… by Uri Avnery, … Gush Shalom, Tel Aviv
[ Editor’s note: We had been expecting a post-Gaza carnage report from Uri. As usual, his many years in the anti-war movement are on full display over what he sees is the futility of the fighting and destruction. But was it really futile?
The pile of dead Palestinians has always been a big one, yet they still live under the boot of one of the cruelest occupations in modern times.
The US and Europe have generally been hesitant to live up to their make-believe values if that involved having to deal with the Jewish Lobby terror squads inside their respective countries.
When there is no choice other than more must die to be free, what choice does a people have? Throughout all history, people have been revered for such courage under terrible odds. So why is this so routinely denied to the Palestinians? Uri never seems to grasp that the Zios who came to Palestine and conquered the land with the use of terror had other options.
They chose the Palestinians as their victims, similar to how they claim the Nazis chose the Jews as theirs. This in itself is flagrant holocaust denial, as it relegates the deaths of the non-Jews to the back of the bus as not worth mentioning.
There is no bigger shameful example of this than the WWII Memorial in DC, which was 100% privately funded, but an outdoor one with extremely limited depth and impact, compared to the one for the group who selected itself as the most important event of WWII.
On the other side of the coin, we find a holocaust museum, not only built with taxpayer funds but maintained by them, with basically an all-Jewish staff running a state-of-the-art, interactive historical museum year round.
When school children are polled about what they remember most of their DC tour, what do you think the vast majority of them say? How many pick the WWII Memorial? And by whose hand was that deal arranged?
But despite being an anti-war guy with his decades of pro peace work, Uri still never misses a chance to tag Hamas as terrorists. Today’s piece is even more strange, as he acknowledges what Michael Shrimpton conveniently will not, that the initial rocket firing was not an aggression.
It was a response to the Israelis rounding up all the released Hamas people, which Uri admits the Zios had a plan on the shelf to do when the right situation came long. And Uri also describes himself as a “junior terrorist” for the first time, a rather interesting term.
Zionism, even with Uri still unremorsefully defending their taking the land, took a big hit worldwide. The usual anti-Semitism claims, particularly in France where they had a few incidents, mostly property damage, fell on deaf ears this time, because the carnage was so disproportional.
The Zios’ usual PR defense tactic of one dead Jew is a larger crime than 1000 dead Palestinians did not get swallowed like in the past. People spit it out, as they should have. And despite all the killing, we ended up with the Likud cabinet wanting, more because neither their lives nor pocketbooks were on the line. When much of your power emanates from being a dealer of death and destruction with the US as your protector, one can see how the Likud hardliners would feel it was a waste not to use it to the fullest.
But that said, the Aegis destroyers with their Iron dome radars were not on the scene again, the Ben Gurion airport was boycotted for a few days, and shipments of Hellfire missiles were stopped. These were all first time events, and a strange thing for an Obama whom many still claim is an Israeli stooge, when they conveniently discount how much the Likuds hate him. He must be the deepest undercover operative in history.
We hope progress will be made in the next few months on ending the blockade, and that Israel ends its ruthless treatment of the Palestinians.
Tensions will obviously decrease. But that said, we all know how easy it is for Zionist hardliners to stage terror attacks on their own people to dial back any peace progress that is made.
Until we accept that putting drone strikes on such bad actors as terrorists is the only way to make them stop, it means we are just looking the other way. The US government has always been an accessory to the crimes against the Palestinian people.
If and when the Pals ever get into an international court, they should be charging the US for the same crimes as the Israelis, the top government officials who were all involved, jurisdiction or no jurisdiction, because the statement must be made as to who did what to whom and why. The dead demand it… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … August 30, 2014 –
After 50 days, the war is over. Hallelujah. On the Israeli side: 71 dead, among them 66 soldiers, 1 child. On the Palestinian side: 2,143 dead, 577 of them children, 263 women, 102 elderly, 11,230 injured, 10,800 buildings destroyed, 8,000 partially destroyed. About 40,000 damaged homes. Among the damaged buildings: 277 schools, 10 hospitals, 70 mosques, 2 churches. Also, 12 West Bank demonstrators, mostly children, who were shot.
So what was it all about? The honest answer is: About nothing.Neither side wanted it. Neither side started it. It just so happened. Let us recapitulate the events, before they are forgotten.
Two young Arab men kidnapped three young Israeli religious students near the West Bank town of Hebron. The kidnappers belonged to the Hamas movement, but acted on their own. Their purpose was to exchange their captives for Palestinian prisoners. Liberating prisoners is now the highest ambition of every Palestinian militant.
The kidnappers were amateurs, and their plan miscarried from the beginning. They panicked when one student used his mobile phone and then they shot the hostages. All of Israel was in an uproar. The kidnappers have not yet been found.
The Israeli security forces used the opportunity to implement a prepared plan. All known Hamas activists in the West Bank were arrested, as well as all the former prisoners who were released as part of the deal to free the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit. For Hamas this was the violation of an agreement.
The Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip could not keep quiet while their comrades in the West Bank were being imprisoned. It reacted by launching rockets at Israeli towns and villages. The Israeli government could not keep quiet while its towns and villages were bombarded. It responded with a heavy bombardment of the Gaza strip from the air.
From there on, it was just an endless festival of death and destruction. The war was crying out for a purpose.
Hamas then did something that was, in my opinion, a cardinal mistake. It used some of the clandestine tunnels which it had built under the border fence to attack Israeli targets. Israelis suddenly became aware of this danger that the army had belittled.
The purposeless war acquired a purpose: It became the War Against the “Terror-Tunnels”. The infantry was sent into the Gaza Strip to search out and destroy them.
Eighty thousand soldiers entered Strip. After destroying all the known tunnels, they had nothing to do except stand around and act as targets.
The next logical step would have been to move forward and conquer the entire Gaza Strip, some 45 km long and an average of 6 km wide, with 1.8 million inhabitants. Four times larger than Manhattan island with about the same population.
But the Israeli army detested the idea of conquering the Strip for the third time (after 1956 and 1967). The last time it left, the soldiers sang “Goodbye Gaza, and not to see you again!” Predictions of military casualties were high, many more than Israeli society was ready to suffer, in spite of all the patriotic hyperbole.
The war deteriorated into an orgy of killing and destroying, with both sides “dancing on the blood”, blessing every bomb and missile, completely oblivious to the suffering caused to the human beings on the other side. And still without any realizable aim.
If Clausewitz was right about war being but a continuation of policy by other means, then every war must have a clear political aim.
For Hamas, the aim was clear and simple: Lift the blockade on Gaza. For Israel there was none. Binyamin Netanyahu defined his aim as “Calm in return for Calm”. But we had that before it all started. Some of his cabinet colleagues demanded to “go to the end” and occupy the entire strip. The army command objected, and one cannot fight a war against the wishes of the army command. So everyone stood around waiting for Godot.
What brought about the final ceasefire agreement? Both sides were exhausted. On the Israeli side, the feather that broke the camel’s back was the plight of the settlement around the Gaza Strip, called the “Gaza envelope”. Under the unceasing barrage of short-range rockets and – even worse – mortar shells that cost next to nothing, the inhabitants, mostly kibbutz members, started to move quitetly to safer regions.
That was almost sacrilege. One of the founding myths of Israel was that in the 1948 war, in which the state was born, Arab villagers and townspeople ran away when they were shot at, while our settlements stood firm even in the midst of hell.
That was not entirely so. Several kibbutzim were evacuated by order of the army when their defense became impossible. In several others, women and children were sent away, while men were ordered to stay on and fight with the soldiers. But on the whole, Israeli settlements stood fast and fought. But 1948 was an ethnic war for territory. Land evacuated was lost forever (or at least until the next war).
This time, the whole rationale was different. Life in the “envelope” became impossible. Sirens sounded several times within the hour, and everybody had 15 seconds to find shelter. The clamor for evacuation became open and loud. Hundreds of families moved away. The myth was abandoned and the government was compelled to organize a mass movement. That did not look like victory.
The Gaza Strip
The Palestinian side underwent a terrible ordeal. About 400,000 people had to leave their homes. Whole families found shelter in UN buildings, several families in a room or in a corner of the courtyard, without electricity and with very little water, mothers with 6, 7 or 8 children.
Imagine what that means: A family, poor or wealthy, has to leave its home within minutes, unable to take anything, no clothes, no money, no family albums, just to gather the children and run, while behind them the home collapses. A whole life’s work and memories destroyed in seconds. The young men were long gone, living in secret underground tunnels, preparing for the crucial fight.
It is almost a wonder that under these conditions, the Hamas government and command structure did function. Orders passed from hidden leaders to hidden cells, contacts were maintained with leaders abroad and between different organizations, while spy drones circled overhead and killed any civil leader or commander who showed his face.
After the action to kill the Hamas military Commander in Chief, Mohammad Deif (which succeeded or failed, we don’t know), Hamas started to shoot the informers without whom such actions are impossible. In my days as a junior terrorist, we did the same.
But with all their remarkable ingenuity, Hamas could not go on forever. Their large stocks of rockets and mortar shells were being depleted. They also needed an end.
The result? Clearly a draw. But, as I have said before, if a small resistance organization achieves a draw against one of the mightiest military machines in the world, it has cause to celebrate – as it indeed did, last Monday, the 50th day of the War for Nothing.
What did the two sides lose?
The Palestinians sustained huge material losses. Thousand of homes were destroyed in order to break their spirit, some with some slim pretext, others without any. In the last days, the Air Force systematically brought down the luxurious high-rise buildings in the center of Gaza.
Palestinian human losses were also enormous. Israelis did not shed any tears. On the Israeli side, human and material losses where comparatively light. Economic losses were significant, but bearable. It is the unseen losses that count.
The delegitimization of Israel throughout the world is accelerating. Millions of people have seen the daily pictures coming out of Gaza, and, consciously or unconsciously, their image of Israel has changed. For many, the brave little country has turned into a brutal monster.
Anti-Semitism, we are told, is dangerously on the rise. Israel claims to be the Nation-State of the Jewish People, and most Jews defend Israel and identify with it. The new rage against Israel sometimes looks like old-time anti-Semitism, and sometimes is.
We don’t know how many Jews will be driven by anti-Semitism to Israel. Nor do we know how many Israelis will be driven by the eternal war from Israel to Germany, the US or Canada. One tends to overlook the most dangerous aspect. A huge mass of hatred has been created in Gaza. How many of the children we saw running with their mothers from their homes will become the “terrorists” of tomorrow?
Millions of children throughout the Arab world have seen the pictures beamed daily into their homes by Aljazeera, and become bitter haters of Israel. Aljazeera is a world power. While its English-language edition tried to be moderate, the Arab edition had no brakes – hour after hour its reports showed the heartbreaking pictures from Gaza, the children killed, the homes destroyed.
On the other side, the generations-old enmity of Arab governments towards Israel has been broken. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf States (except Qatar) are openly collaborating now with Israel. Can this bear political fruit in the future? It could, if our government were really interested in peace.
In Israel itself, fascism, vile and unmistakable, has raised its ugly head. “Death to the Arabs” and “Death to the Leftists” have become legitimate battle-cries. Some of this foul wave will hopefully recede, but some may remain and become a regular feature.
Netanyahu’s personal fortunes are clouded. During the war his popularity ratings rose sharply. Now they are in a free fall. It is not enough to make speeches about victory. Victory must be seen. If possible, without a microscope. War is a matter of power.
The reality created on the battlefield is generally reflected in the political results. If the battle ends in a draw, the political result will also be a draw. Celebrating a similar triumph long ago, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, remarked: “Another such victory and we will be lost!”