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ISRAEL'S WAR CRIMES – A SPECTATOR SPORT:
Gazing at Gaza's Destruction: Israelis Sip Pepsi, US Progressives See 'Silver Lining'
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Do these Israeli onlookers look afraid of Palestinian missiles?
Hamas "terror bombs" are so frighteningly powerful and destructive that no response against them can be "disproportionate," we are told by Israeli and American leaders; everything is justified in "retaliation," including the complete destruction of the social, civic and physical infrastructure of an entire human community, and the killing and terrorizing of innocent people.Here we see Israelis in Sderot – the chief target of the homemade bombs which we are told are the cause of the current ravaging of Gaza. These Hamas "terror bombs" are so frighteningly powerful and destructive that no response against them can be "disproportionate," we are told by Israeli and American leaders; everything is justified in "retaliation," including the complete destruction of the social, civic and physical infrastructure of an entire human community, and the killing and terrorizing of innocent people. It's those homemade bombs falling on Sderot, you see; they are such an overwhelming, ever-present, inescapable threat.
So threatening, in fact, that some of the Israelis in this picture drove down to Sderot from Jerusalem to sit out in the open air – on a hilltop – in plain sight of the Gaza village from which many of the rockets have been launched, and calmly sip Pepsi as they watch the military action taking place not two miles away. Shouldn't "terror" be made of sterner stuff? Especially terror which merits the widespread slaughter and suffering of innocent people? Could there possibly be some – how to put it? – disconnection between the stated cause of the military action and its true purpose?
McClatchy Newspapers relates a tale of two cities in an excellent piece on the suprisingly calm, unthreatened, unfrightened folk of Sderot – and the hell of innocent families two miles away in Beit Hanoun. Some excerpts below:
This harrowing of innocent children and their families is not confined to Beit Hanoun, of course, as the Guardian reports in "Besieged families flee homes for shelter under UN flag":
But of course, all of this suffering is worth it, if it makes the audience sitting on the open hill in terrorized Sderot feel a little bit better. [Not that the Israeli assault has stopped the homemade rocket fire -- but then, it was never intended to do that. The Israeli power structure doesn't want to do that, any more than the Washington power structure wants to end, or even "win," the "War on Terror." After all, if the "terror" ends, what will happen to all those groovy "anti-terror" powers -- and the even groovier gravy of unlimited war pork?]
But yes, we all certainly want Israeli yuppies to feel comfortable as they sip soft drinks and watch children being traumatized and terrorized a couple of miles away. So this kind of thing is also worth it (from Reuters, via Antiwar.com):
"Please get up. I am your dad and I need you." Oh yes, that child's death -- and many, many, many, many more -- are worth it to keep the open-air, comfy-chaired Pepsi drinkers from feeling so threatened that they can, er, sit out in the open air in comfy chairs and drink Pepsi in the face of the, uh, overwhelming threat that terrorizes them beyond all reckoning. Yes, yes, yes, worth every drop of blood.
And yes, of course, it is wonderfully wise of Barack Obama to remain steadfastly silent in the face of this suffering. Our progressives tell us that he is being so marvelously cagey and politic, that he is hoarding his political capital now in order to bring real hope and change to the Mid-East as soon as he dons the imperial purple.
Over at Huffington Post, that hotbed of steely-eyed progressive realism, human rights lawyer Lisa Gans assures us that Obama's silence at the mass murder of children in Gaza is actually maybe probably an implicit criticism of Bush's support for the invasion. And in fact, the whole invasion itself could well be due to Israel's "sophisticated" understanding of U.S. politics: they knew that Obama would never ever let them get away with a stunt like this, so they pulled the trigger while Bush was still in office.
Why, in fact, this whole kerfuffle, this whole little spot of bother, the death of those little children who won't get up for their grieving father, could well be a blessing in disguise for "those hoping that the U.S. might once again provide moral leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," says Lisa Gans, who is not only a human rights lawyer but a member of the Council on Foreign Relations too, so she is a very serious person who knows what she's talking about for sure. Gans tells us that:
Well, every cloud has a silver lining, they say. In fact, I read that in one of my children's Care Bear books the other day, so it must be true. In the Bear's case, a search for a tragically lost hat led to the discovery of a perfect place for a picnic -- and the hat too, of course! In the case of Gaza, the corpses of three dead children laid at the feet of their father will probably maybe conjecturally lead to "greater pressure" from Washington for "serious concessions" from both Hamas and Israel. And they'll probably all find their hats as well!
Except for all the dead children, of course. And the surviving children traumatized into silence and torment. Oh, and also for the Israelis, who will now face the inevitable -- and doubtless clearly forseen -- radicalization of the survivors, as Reuters also noted:
Mission accomplished! For this attitude actually represents a clear-cut victory for the makers of Terror War. The more radical the targeted people become, the easier it is to maintain the vast military-security complexes in their wonted (and profitable) ascendancy. It also simplifies diplomacy too. No more messing around with long, protracted negotiations with the legitimate representatives of your targets (such as the democratically elected administration of Hamas); no, all you have left are "extremists" full of "pure evil" who can be attacked and killed as your own political and financial agendas require.
This dynamic of state terror and deliberate radicalization is now the operating system for much of the world: we see it at work in the US, Israel, Britain, Russia, China, Turkey and elsewhere. And as long as our elites -- even our "progressive" elites, even our earnest "human rights lawyers" -- can see "silver linings" in state terror and sheer butchery, can see "silver linings" in a four-year-old child killed and laid out on the floor, then absolutely nothing will change.
UPDATE: Once again, Arthur Silber gives a deeper and more chilling context of the conflict in his brilliant new essay, "The Slaughter of the Diseased Animals." The piece should be read in full. I tried to excerpt it, but ended up quoting the whole thing, so go there now, and read it for yourself.
UPDATE II: This morning, we linked to story telling of Palestinians in Gaza seeking refuge in a UN-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp. This afternoon comes word from the Guardian that at least 41 people were killed today when Israeli tanks shelled a UN-run school in the Jabaliya camp. The story does not make clear if it is the same school referred to in the earlier piece, but the results are horrific in any case:
The school was not the only site of mass civilian casualties today. Nor was it the only school fatally struck by Israeli fire:
The attack on the Jabaliya school was in no way an "assault on Hamas infrastructure" nor a "mistake":
Meanwhile, conditions continue to worsen in the war zone:
Keep that in mind, and let it comfort you: there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There are only vicious terrorists aged one to 12 years old huddling in their homes or in UN schools, building atom bombs for al Qaeda.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on January 7, 2009.
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