08 January, 2009

Children 1/3 of the Dead in Gaza

The death toll in Gaza included over 220 children as of yesterday. That was one-third of the total dead. I want you all to take a moment to ponder that number.

"You did all this for the election? Is this the way you treat children?" a man asks as he points to sniper wounds on dead little boys. Those kids couldn't have been more than five years old.

I loved Israel. I did. Some of the people I admire most in the world were Israelis. They would be horrified, were they alive, to see what Israel has done. It's hard to imagine Golda Meir condoning this, Yitzhak Rabin allowing their country to murder children. When children are 1/3 of the war dead, the most you can say for Israel is that they're showing depraved indifference to innocent life.

Mike was talking in comments about how my "reporting" is imbalanced, and how Hamas is doing awful things, too. You know, I'm not a fucking reporter, and I don't give two tugs on a dead dog's dick what Hamas is doing. Hamas is not a nuclear-armed democracy targeting children with snipers, cluster bombs, and white phosphorus.

Cons like Mike seem to think that two wrongs make a right. They haven't evolved past the playground: "He started it!" "They're doing it, too!" They do not understand that just because somebody else plays dirty doesn't mean that you get to play dirtier. That works great in adventure novels written by chickenhawks and wanna-be Rambos. In real life, that attitude leads to dead kids, worldwide outrage, and ever-escalating violence.

Do you really think that killing babies is going to make Israel stronger, safer, and more admired? Let's have a look at the evidence:

Lebanese militants fired at least three rockets into Israel early Thursday, threatening to open a new front for the Jewish state as it pushed forward with a bloody offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed nearly 700 people.

Two people were lightly injured, and the rockets that exploded in Israel's north raised the specter of renewed hostilities with Hezbollah, just 2 1/2 years after Israel battled the guerrilla group to a 34-day stalemate. Hezbollah started the 2006 war as Israel was battling Palestinian militants in Gaza.

And Juan Cole reports:
The brutal Israeli war on the population of Gaza is the nail in the coffin of the neoconservative doctrine. Their policies have hardly strengthened ties between Turkey, Israel and the United States, as they had argued. Turkey had a special place in the thinking of figures such as Perle, who lauded it as a secular example for the Muslim world and a close ally of Israel. But in 2002 the Islamically tinged conservative Justice and Development Party (Turkish acronym AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdogan swept to power and has ruled Turkey ever since. In 2003, the AKP dealt a cruel blow to the hopes of Perle and his colleague Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz when its members of parliament voted against allowing the U.S. military to invade Iraq through Turkish territory. Erdogan more recently has been a profound disappointment to the Israeli right because of his willingness to talk with Hamas leaders. Hundreds of thousands of Turks, many of them AKP supporters, have demonstrated in Istanbul against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Erdogan drew anguished Israeli protests when he told an election rally in Ankara that Israel was "perpetrating inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction. Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents." Turkey has received Hamas leader Khalid Mashal and has worked for an early cease-fire in the current conflict, putting the blame for it on Israel. The right-wing Jerusalem Post observed ominously, "Turkey has just taken its seat as a non-permanent member of the Security Council and Ankara pledges to be Hamas's conduit to the United Nations," and urged Israel to recall its ambassador from Ankara.

Massive demonstrations and protests in Jordan calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the Israeli military's disregard for civilian life have caused Prime Minister Nader Dahabi to tell the parliament, "Jordan will look into all options, including reconsidering relations with Israel." So much for Feith, Perle and Wurmser's plan to solidify ties between Israel, Turkey and Jordan.

But at least the new Iraqi government will support Israel rather than Hamas now that Saddam Hussein is gone, right? Think again. The Islamic Da'wa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called last week for all Muslim countries to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel and to cease all public and behind-the scenes contacts with it. Large demonstrations have been staged against Israel in Mosul, Baghdad and the holy city of Karbala. The spiritual leader of many of the world's Shiites condemned Israeli aggression in Gaza and said that "mere verbal expressions of condemnation and disapproval" were not enough, calling instead for "practical steps" to break the Israeli blockade and stop the attack. For a fatwa of the chief Shiite authority in Iraq to demand practical steps against Israel is a little noticed but ominous development for the Israelis that could help politicize Shiites even further on this issue.


Iran's influence with Hezbollah in south Lebanon has grown from strength to strength, and was enhanced after Israel's disastrous 2006 war on that country when it sent extensive reconstruction aid. Hezbollah has been able to rearm, and has joined a national unity government that recognizes its militia as a sort of national guard for the south of Lebanon. It gained new allies in Iraq. It had been formed in part by the Islamic Da'wa Party of Iraq, which naturally supports it, as does the large and influential Sadr Movement in Iraqi Shiism. Hezbollah, more popular than ever, was able to get out massive crowds in Beirut to protest Israel's assault on Gaza. And Gaza itself is now viewed by the Israeli establishment as an Iranian beachhead on the Mediterranean, the sort of development that the neoconservatives confidently predicted their policies would forestall.
It would seem to me that Israel is much, much worse off than before. A harsh reality that necons on both sides of the ocean do not seem to understand is that you will never be able to kill enough people to force your opponents to humbly submit. Oppressed populations have traditionally risen up against their oppressors. Ask England and France, two colonial powers who discovered that an incensed citizenry is more than a match for superior militaries. Ask the Russians about Afghanistan. Ask America, once Bush the Clueless has finally slunk back to Texas and an adult is able to survey the damage in Iraq and go, "Holy shit. We are so never going to win this one."

Speaking of Iraq, has blind support for Israel done us any favors? It wouldn't seem so:

In Iraq, Moqtada Al Sadr:

threatened on Wednesday to resume attacks on American targets inside Iraq over Washington’s support for the Israeli assault on Gaza. “I ask the Iraqi resistance to engage in revenge operations against the United States, the biggest partner of the Zionist enemy.”

It seems we have sown the wind and shall soon be reaping the shit storm.

About the only folks happy in this whole mess are the neocons who need a fresh stream of dead bodies to masturbate to, and al Qaeda:

Marc Lynch has a great post on the recent statement from Al Qaeda #2 Ayman al Zawahiri, noting that Zawahiri “sounds about as happy as I can remember hearing him of late. He probably can’t believe his luck.”

Israel’s assault on Gaza has really created an almost unbelievable no-lose situation for al-Qaeda. If Hamas “wins”, then al-Qaeda gets to share in the benefits of the political losses incurred by its Western and Arab enemies (Zawahiri mentions Mubarak and the Saudis in this tape, but not the Jordanians) and can try to take advantage of the political upheavals which could follow. If Hamas “loses”, al-Qaeda still wins. It will shed no tears at seeing one of its bitterest and most dangerous rivals take a beating at Israel’s hands or losing control of a government that they have consistently decried as illegitimate and misguided.

I wonder if the Democrats who are busily pushing through a resolution singing Israel's praises realize that they're making al Qaeda scream with joy? They've caught the neocon war fever. They apparently can't see that the pleasant pink haze is arterial spray. Some of that blood's going to be their own - their base isn't quite as interested in pandering to neocon warmongering as they are.

But it's the children I keep coming back to. So many dead kids. So many torn and shattered bodies. All so that the grownups can compete to see who has the biggest dicks. Don't let talk of "security" and suchlike fool you. If all Israel wanted was to stop the rockets, there were better ways to do that. Treating Palestinians as if they were valuable human beings would have been a good start. No, this is just a bunch of macho men wanting to dominate and destroy because they think it's weak to show your enemies any respect, to try to solve things with brains rather than bullets. These children are falling victim to a horrific fallacy, the idea that you'll win more friends by killing people than treating them decently, the belief that they can make a lot of angry militants with guns and no fear of dying fearfully submit if they're ruthless enough.

I'd like to ask them, and the Mikes of the world, one simple question:

If those were your babies you were burying, would you be crawling on your knees to throw yourself on the mercy of your babies' killers, or would you be reaching for your gun because you had nothing else to lose?

Maybe now you can understand why all of this shock-and-awe bullshit is going to get us exactly nowhere. Democracies are supposed to be able to rise above this eye-for-an-eye idiocy. We're supposed to be showing the world a better way.

So far, it doesn't seem like we're setting the kind of example we should want anyone to live up to.

And kids continue to die.


Paul Havlak said...

One *can* kill enough insurgents to win, but only if one is Genghis Khan or the like.

What we have in Gaza is the codependence of the warmongers all over again. It's understandable why terrorists engage in that vortex of death -- they have a narrow and twisted view of winning. A nation needs to grow up and win the peace.

Anonymous said...

The images I find the most haunting are the terrified looks on the faces of children. All they know is their world is going to hell and they don't understand any of it.

Woozle said...

I second Paco about the codependence of warmongers.

I'd like to add that we need to remember:
* anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism
* The government of Israel is not the same as the people of Israel

Certain interests insist on conflating Zionism with Judaism, so that you can't be against brutal oppressive expansion (Zionism) without being a Nazi (anti-Semite).

This is what right-wing, power-philic types love to do: lump stuff together into false dichotomies, black-and-white oversimplified moral maps, and "us or them" thinking.

You can love Israel and still hate what the Israeli government is doing.

The ones who need to stop are the ones who are giving the orders to do the killing -- on both sides, but I'd say Israel's government (being by far the larger and more powerful entity) has a certain obligation to be the adult, to be the first to move towards higher moral ground. If they can't do that, then how can they claim moral superiority over Hamas?

(More practically: is there a reasonably accurate accounting and timeline, anywhere, of the history of this conflict -- who did what to whom when, and how they justified it? I don't think it's possible to even start straightening this out without such an accounting.)

The conspiracy blogs have long claimed that the US is deep in the grip of a pro-Zionist lobby; I viewed this with skepticism for a long time, but our apparent inability to say anything bad about Israel's actions would seem to be some pretty strong evidence that they're right.

Cujo359 said...

If those were your babies you were burying, would you be crawling on your knees to throw yourself on the mercy of your babies' killers, or would you be reaching for your gun because you had nothing else to lose?

Anyone who realized that any large population of human beings starts out with the same intellectual and emotional equipment would know the answer to this one. The problem is, the Goldfarbs of the world don't think that's true. They convince themselves that the other guys are inhuman, and so won't react as we would.

This is why it's good to keep stressing that Israel has played a part in this tragedy, and that as the more prosperous and well-armed society they bear much of the responsibility. Faux "balance" isn't going to get us anything but more of this.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I'd be interested in what your reponse would be if Canada frequently lobbed rockets into Seattle neighborhoods. Turn the other cheek?

What proof do you have that those kids weren't executed by Hamas for PR? It would be par for the course with their usual tactics.

Cujo359 said...

What proof do you have that the Israelis aren't executing the people they say have been killed by rockets and terrorists? Who says the Israeli soldiers they say have been killed in action in Gaza weren't executed by their officers? How do we know that Hamas are actually firing missiles? If there's proof of fraudulent claims, bring it. Otherwise, tell me why I should trust either side that's engaged in a war less than I can trust the other.

Woozle said...

I second Cujo... I think the burden of proof should be on the larger entity to show just cause for attacking the smaller.

"They attacked first" is not just cause; there are other ways to get what you want when you have vastly more power. That sort of war -- US on Iraq, Israel on Gaza -- is rarely (if ever) justified.

Further, even if I were determined to seek my revenge on hypothetical-Canada, my first step would be something like demanding the extradition of those who gave the orders to fire -- not to attack the country itself indiscriminately without first attempting diplomacy. Was that step taken? (Was war ever declared by either side?)

Mike at The Big Stick said...

CNN pulled video today that was discredited as staged by Hamas.


A French television channel had to issue an apology for using 2005 footage of a Hamas-caused explosion and referring to it as damage caused by Israel.


It's amazing what info is out there when we don't just take the typically liberal line and actually search for ALL of the facts.

Unknown said...

Great write-up. Better than most news sources. I'll look here for Gaza news first if you keep covering it.

Cujo359 said...

Israeli soldiers use Palestinians as human shields.

IDF use white phosphorous on or near civilians.

In defiance of their own supreme court, IDF continues to bar journalists from entering Gaza.

So, war crimes, and coverups by the Israelis, and these all happened within the last three months. I repeat my question - why should I trust one side more than the other?