Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hundreds in Mich., NYC protest strikes on Gaza

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Close to 1,000 Arab-Americans and others marched through the Detroit suburb of Dearborn on Tuesday evening, waving Palestinian flags and shouting slogans to protest Israeli military strikes against the Gaza Strip.

Protesters braving 30-degree weather filled eight blocks of a major thoroughfare in Dearborn, widely seen as the heart of Arab America. Hundreds more gathered in New York City and Los Angeles outside the Israeli consulate, with rallies also reported in two cities in Florida.

Since Saturday, 374 Palestinians have died in the Israeli air onslaught against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers. Most of the dead were members of Hamas security forces but the United Nations says at least 64 civilians have been killed.

The offensive came shortly after a rocky six-month truce expired. Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel before and during the Israeli offensive.

More here.

Whenever the blood frenzy flares up over there, it's always worth it to restate my take on Israel/Palestine.

When I was a kid, and for years earlier, Israel faced a genuine threat to its existence. The entire Arab world was united in calling for its destruction, and acted upon such declarations more than a few times. Meanwhile, during the time of Arab/Israeli wars, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other groups launched multiple terror campaigns, which over the years killed hundreds of Israeli citizens.

This was some bad shit.

But Israel, with the help of hundreds of billions of dollars in US military aid, continually beat the shit out of the Arab nations attacking it. Actually, Egypt was poised to seriously fuck up Israel in the late 70s, but President Carter finally decided to take Egypt's longstanding offer to stop fighting and become a US client state seriously: the Camp David peace agreement permanently ended conflict between Israel and its most powerful enemy. Somewhere along the line, the US bought off the Saudi royal family, which made another one of Israel's enemies disappear. Jordan, too, finally mellowed out. Syria, Iraq, and Iran remained threats, but without their major allies in the region, no longer threatened Israel's very existence. Even the PLO mellowed out by the late 80s.

Despite what now amounts to a relatively minor threat from terrorists, Israel essentially won, and won big. They are THE regional super power in the Middle East. No other nation can beat them. And they don't simply have the bomb, they have many, many nuclear bombs. Israel is badass.

But there's still this Palestinian problem. Most Americans seem to believe that Palestinians are all crazy terrorists - a few of them certainly are - who are solely responsible for the fighting that continues. But what most Americans don't know, thanks to a completely irrational pro-Israel no-matter-what-it-does corporate press, is that Israel has treated the Palestinian people like utter shit for decades now. Palestinians live in what amounts to an Israel imposed police state, in utterly squalid fourth world conditions. This is by design: Israeli leaders in the early 70s, after recently taking the last Palestinian controlled territories in the region, said that the now dominated people would have to "live like dogs" until they figured out that they should leave forever. And that's how it's been since then. Palestinians "live like dogs" because it is Israel's policy that they do so.

And the really big irony here is that the Palestinians can't leave. Nobody will take them anymore. No place to even live in refugee camps. Abandoned by their Arab and Muslim brothers who long ago tired of the fight. Is it any wonder at all that some of them continue to take up arms to fight their oppressors? Is it any wonder that some still call for the destruction of Israel? Yes, the Palestinians, as a people, often behave absurdly, but, at least, they are in an absurd situation over which they have no control. What's Israel's excuse? Why do they follow a policy that can do nothing but cause the Palestinians to hate them all the more?

And why do we support it?

The only way out of this is for Israel to start treating Palestinians decently. To approach peace talks with actual intentions of being peaceful, rather than with an agenda designed to make Palestinians leave forever. And because the US essentially bankrolls Israel's military, we have a great deal of diplomatic leverage to make things happen--really, in many ways, we're just as responsible as Israel for all this.

I have a sad sense that this will all be going on long after I'm dead.