Dear friends and readers,
I had thought not to write separately on the ruthless on-going massacre of Palestinians in Gaza all this week and last (assault as of today still unrelenting). But I have been tempted and now am prompted to speak — even in this obscure blog — that the central reason for Hamas firing of rockets is not some mysterious, senseless act of a malicious group of people. From 2007 until today (seven years), Gaza strip has been turned into an “open-air prison.” The phrase “seige” derives from earlier wars where one side brought their armies up against a walled city and tried to starve those within out, leave them to disease, isolation, so that they will let the marauding army in. It is a blockade: no airplanes, no trains, no transportation in or out. Unemployment is over 50%. Goods are super-expensive; there can be no building of a life for Palestinians who live there (no family building of wealth, no futures for individuals) as long as this goes on. Water is at a premium. Before this latest attack started many Palestinians had but 4 hours of electricity a day. The Gaza strip is densely populated. It’s a ghetto being starved out.
Israel signed a treaty in 2010 in which as part of a compromise it promised to “lift the seige.” It made some feeble changes and then reversed itself. There was a treaty signed in 2012 by the Palestinian authorities with the US’s concurrence where a Unity government was to form, which while it would not include any Hamas individuals would honor their demands, one of which was to “lift the seige,” and in which both sides agreed to accept two states in the area, which would mean Palestine and Israel. When it became clear again, Israel did not mean to keep its word, the rockets began. Many Palestinians sympathize with Hamas and these rockets because they know what the rockets are aimed at: to call attention to the inhumane conditions they are forced to endure life under. The kidnapping of the three Israel boys was a pretext Netanyahu seized. He then practiced Orwellian doublespeak: he accuses Hamas of attacking Israel because it does not want Israel to exist; the reality is he has been doing all he can to destroy any Palestinian state from starting. That’s he destroys so many homes, houses, people, hit hospitals, schools, and now the one power plant. Everyone knows that the Palestinians have no where to flee from the bombs.
At this point the doublespeak of asserting it’s Hamas who is somehow killing all these people (using them as shields? where, how?) has become so laughable that it is only trotted out on Fox News. But the US mainstream media is not telling what this fight is about: the right of the people of Gaza to be left in peace to build a state and society of their own. Those who opine that what all want is peace in such a way as to suggest the both sides are equally in the wrong here and to ignore the real situation of the Palestinian do these people a disservice. If they give in again, they cannot survive. This is why Abbas, the Eygptian leader has made a condition of the rockets stopping the “lifting of the seige.” On the West Bank the settlements continue too (but that’s another aspect of destroying any remnants of Palestinian state). Al-Jazeera was hit; a UN school — Al-Jazeera reports fairly; the US is discussing on whether to accuse Natanyahu of crimes against humanity. Netanyahu was furious that the FAA wanted to stop flights to Tel Aviv because he wants the Palestinians to see that life for everyone else will carry on as it has for the last 7 years regardless of any journalism or any appalled apparently respected friends.
On the function of the tunnels the Israelis have been destroying in their ground assault: see how these have been essential in getting goods and services from outside Gaza to its people.
I also decided to bring this aspect of the conflict out because one of the translators of Dahlia Ravikovitch’s poetry sent them the following poem this morning. Chana Bloch wrote “it is just as biting” as “Get Out of Beirut.” My only qualification is that by calling attention to what often excites people’s sentimentality (helpless children, infants — some of which when bombed have have their bodies severed into bits which then arrive in different hospitals) we somehow make less of the deaths of adolescents (the 3 boys playing soccer on the beach), teenagers, older people, all the infrastructure of the country. So I include a link to an article from The Economist explaining why Israel must negotiate in good faith with the Palestinian people.
On the Attitude toward Children in Times of War
from Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch
trans.Chana Bloch & Chana Kronfeld (Norton 2009).
He who destroys thirty babies
it is as if he’d destroyed three hundred babies,
and toddlers too,
or even eight-and-a-half year olds;
in a year, God willing, they’d be soldiers
in the Palestine Liberation Army.
at their age
they don’t even have a real world view.
And their future is shrouded, too:
refugee shacks, unwashed faces,
sewage flowing in the streets,
a negative outlook on life.
And thus began the flight from city to village,
from village to burrows in the hills.
As when a man did flee from a lion,
as when he did flee from a bear,
as when he did flee from a cannon,
from an airplane, from our own troops.
He who destroys thirty babies,
it is as if he’d destroyed one thousand and thirty,
or one thousand and seventy,
thousand upon thousand.
And for that alone shall he find
Author’s note: This is a variation on a poem by Natan Zach that deals [satirically] with the question of whether there were exaggerations in the number of children reported killed in the  Lebanon War.
Lines 1-2, He who destroys: cf. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5: “He who destroys a single human soul. . . , it is as if he had destroyed an entire world.”
Lines 16-17, As when a man: Amos 5:19, about the danger of apocalyptic yearnings.
See Netanyahu and Goebbels’ matching comments.
An information video interview of Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist.