My Jewish family and friends may watch this 20-minute video and say confidently “we told you so!”
My Palestinian friends may watch this and blow a fuse! This will definitely piss them off.
Nevet Basker, Executive Director of Broader View, an Israeli Resource Center, discusses Israel’s recent “Operation: Pillar of Defense” against Gaza in November 2012.
Now that I have warned everyone, I hope people will watch this short piece dispassionately and critically, and be ready to answer some questions that follow.
This video epitomizes one of the serious problems in the Middle East. One side is trying to demonize the other side, make them look less than human, to build support for its own inhumane acts of aggression. [I think both sides are engaged in this kind of propaganda. It must stop!]
The questions we should be asking Ms. Basker and the producers of this video are:
- Where is the OCCUPATION in this narrative? Every action and reaction, every military action and acts of resistance are connected to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. This video doesn’t mention “occupation” once. Failing to put the current events into the context of the Nakba deliberately distorts Operation: Pillar of Defense and the tragic loss of life on both sides. [It might be like talking about the Holocaust and the death of 6 million Jews without discussing Hitler, the Nazis and the concentration camps. Context is extremely important.]
Until the Nakba is acknowledged, its crimes addressed and restitution provided, there can be no justice or justice-based peace.
- Where is the Blockade and Siege in this narrative? Ms. Basker mentions that Israel “unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005” leaving the impression to the uninformed viewer that Israel no longer controls or occupies the Gaza Strip. As an American living in Gaza, I can tell you this is a serious distortion of the facts on the ground. I wrote about the siege and occupation of Gaza in an earlier post here.
- Was Hamas democratically elected or came to power via a violent coup? Ms. Basker mentions a violent coup that brought Hamas to power in the Gaza Strip, which is partially true. She fails to mention that Hamas won the parliamentary election in January 2005, in a fair and transparent election which no one disputes. It was only after the election, when Israel and the U.S. were dismayed with the Hamas victory, that Fatah (and some say outside agitators) tried to upset the election results. At that point, Hamas used violence to oust Fatah from the Gaza Strip and assert their control.
- What does the Hamas Charter really say? This video joins a long list of other videos and commentators who have exhorted Western audiences to be wary of the dangers that Hamas poses to the survival of Israel, by referencing the Hamas Charter. I wonder how many people have actually read that charter. I have tried, but honestly found its religious language so tiresome that I haven’t finished it. Instead, I’m reading a book about Hamas which explores the charter. Hamas Unwritten Chapters by Azzam Tamimi. I wrote about my initial thoughts concerning the Hamas Charter here. To be fair, we should also read the Likud Charter, which does not recognize Palestine’s right to exist. See here.
- What about the impact of IDF’s drones and hi-tech weapons on a defenseless population in Gaza? This video focuses on how the conflict impacts Israelis, but it cynically tries to shift the blame for the death of Palestinian civilians onto Hamas, making them seem to be monsters who use their civilians as human shields, deliberately fire rockets from civilian zones, hide behind journalists, and even shows a cartoon of a Palestinian child strapped to a bulls-eye target by a Hamas fighter. All of this is to demonstrate how inhumane Hamas fighters are, while the IDF are carrying out “surgical strikes” on “precise targets” to avoid civilian casualties. The video notes that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) warns Palestinian civilians before they strike! Read my three part blog post about this polite war, here, here and here. The truth of the matter is that when there is a military operation in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead in Dec ’08 – Jan ’09 or this most recent assault in Nov. ’12), the loss of Palestinian lives is disproportionately much, much higher than the loss of Israeli lives. In Operation Cast Lead, 1440 (+/-) Palestinians were killed; thirteen Israelis were killed. In Operation Pillar of Defense, 158-170 Palestinians were killed during 8 days of the assault; six Israelis were killed.
- As an eyewitness on the ground in Gaza during this most recent assault, I can testify that there is nothing surgical or precise about the IDF bombardment. Ten members of the the Dalu family were killed on November 19 when their house was struck by an Israeli bomb. Bombs were falling everywhere in Gaza; there was no safe place; no bunkers to retreat to; no Red Code alerts to warn us; everyone was a target. And I believe that was part of the IDF strategy to strike fear into the general civilian population. Friends told me that the bombs were much louder this time than four years ago; was the IDF experimenting with a new type of weapon?
- Why are Hamas rockets “weapons of terror” while the IDF bombs are not? Ms. Basker notes that the rockets used by Hamas were incapable of being targeted as precisely as Israel’s weapons, and they landed everywhere and anywhere, terrorizing the population in southern Israel. She called them “weapons of terror,” but seems incapable of empathizing with the terror that Palestinians felt during the 8 days of Operation Pillar of Defense. She cynically shows a map of the United States to illustrate the geographic reach of Hamas rockets if they were launched from Mexico across our southern border. This, no doubt, to awaken the sympathy of Americans for Israelis. If a similar illustration was made to gain sympathy for the Palestinians, I suppose the map of the United States would have to be covered shore to shore, north to south, with bombs falling on every square inch.
- Was Ahmed Jabari really the Osama bin Laden of Gaza? Of all the allegations made in this video, this one really takes the cake. Ms. Basker notes that Operation Pillar of Defense was an IDF response to rocket attacks by Hamas. She mentions the targeted assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari in his car on Wednesday, November 14 and calls him the Osama bin Laden of Gaza. In fact, as I understand it, Jabari helped negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit (an IDF soldier held by Hamas for 5 years); and hours before his assassination Jabari was handed a draft of a long-term ceasefire agreement to review.
Ms. Basker provides no constructive ideas for a peaceful resolution, and so I’m left wondering if her goal is simply to arouse Western sympathy for the status quo, to continue sending more $$ for Israel’s “defense,” to keep obfuscating and distorting the reality on the ground in the Middle East. Shame on her! I hope Americans are wizing up.