This piece is written by Yaman Salahi and was originally circulated privately. I am posting it with his permission.
1. Israel Wants Peace
It takes quite a bit of chutzpah to claim that Israel “wants peace” as Israeli fighter jets drop hundreds of tons of bombs on the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds, destroying universities, hospitals, pharmacies, schools, homes, and social welfare offices. Rather than leading to peace, this claim actually only covers up for Israel’s continued violence and intransigence. There has not been a single day in the past 60 years where there was not at least one Israeli gun pointed at a Palestinian, whether at the checkpoints that lace the West Bank, or on the battle field during Israel’s frequent ground incursions into West Bank cities, or from the air as Israel drops bombs on Gaza. If that is what an aspiration for peace looks like, God save us from seeing an Israeli aspiration for war.
Entertaining the point is futile though, as it, too, is false. According to Haaretz, the Israeli government has been preparing for this attack on the people of Gaza since it signed a truce with Hamas six months ago. More disturbingly, the article implies that Israel’s signing of a truce with Hamas was actually part of a long-term strategy to declare war on Gaza, a disingenuous move contrary to any claimed “desire for peace.”
On top of this, a Vanity Fair article published last April exposed the long-term conspiracy between the Israeli government, the Bush administration, and opportunistic elements of the Palestinian political faction Fatah to overthrow the government in Gaza, thereby derailing any hopes for a genuine peace process.
Israel has always used similar strategies meant to undermine Palestinian independence and autonomy in its pursuit of puppets willing to help prop up Israeli control of the Palestinian people. It always fails because the strategy is inherently flawed, but at great human expense to the Palestinian people. It prefers to deal with corrupt Arab dictators than to reconcile its racist state ideology with the fact that Palestinians are real people with legitimate claims to land and who can pick their own leaders and decide their own interests for themselves.
2. Israel is Defending Itself From Rockets
Palestinians have basically no weapons that pose a significant threat to Israel as a political establishment, or to Israelis as citizens. That has been the case for decades. Israeli soldiers have not even set foot into Gaza yet because they are attacking safely at a distance via fighter jet. Gaza has no anti-aircraft defense systems, it has no weapons capable of defending from jet attacks. In other words they don’t stand a chance, and it doesn’t “remain to be seen” who will be the military victor (aka, the most successful killer) after these attacks on Gaza come to a temporary end.
Nevertheless, Israeli PR will attempt to discuss “the horror of rockets raining down on southern Israel.” Let’s be very clear about what these rockets are. There is a picture below from The Israel Project, an Israeli PR group. Notice these rockets are mostly intact, even after crashing into the ground.
The idea that they actually pose a menacing threat worthy of a military response of ANY sort is comical. The American media has really dropped the ball on this one, allowing hysterical sensationalist and exaggerated propaganda claims from the Israeli government to go unquestioned.
I don’t doubt that ordinary citizens are worried about these things falling from the sky, but let’s face it, in Israel you are several times more likely to be involved in a domestic murder than to be a victim of one of these rocket attacks according to numbers from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2008, there have been over 300 cases related to murder or attempted murder in Israel. In the past 6 years, the projectiles coming from Gaza have caused less than two dozen deaths in Israel.
I’m not trying to rationalize these attacks or say that they’re okay. I think they’re stupid and have no positive effects whatsoever. But to equivocate these rockets, which cannot be directed with any precision whatsoever, with the hundreds of tons of real rockets that Israel has been dropping on Gaza’s population non-stop for the past three days, is absurd.
3. Israel is Liberating Gaza From Hamas
Israeli PR understands that it doesn’t look so good when Israel invades and overthrows the democratically elected government of another people. That is why it is trying to frame itself as liberating Gaza from Hamas, as if Hamas–not Israel–was occupying Gaza and in Tom Segev’s words, “holding Gaza residents hostage,” when, in fact, Hamas is a political party that was democratically elected by the people of Palestine in 2006. One absurd corollary of this myth is that Israel is only attacking Hamas, as if its bombs are not killing and wreaking havoc on all Palestinians in Gaza, and as if a schoolteacher who happens to have voted for Hamas is a legitimate military target who poses a threat to Israel.
Since 2006, Israel has been holding the people of Gaza hostage, having imposed an embargo and siege on the Gaza Strip that has created unbearable conditions for its residents. Palestinians in Gaza have reached a point of desperation, building tunnels across the border with Egypt to import necessary goods because Israel and Egypt keep the normal border routes closed as punishment of the Palestinians for the way they voted.
The notion that Hamas is a group of “thugs,” according to George Bush, that is keeping Gaza under its grasp against the will of the people of Gaza couldn’t be further from the truth.
4. Hamas Is a Front Group for Iran
Because Iran has bogeyman status in the United States, Israeli PR plays up this line to claim that Israel is confronting a threat from Iran in Gaza. This plays into a long history of Israeli propaganda that presents Palestinians as everything but Palestinians: first they were part of a Soviet threat, then al-Qaeda, and now the current Iranian government.
Hamas is, first and foremost, an independent and grassroots Palestinian political movement that, interestingly, was once tacitly supported by Israel when it had wanted to undermine secular Palestinian groups. Like Israel, it uses violence for political ends, and frequently targets civilians, but on a notably smaller magnitude. Calling it “Iran-backed” implies that its agenda is controlled by Iran, which is a false claim. The Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid pre-dates whatever the bogeyman of the day is.
Here is what Israel’s war on the innocent people of Gaza looks like so far. Courtesy of American-made weapons and American tax dollars. To put it into perspective, as mentioned here, the number of people who have been killed by Gaza–in proportion to the size of the American population–is 61,000.
(*I’m not posting the rest of the photos for the sake of brevity, and for the fact that it’s all around you. Turn on a reliable television station, google it. There’s no shortage of photos of this massacre)