Sunday, January 11, 2009

Clueless in Gaza

by Michael K. Smith

"Nothing I saw in South Africa can compare with Gaza in misery, in sheer programmed oppression, in confinement and racial discrimination."
-----Edward Said, 1992

"I shall play music and celebrate what the Israeli Air Force is doing."
-----Ofer Schmerling Israeli Civil Defense official

The obtuseness of organized Jewry is clearly boundless. After caging 1.5 million Gazans like animals for years, leaving them unable to move, to work, to study, or to sell their fruits and vegetables, Israel has slaughtered more than 800 Gazans in two weeks on the pretext that the colonial subjects penned-up there pose a mortal threat to the Jewish state's existence. With the kill ratio more than 50 to 1 in favor of Israel, the perpetrators of this Holocaust now advance the intriguing thesis that they are the victims of the war, but also the victors. Jonathan Swift, eat your heart out.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the ongoing massacre is a pilot project designed to develop new talent in the field of black comedy. Consider the remarks of Menachem Haygami, owner of a juice stand on fashionable Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv: "This war's been very successful . . .. It's very justified. Sure, people there are suffering, but also people here are suffering." In short, it's a symmetrical conflict. Perhaps there were WWII-era Germans who justified the killing of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto on similar grounds. And why not? Clearly, there was suffering on both sides.

Or consider the comments of Reudor Benziman, chief executive of Channel 10 News, a major private station in Israel. Acknowledging that the Israeli public is being spared images of Gaza's blood-spattered hospitals, he says: "The suffering of the citizens of Gaza is unbelievable. It's hell. [But] we don't pretend to show the whole picture, as though we are covering a war in Tanzania. It's our war." For Benziman, there is no obligation to show the Gazan victims because the overwhelming majority of Israelis accept the government's position that Hamas must be attacked. In other words, give the racist public what it wants. Democracy in action.

An anchor at Israel's Channel 2, the country's largest private broadcasting station, recently became the target of an online petition seeking to get her fired because her tone was considered too sympathetic to the Palestinians. Arad Nir, foreign editor and anchor with Channel 2, explains that anything more than perfunctory coverage of Palestinians coping with massive bombardment "would just make people angry." Indeed. And as we all know very well, the right to not be provoked to anger by accurate news coverage is a well-established principle of international law. Besides, what do graphic images of Gazans blown apart by the Israeli Air Force have to do with eternal Jewish victimhood anyway?

Israeli intelligence officers appear to have escalated the black humor to perverse practical joking. Officers are telephoning Gazans pretending to be sympathetic Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, or Libyans. After expressing horror at the war and inquiring as to how their families are doing, the callers ask where the Hamas fighters are and whether the families support them. Candid Camera never had it so good.

U.S. officials are contributing their own witticisms to the macabre comedy, giving Israel whatever military equipment it requires and backing the slaughter to the hilt, while urging the Jewish state to avoid civilian casualties as it drops bombs on one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Organized Jewry simply does not get it. You don't "soften up" an enemy with bombs, you only harden resistance. It has been a generation since Gazans rose up against the rulers of this most wretched colonial outpost, an ancient people demanding the right to be born. In that first intifada, children heaved stones at Israeli tanks, and soldiers carrying automatic rifles. Old men too feeble to hurl their defiance gathered rocks in sacks for the kids to throw. Young and old alike went on strike, established liberated zones, directed an underground economy, and shut their shops at noon to honor imprisoned compatriots.

Israel never understood this outpouring of national dignity. Shooting and cursing, the occupiers chased the defiant kids through the unpaved, pothole-ridden streets, where open sewers reeked with a stomach-turning odor. With a violent banging they arrived at the door, ransacking homes and raiding hospitals, ever in pursuit of the child "terrorists." When a bullet found its mark, leaving a corpse lying in the road, they laughed, whistled, and clapped their hands with glee.

The Palestinians, ninety-eight percent of the West Bank and Gaza, were referred to by the Israeli government as the minorities. The two percent residing in Jewish settlements replete with green lawns and swimming pools - presumed themselves their masters.

Anyone caught using the word Palestine, or displaying a map of it, or showing the colors of its flag, was subject to torture at the hands of Israeli security. But hooded interrogations did not make the Palestinians sing, while their outlawed national anthem did.

Israel has learned nothing in the intervening 21 years. It still believes that wickedness drives the Palestinian resistance, and that the democratic election of Hamas never really happened. It cannot conceive of the slightest legitimacy in Gazan efforts to survive its ever more barbaric attacks. It believes that a permanent sequence of confiscation, demolition, surveillance, arrest, prison, torture, humiliation, deportation, bombardment, and death will somehow give it the legitimacy it lacks. It is convinced that military checkpoints, magnetized ID cards, barbed wire, armed patrols, tear gas, bombs, guns, tanks, grenades, explosives, helicopter gunships, and fighter jets are the route to "security." That 60 years of such policies have only yielded perpetual insecurity has yet to penetrate the national consciousness.

Organized Jewry is in the grips of what appears to be a terminal mental illness, based on the fallacy that Jewish supremacy will bring peace to the Middle East. This is sheer madness, and it is high time for the American people to put an end to it by withdrawing the blank check Washington has issued to the Jewish state to conquer and oppress an innocent people that never did anything to deserve the theft of its land and the destruction of its culture.

An extreme illness, Malcolm X used to say, cannot be cured by a moderate medicine. Organized Jewry needs to be put on notice that Jews are merely one ethnic group among many, not the master race. A good start would be to withdraw the tax-exempt status granted to Jewish charities that funnel money to Israel.


Griff Witte, "The View From Israel: Victors in a Necessary War," Washington Post, January 11, 2009

Steven Erlanger, "A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery," New York Times, January 11, 2009

Suzanne Baroud, "Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels," January 12, 2009,

Israel Shamir, "Gaza at War," January 11, 2009,

Mark Steel, "To portray this as a conflict betwen equals requires some imagination," London Independent, December 31, 2008

Johann Harl, "The true story behind this war is not the one Israel is telling," London Independent, December 29, 2008

"Israeli troops meet Hamas resistance deep in Gaza," Associated Press, January 11, 2009

Tariq A. Al-Maeena, "Aiding and abetting a Holocaust," January 11, 2009,

Edward Said, "The Politics of Dispossession - The Struggle For Palestinian Self-Determination 1969-1994," (Chatto and Windus, 1994)

Edward Said, "The Pen and the Sword," (Common Courage, 1994)

Gloria Emerson, "Gaza - A Year in the Intifada: A Personal Account From an Occupied Land," (Atlantic Monthly, 1991)

Michael Palumbo, "Imperial Israel," (Bloomsbury, 1990)

-----Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," and "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker), from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at

1 comment:

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