Gaza, The case for Middle East Peace – WEF

 

It is rare that you can see history happening. The above webcast meeting does more to explain the cuurent situation than reading 10 000 articles. It is a first class primer on body language. It is over an hour long but  if you have not seen it watch it all the way through.

It begins with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon describing the situation now in Gaza. Then it goes on to Prime Minister Reecip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, then there is Secretary General Amre Moussa of the League of Arab States and last but not least was President Shimon Peres of Israel.

I got the impression that PM Erdogan spoke from the heart. He discusses various things, interestingly he slips in a little detail about being kept waiting with his wife coming into Israel from having been in Ramallah. A lot of the details he describes how he has proposed and try to deliver aid to Gaza. The other hot button issue for Erdogan is the treatment of Hamas as a political party. Erdogan has been attacked for his Islamist views and threatened with life bans from Turkish politics because of it.  Erdogan’s bona fides are out there, he has helped Israel in the past and he is helping negotiations with Syria. 

Amri Moussa spoke in English like a true diplomat, this was the first time I have heard him speak and put his point of view across. He sort of warns Israel that they have to make peace this year or else. He made the telling quip that he knew that Peres would speak last and the longest.

Then comes President Shimon Peres. He sounded like he was at Jewish fund raiser, it was almost a rote speech. He pulled out the Hamas charter etc. He did not even try to apologise for keeping the Prime Minister waiting at the border. Peres does reveal the double standard, for Palestine, only Abbas is allowed to speak, but for Israel, Olmert needs the permission of  Knesset.

Erdogan trys for a rebuttal of Peres but is cut short. I do feel that Erdogan should have five minutes but the fix was in, the takeaway message was supposed to be that of Israel. With Erdogan’s walkout, everybody remembers him and then they want to know what he said. (All of this is immaterial in the age of the internet since the meeting can be intensely scrutinised. )

Israel, if you want repair relations with Erdogan then

  • Apologise for the wait
  • Do not keep any Turkish aid to Gaza waiting, expedite if necessary.
  • Release the women and children you hold as a gesture of good faith.

For any Pro-Israelis out there, at the end of the day Israel can do what it likes but time is against it. Don’t  blinded by the rhetoric, watch what your government actuallydoes and decide what you want for your children.

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On the Wrong Side of History -Uri Avnery

As somebody who was on the wrong side of history (Rhodesia) I have to recommend this article by Uri Avnery published by Counterpunch

Of all the beautiful phrases in Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, these are the words that stuck in my mind: “You are on the wrong side of history.”

He was talking about the tyrannical regimes of the world. But we, too, should ponder these words

In the last few days I have heard a lot of declarations from Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert. And every time, these eight words came back to haunt me: “You are on the wrong side of history!”

Uri goes on to point out how President Obama is different to his predecessors and how his words are different –

The first signs are small. In his inaugural speech, Obama proclaimed that “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and nonbelievers.” Since when? Since when do the Muslims precede the Jews? What has happened to the “Judeo-Christian Heritage”?

Uri then points out how war is changing the politics of Israel, moving it to the right and identified the true political winner of the Gaza disaster.

Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman

The real victor of the war is a man who had no part in it at all: Avigdor Liberman. His party, which in any normal country would be called fascist, is steadily rising in the polls. Why? Liberman looks and sounds like an Israeli Mussolini, he is an unbridled Arab-hater, a man of the most brutal force. Compared to him, even Netanyahu looks like a softie. A large part of the young generation, nurtured on years of occupation, killing and destruction, after two atrocious wars, considers him a worthy leader.

Uri procedes to warn that the Israeli political leadership is getting out of synch with the people (including American jewry) of America and the rest of the world and reminds Israel that it cannot stand without the USA.

Then he ends

YES, WE ARE NOW on the wrong side of history.

Fortunately, there is also another Israel. It is not in the limelight, and its voice is heard only by those who listen out for it. This is a sane, rational Israel, with its face to the future, to progress and peace. In these coming elections, its voice will barely be heard, because all the old parties are standing with their two feet squarely in the world of yesterday.

But what has happened in the United States will have a profound influence on what happens in Israel. The huge majority of Israelis know that we cannot exist without close ties with the US. Obama is now the leader of the world, and we live in this world. When he promises to work “aggressively” for peace between us and the Palestinians, that is a marching order for us.

We want to be on the right side of history. That will take months or years, but I am sure that we shall get there. The time to start is now.

Please read the original article.

PS, Don’t shoot me. I am just quoting Uri Avnery in regard to Mr Lieberman. Google Mr Lieberman if you think Uri is being harsh and make your own judgement.

Uri Avnery on ABC National Breakfast Radio

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery 16 Jan 2009

 

Moshe Halbertal

Moshe Halbertal

 

On the following Monday 19 Jan 2009 – Moshe Halbertal, Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

On Tuesday 20 Jan 2009, an interview with Gaza resident journalist Yousef Al Helou. Thirteen Israeli deaths with over 1300 Palestinian deaths (over 400 children).

Now go back and listen to Uri Avnery said again.

Time to make Peace

As I move into the thirteenth year of regular web use, I found only a handful of sites I have continously read.  Haaretz is one of them. 

I would not normally do this because but I think this editorial is very important and should be echoed.

 

Haaretz Editorial 11 Jan 2009

A big shudder on the wing

By Haaretz Editorial

Around two weeks after the start of fighting in Gaza, there are only vague reports on Israel’s success in damaging Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure. On the other hand, statistics on the harm done to civilians accumulate. More than 800 Palestinians have been killed and around 3,000 have been wounded, an overwhelming majority of them from air strikes. According to UN figures, half of those killed are civilians, and half of the civilians killed are women and children. 

Alongside reports on the number of dead and injured are reports of doctors being denied entry, the inability of aid groups to reach refugees and give them food, and a serious shortage of medicine and supplies. Blame does not rest with the Israel Defense Forces for all these issues. Hamas and other Palestinian organizations deliberately fired at a food convoy heading to Gaza because it sought to enter the Strip through a different crossing than what Hamas had desired. Hamas also liquidates its adversaries at home and is not ready to adopt the Egyptian cease-fire initiative. But these cannot serve as a pretext for a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians. 

Yesterday Israel announced, by dropping leaflets into densely populated areas in Gaza, that it plans to escalate its military operation. This stirs concerns that, similar to what occurred during the Second Lebanon War, the reason for going to war has been forgotten and replaced by an unrealistic desire to topple the Hamas regime in the Strip. If a few years ago the public cried out in protest over the bombing of a home in Gaza and the statement by former pilot and chief of staff Dan Halutz, who said he felt a “slight shudder on the wing” when he bombed a house, today it responds indifferently, even satisfactorily, to the harming of Palestinians. The lessons of previous wars, during which the IDF destroyed infrastructure targets and the homes of civilians but did not gain the quiet it had sought, have not been internalized. Israel’s justified rationale in acting against rocket launchers has been increasingly damaged over two weeks. The legitimacy and understanding extended to Israel melt away amid the pictures of killing and ruin. Accusations of war crimes are already being bandied about in Israel. This war needs to move immediately to the diplomatic track and agreements that will end the fantasies and delusions of both sides

On the same day Haaretz has reported that IDF has decided that the attack on the UN School where 42 people were allegedly was the result of a missfired mortar. Martars as a weapon are imprecise, they are not accurate, they are not supposed to be, because they are supposed to be cheap. Use of mortars of course makes a mockery of any claims that the IDF makes limiting civilian casualties. Originally the IDF claimed that militants were in the school, then they were near the school now it is a whoopsie.

Johnboy from Sydney said it better than I could –

Title of of response

    You apologists amaze me

Your ability to spin on a dime as the Official IDF Spokesmodel changes her story is simply breathtaking!

The first Big Lie:
OF COURSE we were aiming at that school!
OF COURSE we meant to hit it!
We were allowed to, because Hamas were in that school!!!!

Apologists [in unison]: The IDF has nothing to be ashamed of! The IDF were right to target that school! Hamas were there!

The Fallback Lie:
Ummmm, no, Hamas weren`t in that school.
We never said they were.
We never aimed at that school.
We never said we did.

Apologists [in unison]: Shit happens. The IDF never aimed at that school. Never ever ever ever.

FACT: Hamas was never *here*, but were *there*.
EXCUSE: Well, yeah, sure, I did start by saying that we were aiming *here*, but now I`m telling you we were always aiming *there*.

And if tomorrow we find that Hamas where in Location (C)?

Well, *that* was where the IDF was aiming, and we never said otherwise!!!

Israel attacks on Gaza in planning for six months?

The China Daily has published an interesting article that argues that Israel has been planning this for six months.
Was Israel planning attacks for 6 months?

 

Unlike the confused and improvised Israeli response as the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon unfolded in 2006, Operation Cast Lead appears to have been carefully prepared over a long period.

Israeli media reports, by usually well-informed correspondents and analysts, alluded on Sunday to six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint Hamas targets including bases, weapon silos, training camps and the homes of senior officials. The Cabinet spent five hours discussing the plan in detail on December 19 and left the timing up to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, and his defense minister Ehud Barak. Preparations involved disinformation and deception which kept Israel’s media in the dark. According to Ha’aretz, that also lulled Hamas into a sense of false security and allowed the initial aerial onslaught to achieve tactical surprise – and kill many of the more than 300 victims counted so far.

Proportionate response?

Haaretz 29/12/08

 

As the Israel Defense Forces pound Gaza, senior officials have launched an aggressive public relations campaign, in an attempt to gain international sympathy for Operation Cast Lead.  

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip. 

Sunday, Livni and other officials gave interviews in English and Arabic to various international news stations. 

The Foreign Ministry is also looking to recruit speakers of other foreign languages, in particular, Italian, Spanish, and German, in order to expand Israel’s public relations campaign.
 

This is when the PR people will earn their pay.

The problem is that when googling the search terms Qassam rockets and deaths you find about 30 people have lost their lives in four years, as a result of various forces launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. In other words about seven people per year were killed. The Israeli Air Force has managed to kill 310 people and wound over a thousand in 2 days.

To give some perspective about 400 people per year die on Israel’s roads.

It seems to me that the biggest effect that the Qassam rockets were having, was discouraging Aliyah and encouraging people to move to America exacebating the demographic problem.

Israels attack on Gaza of course makes certain former Army General politicians look tough. Tomorrow Gaza will still be there with another 500 martyrs to stir the populace. Meantime the tame Palestinian leaders look more and m0re like lackey running dogs. 

Currently the losers are the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Disaster at Gaza or Israel suppresses Qassem rocket attacks, 23 vs 280

From Haaretz 28 Dec 2008

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard also blamed Hamas for the breakdown in calm, saying: “Clearly, we are calling on Hamas and other militants to cease shelling southern Israel. Obviously they have broken the cease-fire and engaged in an act of aggression against Israel. Israel has responded. We are echoing the calls from around the world for parties to move back to a ceasefire.”

From the Sydney Morning Herald 28 Dec 2008

While the death toll was unfortunate, Israel were simply defending themselves, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said.

“The loss of life in Gaza is deeply regrettable,” chief executive Vic Alhadeff said in a statement.

“It has arisen as a direct result of the fact that Iran-backed terrorists have fired 6,300 rockets and mortars into Israel from Gaza in the last three years and that Hamas has decided not to renew the ceasefire.

“Israel’s attack on Hamas … is therefore a basic right of self-defence to protect its civilians from relentless attack.”

Various Israeli Politicians have been threatening to do punish Gaza for Qassam missile attacks. The F16 bombing runs start. The usual predictable sound bites start up. Normally this strategy works. Hamas will be disrupted for about two years. The news cycle moves on. On Madge and Guy show, on Brangelina.

However this time it feels different. Thanks to the current Global financial crisis, Georgia, Iraq and Afghanistan, the moral high ground the West normally occupies has disappeared. 

Deaths from Qassam and Mortar attacks since June 2004
The Israel Project

23

Deaths from Sundays IAF attacks,  Haaretz 28 Dec 2008, IDF to mobilize 6,500 reservists for Gaza operation
280

Luckily for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the member for Watson, Minister Tony Burke, the Australian Muslim community has not yet got their act together. Watson is supposed to be a safe seat but then so was Bennelong. Having said that, I would not like to be a worker in Tony Burke’s electorate office Monday 29 Dec 2008.

For non-Australians, Australia’s biggest mosque at Lakemba  is located in the electorate of Watson which is in south-west Sydney. Watson is home to a substantial community of Muslims. I should point out that Australia’s Islamic community is as fragmented as its Christian community.