"Israelis believe in the Mad Dog strategy attributed to Moshe Dayan or Pinchas Lavon: 'Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.' So, they pretend to be crazier than they actually are. However, if they can't be contained, mad dogs have to be shot."
Assuming Israeli sovereignty over international waters 65 miles from the Gaza coast, crazed Jewish commandos ignored white flags and attacked a peaceful ship trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to blockaded Palestinians in a pre-dawn raid Memorial Day morning. At least nine people were killed in the assault on the Turkish ferry, Mavi Marmara, with scores more wounded. The ferry was part of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” which was carrying humanitarian aid and 600 peace activists from dozens of nations, including the U.S., among whom were 35 parliamentarians.
The horrifying attack came eleven months after Israeli warriors hijacked the Free Gaza movement's "Spirit of Humanity," which was engaged in a similar undertaking, imprisoning its 22 nonviolent human rights activists for having the audacity to attempt delivery of items that Israel for two years had refused to let into Gaza, including toys, crayons, school books and urgently-needed medical supplies.
Predictably, Israeli officials attempted to shift blame for their illegal attack onto the backs of their victims, claiming they were hate-filled terrorists on a murderous mission, though the flotilla had been pronounced peaceful and weaponless at multiple ports of call before being attacked by the Israeli pirates.
The flotilla was attempting to break Israel's three year old blockade of Gaza and repair some of the damage done by the Jewish state's wholesale slaughter of Gazans a year-and-a-half ago. On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a major attack on the Strip, killing approximately 1400 people, 850 of them civilians, and leaving more than five thousand wounded and some 70,000 homeless. Jewish soldiers trapped people in their homes and apartments and murdered them when they tried to come out carrying white flags. Tanks and snipers deliberately targeted women and children, hospital workers, ambulance drivers, doctors, medics, mobile clinics, hospitals, the UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, and the UN university. Palestinian non-combatants were forced to act as "human shields" for marauding Jewish soldiers, protecting them as they entered homes in search of Hamas fighters, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Israel also used white phosphorous weapons - another war crime, supplied by the United States. These weapons were fired in Gaza's dense urban neighborhoods, refugee camps, and near a UN compound.
The accompanying physical damage was enormous: 5000 houses were destroyed and another 11,000 damaged; mosques, colleges, factories, hospitals, small businesses, UN property, orange and olive groves, were wrecked or harmed. Much of Gaza City was reduced to rubble, as though by a giant earthquake.
The White House gave complete support to the invasion, accompanied by nearly unanimous House and Senate votes endorsing the slaughter. Two weeks into the carnage, just five House members voted against a resolution expressing "vigorous and unwavering commitment" to "the survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," as well as Israel's "right to act in self defense to protect its citizens against Hamas's unceasing aggression, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter." [For the record, Hamas achieved national political power by winning elections pronounced free and fair by that dangerous radical Jimmy Carter. Since their election in January 2006 Hamas leaders have stated clearly that their operative goal is a long-term truce with Israel, the right of return for Palestinian exiles, and creation of a Palestinian state in the 1967 occupied territories. Their social agenda is conservative, not extremist, and neither Israel nor the U.S. has any right to dictate their politics, let alone use them as pretext for denying human rights to the entire Gazan people.]
The Democratic Party's presidential standard bearer in 2004, John Kerry, found the Gaza attack entirely right and just. Democratic majority leader Harry Reid took note on the floor of the Senate that the upper chamber's resolution reaffirmed "Israel's inalienable right to defend [itself] against attacks from Gaza." Two weeks later at Hillary Clinton's swearing-in ceremony, President Obama proved himself equally in favor of Jewish aggression: "America is committed to Israel's security," and "will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats."
No one in Washington argued that Gazans had a right to defend themselves against Israel. This in spite of the fact that the civilian population of Gaza was being collectively punished by policies that UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinians Richard Falk condemned as a crime against humanity. Israel had been provoking Palestinians in Gaza by holding their territory under almost total siege since June 2007, blocking their access to food, medicines, humanitarian assistance, travel, and much else, instigating a major humanitarian crisis that caused a minister for the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace to compare Gaza to a "big concentration camp."
Entombing hundreds of Gazans in rubble, Israel's assault left carnage everywhere - in city streets, at a mosque, in hospitals, police stations (almost all police departments and other security-related installations were hit), a jail, a university bus stop, a plastics factory, a TV station. The strikes were carried out mostly with F-16 bombers and Apache attack helicopters, both supplied to Israel through U.S. military aid grants of about $3 billion in taxpayer money every year. The U.S. was complicit in the attacks because it confirmed it was fully aware of Israel's plans, which commenced six months in advance.
U.S. media coverage of these events took care to reverse the roles of victimizer and victim, so that Palestinian responses to Israeli bombardment were defined simply as "terrorism," and Palestinians resisting attack as "militants," as though meekly submitting to mass slaughter would have been a more reasonable reaction. On the other hand, Israeli violence rooted in structures of oppression and dispossession that have killed dozens of times more victims than anything attributable to Palestinian "terror" were given the ennobling labels of "self-defense" and "retaliation."
The Goldstone Commission, a U.N. Fact-Finding Mission, found that the Israeli attack on Gaza was carried out not against "terrorists," however defined, but against the "people of Gaza as a whole," with the intent "to punish, humiliate, and terrorize a civilian population." Results ranged from the destruction of life and limb to the "destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses," and, in short, "the economic capacity of the Gaza Strip." Such collective punishments, are, of course, illegal, and the Commission determined that responsibility lay "with those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the operations," who could boast a kill ratio of 100 Palestinians for every dead Israeli.
None of this, of course, is new. Israel has been engaged in political violence from birth, not in self-defense as it likes to claim, but to impose Jewish-supremacist politics on an overwhelmingly Arab part of the world. Among its perpetually criminal policies are targeted assassination of political and military leaders, hostage taking, "reprisal" bombings, collective punishment of civilians under military occupation, torture, building of Jewish settlements on Arab land, demolition of homes, uprooting of orange and olive groves, eviction of residents, building mazes of roadblocks and checkpoints, shooting at ambulances, preventive detention, use of shock grenades, water cannon, rubber coated bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition against peaceful protesters, ignoring an International Court ruling that its enormous separation wall is illegal, stealing land and water from Palestinians and giving it to Jewish settler-fanatics, freely attacking across borders in an endless series of raids, wars, and assassination programs, refusal to accept a Hamas election victory on the West Bank, enforced starvation, blackouts, mass arrests, beatings, imprisonment of political enemies - including Parliament members and children, sexual humiliation, denial of medical care, and blowing up electrical and water systems.
Apart from their sheer destructiveness, these policies are also blatantly racist, with Israeli leaders regularly referring to Palestinians as "grasshoppers," "roaches" and "two-legged beasts." Unfortunately, this does not deter U.S. leaders from declaring their "solidarity" with Israel, which they say forms an "unshakeable bond" with the Jewish state, one that does not allow for any "space" between Washington and Tel Aviv on the issues. Hillary Clinton insists the bond between the U.S. and Israel is eternal and evinces an "absolute commitment to Israel's security," that is, its ethnic cleansing operations. Vice President Joe Biden has publicly declared himself a "Zionist," adding that Israel forms "the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States." These sentiments characterize Washington's political class across the board.
Meanwhile, in Gaza there are regularly no medical supplies or drugs for hospitals, no fuel for the electricity plant or for generators during the long blackouts (the lack of fuel means that sewage and treatment stations cannot function properly, which decreases the supply of potable water to Gazans and results in tens of millions of liters of untreated or only partially treated wastes being dumped in the sea). There is no private sector and no industry. Gaza's agricultural crops have been destroyed and Israel continues to shoot at farmers trying to plant and tend fields near the border. Most productive activity is simply impossible. The overwhelming majority of Gaza's population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian food aid to meet basic needs.
The regularly invoked claim of "global terrorism," though a crucial pretext in U.S. efforts to justify its support for Israeli occupation and apartheid, is false. Acts of violence carried out by Palestinians are indigenous responses to foreign occupation and would cease if foreign occupation ceased. Washington's attempts to equate all Islamic forces that resist U.S. hegemony with Al Qaeda terror are transparent efforts to justify further crimes.
The root of the conflict is aptly summed up by economist Edward Herman: "The Israeli leadership has never been willing to make a peace settlement with the Palestinians because that would require agreeing to a Palestinian border when the Israeli objective has always been to keep dispossessing and seizing land, easier done under an occupation than after a negotiated settlement."
As peace activist Jeff Halper notes, if Israel had the good intentions it claims for itself, the whole nightmare would have been over long ago: "If peace and security were truly the issue, Israel could have had that 20 years ago if it would have conceded 22 percent of the country required for a viable Palestinian state."
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-----Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire" and "The Madness of King George," from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org