February 10, 2009
There are a couple of good reviews of the film “Waltz with Bashir” which recently won the Golden Globe for best foreign film. The New York Times calls it “a work of astonishing aesthetic integrity and searing moral power,” while Salon.com’s Gary Kamiya writes about the parallels between Israel’s war with Lebanon in 1982 and the recent massacre in Gaza:
Folman’s film is not political. It does not preach or pass judgment. Yet in its artistic integrity, it unintentionally reveals the grim parallels between Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and its complicity with the Sabra and Shatilla massacre and its current onslaught — parallels that, if Israel and the U.S. heeded them, would lead them to understand that the Gaza campaign is both morally appalling and politically self-destructive. Israelis justifiably regard their leaders’ role in enabling the Sabra and Shatilla massacre as one of Israel’s darkest moments, a permanent stain on its character. Of course, Israel’s moral culpability for the 1982 massacre is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. …
Then as now, Israel went to war in the deluded belief that it could defeat a nationalist movement by smashing it into submission. Then as now, America signed off on this wrongheaded tactic. Then as now, Israel won a short-term tactical military victory that ultimately weakened its security and severely damaged America’s interests. And then as now, both Israel and America justified massive civilian casualties by incessantly invoking “terrorism” and dehumanizing the Palestinians.
One thing that strikes me in reviews of this film (I haven’t seen the film itself) is the focus on the psychological and moral impact of war on Israelis, an important topic which gets neatly elided by jingoistic celebrations of war as “defense.” Would anyone who has seen the film like to comment?
February 6, 2009
As if the blockade against Gaza and the war against Gaza were not bad enough ……
Israeli Navy intercepts aid boat bound for desperate Gaza
BEIRUT: A Lebanese aid ship bound for Gaza was fired upon and boarded by the Israeli Navy on Thursday, the trip’s organizers and journalists onboard have said. Israeli officials initially refused to verify the reports, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak then confirmed that the ship had been boarded and was being escorted to the Israeli coastal town of Ashdod.
The Togolese-flagged Tali was trying to deliver about 60 tons of aid, including medical supplies, food and children’s toys, to the besieged Gaza Strip, still in the midst of a humanitarian crisis after Israel’s three week bombardment on the impoverished territory in December and January that left over 1,300 dead and thousands homeless.
Al-Jazeera journalist Salam Khoder, who was aboard, said the ship had been boarded and that crewmembers were being assaulted. “There are Israeli soldiers who actually have boarded the vessel … They are … beating and kicking us,” he said before, according to Al-Jazeera, the line went dead.
February 4, 2009
While the call for a boycott of Israeli academics in Australia is not a new one the following statement is an indication of the renewed vigour for such action in the wake of the Gaza attack. Ali Abunimah explains, in a recent article, that the time is ripe to pressure Israel to end the brutality of its occupation. In this Mission Statement Australia joins other countries in an “unprecedented expression of support for boycott, divestment and sanctions from major trade unions in Italy, Canada and New Zealand”.
Mission statement: Australian Academic Boycott of Israel
We are an Australian campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions.
We do so because we support the call made by Palestinian civil society to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This was delineated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI http://www.pacbi.org/campaign_statement.htm) in the following statement:
Read the rest of this entry »
February 3, 2009
The appointment of Mitchell by the Obama administration as Middle East envoy brings renewed hope of an even-handed approach with regards to a peace settlement. There are, however, several substantial obstacles to overcome.
Like Irish nationalists, Palestinians will never recognize the “right” of another group to discriminate against them. Like Protestant unionists did, Israeli Jews insist on their own state. Israel’s “solution” is to cage Palestinians into ghettos –- like Gaza –- and periodically bomb them into submission just so Israeli Jews, their relative numbers dwindling, can artificially maintain a Jewish state.
If Mitchell is allowed to apply Northern Ireland’s lessons, then there may be a way out. But he goes to Jerusalem with few of the advantages he brought to Belfast. The Obama administration remains committed for now to the failed partition formula of “a Jewish state” and a “Palestinian state” and maintains the Bush administration’s misguided boycott of Hamas, which overwhelmingly won Palestinian elections in 2006. And the Israel lobby — much more powerful than its Irish American counterpart — warps US policy to favor the stronger side, an intransigent Israel committing war crimes. If these policies don’t change, Mitchell’s efforts will be wasted and escalating violence will fill the political vacuum.
Read the rest of Ali Abunimah’s article here.
February 2, 2009
One of Israel’s war aims was to clear Hamas leaders and ministers out of Gaza. But it seems that Israel failed to achieve its main objective as Hamas has emerged defiant from the war. As Mustafa Abu Sway explains in The Daily Star
beyond causing total destruction, killing more than 1,300 Palestinians and wounding more than 5,000 others, many maimed for life, Israel has failed to achieve any political goals. This is not the first time Israeli political leaders time their attacks to coincide with Israeli general elections. This is not the first time this scheme fails. Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni, the supposed political beneficiaries of these atrocities, are still trailing behind Benjamin Netanyahu just a couple of weeks before the elections. As for Ehud Olmert, he could not wipe out his failure in Lebanon with a “victory” in Gaza; he has instead ensured that he enters the hall of shame because of the war crimes for which he is responsible. The world should make sure that he enters the appropriate halls at The Hague.
February 2, 2009
Even Israeli jurists have nothing to say:
The 41,000 attorneys in the State of Israel are entrusted with protecting its image as a lawful state, and this large and grand army has once again strayed from its function. There is a deep suspicion throughout the world that Israel carried out a series of war crimes, and the jurists of our country are holding their peace.
Do they not know that disproportionately harming a civilian population, supply convoys and medical crews, the use of white phosphorus in the midst of population centers and indiscriminate bombings are considered war crimes? What is their response to their enraged colleagues around the world? Are they convinced that Israel carried out these crimes or not? In both instances, their voice is vital and their silence is abominable.
January 22, 2009
Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist writing in Haaretz, offers this confronting conclusion to his fellow citizens in the aftermath of the war:
The conclusion [from the international community regarding the war in Gaza] is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way.
Graver still is the damage this will visit upon our moral spine. It will come from difficult questions about what the IDF did in Gaza, which will occur despite the blurring effect of recruited media.
So what was achieved, after all? As a war waged to satisfy considerations of internal politics, the operation has succeeded beyond all expectations. Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu is getting stronger in the polls. And why? Because we could not get enough of the war.
Read the rest of the article here.