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A Pillar Built on Sand: What is Israel Really Up to in Gaza?

by JOHN MEARSHEIMER


Israel airstrike explodes over Gaza. Hamas’ retaliatory shelling is just a pretext. The real object is causing the Palestinians to self-deport. Ethnic cleansing.

In response to a recent upsurge in tit for tat strikes between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, Israel decided to ratchet up the violence even further by assassinating Hamas’s military chief, Ahmad Jabari. Hamas, which had been playing a minor role in these exchanges and even appears to have been interested in working out a long-term ceasefire, predictably responded by launching hundreds of rockets into Israel, a few even landing near Tel Aviv. Not surprisingly, the Israelis have threatened a wider conflict, to include a possible invasion of Gaza to topple Hamas and eliminate the rocket threat.

There is some chance that Operation ‘Pillar of Defence’, as the Israelis are calling their current campaign, might become a full-scale war. But even if it does, it will not put an end to Israel’s troubles in Gaza. After all, Israel launched a devastating war against Hamas in the winter of 2008-9 – Operation Cast Lead – and Hamas is still in power and still firing rockets at Israel. In the summer of 2006 Israel went to war against Hizbullah in order to eliminate its missiles and weaken its political position in Lebanon. That offensive failed as well: Hizbullah has far more missiles today than it had in 2006 and its influence in Lebanon is arguably greater than it was in 2006. Pillar of Defence is likely to share a similar fate.

Israel can use force against Hamas in three distinct ways. First, it can try to cripple the organisation by assassinating its leaders, as it did when it killed Jabari two days ago. Decapitation will not work, however, because there is no shortage of subordinates to replace the dead leaders, and sometimes the new ones are more capable and dangerous than their predecessors. The Israelis found this out in Lebanon in 1992 when they assassinated Hizbullah’s leader, Abbas Musawi, only to find that his replacement, Hassan Nasrallah, was an even more formidable adversary.

Second, the Israelis can invade Gaza and take it over. The IDF could do this fairly easily, topple Hamas and put an end to the rocket fire from Gaza. But they would then have to occupy Gaza for years to come, since if they left Hamas would come back to power, the rocket attacks would resume, and Israel would be back where it started.

An occupation of Gaza would trigger bitter and bloody resistance, as the Israelis learned in southern Lebanon between 1982 and 2000. After 18 years of occupation they conceded defeat and withdrew all their forces. This experience is the reason the IDF did not try to invade and conquer southern Lebanon in 2006 or Gaza in 2008-9. Nothing has changed since then to make a full-scale invasion of Gaza a viable alternative today. Occupying Gaza would also place another 1.5 million Palestinians under formal Israel control, thereby worsening the so-called ‘demographic threat’. Ariel Sharon withdrew Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005 to reduce the number of Palestinians living under the Israeli flag; going back now would be a huge strategic reversal.

The final, preferred option is aerial bombardment with aircraft, artillery, missiles, mortars and rockets. The problem, however, is that the strategy does not work as advertised. Israel used it against Hizbullah in 2006 and Hamas in 2008-9, but both groups are still in power and armed to the teeth with rockets and missiles. It is hard to believe that any serious defence analyst in Israel thinks another campaign of sustained bombardment against Gaza will topple Hamas and end the rocket fire permanently.

So what is going on here? At the most basic level, Israel’s actions in Gaza are inextricably bound up with its efforts to create a Greater Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the endless palaver about a two-state solution, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state, not least because the Netanyahu government is firmly opposed to it. The prime minister and his political allies are deeply committed to making the Occupied Territories a permanent part of Israel. To pull this off, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be forced to live in impoverished enclaves similar to the Bantustans in white-ruled South Africa. Israeli Jews understand this quite well: a recent survey found that 58 per cent of them believe Israel already practises apartheid against the Palestinians.

Creating a Greater Israel will produce even bigger problems, however. In addition to doing enormous damage to Israel’s reputation around the world, the quest for a Greater Israel will not break the will of the Palestinians. They remain adamantly opposed not only to the Occupation, but also to the idea of living in an apartheid state. They will continue to resist Israel’s efforts to deny them self-determination. What is happening in Gaza is one dimension of that resistance. Another is Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to ask the UN General Assembly on 29 November to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. This move worries Israel’s leaders, because it could eventually allow the Palestinians to file charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court. Thus, the dream of a Greater Israel forces Tel Aviv to find ways to keep the Palestinians at bay.

Israel’s leaders have a two-prong strategy for dealing with their Palestinian problem. First, they rely on the United States to provide diplomatic cover, especially in the United Nations. The key to keeping Washington on board is the Israel lobby, which pressures American leaders to side with Israel against the Palestinians and do hardly anything to stop the colonisation of the Occupied Territories.

The second prong is Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s concept of the ‘Iron Wall’: an approach that in essence calls for beating the Palestinians into submission. Jabotinsky understood that the Palestinians would resist the Zionists’ efforts to colonise their land and subjugate them in the process. Nonetheless, he maintained that the Zionists, and eventually Israel, could punish the Palestinians so severely that they would recognise that further resistance was futile.

Israel has employed this strategy since its founding in 1948, and both Cast Lead and Pillar of Defence are examples of it at work. In other words, Israel’s aim in bombing Gaza is not to topple Hamas or eliminate its rockets, both of which are unrealisable goals. Instead, the ongoing attacks in Gaza are part of a long-term strategy to coerce the Palestinians into giving up their pursuit of self-determination and submitting to Israeli rule in an apartheid state.

Israel’s commitment to the Iron Wall is reflected in the fact that its leaders have said many times since Cast Lead ended in January 2009 that the IDF would eventually have to return to Gaza and inflict another beating on the Palestinians. The Israelis were under no illusion that the 2008-9 conflict had defanged Hamas. The only question for them was when the next punishment campaign would start.

The timing of the present operation is easy to explain. For starters, President Obama has just won a second term despite Netanyahu’s transparent attempt to help Mitt Romney win the election. The prime minister’s mistake is likely to have hurt his personal relations with the president and might even threaten America’s ‘special relationship’ with Israel. A war in Gaza, however, is a good antidote for that problem, because Obama, who faces daunting economic and political challenges in the months ahead, has little choice but to back Israel to the hilt and blame the Palestinians.

The Israeli prime minter faces an election of his own in January and as Mitchell Plitnick writes, ‘Netanyahu’s gambit of forming a joint ticket with the fascist Yisrael Beiteinu party has not yielded anything close to the polling results he had hoped for.’ A war over Gaza not only allows Netanyahu to show how tough he is when Israel’s security is at stake, but it is also likely to have a ‘rally round the flag’ effect, improving his chances of being re-elected.

Nevertheless, Pillar of Defence will not achieve its ultimate goal of getting the Palestinians to abandon their pursuit of self-determination and accept living under the heel of the Israelis. That is simply not achievable; the Palestinians are never going to accept being consigned to a handful of enclaves in an apartheid state. Regrettably, that means Pillar of Defence is unlikely to be the last time Israel bombards Gaza.

Over the long term, however, the bombing campaigns may come to an end, because it is not clear that Israel will be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state. As well as resistance from the Palestinians, Israel has to face the problem that world opinion is unlikely to back an apartheid state. Ehud Olmert said in November 2007, when he was prime minister, that if ‘the two-state solution collapses’ Israel will ‘face a South-African-style struggle’, and ‘as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.’ One would think Israel’s leaders would appreciate where they are headed and allow the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own. But there is no sign that is happening; instead, Israel foolishly continues to rely on military campaigns like Pillar of Defence to break the Palestinians.

John J. Mearsheimer is an American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the co-author of The Israel Lobby.

This essay originally appeared in the London Review of Books.




Bloodbath in Gaza: Higgins and Lendman—two assessments

Who Started It?

The obscenity of this attack reminds us of nothing so much as the Nazis’ cowardly and murderous attack on the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto…Is that obvious and unavoidable parallel already forgotten among modern Israelis?—Eds


An Israeli bomb crater in Gaza. The density of population in this shutoff territory makes all attacks by practically unchallenged air power an state-of-the-art artillery an act of wanton murder against civilians..literally shooting fish in a barrel.

By Patrick Higgins
For days now, Israel has been launching aerial attacks on Gaza, resulting in many dead and many injured. The attacks are part of a larger and massively depressing spectacle of a usurping colony forcing a population into a wall-enclosed ghetto and bombing them in the name of Judaism and the Jews.

A New York Times article, published November 14th, reports on the death of Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed by one of Israel’s recent (“pinpoint,”* according to the article) airstrikes. Naturally, the article makes sly non-mention of the others—including the children—killed in the strikes. One phrase in the article reflects the Israeli government’s logic regarding the matter: “The ferocity of the airstrikes, in response to what Israel called repeated rocket attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian militants…”

The article goes on to bolster this logic when considering the always-tenuous ceasefire between Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, and Israel:

“Since [2008-2009] Hamas has mostly adhered to an informal, if shaky, cease-fire and at times tried to enforce the smaller militant groups to stick to it. But in recent months, under pressure from some of the Gaza population for not avenging deadly Israeli airstrikes, it has claimed responsibility for participating in the firing of rockets.”

So the question posed is, Who started it? When one reads the above words, one gets the sense that the “starting” of “it” amounts to a recent phenomenon, and that the question’s answer is to be found in recent events, circa last weekend. This logic upheld by the Israeli government and the U.S.’s “newspaper of record” is also upheld by—I apologize in advance for the astonishing lack of surprise here—the U.S. government.

At the end of his presidency, George W. Bush** justified Operation Cast Lead—Israel’s massacre of around 1,400 Palestinians—by saying Hamas started it by breaking a ceasefire with rocket fire.

First of all, that was never even true. Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4th, 2008, when it raided the Gaza Strip and killed six Hamas members. The raid was reported by the Guardian at the time. The event wasn’t really mentioned in the mainstream discussion of the U.S., which reveals something about the predominant U.S. attitude towards Israel and Gaza.

Supporters of Israel often brag about how Israel “withdrew” from Gaza, as if Gaza’s transition from formally occupied territory to open-air prison constituted a grand Israeli peace effort. But Israel breaches Gazan territory at will and becomes quite pestered when it’s met with resistance for doing so. This is perhaps unexceptional. Israel’s sponsor, the United States, similarly believes it owns everything and can do what it likes to whatever territories at any time. Just think of its vast drone network, always busy murdering civilians in places from Pakistan to Yemen.

Technically, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza offered Israel a truce as recently as November 12th. But let’s ask the question in a deeper sense: Who started it?

The question is easily answered, but it should be asked with more specificity: Who started the murderous settler-colonialism? (“Murderous settler-colonialism” is redundant, but I will nonetheless employ the phrase to make the point as clear as possible.)

Israel did, of course. The question of settler-colonialism is important. It clarifies. After all, settler-colonialism is a process. In Palestine, it’s always underway. More important to note is that it’s always violent.

Built into the settler-colonialist project is a plan to separate the people of the subject population from each other, severing individuals from their communities. In order for this to occur, the subject population’s present must become its past and that past must then be erased. This happens both through appropriation and through sheer destruction.

Sheer destruction is another art Israel has learned exceptionally well from its sponsor, the United States. One task undertaken by settler-colonialists in the U.S. was the mass extermination of North American bison (which, unbeknownst to far too many, still goes on today), dramatically changing the land that Native Americans knew so intimately. Similarly, Israel has for years been undertaking the mass extermination of olive trees, dramatically changing the land that Palestinians knew so intimately.

Indeed, the U.S. and Israel share values. Moreover, they share tactics. Their special relationship is drenched in a common genre of imagery: the imagery of death, as evidenced by the countless corpses of buffalo and olive trees, to say nothing of the countless corpses of people.

The blockade of Gaza is one form the violence of Israel’s settler-colonialism has taken. It’s not commonly regarded as violence in the U.S. After all, supporters of the U.S.’s sanctions on Iran so often consider them alternatives to violence.

Actually, sanctions are horrifyingly violent. The 500, 000 Iraqi children murdered by Bill Clinton’s sanctions in the 1990s are testament to the fact that those seeking to “cripple” economies are seeking to starve children.

The reality is the same in Gaza. One report by the United Nations has declared that it will become “unlivable” by 2020 if present conditions continue. Under these conditions, perpetual and vicious, rockets—made with the few materials to which access is possible—are resistance symbols, declarations of struggle, promises that Israel’s violence will not be accepted by Gaza, despite the military power of the forces arranged against it.

In summation, those who observe the violence in Palestine and feel compelled to scream to Palestinians about the necessity of recognizing Israel’s right to exist either cannot or will not recognize murderous settler-colonialism.

How about that question: Does Israel have a right to exist?

It is not typically good form to answer a question with a question, but because this particular question is a trick, I feel comfortable doing so. So: Can “Israel” be separated from the murderous settler-colonialism in which it has been engaged since its foundation?

Let’s suppose the answer is no. By that I mean that the Palestinian right of return continues to be denied and Israel’s racist system built on paranoia over demographics continues its violence. In that case, the answer to the question of whether Israel has a right to exist is as easy as the answer to the question of whether murderous settler-colonialism has a right to exist.

That is answer is no.

Nope.

Not a chance.

*Read “Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen,” published in the Guardian and written by Rory McCarthy, in which an Israeli official is quoted bragging about a “pinpoint” operation. Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner casually use exactly that word to describe Israel’s actions in the recent article “Israelis Launch Major Assault on Gaza, Killing Hamas Leader” in the New York Times.

**Bush was obviously awful, but what about Obama? Well, pro-Obama efforts only harm Gaza. He is the head of an imperial state. It’s his job not to give a shit about Palestinians.

Patrick Higgins is a writer living in Detroit. He can be E-mailed at higginspat@hotmail.com and followed on Twitter @DonnyDiggins.

_________

Targeting Civilians: Israel’s Specialty
By Stephen Lendman

Bullies choose easy adversaries to pummel. Equal fights are shunned. It’s the same in schoolyards or battlefields. America and Israel operate this way. They avoid foes able to give as much as they take. Rogue governments never say they’re sorry.  During Cast Lead in January 2009, Professor Jeremy Salt wrote “A Message to the brave Israeli Airmen.” His comments apply to what’s now ongoing.

What’s it like firing missiles at people you can’t see, he asked? Does it help being unable to see who you’re killing? Is your conscience eased by inflicting disproportionate force on people unable to fight back and civilian infrastructure? Are you comfortable about slaughtering civilian men, women, children, and infants? Does this weigh on your conscience, or are you at ease? Do you sleep well or have nightmares about men, women and children you killed at home, in beds, kitchens, living rooms, schools, mosques, at work, or at play?

Do farmers in their fields, mothers with children, teachers in classrooms, imams in mosques, children at play, the elderly, frail or disabled threaten your security? Do you ever question what you’ve done and why? Have you no shame, no sense of decency, no idea of the difference between right and wrong? Do you know the law? If so, why do you violate it? Doing so makes you complicit in crimes of war and against humanity? Do you know that?  Do you blindly follow orders or have a mind of your own? Have you murdered civilians before? Will you do it again if ordered? Will you keep following orders blindly or do the right thing?

“Brave” Israeli airmen, soldiers, sailors, and other security force personnel are cowards. They’ve acted lawlessly for decades.

Palestinian suffering is a way of life. Imagine living every day not sure if you’ll live or die. Imagine young children growing up this way. Do Israeli children know what Palestinian ones endure? Are they told? Do they care? Do their parents? Israel’s moving thousands of troops and heavy weapons to Gaza’s border. Mossad-connected DEBKAfile said:

“Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and the high IDF command are pushing for the ground operation, Stage B of the Pillar of Cloud operation, to start without delay. The prime minister and defense minister prefer to wait.”

Another potential holocaust looms. Civilians always suffer most. Israel and America willfully target them. It part of the imperial strategy of both countries. Human lives don’t matter, just conquest, dominance, and exploitation. Cast Lead took a terrible toll. Missiles, bombs, shells, and illegal weapons were used against defenseless people. Mass slaughter and destruction followed.

Horrific crimes of war and against humanity were committed. Responsible officials remain unaccountable. Security Council no-fly zone protection wasn’t ordered. Over 1,400 Gazans perished. More than 80% were civilians. Over 300 were children. Around 5,300 were injured. Over 1,600 were children or infants. Israel willfully targeted them. Neighborhoods, schools, universities, mosques, hospitals, UN facilities, fishing boats, civilian factories and workshops, municipal buildings, charitable foundations, civilian infrastructure, and other noncombatant sites were bombed and shelled.

Farmland was bulldozed. Power facilities and irrigations systems were destroyed. International leaders were indifferent about human slaughter and suffering. Only three low-level Israeli soldiers received punishments too minor to matter. The al-Samouni family lost 27 members. Salah Talala al-Samouni saw his mother blown apart. Rocket and shell fire killed his two-year old daughter, father, aunt, cousin, and entire family. Media scoundrels said nothing. They support Israel’s worst crimes.

Under siege, Gazans haven’t recovered from Cast Lead. Now they face the prospect of more war perhaps worse than 2008-09. International leaders share culpability through silence, indifference, and/or complicity. Washington is involved in all Israeli wars. Weapons, munitions and funding are supplied. Political support is given. Obama told Netanyahu, go ahead and bomb and shell at will. Call it “self-defense” and pretend no one knows it’s not. On November 15, the Senate unanimously passed a non-binding supportive resolution. Not a single profile in courage expressed opposition.

AIPAC thanked Obama and Senate members for supporting Israel. Gazan civilians and resistance fighters are maliciously called terrorists. They’re heroes, not criminals. On November 14, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national director Abe Foxman expressed support for Israeli bombing and shelling, saying:

“Israel has shown tremendous restraint in the face of the unceasing rocket and mortar fire launched from Gaza.  This operation is directly targeting the leadership responsible for these attacks, as well as the warehouses and facilities housing their weapons.”

“No country in the world would stand by and tolerate such attacks on more than a million civilians.”

“The international community has a clear obligation to condemn these attacks and to support the actions taken by Israel against Hamas and other terror organizations operating in Gaza as Israel carries out its basic duty to defend its civilian population.”

For almost a century, ADL fronted for Jewish supremacy. It backs occupation harshness. It’s mindless about Palestinian suffering. It conducts smear campaigns against critics. Its entire history is loathsome. Israeli crimes are called self-defense. It plays the same blame the victim game as Israel, Washington, AIPAC, and other Zionist organizations. Only Jewish rights matter. Palestinians are criminalized for defending themselves. Israel agreed to halt military operations during Egyptian Prime Minister Hersham Kandil’s visit. He and Egyptian cabinet ministers arrived in Gaza Thursday. He’ll return Friday. Israeli attacks continued. At Al Shifa Hospital, Kandil visited victims. He denounced Israeli attacks, saying: “This tragedy cannot pass in silence, and the world should take responsibility for stopping this aggression.” Cairo will try to mediate a truce, he added.

Since Saturday, over 40 Palestinians were killed. Hundreds more were injured. Many are in serious condition. Dozens of air strikes continue. Death and injury numbers may rise exponentially. Current figures underestimate the toll because some victims lie beneath rubble. The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said Israel conducted 30 sorties in less than 30 minutes on Friday. At 10PM Thursday, the IDF said it struck 70 targets in the previous hour.

Civilian sites and government buildings were bombed and shelled. Two UN schools were struck. Heavy damage was reported. The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies said a church under construction was targeted. IMEMC said, “Children, infants, women and elderly are among the casualties, including children whose bodies were severely mutilated and burnt due to Israeli shells. A pregnant woman and her unborn fetus are among the killed.”

Gazan resistance fighters said they won’t honor truce conditions as long as Israel keeps killing Palestinian men, women, children, infants, and the elderly. On Thursday evening, a Beit Hanoun home was bombed. Three children died. One was nine years old.  A 10-month old infant was killed when another home was struck. Through early Friday morning, at least eight children, a pregnant woman, and two elderly men died. Thirty thousand IDF reservists were called up. Military leaves were cancelled. Tanks, armored vehicles, and troops are mobilizing on Gaza’s border. Invasion looks ominously likely. On November 16, Mathaba said the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) “received numerous complaints on the atrocities and possible war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”

On November 20 and 21, two days of open hearings will be held. Commission members include former Magistrate Musa Ismail, former Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Dean Zulaiha Ismail, Center for Global Research Director Michel Chossudovsky, and two former Iraq UN humanitarian coordinators – Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday. On November 16, Alternative News.org headlined “No safe haven: Civilians under attack in the Gaza Strip.” An eyewitness visited Al Shifa Hospital. Many injured Gazans are in serious condition.

Forty-year old Salem Waqef suffered brain injury. He’s in a coma on a ventilator. It’s unclear if he’ll survive. Ten-month old Haneen Tafesh was admitted unconscious. She suffered a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage. She’s also in a coma on a ventilator. Doctors said her condition deteriorated since admitted. Hours later she died. Ahmed Durghmush suffered brain trauma. Shrapnel penetrated his skull. Brain matter protruded from his head wound. His condition also deteriorated after surgery.

Throughout Thursday, emergency room staff were handling numerous arrivals. Injuries range from easily treatable to severe to life threatening. Justice Ministry public information director, Khalid Hamad, was at home when shelling targeted a neighbor’s house. Israel “targeted civilians deliberately,” he said. “The Israeli forces don’t make mistakes.”

Thirteen-year old Duaa Hejazi was brought in “bleeding a lot.” She sustained upper body shrapnel wounds. Pieces are still embedded in her chest. She sent a message to other Gazan children, saying:

“I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this. They are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said. If you’re a mountain, the wind won’t shake you. We’re not afraid. We’ll stay strong.”

Al Shifa director general Dr. Mithad Abbas explained the dire conditions under which hospital staff must cope, saying:

“When those cases arrive at our hospital, it is not under normal circumstances. They come on top of the siege, the blockade, which has resulted in a lack of vital medicines and required medical supplies.” Al Shifa lacks essential medicines, some equipment and supplies. They include antibiotics, IV fluid, anesthesia, gloves, catheters, external fixators, Heparin, sutures, detergents and spare parts for medical equipment. Power outages exceed 12 hours daily. Small amounts of fuel maintain operations at those times. Dr. Abbas said his supply will be exhausted in days if current conditions continue.

He doesn’t know where the next missile or shell will strike. Perhaps Al Shifa will be targeted. Israel considers all civilian sites fair game.

On November 15, the Global BDS Movement issued the following statement in part:

“Stop a New Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boycott Israel Now!”

Despite biased Western media reports, Israel “initiated and escalated this new assault on the eve of its upcoming parliamentary elections, underlining the time-honored Israeli formula of Palestinian bodies for ballots. Israel will continue its belligerence, aggression and state terrorism unless it is made to pay a heavy price for its crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples. It is high time for BDS against Israel.  This is the clearest path to freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians and the entire region.”

At issue also is a pending November 29 vote on Palestinian UN non-member observer status. Israel and Washington have gone all out to subvert it. Member States have all the more reason to support Palestine. In less than two weeks we’ll know. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah urged Arab leaders to use all means to halt Israeli attacks on Gaza. “No one is telling Arab countries today, ‘Please go open your borders and begin the operation to liberate Palestine.’ What we want is to end the attack on Gaza.” This is everyone’s battle…We’re not asking you for a solution. We’re asking for effort.”

“Some say the Arabs don’t have the courage to stop oil production. Decrease your oil exports or raise the price a little and you will shake the United States. You will shake Europe. Brothers, if you can’t cut off oil, decrease your production or raise the price. Put on some pressure. No one is calling for armies or tanks or planes.”

Nasrallah called Israel’s Gaza attack “criminal aggression.” Multiple crimes of war and against humanity are committed. Much is at stake in Palestine, the region and beyond. Washington’s aggressive wars continue. New ones are planned. Israel’s a key partner. Both countries have imperial agendas. War features prominently in achieving them.

Michel Chossudovsky calls attacking and invading Gaza “part of the broader US-NATO-Israel military agenda.” Based on what’s happened post-9/11, expect the worst ahead.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour




Ahmed al-Jabari (1960 – 2012)

by Stephen Lendman


Ahmed al-Jabari (l), days before his assassination.

On November 15, thousands in Gaza City residents mourned al-Jabari ‘s assassination. Israel murdered him the previous day in cold blood.  Score another victory for occupation harshness. Add one to the column of Israeli crimes against humanity. Volumes are needed to list them. Israel lives by the sword of injustice. One day perhaps it will perish for its villainy. Hamas officials and Qassam Brigades leaders stayed away from al-Jabari ‘s funeral for their safety. They’re marked men. IDF spokesman General Yoav Mordechai said, “Were I a Hamas operative, I would opt to shelter underground.”

Mourners carried al-Jabari ‘s body ritualistically. Others fired guns in the air chanting, “You have won.”

London Telegraph writer Phoebe Greenwood said Gazans called his assassination “the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. The people are saying that ‘we don’t care. We want all our men to fight. We’ve got nothing to lose now.’ ”  Gaza is in “emergency mode.” People are angry and defiant. The London Independent headlined “Massed Israeli troops poised for invasion of Gaza,” saying:

“Military sources told The Independent that a ground invasion was ‘a distinct possibility.’ The army has deployed extra infantry units near the Gaza border, halted major exercises, cancelled soldiers’ leave and mobilized some reserve forces.” The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and its military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade, mourns al-Jabari ‘s death. They called him a martyred liberating struggle “great leader.”

They promised greater resistance. They called for Palestinian unity and solidarity against a common enemy. PFLP’s Political Bureau spokesman said:

“The crime committed by the Zionist gangs by assassinating martyr commander Ahmed al-Jabari represents a new crime against our people, and confirms beyond any doubt that we are facing an aggressive, racist terrorist entity that does not understand anything but the language of confrontation and resistance.”

They promised Israel would pay a heavy price. Its crime won’t go unpunished. al-Jabari was born in 1960 in Gaza City’s Shujaiyya neighborhood. His family was activist. He earned a BA degree in history at Gaza’s Islamic University. Earlier he allied with Fatah. In 1982, he was imprisoned for 13 years. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood before Hamas was established.

He met future Qassam Brigades leader Salah Shehadeh and other Hamas figures. He became politically and militarily active. After release from prison in 1995, he ran a Hamas-affilated organization. It worked for current and former prisoners. In 1997, he worked with the Hamas-connected Islamic Redemption party. In 2002, an Israeli air strike killed Shehadeh and seriously injured his successor, Mohamed Deif. In August 2004, al-Jabari gained Qassam Brigades operational control. He built it into a 10,000-strong force.

He helped Hamas maintain control of Gaza after Abbas established an illegitimate West Bank coup d’etat government. He’s known as Qassam Brigades commander. He was actually second in command to the figure who hasn’t been seen since the early 1990s. Called “the general,” he survived several earlier assassination attempts.

In 2004, Israeli helicopters targeted his Shujaiyya home. He was slightly wounded. His oldest son, Muhammad, his brother, and three other relatives were killed at the time. He gained prominence for his role in capturing Gilat Shalit and negotiating his release in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. After Cast Lead, he gained greater political influence. Haaretz writer Jack Khoury asked “Who was Ahmed al-Jabari ? He was well known and respected in Gaza. He didn’t gain prominence until negotiations for Shalit’s release. Many considered him the most important military and political Hamas leader.

“A former inmate who shared his prison cell told Haaretz that al-Jabari was a dominant figure in the prison.”

“We would sit and drink tea. It was a different period, before the first intifada, and he wasn’t considered a leader at that time and didn’t think he would reach such a senior position.”

In Gaza, he was active in Hamas’ charitable work. He was in charge of coordinating fundraising and military activities. He became influential in establishing ties with senior Hamas figures abroad. In 1998, the PA arrested him. He was released when the second Intifada erupted in September 2000. Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin said Israel erred in killing him. Lives on both sides will be lost. Hours before he was assassinated, he got a truce agreement draft. It included ways for establishing ceasefire in case of future flare-ups.

Israel knew he was working with Egypt to establish permanent truce. Nonetheless, they killed him.

Israel abhors peace and stability. Its agenda depends on conflict and violence. It blames victims for its own crimes. It gets away with murder with impunity. Blood could have been spared, said Baskin. Instead, Israel chose to keep living by the sword. Netanyahu will probably benefit in January elections. Israelis aren’t smart enough to spurn him. Baskin said al-Jabari believed Israeli/Palestinian hostility benefited neither side. Several times he prevented Hamas attacks on Israel. When rockets were launched, open spaces were targeted to avoid Israeli casualties.

Baskin showed Defense Minister Barak a copy of the draft truce agreement. Instead of choosing conflict resolution, he “decided not to decide.”

al-Jabari “was in line to die, not an angel and not a righteous man of peace, but his assassination also killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators’ ability to function.” In other words, peace was possible. Israel willfully sabotaged it. They did it other times to perpetuate conflict. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli belligerence and violence.

Baskin added:

“I am mainly sad. This is sad for me. I am seeing people getting killed and that is what is making me sad. I tell myself that with every person who is killed we are engendering the next generation of haters and terrorists.”

Israel killed al-Jabari to further violent conflict. Haaretz contributor Aluf Benn said “Israel killed its subcontractor in Gaza.”

al-Jabari was in charge of maintaining Gaza security. Israel relied on him to maintain order. At the same time, he was called “an arch-terrorist,” “the terror chief in charge,” and “our bin Laden.”

Israel pulls the same stunts as Washington. Enemies are invented to stoke fear. Benn said in return for maintaining order, Israel funded Hamas “through the flow of shekels in armored trucks to banks in Gaza, and continued to supply infrastructure and medical services to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.”

Amounts given were woefully inadequate. It’s surprising anything was provided under conditions of siege. al-Jabari was also key in securing Shalit’s release. In captivity, he ensured his welfare and safety. Perhaps his subcontractor services weren’t good enough. He could control Hamas but not other resistance groups. He was warned to restrain them. Israel’s message was clear. “You failed, you’re dead.”

According to Barak, “In the Middle East, there is no second chance for the weak.” Killing al-Jabari will be remembered as another pre-election gambit to win votes. Professor Yagil Levy calls it “fanning the conflict as an intra-state control strategy.” External conflict enlists domestic support for greater safety and security. Israel chose this route many times before. Cast Lead was most recent on the eve of 2009 elections.

It helped elect Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu hopes he’ll be advantaged the same way. On January 22 he’ll know. At the same time, Israel needs a new Gaza subcontractor.  It also has other regional challenges. Post-election, it remains to be seen if Israel loses more than it gains by killing al-Jabari . Palestinians and supporters intend to see things turn out that way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” 

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour




Naked Israeli Aggression

by Stephen Lendman


Palestinian father kisses baby girl killed by recent Israeli airstrike. While Israelis also suffer occasional casualties, the ratio of dead and wounded is grotesquely stacked against the Palestinians, a reflection of their lack of heavy weapons, including tanks, air force, a navy and so on, not to mention extremely sophisticated rocket delivery systems. Meanwhile, as this endless war rages, in lalaland the inhabitants, whose country has so much to do with this horrid situation, prepare for their Thanksgiving fest while the networks burn scandalous amount of time in the usual frivolities, including countless shopping and cooking shows. How long can a superpower like this stand without collapsing from moral rot?—PG

Since 1948, Israel waged varying intensity war on Palestine. Crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide are committed regularly. World community inaction lets Israel get away with murder.  Operation Pillar of Cloud (aka Cloud Column/Pillar of Defense) is Israel’s latest naked aggression.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire; to give them the light; to go by day and night:” Exodus 13.21.


On the assumption that a hidden crime is more likely to be classified as a crime than an open boast, Israeli psyops cynically released this poster, announcing the death of Hamas leader Ahmed Jaabari. The dehumanizing treatment of Palestinians by the Zionist Israeli government is a stain on the long tradition of Jewish heroic resistance to oppression. In fact as the 2012 election indicates, most American jews, long the chief support for Israeli intransigence, seem to be walking away from Israel’s hard right crimes as standard policy.

Israel apparently believes Almighty God sanctifies cold-blooded murder. Self-defense claims don’t wash. They never do. Killing Hamas military commander Ahmed Jaabari in cold blood intensified Israeli attacks. They began Saturday. They replicate what Israel did so often before. Israel bombs, shells, ravages, and murders civilian men, women and children with impunity. A special place in hell awaits responsible rogues in charge. Palestinian supporters worldwide condemn them.

Cast Lead 2.0 looms. The lives of 1.7 innocent people are at risk. They’re trapped inside the world’s largest open air prison. They’re sitting ducks. There’s no place to hide. Israel takes full advantage. Mondoweiss published a list of scheduled Emergency Global Actions for Gaza. Silence and inaction aren’t options. Accountability time is long overdue.

Evening November 14:

▪    Jerusalem – Damascus Gate, 7:00PM
▪    Ramallah – al Manara Square, 7:00PM
▪    Bethlehem – Manger Square, 7:30PM
▪    Tel Aviv – Ehud Barak’s doorstep, 8:00PM
▪    Istanbul | al Fateh Mosque, 9:00PM
▪    London | Israeli Embassy
▪    Quebec | Hall Building, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve West, 6:00PM

November 15:

▪    George Mason Univesity – Free Speech Square, 1:30PM
▪    Nashville – Centennial Park, 3:00PM
▪    Washington DC – Israeli Embassy, 3:30PM
▪    San Francisco – Israeli Consulate, 5:15PM
▪    New York – Israeli Consulate, 42nd Street & 2nd Ave, 5:00PM
▪    Boston – Copley Square, 4:30PM
▪    Chicago – Outside Obama HQ, 130 E Randolph Street, 4:00PM
▪    Montreal – Hall Building, Concordia University, 5:00PM
▪    Vancouver – The Art Gallery, 5:00PM
▪    Toronto – Israeli Consulate, 180 Bloor Street (east of St. George TTC), 6:00PM
▪    London – Israeli Embassy, 5:30PM
▪    Brighton (UK) – Outside EcoStream HQ, 12:00PM
▪    Brighton (UK) – Victoria Gardens, 5:30PM
▪    Bradford (UK) – 4.30PM
▪    Oxford (UK) – Cornmarket Street, 4:00PM
▪    Dublin – Israeli Embassy, 5:30PM
▪    Belfast – City Hall, 7:00PM
▪    Paris – Ministry of Justice, 6PM
▪    Jerusalem – Outside Hebrew University, 12:00PM
▪    Beirut – Cola, 10:00AM
▪    Sydney – Parmatta Town Hall, 6PM

November 16:
Cairo – Tahrir Square
▪    Washington DC – March from State Department, 6:00PM
▪    San Francisco | Israeli Consulate, 4:00PM
▪    Manchester (UK) – Picadilly Gardens, 5:00PM

SATURDAY, 17 Nov

▪    Stockholm – 3PM
▪    Oslo –  3PM

Mondoweiss co-editor Philip Weiss is in Bethlehem. He called the West Bank mood “resigned” and “edgy.” Demonstrations were urged.  Scattered ones occurred in Nablus, Jenin, Qalqilia, Hebron, Bethlehem, and near Ofer military base. Israel responded violently. Protesters were attacked with rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas. Injuries were reported. Gaza’s health minister Mofeed al-Mkhallalaty said what’s happening is “a comprehensive war launched by Israel against the civilian population of Gaza killing the elderly, children and infants.”

He called for international action to stop it. Gaza’s main Al Shifa Hospital and other medical facilities can’t handle the severe casualties needing urgent treatment. At least 15 Palestinians were killed. Over 150 were injured. Expect casualty totals to rise. Israel shows no mercy. Unconfirmed reports suggest the IDF is using white phosphorous and other illegal weapons. It’s likely. Israel uses them in all its wars. New ones are tested in real time. Doctors report injuries never seen before.

Mondoweiss contributor Waleed al-Meadana headlined “Almost Dead: An eyewitness report from Gaza,” saying: “Death smells! Blood stains the walls. Pieces of grained human flesh spread everywhere, and broken glass is scattered. I can recognize a hand, and some parts of the head.”

“Trees are torn apart some steps away. They are laying dead. And a car is still firing. Or what is left of it. Appalled faces. Shaking voices.”  “The sky is weird. Gloomy clouds, bleak scenes, some kind of strange feeling alongside the smell of human blood, and children. Children are gathering up the remnants of the fragmented body.”  He lives in Gaza. He’s never been this close to Israeli crimes, he added. He’s witnessing Israeli barbarity firsthand. Before it ends, he may be lucky to survive in one piece. “Israeli arrogance….showers us with bombs and hate.”

Israel said a ground invasion “is only a matter of time.” An emergency November 14 Security Council meeting was held. Ban Ki-moon made his usual dismissive comment. He urged both sides to exercise “maximum restraint and to respect international law.”

Washington blocked possible condemnation of Israel. Ambassador Susan Rice is an unprincipled defender of naked aggression and mass murder. She ignored Israel’s premeditated war on Gaza. She condemned the victims.  “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel,” she said. “We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately.”

“Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza nor to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination and independence.”

Comments like these don’t rise to the level of bad fiction. What’s happening in Gaza is very real. Since December 27, 2008, Israel murdered well over 1,500 Gazans, injured around 6,000, and caused widespread destruction of non-military related sites.

PA UN ambassador Riyad Mansour said:

“Once again the international community is witness to Israel’s malicious onslaught, using the most lethal military means and illegal measures against the defenseless Palestinian civilian population. A direct firm message must be sent to Israel to cease immediately its military campaign against the Palestinian people and to abide…. by its obligations under international law. The Israeli occupying forces are now mobilizing on the ground as we speak. Fear and panic are spreading among the Palestinian civilian population.”

Israel perhaps is readying a large-scale invasion. The Palestine News Network (PNN) reported Israeli paratroopers and Givati Brigade members heading for Gaza’s border. IDF officials said Israel “will do whatever is needed to restore calm to Israeli towns in the south.”

PNN said IDF forces held training exercises in recent weeks. They’re preparing for a possible Gaza offensive. Increasingly it looks likely. Military commanders said its scale will exceed Cast Lead.  Netanyahu addressed Israelis on nationwide TV. He said Israel is prepared and ready for a large-scale offensive. In his November 14 press conference, Obama said nothing about Israeli aggression. He told Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by phone that Israel has the “right to self-defense.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the following:

“We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately…We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast strongly condemned Israeli attacks and atrocities, saying:

“We believe one of the objective of these crimes is covering up the domestic problems of the Zionist regime.”

Syria also denounced what it called “barbaric Israeli crimes.” It called on the international community to condemn them. Condolences were extended to the families of victims. Arab solidarity is needed. So is worldwide support for a people victimized by Israeli savagery. US television so far ignored it. Print media reports one-sidedly support Israel. Naked aggression is called self-defense. On November 14, The New York Times headlined “Another Israel-Gaza War?” saying:

“No country should have to endure the rocket attacks that Israel has endured from militants in Gaza, most recently over the past four days. The question is how to stop them permanently.”

Blaming Israel’s victims is official editorial policy. Hamas and other resistance groups are condemned for defending themselves against savage Israeli attacks. At the same time, The Times called another full-scale ground war “especially risky.” Concern isn’t about mass killing and destruction. Cast Lead didn’t “solve the problem,” it said.

The unexplained problem is millions of Palestinians wanting to live free in their own country, on their own land. They want occupation harshness ended. They want Israeli aggression condemned and punished. They want long denied equity, justice and freedom. Hamas is Palestine’s legitimate government. The Times calls it “a dangerous adversary that may never accept Israel’s right to exist.”

It won’t ever accept Israeli belligerence and oppression. Nor do millions of Palestinians and worldwide supporters. The Times and other media scoundrels won’t explain.

Haaretz did no better. It editorialized irresponsibly. “Calm things down,” it said. Assassinated Hamas leader Ahmed Jaabari “dedicated his life to war against Israel.” Killing him tells Hamas to choose “more moderate” officials.

Southern Israeli security “became impossible in recent days.” Gaza rocket attacks threaten residents, said Haaretz. Calming things down depends on pointing fingers the right way.  Hamas, other resistance groups, and all Gazans are victims. Israel provocatively committed aggression. Days of bombing, shelling, and killing were premeditated. Self-defense is inviolable.

Responsible journalists should explain it. Running cover for lawlessness is unconscionable. So is global community silence.
International law obligates world leaders to condemn crimes of war and against humanity. It’s long past time Israel was held fully accountable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour