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By Stephen Gowans
January 2, 2009
In the last seven days, Israeli airstrikes have killed 414 Gazans and wounded 1,850.  Israel says it’s defending itself against Palestinian rocket attacks. If that’s so, the response is grossly disproportionate. In the last seven days, only five Israelis have died as a result of these attacks.  Average the number of Israeli deaths over the last seven years from rockets launched from Gaza and the figure comes out to less than two per year. In response, Israel has killed 59 Palestinians and wounded 264 per day over the last seven days.
Israel says it is “targeting only Hamas operatives and those affiliated with Hamas.”  Yet “hundreds of thousands of Gazans have received warnings in the form of telephone messages or fliers that their buildings are Israeli targets.”  In other words, Israel is targeting hundreds of thousands…to prevent the deaths of an average of less than two Israelis killed every year by Palestinian rocket fire.
Last month, Israel expelled Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton. Falk is also the United Nations investigator of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Falk was ejected because of what Israeli officials said was his hostile position toward Israel. (What person of conscience wouldn’t have a hostile position toward Israel?) In December, Falk denounced Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a crime against humanity and compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi atrocities. Israel called these statements hostile because they were accompanied by only cursory references to Palestinian rocket attacks  – the ones that kill an average of less than two Israelis per year.
Israel is going backwards. It used to justify its Nazi-like behaviour by invoking Hitler’s systematic extermination of the Jews, as if that somehow justified its ethnic cleansing of Mandate Palestine. Now all it can muster is rocket attacks that have killed a handful of people in the last seven years to justify the blockade and subsequent pummelling of Gaza.
It is important to recall why the Palestinians lob their crude, largely ineffective missiles into surrounding settler towns. The reason has everything to do with why there are settler towns in the first place. In 1947, over the objection of the Arab majority, the UN set forth a plan to partition Mandate Palestine. The Jews, one-third of the population, most having arrived since WWI, would get 56 percent of the territory, while the Arabs, two-thirds of the population, would get only 42 percent. (The remaining two percent, Jerusalem, would be internationalized.) Some 800,000 Arabs were forced or fled from their homes in response to a systematic program of ethnic cleansing by Jewish forces . When the dust settled, the new Israeli state was in control of 80 percent of the territory. Nineteen years later, in 1967, it took the rest. Since 1948, Palestinians have either languished in refugee camps, barred from returning home, have lived under military rule in occupied territories, have rotted in the open air prison of Gaza, or live as second-class citizens in Israel.
The Palestinians’ armed struggle against Israel, then, is a legitimate and necessary one, tantamount to struggle against rape. When Israel says it must smash Gaza to defend itself against rocket attacks, its words echo the protest of the rapist: I had to club her because she wouldn’t stop struggling.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, showing an unmitigated partiality toward the country Washington injects billions of dollars of aid into every year, met the Israeli clubbing of the prostrate and weakened Gaza with this:
"The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for…the renewal of violence in Gaza. "
This was as monstrous as the Israeli attacks.
In March, 2007 Rice invited Jenni Williams to Washington to receive the US State Department’s 2007 International Woman of Courage Award for Africa . Williams is an anti-Mugabe activist who leads Women of Zimbabwe Arise, a group which, according to a US State Department report , receives US government funding through Freedom House, a CIA-interlocked organization headed by Peter Ackerman, junk bond trader Michael Milken’s former right hand man.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine an American or Briton being invited to Harare by Robert Mugabe to receive the International Person of Courage Award for the North Atlantic. Imagine further that the recipient is the leader of a civil society group called Women of America Arise or Women of Britain Arise and that the group is financially assisted by the Zimbabwean government. How believable would the claim be that our person of courage is not an agent of the Zimbabwean government? How much scorn would be heaped upon her for accepting an accolade – and money — from the monster, Mugabe, in Harare, no less? How likely would it be that our person of courage would escape calls to be sanctioned or deported? And what would we think of a progressive scholar who dismissed the idea that our person of courage could in any way be considered an agent of Zimbabwe, or that she represented an independent left?
In reply to a September 25, 2008 Netfa Freeman article in the Black Agenda Report, “Zimbabwe and the Battle of Ideas”, progressive scholar Stephen Zunes declared that it was impossible to consider Jenni Williams, the women who is feted in Washington by the monster Condoleezza Rice and takes her money, to be an American agent. Zunes heads up the board of academic advisors of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, a body which trains people to use nonviolence to bring down governments that refuse to accept the open door (trade and investment) demand that forms the cornerstone of US foreign policy. The ICNC is run by Peter Ackerman – the same Peter Ackerman, who, pursuing a post-Michael Milken career, also runs the CIA interlocked Freedom House, the same Freedom House that funnels Uncle Sam’s lucre to Jenni Williams. And Stephen Zunes, working with Freedom House head Peter Ackerman at the ICNC says, Jenni Williams can in no way be considered an American agent. Is it any wonder that our progressive scholar is sometimes known as 00Zunes?
There is plenty of perversity here. Gazans, lobbing simple missiles with limited destructive power into nearby settler towns that have been erected on ethnically cleansed former Palestinian villages, are slaughtered for struggling against a gross injustice. Condoleezza Rice paints them as the villains and holds them responsible for their own slaughter.
Mugabe is denounced as a monster by the same Condoleezza Rice for reversing a kind of ethnic cleansing practiced by European settlers against the indigenous African population through an effective land redistribution program, one other south Africans demand of their own governments, and are denied.
In other words, reversal of, or attempts to reverse, ethnic cleansing is met by the denunciation of the United States, and harsh responses.
Meanwhile, Condoleezza Rice confers an accolade, and lucre, upon a woman progressive scholars in the United States spring to the defense of, but would just as zealously denounce as a crude propagandist and supporter of a monstrous regime were she receiving awards and financial support from Robert Mugabe.
1. Rory McCarthy and David Batty, “Israeli warplanes destroy Gaza houses and mosque as air strikes continue,” The Guardian (UK), January 2, 2009.
3. Ethan Bonner, “Israel Rejects Cease-Fire, but Offers Gaza Aid, The New York Times, January 1, 2009.
4. Isabel Kershner and Taghreed El-Khodary, “Gaze bombing continues as foreigners are evacuated,” The New York Times, January 2, 2009.
5. Isabel Kershner, “U.N. rights investigator expelled by Israel,” The New York Times, December 16, 2008.
6. Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, One World, Oxford, 2006.
7. U.S. Department of State Press Release, “Situation in Gaze,” December 27, 2008.
8. Jim Fisher-Thompson, “Zimbabwean receives International Woman of Courage Award,” USINFO, March 7, 2007.
10. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Pantheon Books, New York, 1988, p. 28.
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