Saturday, August 02, 2014

Israel vs. Gaza: Where Do You Stand?

You know, I am seriously having trouble wrapping my head around all the anti-Israeli sentiment I'm seeing and hearing through the corporate media, and even to some extent in the blogosphere. I know I shouldn't expect much; certainly nothing approaching a pro-Israel message, but some...hell... most of these articles and TV programs are downright hostile to Israel. They claim that somehow the mess in Gaza is all Israel's fault. There was a time, not all that long ago really, where we stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel. What happened? Why have we turned against our best and most trusted ally--the only democratic nation in the Middle East? I think I know the answer and I would like to share my thoughts with you.

As I'm sure most of you know (or should know), the State of Israel was born out of the holocaust and horrors of World War II. I guess in a way, one could thank Hitler and the Nazis for acting as the mid-wife to the birth of Israel. Europe itself had for centuries a love/hate relationship with the Jews---they loved to hate them--unless, of course, the Jews were of some immediate use. In the years leading up to the election of Hitler to Chancellor in 1933, the anti-Semitic rhetoric was rampant, and not just in Germany, but throughout all of Europe. So, when the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP or "Nazi" for short) began their rise to power, no one was particularly bothered by the anti-Jewish speeches. In fact (and in retrospect, a little hard to believe), but the Nazis weren't even the most virulent of the anti-Jewish parties either in or out of Germany!

Nevertheless, the Nazis were elected to power and proved true to their word and murdered some 6 million Jews plus millions of Gypsies, gays, pacifists, and of course, political opponents (as an aside, in terms of population percentages, Gypsies lost a higher percentage of their population than any other group, including the Jews). Even after war, the Jews were still treated almost callously by the allied powers. However, thanks to the Belfour Declaration and the passing of the UN's Resolution 181, the British, who controlled Palestine and large areas throughout the Levant including Egypt, turned over territory for the creation of a state for the Jews---Israel. After decades of political backsliding, not to mention some not so subtle raids by Arabs on Jewish farming settlements, Israel came into being on May 14, 1948. Almost immediately, Israel was invaded by five Arab powers plus contingents from over a dozen other Moslem nations. Israel, using mostly surplus German weapons (oh the irony) bought on the black market, defeated the Arab coalition. These same Arab nations repeatedly attacked Israel---1956, 1967, 1973, and on into today. In addition there have been numerous terrorists groups like PLO and Black September, that hijacked planes, attacked the Munich Olympics, and murdered hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Each time, Israel acquired large amounts of Arab territory. Each time, Israel was willing to return it in exchange for peace. However, it seems that peace only begets time to prepare for more war.

Throughout almost all of this, America had Israel's back. Some would cite the so-called "Jewish Lobby" in Washington. To be sure, that may be true; they are perhaps the second most powerful political lobby behind the NRA, but who can blame them? They're interest is the continuing support of Israel, a tiny nation of around 6 million, surrounding the tens of millions of Arabs whose sole agenda is to drive the Israelis into the Mediterranean Sea to drown. Historically, the Arabs have been armed and supplied by the Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans. Israel has had some support from a few other nations, and lukewarm backing from Europe, but their key supporter--the one they literally couldn't survive without---the United States. But, now something has happened, and it seems at least to me to go beyond the mere question of US support for Israel.

In recent years, America has lost its way. We are no longer the democratic republic with its Constitution our forefathers had bequeath to us. We have lost that America. Today, we are an oligarchy. Officially. The government (notice I didn't say "our") represents the top 1%; the global corporate interests. We are on the fast slippery track toward fascism and a police state. Somewhere along that slippery slope to serfdom, we simply stopped caring. We stopped caring about our allies, and we stopped caring about ourselves as a nation. That's not to say we don't feel apathy. We do. We're still the most giving nation ever. But we stopped caring about our freedoms. We stopped caring about what kind of government we had. We stopped caring about the character of those we elected to office. maybe we got preoccupied with so-called "reality" shows, video games and other distractions. It didn't matter we told ourselves, after all, "they're all corrupt". And now, it really doesn't matter. Government moved from petty larceny to the arrogance of a plutocracy. We now have the political class we were warned about which is all but isolated from the People thanks, in part, to gerrymandering, a rigged election process, and the Supreme Court errors of McCutcheons and Citizens United.

Through all this, we've also come to blame the victim. We are more concerned about what happens to the individuals who commits the crimes than to the victims or their families. We want to vilify those who take a stand or fight back. We've come to embrace Hollywood's "values" that has "wussyfied" the US male while celebrating the limousine liberal who doesn't have to live with the reality they espouse. We shout down those who disagree with us rather than to listen with an open mind. We demonize all those who don't share our opinion. People who raise questions are labeled "racist" or "haters". And this same sort of distorted rationality is being applied to Israel's actions in Gaza.

It was Hamas, a bona fide terrorist organization, which is part of Gaza's Unity Government, whose Preamble calls for the destruction of Israel, who instigated this. They were the ones who first (and indiscriminately) began shelling Israel. They were the ones who dug tunnels into Israel in order to murdered or kidnap Israelis. They were the ones who routinely attacked, stabbed, or threw rocks at innocent passersbyers. And they did this year after year. Israel pleaded with the Unity Government to stop. They pleaded with the UN. They asked the international community to intervene. But no one responded. Even President Obama turned his back on Israel's pleas. In fact, Obama has shown himself to be weak in the face of Islam, including groups like Hamas. He has allowed them, especially the most extreme, to believe they can act with impunity. As a result, churches throughout the region are decimated. Historical artifacts are destroyed. Christians are attacked or murdered--mostly beheaded---while children are ripped from their parent's arms and forcibly made to convert, and then sold into slavery or married off as young as 9 years old. Residents are burned out of their homes and communities. Even now, Christians and other non-Moslems in some areas have been ordered to covert immediately and pay a special tax or die. Even moderate Moslems aren't immune. They are often beaten or even crucified--yes, nailed to cross or other structure. Hindus and Buddhists have faced the very same terrors. So has the Taoists. So has the Shamanists. We mistakenly think that we are somehow safe. Israel, however, can not afford that kind of illusion.

So, Israel did what it had to do. It fought back as a last resort. But, it did so in way which I believe is unique in the annals of war. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) called every person in the Gaza phone directory and warned them to leave days before. They sent notices to every resident of Gaza; it allowed them time to buy food, medicines, to store water, and seek shelter; they sent commando units into Gaza and posted warning notices. When Israel attacked, they again alerted the residents. They sent over phosphorous warning shots and waited before actually shelling a building. Did the Germans warn the Poles or French first? Did the Russians warn the Latvians or Germans or for that matter, anyone in Eastern Europe first? Did North Korea warn South Korea? Did the US warn the Vietnamese?

Israel, the victim, has shown an amazing commitment to humanity in fighting an enemy who has repeatedly refused to stop sending missiles over; who has repeatedly refused a cease fire; and who has continually used schools, hospitals, Mosques, and ordinary homes as launching sites for it missiles knowing full well that Israel will hit back. Whenever residents sought to leave, they are forced back in at gunpoint by Hamas. They have chosen to hide behind their own people; to make them victims too in order to use their dead bodies as a gruesome propaganda tool; a tool the weak minded have chosen to embrace...both in the Middle East and in the West. Again, as in America, the victim has been condemned as the guilty while the criminal has been allowed to escaped punishment. So much for our new inverted idea of justice.

Yes, innocent people have been wounded and some have died. That is the nature of war. It's not a pillow fight. But it's even worse when your own side has already declared you a victim for its own propaganda purposes. You just haven't been told were to lay down at yet. To end the deaths and the conflict, the people of Gaza need to stop Hamas. It cannot operate without their support, either openly or by their silence. America too is no longer the country we once knew and cherished. The light of freedom has grown dim as "We the People" have chosen to do nothing.

Your silence, like in Gaza, is your consent. Israel knows that most of the American People still have their back, even if the government in Washington doesn't. America has always been willing to stand up and fight for what's right...until recently that is. Evil, in whatever its forms or wherever it lives, must be confronted. It must be fought with whatever weapons we have at our disposal. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be negotiated with. So I again ask you, what are you prepared to do?

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