What Really Happened In Gaza? Book Review

17:13 02/26/2011
What Really Happened In Gaza? – Book Review

The book does little to legitimize an Israeli perspective.By Ira Glunts

(The Goldstone Report: The Legacy Of The Landmark Investigation Of The Gaza Conflict edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss; foreword by Desmond Tutu, introduction by Naomi Klein, Nation Books, 2011.  449 pp., $18.95. paperback.)

The Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 and the subsequent investigation and unequivocal condemnation by a United Nations team led by Judge Richard Goldstone of Israeli conduct before and during what the Jewish State calls “Operation Cast Lead,” have radically altered the way many view Israel’s brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.  Gaza and Goldstone have also caused many to question the 18 year-old US-sponsored Israeli/Palestinian “peace-process” which never produces any positive results.

Here in Central New York, some local activists in the Syracuse Peace Council started the group Central New York Working For A Just Peace In Palestine & Israel as a direct result of the invasion of Gaza. In February, the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University hosted journalist Peter Beinart, a self-identified liberal Zionist, who has recently signed a public letter urging President Obama to support a United Nations resolution condemning the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (The US vetoed the resolution.) Neither Beinart’s willingness to sign this letter, nor an invitation extended by the Judaic Studies Program to someone expressing these views, would have been conceivable before the Gaza invasion.

The Goldstone Report: The Legacy Of The Landmark Investigation Of The Gaza Conflict is invaluable in assessing what really happened in Gaza. It presents an abridged version (327 pp.) of the “Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission On the Gaza Conflict (September, 2009),” with 11 insightful essays which explore the Goldstone document from progressive legal, historical, and political, as well as personal perspectives. This version also intersperses witness testimonies which were published by the Mission, but not included in the original report. (Full disclosure: I am a contributor to Mondoweiss.net which is edited by Weiss and Horowitz.)

The stark fact is that the Israeli army killed over 1,400 people during the Gaza invasion. This is as opposed to 13 Israeli fatalities, some of which were Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers killed by “friendly fire.” Of the 1,400 fatalities, over 80% were civilians. Approximately 5,300 Gazans were injured, including 2,400 women and children; 2,114 houses were destroyed, with an additional 3,400 houses rendered uninhabitable. The three-week Israeli assault resulted in over 51,000 displaced persons. Among the IDF’s targets were mosques, hospitals, private residences, a chicken farm, a sewage treatment plant, and a United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) field office compound, which was sheltering 600 to 700 civilians. According to Goldstone, there was no military advantage gained by any of these attacks.

The Mission employed testimonies of Gazans, as well as on-site inspections in order to document its findings. Although the Israeli government refused to cooperate, and vehemently tried to prevent their citizens and soldiers from doing so, the Mission did interview Israelis outside of Israel and employed public testimony from the so-called “Soldiers’ Forum” at Israel’s Oranim military academy, as well as reports from the dissident soldiers’ group “Breaking the Silence.” The report contains statements made by Israeli officials, which were widely quoted in the Israeli and foreign press, that Israel’s declared aim was to punish the civilian population. The document also includes justifications made by Israeli officials, reported in the press for specific Israeli military actions.  Most of these were shown to be inaccurate, many purposefully so.

A Tzipi Livni quote illustrates the IDF intent to violate international norms of military conduct. Livni, who was the Israeli Foreign Minister during Operation Cast Lead, said, “Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.” The Israeli “wildness” violated the laws of war, including: use of human shields, capricious home invasions, illegal detention of civilians including elected officials, massive wanton destruction of personal property and of infrastructure, and killing of unarmed and non-threatening civilians.

The Goldstone Mission concluded that Operation Cast Lead “was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” Targeting a civilian population clearly violates international humanitarian law. The Mission also concluded, as did many who read the Israeli press before and during the three-week Israeli assault, that one purpose of the attack was to punish Gazans for voting for Hamas in the free democratic election of 2006.

The Goldstone Report not only addresses the Gaza invasion, but seeks to place it in the context of the ongoing struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In describing this history, the report harshly criticizes the Israelis for, among other things, the 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel from the occupied territories (a violation of international human rights law), the restriction of movement (between Gaza and the West Bank and within each territory), the suppression of legitimate dissent in the occupied territories, and the blockade of Gaza. It also condemns Israel for its settlements on conquered land, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Judaization of East Jerusalem, and construction and maintenance of the separation wall, which has been ruled illegal by the World Court. And all that is not even to mention the illegitimate and disproportionate use of force during the 2006 Lebanon War. This is hardly the portrayal of an enlightened Western democracy. And it is a characterization of Israel which is all the more shocking for many because it came from Richard Goldstone.

Judge Richard Goldstone is a nightmare for the Israeli and US pro-Israel spin doctors. He is an internationally-recognized jurist with extensive experience in redressing the injustices of apartheid in his native South Africa. He is not only Jewish, but is a self-identified Zionist, and was an honorary member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew University for ten years. His daughter immigrated to Israel where she now lives. This made it difficult to dismiss Goldstone as an anti-Semite from a United Nations whose moral and legal authority Israel has always ignored, with the aid of the United States veto. However, this did not stop the Israelis and their US supporters from smearing the judge.

Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School called Goldstone “an evil man” and “a traitor to the Jews.” The usual charges of “self-hating Jew” echoed loudly in the Israeli and US media. On November 3, 2009 the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36 for House Resolution 867, which called the Goldstone Report, “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The Obama administration, not known for great courage in its foreign policy decisions, has danced to the tune of what some euphemistically call “certain political interests.” In so doing, the US has followed the advice of the House resolution and blocked any further consideration of the Goldstone Report at the United Nations.

Judge Goldstone has invited “fair minded people” to read the report and “point out where it failed to be objective or even-handed.” Neither the Congress nor the Obama Administration has done so. The US mainstream media has all but shut the door on criticism of Israeli conduct during the Gaza invasion. But despite the dismissive response to the Goldstone Report and to the critics of the Gaza invasion, both the report and the invasion have resulted in increased public opposition to US policy regarding Israel. The US pro-Israel camp, alarmed by this new reality, has inaccurately labeled it “a campaign of delegitimization of Israel.”

The essays contained in the Goldstone Report do little to legitimize an Israeli perspective. Jerome Slater criticizes Goldstone’s position that Israel’s war in Gaza could be justified by the claim of self-defense. He writes that “when illegitimate and violent repression engenders resistance” then the claim of self-defense is invalid. Brian Baird, an ex-Congressman, details the degree to which his House colleagues passionately spoke in defense of Israel while demonstrating their almost complete lack of knowledge of the facts.  All his attempts to educate them met with indifference — caused by the giant shadow of the pro-Israel lobby.

The final word is given to Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist and blogger. She spent Operation Cast Lead in North Carolina connected via Skype and email to her father, who was under siege in his home in Gaza City. She details his messages of fright, courage, and despair, followed by relief and muted hope. These thoughts given from father to daughter provide the reader with a visceral understanding of the terror and horror visited on Gazans during the invasion, a horror which is impossible to transmit through a United Nations document. Sadly and soberingly, El-Haddad tells us that for now, for the people of Gaza, the Goldstone Report is just “ink on paper,” since it has not led to any improvement in their lives.

The presentation of the Goldstone Report and the accompanying materials contained in the volume are valuable because they make this extraordinary document accessible to those who might normally be reluctant to read it in its entirety on the United Nations web site. The book is especially recommended to those liberals who still check their progressivism at the gate before entering the portal of Palestine. What they read here just may shake some of their deeply-held beliefs.

(An earlier version of this book review appeared in the Syracuse Peace Council’s Peace Newsletter; March, 2011, PNL #802.)

– Ira Glunts is a Jewish-American who as an English teacher living in southern Israel boarded an Israeli intercity bus and traveled to Gaza City in 1972. He spent the summer of 1992 as a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces. Currently, Mr. Glunts is a critic of Israeli policy and the Jewish-American establishment which supports it, and a member of Central New York Working For A Just Peace in Palestine & Israel. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
What Really Happened In Gaza? – Book Review.

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Gaza in Crisis – Book Review

13:26 02/16/2011

Gaza in Crisis: clear information and insights.

By Jim Miles 

(Gaza in Crisis – Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians. Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe. Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010.)

When two of the most informed academics in the world collaborate on a project, the reader expects to have clear information and insights into the topic at hand. Chomsky and Pappe provide just that with their new short work “Gaza in Crisis.” Focused on Gaza, the discussion necessitates a background discussion on events that have brought about the current situation in Gaza.

The book starts with an earlier Chomsky interview highlighting possible outcomes of the Palestine situation, the use of boycott and divestment, and, as always, the important role that the U.S. plays in supporting Israel. The “crushing of the Palestinian and other violent crimes are possible only because the Untied States provides [Israel] with unprecedented economic, military, diplomatic and ideological support.”

That leads into a brief summary of U.S. involvement in the Palestine question, not in an historical date by date, event by event presentation (which is readily available in other works). Instead it highlights five positions, five general attitudes that have helped create today’s situation: Christian Zionism, the conversion from pro-Arabism to Zionism in view of the King-Crane commission; the creations and advancement of the pro-Israel lobby within the U.S.; the dominance of the five sisters (the big oil companies); and finally, the true nature of the peace process as it allows Israeli colonialism in Palestine.

The third chapter deals with the nakba, an essential background topic on any discussion on Palestine. Chomsky and Pappe focus, again, not on the historical events and a blow by blow account, but look at the broader picture and how it is utilized in context with overall Palestinian/Israeli relationships. The current peace negotiations focus on the 1967 ‘green line’, the demarcation between what Israel conquered after the UN Partition plan was rejected. Part of the reason for highlighting the 1967 date is that for the Israelis it allows them to conceal the events of the nakba, the ethnic cleansing that occurred in many parts of the territory they conquered. This serves the ‘heroic’ narrative that is part of the collective denial of the ethnic cleansing which occurred during the 1947-48 war (and continued well after). The stilted nature of the peace process is then limited to actions after 1967 – mainly the settlement process and the subjugation of the now ‘enclaved’ Palestinian people whereas otherwise it would necessarily include the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian towns and the recognition of the internationally accepted right of return for persons displaced by war.

In following discussion on Israel violence towards Gaza, the United States plays a central role in all Israel actions. Whether supplying direct military aid, testing new weapons and security control systems, supplying direct financial aid, or providing diplomatic and political support at the UN and other organizations, the U.S. has been a tacit partner in all Israeli actions. Beyond that is the recognition that violence is the only answer that Israel has allowed. Following on the denial of their own violent actions, by creating the narrative/myth of the heroic nature of their actions and the demonization of the other, violence becomes the norm and accepted manner (in Israel at least) of murdering a nation. At only one point did I question the authors, from a one liner saying “It is particularly odd that such a belief [in the efficacy of violence] should be held in the United States.” This slip – as I hope it is – denies the U.S.’ historical legacy of using violence in all its ambitions of empire and control throughout the world, and it current cultural context of violence represented in much of the media.

The issue of what will be the final outcome of all this is represented in two discussions, one on a “Blueprint for a One-State Movement: A Troubled History,” the other on “The Ghettoization of Palestine.” Both discussion intersect on the overall goal of Israel, the complete “control of Mandatory Palestine.” The latter section emphasizes the current process of creating ever decreasing territories divided into bantustans or ghettos that are completely subordinate to Israeli rule. In the case of Gaza that becomes essentially a large open air prison containing a million and a half Palestinians in a state of suspended livelihood.

An excellent summary of the Israeli ethos of violence towards Gaza is summarized effectively in “The Killing Fields of Gaza 2004- 2009.” The Israeli policy makers have resorted to using “brutal military power as a short-term reaction to a problem they had no idea how to solve politically.” From First Rains, to Summer Rains, then Autumn Clouds, and finally the overwhelming brutality of “Cast Lead,” the attacks on Gaza stem from military humiliation in their actions against Lebanon and the capture of one Israeli soldier, frustration at being able to find – or want to find – a peaceful alternative, and the lack of a clear policy, although the latter may well be a smokescreen as much as the ‘peace process’ has served for the settlements. The whole population has been demonized, women and children included, based on the Israeli narrative of its moral superiority and right to all Palestinian lands. At first presented as part of the global war against the “World Jihad” the warrior stance has been refined to seeing Gaza as a terrorist base intent on destroying Israel. The use of such highly disproportionate firepower and the genocide of civilians in the attack revealed the “nature of the military operations …[as] an Israeli military wish to experiment with new weapons, all intended to kill civilians as part of…the need to brand in the Palestinian consciousness the fearsome might of the Israeli army.”

A new world paradigm?

The recent revelations of the Palestine papers demonstrated how much the Palestinian Authority would give up to Israel – much more than any Palestinian could reasonably be expected to allow, given the public face of the PA negotiators stance. That discussion will obviously follow on this work, and may change the image if not the actions of the PA in its acquiescence to the Israeli demands and wishes to the point of almost full capitulation. The PA struggle for survival and validity arrives at the same time as another larger event that carries greater significance for the region as a whole.

Egypt is mentioned several times through this work, always in a highly negative manner, although the topic is not developed beyond those mentions. When discussing the attacks on Gaza where “the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children,” the authors say of Egypt, “Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of the most U.S. military aid, apart from Israel.” Later, while discussing the policies in relation to the attacks on Gaza, its absolute control of the area, and its overall determination to “separate Gaza from the West Bank,” the authors indicate “These are only the bare outlines of very ugly policies, in which Egypt is complicit as well.” Finally while discussing the possibilities of peace n relationship to the new Obama government, the authors cite Obama’s words in relation to Mubarak as a “force for stability and good,” and a “stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States.” From Obama’s words and actions it is seen that “support for democracy, and for human rights as well,” co-relates “closely with strategic and economic objectives….Obama’s yearning for human rights and democracy [is] a joke in bad taste.”

As with all books examining current events, timing is critical for certain discussions.

I look forward to a second volume that incorporates information and its impact and relevance concerning these two topics touched on in this work: the events and ramifications surrounding the Palestine Papers and the negotiations between the PA and Israel as revealed by al-Jazeera; and the events and ramifications of the Egyptian revolution again as witnessed primarily by al-Jazeera, but also by many others tuned into the internet for both news and the social networks that supported the revolution.

Both situations remain highly flexible, and there will be much in the way of the elites struggling to remain within the flow of influence, money, and whatever power they are allocated by their ‘superiors.’ A second edition of the current excellent work, with additional chapters relating to these topics would be well worth the effort.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.

Gaza in Crisis – Book Review.

Children and a world of fantasy in Palestine ..أطفال من الخيال فى فلسطين

YouTube – Children and a world of fantasy in Palestine ..أطفال من الخيال فى فلسطين.

For who missed it | 30 seconds change 30 years| Mubarak leaves office

YouTube – Suleiman: Mubarak leaves office.

Airstrikes in Gaze Injure 11 People, Including Four Children

09.02.11 – 10:01

Gaza City – PNN – A series of airstrikes at dawn on Wednesday morning injured 11 people throughout the Gaza Strip.

Image

Scenes from an earlier airstrike in Gaza City (PNN Archive).

A local reporter for the state-run Wafa news agency said that nine Palestinians, including two women and four children, were lightly or moderately injured when an F-16 fighter jet struck a metal workshop owned by the al-Hatu family in northeast Gaza City.

The injured were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, most with cuts from glass that shattered inside the workshop.

The airstrike caused serious damage to a number of shops in the area including a carpentry storehouse belonging to the al-Susi family, where a fire broke out, which local authorities put out “with much difficulty.” A Ministry of Health drugstore was also damaged.

The Jahar al-Deek neighborhood in the southern Gaza Strip and Gaza City’s western coast were also targeted by airstrikes, as was empty land in the northern Strip and farmland in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood southeast of Gaza City.

Two rockets struck west of Khan Younis, injuring two Palestinians who were taken to the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis for treatment.

 

PNN – Palestine News Network – Airstrikes in Gaze Injure 11 People, Including Four Children.

Ministry of Justice briefs UN on latest in Goldstone recommendations

[ 06/02/2011 – 07:26 PM ]

 

GAZA, (PIC)– Gaza Minister of Justice Mohammed Faraj al-Ghoul has written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the President of the Rights Council’s High Commission in the Palestinian regions revealing the latest developments on the Goldstone report.

“Despite the Palestinian government’s commitment to follow the report’s recommendations and although an independent board to execute those recommendations submitted reports and fulfilled its obligations according to recommendations by the Human Rights Council, authorities in Gaza have not recieved any response or comments,” he said.

A UN fact-finding mission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone issued a report following the 2008-2009 Gaza war recommeding that both Israel and the Palestinians open investigations into international violations committed during the war.

Separately, Ghoul welcomed UN Human Rights Council Commissioner Nawitham Pillay to the Palestinian territories.

He said in statements Sunday that Pillay has deep knowledge of Palesinian affairs and has issued many reports of Israeli violations committed during the war and even to date.

An assembly of 13 Palestinian rights groups and others in Israel have collectively asked Pillay for an update on the Goldstone report.

They accused the international community of failing to bring about justice and urged Pillay to publically reveal the recommendations of the Goldstone report.

Ministry of Justice briefs UN on latest in Goldstone recommendations.

Ministry of Justice briefs UN on latest in Goldstone recommendations.

LOWKEY – MILLION MAN MARCH (FT. MAI KHALIL) OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

 

You might take my life
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul
You might take my freedom
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul

Whether it’s a cancer patient or assassination
Or I fought for emancipation
My intentions were pure you can’t debate ’em
But no, never ever shook hands with Satan
My fans are amazing, I thank and praise ’em
When I die, don’t cry, just congratulations
A million more feet will stamp the pavement with plans of changes, no exaggeration
We will not be ignored
You will be rocked with the force of the bombs you dropped in those wars
I will not be bought
And I consciencely thought it was wrong, so I constantly fought
Peace is something I would really adore
But we are at war so give me a sword
I’m merely a corpse, but still be assured
When you kill me there will be a million more

Born alone and die alone
Those words ringin’ inside my dome
Best friends are the pen and the microphone
Roamin’ until I find my way home
Turn my body cold but my soul is mine
Take a deep breath and I close my eyes
I will go when I’m supposed to die
But in death I will multiply

My backs against the wall
But you can’t kill us all
Even if you take my life
Still we will survive
We shall overcome
And the tables will turn
Today I die as one but as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return

In these critical times don’t be really surprised
If I get victimised by Gideon’s spies
I sympathise with that Brazilian guy
On the tube, but we’re used to the hideous lie
“Civilians die, millions cry
Our civilians die”, the militants write
How silly am I to be figuring why?
The injustice is clear and I feel it inside
Hear me in Gaza, here me in Glasgow
Hear me in Baghdad, hear me in Plasto
Clearly they hear me from here to Chicago
Think things are all good but really they aren’t though
Peace is something I would really adore
But we are at war so give me a sword
I’m merely a corpse, but still be assured
When you kill me there will be a million more

Born alone and die alone
Those words ringin’ inside my dome
Best friends are the pen and the microphone
Roamin’ until I find my way home
Turn my body cold but my soul is mine
Take a deep breath and I close my eyes
I will go when I’m supposed to die
But in death I will multiply

My backs against the wall
But you can’t kill us all
Even if you take my life
Still we will survive
We shall overcome
And the tables will turn
Today I die as one but as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return

My people are bleedin’
So I’m readin’ and seekin’ the deepest of meanin’s
My demons are breedin’
In my sleep I can feel it, I need to defeat ’em
My temperature’s risin’
If tempted I’ll rise with the temper of Tyson
Resent all the violence
Cause of people with tension
It tends to divide them
The pen that I write with
Is better than a sword when I strike with the strength of a Titan
My friends are still fighting against all the tyrants
So then why would it end when I die then?
Peace is something I would really adore
But we are at war my pen’s killing your sword
I’m merely a corpse, but still be assured
When you kill me there will be a million more

Born alone and die alone
Those words ringin’ inside my dome
Best friends are the pen and the microphone
Roamin’ until I find my way home
Turn my body cold but my soul is mine
Take a deep breath and I close my eyes
I will go when I’m supposed to die
But in death I will multiply

My backs against the wall
But you can’t kill us all
Even if you take my life
Still we will survive
We shall overcome
And the tables will turn
Today I die as one but as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return
But as millions I’ll return

You might take my life
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul
You might take my freedom
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul

You might take my life
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul
You might take my freedom
But you can’t take my soul
You can’t take my soul

all credit goes to Sean, Crazyalaa, and Muslim Soldier

YouTube – LOWKEY – MILLION MAN MARCH (FT. MAI KHALIL) OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO.

Israeli soldiers told to ‘cleanse’ Gaza

Exclusive: Israeli soldiers tell Channel 4 News they were ordered to “cleanse” Palestinian neighbourhoods, as filmmaker Nurit Kedar says “the atmosphere was that nobody should talk about this war”.

 

 

YouTube – Israeli soldiers told to ‘cleanse’ Gaza – C4 News exclusive.

Gaza minister: Children prove Gaza’s steadfastness

[ 27/01/2011 – 10:58 AM ]

 

GAZA, (PIC)– Gaza Minister of Culture Osama al-Issawi said the Palestinian government will continue to maintain Palestinian rights, and that Gaza’s steadfast children proved to the world that it remains strong despite challenges.

Issawi praised the legendary steadfastness of children in Gaza who lost their parents during the late 2008 Gaza war.

War-orphaned children, who met with minister at his Gaza headquarters, called for legal action against Israeli war criminals, a lift on the Gaza siege and freedom of movement.

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Gaza minister: Children prove Gaza’s steadfastness.

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