Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Looking the Other Way

January 4, 2009
Almost everybody in the world would like the horrendous spectacle in Gaza to end as soon as possible. That is everybody except the United States government. The Israeli attack is a great occasion for a parting shot by Bush at Barack Obama, who has unfortunately also endorsed the concept that “terrorism” is the root cause of the US’s troubles. Bush is presenting the play book on how this policy plays out to Obama. It is gift wrapped from Bush with a note: continue this policy from the center.

Bush has exploited Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians to dig a hole for Obama. Obama’s total deafness and thunderous silence over the massive war crimes in Gaza cannot be excused by the shameful, evasive nonsense about there being “one president at a time.” May we recall that in this world, there are, aside from office holders, past and future, also responsible human beings who, in all decency, should know how to recognize and condemn war crimes against one and half million civilians in Gaza. Now deep in the hole that Bush is digging for him, Obama will not be able to rule from the center. He will have to “rule” from the center of the bottom of the hole that Bush has dug for him.

It may be formally true that there is only one president at a time, but silence in the face of war crimes by your ally, Mr. Obama, can only be construed as rank complicity. We are sorry about this and had hoped it would be different – since what you should have after CHANGE is DIFFERENCE. This silent complicity on your part is not even elegant and you will get drenched, even as you try to walk between the rain drops.

Riding the Tiger

Sadly enough, war plays for many deluded citizens in Israeli society the role of a utopian path to calm and bliss. Since Israel enjoys an almost absolute military superiority over Hamas and the Palestinians, for many Israelis, suffering over the years from rockets coming in from over the border, their plight can have only one explanation, i.e., a lack of resoluteness on the part of the leadership. The solution is obvious.
The problem intensifies over time because the leadership hides the true state of affairs which is that there cannot be an immediate solution for burning security problems which are the direct product of mistaken policies and political illusions.
Israel’s policies push her to war and war appears as the panacea. When anybody in the media or even in power suggests that Israeli options are not unlimited and that there are serious obstacles to the use of force that can cause the death of thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians, they are warned by the hard-liners that a cease fire would be tantamount to ignominious defeat. In Uri Avneri’s accurate description, Israel is riding the tiger and does not know how to get off.
For the present, the only way to stop the rockets involves de facto recognition of Hamas. And Hamas’s basic demand for open border crossings has universal approval. This solution, no rockets – no siege, which is quite rational, will not play in Tel Aviv as an Israeli victory, because it impairs previously existing absolute Israeli control of the border crossings. So by the logic of its attack, Israel is forced to raise the ante. Israel must continue its attack on Hamas and on the Palestinian civilian population in the name of “creating a new reality” which means convincing Hamas to discontinue rocket fire under threat of more death and destruction. This Israeli attempt at behavior modification of Hamas reminds one of a torture procedure. But most important, no one can know how many Palestinians, fighters and civilians must die in the attempt to eliminate Hamas from the political equation, just as no one knows how many Israelis, soldiers and civilians, must die for the new “improved, Hamasless” equation.

The Israelis are impelled to go further and further into to the muddy, muddy without any certainty that there is dry land, meaning ‘Gaza without Hamas’, anywhere in the vicinity. At the same time, their only friends, Bush & Co., are reading reports from the field that the Israeli operation, an ugly and horrendous affair by any account, is costing the U.S. and its allies more and more.
As world public opinion pushes the world community to do something to calm the gathering storm, Israel’s leaders maneuver desperately to escape the nearly universal call for an immediate cease fire.