Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The War on Gaza

Israel and its apologists will blame Palestinian militants for the latest flare-up of violence in the Gaza Strip, but no one disputes that relative quiet was broken when an IDF airstrike last Friday killed Zuheir al-Qaisi and Mahmoud Al-Hannani of the Popular Resistance Committees. Palestinians, though reportedly not Hamas, responded with rockets into southern Israel. At least 18 Palestinians have been killed so far by Israeli airstrikes, including a 12-year-old boy. The Israeli military said three Israelis were wounded in the more than 90 assaults from rockets and mortars.

The Israeli military said it targeted the men because they had plotted an attack in Israel that took place in August and were planning another attack. The first claim can't be true, casting doubt on the credibility of the second.

One cannot properly judge these recurring incidents without keeping in mind the full context. The Gaza Strip, which Israel has controlled since 1967, has been blockaded by the Jewish state since 2007, after Hamas won elections there. The Israeli government restricts the flow of goods into Gaza, and one Israeli official has joked about putting the people there on “a diet.” Efforts to break the embargo by human rights activists have been met by force, most egregiously in the 2010 Mavi Mamara incident in which Israeli commandos boarded the ship and killed nine activists, including a young American citizen, Furkan Dogan. Smuggling of goods through tunnels across the Egyptian border has mitigated some of the hardship from the embargo.

In 2008-2009 the IDF killed more than 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza during a three-week air and ground assault known as Operation Cast Lead.

As for the larger context, many residents of Gaza are refugees or children of refugees driven out of their ancestral villages by Zionist paramilitary forces in 1948 in an effort to establish the Jewish state with as few Arab residents as possible. See my previous post “Gaza, Sderot, and Najd.”

In other words, the context is one in which the Israeli government is the oppressor and the Palestinians in Gaza, which amounts to a large concentration camp, are the oppressed. Israel could bring an end to the rockets on civilian neighborhoods by ceasing its unjust treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as in the West Bank and Israel.

For more, read Gideon Levy's Haaretz analysis, "Way to Go, IDF!," Ali Abunimah's "'Mowing the lawn': On Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it," and Max Blumenthal's "Israel's bogus case for bombing Gaza obscures political motives."


Anonymous said...

Gaza is not a concentration camp, Israel is not an apartheid state, nor did the country's government intentionally help spawn Hamas. Prior to Hamas taking power, Gazans could leave the territory to work or travel including to take trips or work in Israel. In addition to turning the Gaza Strip into a terrorist base, after obtaining power in 2007 Hamas initially sealed the Israeli-Gaza border. Presently, there are numerous bureaucratic hurdles erected by Gaza immigration authorities that make obtaining a passport almost impossible for most Gazans to leave in order to work or escape living conditions there. Not surprisingly, Gaza residents fake illness or pay bribes so they can obtain papers to get out of the Gaza Strip. Consequently, it is also very dangerous for relief organizations and reporters to enter and remain in the territory since to do so would put their well-being or lives in jeopardy.

Hamas is a group who openly calls for the death of all Jews and the destruction of Israel is one of many organizations that is an outgrowth from the Muslim Brotherhood. The group's origin was the result of backlash from some Gaza Islamists who perceived Yasser Arafat as capitulating to Israel when he signed the Oslo Accords. When it was discovered by the Israeli military in 1979 Hamas presented itself as a charitable organization and Gaza occupation commanders did not consider the organization a threat at the time since the group was not involved in military-oriented activities. An obvious mistake but not intentional on the Israeli's part. In addition to also being financed by Iran, Hamas was also involved not only in charity but also able to spread it's fundamentalist ideology via religious instruction. As a result of their activities Hamas was able to build support among Gaza Palestinians in order to eventually grab control of Gaza from Arafat's PLO. Israeli forces made a stupid mistake of not scrutinizing Hamas more thoroughly and not trying to take the group down when they tangled with Arafat's Fatah faction in the 1990's. It was then that Hamas had revealed their military wing but Israel's main focus was to halt terrorism and other terrorist activities undertaken by the Arafat's Fatah PLO faction who was their main rival at the time.

I do not think you did your research thoroughly and suggest getting your facts straight before posting pieces such as this.

Sheldon Richman said...

Israel did not found Hamas, but it nurtured it in order to erode Palestinian support for Yasser Arafat's secular Fatah. Any trouble Israel now has with Hamas can be chalked up to blowback. Had it treated the Palestinians justly, you would never have heard of Hamas. Moreover, the (former) Hamas charter would likely not talk about “Jews” (as opposed to Israelis) had the Zionist movement not presumptuously insisted that it speaks for “the Jewish people” and that Israel is the Jewish State. This is what anti-Zionist Jews warned against from the beginning. All of their prophecies have come true. It should be noted that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal says the charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant.” Thus, despite the history of Jewish brutality against and degradation of the Palestinians, Hamas shows signs of moderation in its methods and rhetoric, and has moved toward reconciliation with Fatah. Moreover, it has offered and observed truces with Israel over the years, only to have them met with assassination of its leaders. The latest outbreak of violence in Gaza was started by Israel. (Hamas has closed its Damascus office and backs the forces rebelling against Syrian President Assad, putting it on the same side as the Obama regime.)

The conditions under which Israel has ruled Gaza surely qualifies it as a concentration, or prison, camp. People are not free to come and go, and Israel controls the flow of trade. It’s true the Israelis once let Palestinians do menial labor at the lowest wages inside Israel, but many in the Zionist movement always opposed employing Arabs. Permitting them to work in Israel was a policy devised by more pragmatic Israelis to save their countrymen from unpleasant work.

In contemplating Gaza as a center for militancy, let’s not forget that many Gazans are refugees or descendants of refugees who were brutally driven there by Zionist military forces in 1948. They saw their homes and towns in the Negev destroyed in the campaign of ethnic cleansing known as al Nakba. The land then was given to European Jews and other Jews who originated elsewhere. You may call the response “terrorism,” but you’d see it differently if you were in the Palestinians’ shoes. That Palestinians have been abused by corrupt and authoritarian “leaders” hardly disqualifies them for basic individual rights.

Israel’s transfer of internal authority to Palestinian “leaders,” and its later military disengagement, was little more than a move to have those "leaders" do the dirty work of keeping Gaza quiet. The people answered when they gave Hamas a plurality in the Bush-backed elections of 2006. Israel still controls Gaza's borders and the flow of trade.

Averroes said...

Way to go Sheldon! You're one of the most courageous defenders and champions of the Palestinians in a nation cowed into silence, ignorant or just beholden to racist indifference. As for Mike. The Israeli government is funding a program to hire Israeli students to troll the net and post pro-Zionist comments underneath critical pieces. It is safe to assume that whenever you see a pro-Israel scribe he is paid for...and a robot. Sad.


Sheldon Richman said...

Thanks, Averroes.