Listening to Netanyahu’s defenders in the media (and that is pretty much all you get as objective reporters are yanked off the air), I’m struck by how Americans are indoctrinated into ignoring the most significant fact about Gaza.
It is under Israeli occupation (now called blockade) and has been since 1967.
That is the cause of the “war.” Yes, Israel has the “right” to defend itself but Palestinians have the “right” to resist occupation. Those conflicting rights are leading to perdition and, in my opinion, the loss of the Israel many of us have loved and identified with our entire lives.
The oft-proclaimed Gaza withdrawal was a fraud. Although Israel pulled the settlers out, it has maintained a blockade of Gaza ever since, blocking its air, sea, and land borders, locking its people in a giant prison.
At the time Ariel Sharon withdrew the settlers, when the Palestinian Authority was still in charge of Gaza, he refused to coordinate Israel’s withdrawal with Mahmoud Abbas who, despite his pleas, was not even told when the pullout would take place. Abbas wanted to ensure that the militants (who he effectively subdued in the West Bank) would not seize control. Sharon refused and the militants took over.
Then there were the democratic elections of 2006. The United States said it would abide by the results of the election but, once the results came in and Hamas won (“free and fair” according to US election monitors), the United States joined Israel to do everything in its power to overturn the results.
Ultimately Gaza separated from the West Bank and Israel was free to enter Gaza at will, killing or imprisoning whoever it considered a threat, and, in the process, hundreds who weren’t. Militants launched rockets at Israel and Israel responded, disproportionately as always. As now.
As this New York Times piece from earlier this week demonstrates, this latest onslaught was produced by Netanyahu’s determination to destroy the Palestinian unity agreement, a goal he convinced the U.S. and Europe to embrace. The reason Netanyahu needed to destroy Palestinian unity was his fear that Hamas would allow President Abbas to negotiate with Israel on behalf of all Palestinians, leading to a peace agreement (i.e, the end of the occupation.)
JJ Goldberg, editor of the Jewish Forward reports here how Netanyahu, knowing that the kidnapped Israeli teenagers were dead from day 1, maintained the fiction they were alive for 18 days in order to ignite the atmosphere for war. He even lied to the boys’ parents.
Of course, this is the Netanyahu who presided at demonstrations in Israel in 1995 at which Yitzhak Rabin was depicted as a Nazi and his death was demanded. Rabin’s widow, Leah, believed Netanyahu incited her husband’s assassination. You may recall that while Mrs. Rabin welcomed Yasir Arafat into her home after her husband’s murder, she banned Netanyahu.
Is this irrelevant now? No, not when the current situation directly stems from the murder of the one Israeli leader determined to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s rise is the direct result of Rabin’s murder.
Bottom line: this war is the result of the occupation in general and specifically the suppression of the people of Gaza. It is a result of Netanyahu’s deceptions and his determination to never give up a single inch of land. Although firing rockets at Israeli civilians is intolerable, it is easy to understand why the militants do it. They are imprisoned. And they are desperate. (Imagine how Jews would feel if little Israeli boys were blown up on the beach in broad daylight and even Barack Obama could not muster a word of sympathy, lest he offend a lobby).
My fellow Jews who support this war are entitled to. But they should not kid themselves. They are supporting Netanyahu for one reason alone: ethnic solidarity. Just like every other nation on earth that cheered wars sold to them by liars. Fine. But that is all it is. The cause of the war is the occupation and Israel’s adamant refusal to end it. How long will we be duped?
My solution: it was stated by Avraham Shapiro, the former head of the Shin Beth, in the film GATEKEEPERS. He said “talk to them. Talk to them all.” But, of course, Shapiro, like most of Israel’s intelligence community, is naive. Only war works. This war will really show ‘em.