There has to be a word which describes phrases which please the ear and are uttered in an air of reverence, implying that they contain some timeless wisdom. Upon examination, however, the phrase is either false or meaningless. Certainly Charles Krauthammer is not the first person to use this rhetorical technique. Here’s a brief listing:
- “If [the gloves] don’t fit, you must acquit.”
- “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
- “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.”
- You’re either with us or against us.
@aymanfadel Yes, if you are not against a terrorist organization, you are with it.
— Sharon Poczter (@SharonPoczter) July 19, 2014
These phrases are very fun and easy to play with. When I was a graduate student, I was a Teaching Assistant for Professor Irving Katz‘s American History after the Civil War class. We assistants were meeting with Professor Katz to discuss grading the students’ exams. I joked, “We can forgive the students for writing poor exams, but we can’t forgive them for forcing us to give them bad grades.” He, may God have mercy on him, was the only one who got the joke.
People all over twitter today have been awed by Charles Krauthammer’s column “Moral clarity in Gaza.” It quotes Israeli Prime Minister and war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu saying “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
It might take volumes to refute all the misleading comments in Krauthammer’s columns, so bear with me.
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing.
Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them …
Whatever Israel’s motives may be, most Palestinians killed in Gaza have been civilians. This is no surprise, since Israel targets the homes and cars of Palestinian “militants” and kills anybody who happens to be nearby. Of course, Israel considers anybody who cooperates or works for the government in Gaza to be a militant, so this includes police officers (oops, missed the police chief but killed 18 of his relatives), doctors, academics and journalists (2012).
8th floor of Jowhara, that houses 30 journalists from Watania News Agency was hit with 3 Apache strikes at 7am today pic.twitter.com/uLGatUojHb
— Sharif Kouddous (@sharifkouddous) July 18, 2014
— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 14, 2014
Bear in mind, all this is only 5 sentences into Krauthammer’s column. He continues:
Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war.
The main problem with this assertion is that, while most people in the United States only pay attention to Palestinians when they attack Israelis with missiles, Israeli squatters in the West Bank and Israeli army and police are confiscating, vandalizing and destroying Palestinians’ property and jailing/kidnapping, injuring and killing Palestinians all the time. So where does the cycle begin?
And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Let’s assume for the moment that Hamas wants to eradicate all the Jews from Palestine. Is that justification for murdering members of Hamas? I wonder how Hamas’s proposal for a 10-year truce and acceptance of terms for the unity government further its goals to eradicate all Jews from Palestine. More importantly, besides the standard Zionist view that non-Jews are a threat that must be controlled (the demographic timebomb), there are political parties in Israel, some of which are part of the ruling coalition, who believe all non-Jews should be transferred from Israel. And Prime Minister Netanyahu himself rejects the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank. The idea that Palestinians should accept a Jewish state is akin to blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and other non-whites accepting the United States as a white state.
— Just Foreign Policy (@justfp) July 19, 2014
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
While Israel and Egypt, which obeys Israeli and U.S. demands regarding Gaza, control the flow of people and goods in and out, whether by land, sea or air, there is no way to say that the occupation of Gaza has ended. Furthermore, this analysis completely ignores that Palestinians, correctly, aspire to national unity, and Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and implement Jewish supremacist policies in Israel, including occupied Jerusalem. So, to project nativist Red Dawn, Fortress America-like fantasies onto the United States, if the East Asian cooperative occupied the West Coast and then withdrew from Washington state, Americans in Washington state would have to accept the occupation of Oregon and California.
And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
As I mentioned above, there was no new Palestinian state. Israel withdrew from Gaza’s land territory because Palestinian resistance had made protecting Jewish squatter colonies there too costly, and those settlements’ only purpose was the ideological claim to all of historic Palestine for Jewish domination. Note that it continued to control the sea, exploiting its marine resources and natural gas. And, Jewish supremacist settlement of more and more land in Jerusalem and the West Bank accelerated. Restrictions on Gazans’ movement have been in place since 1967. Note that few rounds of negotiations took place. No transition plans. No authority had been set up to administer the Gaza strip. And the term Prime Minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon used was “disengagement.” [Here is information about his war crimes.]
The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.
Au contraire, Monsieur Krauthammer. Israel never intended to withdraw from its Jewish supremacist colonies, known by the euphemism “settlements,” in the West Bank:
In other developments Tuesday [September 2005], Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz toured two West Bank settlements, Karnei Shomron and Beit Arieh, and said Israel must develop the main blocs there after its Gaza pullout. “We have to make every effort to direct resources to strengthen the settlement blocs,” Mofaz said, according to his ministry. “We must do everything possible to strengthen the residents’ feeling of security.” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said one reason for the Gaza pullout was to strengthen Israel’s grip on its main settlement blocs in the West Bank, where 246,000 settlers live. Palestinians demand a complete Israeli pullout from the West Bank after its withdrawal from Gaza. (emphasis added)
And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.
This Gaza greenhouse myth is oft-repeated propaganda. Even the article to which Krauthammer links confirms that “roughly 30 percent of the greenhouses suffered various degrees of damage.” But more importantly, no matter what Gazans produce for export, it can’t work because Israel’s blockade prevents them from exporting. In addition, the Israelis targeted and destroyed industrial facilities like the el-Bader flour mill, the Sawfeary chicken farms, water and sewage installations and housing (paragraphs 913-1031 of the Goldstone report on Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008-9). Where is the “massive military base, brimming with terror weapons” Krauthammer mentions? Are there tanks and artillery? How about air strips? How about naval vessels?
Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones.
The tunnels are a response to the Israeli-Egyptian siege, and traffic through them helped sustain what remained of the Palestinian economy in Gaza.
They deliberately placed [the weapons] in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Why did they not put them in the “massive military base?” Krauthammer makes these allegations without any evidence. The UN did find 20 rockets in an abandoned school, but this isolated incident does not justify Israel’s targeting of these civilian institutions. The rest of the column asserts that Hamas’s plan is for Israel to kill Palestinian civilians to gain the world’s sympathy. Hamas “perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.” Perhaps Krauthammer should design an evacuation plan when Palestinians have nowhere to go.
Well, if that’s the case, Israel has sure helped the plan succeed. It’s only in the countries of the European Union and the United States and Canada that Israel is a bulwark against terrorism, or whatever justification some give to support the state. And even in these countries, more and more citizens are asking questions.
I’m not sure why a segment of United States residents reflexively believe Israeli Jews are all good and Palestinians are all bad. Some of it must be the shared heritage, for white Americans, of ethnic cleansing and settlement. Some of it is a twisted interpretation of Christianity which turns God into a real estate agent. Some of it is an antipathy to Muslims stemming from the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the destructive wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of it is the fact the United States commits many of the same war crimes, and people would rather justify them than prosecute the war criminals.
I don’t call on American supporters of Zionism to turn 180 degrees and support Palestinians. I simply ask on them to call their legislators and tell them to stop sending $3.1 billion to Israel in aid each year and to cease the numerous other ways the United States supports Israeli aggression.