Saturday, January 10, 2009

O, the Humanity

"O, the Humanity!" That's not what we're hearing from what few horrified journalists are saying when covering the massacre in the Gaza Strip. It's what we're hearing from the sanctimonious Israeli government when they assure Gazans even as they're dropping leaflets announcing the beginning of the third phase of their mini genocide. "Oh, we're not targeting you, we're just going after Hamas. Don't blame us if you happen to get in the way."

Tell that to the Samounis and Salhas that have lost a huge percentage of their immediate and extended families in the two weeks since Israel began bombing Palestine on December 27th.

The IDF's and Knesset's mindset is identical to the authoritative mindset of reckless and trigger-happy cops who have no problem shooting through the hostage to get at the hostage taker. We saw a vivid delineation of that during the Israeli-Lebanese shootout in the summer of '06. And we've been hearing it for going on six years from our own equally sanctimonious government when casually dismissing Iraqi civilian casualty figures. "Don't blame us, blame the terrorists."

I don't think the Samouni and Salha families don't care very much if the bombs that have decimated their families were smuggled by terrorists and arms dealers through Hamas tunnels or bought through legal channels by Israel from the American government. Death still stinks to high heaven no matter who subsidizes it.

Palestinians in Gaza on Friday prayed next to the bodies of the Salha family, who were killed in an Israeli missile strike. Gaza health officials said that the overall death toll passed 784 on Friday, according to Reuters, with women and children making up about 40 percent of the dead. (Photo: Ali Ali/European Pressphoto Agency)

Again, it ought to be reiterated, Hamas is certainly not blameless in this. They, too, have killed Israelis over the last two weeks. Three of them were actually innocent civilians.

But the Samouni family alone has lost ten times more than that. The Salha family, pictured above, lost more than twice that in a single Israeli missile attack.

But considering Israel's stranglehold on Palestine over the last 60+ years, it's obvious that diplomatic channels no longer work, if they ever did. You want to know why the Palestinians are resorting to violence? I think Langston Hughes already answered that decades ago when he also asked, What happens to a dream deferred?

Sometimes, it explodes. Over and over again. No wonder they're hurling bombs at Israel, a country that, as with ours, acts in defiance of its own high court, such as when they stopped all aid shipments to Gaza a year ago.

The humanitarian community can't even begin to appreciate how wrong the Israeli government is until we start acknowledging that all human life is precious regardless of the flag they salute or the religion they practice. It will never begin until we stop rationalizing under the rubric of fighting terrorism the wanton slaughter of at least 400 civilians (including at least one truck driver of an aid organization). At some point, heartless as it may seem, you have to break down and start comparing numbers.

13 Israelis, including three civilians, have died in the last fortnight. 800 Palestinians are dead, including injuries that have mounted so quickly that the NY Times didn't even bother venturing an estimate. Yet, as with Lebanon two and a half years ago, the Israelis have not only slaughtered the indigenous civilian population, they even gave orders to that civilian population to flee.

Then they killed them even as they tried to comply.

Some examples of Israeli promises and humanitarianism:
They told family members to vacate their homes and to gather together in one home down the street. Ahmed said they were moved a second time as well, until nearly 100 of his relatives crowded into one house... At about 6 a.m. on Monday morning, Ahmed said, tanks started demolishing a wall of the house where the extended clan was sheltered. His father moved toward the door, presumably to warn the soldiers that civilians were inside, but the troops started shooting, he said.

Then there's this:
Antoine Grand, the head of Red Cross operations in the Gaza Strip, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the first rescue team on Wednesday had to leave the dead and take out only the wounded, “horrible as that seems,” because they had only limited time and only four ambulances.

“We had no other choice,” Mr. Grand said.

He added that the ambulances had to stop on one side of an earth mound put up by the military. The team had to walk a mile to the houses and bring back the wounded in a donkey cart.

After the Israelis murdered the aid worker, the Palestinians had to suffer when the Israeli government then used the killing as an excuse to stop the aid shipments. And the original daily three hour window was woefully inadequate as it was.

The Berlin airlifts that ended nearly 60 years ago humiliated the Soviet Union. You will never see airlifts from us that would face the Israelis no matter how many Palestinians starve or die from lack of medicine nor a Checkpoint Charlie in the Gaza Strip as long as American statesmen continue this willful blindness toward Israel's war crimes. And they are indisputably war crimes, atrocities committed by a country to whom we're giving aid. And we're a nation that had staunchly opposed in back-to-back decades two of the most awesome war machines ever assembled: The Nazis and the Soviets.

They are not only not seriously undertaking their responsibility to the civilian populace, they are slaughtering them. Both are in grave violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.

After herding 100 members of one family into one house, Israeli soldiers then bombed the house, murdering a third of that family. No wonder Navi Pillay, the UN's Human Rights High Commissioner, is calling for Israel to be investigated for war crimes. Good on her.

But the United Nations, if anything, has proven to be toothless and ineffectual in the face of American and Israeli terrorism. Their humanitarian efforts all over the world aside, the UN Security Council has been ignored time and again and this current Israeli mini Holocaust is no exception. The United Nations has been figuratively pounding their shoes on podiums and calling for a cessation to the hostilities without once demanding or even suggesting sending in NATO peacekeeping forces considering how out of control this situation is.

Just as the United States needs to reform and regain its economic, diplomatic and political credibility, so does the United Nations. And a reshuffling of its priorities would be a good way to kick off their 63rd anniversary, starting with adopting a harder-line attitude toward Israel.


At January 10, 2009 at 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read "The ban was imposed Thursday after the U.N. said two of its contractors in a truck were shot and killed by Israel. The Israeli military said Saturday that its own investigation concluded that its soldiers were not involved."
See, it's not Israel's fault. They were probably Palestinian drivers who shot themselves, just to make Israel look bad.

At January 11, 2009 at 11:21 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

at least the israelis didn't insist on a hamas spokesperson going on tv to say

"thank you, may i have another please?"

At January 11, 2009 at 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching both American and Canadian TV coverage of Gaza it's easy to see how bias the US coverage is. A much more balance coverage north of the 49th.

Great writing. Keep up the good work!


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