Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Them Light Candles

AS reported by news media around the world, Israel decided several days ago to interrupt fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel -- actually on the township of Sderot, 1 kilometer from the Gaza border. In view of the Palestinian attacks on innocent civilians, Israel’s intermittent power cut seemed to bespeak a super human patience and forbearance. Why God Himself could hardly be as mild in his judgements. Inconvenient? Well Let them light candles!

But there is always the “fine print”. Overlooked in all the blather about electricity cut offs was the following, courtesy of the New York Times:
"Israel said Sunday day that they had begun reducing fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip and had closed one of the two crossings through which food, medicine and other supplies pass into the area. ... As a result, only limited supplies of basic goods are allowed to enter the strip, and all exports of produce are prohibited. ...
"[According to a government spokesman,] the number of trucks of food and other goods entering Gaza will be reduced to roughly 55 trucks a day from 100 to 120, “We will allow in the minimum amount of food and medicines necessary to avoid a humanitarian crisis,” he said.”
A fifty percent reduction in food supplies? On a per-capita basis that boils down to a starvation diet. The “humanitarian crisis” Israel labors hard to avoid means what? The avoidance of “mass death”? But wait, what do starvation diets lead to?

Perhaps one could take a page from Raphael Lemkin’s seminal work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” According to Lemkin, who coined the term, genocide operated on cultural, social, economic and biological levels. Lemkin writes:
“The destruction of the foundations of the economic existence of a national group necessarily brings about a crippling of its development, even a retrogression.”
The physical debilitation and even annihilation of national groups in occupied countries is carried out mainly in the following ways:
1. Racial Discrimination in Feeding. Rationing of food is organized according to racial principles throughout the occupied countries. "The German people come before all other peoples for food," declared Reich Minister Göring on October 4, 1942. In accordance with this program, the German population is getting 93 per cent of its pre-war diet, while those in the occupied territories receive much less: in Warsaw, for example, the Poles receive 66 per cent of the pre-war rations and the Jews only 20 per cent.
2. Endangering of Health. The undesired national groups, particularly in Poland, are deprived of elemental necessities for preserving health and life. This latter method consists, for example, of requisitioning warm clothing and blankets in the winter and withholding firewood and medicine. . . . Such measures, especially pernicious to the health of children, have caused the development of various diseases.
Lemkin’s schema of genocide has not been fully incorporated into international law. Nevertheless, it provides a cogent framework for analyzing genocidal policies from sociological and ethical perspectives. Cutting back on food deliveries in Gaza is strictly analogous to the General Gouvernement’s food “policies” in occupied Poland.

To argue that such measures are “reprisals” against a so-called barrage of rocket attacks on civilian Sderot is simply beside the point. International law prohibits indiscriminate reprisals. The whole purpose of the prohibition is precisely to put limits on the kinds and degrees of retaliation allowed. The limitations presuppose that there is something to retaliate over in the first place. To argue that the “right to retaliate” wipes away limits is simply to wipe away international law itself.

Precisely that kind of “they-started-it” argument was rejected at Nuremberg. The Nazi leveling of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, was done in response to the unlawful, indisputably terrorist murder of Heydrich, the duly appointed administrator of those occupied territories. What made the Nazi response to that and other partisan acts of sabotage and murder a crime was not that retaliation was not allowed, but rather that the retaliation employed was excessive and indiscriminate, if not altogether an excuse to engage in counter-terror over and above deterrence and extermination over and above lawful reprisal.

Israel's trail of tu quoque’s can ultimately only lead back to the inceptional fact that European Zionists sought to colonize and invade a land that was not theirs by any genealogical or mythological stretch. That aside, the you started it gambit doesn’t work because the “its” are neither militarily nor morally equivalent.

Palestinians and Israelis are engaged in a conflict over land. But in this conflict, Israel -- among the world’s foremost military powers -- holds all the cards. It has control of Gaza’s borders. It has control of Gaza’s finances. It has control of Gaza’s air space. It has control of Gaza’s electricity and power. It has control of all entry and exit into Gaza. When democratic elections produced results Israel did not appreciate, it simply resorted to economic strangulation. No Indian Reservation was so controlled as Gaza whose only historical analog in recent memory are Lodz and Warsaw -- and, like Lodz and Warsaw , Gaza is one if not the most crowded places on earth. To claim some kind of moral equivalence from such state of inequality is simply perverted.

All animals will resist their capture and imprisonment. The human animal is no different. It is entirely natural that Palestinians, not wanting to live under Israeli domination, should resist. One should not expect otherwise . To self-righteously intone that they ought not to resist is to dress up in flimsy moral tissue a demand for abject and acquiescent submission.

Gazan resistance is in fact puny and pathetic. They cannot inflict any real damage on Israel. The facts bespeak the inequalities. According to Human Rights Watch, since 2005 there have been 2,700 Q’assam rocket attacks “into Israel”. The holocaustian horror conjured up by such a phrase qua headline is that of Jerusalem, O Jersualem recoiling under a barrage of missiles. Reading the usual zionist histrionics, one might think that a new “holocaust” was in the making. But these “missiles” (jumbo firecrackers really) have a range of a few kilometers and no more. In fact, just about the only place they can hit is the border village of Sderot. Human Rights Watch reports that as a result of these 2,700 attacks four Israeli civilians have been killed and 75 injured.

Contrast these “horrendous” casualties with the almost daily reports of 9, 5, 17, 23, 4, ...... Palestinians killed in some Israel counter-action. We have gotten so accustomed to the daily reports of Palestinian dead that no one pays attention. Adding insult to injury, these dead are brushed aside as “collateral damages”. Israel routinely has some low level corporal announce that Israel was targeting a “military installation” and oooops ... just happened to blow up the surrounding civilian neighborhood. Needless to say, the “military installation” is the rooftop from which the Q’assam rocket was allegedly fired.

Who the hell is the one taking the punches here? Any moron can see that it’s the Palestinians who are hemorrhaging. How the hell does it all add up here? Very simply this: Palestinians and Israelis are trading punches. In this wretched game of retaliation, Israel consistently gets in the better and more bloody punch. So be it. But now comes Israel decked out in the usual sack cloth and ashes and says that in addition to its regime of retaliatory collateral damage it has decided that it “has to” further retaliate by putting all of Gaza under a starvation regimen.

Shit by any other name stinks just as bad; and putting an entire civilian population on a “minimal” allotment of food and medicine qualifies as genocide.

©WCG, 2007

07/10/30 Israel Restricts Gaza Crossing as Firing Persists - New York Times

Rafael Lemkin on Web:

Human Rights Watch Reports

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