5/24/2004

Rafah

In Japan, news of the Western imperialist adventurism is rather filtered. As I mentioned earlier, the big news was the secret summit between the Japanese PM and Kim Jong-il, with barely any focus on the middle east aside from highly detached news summaries from the wires. Of course I was limited to seeing front pages of english media and the evening english broadcast of news, wo it was a filtered sample. For all I know the Japanese are left moonbats or jingo chickenhawks in kanji.

But the news of the Rafah incursion did break through, as passing mention. But only today after checking out the web did I find that there was serious tragedy involved, above the usual level of collateral damage. Imshin says it best:

I am so sorry that an Israeli tank killed those children in Rafiah, even if it was by mistake. I think of their mothers. My worst nightmare has come true for them. I can hardly begin to imagine their terrible anguish.

In the Intifada in the late 80’s, friends fresh back from reserve duty told that in some Palestinian homes that they had entered to conduct searches, they had come across little kids chained to their beds, to keep them from going out to throw stones, and maybe get shot or arrested. Can you imagine trying to bring up kids in such conditions?

Today’s Palestinian mothers must be the sisters of those kids. I wonder if they still chain them to their beds or if they’ve just given up.


(Note that Imshin has effectively answered Diana's question). Jonathan wonders if this is Israel's "Algeria moment", pointing out that what is really at stake is Israel's soul. What worries me even more, is the fate of my own nation's soul in our own occupation experiment. The parallels, and anti-parallels, between the occupation of Gaza and the occupation of Iraq are too radioactive for me to want to dwell on. But the boundaries of what do distinguish the two cases seem sometimes to be actively blurred by the present Administration, or at least their ideological foot soldiers - which is what worries me most of all.

UPDATE: via Diana, this article by Meron Benevisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, who echoes the concern over the effect of occupation on Israel's collective identity:

Something basic has gone awry. If commanders, the sons of the fighters of 1948, send the grandchildren of the fighters for independence to "widen the route" - which means the expulsion of the grandchildren of the refugees of 1948 - on the pretext of existential threat, then there was something defective in the founding fathers' vision.

If, after half a century, their enterprise still faces existential threat, this can only mean that they condemned it to eternal enmity, and there is no community that can for years on end survive a violent war for its existence.

And if this is merely a pretext (and Operation Rainbow in Rafah was an instinctive reaction that evolved into second nature), we must reflect deeply and sadly on our responsibility for the enterprise that at its start embodied so many exalted ideals.

Is there some "original sin" that lies at the foundation of the Zionist enterprise?


While the concerns are well-founded, the answer to the last question is probably "No." I think it's a mistake to ask whether Zionism - defined as the vision of a Jewish homeland - is a flawed concept. Rather, the flaw lies in the execution, and there is a liberal, progressive Zionism whose architects have yet to assert themselves (or in the case of Rabin, perhaps paid the ultimate price for asserting it).

The lens by which I view the conflict has been forever altered by the Iraq War - so this is no longer an academic issue to me of an abstract conflict in a distant land, it's now a canary in the coal mine of our foreign policy. America is not Israel; I believe it is something better because it can be a homeland for Jews, as well as any other ethnic or religious group, without recourse to legal exclusions or preferences or defining values in a proprietary sense. The basic values upon which a successful society is built are not "Jewish" or "Christian" or "Muslim" or "Eastern" - they are universal to mankind. If there is an original sin to Israel's founding, it is in the assumption that for a homeland for Jews to prosper, it must reflect "Jewish values" to the exclusion of others - which is a false dichotomy under whose moral ambiguity the Occupation has been allowed to drift in purpose.

9 comments:

MikeNargizian said...

AZIZ -did I find that there was serious tragedy involved, above the usual level of collateral damage. Imshin says it best -IMSHIN CITE -I am so sorry that an Israeli tank killed those children in Rafiah, even if it was by mistake. I think of their mothers. My worst nightmare has come true for them. I can hardly begin to imagine their terrible anguish.

In the Intifada in the late 80�s, friends fresh back from reserve duty told that in some Palestinian homes that they had entered to conduct searches, they had come across little kids chained to their beds, to keep them from going out to throw stones, and maybe get shot or arrested. Can you imagine trying to bring up kids in such conditions?

Today�s Palestinian mothers must be the sisters of those kids. I wonder if they still chain them to their beds or if they�ve just given up.
AZIZ -(Note that Imshin has effectively answered Diana's question)

MY COMMENT -I. What's notable is he doesn't answer why mothers have to chain their kids to their beds...? Is he inferring its Israel's fault that kids want to walk into a machine gun fights with gunmen or blow themselves up as suicide bombers?
Common sense, facts and Walid Shoebat detail the PLO occupation of the minds of children in books, mosques, school songs/lesson plans, television shows/commercials, graffiti, radio, summer camps and street names.

II. What's also notable besides that he leaves out the end of Imshin's post -ME CITING THE REST OF IMSHIN'S POST -even if we get out of the Gaza Strip tomorrow, tunneling and smuggling of weapons and explosives from Egypt will continue, and the need to combat this will persist. Probably even the need to go further into the Gaza Strip to destroy weapon factories and workshops. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian combatants and civilians will probably continue to be killed.III. Here is what Diana says in the link Aziz provides (that Imshin 'supposedly' answers?) -Diana -The 'operation' in Gaza is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an outrage. It is My Lai, it is wrong, it is evil. It won't work. It won't cut down on terrorism, it's a lie, a ruse, a scandal. The moral capital of the US is already abysmal, but we drag it lower by supporting this. There, I said it.Imshin's post directly disagrees with Diana's post. It is in fact concluding the OPPOSITE.IMSHIN CONTINUES -I no longer believe that leaving the territories will give us any moral justification in the eyes of the world, when the need to defend ourselves arises again, as it surely will, even right after disengagement, as they�re calling it now, probably even, horror of horrors, during the actual disengagement itself.
The Israeli Zionist left is deceiving itself. Ceasing to exist can be our only atonement. Maybe even that will not suffice.

So is Aziz trying to piece out 1 small section of Imshin's piece and juxtapose it to Diana's and mislead what Imshin's actual point was?

IV. And he also didn't note this tidbit in an article Imshin copies at the end of the post -IMSHIN POST CONTINUED -Yesterday, the third of these phenomena led to the deaths of 8 Palestinians. In what has been termed a protest by the media, a group of hundreds of noncombatants mixed with gunmen marched toward the area in which IDF troops were engaged in combat against armed Palestinians. Ignoring orders to stop, including warning shots by a helicopter gunship and a tank, the crowd continued to approach until a tank shell, also fired in warning, exploded against an abandoned building. Immediate Palestinian reports of a massacre of 23 were soon reduced to 10, as some of the massacred turned out to be corpses removed from the hospital morgue. Later adjustments brought the total down again, this time to eight.Naturally, Israel was condemned by the UN and most of the world for the incursion and the loss of life. It is patently unclear under which law this condemnation took place, as there is no provision in the rules of war for noncombatants marching into the midst of a firefight in mixed crowds with gunmen. It is also curious that the US abstained in the UN vote, even as reports came out of an American helicopter attack on an Iraqi wedding party left over 40 dead. Interesting how dangerous celebrations can appear when they include the indiscriminate fire of AK 47 assault rifles into the air.END OF THE ARTICLE IMSHIN CITES -Last but not least, some in Israel are using the incursion and the loss of life as evidence that Israeli settlements in Gaza are the root cause of all this evil. On this subject it should be clearly understood that regardless of whether one supports the Sharon disengagement plan or opposes it, IDF antiterrorist operations in Gaza will not end with the removal of settlements. They will only end with removal of terrorists.IMSHIN SUMS UP -One sentence jumps out at me from Haaretz�s report of yesterday�s incident: �Dozens of children marched at the head of the procession�.These people were marching towards an area that was under curfew, in the middle of a military operation, and they put the kids in front. Cynical bastards.
You say they are the weak side, so they have no choice but to act as they do. And I say we are the weak side, because we have feelings of guilt when we kill, and they do not*. Our guilt will be the end of us. The Palestinians� strength is that they have no such shackles. And they make good use of ours.
CONCLUSION -VI. So besides misleading the meaning of Imshin's post (which I now wonder if he read in full) He must have missed that tidbit? -OR- thought its inclusion would blow the points he was trying to infer.
VII. News today IMRA cites Haarets article that states the IDF has photos of Palestinian terrorists delibereatley killing two Plstn'n children (that Palestinians claimed the Israeli tank shells killed - just as in al-Dura case)An official IDF source confirmed Amir Orens� Haaretz article (21 May) this afternoon to IMRA that two Palestinian children who died in the Rafah procession incident were murdered by Palestinian gunmen and that the IDF photographed the shooting.

Saraj, a respected individual, formerly the director-general of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the Palestinian Authority, listened to Colonel Mordecai�s pleas, but took no steps to prevent the disaster.

When men obeyed the calls over the loudspeakers to turn themselves in to the IDF authorities (and to the intelligence people who wanted to question them), they were confronted by members of the terror organizations, who opened fire on them and killed two children. A senior officer in Gaza reported yesterday that the IDF have in their possession pictures of this incident, of Palestinians killing their children. He expressed amazement as to why the army has refrained from publishing them.

MikeNargizian said...

I'll tell you that on preview the post looks neat with spaces and returns in the correct place. And then when it posts on the site it loses all the indentations and double spaces.


AZIZ ON JONATHAN'S POST -Jonathan wonders if this is Israel's "Algeria moment", pointing out that what is really at stake is Israel's soul.That's not exactly what Jonathan said -disasters like this are impossible to avoid in counterinsurgency warfare. I'm beginning to think the Rafah campaign may turn out to be Israel's Algeria moment - that is, the moment of realizing that no matter how many military victories the IDF wins, it has become involved in a war that's impossible to win politically and is corrupting Israel's soul. It's past time to build a strong fence on the border, dig a canal along the Philadelphi corridor to prevent tunnel digging, and get the hell out.LATER HE CLARIFIES IN AN UPDATEThe Israeli foreign ministry has posted a communique (map) saying that the IDF didn't fire at civilians deliberately and that the casualties may have been caused when a shell set off an explosion in a nearby building.As I said above, I didn't think it was deliberate - if it wasn't a nearby explosion, it was probably a warning shot that went wrong (not that firing warning shots with tanks is a particularly good way of making a point). That only underscores the fact that it's impossible to fight this kind of war without disaster, even with the best of intentions. Gaza is a trap, and Israel has fallen in.What's notable is that what they did in Lebanon and that's what Sharon is proposing now, and the buildup of missiles on the border, power and standing of Hezballah, and the level of hot and cold conflagrations are much worse now.

Imshin agreed that withdrawal will gain Israel nothing politically and will not mean Israel will not have to go back into the Gaza, in fact quite the opposite.

MikeNargizian said...

I won't even go into all of the contradictions in the Benvenisti article except to say that Jonathan's opinin disagrees with it as well as Imshin. Jonathan is for withdrawing, widening the Philadelphia Road and digging a deep water filled canal. Now Benvenisti would have a huge problem with this because it would mean uprooting some Palestinian homes and buildings.

In this very reasonable article written by Matthew Gutman in the JPost residents in Rafah, many of whom are sick of the terror gangs holding them hostage essentially and ruining any chance for them to live a normal life note the problem with the canal as well....
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer&cid=1084857512007&p=1078027574121
The IDF incursion into Rafah partitioned the city's population into three broad categories: the gunmen and the boys who operate as scouts, diversions, and ambulance directors; families scurrying for shelter in their homes; and the dozens of families fleeing the center city neighborhood of Salah a-Din Gate.One of those fleeing families, the Kishteh clan, lives along what is quickly becoming the front line of houses facing the Termit outpost, a heavily armed IDF post tasked with controlling, if from afar, the center city. It was at the family-owned six-floor apartment building, a relatively new apartment block with pink trimming, that Palestinian snipers killed two soldiers Friday. With several rows of houses to their south already mowed down, and the IDF clamoring to widen its Philadelphia Toute security zone by another 150 meters, the Kishtehs figured it was time to leave.

On Tuesday, this native Rafah family packed its belongings onto a truck. Chairs, bureaus, beds, and even one of the family member's high-school graduation cap were crammed onto the flatbed.
"We've been jailed from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no water, no electricity, there is shooting all day," said Fathi Salim Kishteh. "[Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon must find a solution," she pleaded to journalists.(**Doubt that quote made into any other papers**)

"His soldiers were killed in this building, and we treated them with dignity. We want the same."They were to join a steady trickle of trucks and donkey-drawn carts heading away from Salah a-Din Gate, now dubbed by many "a wasteland." But hers was one of the more conciliatory voices on an otherwise bloody day.

Abu Samer Badrasawi, 70, stopped journalists to ask them, "Have you heard of Hiroshima? Well this is it." Like everyone asked in Rafah on Tuesday, Badrasawi insisted that the tunnels Israel hunted in the area were fictive.
********
One Palestinian wondered what would happen when Israel broadens its security zone. "Won't they have to guard the 50 meters nearest the city? Then to protect those positions, because the resistance will not stop, they will have to bulldoze more houses."********
And so it goes as Imshin points out the IDF will always have to keep going back into Gaza because they'll never stop trying to import heavy arms and escalate the conflict. The residents get that. So Benevenisti's idea that the IDF secretly wants (as he implies) to expel the Palestinians from Gaza even, or even has any designs on it, is the actually fictive implication.

Israel just doesn't want anti tank RPG, Katsushas, and Streta Missiles being imported to shoot down civilian 747's.

And that is exactly what the terror gangs want.

thabet said...

"I believe it is something better because it can be a homeland for Jews, as well as any other ethnic or religious group, without recourse to legal exclusions or preferences or defining values in a proprietary sense."

In your bombast, Aziz, you forgot to mention that non-Americans, aliens, are excluded; mainly because the idea of citizen/alien is a fundamental concept of the modern nation-state.

Aziz Poonawalla said...

Mike, you've registered for Blogger, now you just need to start a blog. I can't even begin to take the six hours necessary to reply to your insane lengthy screeds. If you'd keep your points relatively focused it would be less of a chore to discuss things with you.

I wil say that you've misunderstood teh Diana Moon question link, but its not important. You pretty much rotinely miss the point and then leap to insinuations of intent. Its tiresome and there's no sense from me that you want to be civil, you just want me to give you rope.

TheBit, the difference is that anyone can become a citizen of the USA, irrespective of race, tehnicity, or religion, and become a full-fledged member of teh society. There are no permanent second classes. I think that drawing a distinction between "alien" and "citizen" to analogize the Jew-Arab status in Israel is a pretty weak argument and also largely misses my point. It's not clear to me what solution you are proposing that would correct the injustice you've described. What woudl be better in your view?

(BTW< would love to have an email discussion with you on this)

Diana said...

Mike, you've registered for Blogger, now you just need to start a blog. I can't even begin to take the six hours necessary to reply to your insane lengthy screeds. With ya.

Mike: Trust us, it really is possible to boil down your thots into a few pithy sentences. Until you do that, I am ignoring your rants.

Aziz: Not sure WHICH question of mine Imshin answered. I pose so many, and you know the way blogger works.

BTW, I've grown quite weary of the "I'm so sorry we had to kill Palestinian children" line. I've been hearing it for quite some time. It's the pseudo-liberal equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming. It's meaningless.

MikeNargizian said...

a) Aziz received a neat outlined email of my comments

b) I didn't ""rant"" anywhere in my post all I did was outline parts of Aziz's, Imshin's and Diana's posts. "Ranting" would be what Diana did in her very 'intelligently' stated post that Aziz linked to.
If you look at Aziz's newest post, outlining and commenting is exactly what he does and my post was noticably shorter than his.

c) My points are obvious Aziz misquote the main point of Imshin's post and juxtaposes is on Diana's a fundamentally different conclusion.

d) Reading through Imshin's post not only proved (c) but provided further points worth noting, which I did.

e) Diana in her 'ranting' post as well as comments here notes she's 'sick of the Israeli 'sorries''.
Well, me too. I'm sick of the Israelis immediately apologizing for a situation before they know the exact circumstances from the Army. Mohammed al-dura, the 2 teenagers the Palestinians actually killed, etc... etc...
And while Diana is tired of their apologies and conflicting emotions there, she doesn't seem to be too upset with the cynicism on the Pali side which Imshin notes clearly in her post. The Palis cheer at Israeli deaths, name streets after suicide bombers, teach kids to walk into machine gun war zones and blow themselves up while placing gunmen with them, teach kids Israelis are apes, pigs, unrighteous liars... etc..
So while getting upset at Israel for potential imperfectness, the easy thing to do, I say save your misdirected righteous indignation and I'll put your 'most intelligent' and ranting post where it should go...

Mike

Diana said...

I didn't ""rant"" anywhere in my post all Yada yada.

Mike is sick of Israel's mistreatment?

Tough. Frankly, I don't care.

MikeNargizian said...

Diana -
I didn't ""rant"" anywhere in my post all Yada yada.Exactly. You sum up your own high level of intelligent discourse.