C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A few thoughts on Israel and Palestine

I've been wanting to write something about this earlier, but I'm a little lost as to what to say. Again, Israel are committing atrocities against the Palestinians, and again, their apologists use every bit of sophistry at their disposal to justify it.

Let us be clear - it is Israel that broke the truce. On November 4, 2008, Israel entered Gaze and killed 6 members of Hamas.

Yes, Israel has a right to self-defence. The concept of 'self-defence' has clearly been stretched by Israel to the point of meaningless. Context is important. For an occupied people, battling blockade, ethnic cleansing, and colonial expansion to resist by way of rocket fire is not the same as say, Iran attacking Israel. The only way to make Israel look legitimate in this conflict is to airbrush away its history of brutality.

Israel may very well fail, both militarily and politically. Hamas rockets are still firing, and Israel has largely failed to draw Hamas into open areas of conflict thus far. Should the IDF enter built-up urban zones, both they and the Palestinians will likely suffer massive casualties.

Should Israel fail in its latest military adventure, it is likely that the rightists will take over at the next election. In addition, Hamas will probably see a rise in domestic support, and Iran may well vote in the conservatives. The only possible political victory that may emerge from this conflict is if the people of Egypt use it as a catalyst to oust the US-proxy neoliberal dictatorship in Egypt.

Israel have clearly been targeting civilians and civilian areas, as they did in Lebanon in 2006. Naturally, IDF spokespeople justify the carnage by alleging that every dead civilian is a terrorist.

Israel could have negotiated with Hamas, and have done so before. The alleged failure of Hamas to 'recognise' the state of Israel is purely symbolic. There is no recognition of Palestinian statehood by the Israeli government, so any lack of reciprocal recognition by Hamas is a moot point.

When I have debated these issues on rightist sites, I have very quickly been accused of 'anti-Semitism', as if Arabs were not also Semites. This smear is fairly common on the right. The recent Melbourne demonstration can be viewed on You Tube, for instance. I saw no evidence of anti-Semitism at this demo, yet the right-wing blog Little Green Footballs pieced together a slideshow of alleged anti-Semitism at the event.

Obviously, the charge of anti-Semitism is baseless, particularly when plenty of Israelis, and Jews worldwide, oppose the current slaughter.

For what it is worth, the IDF's latest actions are to be condemned as yet further collective punishment against one of the world's most oppressed peoples. When Israel's relationship to the Palestinians is one of oppressor-oppressed, claims of 'self-defence' are utterly disingenuous. On one point, at least, the rightists are correct - there can be no moral equivalence in this war, given that one side is starving, bombing, shooting, colonising and blockading the other.

Universal moral principles seemingly do not apply when commentators discuss the Palestinians. As per a previous post, it is as if the rightist defenders of Zionism have appropriated postmodern discourses on identity politics to justify Israel's moral exceptionalism. I have wondered aloud elsewhere whether these apologists would be so quick to defend the actions of, for example, a homosexual or Roma state.

None of this should be interpreted as 'support' for Hamas, though Hamas, like everybody else, has the right to defend itself. Religion can be incidental to liberation politics, but I see no reason to believe that religion alone, in the absence of a liberation agenda, can free the Palestinians in a political sense.

There is a wealth of information available on the internet, and the links are coming too quickly for me to list all of them. I personally recommend that all interested readers take a look at the writings of Richard Seymour and the much-maligned Robert Fisk.

On a positive note, the level of protest around the world has been heartening. The first goal must be an immediate ceasefire, preferably not on Israel's terms. Secondly, there must be negotiations between the Israeli government and Hamas, at least insofar as this latter group are still the elected representatives of Gazans. Finally, a universalist one-state solution is the terminus ad quem to which efforts should be directed. I realise that this is a long way off, but, short of purging the Middle East of Palestinians, Israel will have to contemplate this solution as some stage.

May there be peace and freedom for Palestinians soon, and may all honest men and women from all sides of political discourse express their solidarity with an oppressed and brutalised peoples.

UPDATE: Serial stalker and Australia's dumbest blogger Iain Hall has attempted to critique the above post. Moreover, his purpose in writing seems to be to label me 'anti-Semitic'. His post is full of lies and inaccuracies, and not worth much space here, other than to make a couple of points.

He says:

I don’t know about anyone else but I read his paragraph as saying that Israel does not have a right to respond to the many thousands of rockets fired out of Gaza.

The guff about ethnic cleansing and occupation are just your typical Marxist nonsense. I can only conclude that in Haps eyes the people of Israel are in some sense lesser human beings if they are not entitled to fight back when so constantly attacked and he thinks that they are lesser people because they are Jewish.

In fact, I explicitly said that Israel, like everybody else, has the right to self-defence. I added that this right didn't extend to colonisation, occupation, etc. Pretty straightforward, except to an illiterate like Hall.


1300 dead are claimed but there is some suggestion that this number has been grossly inflated
There is in fact one suggestion of that, appearing in an Italian daily. The Israeli press has consistently reported the higher figure, and one assumes that they have no reason to lie.

Hall then splurts this garbled mess onto the screen:
firstly there is nothing to be gained by Israel targeting those who are actual civilians , the propaganda negatives alone are evident enough from the reactions when the IDF accidentally kills Palestinian civilians . Secondly if the IDF really wanted to massacre the Palestinian people it has more than enough capability to do just that and the death toll from military actions would be in the hundreds of thousands, not somewhere between 5 and 13 hundred.Finally if the IDF were “targeting civilians” the why do we here the reports about the IDF dropping leaflets and the sending of sms Messages warning of impending attacks on Hamas targets. There can only be one reason that Hap runs this line and that is to blacken the Jewish side of this conflict.

Well, it's already been documented that the IDF left vast numbers of cluster bombs in civilian areas in Lebanon, 2006. Various aid organisations have alleged abuses against civilians in the most recent conflict, and the IDF is itself investigating claims, such as the 'inappropriate' (i.e. murderous) use of white phosphorous. Again, all of these claims can be verified by a quick look at the Israeli dailies, such as Ha'aretz.

Hap wants to pretend that none of the dead are Hamas fighters because then it is easier to portray the IDF as “evil” which is consistent with his views about the Jews in general.
Hall is engaged in his usual conjecture and speculation. In any case, hundreds of the dead Gazans were clearly not Hamas fighters. Naturally, Hall doesn't demonstrate how my views on the IDF are 'consistent' with those about the Jews 'in general'. He doesn't do this because he cannot, as it isn't true. Evidence counts, El Stalko, not mindless assertion.


How so is [the Hamas charter] it “purely symbolic”? because Hamas ’s Charter not only fails to recognise the existence of Israel but calls for its destruction…

1. Because all charters are by definition symbolic.

2. Because recognition is itself symbolic, particularly given that the Palestinian terroritories do not have State status as of yet.

3. Because the lack of recognition is reciprocated by the Israeli Government.

4. Because not all of Hamas endorse the Charter, let alone all Palestinians.

Hall then mentions a clearly anti-Semitic poster at a recent Melbourne rally. He claims this shows I was 'one eyed' about the demo I reporter above. Again, Hall demonstrates his room temperature IQ, as the rally I discussed above (also discussed on LGF) was not the same as the one reported by Nilk on AWH. But don't let the facts get in the way...


There is NO balance at all in his commentary here not one concession that the Palestinians in general or Hamas in particular have acted in an unacceptable manner in they way that they have prosecuted their “struggle”.
So unless one condemns all and sundry human rights abuses before criticising the IDF, one is anti-Semitic? Logic FAIL.

The rest is more of the same. It's classic, illiterate gibberish from Hall at his most petty. In defence of his claims that I am anti-Semitic, he fails to produce a single piece of evidence. He makes the following claims:

In short Hap is an anti Semite because:

(in no particular order)

He refuses to acknowledge that Jews in Israel should not be subject to attack from Hamas rockets. In fact he supports such attacks.

No, I explicitly said that Israelis had a right to self-defence.

He calls for the destruction of the state of Israel which would mean that the Jews there would either be killed or “driven into the sea”.

Hall gives no evidence of this. Calling for Israeli to become democratic and secular, as I have done, is the opposition of calling for its 'destruction'.

He hides behind semantics of the term “Semite”

I noted, correctly, that Arabs are also Semites. Since Hall cannot produce a single instance of anti-Jewish bigotry on my part, you'd think he'd welcome the broadest definition possible. In any case, Hall seems to misunderstand the notion of 'semantics', and the fact that it has no relation to anti-Semitism, real, alleged, or otherwise.

He unquestionably accepts the worst case examples in all sources when it comes to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. he does not even have the semblance of a balanced consideration of the issues.

No, I accept substantiated examples. In any case, not being 'balanced' does not demonstrate racism or bigotry.

He creates the ridiculous straw man argument that an ‘anti- Semite” has to “deny the holocaust” just so the definition excludes him.

There's no definition of anti-Semite that includes me, and Hall knows this well. He's expended many words on the matter without providing a single bit of evidence to the contrary.

Finally given the fact that Hap hacked my email and blogging accounts last year for the most malicious reasons it is the hight of hypocrisy for him to seek to justify his rancour on the basis of my internet behaviour when his own is nothing short of despicable.

Forgive him comrades, because he is but a poor deluded Marxist who believes that the ends justifies the means.

Again, Hall makes assertions that he cannot substantiate. Don't expect a retraction any time soon, folks. Just expect more attack blogs to pop up, like this one:

Finally, whilst Iain; Hall claims to be a 'moral' blogger, we should note that he has considerable form when it comes to hurling false allegations of anti-Semitism. It's a tactic he's used with bloggers before, having attempted to discredit opponents by way of identity theft. This site has plenty more information about Hall's long history of similar behaviour. Some morality.