Thursday 1 January 2009

Eyeless in Gaza

Depending on your age and upbringing, Eyeless in Gaza will stir memories of the Bible or a crap punk band.

The present slow-motion slaughter by the Israeli army is a demonstration of how blind and complacent many in the West have become to the "sledgehammer to crack a nut" approach of that state to its enemies.

This is no "drive the Jews into the sea" rant. In my younger days I had a lot of sympathy for the Israelis, many of whom were refugees fleeing terrible atrocities and persecution. I have visited Israel three times at various stages of my life.

Perhaps that's what makes me sadder and angrier - that the state the persecuted Jews have created is now indulging in the same atrocities their forefathers fled from.

The latest carnage is in retaliation for the death of an Israeli from a rocket attack on Sderot, which in turn was retaliation for an earlier Israeli incursion into Gaza that killed leading Hamas militants. No doubt this was in retaliation for something else and so on back to the Nakba in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes as the Jews fought to create a homeland for themselves.

The Nakba is why so many Palestinians are crowded into a barren strip of land called Gaza - this is little more than a giant refugee camp, along with others across the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan to which those displaced Palestinians fled all those years ago. Refugee camps that were meant to be temporary shelters before people returned home have become home to new generations of displaced Palestinians. Not surprisingly they seethe with the injustice doled out to their families and people. The refugee camps bred a new generation of armed resistance, of intifada and finally - in desperation - suicide bombers.

The Israelis were also complicit in building up the Islamic resistance within the Palestinian liberation movement, initially to undermine the dominance of Arafat's Fatah movement. As with the CIA's initial support for the Taliban (as a means to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan), this intelligence-led tactic has backfired on Israel because the Islamic forces grew to be a dominant force among Palestinians with Hamas winning democratic elections to the Palestinian Authority.

Of course, such democracy is there to be ignored by both Israel and the USA. Hamas was boycotted and targetted - "we don't talk to terrorists" became the mantra. Except that we know you do (ANC, IRA) and the Israeli state itself was founded on terrorism.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza are state terrorism - similar to WW2 Nazi atrocities such as Lidice, where an entire Czech village was butchered because local partisans had successfully killed the SS leader Heinrich Himmler.

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