… a ballot paper in one hand: #Gaza 2012

There seems to be nothing that exposes the impotence of the much vaunted international community more starkly than the meek tolerance of Israeli violence in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. News outlets like the BBC are now reporting both that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are leafleting Gazans warning of an imminent invasion of ground forces, and, that all air attacks will end later today (technically these aren’t mutually exclusive claims). Either way, the recent Operation Pillar of Cloud has already seen the deaths of 110 Palestinians and 3 Israeli’s, following IDF incursions into Gaza at the start of November.

Conventionally, US (and many other) media begin their narrative on the 8th November with attacks on the IDF troops who were already in Gaza by the 8th November and much subsequent reporting has attempted to balance a long established pattern of limited Israeli casualties and hugely disproportionate Palestinian casualties (death rates which mirror their relative military capabilities). The apparent strategic clarity in globally communicating a pro-Israeli narrative reflects the strength of the pro-Israeli lobby in the US but is repeatedly held up as evidence of ‘western’ hypocrisy around the rest of the world. This peculiarity even persists on Irish radio – Newstalk FM repeatedly reported on Monday that Israeli deaths were due ‘to Hamas rockets’ whilst Gazans died ‘during violence’, inserting absolute clarity over responsibility for Israeli dead and a subtle question mark over who ultimately is responsible for the deaths of Palestinians. A minor point but one which seems to have been filtered by editorial policy.

 And it is not like Israeli voices are particularly nuanced in their pronouncements, such as this from Gilad Sharon (son of Ariel) in last Sunday’s Jerusalem Post:

There is no justification for the State of Gaza being able to shoot at our towns with impunity. We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.

I am not sure how Sharon’s views are received by Israeli public opinion, but there has (worryingly) been relatively little notice taken of the comments in the west. Only a few weeks ago, it was reported that between 2007 and 2010 there were Israeli-imposed limits on food imported into Gaza based on calorie count, allowing Hamas to claim that it was:

…evidence that the Gaza blockade was planned and the target was not Hamas or the government, as the occupation always claimed. This blockade targeted all human beings …

These are the same Gazan Palestinians that democratically elected Hamas in 2006, only to have sanctions imposed (with the approval of the Quartet). Gaza was then inserted into what is apparently referred to in Israeli policy as ‘cutting the grass’, cyclical military operations that Roger Cohen suggests function with:

… policies that radicalize the situation, erode middle ground, demonstrate the impossibility of agreement, and so facilitate continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the expansion of settlements there and the steady eclipse of the idea of a two-state peace.

And the evidence for this? A straightforward table (see below) from @ramielashy showing the synchronicity of Israeli military campaigns and Israeli elections, prompting Gershom Gorenberg to reverse von Clauswitzpolicy becomes an extension of war.


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  • RepublicanStones

    Ok, yet again one is forced to wade through quite a bit of mendacious nonsense (from one commenter in particular). Now with regard to the figures this commenter cites, specifically…

    In 1920 when the British took control of the territory from the Ottoman Turks there were less than 10,000 Muslim Arabs in it. In 1914, the population was 40,000 Jews, 10,900 Christian Arabs, and a mere 8,000 Muslim Arabs (Jerusalem: Illustrated History Atlas by Martin Gilbert). There were, of course, no Palestinians since that is a word that was invented by the British.

    When one looks at the source he uses, the Martin Gilbert book (Gilbert i will elucidate on further in a minute) it is a book concerned with Jerusalem, its population and architecture etc. But this commenter clearly aims to portray the population statistics for Jerusalem as being representative of the whole of Palestine at the time. Page 57 of Gilbert’s book is where this commenter gets his figures above, but it is population figures for Jerusalem alone, not the territory that the entirety of the territory thatthe British took control of. Which actually included quite a bit more than just Jerusalem. But that doesn’t work for our commenter’s crude attempt at manipulation.
    Furthermore, Gilbert’s book has a tendency to cite the source of population figures only on some of his figures. For instance on page 37 he gives a source for his population figures for Jerusalem) as being POPULATION ESTIMATE , I845
    Yet on the page this commenter cites from is one where Gilbert abstains from providing a source for his figures.

    Now after being caught out on this little attempt by Neil, he then claims he wasn’t referring to the entire area (yet his original claim does not read that way).
    With regard to Gilbert, another name you should all be made aware of is a woman by the name of Joan Peters. Peters penned a fraudulent work back in the 1980’s which attempted to do what our commenter is attempting to do above. That is, claim that Palestine was kinda empty and that most Palestinian Arabs were only recent migrants to the area. The book she penned From Time Immemorial and the surrounding controversy can be read here
    and for more invocation of – here

    Why you may ask am i mentioning Gilbert and Peters in the same breath? Well, because even many years after Peters work has been roundly debunked as fraudulent crap, Gilbert used her debunked nonsense in his book, In the House Of Ishmael.

    When Gilbert discusses what was happening in Palestine during the British mandate, he quotes Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine to back up his assertion that more Arabs than Jews entered Palestine as immigrants in the 1930s. But when that book was published in 1984, critics swiftly demonstrated that its use of archives and statistics was seriously flawed and substantially misleading. Yehoshua Porath, professor of Middle East History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, denounced the book as “sheer forgery”.


  • RepublicanStones

    Some folks might suspect it is a profoundly anti-Zionist agenda for folks to have expediently invented a nation for the express purpose of attempting to deny Jews ownership of their homeland

    World Jewry no more owned Palestine than Anglo Saxon’s owned provinces of Germany. Ignoring the fact that Palestine was a class A mandate (which meant its people were adjudged to be most ready for full independence) this attempt to use a mix of ancient history and large myth to deny a native people the right to live on their own land is obscene. I have gone over this many times on Slugger with the above commenter and he thinks it merely suffices to have his crap debunked and then wait a while and hope nobody will notice when he decides to spew it up again. See comments here – http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/09/03/israel-and-unionism-2/comment-page-1/#comments

    His continued attempt to claim Palestinians as a man-made nation, when in fact ALL NATIONS ARE MAN-MADE CONSTRUCTS is bizarre. He rhymes off some quotes as if it will legitimize the illegitimate. He uses the European concept of the modern nation state as a prism through which to view and judge a non-European people unworthy of living on their own land. However if we are to use his logic, it actually backfires. taking the elements of what we consider to be a nation, Palestinians actually qualify far better than world Jewry does. They all come from one place on the globe, share a language, customs, dance food etc. World Jewry encompasses many different ethnicities (black africans to blue eyed blond haired Americans) and share very little in common aside from anything to do with their religion.

    But this is irrelevant, because it doesn’t matter what those who we now call the Palestinians referred to themselves as in the past. Fact is, they were there, they were born, raised, loved, lived, farmed an died on that land. If we are led to believe that the worlds Jews have a deep yearning for a land that most of them have no connection to whatsoever except for a holy book – tell me, what kind of connection to the land do a people who are actually from it, lived on it and whose loved ones are buried in it, have?
    Routinely we hear from the likes of this commenter that there are plenty of other Arab states the Palestinians could go live in. the obscenity of such a statement is brought into stark relief when one imagines an Afrikaner saying it about the indigenous blacks of south Africa and its surrounding states. Lets ignore the fact that many Palestinians who are now Christian and Muslim would be descended from Jews who converted to those religions, religion is not entitlement to land, be it Jewish or Muslim. it boils down to an ideology usurping a native people in their own land. You can bring in ancient myth and obscene imperial justifications (Balfour document) but for any decent human being, its about morals. What Zionism has inflicted (and continues to inflict) upon the Palestinians is simply immoral. Period.
    David Ben-Gurion himself admitted that Zionism was the aggressor…and so it remains.

  • galloglaigh

    Very good RS.

    So if we take Alias’ logic, the white man, or indeed the black man in the USA, can’t be American, because their ancestors came from Europe and Africa.

    You couldn’t make it up!

  • Greenflag

    galloglaigh ,

    ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

    The lesson of history is they can and they do .And if they win the ‘lie ‘becomes dogma /creed /truth . Just look around at these ‘creationist ‘ gobshites ffs ?

    ‘So if we take Alias’ logic, the white man, or indeed the black man in the USA, can’t be American, because their ancestors came from Europe and Africa.’

    By the same token I’m sure Alias would also ‘logic’ that the native indigenous Indians of North and South America also fail to qualify as Americans as their ancestors were Asians who crossed the landbridge to Alaska from Siberia some 18,000 years or so ago during the last Ice Age .

    Also by the same logic Europeans and Americans and Asians can all claim to be Africans as that is were what we guardedly refer to as ‘Homo Sapiens ‘came from circa 150,000 years ago as per the most recent research .

    Somewhere in North East Africa a tiny band of humans as few as 2,000 it’s estimated – managed to survive that last attempt by the Sky God to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth via the mechanism known to geologists as the Toba Super Volcano explosion some 75,000 years ago .


    I wonder if any of the survivors back then considered themselves to be Palestinians or Israelis or perhaps just ‘lucky’?

    At the risk of drawing down bricks on my head those Gazans are lucky . Given the number of Israeli air attacks on basically defenseless people I’d have thought the number of dead would have now been over 1,000 . Perhaps they’re no longer using those flesh dissolving phosphorous bombs that they used a few years ago ?

    Well done the new Egyptian elected President . I’m sure the poor man is terrified of losing all that USA military aid .

  • galloglaigh

    I found this New York Times (of all newspapers) article interesting. As Bob Dylan (a Zionist) wrote, ‘The times they are a changing’…

  • pauluk

    Just for the record, Human Rights Watch this week published a scathing report condemning Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population, saying they were war crimes and assigning Hamas blame for civilian deaths both in Israel and Gaza during last month’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

    “Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”

    Some highlights:
    – Palestinian armed groups in Gaza violated the laws of war
    – Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, civilians and civilian structures may not be subject to deliberate attacks or attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and military targets. Anyone who commits serious laws-of-war violations intentionally or recklessly is responsible for war crimes.
    – research in Gaza found that armed groups repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire.
    – The Palestinian armed groups that are known to have launched rockets at Israel – Hamas’ Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s Saraya al-Quds Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committee’s Nasser Salahaddin Brigades – at times said that their attacks targeted civilians or they sought to justify the attacks by calling them reprisals for Israeli attacks that killed civilians in Gaza.
    – The Nasser Salahaddin Brigades stated on November 10 that it had launched four rockets at Israeli communities close to Gaza as a “revenge invoice” for Israeli shelling that had killed four Palestinian civilians.
    – The laws of war prohibit reprisal attacks against civilians, regardless of unlawful attacks by the other side, Human Rights Watch said. Statements by armed groups that they deliberately targeted an Israeli city or Israeli civilians are demonstrating their intent to commit war crimes.
    – Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, is obligated to uphold the laws of war and should appropriately punish those responsible for serious violations, Human Rights Watch said.
    – Iranian media said that Iran had not supplied rockets but had provided technical information to Palestinian armed groups that enabled them to build their own Fajr 5 rockets. Supplying weaponry to a party to a conflict knowing that it is likely to be used to commit war crimes constitutes the aiding and abetting of war crimes, as demonstrated in the April conviction of former Liberian president Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
    – Launching from Residential Neighborhoods. Human Rights Watch interviewed four witnesses to rocket launches from densely populated areas inside Gaza, and heard second-hand reports about many more. Unlike during previous fighting, armed groups seem to have fired many rockets from underground tunnels, opening a hatch to launch the munition.
    – One rocket was launched on November 20 at around 1:30 p.m. just off Wehda Street in Gaza City, about 100 meters from the Shawa and Housari Building, where various Palestinian and international media have offices. “I saw it [the rocket] go up and heard it, and then smoke was in the office,” a witness said.
    – One man said he saw a rocket launched from the yard of a house near the Deira Hotel in central Gaza City, though he could not recall the date.
    – International and Palestinian journalists traveling around Gaza during the fighting told Human Rights Watch that they did not see any Palestinian militants moving in the open, suggesting that Hamas has developed a network of tunnels for personnel and perhaps rockets.
    – Under the laws of war, parties to an armed conflict are required to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks and not to place military targets in or near densely populated areas. Human Rights Watch has not been able to identify any instances in November in which a Palestinian armed group warned civilians to evacuate an area before a rocket launch.
    – The rockets launched by Palestinian groups cannot be aimed precisely enough to target military objectives in or near civilian areas, Human Rights Watch said. Under the laws of war, such weapons are therefore indiscriminate when used against targets in population centers. The absence of Israeli military forces in the areas where rockets hit, as well as statements by leaders of Palestinian armed groups that population centers were being targeted, indicate that the armed groups deliberately attacked Israeli civilians and civilian objects.
    – Human Rights Watch has repeatedly condemned indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, as well as Hamas’ failure to hold anyone accountable for those attacks. Human Rights Watch reiterated those condemnations.

    Read the full report, including detailed accounts of numerous indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians, here.

  • galloglaigh


    The only problem with any war in Gaza, is that while rockets are primitive, they are the only option available to Hams. Israel is armed with the latest technology. For war to be ‘fair’ in the region, both sides need similar technology. If that were the case, I doubt Israel would think twice about using illegal munitions against women and children.

    Both Israel and Hams are guilty of war crimes, and that needs to be recognised in the international courts. A precedent of constructive action might make both sides think twice about openly committing war crimes.