entry from Israel for human traffic is the Erez checkpoint, on Gaza’s northern border. Yet even while making that crossing it’s hard to believe anyone lives on the other side. The only other people passing through with me on a recent visit were a group of British surgeons from the charity IDEALS, their suitcases packed with prosthetic limbs.

Inside Gaza, the medieval and the modern seem to coexist, as horses and carts crowd the streets along with cars and trucks, while children in pristine uniforms pour out of schools. A new UN school is built each month in order to accommodate the population growth. In the middle-class Rimal area, students speaking into mobile phones struggle to be heard over hawkers selling wares. Shops seem well stocked, but prosperity is an illusion, since many of the luxury goods have been smuggled through tunnels from Egypt and hardly anyone can afford them. Thundering generators struggle to provide emergency power as Gaza itself struggles to survive the siege while still rebuilding after recent wars. The Israeli assault of 2014 lasted fifty-one days and killed 2,200 people, including five hundred children, as well as destroying thousands of homes, schools, water plants, and hospitals. Israel lost sixty-six soldiers and seven civilians during the conflict.

The UN says that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Sitting on stones by the seafront with Emad, my twenty-five-year-old Palestinian driver, we could see why: raw sewage was pouring out into the water, the electricity cuts having crippled the sewage system. Emad pointed out that the stones we were sitting on carried the names of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. He was sitting on Majdal, where his family came from. He looked up the coast to the swinging cranes of the thriving Israeli port city Ashkelon, built on the spot were Majdal once stood. I was sitting on a stone named Huj, a village just a few miles from Gaza. Many areas and streets in Gaza are named after villages the residents once lived in. A man Emad and I met named Ali Abu Aleish, who lives on Huj Street, produced documents showing that his family owned land that is now part of an estate constructed by Ariel Sharon, the deceased former prime minister of Israel.

In view of Gazans’ daily struggles, it seems surprising that they have time to think of the past. But it is precisely because of recent wars that memories of 1948 have been strengthened. The bombardment of Gaza in 2014 caused people to feel that a “second Nakba” was occurring. I first heard the phrase soon after that war from an old man named Abu Ibrahim, who was sitting on the pile of rubble that had recently been his home. His family had herded sheep around Beersheba for centuries, and in the war of 1948 they were forced to flee, first living in a tent, then building a house near Gaza’s border, from which they could see their old land. He showed me an urn his mother had carried on her head from Beersheba; the urn had survived the first and second Nakba, he said proudly.

Ibrahim’s reference to the second Nakba was echoed up and down Gaza. The destroyed houses, the panicked flight, the tents in which the homeless had to live—these have reminded many of what happened seventy years ago.

In the aftermath of the 1948 war, the refugee tragedy caused headlines and protests around the world, but the story soon faded from view. The Israeli government told the world that Palestinians had fled their villages of their own accord or on orders from Arab armies that wanted them out of the way. There was no obligation on Israel, therefore, to let Palestinians return, since, according to this argument, their displacement was not Israel’s responsibility. Any “infiltrators” who tried to go back were criminals, and they were shot or put in prison. With the US standing behind the new Jewish state, Palestinian accounts of 1948 were too often ignored.

In the late 1980s Israel’s so-called new historians, most notably Benny Morris, examined newly opened Israeli archives and found no evidence that the refugees had fled on orders from Arab leaders, but had done so mostly out of terror after hearing reports of massacres carried out by Israeli soldiers in villages such as Deir Yassin, where Jewish militiamen killed over 150 Palestinian civilians. Ilan Pappé, another of Israel’s new historians, went further, identifying what he called a plan of “ethnic cleansing.”

By this time, however, Israel’s official narrative of 1948 was so entrenched that the voices of these new historians were barely heeded by politicians, and in the 1990s it was considered impossible to secure Israeli support for the Palestinian right of return. Even Arafat agreed to set it aside during the Oslo talks. Today many Palestinian analysts blame Arafat, as well as Israeli and Western negotiators, for Oslo’s failure, warning that a newly unified Palestinian leadership will not remain unified for long if it doesn’t insist on addressing the right of return in any new peace talks. “During the Oslo process the right of return was relegated as if a mere irritant, not a fundamental human right,” said Ramzy Baroud, the son of a 1948 Gaza refugee, editor of The Palestine Chronicle and author of the forthcoming book The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story.* “The collapse of the peace process and the failure of Oslo brought the right of return back to the center.”

In Israel, however, where the policies of the extreme right-wing have received endorsement from Donald Trump, particularly through his stunning recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the prospects of putting a Palestinian right of return on a negotiating table seem more unlikely than ever; the mere mention of it is enough to destroy the possibility of a rapprochement. Even the dovish Yossi Beilin, an architect of Oslo, says the two-state approach remains the only option: “The right of return will never happen. All this talk of ’48 is a mood, not an opinion.”

Sarah Helm

 Palestinians posing for selfies on a pier by the Mediterranean Sea, Gaza City, March 2017

Some Palestinians agree with Beilin. “Palestinians always claimed their rights to historical Palestine,” said Ghassan Khatib, professor of politics at Birzeit University in the West Bank. “Then someone came along and convinced them that this was utopian and would not happen, offering a trade-off to go for the possible instead. Now people realize the possible and the impossible are both impossible, so they might as well stick to the impossible. But they have no strategy, no plan.”

Gaza’s own “new historians,” however, like Salman Abu Sitta, founder of the Palestine Land Society, which maps pre-war Palestine, say the prospects are not hopeless. “The conflict began in 1948, not 1967. It cannot be solved without returning to the root cause,” said Abu Sitta, who fled the Gaza District as a child. And there is a Palestinian plan, he said, which is to win back ground in the narrative war by challenging Israel’s version of the 1948 war. A form of peaceful resistance, this campaign of retrieving the facts is already well underway, he said, largely thanks to the younger generation of Palestinians.

In Gaza more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five, and it is among the young that the deepest despair often takes root. Some are turning to radical Islam, others to drugs. As many as eighty suicides are reported in Gaza each month, according to local aid groups, many among the young. Most of Gaza’s younger generation have nevertheless remained remarkably resilient, preparing against the odds for a better future, while also making an effort to learn about their past.

Earlier this year I encountered this resilience at a Gaza girls’ school, where I met with a class of seventeen-year-olds preparing for final exams. All had plans to study further in order to become doctors, social workers, journalists, and lawyers—“anything that helps free Gaza,” as one said. I asked how many had lost family in the war, and at least ten hands shot up.

“Why did Balfour give away our land?” asked one girl, referring to the declaration made in 1917 by Arthur Balfour, then British foreign secretary, pledging to create in Palestine a Jewish homeland. “Why did the world not implement UN Resolution 194 [the Palestinian right of return]?” “Why should I be a refugee when my land is one kilometer away?”

Their teacher explained to me that schools were placing more emphasis than ever on teaching history, studying the pre-1948 villages and the Nakba, since it helped the children understand the present. “They have lived through three wars”—in 2008, 2012, and 2014. “They want to understand how this can be. Their parents don’t have answers but if they can learn their story from the beginning they can make their own minds up and find connections to the present.” The teacher herself had lost her father in the most recent war. “He survived 1948 but was killed in 2014,” she said.

Many of the young are profoundly disillusioned with Palestinian politics, openly scorning the “old men,” as they call leaders of both Hamas and Fatah who have failed to find solutions for their generation, preoccupied instead with internal squabbles. Despite the unity displayed on Arafat Day, few young Gazans believe the reconciliation agreement will hold, saying that the only way to bring Palestinians together is around the issue of 1948. “At a popular level Palestinians everywhere including citizens of Israel are resurrecting these ’48 values in response to divisions of their leadership. It is an issue that unifies everyone,” said Ramzy Baroud.

Talking of 1948 certainly unifies Gazan families as they live under siege. In Shati refugee camp, power cuts force families to sit together in the dark, often passing the time by listening to a grandparent describing life in his or her old village, which appears so much better than life today. “In summer I ran into the long grass or lay in the cool orange groves,” said Fatmeh Tarqash as her children and grandchildren listened. “In winter we built a fire and took the embers indoors for warmth.” Fatmeh’s grandchildren have nowhere to run today. In winter the asbestos-roofed homes in the camps are cold and damp, and in summer the walls sweat.

Fatmeh’s twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who works with people whose hearing has been impaired by explosions, listened carefully, and then exclaimed: “They grew their own food. They were self-sufficient. But today we must be beggars.” She pointed angrily to a UN food box. When the electricity to the house suddenly came back on she showed me her family’s old village on Google Earth. Would she settle for a two-state solution? “No. If they give us part of the land back, they will expect us to be grateful to them. Why should we be? It’s ours.”

Gazans have a new tool in their campaign to raise awareness about their dispossession: the Internet has allowed them to bring their erased villages back to life by posting photographs of documents and land deeds. Gaza’s “new historians” are also journalists who contribute to the Electronic Intifada and other burgeoning Palestinian news sites. A young journalist, who didn’t wish to be named, films close to Gaza’s northern border and streams his footage of Gazan fishermen being monitored by Israeli gunboats as they haul in a catch. “We live in a box,” he told me. “A fake place. We want to show people what it’s really like and not rely on others to tell our story.”

New technology also allows the young to look to the future. At the Islamic University of Gaza, architecture students redesigned their ancestral villages as futuristic cities for a competition to be judged in London. One showed a Palestinian town that had been destroyed in 1948 rebuilt with skyscrapers and huge highways. A month later I saw the finalists’ drawings posted on the wall of a London art gallery, where the participants joined us from the West Bank and Gaza via Skype. Talk of construction rather than destruction was moving, but these futuristic designs for Palestine after “the return” seemed fanciful. It is unlikely that construction by Palestinians on land recognized as theirs will begin anytime soon. After all, it is Israel that is carrying out the construction by building settlements across Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel is increasingly intransigent about granting any land at all, even in the West Bank, where illegal settlement continues at speed, as it does in Arab East Jerusalem. Yet some new ideas for a resolution are emerging, particularly among the new generation of Palestinians who talk about a one-state solution with Jews and Arabs living as equals in a single democratic state on all of mandate Palestine. Among Israeli Jews today this prospect seems especially fanciful, but some Israeli radicals predict it must come. Ilan Pappé, speaking in Cambridge recently to launch his new book, The Biggest Prison on Earth, said that the one-state solution was “not an impossible scenario” and that the alternative is for Israel to continue developing as “an apartheid state.”

Although the concept of a one-state solution is still in its infancy, we are certain to hear more about it, precisely because the prospects for two states seem dead. The one-state idea is already being discussed within senior ranks of the moderate Palestinian Authority. Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for Mahmoud Abbas, responding to Trump’s Jerusalem move, declared that by recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, Trump had finally killed the two-state idea, adding: “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historical Palestine from the river to the sea.”

There is even a smartphone program called the iNakba app that provides maps indicating where Palestinian villages once were and what Israeli towns might be there now. Driving across Israel to reach Gaza, I used the app as a guide back in time, passing the site of the Palestinian village of Yibneh, which is now Yavneh. Near the huge Israeli port of Ashdod lie the remains of Isdud, where a Gazan friend of mine, Abu Hasan, once lived. On a recent visit to Gaza he told me how to find his house, but it was no longer there.

Almost all traces of the Palestinian villages have disappeared. A woman I met in Ashkelon, who had recently emigrated from Ukraine to Israel, had never heard of Majdal, which had been a thriving textile center before 1948. “There were never any Arabs here,” she told me. “It’s a lie.” The iNakba app revealed that the Arab market that still stands in Ashkelon’s Old City was once the main market of Majdal.

There are some signs that Palestinians are gaining ground in their narrative war. They have new allies inside Israel, where a small number of young Jewish Israelis are helping Palestinians excavate their history. A group called Zochrot (“remembering,” in Hebrew), a nonprofit organization formed in 2002, aims to “raise awareness of the Palestinian Nakba.” Zochrot devised the iNakba app.

Israel’s “official historians” have gone on the defensive, busying themselves with reclassifying sensitive historical files, held in Israeli archives, relating to 1948. Benny Morris found that among the reclassified files were those relating to the massacre at Deir Yassin. Morris first saw the documents in the 1980s, but said that “the Defense Ministry offered no explanation” for why they have been reclassified.

Whatever small gains the Palestinians are making in their narrative war, however, they are under no illusion about the monumental task they face if their objectives are ever to be achieved. At a café in Gaza, the author Dr. Mohammed Bugi expressed skepticism. “We need a new Mandela,” said Bugi, recently banned from traveling to Amman to promote his new book on pre-1948 Yibneh. “And a new de Klerk,” said Fayez Sersawi, an artist whose studio was bombed in 2014. “Now they are trying to crush our culture and shut our history down. The Nakba has never stopped. The patterns just repeat themselves.”

At Rafah, a border town on Gaza’s southern tip, the repeated patterns of the conflict are highly visible. Camps here are named after the old villages—Yibneh, Isdud, and Huj—and have been regularly bombed in recent times, just as the villages were in 1948. Rafah’s streets are full of posters of martyrs; its camps have always produced the most determined resisters, including suicide bombers. Many of them—including some who were responsible for the carnage across Israel during the Second Intifada, which erupted in 2000 in the despair that followed Oslo’s collapse—were descendants of those who arrived in 1948.

Close to the Egyptian border, where the Sinai sands sweep into Gaza, small plastic shelters cover openings of tunnels being dug into Egypt, though in recent months Israel has begun working on a new underground wall, sunk deep into the desert, to block off such tunnels. Nearby on Rafah’s beach is a jumble of shacks, home to fishermen, descendants of villagers from Jura, once a thriving fishing community just up the coast. History is about to repeat itself for the people of Jura whose refugee dwellings lie in the path of bulldozers clearing the area to create a wider buffer zone.

Most residents of Rafah, so exposed here on the border, have suffered too much as a result of the conflict to wave flags for Arafat or anyone else. Those I spoke to did not express hope for the near future, often saying in chilling terms that “something worse than the Nakba” is about to happen. And yet they also know that in Gaza a change of mood—too easily dismissed by Yossi Beilin—can be the harbinger of change. When the mood in Gaza changed in 1987, it led to the First Intifada, which in turn led to the first moves toward peace negotiations.

Even in Rafah the renewed attention being given to the Nakba has also spread a kind of confidence, a sense that one day the refugees’ story will be known and the injustice they have suffered recognized. The very fact that evidence of the Nakba is now preserved online, the history now already widely available, has contributed to this confidence.

While in Rafah I visited my friend Abu Hasan, whose erased village I had searched for on my drive to Gaza, and I told him I’d failed to find his house. He was not surprised, but expressed the view that the Nakba would not be forgotten. He had just completed his own history of his village. “How can our Nakba—our catastrophe—be forgotten? For us it continues every day,” he said. “What would you think if you were told you had to leave your home one day and suddenly abandon everything you’d ever loved and known and never go back. Would you forget?”

Was he still expecting to go back to Isdud? “I go back every night. In my dreams I go back and play among the trees and chase the birds. Perhaps I won’t go back myself. I’m very old. And Isdud won’t be like I knew it. But Palestinians will go back one day, I’m sure.”

Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

Originally published December 29. 2017 in

Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

History is inexplicable.  It has a way of seizing the chosen few to deliver a commanding message that transcends the tapered, often rote, confines of time, place and journey.

Like the mystery of magic, defining moments seem to find powerful launch through the flash of a sudden second and echo through the voice of those destined to become iconic well beyond the rhyme of powerful lyric alone.

To them, theirs is a journey of the ages. For those fortunate enough to witness such passage it is a transcendent reminder that greatness is measured not through acquired wealth or power but by the prompt of the principle, courage and sacrifice of the few.

Who can forget Faris Odeh, 15 years old when he stared down a tank with little more than a stone in his hand, murdered by Israel in Gaza?  Or 23 year old Rachel Corrie, on that mist covered morning, armed with a bullhorn as she faced off against a bulldozer to save a home, murdered by Israel in Gaza.

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya3

And now legend has taken 29 year old Ibrahim Abu Thuraya from us.  Disabled but not disarmed, he had the boldness to stand his ground clutching his weapon, the flag he loved… murdered by Israel in Gaza.

What is there about a tiny enclave known as Gaza that so offends, so alarms, so intimidates Israel? It would be far too easy to say nothing and simply reduce it to Tel Aviv’s voracious chase of its off-shore gas reserves or its potential as a Mediterranean tourist coastline …once cleansed of its native population and the destruction which bears the marked Star of David.

No. Gaza terrorizes Israel not by force of arms but through the endless resound of its resilience and the muscle of its inspiration.

To millions of Palestinians under siege in Palestine, or those forcibly exiled by a Diaspora now 70 years of age, and to its chorus of supporters worldwide, Gaza stands as a shining beacon of resistance and hope.  Yet, to romanticize Gaza is to lend excuse to Israel and no such apologia will be offered here.

50 miles from the destruction that is Gaza sits Tel Aviv… as so much a marker of grotesque Israeli indifference.

Indeed, not a day passes without a new tease from the “third hottest city” in the world and “party capitol of the middle east” whether it’s the pristine Mediterranean seashore, cosmopolitan restaurants, coffeehouses, and galleries or hip after hour dance and bar scene of the “City that Never Sleeps.”

Ranked as the 25th most important financial center in the world, Tel Aviv has the third-largest economy of any city in the Middle East and draws well over a million international visitors annually to its numerous upscale hotels. Home to Israel’s only stock exchange, it has some 70 skyscrapers as tall as an American football field and includes one with 80 floors topped by a spire 150 feet in height.

Described as a “miniature Los Angeles,” Tel Aviv has been called one of the 10 most technologically influential cities in the world. Serving as home to numerous venture-capital firms and scientific research institutes, it has hundreds of startup companies, textile plants and food manufacturers.

Israel’s second largest municipality, Tel Aviv never wants for “culture” and entertainment. Its population of almost half a million, with an unemployment rate of approximately 4% and income 20% above the national average, can choose from eighteen of Israel’s 35 major centers for the performing arts. The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center is home of the Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theatre. The Heichal HaTarbut is Tel Aviv’s largest theatre and home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

But an hour’s drive, yet worlds away, sits Gaza; home to two million Palestinians.

Once known, in polite social circles, as the earth’s largest open air prison, it long ago moved on from jail to Israeli administered death camp. Whether by embargo or bombs, it is simply impossible to watch the life and death of the coastal enclave without seeing Israel’s criminal plan unfold.

With the first blush of sunrise, the streets of Gaza City fill rapidly with those who’ve survived its ritual night of darkness illuminated solely by bursts of another Israeli bombing run.  For them, with each passing hour, the taste of daylight portends a constant race against what little time remains to shop at empty markets, rush for medicines long gone, or dangerously dated, search for missing bottled water, or attend to the needs of family too paralyzed or ill to join the chase.

While Tel Aviv remains a constant tease of new ventures, glorious dining and enrapt theater going, Gaza lives a repetition of bare survival… at least for the lucky.

For others, it’s an endless wail of mourn as infants are laid to rest with lungs once barely filled with the breath of life. Alongside them sleep the young who, traumatized by the unbearable pain of living, tragically surrendered to the calm of willing death. Next to them lie the “elderly” who grew old and ill far too soon while their generation is coming of age and power everywhere else.

By now, it seems some have grown inured, indeed, comfortable with the visible suffer that is uniquely Gaza. Unlike an explosive genocide that unfolds overnight, impossible for many to ignore, Gaza has long simmered out of sight…out of mind.

Entering its second decade of complete isolation and embargo, Gaza periodically, inevitably, explodes from mindless rage in which Israel seeks to “mow the lawn” for little more than the embattled enclave’s determined resilience.

In late 2008 through early 2009, Israel unleashed an all out military attack on the defenseless population of Gaza. When the toxic white phosphorous cleared, some 1,417, mostly civilians, lay dead along with 13 Israeli soldiers… 4 from friendly fire.

In 2014, Israel undertook a 50 day all-out assault on Gaza as it once again targeted the entire enclave with massive disproportionate force.

Although some debate continues over the exact results, according to most estimates up to 2,310 were killed of whom 1,492 were civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. Another 10,895 were wounded including 3,374 children of whom 1,000 were left permanently disabled. 

Among the infrastructure leveled were 220 factories, dairy farms with livestock and the orange groves of Beit Hanoun.  138 schools and 26 health facilities were damaged and thousands of homes totally destroyed or severely damaged. The lone power station in Gaza and its transmission lines was targeted and severely damaged.  Sewage pumps and a major sewage pipe serving 500,000 inhabitants were destroyed. 10 out of 26 hospitals were damaged or destroyed along with several TV stations. 203 mosques were damaged, with 73 destroyed … along with two of Gaza’s three Christian churches.

Israel lost 66 soldiers and 5 civilians, including one child. 469 Israeli soldiers and 261 civilians were injured.

Four years later, conditions have only worsened in Gaza. Where once the UN announced it would be uninhabitable by 2020, for all intents and purposes, that day has come and gone. Yet the determination of its people continues on.

Gaza Today

Today, years of Israeli attacks and siege, have left Gaza reeling from an absence of a basic infrastructure capable of meeting even the minimal needs of its two million people.

Whether its electricity, clean water, healthcare, or sewage treatment and waste management, Gaza is undergoing a very public humanitarian crisis now entering its second decade.

In Gaza, abject poverty is rampant. At 41.1 percent, the unemployment rate is the highest in the world. Its youth unemployment is 64 percent. Currently there are 50,000 young women and men with university and graduate degrees unable to find work in their chosen fields… or any other. That figure grows each year by some 17,000 to 18,000. While once the industrial and production sectors offered more than 120,000 job opportunities per year, now less than 7,000 such positions become available.

Although thousands of homes damaged or destroyed during Israel’s attack in 2014 are still in need of repair, the construction sector is practically idle and essentially out of business. It used to contribute to about 22 percent of local production and offered some 70,000 job opportunities.

Sixty per cent of Gaza lives under the poverty line. Over a fifth of it lives in “deep poverty.” According to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), “over 80 percent of the people in Gaza depend on humanitarian assistance.”

Another report by UNOCHA found that over 80 percent of its displaced families have borrowed money to get by in the past year, over 85 percent purchased most of their food on credit, and over 40 percent have decreased their consumption of food.

According to UNICEF a third of Gaza’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that can stunt development and affect overall health.

In other, less visible, ways, the residual impact of years of Israeli attacks and a decade long siege have produced a palpable and deleterious psychological impact on the people in Gaza.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack OCHA estimated that at least 373,000 children required psychosocial support. Today the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme has found that Gazans are experiencing increasingly higher levels of stress and distress. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be widespread with studies indicating that upwards of 54% of Gaza’s children, teens and adults either symptomatic, or suffering from its full-on effects.

According to WHO between 10 and 20 percent of the population suffer from severe mental illness. Because of isolation, community pressure or lack of treatment opportunities the figure is likely much higher. Once unheard of, suicide has now becoming a familiar occurrence in Gaza clearly suggesting that the coping skills of Palestinians are being exhausted. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reported at least 95 people tried to commit suicide in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2016, a nearly 40 percent increase from previous years.

Life in Darkness

For nearly a decade, Tel Aviv has held a yearly blackout in support of Earth Hour. Meanwhile, millions of nearby Palestinians struggle to eke out a life of bare existence with twenty-one hours of darkness each and every day.

Indeed, while Tel Aviv has converted an idle power station named “Gan HaHashmal” (Electricity Park) into a public park, recently OCHA published new data that shows electricity for Gaza has dropped to a total of just three hours daily and at times that vary from day to day. Lacking any advance notice as to when the electricity will go on, or off, the most rudimentary of life’s work is left largely to little more than blind wish leaving familial, educational, employment and health tasks either undone or incomplete.

According to the WHO, power cuts and fuel shortages have created constant crises for Gaza’s 14 public hospitals; threatening the closure of essential health services leaving thousands of people without access to life-saving medical care.

In Shifa hospital, tiny premature babies, some with multiple infections or congenital diseases, lie crammed in incubators fighting for life as lights sputter. With electricity virtually cut off, their life support is entirely powered by a generator with unpredictable current.

At any given time, power loss threatens the lives of hundreds of the new-born and adults in neonatal and intensive care units and some 658 patients requiring bi-weekly haemodialysis, including 23 children. Refrigeration systems for blood and vaccine storage are also at risk.

With adversity often the mother of invention, many in Gaza have struggled to keep pace with the needs of energy through use of poorly vented generator systems and candle light when available. According to Al Mezan, 29 people including 24 children have died since 2010 from fire or suffocation incidents related to attempts to overcome power outage. In one such tragedy, three siblings were killed after their home caught fire from the candles being used during the power outage.

Water Crises in Gaza

While Tel Aviv holds a yearly contest with an award of free parking to the family that has consumed the least amount of water, in Gaza it would be a competition without a challenge.

As a result of repeated attacks that have targeted Gaza’s water infrastructure… and a 10 year embargo on materials necessary for its repair, a crises in the making has now reached one of epic proportions unmatched anywhere else in the world.

For two million people, it is estimated that 3% of the water of Gaza remains fit for human consumption. In particular, it poses grave risks to its children.

As a result of untreated sewage dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, agricultural chemicals and unfiltered seawater, the rest of Gaza’s water is dangerous; 68% of it biologically contaminated during storage or transportation to Gaza’s households. Indeed, recent studies have shown Gaza’s water contains a large concentration of chloride… as well, nitrate rates two to eight times higher than the WHO recommends.

Recently the UN warned its underground water aquifer, upon which the territory is almost entirely dependent, will soon be completely contaminated; stripping Gaza of access to all its water.

With the shortage of clean water comes the well based fear of a deadly cholera epidemic… particularly in a community with an unusually young population.  This is all the more likely where signs of acute malnutrition and severe wasting are an increasing phenomenon among the young children in Gaza.

Healthcare Dying

Cancer rates are exploding in Gaza. A decade of Israeli wars has poisoned its soil and water, leaving depleted uranium in their wake. Daily spray of insecticides used by Israel to clear border areas, have exacerbated what is becoming a deadly environmental disaster to a community long under siege through every means possible.

According to the head of oncology at Shifa Hospital, today Gaza produces 90 cases of cancer per 100,000 people compared with 65 in 2010. These statistics are particularly ominous given the unusually young population of Gaza with 60% of its residents under 25. Due to a lack of early diagnosis and treatment options in Gaza, women with breast cancer are dying at rates two to three times those receiving first world care.

On top of its energy crises, Gaza suffers from a chronic shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and specialist physicians.

Treatment for an estimated 6,000 cerebral palsy patients is particularly problematic with many families unable to cover the cost of its specialized care. Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry notes:

The poor financial conditions of families (means they) cannot take responsibility for their children who suffer from cerebral palsy or provide them with medical care such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy.

According to the World Bank, 56 % of all Palestinians have no access to “reasonable and customary” healthcare. For those few, in Gaza, with the financial ability to obtain necessary health care, a lack of embargoed “sensitive” medications has created a “very very dangerous” situation with dozens of drugs unavailable… including antibiotic skin ointment and medicines to treat infants born with hypoglycemia and to counteract venomous snake bites. The UN reports that 34% of essential life preserving drugs at the Central Drug Store in Gaza are completely out of stock.

According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel  (PHRI), the public health system is not able to provide specialized treatments for complex medical problems in a variety of fields including neonatal care, cardiology, orthopedics and oncology. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of Gaza’s medical equipment is outdated and the average wait for spare parts is approximately six months. With few functioning mammography machines and the unavailability of radiation treatment, lumpectomies and plastic surgery, women with breast cancer routinely receive mastectomies as the only option.

The energy crisis has shed light on the huge rise in babies born with congenital, and other, disabilities who are waiting to leave Gaza for specialist treatment in Israel or elsewhere. For many, the wait for the much sought after exit permit can prove too long to survive.

Recently, three seriously ill babies died after permits to grant the children treatment in Israel were denied by the Palestinian Authority.  Earlier this year, a 5 year old girl with cerebral palsy died while waiting permission from Israel to leave for external treatment.  Not long thereafter, another 5 year old boy and 22 year old man died waiting permission to obtain treatment outside of Gaza.

Ka’enat Mustafa Ja’arour, 42, died of uterine cancer while awaiting a response to her permit request for treatment at a hospital in Jerusalem.  In May, 52-year-old Talat Mahmoud Sulaiman al-Shawi, a resident of Rafah, died after being denied entry to Israel to treat a kidney tumor. In August, Fatin Nader Ahmed, 26, died in hospital, while awaiting a travel permit for treatment for her brain cancer.

So far this year, 20 patients have died after their exit permits were either denied or not granted in time. Physicians report that another 10 who, in July, died of cancer but could have been saved if they had been transferred elsewhere for treatment.

A short distance from Gaza, Israeli patients receive the benefit of complex medical treatment from some of the finest and most specialized hospital and emergency care centers in the world.

The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has been selected as one of the world’s top 10 medical destinations specializes in adult and pediatric neurosurgery, orthopedic and surgical oncology, kidney-pancreas transplants, liver transplants, micro neurosurgery and trauma.

The Assuta Hospital, in Tel Aviv, is part of Israel’s largest private medical service and offers surgeries and diagnostic procedures in all fields of medicine; including cardiology, oncology, gynecology and urology.

The Wolfson Medical Center, on the southern border of Tel Aviv, addresses a wide range of health conditions from malaria to diabetes and heart conditions and specialty care in ENT, orthopedics, infectious diseases, pediatrics, OB/GYN, family medicine and psychiatry.

Meanwhile, back in Gaza, Yara Bakheet, age 4, and Aya Abu Mutalq, age 5, are laid to rest… denied access to basic medical treatment that would have saved their lives but for Israel’s delay in granting an exit visa for treatment.

Gaza Lives

In the light of this nightmare, some wonder what can drive hundreds, at times, thousands of young women and men to the edge of steel barricades and barbed wire that make their home a prison built of walls but not of silence.  Yet they struggle on as they toss stones at soldiers hundreds of yards away and ignite fires that pose no threat but speak loudly of freedom.

Ultimately, it’s the indefatigable spirit of these 140 square miles of self-determination that threatens the myth, indeed, puts the lie to the grand sale of an all powerful and democratic Israel.

What little mark Israel has built and, ultimately, will leave behind in the assembled home it seized has been erected not by the call of principled purpose but the drive to become but another mini-empire in a region long known for despots that have placed economic and political profit before people.

At day’s end, it’s a legacy that knows no home, or welcome, but that of brute force.

For empires large and small, real or sham, history is but a predictable march of gaudy pretense.  Gilded shacks built of shallow stilts and tattered shrines, theirs is homage to little more than empty tease. It’s who and what they are… it’s what they do… at least until they crash. And sooner or later they all crash.

Be assured, Israel will not be the exception.

Yes, empires come and go like so much a cheap, but deadly, chase for a call in eternity that welcomes no such guest.  For the learned, it’s a lesson of history acquired not by 140 characters but by keen informed observation. For far too many, empty sound bites have, today, become a defining vision without a view.

Yet, there are crossroads in history where an image, a single glance, depicts more powerfully than the finest of poetic verse, a statement of principle, determination and sacrifice which inspires the winds of time for evermore.

Somewhere, right now Faris Odeh, Rachel Corrie and Ibrahim Abu Thuraya smile down upon us as history’s hope and eternity’s message.

 أردوغان يوجه دعوة للروس والسوريين لتحرير ادلب .. والعاصفة ستلبي الدعوة

أردوغان يوجه دعوة للروس والسوريين لتحرير ادلب.. والعاصفة ستلبي الدعوة!!

بقلم نارام سرجون

رغم كل مايقال عن عبقرية اردوغان السياسية التي تبهر معجبيه وأصحابه والتي دوما تبقى محل تباهيهم بهذا اللاعب السياسي المحترف الذي يقفز بين المطبات السياسية ويهبط بالمظلات كلما احترقت أجنحته ..

الا أن السنوات التي ناور فيها في الأحداث السورية والنتائج التي وصل اليها تدل على أن أدق وصف يلخصه أن تاريخه هو تاريخ من الوقوع بالفخاخ التي نصبها لغيره .. فهو الشخص الذي انقاد الى لعبة نصب جميع الفخاخ السياسية ووقع فيها جميعا ولايكاد يخرج من فخ الا ويقع في الذي يليه .. وهو في طريقه الى الفخ الأكبر الأخير الذي ينتظره في تركيا نفسها .. وطبعا ينظر المتابعون لهذا الخروج من الفخاخ على أنه عبقرية سياسية وشجاعة في المناورة .. رغم أن ماحصده هو الهواء وماسينبت في أرضه هو الموت والحروب التي نثر بذورها في الشرق الذي تدور فيه الرياح العاتية والتي عادت بالبذور الى تركيا .. وستطلع أشجار الشرور فيها مهما طال الزمن ..

ان اردوغان الذي نصب الفخاخ ونشرها بعد أن موّهها بالوان العدالة الاسلامية والخلافة في طول الشرق الأوسط وعرضه وفي كل العالم الاسلامي وجد بنفسه أن من ينصب الفخاخ سيقع فيها لأن الجميع يتقن نصب الفخاخ أيضا .. فهو صاحب فخ دافوس الشهير ..

Image result for ‫اردوغان دافوس الشهير‬‎

وصاحب فخ مرمرة .. الذي اصطاد فيهما الجمهور العربي والاسلامي ووضعه في شبكة حزب العدالة والتنمية ..

وبعدها نشر فخاخ العدالة والتنمية في كل الساحات العربية التي أطبقت على الحياة السياسية من وحي التجربة الاردوغانية التي كانت تروج للقفزة الاقتصادية والمعجزة التركية لأردوغان بسذاجة دون أن تبحث في أعماق القفزة التركية والأصابع التي تلعب في البورصةوالاقتصادالتركيين بل والحركة الاسلامية التركية كلها ..

دخل أردوغان الفخ السوري الذي كان قد أعده بنفسه مع عصابات الغرب والعرب والصهاينة .. ولكن الفخ وقعت فيه تركيا أيضا فهي لم تعد قادرة على الخروج منه دون خسائر ولا على المتابعة فيه لتعقيداته حيث أنه لم يعمل كما توقع ناصبو الفخاخ .. فحاول التملص من الفخ بصناعة فخ داعش الذي شارك في نصبه بين سورية والعراق عله يساعد في اسقاط سورية واكمال مالم يتمكن فخ الثورة السورية من فعله بالسوريين .. فاذا بالفخ الداعشي يوقع اردوغان في فخ لم يكن يراه حيث عثرت قدماه فيه فجأة ..

انه الفخ الروسي الذي نصب له في سورية وكاد يشعل تركيا بالحرب مع روسيا .. الفخ الروسي ابتلع الفخ الداعشي وفككه ..

وما ان انهار الفخ الداعشي حتى وجد أردوغان أنه أمام الفخ الكردي .. الذي كان نتيجة حتمية لانهيار فخ داعش ونتيجة طبيعية لقدوم الروس والامريكان الى المنطقة التي كان اردوغان ينصب فخاخه فيها لاصطياد الجميع .. من العرب والاكراد والنفط وخطوط الطاقة والغاز .. وكي يتملص من الفخ الكردي نصب اردوغان فخ ادلب التي يعتبرها قاتلة الفخ الكردي والصخرة الكبيرة التي يستعملها مثل الدرع المتين في وجه الكرد ..

منذ أن أطلق اردوغان تصريحاته في تونس سمعت الكثير من التفسيرات .. وبعضها كان متفاجئا .. ولكن كل من تعامل مع اردوغان ذي اللسان الزئبقي لم يفاجأ بسلوك وكلام اردوغان .. فلسانه هو عبارة عن ترمومتر حسب حرارة الطقس السياسي .. وقيل انه كان غاضبا لأن الروس مصممون على اشراك الأكراد في العملية السياسية .. وبأن غضب من تلميحات روسية بخصوص ادلب ..

ولكن البعض رأى في فخ اردوغان الجديد رسالة للاسرائيليين والأمريكان لمساعدته في الملف الكردي الذي يقلقه .. فهو الذين هددهم منذ ايام انه سيصعد ويقود العالم الاسلامي من أجل القدس .. الا انه اليوم يقول لهم انه يقدر على مساعدتهم في ابعاد التركيز السياسي عن القدس باعادة التراشق السياسي والقلق والرهانات والجهد السياسي والجدل العالمي في الشأن السوري حيث سينسى المسلمون والعرب والسياسيون القدس بسرعة وهم يستدرجون من جديد الى الشأن السوري وجدلياته .. وكلنا نعلم ان اردوغان هدد كثيرا اميريكا واسرائيل بسبب القدس مع أننا نعلم أنه مجرد كذاب ولايريد من موضوع القدس الا الاستعراضية الفارغة وامتصاص فورة الشارع وهذا ماأثبتته الايام بل انه يبيعه اليوم ويقايضه بالهم الكردي .. فهذا الرجل معروف جدا بالوعود المقدسية والفلسطنينة .. ومن لايذكر دعونا نعود بالذاكرة الى أخر حرب شنتها اسرائيل على غزة حيث كان يزبد ويرعد ويملأ الدنيا تصريحات من نار بأنه لن يقبل بوقف الحرب الا بشرط رفع الحصار عن غزة فيما وفود حماس تكيل له المديح والثناء وتوزيع صوره في غزة .. وتوقفت الحرب كما نذكر بأن تعهد الضامنون لوقف اطلاق النار – ومن بينهم السبع اردوغان – بأن الحصار عن غزة سيتم رفعه بعد شهر من توقف الحرب على غزة .. واليوم كلنا نعلم أن ذلك كان فخا تركيا للغزاويين ولكل من كان ينتظر البطل العثماني وهو يفرض على اسرائيل شروطه بفك الحصار .. لأن اسرائيل فعلت ماتريد ولم ترفع الحصار فيما نسي الناس الضمانة التركية التي قالت بخبث العارف بمسير الامور ان الحصار سيرفع بعد شهر .. فنسي الناس الاتفاق خلال شهر .. وبقي الحصار كما كان .. حتى الآن .. وماحدث ان الناس والصحافة والمواقع الاسلامية احتفلت بنهاية الحرب وبشروط تركيا في انهاء الحصار وافتتاح المطار والميناء .. ثم نسيت ان تذكر اردوغان بضماناته لأنه في الحقيقة كان يدرك انها وعود لخديعة الناس ..

واليوم يتأرجح سبب تغير موقف اردوغان فجأة من الشأن السوري بعد انفراجات عديدة .. البعض يرى أنه لم يبق له مجال للمناورة بعد أن راوغ في كل المؤتمرات والتفاهمات وعصر كل مهاراته في تلافي محاصرة الروس له .. لأن الروس نفذ صبرهم من مراوغة اردوغان في موضوع ادلب اذ يريد منهم اردوغان خوض نزاع مع الاكراد بسرعة وحل الموضوع الكردي قبل تسليم ادلب وفق اتفاقات وضمانات مباحثات استانة رغم أن الاتفاق واضح وهو السير في العملية السياسية مع اعادة الانتشار للمسلحين الى داخل تركيا او بتفاهمات المصالحة برعاية تركيا .. فوجه الروس له رسالة قوية بأن جبهة النصرة وهي القوة الرئيسية في ادلب سيتم الحاقها بمصير داعش قبل الحل الكردي وهم يعلمون ان قصم ظهر النصرة هو نهاية التمرد كله في ادلب وغيرها .. لأن مايخشى منه السوريون وحلفاؤهم أن مماطلة اردوغان واشتراطه التعامل مع الملف الكردي أولا سيأخذ وقتا قد ينتهزه اردوغان لتغييرات كبيرة ديموغرافية وعسكرية في ادلب بحيث يصبح تقادم الأمور سببا في تمييع الاتفاق بشأن ادلب .. وهنا سارع اردوغان للرد لابتزاز الروس من جديد ..

فيما يرى البعض أن تصريحات لافروف بشأن ادلب وجبهة النصرة ربما تمت بالاتفاق مع الأتراك باعطاء العذر لهم لاطلاق عملية ادلب حيث يمثل اردوغان دور الرافض وغير الراضي عنها وانه مرغم عليها ومضطر – رغم محاولاته وغضبه – فيترك المعارضين في المحرقة التي تحضر لهم في ادلب حيث تتزامن تصريحات اردوغان مع تصريحات لافروف بأن ساعة الصفر قد دقت .. ولكن هذا التحليل ضعيف غالبا ..

الا أن الرأي الأكبر يميل لتفسير أن ماحدث هو أن اردوغان المصاب بجنون العظمة في الحقيقة دفع الى الفخ الروسي الذي وقع فيه من حيث لايدري بعد أن لاحظ الروس مناوراته .. لأن غاية لافروف من استفزاز اردوغان بدعوة الاكراد الى سوتشي والتنويه الى تحريك السلاح نحو النصرة هي دفع اردوغان الى فخ المواقف والتصريحات الغاضبة التركية التي تتنصل بشكل غير مباشر من تفاهمات استانة مع الروس .. وهذا سيعطي الروس والسوريين العذر للتنصل من الاتفاق الذي يريده اردوغان الذي يصر بان يتم التوجه لحل الاشكال الكردي بالتزامن او قبل موضوع تسليم ادلب .. وهذا يعني أن الروس والسوريين بعد تصريحات اردوغان صاروا في حل من التفاهم معه في الموضوعات التي بحثت معه مرحليا على الأقل او في بعض الاتفاقات بعد أن نضجت عملية تحرير ادلب في غرف العمليات السورية والروسية المشتركة التي تم اطلاع الرئيسين بوتين والاسد عليها في مطار حميميم حيث كانت زيارة بوتين لاعطاء اشارة البدء بانهاء آخر ملف عسكري مع تركيا اذا تلكأت في تنفيذ الاتفاقات بعد أن ارتاح الروس والسوريون من خطر داعش الذي يشاغل القوات التي كانت تتوجه شمالا .. وصارت ادلب في عين العاصفة الروسية ..

والتاريخ يقول بأن اولئك الذين يعانون من جنون العظمة يتم استفزازهم بسهولة واصطيادهم في فخاخ الفعل ورد الفعل .. كما حدث مع هتلر ومع الرئيس الراحل صدام حسين الذي نفخه العرب بوصفه حارس البوابة الشرقية والذي أعطي الكيماويلاستعماله في حراسة البوابة الشرقية فوقع في فخ الكيماوي وحوكم عليه .. وترك يدخل فخ الكويت فدخل منه الاميريكون الى كل العراق ..

وبكلمة أخرى ان اردوغان وجه – عن غير قصد – دعوة للطائرات الروسية وللجيش السوري لاجتياح ادلب المحتلة وتحريرها .. وهذا يعني ان اردوغان ابتلع الطعم عندما أرغم على التخلي عن داعش .. وانتظر ان يقدم له رأس الأكراد على طبق من فضة حيث أن داعش كانت تطعن الجيش السوري في الظهر وتشاغله عن معارك الشمال والجنوب .. واليوم بعد سحق داعش لايوجد مايمنع من اتمام المهمة في الشمال ضد النصرة بعد أن تم تجريد اردوغان من ورقة داعش التي تساند النصرة .. الجيش السوري سيوجه الآن كل طاقته دون قلق للعصف بالنصرة في ادلب في معركة ستكون سهلة جدا بالقياس الى أضخم المعارك التي خاضها في حلب وعلى ضفاف الفرات ..

ان تفاؤلنا بقرب انهاء ملف ادلب وانجاز انتصارات كبيرة عام 2018 يسير بسرعة نحو التحقق ليتم الالتفات بسرعة لانهاء الوجود الاميريكي في المنطقة الشرقية .. سواء تم ذلك برضى اردوغان أو بغير رضاه .. واردوغان انسحب من حلب ومن الجزيرة السورية مرغما .. وهو الآن يستعد للانسحاب من ادلب ورجله فوق رقبته .. وسيتلفت حوله فجأة بعد سبع سنوات من مغامرته ليجد أنه عاد الى نقطة الصفر .. وكأنك ياابو زيد ماغزيت .. حيث يجب ان يقال هذا التعبير (لأبو بلال) ..

لكن ابو زيد العثماني لايعرف ان ادلب ليست هي النهاية لأن الأحداث ستتدحرج بعد ذلك أكثر مما كان يتوقعه مهما حاول منعها .. فليس الخروج من الفخ هو نهاية اللعبة في السياسة .. بل مابعد الفخ هو بداية اللعبة الجديدة .. والرجل يداه أوكتا وفوه نفخ .. والعاصفة قادمة وستلبي الدعوة لمن ينفخ في النار ..

عدد المشاهدات:1790( الجمعة 14:31:27 2017/12/29 SyriaNow)

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How Corporate Media Continue To Justify «Israel’s» Criminal Excesses

Cast Lead aggression on Gaza

Local Editor

28-12-2017 | 13:05

Palestine, now approaching its 70th anniversary of usurpation by the apartheid “Israeli” entity, has long been recognized as a laboratory for fine-tuning punitive “Israeli” policies and techniques.

According to a documentation done by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the “ongoing colonization of Palestine and the accompanying atrocities” have enabled the entity to develop “great expertise in repression”, while “exporting these tools and methods on an industrial scale has become crucial to ‘Israeli’ economic political power”.

But Palestine has served as another kind of laboratory, one in which certain Western media figures and other upstanding characters work to perfect their talent for exonerating – and even encouraging – “Israeli” atrocities.

Since 27 December marks the ninth anniversary of the launch of the “Israeli” entity’s Operation Cast Lead – a 22-day affair that dispensed with some 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A New York Time’s analysis by Thomas Friedman is a clear evidence of how corporate media tried to legitimize “Israeli” violence.

As Friedman saw it at the time, Cast Lead was simply “the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East.

Of course, seeing as “Israel” was, as usual, doing most of the “blowing up” – and that Palestinian civilians perished at a rate of approximately 400: 1 vis-a-vis their “Israeli” counterparts during Cast Lead.

Friedman went on to advocate for war crimes by recalling the entity’s alleged “education of Hezbollah” in its 2006 war on Lebanon and prescribing a similar educational approach to Hamas in Gaza.

In 2006, Friedman wrote, the “Israeli” entity’s strategy had been “to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large”, thereby “exact[ing] enough pain on [Lebanon’s] civilians… to restrain Hezbollah in the future” – an arrangement he said “was not pretty, but it was logical”.

Never mind those pesky international laws against collective punishment.

Other experts in the field of murderous logic include Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who in 2006 proposed his own eloquent “continuum of civilianality” to effectively pardon the “Israeli” entity for regularly slaughtering civilians. He explained that members of “Hezbollah and Hamas … are difficult to distinguish from those civilians… Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do.”

And while Dershowitz and other champions of indiscriminate (but oh-so-civilized) bloodshed complain perennially of a perceived anti-“Israel” bias in the media, the truth of the matter is that media defenses of the entity have become so institutionalized that the situation is almost boring to discuss.

Take Bret Stephens’s Wall Street Journal piece “The Truth About Gaza”, for example, in which he laments the entity’s formal “disengagement” from the Strip in 2005 and manages to define Operation Cast Lead as a “limited action”.

One wonders what unlimited action might entail.

A primary media technique for justifying the entity’s criminal excesses, of course, is to cast each act of “Israeli” brutality as a legitimate response to some or other Palestinian transgression – a right of retaliation that is categorically denied to Palestinians via willful manipulation of cause-and-effect relationships and other chronological sleights of hand.

At this point, it would seem that seven decades of ethnic cleansing, land theft and massacres by the “Israeli” entity might exempt the Palestinians from their permanent role of aggressors.

And yet the inversion of reality persists, aided by a mainstream media that when it can’t hide or justify the entity’s grave misdeeds simply dilutes them.

As the entity continues its periodic onslaughts on the Palestinian coastal enclave, the media rarely misses a beat.

In the face of such shameless journalistic complicity, meanwhile, there are mercifully still humans working to preserve their own humanity – and ours.

And as Friedman’s “longest-running play in the modern Middle East” continues to generate standing ovations for “Israeli”-induced carnage, here’s hoping the curtain will fall – and break the whole theatre in the process.

Source: MEE, Edited by website team


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