by Charley James --
By now, no one should be surprised that the White House is taking its usual, uneven and heavy-handed approach in reacting to the gargantuan Israeli shock-and-awe bombing of densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip.
Rather than using American influence – if there is any left in the region after eight years of Bush – to try brokering a renewed cease fire between Hamas and Israel, the administration is
Gordon Johndroe, a junior White House spokesman stuck doing holiday duty, said Hamas is responsible for the outbreak of violence, calling its rocket attacks “completely unacceptable. These people are nothing but thugs. Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas.”
By “thugs” Johndroe means the Gaza police chief and around 100 of his officers as well as the hundreds of men, women and children killed during repeated Israeli air strikes. If any Hamas extremists were the original target, they were snuffed out only by coincidence.
Condaleeza Rice chimed in, declaring, “Hamas (is) responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza. The cease-fire should be restored immediately. The United States calls on all concerned to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza.”
A compliant American media is parroting Washington, solemnly ignoring the reality that while Hamas may have fired the first rockets into Israel, they were pushed into doing so by the Attica-like lockdown Israel slapped on Gaza months ago. Except on rare occasions, this keeps even food, fuel and medical supplies from reaching Palestinian civilians.
Balanced Israeli Reporting
Yet in surfing foreign media, I find sharp criticism of the Israeli government and a detailing of the suffering being inflicted. Even Haaretz in Jerusalem is carrying accounts with more balance than we’re seeing in the US coverage.
"A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face.
“Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, (we) wrote: 'Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger ... Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!' Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation 'Cast Lead' is only in its infancy."
In Britain, The Independent writes,
"These bombs were launched by Israel, as we had known they would be. The world watched the situation simmer then boil over, but did nothing. There are some who believe that hell is divided into different classes. The ordinary people of Gaza have long been caught in the tormenting underworld. Now, if the world does not heed what has happened here, our situation will worsen. We will be trapped in the first class of hell."
But words cannot convey the emotion of images and this report from al-Jazeera English shows what is happening in Gaza even as I write this piece.
Ehud Olmert, Israel's caretaker prime minister, hints at a wider war: "Israel wishes to make clear that it will continue to act against terrorist operations and missile fire from the strip which is intended to harm civilians."
The Arab League is convening an emergency meeting on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Egypt – until now, Cairo has been cooperating with Israel in sealing off Hamas – is opening its border with Gaza to allow injured people to be treated.
Before I am deluged with right wing neo-con e-hate or am accused of being the Jewish Clarence Thomas – a horrid and undeserved curse – let me say unequivocally that both sides are wrong.
Hamas will not improve conditions for its poor, starving people by lobbing homemade rockets willy-nilly into Southern Israel. Nor will Israel find peace for its people by staging massive air strikes into populated areas; indeed, all this will produce is moderate Arab governments switch from trying to find a liveable solution to backing its Palestinian brothers.
Oh, and by the way, somebody might want to remind Olmert – and Washington – what happened the last time Israel tried inflicting damage on the Hamas faction sitting along its northern border. That folly didn’t turn out so well, as I recall.
Articles by Charley: