EDITORIAL, 12 Jan 2009

#45 | Johan Galtung

Beyond the immense human tragedy unfolding in the Gaza atrocity a question takes shape: have the Israeli leaders, politicians and military alike, totally lost their senses? A sledgehammer for a toothache, those tiny needle-pricks of missiles fired in anger, 8 killed–and then killing 800? Where is the sophistication of the attack on Egypt, timed to coincide with the military leadership caught in the morning traffic jam in the streets of Cairo? Or the bombing of Beirut in 1982, positioning planes between the sun and anti-aircraft artillery?

Israelis want to eliminate the missiles? Understandable, and feasible: through serious negotiations with PLO and Hamas with all cards on the table, also a Middle East Community, guided by the wisdom of the Olmert inside the Olmert (Editorial 5/Jan/09). But unfortunately beyond the mental grasp of hyper-militarized states backing each other, numb to the suffering of anyone but themselves, on the slippery slopes of falling regional and even world empires.

If they were serious about wanting to get rid of missiles there may be good reasons to accept the tunnel-smuggling theory, under the Egyptian-Gaza border. Unlike Lebanon with mountain ranges, Gaza can hardly develop its own manufacturing capacity. So why not a commando attack, short and sharp, devastating for the tunnels but for few humans? Israel knows their locations.

The attack would insult Egyptian sovereignty? But that was never a major Israeli concern as when Tunis was invaded for a short and sharp attack on the PLO leadership at the time. Maybe with the threat of ending the annual bribery of Cairo for Camp David if they protest, or don’t participate? None of the above, no doubt on the table of the planners, was the strategy chosen.

As reported to Aljazeera by the fine Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, not only does Israel kill and kill but with ammunition causing very nasty wounds. “We do not target civilians”, IDF says. Please, with 1.5 million in a tiny concentration under siege and nowhere to go, almost any bomb will hit non-militants. Close to 50% of the killed are women and children, children 1/3 of the total. “Unintended”, “not targeted”, do not apply.

Gaza: bombing, bombing, bombing; killing, killing, killing.

And not anywhere as effective as that commando operation, drying up the supplies, might have been: so far rather innocent missiles continue. And Phase 3 of the operation, getting into the kitchens, etc. where they come from, means room to room, hand to hand combat of the most brutal kind, Fallujah model, possibly with white phosphorus. More atrocity, more murder. And Israelis killed and taken prisoners, whisked away, hopefully not treated to the horrendous way they treat the people of Gaza.

Conclusion 1: as an operation designed to protect Israel from missiles the strategy chosen is blatantly irrational.

Conclusion 2: beyond irrationality-stupidity: it is all intended, including the killing of women and children. How?

To get rid of Hamas implies those who voted for them, bear their children, or will vote when they grow up. In other words, genocide; the genus being the 1.5 million of Gaza. The border from war to genocide is crossed when women and children are among the victims, unavoidable given the Iraq strategy chosen.

And/or: collectively punished, reprisals at the 100:1 ratio used by Nazi German during the Second World war, even with capital punishment, for challenging Israel, also as a warning to deter others in other countries (Lebanon, Syria,–): we are capable of unlimited ruthlessness.

And/or: the strategy of state terrorists, like USA/UK and Israel, and terrorists like Al Qaeda and Hamas, assumes that the people targeted, in Nazi German, Gaza, USA or Israel will rise against their leaders’ policies, seeing that as the cause of their suffering. Wrong. They rise against the terrorists as the cause. Israel strengthens Hamas like Hamas unifies Israel; not forever, but at least as long as the killing continues.

 Gaza: bombing, bombing, bombing; killing, killing, killing.

Conclusion 1 was that the means chosen were inadequate to the goal. Conclusion 2 is that the goal is highly inadequate.

Consider the following.  There are two trends at work here.

First, Israel coming closer to the avowed goal: an end to missiles and Hamas, preferably internationally monitored.

Second, the reaction against the genocidal means employed, exploding in demonstrations all over the world and in serious talk about boycott and severing diplomatic relations. Like USA in Iraq, Israel may have hoped for the people turning against Hamas, and for a quick victory. But that victory eludes them and the protests increase, including the UNSC resolution.

Conclusion 3:  Israel is losing this war, like in Lebanon in 2006. And more so: there will be nobody in Gaza accepting international monitoring; Hizbollah shared power, Hamas not.

And we who believe in a pre-1967 Israel’s right to exist, not the present construction, face a dilemma. We hope that the soft judaism of Spinoza and Buber will prevail, a Judaism of talmudic dialogue; not a hard-torah-zionist-Jabotinsky judaism. Liberate yourself from zionism–the misfortune–to save judaism.

Israel, beware: December 1987 you faced a stone-throwing intifadah. December 2008 you face missiles from south and north. And then what? The grave you are digging for yourself.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 12 Jan 2009.

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