Monthly Archives: July 2014

A strange bubble

In an op-ed An Israel Without Illusions, David Grossman, writes “Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel.”

This is simple false. Israel’s reaction is illegal under international law, counterproductive as history has proven1 and barbaric (against Jewish ethics).

Second, Israel has not only a vast military power at its disposal, it is also in charge of a siege of Gaza. This is – at least – a bargaining chip to reduce rocket fire if one wants to protect one’s civilian population. Diplomacy has been proven to be effective.1

The Gazans resp. Hamas do not have many options. They can accept slow death and nobody cares, neither Israel nor the international community or they can symbolically “defend” themselves by shooting rockets that are on a militarily scale mostly just “[…]annoying but not lethal”2. Israel – apart from on-going siege– newer kept the truce and attacked over and over again, acts of aggression that Gazans are entirely helpless against.

To compare Israel’s bombardments that are known to kill dozens each time to rockets that might kill (0.1% chance) in the context of siege and occupation and Israel’s options (i.e. diplomacy) is a strange distortion of reality.

Grossman writes further […]who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground?

I fully agree on the intent but not on the means as the means Israel uses are counter-productive to to goal. Egypt destroyed a thousand tunnels without killing a single human being3, what shows that there is no reason to use militarily aggression to destroy those tunnels. These military action are illegal, barbaric and escalate the situation.

Grossman continues “Many Israelis who have refused to acknowledge the state of affairs are now looking into the futile cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge,[emphasis added] and they are seeing our reflection”. Grossman has yet to understand the tremendous asymmetry of the conflict. Israelis count rockets shoot at Israel, Gazans count dead bodies … 4. Occupation for 47 years, settlement building, checkpoints, arrests, house demolitions, etc.

 

The left is increasingly aware of the potent hatred against Israel — a hatred that arises not just from the occupation — and of the Islamic fundamentalist volcano that threatens the country. It also recognizes the fragility of any agreement that might be reached here. More people on the left understand now that the right wing’s fears are not mere paranoia, that they address a real and crucial threat.

This reminds me to US stating Nicaragua poses a security threat to the US. The main threat is Israeli neo-fascism that has reached the mainstream as we can see in the recent events. Israeli society has become self-righteous to an extend not imaginable 10 years ago. The simplistic military propaganda working on mere schemes of language5 is sufficient for most, context is ignored and capacity for self-criticism is entirely absent. Vices are openly celebrated6. It is the neo-fascist volcano that threatens Israel – a volcano that lies now in the centre of Israel!

 

There is no military solution to the real anguish of the Palestinian people, and as long as the suffocation felt in Gaza is not alleviated, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely either.”

I fully agree that there is no militarily solution to solve the root conflict, however, the current mindset of the the masses in Israel and the dedication of the government to prevent a two-state solution at all cost, make a indefinite occupation and even a Gaza siege not at all impossible. US’ backing of Israel in the UNSC and Europe incapacity to take true actions against Israel will tolerate the indefinite occupation and siege and sacrifice Palestinian rights for business as usual. The status quo will just continue until Israel’s impunity is ended: No more dollars from the US, no more UNSC vetoes and sanctions from the EU.

 

2Zbigniew Brzezinski on MSABC. The 15’000 rockets killed as many people in 10 years as Israel did in a single strike last week in Shujaya; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/30/678505/-Dr-Zbigniew-Brzezinski-smacks-down-Joe-Scarborough-AGAIN

4The 24 killed in between the wars (2012) not counted

5The “differences” between Hamas and Israel is depicted mostly in absurdly simplistic statements suggesting that Hamas is the exact contrary of Israel. “they put people on top of the house, we put them under the house”, “we protect people with bombs, they protect bombs with people”. A society having gone completely blind for context and perspective seems to take refuge in solving the crossword puzzle …

6A sign stating “Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s moral values” was posted on facebook in Israel and got thousands of thumbs up.

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Israel’s assaults on Gaza are illegal

Let’s see it clearly: Israel’s assaults on Gaza are illegal and constitute war crimes. A country has only a right for military actions when …

  • the action directly reduces the threat (immediate reduction of rocket attacks)
  • the action is is proportional (limited number of civilian causalities in comparison to the military achievement and the threat).
  • there is no alternative, i.e. diplomacy

Israel’s attacks …
1.  do not bring a long-term solution to the underlying problems
2.  do not stop or reduce the rockets being shoot
3.  do not save Israeli lives
4. are a hindrance for peace talks

… because …
1. There is no military solution. The siege and the occupation are the root cause.
Unless there is a true settlement (two-state solution) or at least a truce that allows for normal life in Gaza, rockets will be the only option for protest (see Gideon Levi “But the (bitter) truth is that when Gaza is not firing rockets at Israel, nobody cares about it. …”[1])
2. Rockets sharply increased after Israel attacked Gaza. Until then, not even one person was harmed by the rockets.
3. Israel’s attacks worsened the situation. More rockets were shoot and eventually lead to 2 dead.
4. By attacking Israel undermined peace talks.

If Israel were truly interested reducing the risk for its population, all the government has to do is negotiating with Hamas, ease the siege and continue sincere peace talks. History shows that Hamas kept agreements even in the face of Israeli violations. The choice between attacking militarily or starting negotiations is a true choice. Hamas is at Israel’s mercy: Israel has a choice (lift the siege).
But Israel’s true goal is to change from peace talks to military confrontation. The Netanyahu government is playing the blame game, (“terrorists”, “there is no partner for peace”, etc.) to continue the status quo of occupation. With Egypt under Sisi and no sign of any substantial change in US behaviour (weapons & money flowing, UN-vetoes for bail-out) apart from slips by Kerry, the occupation and the siege will continue. Israelis can live well with a few causalities every two years. For Gazans, it means slow death in general and massacre every two years.
There are no signs at all that the Israeli public has any understanding of the situation.
The propaganda has penetrated the deepest layers; Palestinians are seen quasi as a species of terrorists and everything is their fault. IMHO only two things can change the pro-military standpoint of the population: a high number of causalities of soldiers or international pressure.
The second can change those who do not support the occupation but do not care if it is prolonged. As long as business as usual is possible, the occupation is a non-topic for many. Those might change their mind and pressure the government for action when their business suffers, i.e. when they cannot do business with the outside world any more. BDS and the call for an arms embargo are therefore a viable answers against the ongoing occupation and the current massacre in particular.

https://secure.waronwant.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1819&ea.campaign.id=24197
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1) http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/22/what_does_hamas_really_want_israeli

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Bringing back the joy of playing

World cup has become an obsession, an obsession for winning instead of playing. As the cup is only held all four years the pressure to win has reached astronomical heights, coaches speak of “national shame” if not winning the cup and governments are in danger to loose the next election if their team does not win. Sports events should be events for celebrating the sport, emphasizing play and winning just a minor aspect. This is for the fans, of course, just utopian. The organisation of the event can, however, bring more focus on the play and reduce the pressure for “victory-at-all-costs”. Here are my suggestions to solve the problem:

  • Hold world cup every two years instead of every four years This will reduce pressure for winning drastically as the next chance is already two years later. The additional advantage is that the massive investments for the infrastructure could be used twice. Four year after a cup the game is back at the same place—quasi as a return game.
  • Reduce the number of teams that play in order to reduce the number of games. The event as a public festival will be the same with less games.
  • With 24 groups playing, let only a third disqualify in the first round.
  • With only 24 groups playing, the games of the qualifying round will improve. This brings more world cup to the rest of the year.
  • Make the whole organisation less commercial[1] and more socially beneficial. Work with NGOs so that the event brings economic improvements for the large masses. If your team looses, you can say to yourself “It was at least good for the people there … “

With smaller events every two years, socially fair and economically beneficial for the population at large, we will be able to enjoy the games much more and digest loosing far better.

The other remedy is mental:

Germany, you played well and fair and you merited to win. Congratulations!

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1 The current organisational form is a shameless money making machine for a few on the cost of the large population of the host country. Like the idea of the Olympic village (emphasize on idea) the games should improve the bottom line economy of the host country instead of draining tax payer money out of the country. This is truly possible but needs a change of paradigm on the organisational level.

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