10 Jan 2009

Israel and Gaza

And so with a weary familiarity, the world sighs as the Middle East combusts into flames of self-destruction and suffering once more.
Lets try to search for some answers. The Israeli leaders are being nakedly opportunistic. They have an election to fight next month and they have taken calculating advantage of both the distraction of the festive season in the west and the impotence of an outgoing American president in his final weeks in office. They are posturing with lives of innocent people.
But then when it came to the Middle East, of course, George Bush has always been the president who did nothing when he really needed to, and always did too much when he didn't need to act. You sense he probably still doesnt really know where the Gaza strip is, let alone have the slightest inclination what day to day life has been like there for Palestinians both before and after Israeli cranked up the aggressive exploitation.
You wonder what George Bush will (or can) do exactly when he retires. He could go and work for the Israeli government as their puppet spokesman. Oh hang on, that's already Tony Blair's job isn't it?
So what does Tony Blair do exactly, you might wonder. He is officially the ambassador of the so-called quartet of the EU, America, the UN and Russia. Shouldnt he be really earning his shekkels at this critical time? But no he seems content to sit on his hands in his palatial Jerusalem residence (when he is actually there at least and not spending his seven figure salary from JP Morgan for advising on banking - again didnt seem to earn his money there either did he really?). And George Bush sits with his feet on the desk in the White House. Both of them very clearly taking sides. Both of them having no conscience whatsoever about fiddling while the lives of innocent people burn.
I find it unfathomable why so many people keep blindingly swallowing the justifiactions of the Israeli government for doing what it is doing. Their slick media spokesmen protest that by smashing a city, and shattering the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, they are 'just defending the Israeli people'. Really? By their logic, one injured Israeli is equivalent to a hundred dead Palestinians. How and why exactly is that the case? What has taken place is wholely preventable. Bombing an entire people just to stop a few rocket attacks is not only disgustingly disproportionate. It is also highly ineffective and very counter-productive.
Israel is now effectively creating a whole new generation of suicide bombers and rocket launchers, perhaps even more hard-line and militant than before, and for decades to come, sadly, that is how it will be. Bombing wedding parties, schools and clinics, even by accident, is extremely dumb, very wrong and doesnt work.
Keeping the media away is also a very calculating tactic. It is censorship becasue the Israeli government are afraid of the ugly truths that might be revealed and they dont want to be made accountable for murdering scores of innocent people. The lame excuse that anyone innocent who is perceived as an enemy is a lame and morally weak justification. Perhaps a political leader of any calibre (is there one of stature in office anywhere now in the world?) might have the political courage to say this.
The policy of military war-making for Israel has not exactly been successful i nrecent times, has it? If it was then they wouldnt need to keep doing. So maybe they should think harder and more thoroughly about the causes of their unsatisfactory security. The solutions to this part of the world have to be political and economic. After my travels through the region, this was very much the conclusion I found myself reaffirming.
Ultimately, Israel will need to talk to people, understand their concerns and deal with them and compromise. And the world needs to stop viewing the Middle EAst in such patronising and simplistic terms. It is a labyrinthe with many entrances. But as long as Israel maintains the Palestianian people under an oppressive economic siege (to say nothing of the military siege funded and equipped by America remember) then its security will always be undermined.
I happen to know some good and likeable Israeli people, but there are too many Israeli's who are one-eyed and badly informed about parts of their world which are afterall right on their own doorstep and they can never travel too. A proper sense of proprortional perspective might be more useful, especially for a people for whom the destructive consequences of war should in no way require any reminders. Smashing up innocent peoples lives and shattering their homes wont work 'Never again'. We keep hearing those words when it comes to war. Think Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq even. But the words seem empty, meaningless and easily forgotten. Is there not a better alternative? Dont bank on the world's lame politicians to come up with one anytime soon.

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