Monday, January 5, 2009

The Special Case That is Israel

This is an interesting piece from 24-year old Danish Socialist MP Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen on the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza that pretty much says everything that I would have to say on the topic.

The rhetoric could be toned down a little bit in a few places, but other than that it's spot on.

What do you think?


The Special Case That Is Israel
Johannes Schmidt-Nielsen

On Saturday Israel initiated the most violent attack on Palestinian territory in several years. With the help of high-tech F16 jets and Apache helicopters Israel bombed the densely populated Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million people live in total slums. The area is roughly the size of Langeland island.

It is nothing new that Israeli policies kill Palestinians, the horrible attack on Saturday simply marks another "high point". In the previous months Gaza has been subject to what the Palestinians call silent deaths. The two-year-old Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip means that hundreds of Palestinians have lost their lives. Cause of death: Lack of basic medicines such as insulin, combined with massive food shortages. Especially the old and sick have buckled under the blockade.

According to the Israeli government, Saturday's attack is simply a defensive reaction meant to force HAMAS and other Palestinian militant groups to cease their rocket attacks directed at southern Israeli cities, that have barely hit anything. While the Palestinian attacks are described as inhumane acts of terrorism, the much deadlier Israeli attacks are portrayed as attempts to establish peace and quiet. It is a strange form of reverse logic: An occupied people is labelled terorists, whereas the occupiers are categorized as democratic peacemakers.

And this sort of logic is only given the time of day because the West has awarded Israel a unique status. While other occupying forces have been subject to both sanctions and invasions from the international community, Israel has been able to keep up their occupation of Palestinian territory for 40 years. Not even Israel's intentional and well-planned colonization of Palestinian lands through hundreds of settlements has been seriously condemned by the international community. On the contrary Israel is given special treatment, for example in terms of trade—and now the EU is planning to strengthen cooperation with Israel.

The West's double standard and disregard for the Palestinians' basic rights are not just a tragedy for the Palestinians. It is a tragedy for the world. The continued occupation and constant humiliation of the Palestinians is without a doubt one of the most effective methods of creating support for reactionary, Islamist HAMAS and terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. They can rightly refer to the hollowness of the West's talk of democracy and human rights, and thereby co-opt the despair that is so widespread in the Arab world.

The most tragic thing is that a permanent peace in reality requires only a few, small gestures on Israel's behalf. A large majority of Palestinians have given up the claim to their original homeland and now only demand that Israel give back the areas occupied since 1967, as well as a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Israel is 100% reliant on American military and economic support and trade with the EU. Therefore, a lasting peace (favouring both Palestinians and Israelis!) could be obtained the day there was political will to pressure Israel economically. For some reason that just doesn't happen—for the special case that is Israel.


Aubrey said...

Israel apparently can do no wrong, which leads one to ask who defines what's right.

Drew said...

pretty much.

it's interesting to wonder why the deaths of 13 israeli civilians from rocket attacks over the last 8-9 years is wrong enough to justify a ground invasion of gaza while the 700 palestinians killed (and 3000+ wounded) in the last ten days aren't grievous enough to even warrant consideration of a ceasefire by the israeli government.