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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The history repeats as farce at Gaza strip

Lessons From Gaza Strip

Implications of the Israeli assault on Gaza

Humiliation hatches desperation. Desperation hatches hatred. Hatred in its extreme form transforms itself into violence and terrorism. Though not always direct, there is a definite correlation between the acts of coercion, exploitation and oppression, whether real or imaginary, with the acts of terrorism. As the terrorists implement the supposedly retaliatory programs to provide ‘justice’ to the victims, it is the civilians that form the soft and low risk target. This leads to indiscriminate violence leading to panic and dread in the people which the perpetrators occasionally bother to justify as the collateral damage in the course of a struggle to achieve justice. No population in the world is currently immune from this menace of terrorism and the new phobia is growing to the extent of making the people paranoid about the ‘other’ people.

One of the many graffiti pictures on a wall that separates Palestine and Israel

 By No Lands Too Foreign 
taken on February 22, 2010 

Parallel to this ordinary terrorism, there has run an extraordinary reign of terror in the human history. This seems often less offensive and preferred and pleasant act for privileged people. It has proven its might by taking hostage the human rights, civil liberties and democratic principles for decades altogether. By now, a vigilant reader must be pretty sure what I mean by all this. It is the state terror or the state sponsored terrorism that has surfaced every now and then in the human history, often because a clique of ruling elites has felt threatened.

If there is anything that is worse than the worst state terror, then it is the current Israeli assault on Gaza strip. Israel has got clear plan of action based on comprehensive assessment of the situation. First, the Palestinians failed to be eliminated themselves forming a nuisance to the ever prospering state of Israel. Second, they failed to comply the second alternative given to them: they refused to evacuate the Palestinian territory fully by fleeing to other countries to ensure a smooth expansion of the Jewish settlements. Third, they dared to elect an inherently anti-Israel force Hamas instead of the thoroughly corrupt and discredited Fatah in the elections. Fourth and the only expressed accusation, they failed to stop firing rockets into the Israeli territory from their side of the border. Being a state established and prospered through disproportionate military superiority to the Arab world, Israel can thus barely avoid the wars like this one and the previous assault supposed to be on Hezbollah.

Sitting in an ill-lit room in a strategically insignificant third world country, I am bewildered watching the images of collapsing buildings in Gaza with flames and smoke ruling the day while Palestinians suffer inexpressibly. What is the world to do at the moment? As ever the UN has reproved its impotency in crucial matters with the US rebuffing even a call for ceasefire. This reminds me of tumultuous days of early thirties when the League of Nations kept showing similar impotency as the deadly WW II was being conceived. The Europeans are restless with the humanitarian crisis of starving people in Gaza as they keep condoning the Israel’s very act of mutilating and killing hundreds while starving the thousands. Their press conferences and Jerusalem-centered approaches to end the assault feel like an unpleasant humor of negotiating with the tiger to save the lamb.

I am indeed perplexed, how little the neighbors of Israel, the EU members, can influence its depopulating strategy given the US keeps backing Israel. It is interesting to watch the cadaveric expression in the faces of the Europeans as the Israelis defy the English language to justify an unjustifiable war; this reminds me the years of mid 1930’s, when Hitler kept throttling more states as England and France kept simply feeling uncomfortable. The Europeans now feel an urge to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza but lack the will power to anger Israel by calling it to stop the atrocities.

It is, however, this extreme hypocrisy that has come in defense of the much touted ‘western’ values of justice and so on when their impotency in such crucial moments is threatening to invalidate them. The stark contrast with which they have responded to the humanitarian crises earlier also tells much about the story. They reached to the extent of bombing Yugoslavia with NATO planes to the extent of creating another worse humanitarian crisis in the name of containing the one. Treachery, barbarity, savagery, almost everything is justifiable so long as it serves their interest and even the democratic process becomes a despotism when it does the reverse.

Whenever they commit an act of terror, the terrorists attempt to justify it by linking the victims of the act to their involvement or association with the perpetrators of the arbitrary injustice. That justification is often distorted, sometimes exaggerated, occasionally a plain lie; but almost always it intends to impose its version of truth on people, not convince them logically. This has been the exact case with the Israeli State Terror. Like the US invasion of Iraq based on the hoax of WMD, it has stated the arbitrary aim of stopping rocket attacks and ‘unprovoked aggression’ by Hamas and has been indiscriminately bombing the schools, hospitals, mosques and whatever. The pious words of ‘aiming to create a situation in which both Israeli and Palestinian civilians can live with peace after menace of Hamas terror is eliminated’ do nothing but illustrate how pleasant words can be abused to justify obscene acts of barbarity.

Beginning to think about this sordid story, I become enraged just like the other protestors in worldwide demonstrations. The drama of negotiation and gap-bridging by European diplomats in Jerusalem becomes more than tolerable and I perspire in agitation. The moment the role of the US, the nucleus of worldwide state terror in Chomsky’s evaluation, enters my mind, I find no words to justify the emotion. I just condole myself that a smooth inheritance of the foreign policy based on bullying others from Bush to Obama, that took place 4 years back, has only accelerated the process of demolition of the outdated world order based on intimidation and aggression by the powerful states. After all, the process has already started and Israel’s desperation to assault Gaza at this particular moment in history also keeps meaning. It has felt threatened by the clear message in the wall: the world is not going to remain like this for ever.

You can be easily excused if you think this commentary was written in the context of ongoing conflict in Gaza strip. But, in fact, I wrote and posted it on 6 January 2009 when the Israeli Operation Cast Lead was ongoing with full force. By amending two sentences, I could make it to more or less represent the present scenario.

Many things have changed over these four years, except for the plight of the Palestinians. Meanwhile, the paradoxes in the region have only deepened and multiplied. Hamas, the once uncontaminated enemy of the Washington-Tel Aviv axis, has gone through a peculiar moment of flux. Now the crucial neighbors and allies of Israel in the region, Qatar, Turkey and Egypt are all ruled by either its parent organization Brotherhood or forces friendly to them. Yet with probable exception of an evolving Egypt, the others are two of the most sound pillars of US-centered world order where it is perfectly legitimate to shoot fifty Palestinian children if Israel feels that is required to thwart an imaginary attack to its citizen some time in future.

So where does this take us? Some analysts have ingeniously implicated other factors like the Hams-Fatah rivalry and domestic developments in Israel as the factors behind current escalation. But the most troubling implication of the ongoing assault (that obviously means a disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel) is that little has really changed in the region even after the regime changes that swept across the region over the past two years. With a treacherous proxy war raging in Syria where the rebels supported by Qatar and Turkey (and circumstantially by Israel too) fight Assad regime, the Muslim Brotherhood now faces a formidable dilemma. 

While the momentum of change in Egypt demands a radical shift in relationship with Israel (that logically includes withdrawing from the Camp David Accords), economic and other geopolitical constraints make that option fraught with danger. This way, Egyptian MB is a divided house even as a Morsi is now understood to be making all attempts to establish a ceasefire between the two sides. For the Turk emperor-in-making Erdogan, the challenges are different but equally grave. While his defy-Israel stunts in the aftermath of deadly Israeli assault on Mavi Marmara were widely taken for his genuine bravado, subsequent developments have proved it to the contrary. His roar demanding dethroning of rulers from Gaddhafi to Assad has now been limited to labelling Israel a terrorist state knowing well that the state terrorism of Israel emanates from the unconditional support of the same benefactor US to whom he too is cringing equally strongly. And of course, there is no need to mention the double game of Qatar, the ambitious architect of new democracy in West Asia that comes through bombing. No matter how vocal it is in supporting the Palestinians, its ties with Washington are unquestionable. This effectively means Turkey and Qatar can no way even think of upsetting Israel's applecart regardless of the rhetoric of solidarity or condemnation.

This leaves the people in Gaza in a very bleak situation: accept all Israel gives, witness the river of blood and insane wave of destruction of property; still be condemned by the US and its European allies for bothering Israel with terrorist attacks. Listen all the pious rhetoric from Erdogan, accept solidarity from the Emir of Qatar (I never know if that accompanies a reasonable sum of aid) yet observe how they are mere tools of US in a geopolitical game whose rules are brazenly skewed in favor of Israel. 

A genuine resolution of the multi-pronged conflicts in the region is thus impossible so long as the prominent powers in the region keep playing the role of second fiddle for the outside powers which have only vested interests in the region without an eota of empathy of the people over there. The moment Israel's immediate neighbors unite in solidarity (of course, not only rhetorically but in real action) in support of the beleaguered Palestinians, there is little Israel can do. As I explore in one article, this is impossible so long as the impeccably engineered rivalry between the two sects of Islam thrives and the Sunni-Shiite divide is left alone or even widened.

To me, the ongoing rampage in Gaza reminds the scenes described in David Stannard's 'The American Holocaust':

"The massacres continued. Columbus remained ill for months while his soldiers wandered freely. More than 50,000 natives were reported dead from these encounters by the time the Admiral had recovered from his sickness. And when at last his health and strength had been restored Columbus's response to his men's unorganized depredations was to organize them. In March of 1495 he massed together several hundred armored troops, cavalry, and a score or more of trained attack dogs. They set forth across the countryside, tearing into assembled masses of sick and unarmed native people, slaughtering them by the thousands. The pattern set by these raids would be the model the Spanish would follow for the next decade and beyond. As Bartolome de Las Casas, the most famous of the accompanying Spanish missionaries from that trip recalled:

Once the Indians were in the woods, the next step was to form squadrons and pursue them, and whenever the Spaniards found them, they pitilessly slaughtered everyone like sheep in a corral. It was a general rule among Spaniards to be cruel; not just cruel, but extraordinarily cruel so that harsh and bitter treatment would prevent Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings or having a minute to think at all. So they would cut an Indian's hands and leave them dangling by a shred of skin and they would send him on saying "Go now, spread the news to your chiefs." They would test their swords and their manly strength on captured Indians and place bets on the slicing off of heads or the cutting of bodies in half with one blow. They burned or hanged captured chiefs."
In fact, it is terrible to realize how little things have changed over so many centuries and history has kept repeating itself. 

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