“A Rogue State”
Posted by Charles II on January 7, 2009
An important article has been published in The Guardian by Avi Shlaim, himself formerly a member of the Israeli Defense Force (1964-66). Its conclusion:
This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism – the use of violence against civilians for political purposes.
Apart from the history of Israel’s refusal to maintain its borders within the Green Zone, what leads him to this painful conclusion?
It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It did so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel’s objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza…
Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate….In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.
And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
There’s more, below the fold, but those three things alone amount to allegations of the commission of war crimes. I join Avi Shlaim in grieving for a nation that has strayed from biblical principles of nonviolence and concern for human life.
Eighty per cent of [Gazans] still subsist on less than $2 a day.
[After the 2005 pullout from Gaza by Israel], another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state.
The real purpose behind the [pullout from Gaza] was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel.
….Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison.
…Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism.
Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.
The timing of the war [against Gaza] was determined by political expediency.
The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, “crying and shooting”.
[Due to the Israeli blockade] 49.1% of the population [of Gaza] is unemployed.
…Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza [creating a humanitarian crisis before the war].
The brutality of Israel’s soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen.
Avi Shlaim lays out context for the present conflict that is, in itself, damning:
The latter creates a serious problem when we are faced with reports that Israel may have used proscribed munitions and that it attacked without provocation civilians in the UN school. Long ago, we could almost assume that the Palestinians were lying and the Israelis were telling the truth. Now we have to assume they’re both lying.
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