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Thursday November 15, 2012

Gaza Through the Distortions: What is Really Happening and How to Stop It

Posted by Omar Baddar at 12:15 pm

After Israel’s killing of more than a dozen Palestinians over the past couple of days, including yesterday’s assassination of Hamas’s top military commander Ahmad Jabari, Palestinians retaliated with intensified rocket fire, killing 3 Israelis. As was perfectly predictable from the start, Israel’s bombings and assassinations in Gaza aren’t an effective means of ending Palestinian rocket fire, but a guarantee of violent escalation.

So here we are again, with another round of violence that is completely asymmetric in scale, and the American media is once again obliging the Israeli government's narrative by casting Israel's actions as defensive, in "response" to Palestinian rocket fire. What's wrong with this picture? Everything is.

Chronology and Double Standards:

CNN chose to begin the story of the latest round of violence in Gaza on November 10th, when 4 Israeli soldiers were wounded by Palestinian fire, and the IDF "retaliated" by killing several Palestinians. But just two days before, a 13 year old Palestinian boy was killed in an Israeli military incursion into Gaza. And a few days before that, a mentally ill Palestinian man was killed and another man was seriously wounded due to Israeli fire. Is there any reason why those couldn't be the starting point of the "cycle of violence”? The bias was even more blatant in 2008/2009, when Israel's massive assault on Gaza (which killed 1400+ Palestinians) was cast as self-defense, even though it was acknowledged in passing that Israel was the party that broke the ceasefire agreement in place at the time. Are the Palestinians not entitled to self-defense? And if indiscriminate Palestinian rocket fire is not an acceptable response to Israeli violence (which it absolutely isn't), how can indiscriminate Israeli bombings of Gaza ever be acceptable?

The Obama Administration's Response:

The Obama administration’s response to the crisis thus far has been disappointing, but certainly not surprising. The State Department issued a statement rightly condemning the indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli towns, but wrongly supporting Israel’s actions as defensive. American citizens, as taxpayers to a democratic government that provides massive amounts of military aid to Israel, have the moral responsibility to demand better than the incessant one-sided pandering our government engages in on matters relating to Israel. It is not only a moral obligation, but a strategic imperative for U.S. standing in the region not to continue to be tarnished by this longstanding policy. With the election behind us, no one can chalk up official statements to campaign rhetoric, and it’s time for us to put pressure on the Obama administration to do better.


The World Reacts on Social Media:

Unlike the Obama administration, the world at-large does seem to get what actually is happening in Gaza. While the IDF is behaving like teenage bullies on Twitter over the latest escalation, the Gaza-sympathetic hashtag "#GazaUnderAttack" is being used more frequently than the official IDF hashtag for the attack on Gaza by a margin of 150 to 1. That fact was mentioned last night in the Washington Post under the misguided headline "Is Hamas winning the Twitter War?" Of course, sympathy for Gaza's civilians who are living under Israeli bombardment is not a "victory" for Hamas, but it certainly is a defeat for the Israeli government's propaganda machine, which can no longer obscure Israel's wide-ranging abuses of Palestinian human rights. The global discourse is shifting, and it's time for our government to catch up with it and hold Israel accountable for its actions.

The Future:

There is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The military asymmetry clearly favors Israel, but the Palestinians are too resilient to ever accept living without their basic rights. Israel cannot win this fight with another series of bombings and assassinations; it will only breed more resentment and resistance. The only way to resolve the Gaza problem for good is to reach a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that gives freedom and dignity to the Palestinians. That starts with ending Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, the single largest factor responsible for Israeli-Palestinian violence. Unfortunately, Israeli leaders seem to still be under the illusion that their military superiority can lead them to total victory, despite many decades proving otherwise.

Tagged as Issues, Palestine, Gaza

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