06 January, 2009

Depends on What You Mean By "Normal"

We've been assured by Israel's highest authorities that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Gaza's running out of body bags:

Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, tells Sky News that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population.

The people of Gaza continue to be caught in the middle of the power play between Israel and Hamas:

JERUSALEM, Jan 5 (Reuters) - People in Gaza were in dire need of food and medical supplies, aid agencies said on Monday, but Israel's ground assault and air raids were hampering relief efforts.

Freezing cold is compounding the misery of children caught in the conflict. And body bags for victims are in short supply.


Hospitals were inundated with Palestinian wounded, the ICRC said. Fresh supplies were urgently needed, including painkillers and anaesthetics but also body bags and sheets to wrap corpses.

Siun at Firedoglake also has a few items that Peres and Olmert apparently missed while they were assessing the humanitarian situation:

The ICRC reports this morning that:

The situation in Gaza since the Israel Defense Forces launched their ground offensive on Saturday night has become both chaotic and extremely dangerous. It is difficult for the ICRC to move around and assess the urgent humanitarian needs created by the continued shelling and bombing, and by fighting on the ground. The ground attack has forced a number of people in the north of the Gaza Strip to flee their homes.

The fighting is causing damage to hospitals, water supply systems, government buildings and mosques. A number of water supply lines have been severed during bombardments, making it very difficult for families in certain areas of the Gaza Strip to get hold of safe drinking water.

And the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports:

According to the Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities (CMWU), about 70% of the Gaza Strip population has no access to water…

Gaza City and northern Gaza are particularly affected due to electricity cuts and a lack of fuel for back-up generators….

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society estimates that thousands of homes have been damaged since the beginning of military operations, exposing their residents to cold weather…

There is an almost total blackout in the governorates of Gaza, North Gaza, Middle Area, and Khan Yunis. Most of the telephone network (both land lines and cell phones) is also not functioning, since it now depends on back-up generators with dwindling fuel stocks.

In today’s Ha’aretz, Amira Haas quotes a Palestinian friend, after recounting more stories from the Gaza Olmert does not want us to see:

It's cold and the windows are open; there's fire and smoke in open areas; at home there's no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?"

Actually, that depends on how you define "normal." If you mean a human being with a conscience, then no. If you mean "normal for a neocon," then yes. I'd say, absolutely, they are normal.

When I first saw Glenn Greenwald's piece yesterday on Michael Goldfarb's latest missive, I thought there had to be some kind of mistake. Glenn made it sound like Goldfarb, the Weekly Standard writer and former John McCain aide, had endorsed deliberate military attacks against innocent civilians.

But it wasn't a mistake; that's exactly what Goldfarb argued. Under a headline that read, "Ruthless," Goldfarb commented on an Israeli airstrike that killed a Hamas leader, his wives, and his 12 children.

The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions.

Glenn adds:
That, of course, is the very same logic that leads Hamas to send suicide bombers to slaughter Israeli teenagers in pizza parlors and on buses and to shoot rockets into their homes. It's the logic that leads Al Qaeda to fly civilian-filled airplanes into civilian-filled office buildings. And it's the logic that leads infinitely weak and deranged people like Goldfarb and Peretz to find value in the killing of innocent Palestinians, including -- one might say, at least in Goldfarb's case: especially -- children.

Pause a moment. Absorb that, before you continue reading.

Palestinians carry the body of Ismail Hamdan, 11, during his funeral in Beit Hanoun northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. Hamdan was killed Wednesday after he was injured Tuesday in an Israeli airstrike. His two sisters, Haya, 12, and Lama, 4, were killed Tuesday by the airstrike. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

By the way, it wasn't hard for me to find photos of children killed or wounded in Gaza. There are some extremely graphic ones from the recent fighting here. Another here. One from last year on this page. And if you forget to put the date, you'll come up with pages of dead and injured kids spanning the last few years. According to Michael Goldfarb, all of these dead kids "will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel."

I do not think that is what's happening.

Glenn continues:

Those who giddily support not just civilian deaths in Gaza but every actual and proposed attack on Arab/Muslim countries -- from the war in Iraq to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to the proposed attacks on Iran and Syria and even continued escalation in Afghanistan -- are able to do so because they don't really see the Muslims they want to kill as being fully human. For obvious reasons, one typically finds this full-scale version of sociopathic indifference -- this perception of brutal war as a blood-pumping and exciting instrument for feeling vicarious sensations of power and strength from a safe distance -- in the society's weakest, most frightened, and most insecure individuals.

Here's right-wing blogger (and law professor) Glenn Reynolds revealing that wretched mindset for all to see:

“Cycles of violence” continue until one side wins decisively. Personally, I’d rather that were the Israelis, since they’re civilized people and not barbarians.

Or, as Goldfarb put it: "it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us."

If you see Palestinians as something less than civilized human beings: as "barbarians" -- just as if you see Americans as infidels warring with God or Jews as sub-human rats -- then it naturally follows that civilian deaths are irrelevant, perhaps even something to cheer.
And that is why Olmert and Peres, two ostensibly normal people, can stand before the world as Gazans starve, freeze, thirst and die, and say, "There is no humanitarian crisis."


Mike at The Big Stick said...

Question: If the Israeli army and the Hamas fighters were duking it out in the middle of the dessert with no civillians anywhere near them...would that be okay?

It appears we are reaching a new standard for civillian deaths.

Cujo359 said...

What new standard? I've always felt that civilian deaths in pointless, neverending conflicts were especially tragic. I doubt you'd find very many people who have just recently come to that conclusion.

That fuckwit Goldfarb is the sort of person who needs to be reminded of the cost, and apparently he needs the dots connected for him, too. Have all the other deaths of Palestinian leaders and their families over the last thirty-odd years led to peace? Have any of the deaths on either side caused the side losing people to rethink? Of course they haven't. They just make that side more determined to "defend" themselves, which of course means that they try to inflict even more casualties on the other side. This is the problem. These people completely ignore the most basic lessons of the past, and go right on apologizing for war crimes.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

So then you would argue that there are scenarios where civillian deaths are acceptable, so long as it's not a 'pointless, neverending cflict' ?

Cujo359 said...

Acquaint yourself with the rules of logic, and then you'll be able to answer your own question.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I'd prefer you educate me.

Dana Hunter said...

Mike, those are dead children in those photos, you heartless motherfucking son of a bitch. Take your conservative talking point bullshit war hard-on somewhere else. Anyone who can spout off fucktarded lines like "a new standard for civilian deaths" when we are talking about dozens of dead fucking children cannot be educated.

Cujo359 said...

OK, Mike, I like to leave the blindingly obvious as an exercise for the student, but it appears you need remedial education in logic, so here goes:

If A, then B

does not mean

If not A, then not B.

Now, go re-read what I wrote and work it out.