Jan 7, 2009

Heartless in Gaza

I heard an interview on CBC this morning with a Canadian who is serving as a civilian helper for the Israeli army. I felt a great sadness hearing him say that he was happy about the "operation" in Gaza, calling it "payback" and being "glad to see the other side getting some too."

Where to start about the sick morality of war? The first thing that comes to mind listening to people like that is the stupid tribalism. Can't we get past that idiocy already? My race is smarter and cuter than your race. My god is bigger and meaner than your god. I've never understood that way of thinking. In high-school I wasn't able to summon up the proper "school spirit," not really caring whether we won the foot-ball game or not. It seemed stupid to me then, and it seems stupid to me now.

War is inherently wrong and it can only be justified in immediate self-defence, if even then. Every ordinary human, moral value is abandoned or reversed in war. Killing is good, lying is good, stealing is acceptable. Even rape is winked at.

From "A People's History of the American Revolution," here is a British officer writing to his father after a successful landing on Staten Island;

"The fair nymphs of this isle are in a wonderful tribulation, as the fresh meat our men have got here have made them as riotous as satyrs. A girl cannot step into the bushes to pluck a rose without running the most immediate risk of being ravished, and they are so little accustomed to these vigorous methods that they don't bear them with the proper resignation, and of consequence we have the most entertaining courts-martial every day."

The current action in Gaza isn't even fit to be called a war, it is a plain massacre. We hear all the rote excuses from the Israeli military about not targeting civilians and blaming it all on Hamas for "hiding among the population." "We do everything we can to minimize collateral damage." But that isn't "collateral damage", that is a pile of corpses, many of them little children, and every one somebody's son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, lover. What do they expect dropping bombs and shells into one of the most densely populated places on earth?

And they lie, and lie again. The historical record is clear, Hamas didn't break the ceasefire, Israel did by invading Gaza back in November to destroy some tunnels, killing one hundred people in the process. Of course, the Hamas rockets are just as evil in intent if not (by a very long shot) in effect. Of course, but so what? And don't forget the bigger picture, most of the Gazans are descendants of refugees ethnically cleansed from their homes in 1948.

While we are talking about lies and the historical record, Hamas didn't take power in a "coup" as lame duck Bush said; they won an election and resisted a Fatah coup. Yes, they don't recognize Israel but neither does Israel recognize the Palestinian right to a decent life either. Many Zionist apologists even deny that any such people as "Palestinians" even exist. One wonders in that case where the rockets are coming from?

This is not a war, this is a prolonged massacre after a year of deliberate and very cruel starvation blockade. In more civilized times, that alone was considered an act of war.

I believe that the fundamental moral error that lies behind war, and massacre, is the really evil idea that "the end justifies the means." This idea, whether stated implicitly or not, lies behind every invasion, bombing campaign, crusade and jihad in history. Sure, people are being killed by the thousands but it is necessary to spread democracy, the true religion, free-markets, socialism. As Madeleine Albright famously said about another starvation blockade, and the death of thousands of Iraqi children, "it's a price we are willing to pay."

The cowardly response of the so-called leaders of western countries is disgusting, if not surprising. Canada's Stephen Harper is predictably blaming the Palestinians for getting in the way of Israeli bombs and bullets. If the western countries would only speak the truth and call things by their right names, Israel would never dare to go on these killing campaigns.

But whatever Bush, Harper, Brown and the rest of the sorry crew say, slaughter of human beings en masse is a crime, even when it is done by those perceived as on the "home team."

Maybe it is the women who will save us. Here are a group of courageous Jewish women who have occupied the Toronto Israeli consulate in protest;


And here is one incredibly courageous woman in Palestine (wait for it, it's about one minute or so into the clip):

Every blessing on all those who non-violently resist the powerful.