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Going Blind In Gaza

January 4, 2009

Happy New Year

Has it really been two months? I guess it has.

The piece below was submitted to the local media here in Colorado…

Some years ago, I was a part of a circle that believed, because this country’s conservative media was churning out criticisms of Stalin, such claims must be exaggerations if not outright lies. It was not possible, we reasoned, that the Soviet Union was eating its own – repressing millions, wantonly destroying the environment and trampling democracy…in the name of building socialism. But not only was it possible, it happened.

If there was some exaggeration, especially where it concerned the Soviet military threat, much of the critique of the Soviet Union was accurate. Even now there are some old ideological warriors who cannot face the obvious: the Soviet Union was a failure. I think I understand their defensiveness. People who dedicate their lives to an idea, a utopia, find it difficult to believe that the project is flawed, no less bankrupt.

Which brings me to the subject of Israel and its more ardent supporters – Jewish or not – here in the United States. They, too, live in an ideological bubble of their own making that helps them explain away the current assault on Gaza and much else that Israel has done to the Palestinians in the past decades. Naively, they’d like to believe that Israel is a wonderful place. Israel could not possibly be committing war crimes in Gaza, the argument goes. Jews, we are told, don’t commit war crimes against other people. Words like `occupation’, `ethnic cleansing’ to say nothing of `war crimes’ – grate and are considered – despite their accuracy – as `inflammatory’ as I was once told not long ago. The logic continues: the claims of Israeli military brutality, of the oppressive nature of the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – supported by every US Administration for 42 years – must be blown all out of proportion The fact that people all over the world are critical of Israel is written off as some kind of global `anti-semitism’ – which it isn’t.

A few days ago, a friend sent me an email suggesting that the Palestinians were faking their sufferings in Gaza during the bombardment and that really, the situation wasn’t all that bad!

In the end, the facts are rather straight-forward and contradict the more halcyon scenarios: war crimes are being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. Nothing can justify this offensive, not Hamas rockets nor its suicide bombers. For its part, the Bush Administration, as it has for the past eight years, is supporting Israel’s inhumane policies if not conspiring with her. Politically unable to attack Iran, as he very much wanted to, or to launch another war against Lebanon, George Bush is putting all his political marbles in the Israeli attack on Gaza. It is Bush’s last ditch effort to leave the Middle East in such a mess that not even Barack Obama with all his charisma will be able to put the region back together again.

What is to be done?

Israel’s military offensive against Gaza should end immediately. Much of the world is demanding a cease-fire, an end to the siege of Gaza and the occupation of both the West Bank and Gaza, the opening of comprehensive international negotiations based upon UN resolutions to resolve the crisis. I join them. Such a political process would do more to insure Israel’s security and future prospects than all the bombs it is dropping on Gaza, yet the thinking in this direction seems remote, both in Israel and in Washington DC

Rob Prince
Lecturer, International Studies
Korbel School of International Studies

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