Thursday, January 08, 2009

What You Don’t Know About Gaza

By RASHID KHALIDI - NYT Op Ed

Published: January 7, 2009

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

THE CEASE-FIRE Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed.

WAR CRIMES The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming “Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East."

14 Comments:

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

Sad to see how radicalized you've become, Gert. It's one thing to be trumpeting the dreaded "moral equivalence" many on the left promote. You've become an anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, Palestinian activist...

http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/1211

Seems harder and harder to distinguish your views from Hamas, Fatah and Hizballah. Sad...I feel bad for you, and am genuinely sorry to see how you've changed from equal opportunity critic of both Israel and the arabs to venomous Zionist hater.

I'm afraid this must be a good-bye of sorts...your views have crossed the line to bigotry, which makes continued dialogue pointless.

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Yupper...its ALL Israel and the United States fault. I don't know if this link will play or not, but it does add explanation as to WHY the people of Gaza don't fight back and throw Hamas out. They are terrified by their own people. The people in this video are simply celebrating a wedding and singing, and they were killed for that reason only, at least no other discernable reason is apparent.

The way I see it, this a true case of the Palistinians of Gaza being caught between a rock (Israel) and hard place(Hamas), but, its ALL the fault of Israel and the US isn't it Gert. Where is your common sense mate? Why can't folks see just who the REAL bad guys are in this mess?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1M4eH9Kk7I&eurl=http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

You are a self-confessed ignoramus on this whole conflict (I/P conflict: from 1948 to present date).

So, please spare me your ridiculous and righteous, patriotic lectures. Read a good book about it.

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

**Sigh** OK, I guess I'll also go the way of "MZ". Gert, you really need to take a step back and look at how your views regarding certain world events, that you have almost no stake in, or can in no way influence any outcome, are affecting your relationships.

Ask yourself, "How important is it to be right in this issue/debate?"

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

**Sigh** OK, I guess I'll also go the way of "MZ".

Please do: MZ advocates the entire transfer of all Palestinians from Israel/Palestine for the creation an Arab-free Greater Israel. In the past he's also advocated the extermination of ALL Muslims (Think I'm kidding?) You'll be in solid Conservative company, that should please you no end.

"Ask yourself, "How important is it to be right in this issue/debate?""

Answer: 100 %.

The lives and existence of an entire People are at stake. This is the part you'll never understand, not even on your deathbed.

You and MZ want to say goodbye to me over this? Feel free...

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I read this article this morning and found it very troubling, though not at all surprising. I truly do hope Barack Obama's connection with Khalidi was exaggerated by Republicans.

THE GAZANS How is it relevant that the Gazans are not there by choice? Is it alright for them to fire at Ashkelon and Be'er-Sheva because their grandparents came from those cities?

The Gazans have been kept in the refugee camps by their Arab brethren. Had Egypt, who controlled the strip between 1948-1967, or any other Arab country, rehabilitated the refugees and invested in them, things would look differently. Instead, the refugees and their suffering were used as a tool against Israel to keep calling for the right of return. After all, if they'd rebuild Palestinians' lives in their new locations it would have seemed like they were giving up on the right of return.

THE OCCUPATION First of all, the Gazans have never NOT lived under occupation. Before 1967 they were occupied by Egypt; before 1948 by the UK; and before 1917 by the Ottomans. Right now, their self-rule is greater than at any time in the past.

Israel has made many mistakes over the years in Gaza. It should have done what Egypt before it should have done - it should have made Gazans' lives better. However, once Israel withdrew from the territory, it was up to the Palestinians to make their lives better, even if Israel controlled the border. Even before the blockade that started when Hamas rose to power, Palestinians did nothing with their territory.

THE BLOCKADE Fuel, electricity and humanitarian aid kept coming in to Gaza all this time. The aim of the blockade was not to choke the Palestinians, but to harm the Hamas government. If a nation elected a government bent on your destruction, would you cooperate with it economically and otherwise?

THE CEASE-FIRE In November Israel attacked a tunnel where arms were being smuggled in. The IDF said there was an imminent threat to Israel from whatever was coming through that tunnel. Was it a smart move? Maybe not, but it didn't come out of thin air.

WAR CRIMES The numbers do not speak for themselves. They don't demonstrate each side's intentions, but rather each side's technological advancement. The civilian death toll is too high - the result of both Israeli recklessness and Hamas activity within population centers. However, this is not a war crime on Israel's part, since the civilians are not the targets. Also, it is not true that civilians are the majority of the dead.

"Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip."

Israel wanted to continue the cease-fire, but Hamas refused. It demanded that the border crossings be opened, but as long as Hamas is unwilling to allow inspections they cannot be fully opened. The smuggling of arms must stop.

"This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets."

Khalidi would like to think that it isn't. This way, the Palestinians have absolutely no responsibility for what is happening. The truth is that it is about rockets. After eight years of Qassams and Grad missiles, Israelis have had enough.

"Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

This is a horrible statement. Moshe Yaalon is an idiot, though not an isolated idiot. Maybe this kind of thinking has something to do with some of the tactics of the current operation but it is not the goal. The end of rocket fire and rocket smuggling is.

 
At 11:49 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

First off Gert, regarding MZ, I'm almost completely unfamiliar with anything to do with MZ's political views. I was referring to his remark regarding your not being an "equal opportunity critic" anymore and you seem to have become, as he stated, "radicalized".

My statement, "I'll go the way of MZ" was stating that I will probably not be visiting your blog anymore and was directly prompted by your insult of calling me an "ignoramus". I will always admit when I'm ignorant regarding some point or another, something that it takes character to do. Something I rarely by the way ever see you do, if ever.

You did not have to be so insulting toward me. You also told me to "spare you from ridiculous and rightious patriotic lectures". Again with the insults. It's because of your hostile rebuffs that I stated I would not be coming back, and don't lump me into some group of people that "advocates the extermination of all Muslims" and tell me that I'll be "right at home". I've never advocated anything like that in my life and you certainly don't know me if you think that is the kind of person I am.

Lastly, if winning some debate that in the end will solve nothing because neither of us has any power to change what's happening is that important to you, and you will sacrifice relationships over such debates, then I truly feel bad for you because your life priorities are definately askew.

So, if its that important to you to have "won" this little exchange...then you win, but you've lost a potential friendship.

 
At 12:24 AM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

Either grow up or grow a thick skin.

 
At 12:30 AM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Gert; Either lighten up or get some professional help.

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger Eitan said...

Manu: "This is a horrible statement. Moshe Yaalon is an idiot, though not an isolated idiot. Maybe this kind of thinking has something to do with some of the tactics of the current operation but it is not the goal. The end of rocket fire and rocket smuggling is.

I'd like to differ. Ya'alon is one of the few Ramatkhalim-turn-politician who actually has a good understanding of the nature of the Arab/Israeli conflict. It is because of him that I still might vote Likud.

The Palestinians need to understand that they are, in fact, a defeated people. After '67, moral in Israel was at its peak and Jews were making Aliya by the droves. When the Palestinians understand that Israel will not be annihilated; that "netzach Yisrael lo yishaker" Israel will be safer and Jews will not need to seek shelter from Hamas missiles. Only when Zhabo's "Iron Wall" dictum comes to fruition; only when we prove that no Arab nation can defeat us will there be true and lasting peace (and I certainly hope there's no "genocide of the Palestinians" which Gert seems to think Israel is trying to perpetuate).

The only genocide anyone has in mind is the genocide of the Jews of Israel (and where Israel goes world Jewry follows).

Gert: It is my opinion that friendships are not worth losing over issues which not only you cannot resolve but the entire world community has not been able to resolve for the past 60 years and counting. And btw: how come I didn't hear any complaining from you when Jews were being illegally transferred from Gaza? Oh, right...it's OK to transfer Jews. Palestinians? G-d no!

What are you trying to accomplish by insulting Cookie? Has he slighted you? I hold Cookie in the utmost esteem as I do MZ. Please reconsider your statements.

We've been friends for a long time and that's not going to change no matter how you answer me. In my opinion, a man can only gain respect by owning up to having been in the wrong.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Eitan: If the meaning is that Palestinians must understand they were defeated in 1948 and cannot turn the clock back (no destruction of Israel, no right of return) then I agree. The problem is that the term "defeated people" sounds like much more than that. It sounds like it means that they should realize they have absolutely no future, and I think that is dengerous.

Palestinians need to see that they have a potentially bright future ahead of them, but only if they negotiate with Israel, not if they fight it. If Palestinians feel that they are a completely defeated people without a future, Israel itself will become unlivable.

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger Gert said...

The term "defeated people" of course means simply what it says on the tin: a defeated people that have lost the will to fight or even exist.

This is what Eitan wants and this is what Israel wants. There will be no two state solution, it's too late for that. All the Palestinians can hope for is somehow to hang in there [WB] for dear life, and try and softly resist further land expropriations by Israel and "its finest" (the settlers). I say 'softly resist', as all harder resistance will be branded Global Islamic Terror and met with exterminative 'counter-measures'.

If they do manage to hang in there, Israel will become a de facto Apartheid State with a three tier population: 1st class citizens (Jewish Israelis), 2nd class citizens (Arab Israelis), 3rd class citizens (West Bank Palestinians).

Eitan and MZ were right all along and I was wrong.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Eitan said...

Manu: agreed! It's beneficial for the State of Israel that Palestinians may at some point see a brighter future ahead of them.

Gert: that's now what I meant by "owning up to having been in the wrong";-) C'mon, pal!

BTW: I don't consider MZ and myself to have been right (yet). Your predictions are the ones that are coming true thus far.

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger Gert said...

"Manu: agreed! It's beneficial for the State of Israel that Palestinians may at some point see a brighter future ahead of them."

What, so that they can be optimistic before being carted off to "Arabia"? Maybe you could suggest they join a band before their deportation orders come through? Now that reminds me of something sinister but what pray, tell...

"Gert: that's now what I meant by "owning up to having been in the wrong";-) C'mon, pal!"

Cookie wants a pro-American stance from me and he wants me to join him in his "hear no, see no evil". Forget it, I'm not playing.

 

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