Jan 142009
 

In the New Years Day post, I focussed on the long-term underlying issues in Gaza, rather than joining the short term finger-pointing and blame game. The morality of the blame game is valuable to Israel and Hamas only in terms of affecting international opinion in their favour and to date they have each established moral supremacy in their own home patches: the US in Israel’s case and the Arab and Islamic ‘street’ for Hamas. Now as the death toll in Gaza clicks smoothly past the 1000 mark (with less outrage than when we passed 500) maybe it is time to focus on the ‘war’ aims and the long term aims of the protagonists.

What does Hamas want? In theory an Islamic state in Palestine and in the world. In reality however their ambitions are less grandiose, and are closer to Hezbollah-type pragmatism than to the universal jihadist lunacy of al-Quaeda. The de facto Hamas political supremo and the last elected Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, has said that Hamas would be prepared to settle in the medium term for a two-state solution with elements such as removal of West Bank wall, ending of Jewish settlements outside 1967 borders, a capital in Jerusalem, release of 11,000 prisoners, communication corridors between Gaza and the West Bank, and recognition of a right to return for refugees. A return to 1967 borders is of course anathema to many Israelis and to the Zionist ideology which underlies much of Israel’s policies, and may be unrealistic in present circumstances. Nevertheless the Hamas agenda, although encumbered by a theological refusal to formally recognise Israel, is not significantly different from the declared objectives of other Palestinian groups including Fatah.

In the short term, Hamas will grasp at any ceasefire that sees Israeli withdrawal and does not seriously weaken Hamas political control of Gaza. Hamas ultimately aspires to political hegemony in the Palestinian territories, a hegemony which was vindicated in the last Palestinian elections and not just in Gaza. (In the large West Bank towns of Nablus and Ramallah, Hamas won 9 out of 11 seats on their Change and Reform’ platform.) However much we may dislike it, it is hard to see any rival to Hamas for democratic political control in Gaza and the West Bank because of disarray within Fatah and other groups under the old PLO umbrella.

What does Israel want? The present Israeli Government in the short term appears to want to get the credit for ending rocket attacks on Israel, attacks which only resumed recently due to Israeli actions which Hamas considered provocative and a breach of an earlier understanding. That is unlikely to be achieved completely but a significant reduction or a temporary cessation of fire may be enough to satisfy many Israelis, at least for the moment.

The Israelis would like to close all tunnels linking Egypt to Gaza. They have largely won the PR battle in the West by presenting these tunnels as existing solely for the smuggling of rockets, or more correctly rocket parts and other weapons and munitions, into Gaza. The reality of course is that the tunnels are primarily a method of circumventing Israeli blockades and other restrictions on consumer goods, foodstuffs and medical material. Military supplies, though politically significant and important to the militants, necessarily constitute a small element of the smugglers’ payload. If these tunnels were eliminated then the Israeli stranglehold on Gaza’s economy and society would be significantly strengthened.

Israel may also like an international presence of some sort to help ‘monitor’ an agreement and hopefully embarrass and undermine Hamas and Palestinians. Nevertheless they will be wary of having too strong an international presence that may inhibit Israel’s future freedom of action.

On the other hand there are subtle hints that Israel may have a grander strategy and may not have risked all this adverse publicity merely to end pin-prick rocket attacks and damage Hamas infrastructure. The conventional wisdom is that the present Israeli campaign is not likely to continue in its present form after the Obama inauguration. However an alternative view is emerging this week among some long-time observers who have been puzzled by Israeli behaviour in this conflict. This view suggests that Israel, or at least some elements within the Israeli Government, would like to continue the war through the Obama inauguration.

Why would they wish to do this?

Traditionally Israel’s best defenders in the US have been Democratic administrations which have had strong Jewish support and membership. However the Neo-Con revolution combined with the Twin Towers fallout has made the outgoing Bush II administration the most pro-Israel ever. Since 2001 Israel has acted with greater impunity than ever, paying less attention to international law and being less concerned with European public opinion. Obama is an unpredictable factor but has appointed Hilary Clinton, with a hawkish pro-Israel Senate record, as Secretary of State and Israel may prefer to force the issue with Obama earlier, rather than later when he may have more confidence on the international stage. This thesis suggests that a continuing war will compel the new administration to choose between the ‘evil terrorism’ of Hamas and the good, if somewhat robust, allied Government of Israel. There can only be one choice in these circumstances for Obama, bearing in mind the selective and absurdly biased coverage in the mainstream US media. It will also be too early to squabble with his new pro-Israel Secretary of State with whom he already has a difficult history. So if I had to make a guess here, there may a few more noisy nights in Gaza yet before Israel can clinch this vital geopolitical chess piece.

But what of Israel’s long term vision for Gazastan? Israel has a very sophisticated information warfare capability. Throughout this conflict Israeli actions have continually strengthened Hamas at the expense of the allegedly more moderate, more corrupt, more secular and hence one could argue, more ‘Western’ Fatah. The wider impact on the Arab ‘street’ has also been an entirely negative one. Israel with its superb PR machine surely knows that endless footage of Israeli artillery and air attacks on crowded Arab urban areas, frequently dotted with prominent minarets, is not going to benefit Israel in its long term relationships with the Arab world. So it would seem that Israel has calculated it does not need good relations with its neighbours. It appears happy to exist in a hostile climate for many years to come, confident that US patronage, and European squeamishness over “terrorism” and fears of “fundamentalism”, will enable Israel to continue to achieve its short-term goals by threats of extreme military action.

If the destruction of Hamas and a lasting peace with the Arab world was the real objective why not adopt a more clever media strategy? It is possible that Gazastan is now performing the role that South Lebanon played for decades. An area where Israel can flex its military muscle with impunity and at minimal cost while enabling a tiny state to play superpower geopolitical games and defer indefinitely the pain of engaging in a real peace process with its neighbours.

The next few days leading up to and beyond the Obama inauguration should tell us a lot about Israel’s real intentions and about what type of future the almost voiceless Palestinians can expect.

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  39 Responses to “Gazastan — The Present and the Future”

Comments (39)
  1.  

    I do not agree Israael has won any propaganda war. Having all the organs of the state and the press at your disposal, worldwide, means only that. Zionism has a clear run, nothing more; but that does not mean it is believed. Quite a different matter. Absence of mass oppositio on the steets should not be taken as acquiescence.
    A complete absence of political leadership at the top, that is capable of grappling with the fundamental issues means the people have no voice, have no political way forward – but do not take everyone for a fool.
    Qualative changes take place in the social conciousness which do lead to the quantatative. The times are ripe for change. And the masses of the Middle East – both Jew and Arab, will settle accounts with the excrescence that is Zionism.

  2.  

    Did I miss something? I didn’t notice any mention of a propaganda war. Are you talking about the PR battle concerning the tunnels?

  3.  

    Too many people in the world are so ignorant and swallow the Chomsky/Finkelstein and Pro-Palestinian campaigner’s tripe about all powerful Israeli PR machines and a Zionist controlled media. The fact is, most major European media outlets are no friends of Israel. In America, FOX may stand up for Israel, but that’s not in the interests of balanced reporting, they are still assholes. Ted Turner was certainly not a friend of Israel.

    Ireland’s only newspaper of record, the Irish Times, does not even try to hide anti-Israel bias.

  4.  

    Bock, ‘Israel has established moral supremacy in the Us’ (to paraphrase, first paragraph of James’ submission). I beleve my point is not petty. The slaughter in Gaza is being studied by a horrified world. At present the Israeli Defence Forces can operate with impunity, only because the political opposition inside Israel, throughout the Arab world and in all corners of the globe is essentially voiceless, leaderless – unarticulated. Zionism is only the master of all it surveys by default. I would counter James’ point about it’s sway in America with the alternative view – the sleeping giant of the American people is beginning to be roused from it’s slumber. That is what makes the actions of the Zionists and the Imperilaist so brutal, their propaganda so hysterical and outrageous. They fear to their bones the reckoning that they know is coming.

  5.  

    “The tunnels”. How about Egypt stating that they support Palestine Autonomy and there is no need to smuggle anything into a region they will openly supply. How about Jordan saying we will look after the west bank because these people are our neighbours. These Arab states are so coseyed up with Israel that Gaza/West Bank is an embarassment to them.

  6.  

    System — Try to deal in specifics instead of using loaded terms like “tripe” will you? And stop feeling sorry for yourself. You are, after all, bombing a million refugees. What do you think they’re refugees from?

    Mervyn — I think the Americans are being fed an incredibly sanitised version of what’s happening in Gaza.

    Brian — The other Arab states may have abandoned the Palestinians to their fate, but that doesn’t change the gravity of the crime that is being committed today.

  7.  

    That was a lot to take in. I don’t agree with calling them the almost voiceless Palestinians because as long as there is the BBC they will always show children getting wounded and killed in Gaza. Considering kids outnumber the adults there and the Palestinians are always happy to use them as bombs.

    The thing is the other Arab states have left Palestine to become a martyr whether they like it or not.
    If you vote terrorists into power no good can come of it so guess what Palestine you sealed yer own fate.

    There are no good guys in this war that has only been going on for 5000 years nuking the whole place is the only solution.

  8.  

    Bock, you describe Hamas’s de-facto position more or less accurately, but not so its agenda. Its pragmatism only stems from realizing its current weakness, not from any real stand (like “we don’t really mean it…”). Fatah (PLO) did change its basic stand and official charter. And we are very likely to see political challenge for Hamas, as Palestinians realize that Hamas’s arrogance and refusal to moderate as a ruler, rather than opposition, did not yield any gains. I point you again to the relative silence among west bank Palestinians, which doesn’t mean they don’t support Gazans, they just don’t support Hamas.

    And then we go back again to the claim that Israel is to blame for resuming attacks, that PR indeed stuck. Look, the Hamas speaker officially declared it over, and Hamas started raining rockets again. It was their choice, and a very wrong one (for which they are held accountable by their people). And what was the excuse? the crossings weren’t open, right. The same crossings that they repeatedly fire upon. Stop the attacks, crossings will reopen, and no need for uncontrolled smuggling tunnels (which indeed are also used for civilian needs, but how do you think the missiles that hit 40 km into Israel got into Gaza? these are not home-made, they are Iran and China-made, smuggled from Sinai). But that would mean no uncontrolled weapons for Hamas, which they don’t want to accept.

    The bit about Israel’s grand plan, as someone living here all my not-too-short life, and reading very free and inquisitive media, got me quite baffled. What do you know that I don’t about our grand plans, if not conspiracies? why will it be in our interest to break peace agreements with Arab neighbours (Egypt, Jordan) that we worked so hard on achieving?
    And on the same thread – why do you suggest we don’t hear a lot more from any Arab government? Are they that much under Israeli influence (wow, we are so cunning and powerful for 7M Israelis, or 15M jews), or maybe, just maybe, it is that they also see the Islamist threat in Hamas (again, not Palestinians in general), backed by Iran, that same fundamentalism that attempts to sweep the entire Arab world and then backfire to the rest of the world?

  9.  

    Ofer — I will leave it to the author of the post to respond to your points if he wishes to do so.

  10.  

    “And then we go back again to the claim that Israel is to blame for resuming attacks, that PR indeed stuck. Look, the Hamas speaker officially declared it over, and Hamas started raining rockets again.”–Ofer

    Israelis entered Gaza on the night of 4 November (when the world was watching the election of Obama) and killed six Palestinian gunmen. Israel broke the ceasefire.

    “It was their choice”

    Israel broke the ceasefire.

    You’re not by any chance using Megaphone-type software, are you, Ofer?

    http://giyus.org/

  11.  

    Oh, I didn’t notice it was a guest posting. Sorry about that, but would be interesting to hear his response.

    Nora – I thank you for the great respect you have of me, I have no idea what this megaphone stuff is. I’m subscribed to Bock’s blog, enjoy the non-Isra*l stuff, and responding when I feel I need to balance the view. I hope you’re gracious enough to approve of that.
    “Israel broke the ceasefire” – yes, you’re really into this Palestinian narrative, they did a good PR job there. As someone who lives here I know very well they kept shooting at us all through this “truce”, you just never heard of it since it’s not interesting news. See details in this full list. But then Israel tries to hit those people who fire the rockets, and all hell breaks loose, really shame on us!

  12.  

    “Israel broke the ceasefire” – yes, you’re really into this Palestinian narrative, they did a good PR job there.”—-Ofer

    It’s an Israeli “narrative”, Ofer.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3617798,00.html

    11.05.08
    “IDF leaves Gaza after op, 6 gunmen killed”
    “… As for the chances of the operation effectively ending the ceasefire, the sources said that while that was taken into consideration, the defense establishment believed the chances of that happening were slim but that risking a kidnapping attempt “was not an option.””

    (They’re talking about a tunnel which the IDF claimed was “intended to be used” by Hamas. Future tense.)

    —————–

    “I have no idea what this megaphone stuff is.”—-Ofer

    Really. :)
    You can read about it here.

    “Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article693911.ece

  13.  

    Ofer — You put your finger on it there.

    I don’t think anyone would object to Israel hitting back at the people firing rockets, but you can’t blast your way through women and children to get at them.

    It might be inconvenient, but the fact is that you simply cannot bomb an area like Gaza and ignore the certainty that you will kill innocent civilians.

    Gaza is too densely populated, and that density is created by your wall and your policies. Let us always remember that these people are refugees.

    Therefore since you created the density, you must carry responsibility for the deaths of the civilians. The alternative is to evacuate Gaza before you do the bombing.

    You know that these people are packed into their compound with nowhere to go to. Therefore, even though it might be frustrating, you simply cannot, in good conscience, bomb the place.

    By the way, I hear you have just bombed the UN compound with white phosphorus shells from your precision weapons. The compound is burning, hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid are on fire and the UN secretary general has expressed outrage at the attack.

  14.  

    From your link, Ofer:

    “A total of 223 rockets and 139 mortar shells were fired during the period of calm, most since November 4, 2008.

    (BTW, my understanding is that not all rocket fire from Gaza is under the control of Hamas.)

  15.  

    “But then Israel tries to hit those people who fire the rockets, and all hell breaks loose, really shame on us!”—-Ofer

    I believe the idea is regime change, Ofer. Make the people of Gaza regret that they elected Hamas. Massacre them into changing their minds. Israel wants to deal with Fatah instead.

    Invading for “regime change” is illegal under international law.

  16.  

    Nora, why do you ignore all that was before Nov 4th? are you implying that it was quite ok that rockets and mortars were fired during a “truce”? I show you a list of all incidents throughout the entire period, and you again choose to focus on where the Palestinian narrative (yes, it is) focuses you on. Look carefully, and you’ll see a steady “trickle” of violations all through the period, a small rise in Novemeber, and a steep rise after they declared the truce over. The first violation was mere 5 days after the truce started, I hope you do trust the Herald Tribune reporting, do you?.
    Not under the control of Hamas is like the rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel in recent days (again, unprovoked!) are “not under control of Hizbullah”. That’s bullshit (no asterisks here, Bock). They both control their territories by force and intimidation, and if they say they can’t rule it, they should let someone else rule (yes, Fatah is still a bad option, but not a worse one).

    Bock, you know very well there is a context to everything. The refugees are a result of their own decisions and their leaders’, who invaded Israel after it was created (following the UN partition resolution!) and called on them to leave their homes and let them finish us off (how exactly did we create this situation then, by fighting back?). Then they kept them in camps waiting for another chance to wipe us off, and didn’t even try to rehabilitate the refugees, keeping them aside as pawns in the conflict. Then after the 1967 war we “inherited” this situation from Egypt and Jordan, and in the recent two decades have been trying to get to a political settlement, which failed so far because of Arafat’s refusal approach, and later because of Abbas’s weakness. Still, we’ll try further but not under fire. Hamas should choose – the gun way or the diplomatic way. You can’t have both.

  17.  

    “are you implying that it was quite ok that rockets and mortars were fired during a “truce”?”—Ofer

    No, I’m not. Disgust with Israel does not mean automatic approval for Hamas. And since they can’t aim those little rockets very well, there is a definite risk that civilians would/will be killed. (And before you leap on my use of the word “little” — they do not compare in any way shape or form to the state-of-the-art weaponry unleashed on Gaza by Israel, courtesy of the USA, in recent weeks. Or the WP which is legally prohibited in civilian areas.)

    Tell me, Ofer, how many Israelis were killed by these rockets from Gaza — from when the truce started, up to Israel’s atrocious attack — that required the obliteration of over 1,000 people? And the wounding and maiming of over 4,700? Including hundreds of children? In an horrific attack on people who had been under siege by you, and were already suffering badly from lack of basic food and medical supplies before you ever attacked them?

    I’ll tell you this: Nothing, nothing that I have heard of as being done by Hamas since the truce, justifies the carnage carried out in the past number of weeks by Israel. My sense of right and wrong, morality, justice … everything in me tells me that it has been nothing short of criminal and murderous. A killing spree. And nothing you can say will change my mind.

  18.  

    “With mounting concern about the hundreds of civilians killed, nine Israeli human rights groups wrote to their government warning of their “heavy suspicion … of grave violations of international humanitarian law by military forces”.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/15/human-rights-gaza-israel

    I’m gone for the weekend.

  19.  

    It’s my view, getting involved in the nitty-gritty with out-and-out supporters of Israel is a diversion from the real task/issues.
    Reality is knowable, we are equipped to cognise the real world, as it unfolds before us. If a person claims the murderous attacks of the Israeli state are somehow justified then in my view they are promulgating a definite political agenda; and are lost to reason and the battle for progress. Perhaps a few misguided souls will at some time come to terms with the reality staring them in the face and will join the struggle for the future.
    Howver, while it is absolutely nescessary to refute the lies of Zionism et al, it is also absolutely nescessary to take a long hard look at our own house and ask ourselves the most pertinent question of all – if the great mass of humanity yearns for a better decnt world then why are the narrow reactionary interests of a tiny few (the ruling class) allowed to dictate that we must suffer needless war and privations? Just what is that is wrongheaded about what WE are doing that is allowing this disaster to unfold; and the threat of infinitely greater catastrophe to draw closer and closer?
    The political (and ideological/philosophical) questions are those that must be addressed, not an arid empty argument with the reactionaries. For instance – is their any future in fighting for nationalist democratic demands? Or has the problem of freedom from imperialism now been subsummed within the greater struggle of class against class, of socialism versus capitalism? Why was humanity subjected to such catastrophes in the twentieth century, and what are the lessons to be drawn from that history? What is Zionism, what is it’s history? Why are all the organisatons of the working class – the trade unions, the labour parties – now on the side of the exploiters? Why is the protest/opposition movement against the slaughter in Palestine so inneffectual? These are the burning questions; not a fruitless row with those who support mayhem and the shedding of blood of innocents.

  20.  

    I’d say Palestinians are asking a much simpler question: Will this massacre ever stop?

  21.  

    Bock, Israel has been built upon massacre after massacre. SHORT-TERM SOLOUTIONS ARE NO SOLOUTION. The world’s people must take the initiative against those who offer us nothing but a slide into barbarism. So the question is not ‘ will it ever stop’; but how can those imposing these things be stopped.
    Ther is a definite logic to the actions of the Israeli state, from the perspective of the rulers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The atacks on innocents are deliberate. What is happening is exactly what was intended to happen. The only logical outcome of Zionist ideology is the extermination of the Palestinians. This is a stage in acclimatisation.
    Also, the only way the Zionist rulers can maintain their rotten state/system is to foment counter-terror from the dispossesed and sow division, antagonism and confusion among all the inhabitants of the region, and the world.
    Israeli ideology is lost without individual terror attacks by misguided and desparing nationalist radicals.
    Israel itself will BE lost when the opposition to it takes on a mass politicised united front, in a struggle for a socialist future. What has been done up to now does not work.

  22.  

    -Mervyn
    Capitolim or socialism? Balck or white. Heads or tails. You do make some valid points but there is more than one way to skin a cat, or fleece a sheep.
    France has one of the biggest socialist parties in western Europe, but they are the same power hungry fucks as in every other party. And it’s the same the world over, just another ladder to the top of the pyramid.
    Do you know who Dominique Strauss-Kahn is?

  23.  

    c’est. Is he the “cause celebre” of French economics who claimed to have only had a “one night stand” ?

  24.  

    A new term has been coined due to the massive global “blogging” regading the crisis in Gaza, its now called “Social Diplomacy” Is Bock the founding Father?

  25.  

    C’est……, You will see on the second post I made to this topic that I stated that the burning issues for humanity include this very thing you raise – the betrayal by the so-called organisations of the working class. Throwing up our hands and saying movements and individuals have betrayed us, under the banner of socialism, does not answer the questions of how and why these betrayals occured. And furthermore, what are we now to do?
    I have heard of Strauss-Kahn. Rather than me give an inadequate history of him might I propose you go to the “World Socialist Web Site” and do a search there. Professional writers on that site relate the issues with greater eloquence than I can; and of course can analyse with an incisiveness that is not possible on a discussion site such as this where space is limited.

  26.  

    -st.leger.norma
    Yes, head of the IMF and former long time big shot in the Parti Socialiste in France.

    -Mervyn
    As you have read I know who Strauss-Kahn is. It was more to make a point. I know some junior people in the Parti Socialiste in France. They act like junior executives in any big company, only interested in climbing the ladder. These are the people who will end up as senior parti members and then elected offials. The politicians of tomorrow. And it’s the same in all the other parties, and none of them give a shit about the little guy. Power corrupts (and so does money). With a world socialist government we’d just have one big group of con men running everything.

    And anyway none of that does anything fot the peple of Gaza right now.

  27.  

    C’est…..Personal experience is important; and the French Socialist party are indeed a malignancy in the body of French political life, especially in the conciousness of the mass of ordinary people. However, and this is the question, the history and ideological source of that party does not just lie around on the surface for all to instantly see and understand. Never mind their deceits!
    Indeed, the issues central to this most important issue of betrayal of the socialist struggle by the French Socialist Party, are not just to be found in France alone – in the immediate experience of French workers; but are above all international questions.
    Similarly the problems facing the Palestinian youth, worker, mother is immediately today ‘How do I get out of the way of these bombs?!’; but there is no person who feels more keenly the need for political discusion, study, action and leadership than a person under unrelenting attack. Forgive me please if I am pesumptuous; but do not patronise the Palestinian, the apparently helpless struggler. I suggest again you look at the site I detailed in my post above. For now I must go on. Best regards. Mervyn.

  28.  

    Jesus Christ, does everything on this site have to become a discussion of fucking socialism?

    Mervyn, get a grip.

    Islam. Judaism. Christianity. Zionism. Capitalism. Socialism.

    I’m sick of ideologies.

    Let me alone with fucking ideologies.

    I don’t want to hear any more about belief systems. If you want to talk about your beliefs, start your own web site.

  29.  

    I have refrained from commenting too quickly on this post, because up to now, I have looked at Political/Historical/Georaphical perspectives, but to think about Bocks question, I have tried to look at it from a psychological perspective.
    The main obstacles as i see it are not really old hatreds, religious wars or incompatible nationalism, although all of that exists.
    It is a psychological condition demonstrated by Israeli’s and mirrored by Palestinians, The Israelis seem to have entrenched in their psyche that “something terrible is going to happen”.
    For Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli rule has truly ghettoised them, making it difficult for their Leaders to organise and develop a vision for the future.
    Israeli state policy has fragmented Palestinian society, which has resulted in the ineffectivness of its Leaders, The tragedy of this is that it might be possible that many Palestinians might start believing the Israeli narrative, that they are inferior and incapable of challenging Israeli domination, the result of this can be either a fatalistic attitude, alternativly turning toward Leaders who exhibit strength and condemnation of their plight, They will lean away from Leaders who they suspect will over engage in what has appeared to date, fruitless dialogue.
    Their feelings of solidarity with the rest of the Arab world is being severly undermined during this crisis, leaving them more isolated than ever.
    While this war of unparalled cruelty marches on, while Olmert,Barak and Livni court world leaders, make apologies for “miscalculations” , while they ponder the outcome of their elections, while Bank Ki Moon refuses to talk with Hamas, it is not easy for concerned peoples of the world to calculate the outcome, while over a thousand people are dead, thousands injured and dying, the lives and future of the people of Israel, of Gaza, of the occupied West Bank lies in the hands of people, who can’t or won’t cross the divide and see what is happening.

  30.  

    Bock, everyone, including yourself, has a world outlook (‘belief system’).
    The people of Gaza are influenced by and led by political groupings.
    May I suggest you read Jean Shaoul on Zionism.
    I do not believe the ownership of this site is of importance. Except crudely in the sense that you can shut off comment if you so choose.
    Of more significance are the issues and the discussion. This is something apart from, independent of any site, any vehicle.
    You provide a platform, and that is to be applauded. But the very barbaric behaviour to which you continually draw attention demands of us, of the world a serious response.
    It is your site. But I do not think swearing assists those you wish to help. I believe it negates your efforts and plays into the hands of those who despise a spotlight being put onto the slaughter.

  31.  

    Really? You don’t think I should be swearing on a site where I’ve been swearing for three years now?

    Mervyn, do you know what?

    You’re coming very close to being fucking sworn at.

  32.  

    Mervyn; This “belief system” you speak of can be the source of aggravated situations in many societies, including and very much so Israel/Palestine, How can you state “everyone has a belief system” can I tell you , I don’t, I have a core value system, that does not hold me within narrow margins but keeps me flexibal and nourishes my ability to re-evaluate as I grow, and that is not a “belief system”
    and you are making me go off topic, ya its my choice, but I seriously hate “everyone has” its closing ones mind from the off.

  33.  

    Norma ……The struggle of the Palestinian people is viewed by different people in different ways.

    I am new to this site; but it seems to me most contributors would be of the opinion that what the Israeli state is doing is barbarous and unjustified; and their claims of self-defence are blatantly hypocritical. I do say most, there are quite a few who have the view that the onslaught by the IDF is warranted.

    Both these opposing views on Gaza are informed by the contributor’s world outlook.
    (Bock used the term ‘belief system’. On another post, after elaborating my view I concluded that this was my “unshakeable belief”. If you look again at my post above in reply to Bock, you will see I do not use the term ‘belief system’. Bock made it clear, on a separate topic, that he views any person who is informed by pre-existing or a set viewpoint with disdain.)

    Logic would tell you however, that this view of Bock’s is in itself a belief, as he defines it; and perhaps more – according to his own parameters it is his ‘belief system’, perhaps.

    Arguing strongly for a viewpoint – for instance, that the Israeli state’s actions are a war crime – does not, per se, make the person who forcefully puts this view narrow-minded. Rather, I believe, such forcefulness is the result of two inter-related factors – the heinousness of the actions of the Israeli state, and the relentless propaganda throughout the world that apologizes for these crimes. That tells us black is white. The Big Lie.

    In defence of the Palestinians, in response to the tidal-wave of lies, in fighting the other side, a viewpoint is FOUGHT for. It can be no other way if the world itself is divided into opposing camps. Of course it would be strategically wrong-headed not to try and win people over from the other side; but they will not be won by pleas; but by perspective, a political program and aan analysis which does answer the questions, and raises questions they did not even consider.

    It is my view that underpinning the struggle in Palestine, I repeat the struggle in Palestine, is the issue of class.

    If I did not have this perspective then perhaps I might believe the American government props up Israel because of the ‘Jewish Lobby’ and that Jews are inherently evil. Or if Washington actually is not influenced by the Jewish Lobby then it is just simply that all American governments are evil; and maybe Americans are evil, full stop.

    On the fabled question of staying ‘on topic’ . Maybe I should post in future the what the Israeli Government is doing is (a) awful; and (b) everyone in their right mind should pressure the Israelis to stop; and (c) if everyone posted this and got out and marched then problem solved. It’s all a matter of numbers don’t you see. Not politicsand perspective and program, ‘belief’ or ‘ideology’ (like for instance if we all told a friend to turn off a light at home then Global Warming would be solved Think Globally Act Locally! Let’s ‘think’ about the Palestinians, tell all our friends and go downtown to the march!)

    Of course, I believe that instead od curtailing discussion and points the issue should be expanded and the discussion opened. And I have that view because I consided that the ‘belief systems’ that have been held to date on Palestine have failed miserably.

  34.  

    Mervyn. you would have to define “world outlook” for me.
    I responded “off topic” but I note that was what you also responded to.
    That makes me curious because, you did not respond to other posts regarding the History, geopolitics etc of Palestinians, That also makes me ponder the true reason for your posts, which contain some very valid points, but the underlying promotion of Socialism leaves me cold.
    Yes, Yasser Arafat sold out the 1948 refugees, His own personal dreams regarding Jerusalem were never going to be allowed fruition by the Israeli government.
    The betrayel felt by so many Palestinians, made Hamas narrative sound very secure.

    It is my belief that a two state system is a positive solution and a vital one, also the “right to return” for Palestinians has to be put on the table as a realistic and achievable solution, now do I see this happening in my lifetime, the answer unfortunatly is No.
    Therefore my “world view” and my beliefs collide.
    In the fight for Justice, Equality and Civil and Human Rights, It has become almost mandatory to brand any form of resistance “terrorist” the word should be banned, because it’s conotations have the not so subliminal effect of forcing the human psyche to atomatically press the reject button. If one affords any rights to an organisation branded “terrorist” then they are identified as “outside” the collective, and that is very damaging to the individual psyche.
    Is your objective to promote Socialism as a form of solution in Israel/Palestine ?
    You express the belief that the “underpinning” of problems for the Palestinians is one of “class” That I have to say is utter and total rubbish, if that is how you really view the situation for Palestinians then you truly have no right to issue forth on their plight, because not so subtly it means you have bought into the vile propaganda promoted by a section of Israeli government and populace.

  35.  

    Norma…..Unfortunately I am pressed for time at present; but I will reply to your post at a later date. However, I can quickly make an observation on a conclusion you draw that I believe is incorrect, and of benefit in effect only to the enemies of “Justice, Equality and Civil and Human Rights”.

    You say I have no right to discuss the Palestinian struggle.

    I am not personally piqued by your assertion. I have no beef with you because you state MY rights should be curtailed. It is not my view that individual rights are paramount; but, it is absolutely essential for the oppressed of the world that discussion is open and all-encompassing. This is the greater morality.

    The terrorized masses of Gaza are ill-served by a closing off of discussion, a shutting down of topics. A denial of airtime to selected political positions.

    I started my discussion in this post by stating that I did not agree with James Carr’s assertion that Israel had a propaganda victory. I will make another point now on James’ submission and say that I do not believe Obama needs any coercion into unconditionally supporting the Zionist agenda. I do not believe he is an “unpredictable factor”. Rather I would hold that the Israelis have been emboldened by the emplacement of Obama. His public statements before the latest Israeli invasion; and his choice of Cabinet, make clear to anyone who wishes to see, that he is a committed and utterly reliable office holder for continued war and oppression against the world’s peoples – including the American people (and is clear to anyone who understands that the Democrats are as much a party of American Imperialism as the Republicans). Barack Obama is on message.

    These are my views on James Carr’s topic. They are based on my socialist world outlook which I have openly declared on other posts; but which I feel inhibited to declare less I am told this is not the issue! Rupert Murdoch would not take exception to the denial of discussion to socialists.

    You are stating I have no right to express these views.

    I will defend to the end your right to express your opinion. Not because of some abstract, supposed eternal right that falls from the skies which must be upheld; but because the defense of hard-won democratic rights is a pre-requisite in the development of the struggle of the peoples of Palestine. Not least because the political opposition to the oppressors, has, in my view, fundamental shortcomings and cannot progress without completely open discussion. Primarily, in my view, the lack of mass-based class-conscious political parties which clearly enunciate that the way to end the horrors of our times is to end capitalism.

    I would surmise that you support the status quo, in the sense that you do not believe the issue is the ending of capitalism; but rather is purely a national question of establishing the democratic right to an independent Palestinian state, within the current world capitalist economic system. That, I believe, would be a position of yours? Would be a significant, if not thee most significant, element of your world outlook?

    In the rich history of struggle in the twentieth century a fundamental question arose on the method of struggle. Some parties and individuals proposed and promoted the development of Popular Fronts, primarily against Fascism. These were organizations, not unlike the Palestinian Defense groups of today, where people of differing political views came together, suppressed and did not discuss their political differences, and campaigned and fought (literally fought, as in the Spanish Civil War) on the single issue of being against Fascism.

    There were others however, who promoted the concept of the United Front. Stating that joint action against Fascism was essential; but the open declaration of the political positions and program of each group in the Front was equally essential – in the struggle to educate and lead the mass of humanity in its war with the Fascists. How else were the people to develop politically?

    That is, it is of primary importance to air and fight out the political issues, while maintaining a United Front against the enemy. Restricting the political struggle to a few elementary defensive slogans (‘Freedom’, ‘Democracy’, etc) will not mobilize the masses for the struggle to defeat reaction.

    You can read all about this concept if you search the internet. (Felix Morrow on Spain, for example)

    It is just this issue which in my view is at the heart of the war against Zionism and Imperialism. Is the burning question at the heart of fight to defeat the butchers of Gaza.

  36.  

    mervyn. My objection was clearly stated based on your comment “It is my view that underpinning the struggle in Palestine, is the issue of class” I have no right to object to anyone expressing any view, nor would I , To place a “class issue” in the midst of civil/human rights and the very real struggle for survival is just downright claptrap prosletysing.
    I subscribe to basically nothing which has an ideology of politics, religion, not even a commitee, do not surmise anything about me, i don’t want to belong to anything, plain and simple.
    If you walked the streets of Gaza to-day amid this “week long ” ceasefire and asked your questions regarding “Imperialism and capitilism” I’m confident you would get very short shift.

  37.  

    Mervyn –If you were able to declare your socialist world outlook in less than a million words I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    However, you also seem to be the only one here who needs to set out a manifesto before expressing an opinion.

    As I said before, this site isn’t a soapbox.

  38.  

    Norma…Everyone has a political viewpoint. I discuss mine explicitly (for a reason, to progress the struggle).

    Dismissing my views as proselytizing and claptrap, and not considering whether capitalism is of importance – this is a definite political position or view, regardless of whether you are in any sort of group or not.

    Also it is not an uncommon view. You are not alone. Plenty of people think like you. In other words, just like me, you are product of the world you have lived in, and you are part of a specific social layer. Though, in my opinion, not a large percentage of the population.

    For socialists (materialists, philosophically – being determines conciousness) who battle to end the war against the world’s oppressed ( of which of course Palestine is one of the prime examples) political analysis of history and society is the only basis on which a political program can be found to solve the problem.

    Norma, you disgree with me about what the problem is.

    Bock, I wonder how many people who had previously not considered the points I raised found them of relevance?

    A tenet of socialists is that the mass of humanity is receptive to discussion, in the struggle to transform the world. Very often, people who dismiss socialism, also dismiss the ability of mankind to radically change our circumstances.

    To overcome Zionism and create a united secular state, for instance.
    I firmly believe this can be achieved in the coming period. I don’t think it’s automatic; but neither do I think it’s in any way impossible.

  39.  

    Bump.

    Interesting article from last Sundays Observer (5/7/09)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/05/gaza-israel-palestine-war

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