It’s been almost a month since I last blogged. In that time, Congo and Zimbabwe have hardly been reported on, except that in the case of the latter, the press seems to be rehabilitating Mugabe for inexplicable reasons. In fact, the spin on the news has amazed me: all eyes are focused on Timothy Geithner and AIG, which have dominated the front page for weeks. Nicholas Kristof, it was nice ta know ya.
And what can be said about Israel’s indictment by both the Red Cross and Amnesty International, and their demand to the United Nations that Israel be held to account for the following war crimes:
• Using powerful shells in civilian areas which the army knew would cause large numbers of innocent casualties;
• Using banned weapons such as phosphorus bombs;
• Holding Palestinian families as human shields;
• Attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked vehicles;
• Killing large numbers of police who had no military role.
“Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty investigator in Israel, has also collected evidence that the Israeli army holds Palestinian families prisoner in their own homes as human shields. ‘It’s standard practice for Israeli soldiers to go into a house, lock up the family in a room on the ground floor and use the rest of the house as a military base, as a sniper’s position. That is the absolute textbook case of human shields. ‘It has been practised by the Israeli army for many years and they are doing it again in Gaza now,’ she said.”
But here is the really extraordinary thing: with all the talk of bailouts, bailing out Israel is not a priority in Washington. The right-wing has taken over the Israeli government, breathing fire and threatening a second rampage in Gaza, but President Obama (and even Bush, last January when every paper reported a plot for an imminent operation) pledged them no support for pre-emptive strikes on Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons facilities, a pet campaign promise of this election’s victors.
Israel now finds itself being devoured from within, by factions trying to outdo eachother in hard-line politics, sometimes outright brutality, who are opposed by moderate and even peace-seeking factions who believe in a two-state solution and an end to settler expansion and the occupation of Palestinian lands.
Meanwhile, we are hearing everywhere that radical rabbis are inciting soldiers to nothing less than a jihad on Palestinians, civilian or Hamas.
“Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land.”
“The investigation was ordered by the military’s advocate general Avichai Mandleblit on Thursday after the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz published extracts from the transcript describing incidents in which Palestinian civilians were killed and property wantonly damaged. In the fuller version of the transcript published yesterday, the soldier, a unit commander from the Givati brigade, says: « This was the main message and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war. »
While the West worries about dollars turning into yuan, Israel is deciding it’s fate, on the edge of a cliff. Will they turn back, without the U.S. military behind them? Policy or no policy, the truth is there’s very little U.S. military to spare these days. They’re off to fight the greatly strengthened Taliban/Pakistani forces, as soon as President Obama’s special team has properly assessed the situation (bye bye, Swat Valley, it was nice ta know ya.)
Re: Oliphant cartoon. « Will someone please explain this cartoon to me? It looks to be a headless jackbooted muscle-man with a sword pushing a Star of David-shaped shark unicycle? Or am I missing something? »
— Jeffrey Goldberg, http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/03/the_brave_pat_oliphant_and_his.php
« You are missing the third thing in the cartoon: Gaza – represented by an old woman with a child on her back – is given the choice of jumping/falling off a cliff, or being eaten by that shark unicycle. That is the point, how could you miss it?
It is clearly anti- ISRAELI POLITICS, and not anti-Semitic; it’s saying that Israel is now a country without a proper head, just a nationalist war-machine, primitive but effective – the sword of war held by an unthinking Goliath against a tiny enemy with death as its only choice.
So now I’ve explained it to you – are you going to retract your embarassing bemusement? »
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